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"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders

Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret documents the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now. “Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.  

March 29, 2010
Position: S32 04.19 E115 44.89 Visitors Dock, Fremantle Sailing Club, Fremantle, Western Australia

G' day mis amigos, Egret will leave Bunbury harbor in an hour or so on the last leg of her march across the bottom and up the west coast of Oz to Fremantle. Today was a putzing day. We changed the oil a bit early. We wanted to arrive in Fremantle with fresh oil so she will sit over the next months with clean oil and not 155 hour oil. We will change oil again in the departure port of Geraldton before the long haul across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius where we will change oil again. On the 18-day, Canary Island to Brazil crossing we started with fresh oil and on arrival changed the oil. The oil was grey, not black at all. It is because of steady running at a constant temperature with no shut downs inviting condensation.

We also derigged the paravane set up and put the paravane lines and retrieval lines back in their nests. In cleaning up the cockpit we found a small sea bird sitting on the deck. While running at night often we will see a white flash as sea birds fly by the running lights. Egret's stern light is bright white and is surrounded by a web of paravane lines and boom lines. Apparently the little bird was doing a flyby and hit one of the lines and tumbled into the cockpit. It probably hurt itself some way but we couldn't see any apparent damage. I covered it with a hand towel and set it on the cap rail. After posing for a photograph it left a yellow tinged memento for our efforts and hopped overboard. Hopefully it will recover and will stay away from bright lights in the future.

Rummaging around the engine room looking for projects during the off time I saw our Naiad cooling water sea strainer was a bit fuzzed up from algae. We hardly ever have to clean the sea strainers. Here's why. Our first cruising season in the Chesapeake we made a change to the scoop strainers on the bottom. The Chesapeake is full of sea nettles, or small jellyfish. The nettles were clogging our sea strainers every two days as we ran the generator and were running the 3 zones of air conditioning to load the gen. Egret came with a combination scoop strainer/thru hull called speedboat strainers. These would be fine in fresh water boats or trailered boats that aren't left in the water. For everything else they are useless because you can't get to the inside of the thru hull to clean it of growth or critters and reapply bottom paint. So we hauled at Washburn's Boat Yard in Solomons, Md and had them use a saber saw and cut the scoop portion off the combo unit leaving the thru hull portion in place. From lewismarine.com we ordered Sen-Dure strainers; figure number 1012, number 905. Egret has 7, 3/4 IPS thru hulls. Three for air conditioning, one for Naiad cooling, one (combo with a tee) saltwater washdown/watermaker, one wing and one generator. (Egret's toilets are fresh water flush so she doesn't have the usual sea water toilet intakes) These wedge shaped bronze strainers have 1/8" holes on 1/8" centers. The bronze screens are removable for servicing. After installing these strainers we have had NO rubbish in the sea strainers. Not even a seaweed berry. Nada!! The installation is simple but with two VERY important details. You MUST face the shallow part of the wedge forward for centrifugal pumps like your A/C pumps. The rubber impeller self priming pumps like the wing and generator strainers MUST be facing aft with the fat side of the wedge facing forward. We used 5/8" x 8 SS tapping screws to mount the strainers. (Egret's bottom is much thicker so the screws didn't penetrate the hull) There is no bonding but in time you will have to replace the 1/4" screw that holds the screen in place. Electrolysis weakening the screw takes about 6 years. Obviously if you have larger intakes for whatever these same Sen-dure strainers come in sizes for up to 2 1/2" IPS. One customer I had years ago who built VERY expensive custom sportfishing boats just used these strainers alone and eliminated the usual sea strainers inside the boat. Groco makes a similar strainer for larger thru hulls, up to 4" IPS, with a hinge access door to clean the inside of the thru hull. (lewismarine.com, figure 9269)

Egret cleared the harbor at 6:15pm local and headed to the first of 10 waypoints thru the maze of shallow spots along the 80.2nm course. It was calm seas, just as forecast by OMNI Bob. After Mary washed the foredeck with the saltwater wash down hose she was whoop de doing with one of the local bottlenose dolphins. She said it rolled over and looked her in the eye, moved about 5' off the stbd side and did a slow jump completely clearing the water looking back her most of the time. She was thrilled. The sunset skies here in Oz are really spectacular with the brilliant oranges and cloud formations. There was a freighter on anchor with its lights on framed in the sunset just a bit ago. It was spectacular.

The freighter reminded me of something from the other night. We had a radar target following behind Egret for miles, slowly moving up. At 6nm we changed course just a bit to stbd to let it pass at a reasonable distance. It too moved over a bit to port. It passed at 3nm. There was no AIS signal. I called the ship at xx degrees (lat) and asked if they copied. No answer. So after a bit I tried again. They came on and I told them I wasn't picking up an AIS signal from their ship. A polite Aussie voice came on and declared they were an Australian warship and didn't send an AIS signal, they only received. Well, OK then.

Egret arrived at the Fremantle Sailing Club's visitor's dock at 8:00AM local guided in by a pair of dolphins. After checking in we met with the dockmaster, Andrew. Its a long story but there is basically NO dockage available in the Fremantle area if you are a local and don't already have a 'pen'/berth. The nearby mining industry is very strong and many of those associated with the industry have bought more boats than pens/berths. Visitors are a hit and miss. Andrew explained very few visitors come across the Bight. The few visitors that do arrive each year come from the north. In any case Andrew, like good dockmasters everywhere, knows the ins and outs of what is going on in his marina. We will be allowed to stay on the visitors dock for a couple weeks. There is a sailing regatta arriving in Fremantle in a couple weeks. If they are underscribed from their initial estimate of entrants we may get a berth then. We'll see.

Since arriving, Egret has been a people magnet for the members. They can see Egret from the clubhouse. They are curious about Egret's travels, about the paravane poles and about the boat in general. We take the time to give them the details and have had a number aboard for tours. Hopefully we can stay and spend some quality time here and with the members. One couple who stopped by are VofE readers that live in Perth. Ian is stopping by a camper/4WD center near his office and checking on a buy back or long term lease plan on our behalf. That is really nice of him to take his time for us. We have found this so much in our travels, locals treating us perhaps a bit differently because we arrived by boat vs fly in. Today for example, while walking down town we stopped in a one man studio and picture frame shop and were looking at his framed images. We struck up a conversation and when we mentioned we arrived by boat everything changed. In the end we spent quite a bit of time with him learning about the local boating berth shortage dilemma, cost of housing, goods and services, general trade labor and other issues relating to the booming mining industry. So what information a cruise ship person or fly in person (there was a cruise ship in town today ) may have received was different that what we experienced. The boating fraternity kinship was immediate. If you haven't guessed, the shop owner is a sailor whose boat is on a mooring because he CAN'T get a berth.

Egret is a MQ (Marina Queen) once again living on the BFYC (Big Fat Yellow Cord......actually we are living on a skinny black cord because we are on 50 cycle service) She won't move again until mid August or so. Unless of course we change our minds.

So what will tomorrow bring? The Maritime Museum for starters, the Shipwreck Museum next door then to the local marine store and so on. Ciao.

 

March 25, 2010
Position: S33 19.04 E115 36.83 Koombana Bay, Bunbury, Western Australia

G' day mis amigos, it has been an eventful day and a few firsts for Egret. Egret passed below Cape Leeuwin at 7:33 PM local (1933) at a distance of 8.13 nm. Originally we planned to pass closer but after zooming in on the charts and taking a look at the broken bottom on the backside we chose to pass a little more to the south even though it was quite calm with little wind. Had it been daylight we would have made the turn a bit tighter. Keeping with tradition we documented the rounding by taking pictures of the chart plotter (picture 1.), radar and of the cape itself (picture 2.) Picture 2 was taken before the cape at a distance of 13.2 nm while there was still a bit of light. Just minutes before the light was off. Cape Leeuwin is the 4th of the 5 great Southern Ocean capes visited by Egret. She also passed officially into the Indian Ocean for the first time. To the majority of you reading what happened today is no big deal but to we ocean voyagers it is. Mary and I celebrated with an icy cold beer.

Australia is a BIG place. Quick figuring, it is roughly 1700 nm across the bottom. Zooming up and down on C-Map charts we see Australia is surrounded by a number of large bodies of water; starting at the bottom there is the Southern Ocean, Tasman Sea to the E, Coral Sea to the NE, Arafura Sea to the N, Timor Sea to the NW and Indian Ocean to the W. It is hard to believe Egret has traveled that distance* so relatively quickly. Other than a few delicious moments spent in Tasmania and elsewhere it has been a blur of watches and shaking salt. It's sad the cruising season is so limited and we couldn't stop to see more. A second reason for moving so fast is the lack of suitable all weather anchorages or harbors across the bottom of the Bight and farther west. So it is what it is and we'll make the best of what time we have. *Tasmania and across the bottom.

