Christine and Terry have returned to the life of sea gypsies. We set off on 7th May with the car fully decked out for camping and Sandpiper behind us. We plan to head North again, this time stopping to sail and to live aboard Sandpiper, both on the water and as a caravan. At times we will head off, leaving our home behind and camp from the back of the car.
First stop was our beloved Shark Bay. We drove from Dowerin, stopping overnight between Geraldton and Northampton. Progress was slow in patches with the car protesting at the weight of the yacht behind. However, we arrived in Denham around midday, fueled up Sandpiper and headed for Monkey Mia.
Rigging up the yacht was a learning curve because it has been more than 2 years since we sailed her. Given that, we were well pleased with our efforts and by 3 o’clock were on the water. The first problem we found was that the outboard (despite being checked over) was not pumping water. By the time we discovered this, we had blown some distance off shore so we decided to lower the keel to sail in. Next problem arrived in the form of a jammed keel. It refused to go down. We anchored then set about unscrewing the dining table then more plates to gain access to the top of the keel housing. This done, we freed the offending keel, put everything back together and finally sailed back to shore.
At anchor at Monkey Mia
Luckily, I had a spare water-pump impellor so the next morning I pulled the outboard apart. There was nothing wrong with it. All the pipes were clear. Christine researched the problem on the Internet while I did this and she came up with the thermostat sticking.
Terry fixing the water pump
This seemed to be the issue, because we got things going again and headed North to Herald Bight for the night. We enjoyed a good motor-sail for the 15 or so miles to our night time anchorage, although any attempt to stop and fish was thwarted by a long uncomfortable swell that made us roll at anchor.
The moon rises over Guichenault Point
Once set up for the night, we put out a small length of net and caught 5 big mullet and a huge tailor, enough healthy Omega3 rich fish for several nights.
Over the next couple of days, we sailed, snorkelled, fished and explored the delightful coastline for some 12 miles or so South of Cape Peron. Most nights were spent South of Castle Well Hill. Once we had company from a large catamaran and we spent some time watching some Shark Bay professional net fishermen encircle a school of whiting but otherwise we saw few other humans. The thermostat on the outboard continues to play up at times and so we have done far more sailing than we often do, being a bit lazy and starting up the motor. On one occasion when the water wasn’t pumping, the wind died within half a mile of our intended anchorage so we towed Sandpiper with the dinghy. It’s not something I’d repeat in a decent sea but in the calm flat waters it worked well enough.
Anchored near Castle Well Hill
By Wednesday, we were ready to move on and decided to sail in with a very fresh Easterly down to Big Lagoon. On raising the main sail, the main halyard snapped, bringing the sail down in very windy conditions. Not only was this a big problem, but the sail also caught on part of the cabin rook and we put a big rip in it, rendering it useless. Double disaster. We sailed North to Bottle Bay on jib along, making 5.5 knots in the very windy conditions. Once there, we anchored alongside a 39 footer from Carnarvon and sat out the afternoon blow in comfort. We were joined by another even larger yacht that seeed to have 6 people on board. Later, a flotilla of 10 sea-kayaks arrived and set up camp on the beach. The place was really getting crowded.
Hopefully, the wind will ease a bit tomorrow and allow us to sail on the jib around Cape Peron and back down to Monkey Mia. This disaster may bring us down to Perth to get the sail repaired. With luck, we can organise to have it freighted to Perth, repaired and freighted back while we sit in Monkey Mia.
Sunset coming – time for a nice red