First Port of Call in Western Australia
We headed out of the Hammer Head anchorage just after sunrise for the final leg of the passage to Esperance, our first port of call in Western Australia. It was calm after a blustery night and all was fine as we started our 42nm run until we noted that the bilge pump was on (not unusual) … and stayed on for a rather long period of time (unusual). David added an LED light panel in the cockpit which alerts us to several occurrences that we might otherwise not notice. This was one of them. What was up?
I took the helm while David went to investigate below. Up came floorboards. Yes, there was definitely quite a bit of water. Where from? More floorboards came up. It was a leaking shaft seal and it was spurting water “rather copiously”, as David put it. The bilge pump could keep up with the incoming flow, but the problem shaft seal needed attention post haste. It appeared the shaft seal coupling had slipped out of place on the shaft and needed to be repositioned and secured. An hour later, all was handled and good, no more leaking and we continued on our way to Esperance, a bit more frazzled than anticipated.
The last town of any size visited was Streaky Bay on the other side of the Bight, a couple of weeks ago, and so we were looking forward to Esperance with pleasant anticipation. As we made our way closer and closer to the port, wonderfully magic things started to happen. We had an internet signal, for instance. We heard some ship radio traffic. We saw a wind farm on the hills. Hallelujah!
Heading into Esperance Port, there were several big ships at anchor. The port was originally developed during the gold rush years of the 1890's and today is the largest nickel concentrate exporting port in the southern hemisphere. The Port is also a major grain exporting hub and handles bulk imports such as fuel and fertilisers.
Back in Streaky Bay, friends aboard Zofia had given us some contacts for the Esperance Bay Yacht Club and I'd sent a couple of emails to suss out the area. I received responses within hours of sending the emails. On arrival, Mark and Del on the local yacht, Norlee, were waiting for us and guided us via VHF to the yacht club mooring to which we are currently tied and sitting comfortably in the bay.
Tomorrow, we'll take an exploratory walk into town, but tonight … we've given a tot of rum to honor Neptune and now we'll relax and enjoy the champers that's chilling to celebrate our successful crossing of the Great Australian Bight.