Our plans now are to stop in the coastal town of Bunbury for a bit and try and secure a 'pen' (berth/slip) in Fremantle before moving on. Mary saw an ad for a camper show this weekend in Fremantle while in Esperance. Just thinking out loud here, we are smitten by the Aussie 4WD truck/fold out camper tops we see everywhere. There is SO much we would like to see in Oz. Because we plan to spend some time in N Europe, starting with the winter of 11/12, for the first time ever we don't plan to spend the entire time aboard Egret. Ice and very short winter days aren't as attractive as land touring elsewhere. So if we can work it out we would like to leave Egret for a few months and tour Oz or NZ during the off time. We'll see how it all works out but it would be an interesting project. In the meantime, Egret has lotsa, lotsa miles to put in before anything like this happens. All she has to do is cross the Indian Ocean this September, get around South Africa, cross the South Atlantic, race thru the Caribbean Sea, putter up the east coasts of the U.S. and Canada then cross the N Atlantic. That's all. And we'll take it one day at a time. There is no rush other than the BIG clock. Tick, tick, tick. You get the picture.

It's morning. Egret rounded the point at Cape Naturaliste and entered Geographe Bay early this morning while Mary was on watch. Geographe Bay is a shallow, hook shaped bay with its western tip at Cape Naturaliste curving down to the south then heading north. At 8:30AM local we centered the Naiads. It's that calm. The low duney beach has a smattering of homes along the shore and every now and then is a small boat on a mooring off the beach. One thing we noticed here in the southern part of Oz is folks launch their small fishing boats directly off the beach. The sand is so hard packed you can even drive a 2WD car or truck on the beach. Currently Egret is passing Busselton, an early 1800s port for exporting timber and whaling. The Busselton jetty juts 2 kilometers into the bay and is in disrepair after years of non use. Today it is a popular dive site according to the guide. Now going by we see the jetty is surrounded by barges and a couple construction cranes so it appears it is under restoration. At the head of the jetty is a fake lighthouse that is ringed by a water slide. Yuk. So we're just cruising along about 1.75nm off the beach seeing the sights. In 24nm we'll enter the small harbor at Bunbury, drop TK into the mud and figure out the game plan.

Later. We did just that..entering Bunbury harbor and dropping TK into the mud, 12.2' (3.8m) and dropped 125' (39m) of chain and snubber. Koombana Bay (Bunbury) means Bay of Spouting Whales in Aboriginal. The bay was first visited by the vessels Geographe and Naturaliste in 1801. Captain De Freycinet of the Casuarina visited in 1803 and named it Port Leschenault. It was later renamed Bunbury after Lt Bunbury in 1836. Humpbacks, southern right whales and pygmy blue whales stop in the bay to rest from September to December.

After arriving the first order of business was a rum n coke. The second order of business was activating our cell phone and calling the Fremantle Sailing Club and seeing if we can get a 'pen' for Egret's stay. We will arrive at the FSC's visitor's dock during the weekend and check with reception on Monday.

So the miles are done except for a simple overnighter in order to arrive in Fremantle early morning before the sea breezes start. Tomorrow we'll launch the dink and see what Bunbury has to offer. It won't be long before the Egret crew shifts into its next phase of Oz exploring, checking out the local Fremantle and Perth area and inland touring.

So there you have it. A couple Egret milestones and a little local history. Ciao.

 

March 24, 2010
Position: S35 07.79 E116 19.22
Location: en route Albany, Australia
Course: 289 degrees M.
Steering: 273
Apparent Wind: 14.7 knots - 8.5T
Wind direction: WNW
Seas: 1.5m swells with wind chop
Speed: 6.2 knots
RPM: 1635
CCOM: 4.3

G' day mis amigos, Egret is under way once again. We left Esperance at noon timed to arrive at the orca spot at daybreak tomorrow. The trip to the spot is based on 6.5 knots. Early on we were running at 1420 to maintain 6.5 knots. Now we have the wind and waves from more astern we reduced speed even further to 1350 to run 6.5 knots. We could have left a bit later and run a little harder but we were anxious to go and didn't want get pinned to the dock by the afternoon sea breeze. The seas now are perhaps 1.5 meter swells with just a bit of wind chop on top. One thing we usually do after leaving is both taking a short nap. I crashed for an hour and now its Mary's turn. This gets rid of the anticipation thoughts and gets us in the back at sea mode.

Film maker Dave, his wife Jeanine, their daughter Teah (today is her first birthday) and Jeanine's mother Lynn came to see us off. Mary gave Jeanine and Lynn a boat tour spending some time with telling them about The Life. Mary said Lynn's eyes were growing big thinking 'I can do this". She could, of course, if she makes it happen. One thing we find universally in describing what we do is even if the folks have a true interest in joining the boat group, they seem overwhelmed by what they don't know. It is true, there is a lot to know, just like driving a car. However, all of the may thousands who are enjoying boating today and have in the past ALL shared the same fears. It is just that cast of thousands decided if they (meaning all who participate) can do it we can as well. And of course they can.

As your read in the last VofE, OMNI Bob's weather forecast was favorable with nothing serious expected. Obviously this is great news and in looking at the gribs there is no weather for the next three days except a serious low moving east hundreds of miles to the south. Close to the coast it won't affect Egret at all. Three days from now Egret will be well around the SW corner of Oz and heading up the coast. How we decided to dally on the west coast before arriving in Fremantle is something we'll look at 3 days from now. In the meantime we'll enjoy the trip and sweet what there is to see.

It is now just before dark. The seas have picked up to about 2.5 meters (8') with occasional 3++ RBG's rolling thru. The seas are coming from the east and hitting the port quarter at about 45 degrees causing quite a corkscrew when the RBG's hit. The cockpit is awash occasionally and the bilge pump cycles every few minutes because the %#@#^*&*^ cockpit hatch leaks, even after several attempts to waterproof it using different thickness of foam tapes. I should have duct taped it shut like usual before heading out for a multi day run. Grrrrrrrr. The winds are staying in the mid upper 20's gusting to 30. Mary increased speed and that helped a bit then I cranked the Naiads to nearly the max where it says "following seas". Wow, what a differenced. Our old gyro controlled Naiads would never be like this. It is wonderful. Just a bit ago Egret was visited by two pods of dolphins. Both groups raced up sea jumping out of the wave backs. Now Mary has the task of working out watch schedules so we are both rested as possible and both on watch from daybreak until 9:00 AM (the last time they ever observed the orcas on the surface).

The next morning. Egret arrived at the southernmost waypoint the orcas were seen in the past then turned and ran down a line toward a headland. All we saw were albatrosses and shearwaters (not petrels as I said before). THEN we saw a fin in 600 meters. It was just a seal floating on top holding its tail fns with its front flipper as they do. We ran the line until 200 meters then turned west again and ran the 200m line for the next 9nm. Nothing, nada, zip. So we didn't get to see any orcas. Later we sent a full report to Dave including waypoints.

During the day the winds moderated along with the seas. We still have had winds occasionally over 20 knots with following seas in the 2 - 2+ meter range so the ride during the day has been comfortable. We are just coming up on Albany 10 or so miles to the north. On paper Albany seems like a bail out spot but in essence it appears to be a trap. It has the same hard bottom as Esperance and a similar town dock. To be caught there in a blow wouldn't be fun. So we're going for it but with little real choice. It appears as long as we stay reasonably tight to shore, 10nm or so, we'll be ok. The gigundus low we mentioned before down south is moving up. As long as it doesn't rise much faster tings will be ok. There will be no fishing or dallying until we get around the corner and heading north. We upped the RPM to 1650 to gain a bit of extra speed pushing against the south bound on the west coast and east bound on the south coast, Leeuwin warm water current. So we'll see.

Later in the evening. MAJOR light show. Every voyager may have their secret fears and ours is lightning. We don't worry about grounding, mechanical problems or nearly anything else but lightning. I just retrieved this lap top and its gps button from the microwave. In there with it was a hand held gps. In the oven are two other lap tops. The Iridium phone was unplugged along with the main navigation laptop and monitor and the small radar. A direct lightning strike at a dock is an inconvenience and just costs money. At sea its a different story. We haven't had lightning since off the coast of Brazil in 06. Prior to that it was back in the States. So you can see it isn't often we have this problem but at this time the past isn't comforting. Hopefully we have pushed thru the front and that's the end of it.

