Saturday 1 February 2014

Sailing to Fremantle

Its a terrible place, no place to put a vessel, no shelter whatsoever...Any man who  would come a second time is a damned ass. Still blowing a heavy gale, I was never so sick of a place in my life, and may the curse of Christ rest on Fremantle and every son-of-a-bitch in it. God damn them all.
American Captain Natham Shaw 1892*

We did not have a good day. Beating to windward to an anchorage in Cockburn Sound. The water was murky and hard to tell if the bottom was sand or weed. The first two attempts Ashiki dragged and the anchor brought up weed. We tried picking up one of the two moorings in the area, and truth be told, our mooring pickup skills were not yet refined. We were using same old technique... none at all, since our previous boat was only 24' and we could muscle it with the mooring pendant from any approach. Not so with 5 ton Ashiki. Some people were telling us, in high winds, just drift a little upwind of the mooring and you'll drift back onto to it with plenty of time the pick it up and place around a cleat. Not true. We lost the boat hook, the only one onboard.

The day wasn't all bad, we were surprised to see another junk out and about.
This one, Blue Destiny, a 40' steel schooner ahoy'd us enroute to Fremantle

So here we were in failing light, in a 25kt mini gale, tired from beating all day from Rottnest Island, in a bay with no good holding (no good grass anchor onboard either) and boat hookless, so no way to pick up a mooring. Only one thing for it, head for Fremantle fishing boat harbour, 5Nm downwind. We had no berth there, no chance of getting one this late, since the place is tightly held, but as far as I was concerned this was a seaworthiness emergency. Which means, we can berth at the public dock for the night in the protected safety of the harbour. 

So up went 3 panels on the foremast and Ashiki went flying downwind at 6kts. We entered through the heads only 50 minutes later and berthed perfectly at the dock, in front of a couple guys speaking to each other in Arabic, who looked over at us, a loud red and yellow schooner 4ft in front of them, then turned to each other to continue their conversation. Anyway, the landing was perfect, all I had to do was step onto the dock with the line, but a foot caught the lower lifeline and I fell on onto the dock. The two guys chuckled, then went back to their conversation. I tied Ashiki off. (I really gotta install a pelican hook on that bottom lifeline!)

It felt great (despite new scratches on my shin..), as it always does after a hard day to make safe harbour.
Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour
Susie was saying we can't stay here, we were tied up in front of the "No mooring overnight" sign. I was telling her, "We certainly can, we have no where else to go, our boat is unseaworthy (no grass anchor and no boat hook!), so I'm claiming safe harbour if any ranger challenges us!"

And so we had a very peaceful sleep, in the middle of Fremantle boat harbour, but not till after a feed at the all you can eat restaurant at the Esplanade Hotel across the road... No one bugged us either. In the morning I even bagged the contents of the compost toilet and dumped in a public bin on the street (so handy those toilets).

In the morning I phoned up the evil government dept who looks after many of the pens there and snagged a stay for a week, for the princely some of $220 (!).
Not a great pen in Freo, in front of holiday apartments, tourist
get to photograph our every move. But, we're in Freo!
So off to the chandlers we went for more chain and an admiralty anchor to solve our weed anchoring blues.. and another boat hook. Also we took the opportunity to see friends and visit family up the road.
* The same week Capt Natham Shaw arrived, gold was found inland, and the fortunes of Fremantle and the rest of the state, changed forever. So the locals were probably preoccupied. That decade they dredged and built a proper harbour. He would have docked at a jetty jutting out to sea in 1892.

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