Monday, February 27, 2012

Ships by night and day: Phillip Island

Watching the many and varied ships that pass by our seascape is a hobby for most of us privileged to have a wide view of Western Port Bay.

Guided by a series of buoys and navigational beacons -- described as a street of lights -- boats of all shapes and sizes enter Western Port Bay and travel safely through it.

Ships pass in the night, lit up like Christmas trees, diesel motors thudding softly as they slide across the darkened seascape. By day, their presence is more defined, especially when sunshine illuminates their name.

Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) tankers come up the channel empty, fill with LPG and then return past our home and into Bass Strait, bound for overseas destinations such as Japan. The gas originates in Bass Strait, is processed in Sale, and then piped to a terminal in Western Port Bay -- from where it fills tankers.

These tankers are guided along the shipping channel by a qualified pilot skilled in the location of the narrow shipping channel, and the currents and tides affecting Western Port Bay. The pilot boards the tanker before the ship enters the bay, and escorts it out as well.

The map shows Phillip Island and the shipping channel through Western Port Bay. The shipping channel follows an ancient river bed. We live on the north-west corner of the island, close to McHaffies Point. Phillip Island is the land mass at the base of the photo.

In the series of 3 photos, you can see the tanker enter Western Port Bay, with West Head to the right, and then progress along the shipping channel to the terminal.

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