We mentioned above we followed the 200 meter line looking for the orcas. We did this by following the electronic charting, not with a bottom machine. Egret's bottom machine won't do the deal. So I'll explain why and how ours works. In the small fishing boats we used to build we found if we moved the high speed transducer from the transom inside the hull shooting thru the bottom of the boat we eliminated a big source of spray filling the vacuum behind the boat and soaking your backs as you ran fast or in to the wind. We built cored bottoms but in a small place in the stern we tapered the coring and made an all fiberglass spot. Here we glued in the transducer with epoxy. Soooo, when it came time to rig Egret we used the same Lowrance combination chart plotter - depth finder (bottom machine). In the master head under a small hatch we built two small dams out of modeling clay, filled them with water and dropped in the transducers. They worked perfectly so we drained the water and filled the dam with epoxy and set the transducers. They work perfectly even though Egret's bottom is quite thick. However, it is not as good as a thru hull mount in range but by putting the transducer on the inside you eliminate another hole thru the bottom and its associated transducer fouling. You loose a little deep range by doing this but for how we use Egret it is great. If we were serious fishing in deeper water we would have a proper depth finder that would read quite deep. But we don't serious fish any more. Even reading thru the hull we can tell if the bottom is soft, has grass or is rock in all anchoring depths and fishing depths up to 250' (78m). We have a third digital transducer tied into the anemometer but digital does nothing but give you the depth at best. It doesn't read the bottom. We would use the digital as a last resort.

Egret's course keeps her at least 7nm off the coastal headlands and a large safety margin away from offshore rocks as well. If we were moving just during day hops we would run tight to the beach just to see the scenery. However, anchoring along this coast is marginal at best and we are late in the season for coastal day hops. So we'll take the longer but safe route around the coast.

Picture 1 was taken at sunrise the morning Egret left Esperance. You can see the town dock is rough. While on the dock we used 10 lines to bollards on the dock (2 forward bow - 2 short bow springs - 2 forward midship springs - 2 aft midship springs, 1 stern brest line, and 1 line from a bollard to the port winch on the caprail. In addition we used the furnished heavy hawser from the opposite shore to the port midship hawse and ran a second shoreline from the opposite shore to the port winch on the cap rail. Then we had 6 large inflatable fenders and one round fender on the stbd side. WHY with only a meter+ of tide? Wind and surge are the answers. The dock ate one midship spring because of chafe.

Around 7:30 this evening (Wed local) Egret will pass below Cape Leeuwin at a distance of 9.67nm. From here we start turning more to the NW then a wile after will turn N. What will Thursday bring? We'll see.

So there you have it. A little techno, frightening lightning and a couple more days at sea. Ciao.

 

March 22, 2010
Position: S33 51.92 E121 53.74 Esperance, West Australia

G' day mis amigos, I'll pass along a couple little techno goodies that came to mind while waiting for some folks to show up. We have mentioned in the past about checking your injectors, among a long list of other things, by using an infrared temperature gun. Ours is made by Raytek, model number MT (Mini Temp). Ours came from NAPA auto parts and was not expensive. It has the red laser beam dot which is worth the little extra cost. While on this trip I rested the edge of the temp gun on the exhaust manifold flange for just a second and pulled the trigger. For the first time ever, by resting the edge of the gun on the flange we got exhaust temperatures that were super accurate by having the temp read in exactly the same place and distance away on each cylinder. We changed injectors in NZ after a little more than 7000 hours. (Currently we have just over 8000 hours). The temperatures were within just a couple degrees on all six cylinders. That is as good as it gets. It tells me the valves are perfectly adjusted, the injector spray pattern is perfect, the valve seats are perfect as well as compression. There is a Celsius or Fahrenheit switch inside the handle above the battery.

Now we will show how you can solve real life problems by using the temp gun. While on anchor in Solomons, Maryland during a Trawlerfest weekend we were battery charging and I checked the generator temperature gauge and it was reading 225 degrees F. Yikes!! I took the load off, checked the exhaust water discharge for flow and steam, no problem there and shut down the gen. After it cooled I checked the raw water pump impeller and it was perfect. I started the gen again and again the temp went to 225 degrees. To shorten the story I thought the gauge sender went bad. We couldn't buy a VDO sender locally so we Fed Exed one from Ft Lauderdale. No change. Next we Fed Exed the gauge. No change. In the meantime I checked the gen with the temp gun and it was NOT hot. I could give you the temps but it doesn't matter. It was NOT hot. I called Northern Lights and the tech immediately told me to check the ground on the electrical side of the gen. There are several wires that are screwed tight to the electrical end. Yup, they were loose. Soooo, we started the gen and yes, it was cool. The temp gun and Northern Lights folks saved the day.

Moving forward a year, while on the NAR a fellow N46 called in with a generator overheating problem. After all the other boats put in their opinions I called and said "John, check the ground on the side of the electrical end". He agreed to try this first. Yup, you guessed it. Silence from the others. In any case we all learned, and now you know as well.

Then it was rental car day. The Egret crew was off to Cape Le Grand National Park about 60 k away to the east. On the way we saw our first wild emus feeding amongst the cattle. Since arriving in Oz we have seen lotsa beautiful birds, however, the emu is on the very bottom of the beautiful list. Below the bottom actually. In fact...(While I'm typing this Mary and I are eating pink in the middle, fresh seared tuna...again. I just thought you would want to know.) The area leading to the park is dry with desert type hardy plants. Walking thru the park trails we could see the variety of plants up close. Because it is sorta still summer some are still flowering and many are colorful. The big attraction of the park are the white sand beaches of the shoreside bays. The sand is so white it looks almost like salt. It is pure and quite hard packed. The beaches are spotless with NO pollution. The water is crystal clear, clear white near shore and green a little ways out. The surrounding rocks are "massive rock outcrops of granite and gneiss exposed over the past 600 million years. Just 40 million years ago (while we are throwing around numbers) sea levels were 300 meters above their present level". Bottom line: nearby Frenchman's Peak, 262m/840', is solid granite with sculpted contours and a largish cave cut right thru near the top. We climbed Frenchman's Peak and enjoyed the scenery from the top looking out over the bays and islands in Recherche Archipelago to the south and southwest. Unfortunately, after reaching the summit a haze moved in hiding most of the islands. From a human aspect it was interesting listening to the folks on the way down as we headed up. The closer we got to the top these folks felt inclined to let us know it wasn't far to the top. Of course they were being polite but in essence they let us know it was a tough climb and they did it too. If these folks had boats they would have the sparkley stuff for sure. Mary and I aren't kids but we could probably have sprinted to the top. It is just that we do this all the time. Perhaps as you will but that's another story.

After Frenchman's Peak we drove to Lucky Bay and met the Perth folks we met earlier in Esperance. We thanked them for sending the information of a balloon trip they took the year before near Perth during the winter (when it is still most mornings). We have never flown in a balloon but it sounds like a hoot and something to look forward to. From then on we drove to the different bays in the park and finally to Thistle Cove to watch the sunset. It was pretty as everything turned gold after the sun set. THEN we had to run the 'roo' gauntlet on the way back home. It didn't take long for a family of three to sprint across the road. The worst was a single large roo that came toward the car then turned off as we were in heavy braking mode. We named it GWB (Gee Willikers Bubba). Rocks have more IQ than that roo fellow. We slowly drove the rest of the way home looking for GWB's mates to pop out of the darkness but he was the last.

The next day was another rental car day as well stopping along the beaches west of Esperance along Ocean Drive, a 20k tourist loop along the beach and inland back to Esperance. It has the same white sand beaches and clear water as the park. The beaches are Esperance's big tourist draw. Almost without exception the vacationers we saw were Australians. Just guessing they are from inland getting away from the heat and dry and being near the ocean. Esperance has put 15 k of paved walking/bike paths along the waterfront from east of town to the end of the western beaches. Along the way are generous parking areas and paths leading down to the beach and granite outcrops. It is all first class. At the end of one beach is a ' surfing hole' where we saw twenty or so young folks surfing and just being kids. The waves aren't so big and there are no rocks in the surfing area. Walking fairly high up a granite outcrop I wasn't paying enough attention and stepped on a black stripe that was a slippery salty area where rain water flows. Geesh, I nearly spun out and crashed n' burned farrr below. The old heart was pumpin! The wench thought it was funny.

Now we have changed our minds again about Egret's next destination. We announced on the last VofE we were going to back track to Middle Island, about 40 nm back east. Well, documentary film Dave read that VofE and drove to Egret warning us NOT to even think of it. Their team spent two days anchored at MI on a 65' research ship doing a film documentary about the island. He said one night alone they reset 9 times with two anchors out. This isn't Egret's kind of deal so we'll pass. Thank goodness he took the time to stop by and warn us. And of course this gave us more time to chat about his research. So we talked quite a while then took a trip to see his underwater rovers and the like. More on that later.

Later. Dave stopped by this morning and gave us the information on making a film documentary for boat owners. Before we get into that let me give you a little of Blue Office's background. The past ten years they have been honing their trade working with a number of different organizations and the West Australian government. They have done a number of projects from Antarctica to here in Australia. In addition to being film makers they have a unique expertise in the underwater of Western Australia. Their main love is the study of Great White Sharks and larger sharks in general. This is a comprehensive study including putting cameras on the backs of white sharks and recording tags with a burn wire that pop to the surface and float to shore to be recovered. One VERY unusual recording tag floated to shore and it was all white as if cleaned in acid, not the usual ball of algae flowing off the unit. It was from a relative small white shark, about 12'/ 3.75m, that had been following a usual course up to northern Australia and returned to South Australia staying in relatively shallow depths. THEN it dove fast to 1100 meters (3500') and returned fast to the surface. THEN the tag floated to shore. Now what could do this? A larger white shark, sperm whale? Stomach acid? Its a mystery.

