Tuesday 24 June 2014

Of dog legs, tankers and prohibited zones

Table Island, on the way to Onslow

Day sail again, we like these, 24 miles to the uber metropolis of Onslow, Ashiki’s first Pilbara port. If Carnarvon was small at 6,000 people, try this place. 660 souls live here plus a few hundred more in the two caravan parks. We’ve never been here before as it is off the main highway and wondered if the local supermarket or general store is up to our high provisioning standards (Sour cream and chives 'tato chips?!). Onslow is a supply town for the offshore oil and gas industry and noticed large sections (3 mile radius!) of the charts are marked as “entry prohibited” surrounding oil and gas platforms, together with rounding several islands, of which the Pilbara coast has many, forcing us into a bit of a dog leg route.

Gas platform, from a distance they looked like sign posts
as several were lined up along the prohibited zone.

We got a good chance to observe the oil and gas industry too, because the winds died on us while squeezing between two large forbidden zones..  After setting a near 5 knot average for the first 3 hours (the four knot rule doesn’t leave us hanging about!), I can report it’s busy off the Pilbara coast. Tankers going in loading up on crude, and heading straight out. Pilot boats zipping all over. The wake from tankers is no laughing matter either. Short 1.5m square wave coming at us, first and only time Ashiki’s bow roller plunged under water! You know the Scottish highland sport the Caber toss? Ashiki almost did that with the foremast..

After awhile the wind came back from the west and we wing and wonged it at 5 knots around the long salt loading jetty and the reefs into Beadon Bay, anchoring in 3.3m and 200m off Onslow township. First piece of civilisation since Carnarvon over 2 weeks ago. I’d like an ice coffee milk, a beer, a bag of chips and steak for the fridge please - plus 20L of petrol and 80L of water. Wouldn’t mind some lures too, need to fix my luck with fishing somehow.

Passing Ashburton Island, one of the many along the Pilbara coast

Ship approaching the oil platform

Same ship leaving, a "Trailing suction hopper dredge".
Full to the gunwales.

 Another "Trailing suction hopper dredge" type ship
passing an anchored tug. According to the web these are 

used for dredging channels. Looks like the oil
company has decided to deepen the ocean...

At anchor off Onslow at last

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