Thursday, 27 February 2014

Sailing around Australia; Sundowners, important work.

28/2/2014 Sundowners

During our Sailing Around Australia Adventures aboard Easy Tiger, we have found the sundowners are a really important part of the experience.

Hosting Sundowners is shared around the boats and are held every three days or so usually starting around 5pm.

Mostly it is just the six of us who use the get together to discuss forward plans. These are however subject to change, particularly if they were discussed later on during the sundowner after plenty of social lubricant has been consumed. As we like to say “these plans are written in the sand at low tide”. That is a pretty good disclaimer.

The topic of conversation that is creeping in to our sundowners at present is about when we might leave Streaky Bay, what the next destinations will be and how that fits with our booking at Port Lincoln on the 20th April.

It is also a good time to relax and have a laugh at some of the things that have happened along the way. For example there is many a sundowner that I am reminded that I have had my dinghy come loose from the boat, only to be saved by the b’s a couple of times.  One time when we were at Rottnest Island Leanne and I had pulled our dinghy up on to the beach in front of the pub. While all the usual crew and guests were enjoying some drinks (and a few more) out the corner of my eye I saw a dinghy drifting away. Without closer inspection I announced to the group that someone has lost their dinghy. After a little closer inspection I then announced that it was just like mine. On further inspection I had to announce that, in fact, it was mine!

The girls do a marvelous job with preparing snacks for our sundowners as well. Without going shopping every time, they really do manage to create some masterful treats with limited resources. Last nights nibbles included a bruschetta topping wrapped in cornflower pancakes, pickled crabmeat, pork spare ribs with two different marinades and small pumpernickel biscuits with pickled onions on.

Often it is nice to have guests on board for sundowners too. For example, our first week in Streaky Bay Brian’s (b1) two brothers made a surprise visit to Streaky Bay. It was very interesting to hear new stories and the interesting lives these guys lead as a Qantas Pilot and the other involved in Air Traffic Controller training. Roddie’s loud Hawaiian style shirts were also a source of vast amusement. They put b2’s lime green jumper to shame!

Last night we had ten on board Easy Tiger that had her creaking a bit at the seams. Streaky Bay has a southeasterly sea breeze most evenings so spreading out to the front of the boat wasn’t really an option.

Brian and Eva’s long time friends who are on a caravanning holiday joined us.

Also we had Dave and Heather who are long term Streaky Bay holidayer’s for our sundowner. Dave and Heather have been very kind in supplying our group with a few of the King George Whiting they have caught off Cape Bauer. So they are out there!
We all heard the stories of what Streaky Bay  and the jetty here was like when the Tuna boat fleet was operating.

So you see, sundowners are an integral part of our Sailing Around Australia Adventures, even if the day after is very slow. From observing Leanne this morning, I think it is best that they are only held every so often.

The Sundowner crew aboard Easy Tiger 27th Feb 2014.
From left, Maree, B1, B2, Leanne, Dave, Heather, Eva, Jill and Ian

Monday, 24 February 2014

Sailing Around Australia; A Glorious Day On Land

Sunday 23/2/2014  A Glorious Day on land.

Our Sailing Around Australia adventures took a day on land yesterday. A very kind offer from Geoff and Heather Georgiou was gleefully accepted by Leanne, me,  Maree from Urchin and Brian (b2) and Eva.

9.00am we met on the jetty and loaded into the 4wd. Down the road away from the jetty and out of sight of the ocean for the first time in over a month. It did feel a bit weird.

I quickly felt right at home though, as the road to Sceale (scale) bay wound it’s way through farm country. The land around these parts is very similar to northern and eastern wheatbelt country in WA. Similar drums for mailboxes at the end of long gravel homestead roads and names of farms were all familiar. Except for one that stood out. I haven’t ever seen a farm called “blow me downs” before.