Another little story we'll pass along we found fascinating. In the Shark Bay video we saw underwater footage of a dugong, sort of a manatee type critter. The dugongs arrive at a particular grass covered peninsula for a few months each year to feed. Along with these beasts come large tiger sharks. You would think these grass eaters would have no defense against tiger sharks, but they do. They are large and are difficult for the sharks to get their teeth in to. As the shark tries to nibble away they tense and become nearly impenetrable. As they age and become less infirm losing the ability to tense, the tigers finally get their big meal. Then it is fast and merciful. When filming Shark Bay, Dave and his wife Jennine tried to film this phenomenon of nature. Every day for 5 days they ran in their small outboard to where they had last seen this older, large dugong. On the 6th day they were delayed by weather. When they finally got out to the spot it was over but the remnants were scattered in the tide.

As we mentioned before, the past 5 years during short time periods they were allowed to deviate from their paid tuna research, Dave and John have discovered a very small geographic area where killer whales (orcas) mingle with tuna, pilchards (baitfish) and bronze whaler sharks. We saw underwater footage from a towed camera of the bronze whaler sharks following a tuna bait and footage along with stills of the orcas. On a couple occasions there were "tiny calves" along with the group. What they would LOVE to do is get a grant to research this offshore phenomenon and interaction between rungs of the food chain ladder. The questions are; is this a birthing ground for orcas, are the orcas there to feed on a seasonal upwelling of baitfish, or the tuna feeding on the baitfish, what is the bronze whaler sharks' role in all this and so on. This is all super interesting to Mary and me. To do our small part we will time our departure from Esperance to arrive at the orcas location at dawn and search the area until 9:00AM, the last time of day orcas have been spotted. I will be taking telephoto pictures of whatever we see and Mary will be taking movies. Whatever we see or don't see will be reported back to Blue Office.

So here's the deal. If you are interested in a broadcast quality DVD of a specific voyage filmed aboard your boat, OR are interested in being a mother ship for great white shark or orca research, start the process by contacting Dave Riggs at Blue Office here in Esperance, Western Australia: riggsnparis@westnet.com.au If interested, Dave will forward you a video of Shark Bay they made in conjunction with a government office and university system so you may see the expected film quality. We would love to participate but Egret is too small for $100k worth of camera equipment (you should SEE the stuff!!), dive compressors, two extra crew and so on. I believe it would be a few months of your life you would never forget. What an adventure!!

So there you have it. A little techno, inland touring and a glimpse into an underwater world and a potential Great Adventure.

Below is OMNI Bob's report. You can see the weather is acceptable, certainly much better than before. Egret will leave Esperance mid day Monday (local) planning to arrive at the orca spot at daybreak. From there, unless the weather deteriorates unexpectedly we will round Cape Leeuwin and start up the west coast.

Waiting the extra days has really helped the pattern from Esperance to Fremantle. Currently high ridge layes west to east to your south from approx 30S 85E ESE to 40S 115E to east across 43S 130E . The ridge should lay stationary the next 2-3 days. However, a north/south oriented trough along the west coast of Australia should also lay stationary the next 24hrs or so, move offshore and develop a weak area of low pressure along it, then move southward and passing west/south of Cape Leeuwin by Tue/0900Z.

Once the low/trough move away, weak high pressure should prevail and a lighter wind/sea pattern should prevail as your approach Cape Leeuwin and turn northward to Fremantle. Until then, you should expect fresh easterly winds the first 24hrs or so, then winds should shift as what is left of the trough approaches the SW coast of Australia through Tue/2400Z. Once the trough moves through, a return to fresh S-SSE winds is expected from Cape Leeuwin northward to Fremantle.

Basis a departure on Mon/22 along the direct route to Fremantle via the SW coast of Australia and traveling closer to the coast as necessary, expect:

Mon/22 0000Z-2400Z : Easterly 20-25kts, upto 30kts at times. Seas Building 1.5-2.5mtrs to 3.0mtrs thru the day. Some ESE swells are possible, but a more prevailing WSW-SW swell 1.0-2.0mtrs is more likely thru the day.

Tue/23 0001Z-Sun/2400Z: Shifting E-ENE to NE-N thru the day; Wind speed 15-25kts, gusty early, tending to subside to 15-20kts to 10-18kts thru the day and the easiest winds from the N-NW late. Seas become fetch limited 1.5-2.0mtrs to as low as 0.5-1.0mtrs late in the period. Swells long period SW-ly 1.0-2.0mtrs.

Wed/24 0000Z-Mon/2400Z: Winds NNW-Var to S 10-15kts, Seas 0.5-1.0kts. Swells SW-ly 1.0-2.0mtrs through Wed/09Z-12Z, then gradually freshen SW-S 10-20kts, seas 1.0-1.5mtrs, chance upto 2.0mtrs through Wed/2400Z. Swells: WSW-SW 1.0-2.0mtrs. Southerly winds of 20-25kt, gusty 30kts with seas 1.5-2.5mtrs possible late in the period.

Thu/25 0000Z-2400Z- Fremantle area:S-SE 17-27kt, gusty. Seas 1.5-2.5mtrs. Swells SW-ly 1.0-2.0mtrs.

 

 

March 17, 2010
Position: S33 51.92 E121 53.74 Esperance, West Australia

G' day mis amigos, tings have changed. We now have winds up to 25 knots from the NE blowing over the stbd stern quarter. The seas aren't bad but occasionally a pair of RBG's (really big guys) roll thru giving Egret a slap and a generous corkscrew roll. This weather change has dropped her speed to the 6.6 - 6.7 range at 1600 RPM. We will maintain this speed until early tomorrow morning when we make the turn toward Esperance. We exaggerated the route in giving a wide berth to any rocks or shallows. This added miles to the daytime course but it is the safe thing to do without local knowledge. We will also leave a track going in so we can follow it out at night. The next stop in Albany is an odd mileage affair so we will have to leave at night. As we near the Esperance turn off it would appear we will be in somewhat of a lee of the wind but I suspect as the NE wind hits the mainland curve it will actually accelerate. We'll see.

The sea birds have reappeared so perhaps this means there is food available. Where there is food there should be a hungry tuna fish. When Mary gets up from her off watch we'll put a couple worms out and see what snaps. Even though the waves have gotten higher with more chop if we turn down sea all motion except up and down will stop. THEN we can pull the tuna fish* in lips first over the transom. This is fish speak of course. For you non fisherman we intend to put 2 lures out trying to catch a tuna. *The word tuna is both singular and plural. Adding fish after tuna is advanced slangy fish speak.

Later, an hour before dark. Yup, the rod went off. Ho hum, more tuna filets. We were fishing just one bait. One more fish is all we needed and with this many tuna around a double was a good possibility had we been fishing two baits. It was sparse in deep water (6000+ feet - 2000m) but as soon as we neared the continental shelf the rod went off. We got see what they were feeding on. Its stomach was full of 6" sardines. No wonder they are so fat for their length. I think there will be some very happy cruisers tomorrow night in Esperance.

It is 0327 am. Mary is off watch getting her beauty sleep. (Actually she is always beautiful to me but does need her sleep) An hour or so ago I change the original course to cut off a 90 degree corner saving a few miles. We do this often in closing the coast or nearing an island. The reason is to get a radar target and compare its distance and placement with the radar vs the chart plotter. We don't take electronic chart accuracy for granted unless it has been accurate all along in a specific area. Because we are going thru an archipelago of rocks and reefs we didn't take a chance. On Mary's watch we marked our first small islands on radar. They matched electronic charting exactly. So we changed course. Then a little while ago we got another strong mark at 11.5nm. (Because it has calmed we are on 12 mile radar with the gain up high) The new mark didn't match anything on the chart. It sorta matched a reef area but the chart didn't show it was exposed. It was driving me crazy. Then I got the idea to up the range and go to 24nm. Guess what? There is a thin band of heavy rain in a semi circle to the north. The band now looks like rain and has moved to within 8.5nm. At the time it was solid green and didn't have the usual rain snow. So now we know.....and all is well. Now, if the rain will just hang on and give us a rinse, that would be welcome.

