21st-26th February 2013
After writing my last entry on departure from Kangaroo Island I have been somewhat busy, so apologies for the interval in writing. Far down in the Southern Ocean a huge storm was making its way east, although thousands of miles away, the 15m/50 feet swell resulting from it was making its presence felt off the southern coast of Australia. The Australian Basin, through which we were sailing on our way to Albany, was affected, swells of 3m or so were encountered on the first night and by the second day these had increased to 4-5m. These large, long monsters were coming from the west and travelling east, thus we were heading into them. Combined with this was a strong wind and as a result, we were pitching heavily. We were being slowed down too and therefore not making sufficient speed to make Albany on time. Trying to increase speed was not an option, there was a good chance that damage would result and so, I altered course towards the coast, where forecasts indicated that the swell was not as high. This had an effect almost immediately, as our speed increased and the swell now came at 30⁰ or so onto our port bow, reducing the pitching.
It meant that we would have to sail an additional 30 miles, however, rather this than the constant battering we were experiencing. That night, when 20 miles from the coast, we turned to parallel the Australian mainland and sure enough, the swell was substantially reduced. It was only on the early morning of our arrival at Albany that we had to endure the large swell once more, as we had moved out of the relative shelter of the Australian coast and started, once again, to head into that pesky swell again. It was not until we passed the headland that marks the entrance of the bay on which Albany lies that we could bring in one of our stabilisers.
Albany itself lies in a sheltered harbour between 2 rocky promontories. Albany is not very large, nor is the harbour. It’s main exports are grain (2.5 million tonnes a year) and wood-chips. The chips are from Eucalyptus trees and are used in the production of that glossy paper for magazines. During July and onwards, the surrounding waters and bays are full of Humpback and Right whales, who use the warmer waters for their breeding. No photographs I’m afraid as all I could see from the ship was silo-upon-silo of wheat containers and piles of wood-chips ( I didn’t think that would be at all interesting).
Out of Albany and once again into the swell, much up-and-down again until we at last reached the south-western tip of Australia and could turn to the north, towards Fremantle, which is the ‘gateway’ port for Perth, Australia. Lots of wind still, however it was pushing us along nicely instead. We arrived at the pilot station of Fremantle on the 25th, at 2:30 p.m. and passed through the breakwaters with 25 knots of wind, the port promised that there would be less when we were off the berth and thankfully, they were correct, 20 knots.
We berthed at their Cruise terminal, moored amongst cargo ships. Just across the adjoining road is a bus station and train station, so getting into Perth is relatively easy, although slow. We stay overnight and sail in an hour or so, at 4 p.m. heading for Bali. It is Cyclone season and one, ‘Rusty’, is about to make landfall near Broome in the north-west; another is forming, well away to the west. Present indication is that neither will affect us as we move northwards, however we are watching the weather maps and forecasts with far more than a passing interest. It looks as if we will encounter heavy rain on Friday, this resulting from interaction between ‘Rusty’ and a weather system north of Bali. More later…………….
Jonathan Mercer is Amsterdam’s captain.