Cruising South

Today we purchased the charts for a long-held dream to take a wandering sailing journey north. As I look at the distances to be covered, and the rocks to be avoided, I reflect on the many journeys we have made since we found Dusky Dolphin. Each journey has taught us more, often things NOT to do, but we always return knowing more than when we left – about ourselves as well our yacht.

Rob’s and my experience as Cruise Captains for the Long Weekend Cruise was no exception! We have come to sail as a partnership, so we wanted to try this with sharing the Cruise Captain role. Much research and thought went into the briefing notes, and in making bookings to streamline the cruise for our fellow sailors (including booking Sunday dinner). Once the notes were completed, we readied Dusky Dolphin for her next journey, although the jinx on the compass remained (both compasses were too far gone to swing, so we used the GPS!)

We have learnt that the briefing is held the evening before the cruise, and some of us gathered to take part. It was a little uncomfortable to be briefing those with so much more experience than us, so we appreciated their respect. Newcomers to sailing, Charles and Brid on Catalpa, were assisted by us all as they discussed the forthcoming journey. I will NEVER forget the first time that we sailed out of Cockburn Sound, absolutely terrified and so grateful for the care patience of our fellow sailors. We were keen for Charles and Brid to have the same support so generously given to us.

Next morning we were up early to assist Charles and Brid should they need it. As it happened, they set sail well and we were the last to leave the club! Other than our “learning lesson” gibe in Challenger Passage (we definitely won’t do it THAT way again!), we all entered the ocean smoothly for a lovely sail down to the leads to Warnbro. Due to Catalpa’s faulty radio, we kept close to them and just enjoyed the sail. Calm seas and moderate winds made for a relaxing trip.

We had never been into Warnbro Sound before, so appreciated that some had arrived there before us. Having prepared the briefing notes, we had a good idea what to look out for, and soon anchored near Ayung in this lovely bay, which we will definitely visit again. I had learnt from Paul Hayter at Quindalup that the Cruise Captain’s boat is always open to visitors, so hoisted the “hospitality” flag once we were settled. It came down during our return journey.

Charles and Brid executed a lovely anchoring next to us. We took them into the sundowner, which was made even more fun by joining with the boats from RFBYC and RPYC. Lots of catching up with people and their stories, with Jess the furry crew from Ayung making sure that no food was wasted. I have come to cherish these sundowners as places to keep up contact with people we know and to meet new faces. So much chat to be made we kept going till after sunset before retiring to Dusky Dolphin for a late dinner and sleep.

Another lesson – leave our radio and mobiles on during the night. During the night, John woke to check Ayung’s anchor and saw one of our yachts drifting away to the west. He and Pauline tried to contact us but to no avail. So they jumped into their dinghy and chased the yacht, then got on board and woke the skipper. NOT a nice way to wake up! However, all’s well that ends well, and they were all soon safely anchored again and fast asleep. We found out next morning that our “out of hours Cruise Captains” had saved the day (or night?). To say that we were grateful and not a little embarrassed was an understatement!

A slow start and those of us sailing on made our way out of the Sound and on to Dawesville. Another magic day gave Catalpa a lovely sail. I was very happy for them that the weather was so kind. It means that they will definitely be out again. Nearing Dawesville in light winds Rob took over the helm so that I could realise another dream – lying in the bow and watching the water and dolphins as we sped through the waves. This was a truly magical experience.

No fenders dropped in Dawesville Cut this time (we had a man-overboard practice last year when we dropped a fender overboard, much to the amusement of watchers on the bridge). Frank and Lucinda Daly of Sojourn arrived at the marina first, so took up the role of helping the rest of us into our pens. This was very much appreciated with the southwesterly picking up and our yacht doing her usual “enlarging” trick whenever we come near a pen.

Once all were settled and showered we all squeezed into Dusky Dolphin’s cockpit for our sundowner. Being so close we had to have a good time of it- the photo says it all!

Dinner at the Café Bouvard was a great way to end our companionship – no cooking and no dishes. Our daughter Elwyn joined us, making a change from sailing conversations. By the end of the evening, Rob and I felt that we had all grown a little closer during these few days, and that Charles and Brid had fully taken up this sailing life.

Next morning was an earlier start with a 40 mile trip ahead of us. The promised southerly did not eventuate, and my log records that we motored from 0730 to 1107 when a light southwesterly came in. This picked up, giving us a magic 8.5 knot beam run through the Challenger Passage. Rob made some comment about me purring at the helm for this bit. This reminded me that we have now lost our fear of the ocean and replaced it with a VERY healthy respect.

Back at the club we listened to the radio for a bit as our fellow sailors arrived and logged off. It had been a good trip, full of sharing and learning and being with the ocean. Thanks everyone for making it so!

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