Later, the rain dissipated into just a bit of wind reversal from the SW instead of the NE. We continued on into the bay cutting corners where we could. We first dropped TK in Esperance harbor exactly 6 days and 30 minutes after leaving Kangaroo Island. That was the first time. We dropped 3 more times and TK just wouldn't set in the hard bottom. Then we went to the local yacht club docks but they were for smaller boats than Egret. (we later learned the bottom is smooth limestone with a shallow sand and weed cover) Next we went to a larger single dock and asked a tour boat skipper if we could tie up and he said sure, on the other side. So we did. There is no power but there is water so we gave our little lady a nice rinse and filled the water tank. There was a local fishing tournament going on so we talked to the tournament officials on the dock and got a lot of local information including weather information from several commercial fishermen. A local stopped by a bit later with his two really cute young kids for a chat. When they left we gave them some tuna. He was thrilled to say the least. Later it was a walk around town and back to the boat for a snooze.

Today it was a walk around town then back to Egret. We met a nice couple from Perth visiting Esperance with their travel trailer (caravan). We chatted for a while and invited them aboard. While they were here two locals came by for a chat as well. It turns out they are film documentary folks. It is a tough business living from grant to grant but they truly love nature and have done some interesting work from Antarctica to here. While conducting tuna surveys they came on a rare, repeated phenomenon of killer whales feeding with tuna in the same spot each year. They gave us the coordinates so we'll make every effort to see them and photograph them if possible. They are only seen early morning during a short time window so we'll have to anchor relatively nearby or work out when we leave Esperance to arrive at the exact time. We promised to forward any information we find adding to their research.

One thing that came up about the killer whale (ocra) scenario is its location. It seems an oil company wants to do seismic surveys on the continental shelf very close to the orca location. Because the location is in a whale migration route they are banned from any seismic testing for three months during the whale season. In any case, if the seismic results are positive of course the oil company will want to drill. What these folks are hoping is to call attention to this yearly phenomenon of the killer whales arriving at the same spot at the same time. Apparently there is a very specific location where there is an upwelling bringing baitfish (small mackerel) which are in turn pursued by the tuna and orcas. They don't know for sure what the orcas are feeding on but it makes sense to me its the concentrated tuna. They said they have seen blood in the water and mackerel are smaller fish that don't bleed much and as you know tuna are very bloody. So it is nature against oil. These two fellows are hoping for a grant to further validate their findings with a comprehensive study and save the location from demise. In the past they have been able to spend just a bit of time on the orcas while on tuna surveys for other folks.

When they left one of them gave us DVD's of their last two documentaries. I told one about the whale we saw leaving Kangaroo island we couldn't identify and showed him the picture. The picture isn't clear but he thinks it was a sperm whale. If that's the case, it would be our first. But again, it was his best guess so we still don't know for sure.

Now we have been in Esperance for a couple days and looking back we see the only consistency for the Egret crew is its inconsistency. First we announced we were leaving New Zealand for Eden on Australia's SE mainland coast. We diverted to Launceston, Tasmania instead. Then there were a minor series of mind changing as we trekked down the Tassie east coast. Hobart was normal but then again originally we planned to spend most of our Australia time in Tasmania. We didn't because of weather crossing the bight later in the year. Next we talked about going to Port Lincoln on the mainland. We didn't go there either. Now we have met so many folks who really know the south Australian weather we are changing our minds again. Now we will backtrack 40nm to a historic island in the Archipelago of the Recherche. It is called Middle Island and has aboriginal history and even was supposed lair for a local pirate. More recently it was a sealing base and whaling base during the early 1800's. It is just one of the few islands in the archipelago that has a white sand beach. It sounds like Egret's kinda deal so we're going with the next settled weather. In the meantime we rented a car for two days from now and we'll travel east to a National Park and see what the deal is there. That is of course we don't change our mind and go somewhere else. You get the picture.

This afternoon the Port Authority bent over backward to give Egret shore power. The two outside boats contract for their berth and power. Apparently the inside of the dock is available for the very few transients that sail thru. This was really nice of them and typical of the folks we met in town. Mary and I told the folks at the Port Authority this is the cleanest working harbor Egret has seen in her travels. Picture 1 shows the white sand beach and crystal clear water. The small local yacht club is on the left and the loading docks are in the background. The port exports grain, iron ore and nickel. Even the area around the port is spotless. Ports elsewhere could learn a lot here.

All day during the weekends and later in the weekday afternoons kids come and jump off the dock. Different age groups come at different times. Even the teenagers are well behaved. It is great to be a kid in this town. Picture 2.

So there you have it. A wrap up of Egret's crossing the Great Australian Bight and a little local scenery. Ciao.

 

 

March 13, 2010
Position: S34 43.95 E125 06.60
Location: en route Esperance, western Australia

March 13, 2010
Position: S34 43.95 E125 06.60
Course: 271 degrees M.
Steering: 271
Apparent Wind: 15.4 knots - 22T
Wind direction: NE
Seas: 2m swells with wind chop
Speed: 7.3 knots
RPM: 1600
NM to go before Esperance turn off: 177
CCOM: 3.1

G' day mis amigos, Egret is still rocking along in following wind and seas. The seas have picked up a bit with a few whitecaps but the wind still hasen't exceeded 20 knots. She has been running consistently from early morning until now (1320 local) between 7.8 and 8.1 knots turning 1750 RPM. The really good news is as of this morning unless things change, the strong northerlies that were predicted earlier will go away as the front turns more north than originally projected and dissipate before we cross the line. The backside of the front appears stable with moderate seas as well. It appears now we have the choice to run directly to Albany, another 270 or so miles taking advantage of the stable weather. We'lll make that call in another day. From Albany there are day hops in interesting cruising areas along the way to Cape Leeuwin. Once around the cape it is just a day to Fremantle. THAT cape rounding will have to well planned. Sailing friends a few years back left Fremantle heading east to Tasmania with a favorable forecast. When they reached Leeuwin they had 70 knots from the west. I couldn't even imagine 70 knots on the nose driving typical cape type current. So we'll do what we always do, be cautious AND patient. You get the picture.

Mary and I talked about Esperance vs Albany last night and we decided to stop in Esperance even though we could easily run to Albany in settled weather. We have at least 4 weeks of probably good weather to make a week's run (total). So we'll stop for a bit and see the sights. The cruising guide (Western Australian Cruising, by the Fremantle Sailing Club) said the YC in Esperance was very welcoming. We'll put out the baits later this morning and see what snaps. If we get another tuna we'll have enough for a YC fish fry Sunday afternoon. Now THAT would be fun.

The wind picked up a bit during the night and early morning hours (its 0300 now). However, its still from behind and we are rocking along at 7 knots even though we slowed to 1600 RPM. During the day we'll slow more to give us a daylight arrival in Esperance. This VofE will arrive on Friday PM and the next VofE we may be back at sea. The google earth coordinates for Esperance are: S33 51.97 E121 53.79 if you wish to check out the harbor.

I throw in comments from time to time that may not be what they seem on the surface. Sometimes there is a deeper meaning. Like in the last VofE describing cleaning fish on the cap rail that would be difficult if Egret had sparkly girl varnish. We're not necessarily admonishing all who have sparkly girl varnish on the cap rail because most boats do. After all, it is pretty. That comment was more directed than a general statement. And it worked. In spades. We have cruising friends who do have sparkly girl varnish and keep it.........well.....sparkly. They snapped with the abuse and here is what they wrote. Our reply is at the bottom. Ciao.

I enjoyed your usual comments about girl boats with varnished rails. After thinking about it, what you said is really practical. Following that line of thought, perhaps you might think about rolling on Sherwin Williams Rustoleum, with a little non-skid over your gelcoat, replacing your interior varnished dining table with a work bench, and scattering saw dust on the cabin soles. With a little bit of creativity, you could make your Nordhavn into a real manly boat. Maybe a couple of rusty 55 gallon drums and old fish nets on deck might be just the thing to finish off the manly look.

PS...We have been throwing those little bluefin back, leaving room for the real deal...the big yellow fin.

Ya know, some people are like bluefin tura. They rise to the bait soooo easily. S.

 

March 12, 2010
Position: S34 50.33 E128 51.79
Location: en route Esperance, western Australia
Course: 267 degrees M.
Steering: 262
Apparent Wind: 15.1 knots - 23.3T
Wind direction: E
Seas: 2m swells
Speed: 8.2 knots
RPM: 1750
NM to go before Esperance turn off: 362

G' day mis amigos, this morning we have a bit more wind and the seas show it. Fortunately they have swung mostly square to our course so we have increased speed from that change alone. Occasionally a wave sets the stern over and we corkscrew a bit. The seas are roughly 2-3 meter swells with more wind chop. The interval has tightened up but the ride still very comfortable. We just now increased RPM to 1750 (from 1650) in advance of the coming blow to put miles and time in the bank. Right now running at a 7 knot average Egret will arrive in Esperance Sunday afternoon late. We averaged low 7's thru the night and now with the RPM increase are running mid to occasional upper 7's. The entrance to Esperance is thru a maze of islands so we would prefer NOT to enter at night but the charting appears very good (because it is a commercial port) so if we have to we could and would. It appears we have 36 hours before the wind picks up and changes direction so we'll see what happens then.

