Day 14 Westbound for Fremantle

Bolting for home! (Written on Mar 10, 2013)


At midnight we are still moving along the shelf, as per usual, but sadly there is no phosphorescence and no dolphins bow-riding… and PASOR needs some TLC from Rodney, sooo the wheelhouse is strangely quiet.  My crickets are loud…

The sky is cloudy and a vessel flanks us from 13 nm to port, crossing the top of several canyons, such as Henry Canyon and Knob Canyon as they travel.  No further excitement, a cup of tea will suffice!

Photo credit M.Jenner

Robust, chunky common offshore bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) leaping through the waves escorting us as we bolt for home!
Photo credit M.Jenner

At 0645am I can see that we have another cloudy day.  Did I tell you?  I think grey is the new blue!  Gotta love it!  On the chart Albany is to our starboard but we are travelling by.  We had momentarily entertained the option of stopping there, but this horse is bolting for the stables!   We anticipate that we can make it to Fremantle before the Tuesday March 12th passage of a low-pressure system of SSW 24-32 kts.  This is really a Fremantle Doctor sea-breeze but with a rousing 7 m swell.   We are clacking along at 8 and 9 knots against the Leeuwin Current, to be “home and hosed” in the Fishing Boat Harbour asap.  At our current speed, our ETA (Expected Time of Arrival) is between midnight and 4 am on Tuesday March 12, 2013.  We shall see the EMWC (Embarrassing Mum Welcoming Committee) on Tuesday at a more decent hour…  Sam has paid us handsomely for this!


Over one hundred dolphins feeding surrounded by a huge flock of flesh-footed shearwaters brighten the grey sea and sky.
Photo credit M.Jenner

Shearwaters circling get our attention and then two large, dark dolphins swirl in from starboard and we have bottlenose dolphins with us again!  Another flock of birds on our port side has 100 shearwaters (Flesh-footed and Little shearwaters) circling and diving with 15 Albatross gliding and weaving.  From beneath the avian mass in my camera lens I can see large dark bodies and dorsal fins slowly surfing through the waves with strong blows.  They are in all directions!  “I can see bodies, we have dolphins, they are big…” I call to Curt looking through binoculars at the feeding frenzy.  We have offshore common bottlenose, Tursiops truncatus all around usThese strong, heavy-bodied bottlenose dolphins are sensible-ish bowriders, personalities like Labrador dogs, as opposed to the crazy common dolphins which are more similar to Jack Russel dogs.  We have had the crazy Jack Russels of the sea for several weeks now and it took a moment or two to adjust our eyes to the chunkiness and slower movement of the less-manic, bottlenose animals.

Photo credit M.Jenner

Curt monitoring the ISHMAEL, PASOR and SONIX screens and collecting the “whistle” signals from the common bottlenose dolphins.
Photo credit M.Jenner

While Inday and I are filming video clips and photos, Curt immediately deployed a sonobuoy and straight away great patterns of “whistles” are being scribbled across the ISHMAEL and PASOR screens.  Their chatter would be deafening in the water, they have so much to say.  Some leap and twist slightly upon re-entry.  It is hard to know where to point the camera, 100 animals swirl and splash all around Whale Song!

The NE wind of 15-18 knots behind us makes a comfortable ride.  A cargo ship going eastward is pitching and rolling tremendously in contrast.  From 11 am, rain splatters down and by mid-day we cross paths with a vessel “Danny Boy” travelling east for NZ, we are 17 nm SW of West Cape Howe, to the west of Albany.  This is our most southern point as we travel on the 100m contour along the southern WA coast.  As the rain clears, we can continue survey from the fly-bridge heading west between two vessels.  Shipping traffic is becoming more prevalent and will increase from now on.  We are nearing snivilisation!

I gather a few details of our trip thus far, making funny calculations about aspects of the two trips across Southern Australia.  What a privilege, we are very happy to feel the sea move beneath our feet!

Here is some info: (Frem = Fremantle, Syd = Sydney, JB= Jervis Bay)

Date Place # Days #Crew # NM
Jan 19-Feb 01 Frem  to Syd 13 12 2228
Feb 02-Feb 06 Syd 5 6 0
Feb 07-Feb 16 Syd-JB, JB 10 6 378
Feb 17-Mar 12 JB to Frem 24 10/11/8 3200
Total 52 5806


  • Ports – Fremantle, WA, ANNM, Sydney, NSW, HMAS Kuttabul, Garden Island, NSW (Defence Work), HMAS Creswell, Jervis Bay, ACT (Defence Work), Port Welshpool, VIC, King Island, TAS, Portland, VIC, Robe, SA, Port Lincoln, SA (Defence Work), Fremantle, WA
  • # States – 5
  • # Territories – 1
  • Meals ashore in Sydney, Portland and Port Lincoln – 8
  • # Shopping Trips – 3  (Sydney, NSW, Vincentia, NSW, Port Lincoln, SA)
  • # Breakfasts (self-serve)     479
  • # Lunch/Dinner                   958
  • Total Meals                          1437
  • # Snacks Consumed        Incalculable!
  • # Photos taken by MNJ – 36,000
  • # Video clips taken by MNJ – 30
  • # Fish caught – 3
Photo credit M.Jenner

Ah, WA sunsets – we are thrilled to see the sun sink over the sea again!
Photo credit M.Jenner

In preparation for the semi or possibly very bumpy forecast of 30 knots with 7 m swell, I prepare “storm bog”, similar to “first-night-out-pasta” for dinner.  Spaghetti bolognaise is an easy meal to make in rough weather and so hot steaming bowls with rustic bread give us energy for the last little bit towards home!

Rest assured tonight, I shall find the pot-holes.  I have apologised to each of the crew in advance!  The wind will pick up on my watch, as usual.  The sunset tonight was unreal again, a deep blood-red hue as the sun slipped…!

From the “calm before the storm”,


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