Montebello Islands are about 70 nautical miles West of Dampier. With full fuel, water and bellies we departed Dampier for the overnight sail to the 170 plus islands of the Montebello Group. We had a great motor sail out of the channel keeping an eye out for the tugs and barges servicing Barrow Island and the nearby gas and oil fields. As we approached the islands we had to make a detour around the gas production wells and sailed into the waters South of Alpha Island, anchored and had a sleep.
The next morning we rose and set off for Chartreuse Bay of Alpha Island, we had it on good advice that there was a nice weed bank that was full of squid. When we arrived, we tried to anchor and were dragged by the wind across the bay. Due to the strong winds from the East we decided to find a better location. We pulled into a bay on the North East tip of Campbell Island weaving our way around the reef and rocks guided by Andy up the mast. A lot of the areas around the Islands are marked unsurveyed. We went ashore and walked along the beach checking out the rusting pipes left behind from the nuclear bomb blasts in the 50’s, the corals, shells and animals left behind by the receding tide. The sea life is both plentiful and a lot different to anything seen earlier on the trip. On our way back the sun set over Hermite Island in the West while the Moon rose over Caree in the East.
The next morning we headed back around to the South West of Alpha Island and headed down Faraday Channel. Again we dropped the Manson Plough Anchor and were dragged again. Not having much luck we decided to give one of the sand anchors a go, we let 10 metres of chain out and let it set and almost fell over when the anchor grabbed fast and the boat swung around in the tide and and continued to hold through some strong winds that night. That evening we explored the islands around the boat in the tender on sunset and had a swim.
The next morning we installed an old zinc anode on the propeller as the last one had been corroded away completely and organised a new one to be delivered to Exmouth for our arrival. After a nice swim we headed to Stephenson Channel to avoid some strong Northerly winds forecast for the next 36 hours. There we had a chat to the crews of 5 other yachts and a half cabin cruiser. The next morning we sent Doug the Drone up for a look before packing up and heading out on the high tide for Exmouth, wanting to avoid the excessive winds forecast.
With a forecast of a maximum of 20 knot gusts we headed out of the Montebello’s and went South West between the Montebello’s and Barrow Island. A lot of the area East of Barrow Island is restricted areas due to oil and gas extraction. It was all smooth motor sailing until we reached the North West of Barrow Island where the seas built up to 3 metre waves. A path was picked to avoid the breaking waves both North and South of the boat. We cleared the area without incident and headed South. During the night the winds grew and the wind waves grew messy. By late that night we had constant 25 knot winds on the nose and were getting slammed into the wind waves sending waves over the cockpit every now and then. It was a very uncomfortable ride. It was good to see the depth gauge start to come down from the 114 metre mark as we headed for Exmouth and the shallower seas.
It is good to be moored up in a marina for the bad weather. We have had 46 knots recorded overnight at the nearby Learmonth Airport. Hopefully we can head further South tomorrow morning.