Mary changed her mind and didn't fix the tuna last night. The spill she cleaned up the other morning was some hamburger that was defrosting in a soup bowl and spilled blood and guts over everything. She had to cook that or throw it away. Sooooo, we had spaghetti like commoners. Tonight we have tuna. I hope she slices it thin and sears it in a hot pan with olive oil. Then perhaps she'll put it over a large salad. We'll see.

It is nearly 0300 and time for a report. The day went well with Egret charging along in the mid to upper 7's. Currently we have nearly 20 knots directly from astern and are square with the waves. We have been consistently running over 8 knots during Mary's watch and just a bit ago were at 8.4. Obviously we haven't hit the east flowing current yet so all is better than well. Tonight the front blows thru but it appears to be fast moving so the frontal winds should last perhaps 6 hours or so. The closest land is 171nm to the NNW at the bottom of the Bight. The sea birds have thinned out with an occasional albatross and a few petrels.

And yes, we had tuna last night. For the first time ever I saved the belly meat. Usually this piece is thin but these tuna were fat so I whacked them off. I read once this is where tuna store their fat. Apparently they do. The meat was so flavorful and moist it was beyond delicious. She gave the medallions a quick sizzle in olive oil and served it with fresh lime. We'll be eating tuna for a while.

So there you have it. Not much to report other than another good day at sea. Ciao.

 

March 11, 2010
Position: S34 49.78 E132 35.88
Location: en route Esperance, Western Australia
Course: 263M
Steering: 252M
Wind: 9.7 knots apparent
Wind direction: SE
Seas: 3m swells
Speed: 7.1 knots
RPM: 1650
CCOM: 3.4 *see glossary of terms for CCOM Distance to go for Esperance turn off: 547nm

G' day mis amigos, Egret is under way again. She left Kingscote, Kangaroo Island around noonish, Tuesday, March 9th. Prior to leaving Mary made a last minute shopping trip for fresh tings while I did some internet stuff. A quick stop at the bakery and the post office and we were on our way. While at the post we sent in a picture CD of Tasmania. Months previously we sent in a second NZ batch of photo's but they got lost along the line. The new photo's should be up in 10 or so days. We are still somewhat in the lee of KI and are beating into a 3' sw'ly chop and very little wind. Egret's course is roughly a little W of NW taking OMNI Bob's advice then will make a turn to the west after about 250nm. Obviously we'll modify our course along the way depending on weather.

Egret is running 1650 RPM making 6.7 knots. We plan to run 1650 instead of stretching fuel to limit our exposure south of the Bight. With a short waterline like Egret's our fuel stretching speed and more liberal RPM is only 1.5 knots difference (no wind - no current). Obviously there are a number of variables. If we are really in a rush we can run just under 8 knots (no wind - no current) but she drinks the fuel. Even then she only uses 40% of our old 16' fishing boat at wide open throttle*. So drinking fuel is relative. *An outboard burns roughly 10 gallons per hour, per 100hp at wide open throttle. We had a 100hp outboard on the flats boat. Soooo...

It is Wed noon. Day one is complete. During the night we climbed hills with an occasional wave slap. Our position is S35 06.68 E134 26.72 Egret is making 7.0 knots at 1650 RPM. We have very little wind and 3 meter swells rolling in from the SW. Our course is 282 degrees M (just N of W). There is but 9 degrees of set and drift to the south (port side). Earlier, Mary was going off watch but was going to fix breakfast first when I spotted the first tuna feeding on the surface. They were fat little 15 pounders. However, Mary was on her hands and knees cleaning the fridge from an overnight spill. Not wanting to risk bodily harm I let the tuna go and held the fridge door for her during clean up. After she went to bed I put out a couple of baits to see what snaps. If we do get a hit from a little guy like that I'll just keep going for a bit then will use the 2 speed reel to winch in the now exhausted tuna fish. So that's the plan. We'll see.

One disadvantage on being on the far side of the world (from N America and Europe) is sending in current VofE's. We are 8 hours ahead of EST where we send postings. From there they are sent to California for web guru Doug Harlow to format and post. In any case, we'll send in postings very early AM local to be posted later that day.

Egret is running NW to the S34 70 line (latitude) then will run W along the line. Currently we have 69.6nm to that waypoint. It is very graphic looking at this mornings gribs exactly showing OMNI Bob's game plan. By staying high instead of a rhumb line from Kangaroo Island to a waypoint off Esperance we save a lot of trauma. The backside of the east bound high is strong but doesn't really get cranking until it is somewhat south of the coast. Highs in the Southern Hemisphere rotate counter clockwise. The back side of the high is generating heavy (35 knot sustained average speed) northerlies. Higher, we will be riding the easterly winds of the high with no more than 20 knots predicted. AND they will be from behind. Pretty cool, eh?

I love it when a plan comes together. Less than a half hour after puting the baits out the long flat (line) went off. Yup, 22lb Pacific Bluefin, YT's first. We caught it 48.8nm from the nearest land so we'll enter it in the N fishing contest. So now Mary informs me the little freezer is packed with 8 meals worth of fresh tuna. Actually, there are 9 bags. One is for diner tonight. Ho hum. What are you having for dinner tonight?

However, we have an EMPTY freezer that is turned off. What are we to do?

Not much later. I couldn't stand it so we turned on the breaker for the freezer and put two worms back out to see if anything would snap. Yup, it wasn't long...a double on bluefins. These guys were a little tougher than the first so we had to use low speed on the 2 speed reels to winch them in. Now we have enough for a big fish fry for some lucky cruisers we'll meet down the road. It is so funny watching the birds feeding on scraps. The far majority are chocolate colored petrels and a few grey headed albatrosses. The tiny Wilson's Storm Petrels that have been wave walking around the boat all day split when all this is going on. The larger petrels have NO friends when it comes to food. Instead of seeing whatever else may come across the transom they fight their buddys for what they got. The albatrosses steal the larger pieces the petrels can't eat in a single gulp. The petrel fights desperately to keep his brethren away flying this way then that with a big piece. The albie's come half flying, half paddling across the top of the water making more noise than all the rest put together. In the end the albatross gets his way. Mary took some great pictures of these happenings. The VofE after this will have those pictures.

It is now 0300 and time to fire this VofE into space. The night and early morning have been more of the same rolling seas and little wind. What will today bring? We'll see. Ciao.

 

March 9, 2010
Position: S35 39.18 E137 38.84 Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

G' day mis amigos, Kangaroo Island is just that, full of roos and other critters. For you lawyer types there is a Kangaroo Council (we took a picture of the building) and most likely a Kangaroo Court. Egret's KI anchorage in Kingscote is the largest town with 1800 folks. N55 New Paige wrote and said short notice tickets were prohibitively expensive so we'll try and catch up later. We will now leave on the first weather window on a direct shot to Esperance or Albany on the west side of the Great Australian Bight. Unfortunately there is an east flowing current of up to 2 knots so the trip will be slow most likely taking 6 days or so. We will leave in good weather on the leading edge of an east moving high but I doubt we'll have the same calm conditions all the way across. We have a preliminary report from OMNI Bob and before we leave we'll get a departure forecast.

Now for the good part; rental car day. We picked up the gold plated rental car at 9:15 in the morning. Later we learned it should have been armor plated but we're getting ahead of ourselves. We chose a simple route. First it was thru the middle* of KI to an animal farm for a stop then continuing on to Flinders Chase National Park on the SW corner. Flinders Chase has historical rock formations called Remarkable Rocks and Admiral's Arch. After, it was a south coast route back to Kingscote. The trip would be about 250 kilometers (150 miles). KI has but a few paved roads but these were paved and not the usual red pebble/dusty roads of the interior. On the road to the park we were ever watchful of critters jumping out in front of the car after dire warnings from the rental car lady saying how bad they would be just before and after dark. Yea, right lady, we didn't see anything but a few sheep but then again, it was daylight.
*Kangaroo Island is an E/W rectangular island with tapered ends. KI is roughly 100 k's wide and 40 k's top to bottom.

If the inland could be described in a couple words it would be sparse and light tan inland, scrub outers with a high rocky coast. There are also a few areas with gum trees and hearty pines. We couldn't describe the trip inland as beautiful but it was different and we enjoyed the ride. I would venture to say a fair percentage of wildlife photos you see are taken in game parks. This is a first for us but I can see why. It is soooo easy. No sneaking around, no hides or waiting for hours hoping to see this or that. All you do is walk up and shoot away. Parndana Wildlife Park in the Parndana area of KI (central district) is at first not much but as you walk thru the maize of walks you see how much effort it took for the owners to assemble all the birds and animals. Mary and I had a great time and enjoyed doing the tourist routine. Mary bought a bag of feed and fed the kangaroos and a few birds including a couple beautiful black swans and another large honking type goose of some kind with a bright lime green patch on its bill. Because we were so close to a number of parrots we were able to take VERY close up pictures of just their eyes and surrounding feathers. Interesting. Unlike a predator bird's eyes that are fixed in place, parrot's eyes are at the end of an accordion type membrane that can extend away from the head and look in every direction. The first time we saw that was on frigate birds on Suworrow Atoll in the Cook Islands. Frigates eyes are at the end of VERY long extensions and can look in two directions at once. It sorta reminds me of lawyer's speech.

