All posts by Jonathan

Captain, Master Mariner and presently command cruise ships. At sea for 40+ years. Employers include British & Commonwealth Shipping, Townsend Thoresen Ferries and Holland America Line. I enjoy golf and fly-fishing.

20th February, Albany, Australia

I will be more than pleased when we leave these Southern Oceans.  I write as we make our way towards Fremantle, on the west coast, a large city in its own right, however it is also the ‘gateway’ port to Perth. I will, no doubt, complete the post later today, as we arrive in Fremantle this afternoon.

Our voyage from Adelaide to Albany took us virtually due west, across the Great Australian Bight and one of our more faster speeds was required, 18 knots, 20 mph, 32 kph.  There was still a large south-west swell running, the open Southern Ocean on our port side.  The latitudes south of 40° are known by mariners as the “Roaring Forties” and for good reason.  It is a weather machine, continuous storms circumnavigate the globe in this region, the subsequent wind, waves and swell travel for thousands of miles to the north, there being no land to reduce their effect.  As a result, the Australian Bight was windy and rough.  Our stabilisers worked with good effect, however we still had some motion.  It was not until we neared the port of Albany that we had some respite and that not until we entered the port itself. 

The pilot boarded and we went through our checklists with him. (Nowadays, the pilots come out earlier than in the past.  We then have time to go through details of the ship, the ‘plan’ for docking and, importantly, the idiosyncrasies of the port itself; currents, ‘wind-holes’ and any local anomalies which may affect the transit into the port and the docking itself). 

Interestingly, our Albany pilot was British by birth, (although he had, by now, a good Australian ‘accent’).  He went to the same Navigation school in U.K. (Warsash School of Navigation, although I preceded him by a few years 😯 ) and he worked for the same company as I did, (British & Commonwealth).  Once docked, we had a good old ‘natter’ about ships and people we knew. 

I digress…….off we went, through the buoyed channel and my watch officers conning while the pilot advised.  Past cargo ships, one loading wood-chips for Japan (for paper manufacture) and one loading wheat, also for Japan.  Off the berth and a 180° swing in the turning basin before docking (against a very fragile wooden pier; we wouldn’t have cracked an egg, the landing was so gentle). 

Albany was once larger than Perth, the passage of time has changed that, however it is a lovely town; friendly people and an area steeped in history.  The first settlers of Western Australia landed here, an old whaling history and almost all the male inhabitants leaving the town during the 1st World War and subsequently paying the terrible price of Gallipoli, a disastrous campaign and slaughter of so many young Australians and New Zealanders.

Determined to get my feet on dry land even for a short period, I went ashore for photography, while K1 and friends went touring, 6 of them sharing a local taxi and travelling further afield.

Our track from Adelaide to Albany

The approach to the port

and the docking, with the 180 degree turn before doing so.

Loading wheat on the Bulk Carrier ahead

A pile of Silica. This is shipped solely by Toyota, with their own, purpose-built ship and is then used to manufacture car windscreens and windows

Looking astern, towards the town.  The Entertainment Centre is the large, dark building.

The Main Street, looking down towards the harbour

Bronze statue of one of the original inhabitants

An ‘English’ church

Near the foreshore, the ANZAC Peace Park

Replica of the “Amity”, the ship that brought the first settlers in 1823

One doesn’t see this too often anymore, unfortunately. The Red Ensign, the flag of the British Merchant Navy flies from her mast

Fisherman’s cottage and ‘Net house’

An original Letter Box, 1897

Even the roundabouts are pretty!

Back on the shuttle bus, my photography complete

Now some of Karen’s, she travelled further afield and saw much more of the area and took (literally) hundreds of photos, so just a small selection here.

The Amsterdam docked in the harbour

Wild kangaroos abounded

Lush winery gardens

The ‘Dark Horse’ winery

Inside the ‘Willoughby’ winery