The First Two Weeks 1-16 Aug 17

Just three months since we decided to seriously consider a sailing sabbatical we sit on the balcony of the Hampton Harbour Boat and Sailing Club in Dampier en route to Broome, Indonesia and Langkawi (Malaysia) by Christmas.

Few things have gone to plan so far but we move forward, learning more and more, becoming more familiar with the boat, 24 hour routines, and starting now to feel like we are really cruising (no pun intended).

In order to depart on our trip we needed to prepare the boat, our house, our other commitments and that left very little time to prepare ourselves. Linda has been a champion, juggling property management, end of financial year accounts, missing family and friends and finding her sea legs while I arranged for all of the works on the boat, business arrangements, boat registration, visas etc.

We spent triple our budget on preparing the boat to ensure nothing was left to chance.  New sails, new life raft, new water maker, new generator, new AIS Man Overboard Beacons, new charts (electronic and paper covering half of the world), major engine and sail drive servicing with every conceivable fitting replaced and spares acquired and copious reference manuals on cruising the world in a sailboat.  Among many other minor but important acquisitions were things like a trusty knife for each of us to carry should we ever need to cut a line in an emergency.
The Satellite tracker follows our travels, updating hourly, provided Steve remembers to turn it on, else it just picks up the next reading and draws a straight line there,.  We didn't really go overland to Exmouth as the route shows.

The new Mainsail with new Livery conceived by Jessica and designed by Linda portraying the little women we leave behind and miss so much.

New Liferaft secured to deck with automatic release mechanism fitted

With our departure delayed due to Perth's terrible mid winter weather we finally departed on 1 August with an overnight sail (motor) to Geraldton with some pretty strong winds and 4 metre seas. Pretty exhausted we arrived in Geraldton.

Alongside at Batavia Coast Marina Geraldton

Welcome visitors Shannon and Hilton

Weather again had its say as our departure from Geraldton was delayed by two days due to strong winds.  We took the opportunity for some (unbudgeted) top up shopping with a new microwave and heater (testiment to ongoing WA winter and need to keep morale up) among other necessities (swimmers/bathers).

Having spent Tue and Wed en route to Geraldton we departed for Shark Bay on Sunday 6 Aug arriving 7 Aug to beautiful blue skies and calm waters with many whales frollicking and splashing as we entered the long South Passage entrance but were met with fresh forecasts for more strong winds (25-30 knots).  After seeking advice via Shark Bay Volunteer Sea Rescue we battened down between Quoins Bluff South, a large rocky point on Dirk Hartog Island and Egg Island, covered with the evidence of many birds but little of it eggs. The delay gave us a chance to re-stow and secure our food supplies which had been laid out on a spare bed in the aft starboard cabin.

After two days constantly monitoring weather and whether the anchor was holding or the chain snagging on the many bommies nearby we again departed for another overnight sail (motor) to Maud's Landing.  This time we finally got to raise the new sails and enjoyed a delightful days sailing before winds on the nose had the 'iron sail' in action again

Underway, still rugged up but well sheltered inside new clear surrounds which not only sheltered us from the wind but amplified the sunshine.

Morale improving with warmer weather: time for some selfies.

Arriving safely in Maud's Landing we noticed that the radar depiction of the land was skew-if and the boat icon on the chart plotter was 20 degrees off as was the boat heading. Concerned but with Telstra available for the first time in a few days, a call to Maritime Electronics resolved the dilemma.  Peter at MM explained that this was likely caused by something metallic being placed next to the auto-pilot compass.  He sent a photo but I could not recognise it.  Showing it to Linda she exclaimed that yes she had seen it.  It was an annoyance as it was in a locker below the main cabin seat in which shed had placed the canned food! AHA!  Problem solvered :-)

After resting up for the day we departed Maud's Landing at 7pm heading for Exmouth but not before Steve spent several hours perched above the shark sanctuary waters removing then refitting a part in the wind generator, which turned out to be faulty.

A phone call to the wind generator supplier lead to replacement parts being mailed to Broome where they will await our arrival.  With all the wind we had been having we had been getting nothing from the wind generator.  Luckily, all of that motoring had been powering our needs and recharging our batteries supplemented by our solar panels.

 Passing Ningaloo reef

 As we approached Exmouth we listened to the drama of a boat adrift near sholes in the gulf.  Luckily again the Volunteer Sea Rescue Service, this time from Exmouth were on the job and a rescue boat promptly despatched saved the anxious Mandurah family from a tragic holiday ending.

Exmouth provided our first exposure to tides in the north.  On arrival we refuelled and filled the water tanks at the service jetty in the marina.  The local DOT Marine Officer advised that we could stay on the service jetty overnight.  With power and water access it seemed a good deal and we secured our lines, placed fenders ate a meal and, exhausted, prepared for an early night.  Before turning in I did a last check on the fenders and lines.  The boat was not on a fender so I tried to move the boat out and reinsert the fender.  
With all my might I could not push the boat our from the jetty.  Horrified I thought that the depth may have been too shallow for us.  I turned on the plotter to check the depth and called Linda on deck.  I then noticed that the aft line to the jetty was extremely tight.  That was  funny as I was sure I had left plenty of slack.  The large tide movement had dropped the boat so much that the line was so tight I could not release it to lay out more slack.  Fearful of a catastrophe I had to cut the line to free us (that knife for emergencies paid its way).  We then moved the boat to the floating pens of the marina and slept soundly for the night.

Well rested, we rose early on Monday 14 August for another overnight passage to Dampier.  With an early morning departure and no winds we were treated to the most beautiful site as we departed Exmouth, again accompanied by numerous whales.

With a weather forecast foretelling of good sailing conditions after 12 hours of motoring we were disappointed to find following winds but without weight behind them so we again motored most of the way to Dampier.  Just prior to arrival the auto pilot started playing up.  Since we had been in some turbulent swell we thought that the sleeve holding the auto-pilot arm to the rudder shaft had slipped again, as it had done previously but not for a long time since we had it adjusted.  This meant hand steering the last 8 hours in.  Disappointing enough until an inspection of the arm found that it had catastrophically failed in two parts.


The people at HHBSC have been absolutely delightful and helpful.  Lyn in the office had Ian who works at the club come out to our boat anchored in front of the club, view the damage and refer us to a local welder who collected the item and we await its return on Thursday.

This gives us some time to catch up on some washing, update this blog and complete some end of year accounts, all in a beautiful setting before planning how to tackle the remaining 400 nautical miles to Broome.

Relaxing in Dampier

Safely at anchor in Hampton Harbour, Dampier

In the dinghy on way to HHBSC


  1. Hope they can fix the autopilot without too much trouble! Enjoy the sunshine up there :)


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