The plan was to sail South through the shallows of Shark Bay overnight to the South Passage between Steep Point and Dirk Hartog Island, however with forecast swells of 3-5 metres, we sought out some local knowledge from the fishing tackle store. They confirmed that the South Passage would have breaking waves with the forecast swell and suggested we head West to the Northern end of Dirk Hartog Island and straight out to sea to avoid the swell that rebounds off the Zuytdorp Cliffs.
The Zuytdorp Cliffs stretch for 150 kilometres from Steep Point to Kalbarri and reach a height of 250 metres. There is no refuge along the cliffs so a good weather window has to be found for the sail South. The normal swell is from the South West and then hits the cliffs and rebounds out to sea giving a very confused sea many miles out from the cliffs, so the safest was is to stay at least 10 nautical miles out to sea according to the local knowledge we were supplied.
We departed Carnarvon at 11am on the 11th of August 2018 and headed for Geraldton 286 Nautical Miles or 530 kilometres South. With a planning speed of four knots it would be a four day and three night sail. We had a nice South Easterly wind that pushed us along at 6 to 7 knots. With a 4 knot planning speed we would be in the middle of Shark Bay during darkness and head out between the islands to the open sea in morning light. With the wind being in our favour we soon reached the passage in the early evening and headed out to sea. The wind soon died off and we had a nice motor sail through the next day.
The next night the winds built up and added some very uncomfortable wind waves to the top of the swells giving us a very uncomfortable ride into Geraldton. Although with the good winds across Shark Bay and further down the coast we did manage to shave off a fair bit of time from the passage and managed to arrive in Garaldton 1 night earlier than planned.
Batavia Marina in Geraldton is a fairly new marina with floating jetties run by the Department of Transport and fixed jetties of the Geraldton Yacht Club. We tied up to the end of the A jetty of the Yacht Club and settled in for some catch up sleep. We soon discovered that the surge from the swell enters the marina and slaps the boats back and forward against the jetties. More fenders and lines were placed alongside Caree to give her some protection. These were soon bolstered by even more fenders, lines and tires attached to the lines to provide some stretch. The end result of the slapping against the jetty was 5 fenders blown including one that totally ruptured.
The area around the marina was a nice place to spend a couple of days waiting for a weather window to see us through to Fremantle. The maritime museum overlooks the marina and the replica of the Batavia Long Boat is moored close to the museum.