Our first stop was Sceale Bay. The sailing trio has suggested that this may be our next anchorage, when (and IF) we leave Streaky Bay. A quick stop at “the Granites” was first on the agenda. Strangely there was no-one surfing the Granites that day, but it is a popular surf spot even though a big shark had been seen in the area the day before we visited.

We poked our head in at another couple of small bays. All look really beautiful and many would be great anchorages. Of course they all looked wonderful in the near perfect for anything conditions in which we were viewing them.

Geoff and Heather showed us the popular picnicking areas that they have been visiting most of their lives, with Geoff having done a lot of cray fishing and working for an abalone diver.

Speed point was another beautiful spot. An abalone diver was working in the water quite close to the bottom of the cliff ledge we were standing on. The water was so clear we could see not only the yellow hose to his hooker but could see his black shape clearly in the water.

Just around the next corner was Yanerbie Beach. What a delightful place with the white sand similar to the Esperance beaches and the cleanest looking turquoise water that was flat calm.

At the south end of Yanerbie beach is the small settlement of Sceale Bay. This is a group of perhaps twenty houses across the road from one of the best beaches and bays one will ever see.  Even better, there was literally no one to be seen. Small patches of sand could be seen in the water a few hundred meters off shore. They looked to be just waiting for two catamarans and a yacht to come and visit.

According to Geoff though, we don’t “have” to go there as there is a place around near the point or headland that is “just” as good and a lot less travelling needed to get there. Very good advice. No need to go further to eutopia if it is just as good nearby.

After a quick smoko provided by master chef Eva, The girls had to visit the cute little public toilet block. Then we drove down some more gravel roads and past more farming homesteads.  There were even some farm gates that I had to get out and open. Never thought I would enjoy that little touch of my history so much.

About 1.30pm we arrived in Venus Bay, the real subject of our guided tour. We had noted on the charts that Venus Bay seemed about the right distance for us from Sceale Bay so that we could day sail our way down the western coast of South Australia. But, Geoff had urged a lot of caution about Venus Bay.

On inspection of the inlet or in our case the entrance into the bay, our rating of Venus bay took a nose dive.  A huge mass of water, although shallow, Venus bay has tidal movements of about 1.5 to 2 metres and that empties or recharges through a gap of about 100 metres at the entrance. If we were trying to motor against this mass movement of water and the current created we would have a battle on our hands to make any way at all. In fact, we could be swept side on to the swell and that would be disastrous.

A nice lunch was had at the Venus Bay store and then I drove back to Streaky Bay to the sounds of heavy duty snoring from the back of the vehicle.

In the evening B1 and Maree kindly hosted the sundowner, with Geoff and Heather coming to join us aboard Urchin and swap more tall stories.

I think our group was very glad to have seen the next ports of call, even if one was scrubbed off the list. We all very much appreciated Geoff and Heather’s efforts on their one day a week off.

Next weekend we hope to all go for a sail together. 

An Abalaone diver working near Speed Point

B2 with cray fish boats moored in the background

Geoff (Killa) Georgiou pointing out the pitfalls of entry and exit by boat for Venus Bay

A visit to the "little house" was required. The Public Toilet block at Sceale Bay.

Leanne at Venus Bay.

The little house at the bay

Eva, Heather, Leanne and Maree near the Granites Surf Spot.

Speed Point

Entry into Venus Bay

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Sailing Around Australia Adventures; Something different

24/2/2014  Something different

We have become reasonably accustomed to getting up and going to bed with the sun on our around Australia sailing adventures. South Australia has daylight saving going on at the moment which has has taken us the weeks we have been here to get used to.

The sun goes down at about 9pm not rising until 7.00am. We couldn’t work out why we were sleeping so late in the mornings promising ourselves that we would get up early and go for a walk around the town for exercise. We wake with the sun and then get out of bed to ready ourselves for the exercise feeling quite pleased that we got an early start to the day.