After a couple hours of critters we were off across the second half of the island. As we neared the SW coast the scrub got thicker with no open farmlands. After taking our time walking thru the Flinders/Chase Visitor's Center and a bite to eat we were off to Cape du Couedic* peninsula (*Life on the Edge). Here was the beautiful Cape du Couedic lighthouse and a little farther on, Admiral's Arch and Remarkable Rocks. We spent quite a bit of time at the lighthouse killing time to when the sun dropped lower and giving its magic color. After a tour bus full of folks from the mainland left we drove then walked to Admiral's Arch. On the rocks below was a large breeding colony of New Zealand fur seals. We watched their antics for a while then took the chilly walk down to Admiral's Arch. Both young male fur seal and sea lions are constantly battling with one another practicing for when it's time and ladies come into their lives. Then it's for real. The young girls lay around bored with it all. Sound familiar? One sign along the way explained how eventually the arch will be eroded away, then with more erosion the seaward side of the arch will become another small island. On the flat rocks outside the arch was another group of 30 or so fur seals. The arch came into its own as the sun started to fall.

Remarkable Rocks are just that. There are wind and sea sculpted rocks on top of a rounded granite dome. We met an architect who was walking back along the trail from the rocks beside herself. She ran out of camera battery while she was taking pictures of the different shapes. We talked for a while. As the light fell the tourists left and the photographers arrived. There was a young German working in Adelaide, a young Aussie engineer and a retired Korean lady on vacation. We chatted with them all waiting on light. As the light warmed we all went in our separate directions and started setting up tripods and so on. I won't bore you with the details except to say the rocks are truly remarkable. Mary also found a wild echidna which is a weird porcupine type critter. Every time a shutter clicked a wave went thru its spines but it went about its business of looking for ants and bugs. They have heavy blond spines around its entire body and a long cigar shaped nose. Its purple tongue is longer than its snout. Wild!!

Near dark we started back on the 100k ride along the coastal highway. The car rental lady told us very clearly we were not insured for critter damage near and just after dark. Now we know why. We drove between 40 k's and 60 k's per hour. (25 & 38 mph). At times that seemed too fast. The locals have it figured out. They just don't travel at this time. We saw no cars going our way and only a few going the other. They too were going super slow. The kangaroos weren't bad. They would cross the road well ahead and weren't a problem. It was the wallabys and possums that were bad. If it weren't for the fact the roads were cleared back from the highway for 6-8' it would have been a disaster. Wallabys aren't particularly bright. At times they will run diagonally across the road toward the car as if it weren't there. Other times they change direction and sometimes change it again. The possums were clueless and you didn't know what they were going to do next. So when in doubt we just stopped and waited for the road to clear then went on our way. Mary kept a critter running total. We had 7 kangaroos, 44 wallabies and 10 possums either cross the road or were standing next to it. As we neared Kingscote it was fenced and was later in the evening. Along the final stretch all we saw were a couple possums.

So anyhow, it was a special day. It has been puffing the past couple days and we would love to take the rental car out for another spin. However, its one thing to support the agent's villa in Portofino but we draw the line at taking care of the race horses. Right now it is puffing up to 30 knots and we are bouncing on anchor in a 3' chop. Mary is doing laundry and we are making water filling the tank for the upcoming trip. Hopefully the wind will lay down so we can dink into the dock and provision with fresh goodies for the next leg of the trip. We have shut down the main freezer and are just using the fridge/freezer combo. We can store 2 weeks of meat in the small freezer so we are saving amps not using the larger freezer. (Egret has 12V Isotherm refrigeration, not the usual Sub Zero) With the main freezer shut down and mostly sunny days we have a rough net loss of 100 amps per day after the solar panel input. In theory we could go 4+ days with no generator burn but we run the gen every other day just for hot water and to give the batteries a little shot. Something else we have been doing is raising the dinghy to cockpit cap rail level at night. This keeps the noise down and also takes any worry away from the dink flipping in the wind and chop. We have it tied level by using the bow line led forward up to the boat deck rail, a line from the engine carry handle to the winch on top of the cap rail and a third line from a pontoon strap to the hawse cleat. It doesn't move even in 30 knots.

Kangaroo Island was a super worthwhile stop. We would encourage you locals to spend a few days here as well. There is a short ferry ride from the mainland to KI. Much of the rest of the island is what you see around coastal SE Australia but the wildlife farm and Flinders/Chase National Park are well worth your time.

It is Tuesday morning and time to go. In a few minutes we'll head to town for quick provisioning and send pictures for this VofE via the internet. After, we're off again. This trip will be a bit longer than the last. We included OMNI Bob's weather forecast below. You can see what good information this is. Bob can look farther down the road than we amateurs. Having us run with the waves for half a day before turning west is smart thinking and will save us some bouncing on the other end. If the wave height looks intimidating, they're not. We have wave spacing of roughly one foot of height per second (between waves) and that is acceptable. In the past we had 4-1 the WRONG way. That was NO fun.

So there you have it. A couple more days in The Life and a little peek into the future. Ciao

To: Captain Flanders - M/Y EGRET
Fm: O.M.N.I./USA www.oceanmarinenav.com
1710Z 08 MAR 2010

The latest observations indicate low pressure is southwest of Tasmania near near 47S 144E while high pressure is centered near 42S 113E with SW-SSW winds at least 20-25kts with SW-SSW swells 3-4mtrs reported near/west of Kangaroo Island.

The low center will continue to move southward and weaken through tonight and Tuesday while ridging from the high center tends to extend E-ENE across southern South Australia (north of Adelaide) through Tue/night and Wed/am. Thereafter the ridge should move southward across Victoria and the the Bass Straits region through Thursday. Meanwhile the high center will continue to push slowly eastward reaching Tasmania during Fri/pm, then continue eastward across the Tasman Sea (at 40S) through Sat/aftn.

With the high center moving eastward, ridging to the west will gradually weaken. In its place, we expect a weak weather front to move east and cross the Cape Leeuwin/Albany area during Sat/morning-afternoon. Fortunately, this front weakens as it moves eastward across the Esperence and the Great Australian Bight area through Sunday. This will allow a new, reinforcing area of high pressure to move quickly eastward merging with the high cell over the Tasman Sea through Sun/pm-Mon/am.

Overall, as the low moves south and the ridging starts to extend eastward, the SW-S winds west of Kangaroo Island are expected to subside through Tuesday and Wednesday. You should still expect SW-S winds of 15-20kts with SW-S 3-4mtrs during Tue/am with a more SSW-SSE winds of 15kts and sea/swells subsiding closer to 2-3mtrs during Tue/pm. So, by waiting until Wed/am you allow the wind sea conditions to ease a bit more and become more aft of the beam to following.

Either way, you should encounter aft of the beam to following conditions across the Great Australian Bight. We do note that it may be best to travel a bit closer to the coast. Reason being is that the E-NE winds that develop once you get further west will have the opportunity to freshen to 20-30kt (Wed-Fri) even gusty to 35kts (on Friday) across the more offshore waters as the cold front moves eastward. Fortunately, once the front moves through shifting N-NW to SW-S winds should shift and ease quickly, but SW swells will have a tendency to build.

Therefore, we would suggest waiting to depart Kangaroo Island on Tuesday/morning and follow the wind/seas for the first 6-12hr or so then take on a more direct route toward Esperence as the overall conditions subside. This way you will place the strongest winds more aft of the beam to following, then move a bit closer to the coast and will be in a position to better accept the expected fresh E-NE to NNE winds that develop Thur-Fri-Sat/am before the front. You could leave on Wed/am and have a better ride at the outset, but you would tend to encounter the cold front and have a more adverse SW swell developing as you move closer to Esperence.

Basis leaving Tue/am, along the suggested route, expect:

Tue/09: SW-S 17-25kts, Seas 1.5-2.0mtrs, Swells: SSW-SW 2.5-3.5mtrs, upto 4.0mtrs at the outset. Winds tending to subside SSW-SSE 15-20kts with seas 1.5-2.0mtrs and Swells SW-S 2.5-3.0mtrs through Tue/eve-night.

Wed/10: S-SE, tending more SE-ESE during Wed/pm; 12-20kt with winds closer to 10-15kts during Wed/eve-night and overnight. Seas 1.5-2.0mtrs in the morning, subside to 1.0-1.5mtrs during the pm/hrs. Swells SW-SSW 2.0-3.0mtrs during the morning, tend to ease a bit more to 1.5-2.5mtrs Wed/pm.

