In planning the voyage, Keith and I always had in mind he would be on board for the leg from Cape Town (and our cousins) to Albany (to visit his goddaughter). Work interfered, yet Albany somehow stayed on the plan. Old friend and transatlantic crossing crew-mate Dr. Tone Hudson took advantage of that, flying in to Cape Town from his job as an emergency medicine specialist in Exeter and flying out from Albany. Not a bad skill to have on board if you’re crossing an ocean (many thanks to his hospital colleagues who helped make it happen), so Albany stayed on the list.
Cape Town – Albany, Albany – Sydney doesn’t look outrageous looking at a school atlas. However, it looks a bit different if you pull out the Admiralty Indian Ocean Passage Planning Chart (November). To get to Albany from the long leg across the Indian Ocean, a sailing vessel needs to make a long climb north from about 39/40 degrees south to get Albany, (35 South) and then dive back down to 40 degrees, back into the weather pattern, to make it through the Bass Straight, a cost of days whatever the weather. Under scrutiny, Albany loses its attraction as a way point. Nevertheless, we were going.
Sailing past Eclipse Island into King George Sound, huge granite mounds curve down to the waters edge, sand dunes, scrub and beautiful beaches all around. Turning up into King George Sound two (two!) humpback whales casually breach: Hup, Splash, welcome to Albany. Further into the sound there is the curious sight of a Collins class submarine on the surface presumably charging batteries.
Turning into Ataturk Channel our Albany welcome played out: Mark McRae aboard his Southern Ocean Sailing yacht with charter guests fussed around us as we sedately motor up the channel. As we docked, very friendly and efficient local members of Border Force greeted us along with two sniffer dogs driven in especially from Perth. The two AQIS officials are thorough and efficient, and then there we were, cleared into Australia. Home. Sort of.
So many people made our visit worthwhile. Ben, Cobie and Lexi (Keith’s goddaughter) Fletcher were generous hosts and a fountain of local knowledge and history. Jan from Teede, Morris & Co prepared great pre-cooked meals for the next leg. Mark of Southern Sailing caught lines, sorted shore power, drank beers and told magnificent sailing tales with us as well as helping organise the things you need to organise preparing a yacht for another long ocean leg. And Don Perfrement from Haz Beanz Finestkind Coffee on the waterfront who rolled up to the public dock with his trailer, on the back of which was a portable fuel tank and 600 litres of much needed diesel. Thank you mate, and great coffee too.
There are clues (Ataturk Channel for example, named in exchange for the naming of ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli) but perhaps not as many as should know enough about the central place Albany holds in the ANZAC tradition. It is all laid out in front of you at the new ANZAC memorial on Mount Adelaide Summit above the town. Standing in the huge glass walled space cantilevered out over the edge above King George Sound the fleets are laid out before you, massed, waiting to transport the ANZACs to Gallipoli and the Western Front. The horror and humour, tragedy and heroism wrap around you as you wander through the building in the virtual company of one of the soldiers. On the final wall, Ataturk’s words from 1934
“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives …
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the
Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side ….
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away
countries. Wipe away your tears, your sons are now lying in
our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives
they are now our sons as well.”
What a wise, magnificent man, who’s humanity was surely forged and honed in the mud and death that was Gallipoli.
So, now, as we hit the Bass Straight, having paid the toll, up and down, was it worth it?
Absolutely, and not just because Tone made the trip. Amazing awesome Albany. Worth every tack, every sail change, every degree in latitude it cost. Worth it for the silent tears shed for the ANZACs and those shed as we witness the dismantling of Ataturk’s legacy in Turkey.
Note: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Commander in Chief of the Turkish forces at Gallipoli, and subsequently President of Turkey from 1923 – 1938.