A glance at the clock then shocks us with the reality it is already 8.30am. As my father in law used to say “we have missed the best part of the day”.
Our Sailing Around Australia Adventures aboard Easy Tiger have lead us to Streaky Bay South Australia. We have been here “borrowing” a mooring from Geoff and Heather Georgiou that is located about a hundred metres from shore and about the same from the town jetty.

The jetty is very well used every morning during the day and evening. As it has an area fenced off into a swimming pool about half way along the jetty, this proves a very popular pastime with many different groups throughout the day.

In the morning there are the regular “lappers”, then during the day the youngsters come down and muck about, then in the evenings the age group and associated noise levels go up. The other night in the misty rain about a half a dozen young men were really whooping it up over at the swim area of the jetty. On closer inspection it was obvious they were enjoying an evening skinny dip. I offered this information to Leanne, but she must have been really tired as she didn’t even stir for a look at the action.

During the drifting Dinghy episode, we met a guy officially known as “bugs” at the end of the jetty. Bugs is a Streaky Bay local, who has done a lot of diving fishing and boating in general and an interesting guy to chat with.

Bugs asked us if we would like to try Razor Fish. I was thinking that they sounded like something you would see on Foxtel shows like “weird things people eat” or Bear Grylls etc…

Today as B1 and I got another round of water in jerry cans, we saw someone snorkeling along around the moorings and over to the Jetty. I didn’t think too much more about it until the wetsuit appeared at the back step of Easy Tiger. Up popped the face of Bugs. “I’ve got some razor fish muscles for you”, he said. “Great”, I said, not too sure how great that would actually be. “Come on board”.

Bug’s produced a small net bag that had a dozen and a half of what looked like scallops in it. Taken

 one out of the bag he offered it to me to try. I found them not too dissimilar to scallops. The flesh was probably more meaty in texture and a nice sea foody flavor.

After he stayed for a chat and morning tea,  B2 and Eva came passed to ask bugs about the possibility of catching King George Whiting  near the jetty. He said it was possible in one of the sand holes surrounding our boat. He then suggested that we use the whit parts of the razor fish.

Bugs then offered to collect another dozen or so razor fish, which he did in about 15 minutes. He then showed us how to cut them open and get the muscle part out for eating and the little white bits out for fishing bait.

Having just finished “shucking” a bucket of Razor fish, Leanne is in the dinghy trying the bait out on the King George Whiting. Hopefully she catches a couple, then it will be Razor fish seared in Garlic butter for entrĂ©e, followed by blue swimmer crab, oysters and whiting fillets for main course tonight. Total cost = $0.

Did I mention that we may stay in Streaky Bay for a while yet?

The Razor Fish grows this shell by burying the clean part of the shell into the sand. The upper shell seen here with the barnacles etc.. on it protrude from the sand. The top edge of the shell is quite sharp hence the name Razor Fish. Inside it has the muscle part (seen in the plate) which is similar to a scallop and the white long piece which is good fish bait. Source; "Bugs".
Leanne and "friend" fishing for whiting, although I do believe that "friend" also accepts stripe fish.

Gotta Go; dinner is served.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Sailing Around Australia; Sampling the local fare

Leanne was justifiably proud of her efforts in whipping up Oysters Kilpatrick.

20/2/2014; Sampling the local Fare

 We have been in Streaky bay for a week now. Most of the past week has been catching up with sleep, provisioning the boat and for the ladies the odd dozen loads of washing at the Caravan Park.

Our Sailing around Australia Adventures on Easy Tiger have taken a back seat as we all recover from the six day bight crossing. No-one has mentioned moving on to the next anchorage as yet. We have however been offered a drive down to reconnoiter both Sceale and Venus bays on Sunday. These will most likely be our next stopovers.

But for now we are happy to try out the local produce. Leanne bought 3 dozen oysters back to Easy Tiger after one of her washing missions.  After quickly googling some recipes, she cooked up 18 Kilpatrick style, the others were devoured raw with a coating of lemon.
Very nice they were , but they only seemed to last a matter of minutes.

