Monday 10 February 2014

Taming of the Sou'Easter

Heading south we opted for the zig zag route, crossing Cockburn Sound and back and forth, the next stop was Garden island, a pleasant 1-1/2 hour beam reach away to a nice little anchorage with dozens of mooring balls to choose from. First up I decided to combine our first excursion ashore with modifying the dinghy. We spent the first 40 minutes on the beach wrapping foam noodles (the kind children play with in swimming pools) around the dinghy’s gunwales before a refreshing swim. It was a peaceful day of swimming and exploring, and a peaceful night’s sleep after. There’s not much to say about Garden island, its uninhabited apart from half the place cordoned off by the navy and the presence of Australia’s main submarine base.

Garden Island beach. The navy had signs all along it.
Pointless stuff like the Act of 1914 (about firearms...) and
keep out signs at the left end of the bay.

And there’s lots of flies…
Night #2 on Garden Is. started off well enough, then around 10pm, the Sou’Easter hit. This bay is protected from the prevailing SW’ers and the southerlies, but not from the SE’ers and their accompanying metre high waves from 12Nm fetch of the Sound. We are in the double berth in the forepeak. I can describe the motion as abruptly surging upwards 2’, then berth snaps downward and we are left bodily mid air like Wylie Coyote, before falling against the mattress for the process to start over again.

This won’t do. 

One option was to raise sail and head back to whence we came from, the weedy anchorage at Woodman point. But we didnt fancy a 2 hour sail in the dark. It seemed such a rude thing to be forced to do when one should be curled up in bed..

The other option was to sleep at the back of the boat. I cleared the pilot berth, this being a berth under the cockpit near the stern. Its there for sleeping in while on passage and theoretically is the most comfortable part of the boat when sailing. So one of us took the pilot berth and the other took to the galley floor with cushions. That solved the problem of sleeping in the SE gale. By morning the worst of it was over, but, you know, we had enough of that anchorage. 
Light breeze, but still reefed, one panel in the fore
two in the main.

The 12Nm sail to Rockingham and Mangles bay is an upwind beat, but in sheltered Cockburn Sound we’re on flat water. Ashiki doesnt mind slicing along upwind if the seastate is agreeable, she surges along, 45˚ off the wind with the proverbial, as they say, bone in her teeth, at 4 to 5knots.

I think we have picking up a mooring in 20+kts wind figured out, finally. We approach it from downwind, motor up to it and throttle down 10m to go, she glides to a halt, assisted by the 20kt headwind, right over the mooring ball. Susie picks up the pendant. Easy as pi.

Mangles bay is different to other parts of the coast. Contrasted with the sparkling wealth of the Perth/Swan River set (and the snooty “Royal.. such&such YC’s”), the yachts here have much more a “works in progress” look, sprinkled with several large behemoths, a decidedly low budget DIY feel.  My kind of joint.

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