Thur/11: Shifting and gradually freshening ESE-E to ENE-NE 10-15kts during the morning and 15-20kts, occ gusty/25kt during the pm/hrs. Seas: build 1.0-1.5mtrs to upto 2.0mtrs toward Thu/eve-night, especially the more offshore you are. Swells: SW-WSW 1.0-1.5mtrs thru the day.

Fri/12: ENE-NNE 17-25kt, upto 30kts very possible during the day. Gust of 35kts possible but more toward Fri/pm. Seas 1.5.2.5mtrs, upto 3.0mtrs more offshore during Fri/pm. Swells SW-WSW 0.5-1.0mtrs, becoming 1.0-1.5mtrs late.

Sat/13-Esperence area: NNE-NNW 20-30kt,gusty 35kt possible before the front, shifting/easing NNW-W to WSW-SW 15-25kts then 13-18kts through Sat/eve-night. Seas 2-3mtrs (more offshore, while 1-2mtrs closer to the coast). Swells SW-WSW 1-2mtrs thru the day with upto 2.5-3.0mtrs Sat/night-overnight.

We will continue to watch this pattern and will update based on your departure. Please advise if you leave Tue/am or are going to wait for Wed/am. We will update next based on your intentions. B/Rgds, Bob/OMNI

 

March 4, 2010
Position: S35 39.18 E137 38.84 Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

G' day mis amigos, it is 0410 and this little girl is flying. She is running down hill with 20 - 25 knots of wind up her skirt riding square to the waves making 8.8 - 9 knots at 1600 RPM. We're getting about the same mileage as a Hummer towing a flats boat. It is WONDERFUL!! But let's back up a bit. While on anchor in Portland, from time to time at night we would hear this grinding or metallic noise we couldn't quite place. We had heard it before. When raising the anchor it didn't take long to figure out what happened. The chain was caught on an old mooring block (just guessing) and was telegraphing the grinding noise up thru the anchor roller via the chain. Thinking about it, we had the same in a few anchorages in Vava u', Tonga. There you set in clear water laying the chain in sand. However, the entire area is full of 'boomies' (small coral heads). If there is a wind shift or little wind and a tide swing the anchor chain gets caught on the boomies and sends the grinding noise up thru the chain.

We started pulling in the chain and soon came tight so we tried a trick we learned from Roger on N55 New Paige. While NP was in the Tuamotus they had to anchor deep (up to 90' - 28m). The Tuamotus are full of boomies. He would use the hydraulic windlass to suck the bow down with the chain straight up and down, then would slowly drive to port to see if the bow rose. If it sunk further he would reverse direction. We did the same and the chain unwound on the first try.

Egret cleared Portland harbor at 1300 local time and ran into a 3' chop and a bit of tide. She was turning 1600 making 6.2 knots. A couple hours later the speed had increased to over 7 knots and the seas went from a short chop to 2 meter swells on the stern quarter. Then we saw two whale spouts in the distance. We got fairly close to one and snapped a couple pictures. From the pictures I couldn't tell anything but I saw the whales back clearly. It had a raised spine, sort of like a loose letter A going down to its back. It was light grey and had a lot of texture. I didn't see its head or tail but it certainly didn't look like a humpback that are common in the area. Bottom line: don't have a clue what it was.

While in Portland we stopped by a fishing tackle shop and in talking to the owner we gleaned there is an early run of Pacific Bluefin tuna. They are hanging out along the continental shelf. Soooo, we set a course along the 200 meter curve and near the drop off. It will be light in a couple hours and we'll put out a couple baits and see if any tuna fish snap. The most interesting part of the bottom structure will be coming up at that time and running along our course for the next 40nm until we turn and head into shallower water. We have the radar set to 12nm and have the gain cranked. If there are any schools of tuna they will be covered with tuna birds that will show up like rain on radar. We'll see.

Earlier we received an e-mail from N43 (Barquita) owner Graham Weir. Graham is a friend of Kiwi Dicks that we met in Hobart. Graham's wife Margarita is Chilean and is in Santiago visiting her mother. The earthquake scared the heck out of them but they are fine and no problems. Margarita will have to wait for the airport to be repaired before she can return home to Sydney (Aus). We had VERY slow internet in Portland so got just of bit of international news. We did see Talcahauano on the Chilean coast got hit with a tsunami. In the picture we saw a large fishing boat washed ashore over the seawall. Egret was there April, 08 while the harbor was full of fishing boats offloading the sardine catch, refueling and heading back to sea. The waterfront was packed with folks. Thankfully it appears the fishing season wasn't in full swing. There is a good picture of fishing boats in Talcahuano harbor in the latest edition of Circumnavigator Magazine. The picture also shows the waterfront buildings as well as the boats.

And while we are killing time waiting for the sun to rise and catch a couple tuna, let me mention a typo in the last VofE. I mentioned Mary and I are trying a new night watch schedule based on when we get tired, not necessarily at the usual 4 hours. If you did the math at what I said, she only got an extra half hours rest. Well, whoop de doo. Actually, it was 1 1/2 hours rest. Now that is a big deal. Tonight she gave me the same, 5 1/2 hours. Of course I'm so wound up about fishing I didn't sleep.

Later in the morning. The baits went out at daybreak. Our speed has fallen to 7.6 from 8.7 - 9.0 knots because the wind has slowed to under 10 knots and the waves are now just long spaced swells. Until now we averaged 8.0 knots for the trip. However, none of this is important. What is important is there are NO tuna birds. We ran so fast we overshot all but 12nm of the best bottom to hold tuna. We did manage to catch a couple small barracuda and released them alive. I've never caught a cuda from this part of the world. They are totally different from what we used to catch in S. Florida except for the mouth and smell. I suppose universally cuda's are slimy and stink.

The weather gods are still with us. It is EVEN calmer. We can see dolphins coming from waaaay off to join in the bow wake fun. We are trolling two baits trying to catch a tuna. We are out of the hot zone so I think it's a lost cause but we are driving the birds crazy. Albatrosses make a pass or two then go on their way. The chocolate colored petrels are losing their minds trying to figure it out. We made such good time we'll arrive after dark, well before daylight. The route in is straight forward so we'll take it easy and anchor under radar, chart plotter, depth finder and the nearly full moon. We'll anchor in the middle of a large shallow bay and will move in daylight to a more permanent anchorage. So we're going for it......carefully.

Mary and I were just sitting on the dock box in front of the Portuguese bridge for the past hour or so. We just talked, watched the birds and dolphins and enjoyed the calm. We are really lucky to be where we are, with each other. I can't think of a single thing I would rather be doing. I almost forgot. While sitting there we each had a cup of Greek yogurt with canned cherries, walnuts and honey for each of us. Decadent.

It is nearing dark. The dolphins are still coming to play. A few times as they approached the boat we could hear them clicking to one another. We have never seen so many dolphin for so many miles as this trip. They are everywhere. There must be a tremendous amount of food available or they have gathered in anticipation of food on its way. It is also the reason a few early season tuna are showing up. Tuna spend their lives in a predictable pattern following the food supply and why they are savaged so by the world's tuna fleets. In these days of satellite imagery showing infrared temperature changes along current rips*, spotter planes, helicopters and super efficient fishing fleets the tuna are in trouble. Sad isn't it? *Bait gathers along a temperature edge (current rip) as if a net were thrown up to hold them in place. Bait fish feed along these edges. Tuna in turn........ You get the picture.

TK dropped into 12' at 0300 yesterday morning. We sent out over 100' of chain and set hard in the mud bottom. THEN we crashed (slept). This morning we moved to outside the mooring field near the ferry boat dock in Kingscote. Mary spent the morning house cleaning while I putzed with boy stuff. After lunch we went to town and strolled around a bit. We rented a car for Saturday from Budget. I promise you the name is a misnomer. This is the most expensive rental car we ever hired. The franchise owner must have a villa in Portofino.......overlooking the water........with servants.....and a vineyard in the hills. More on Kangaroo Island later.

Picture 1 is interesting. It shows Egret's track (in green) across the Tasman and from the southern part of Tasmania to Kangaroo Island. (we didn't run this laptop along the eastern coast of Tassie) Now look at the crooked red line above the Tasman crossing green line of Egret. This was our Swedish friends on s/v Lindisfarn who crossed the Tasman from NZ's North Island. They didn't have any wind to speak of. You can see where they had to go to find wind whereas Egret put in a single waypoint and pulled the trigger. Annika put in their course to show their anchorages in Port Davey is why their course is in our laptop. Also you can see Egret's course along the 200 meter line trying to catch a tuna fish.

So there you have it, a couple more days at sea. Egret is anchored here in Kingscote to explore Kangaroo Island and wait on weather before continuing the trek west. Ciao.

Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.

 

 

 

 

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