Brian (B2) on Zofia had some luck trying out the groups new fishing method. He managed to land (be given) some King George whiting fillets. He did well too, to “catch” them already filleted and in a plastic bag. (see previous blog on fishing).

After being told by Killa that there were heaps of crabs around our boat, I dragged the crab pots out for Leanne who was sure she would catch a feed in no time.  After catching some small trumpeter type fish and chopping them into bait size pieces, Leanne hung the crab pots off the back of the boat, reassuring me that it would be crabs for dinner.

After several pulls of the nets, we started to realize that we must be doing something wrong. No crabs. Not even the sign of a crab. When we discussed this with Killa, he thought it might have something to do with the overcast day, or with all the rain they have had, maybe there is too much fresh water in the bay. It seems fisherman always have a story.

To rub salt into her wound, Leanne got one of the crab pot ropes tangled around Easy Tiger’s rudder. I didn’t know where to look for fear that I might giggle at her run of bad luck.  She had to strip of to bras and knickers, don the face mask and snorkel and jumped in to untangle the rope. As she did she was muttering something about “might as well get eaten by a shark or something” Fortunately the white pointers of streaky bay were off duty that day, although I have never seen Leanne swim so fast as she made a bee line for Easy Tigers swim ladder.

Today, as it hadn’t rained for a few days, it was sunny and the water was a still as dry cement, we thought we might have another go, using our dinghy to put the pots into several nearby sand patches. Success. We now have 5 really good Blue swimmer crabs in the fridge ready for lunch tomorrow.

In fact with the afternoon south easterly sea breeze here, it has been difficult for B2 to get to the bakery. He has managed well under pressure though. He tells me he doesn’t think the sausage rolls here will make the top 20.

All the way across the bight we urged the other boats on with promises of the big lunch to celebrate our crossing at the Streaky Bay Hotel. Well we haven’t done that yet. We started in the other day but straight after lunch the wind picked up and the B’s were worried about their boats dragging anchor.

So we hastily rushed off from the pub, to jump in the dinghies and fly out to the boats. Doh, no dinghies to be seen. We had all pulled them in near the jetty and dragged our dinghies up on to the sand. Turns out, though not far enough. Little did we know that there was a 2 metre tide!  We had parked our dinghies at low tide, which came in while we had lunch, sweeping our dinghies off the shore and out to sea.

As happens often in country towns, some young kids who were swimming near by had caught Urchin’s dinghy and tied it to the jetty. Zofia’s dinghy was still trying to make a getaway, and drifted tantalizingly close to the shore. Should I swim for it or not. I was just about to go in, when Urchin crew zoomed past in their recovered dinghy and grabbed Zofia’s.

Of course, Easy Tiger’s naughty dinghy was miles out to sea. In fact you needed 20/20 vision to see it as a speck on the horizon.  B1 and Maree hurtled off after it, and I jumped in to Zofia’s dinghy with B2 to make up the posse.

After severely scolding the dinghy all the way back to the shore, I saw that the monohull had in fact dragged anchor and could see Eva still on shore. After a quick all girls aboard the dinghy, I delivered Eva out to Zofia so that she could help B2 re anchor.

The next morning I went to Killa’s shop and bought a couple of Grapple hook type anchors that we had been advised to use in these parts. I have then worked out a system to be able to deploy 2 anchors off Easy Tiger in weedy areas or for strong wind events.

After our anchoring adventures using the anchor witch, (see many previous blogs) I can’t wait to see how we go putting 2 anchors down.

I haven’t even looked at weather report for several days. Too busy catching crabs and going to Killa’s to get rainwater or getting some oysters from another boatie called Skeeter. I think we may well be in Streaky Bay, catching crabs and feeding ourselves cheap fresh oysters for a while yet.

Streaky Bay this morning. No wind. Water as still as concrete.