Category Archives: Geraldton

23rd February

I write from the Indian Ocean as we head north, towards Bali.  Geraldton?  Well, there was no Geraldton, unfortunately.  My record for ports where we have to use tenders is poor, much to my disappointment.  Alofi, Rarotonga and now Geraldton. all due to weather.

Having departed Fremantle in the high winds, they persisted along the entire Western Australia coast and a strong wind warning came into effect.  Fortunately we were sailing ‘with’ the weather, nevertheless, even with our stabilisers deployed, we experienced considerable movement.  Winds reached 40 mph and the swell, combined with the ‘wind’ waves were in the region 4 meters, or over 13 feet.

Geraldton approaches0002

Overview of Geraldton. The approach and ship channel, the port, lower right and anchorage north of it, the far right circle, or waypoint.


The morning of arrival Geraldton was no better, strong winds and a large swell.


The pilot boat came out to greet us.


Having boarded 3 pilots, no less, ( 2 were ‘observing’), we made up towards the fairway buoy, this is the westward buoy and marks  the outer approach to the channel.

Getting to our anchorage involved  entering the channel which took a north of easterly track, to a point where the channel turned to the south; here we would leave the channel and anchor, ferrying our guests to a marina, just over a mile away.  First we had to get down that channel.  The pilot and I had discussed the best way to go about this and it was decided that we would start our approach to it from well west, adjust our course to the same required for the channel and still outside it, see how much leeway, (or wind effect), it would take to maintain that heading, if we were to get into the channel.  We discussed an ‘abort’ point too, how far we could go before safely being able to turn and ‘get out of Dodge’.

The wind, right on our starboard beam, was gusting 30 knots at times and we were steering 12° off the course of the channel.  With this ‘leeway’, one has to take into account ‘swept path’, the increase of the ship’s path as it ‘crabs’ sideways.  Forgive the crude drawing, however it may explain, a picture is worth a thousand words  😯 

The ship is sterring virtually due east, however, because of the wind, it is actually going across the ground along the dotted line.  The ship's width, normally 32m, becomes 82m with 12 'drift'

The ship is steering virtually due east, however, because of the wind, it is actually going across the ground along the dotted line. The ship’s width, normally 32m, takes 82m now, because of the 12 degrees ‘drift’

We continued in, not yet at the ‘abort’ point, in the distance I could see the surf on the shallows, reflecting in the rising sun.  The anchorage didn’t look good either….

I had had enough and informed the pilot we were ‘aborting’, there was no way I was going down that channel in these conditions and try to slow down sufficiently to anchor, even if we could have tendered, which I doubt.

Approach and abort

Approach and abort

We swung to the north, just before the ‘abort’ point and hove-to, waiting for the pilot boat to return and once it had done so, set sail for Benoa, Bali.  Every cloud has a silver lining and, because of the cancellation of Geraldton, I could arrive in Benoa earlier; instead of a 3 p.m. arrival, we could arrive 8:30 a.m., without using additional fuel

As a high number of our crew live on Bali, one can imagine the smiling faces; more time with their families.  🙂