Albany to Esperance – waves, more waves and pyrotechnics

A wetter
A “wetter” on the wheelhouse windows

Saturday 2/11/13 We moved from the Albany wharf before the eagle eyes of bureaucracy could charge us, and moved to the courtesy mooring. What a delight that turned out to be… just a short dinghy trip to the shore of a beautiful quiet bay, complete with a clean, non-smelly composting toilet. We went for a leisurely stroll, enjoyed a picnic lunch, were visited by dolphins swimming past, collected a couple of shells. This is what this boating lark is supposed to be! Then Col did one of his routine maintenance checks, and to our group dismay discovered we had about a foot deep of water sloshing around under the floor for the length of the boat! Panic, pumping, bailing with a chain of bucket emptiers; and finally sponging – but where was it coming from. Rod did a taste test and it wasn’t very salty – so not sea water. We finally tracked the culprit so a leaking valve in the bathroom bilge system. Water from the kitchen sink was gradually seeping down into the bathroom bilge, and overflowed into the keel section. It’s a stupid system – the bilge pump needs to be turned on as required, a valve opened – then both these shut down again. Nothing that should be automatic is. At last, boat was dry and definitely not leaking. That evening the predicted easterly storm came in, and blew a beauty for 24 hours. Our mooring was sound though not like a nearby old crayboat which dragged its anchor a couple of hundred metres perilously close to an island shore before the anchor held fast. The weather report was accurate, and we dropped the mooring at first light and headed out of Albany in light(ish) easterly winds so we could catch a westerly break to Esperance. A minimum of 36 hours straight ahead of us. All day we punched “up-hill” as Col describes it, averaging only about 5 knots directly into the big easterly swell which has built up over the past consistent easterly pattern. Really hard work on all of us, but the Andante didn’t seem to mind – taking it all quite happily. She does give a real sensation of buoyancy, which is great – but mean you feel a bit like an ant on a cork, being bounced around. The only moderately comfortable place to be was on the bed, jammed in either side with pillows. Even then, you left the bed from time to time for a moment of levitation. Meals were impossible to prepare so we snacked on dry biscuits and cheese, and risked life and limb to make 3/4 cups of hot coffee, tea or soup. The crew was fantastic taking turns at the wheel, then retiring to a rock’n’roll respite on the bunks. At one stage, we were taking on big waves, and Rod got a dump of cold southern ocean on his feet! A very rude awakening indeed. I took a photo of one of the big “wetters” hitting the wheelhouse windows.   At 7.30 at night an electrical storm started up, in the east directly in front of us. It gradually increased intensity with huge waves of light spreading out from behind the clouds then multi branched forks coming right down to sea level. The Andante might be small, but as far as we could tell, it was the only bit of metal in a huge area, so we felt a tad vulnerable. Col changed course a couple of times to avoid the worst of it, but the storm lasted till 4am encompassing the whole 360 degrees around us with thousands of strikes in that time. At last the wind turned around and we got a few hours with the jib up, and a swell behind us. Its a bit weird seeing huge wet mountains well up behind the boat, so all you can see behind is a blue wall, then they slide under the boat which slides down the hill. For a moment we it 9.1 knots!!! Esperance was at last visible, and we sailed through the wonderful islands and into the harbour at night fall on Tuesday 5th. There was no room at the inn (yacht club marina) so we tied up to a charter boat wharf. Thank goodness for still water. 37 hours of beating against easterly wind and swell was such hard work.

2 thoughts on “Albany to Esperance – waves, more waves and pyrotechnics

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  1. “Nothing like a great lightning storm at sea in a steel boat…….” said no one ever! It would have looked spectacular but feeling vulnerable would have to be an understatement. Glad the leak was sorted. Enjoy!

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  2. Glad to hear you made it.she sounds like a great little ship with sails.
    We are about to embark on our one hour trip to the southern most point of New Zealand to Stewart island on Monday . We hope the winds are kind. One night anchoring in a remote shelter bay and a swim will wipe out those memories of the 37 hour slog. Take care love reading about your adventures. L& F

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