(Chart of Curlew Island showing the recommended anchorage, take note of the sand bar out from the island)
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Curlew Island and onto Mackay
(Chart of Curlew Island showing the recommended anchorage, take note of the sand bar out from the island)
(Chart of Curlew Island showing the recommended anchorage, take note of the sand bar out from the island)
(Our track taken from Curlew Island to Mackay)
Well after sorting out that we will haul out here after all I have to get all the gear organised because I had not bothered as I thought it would be later in the year before we did this work.
I should only have to give the hull a light sand as the diver in Brisbane stated that the antifouling paint has another year before I really need to do anything, so I figure that the Altex 3000 antifouling that I used last year is a good product and if I give it a light sand after a pressure wash I can put another two coats over the top and that should last us at least two years which will give us the time to go around Australia without having to haul out along the way.
Last night we went out for dinner at the steak place next to the pub with Rick and Michelle, we were all bushed from the long night awake and a hard two days sail and no one wanted to cook. It was a good night and we had a good sleep afterwards.
This morning we were waiting for a phone call from Rick he was meeting with the blokes in the shipyard to decide whether to haul out with the windy conditions, my thoughts were that the wind was a little strong. Rick finally phoned to say that the yard had left the decision to him about hauling out. I found that a little odd and I said that to Rick, in past years the ship lift operator would not let you haul out in winds above 15-20 knots because the wind pushes on the stern and side of the boat when they are trying to settle it in the lift.
Apparently the new rules is that it is the boat owners decision therefore if it goes pear shape it's the owners fault. Rick and I went to have a look at the ship lift area to see what wind is blowing there and what affects it would have. The wind was not too bad at that stage and I said to Rick we could bring the boat around and see what it is like before you fully commit to going in the travel lift area. I asked the travel lift operator if he would have the forward sling in a position to stop the boat going too far forward towards the sea wall and he said he would.
So we went back to Rick's boat and got ready to haul out, we got underway and lined up the opening of the travel lift bay and I think the wind assisted us in our movement forward because we went in quite quickly. The travel lift area has pontoons each side now which makes it a little easier and it stops the boats hitting the pylons they did not have those last year. 'Neriki' was hauled out and placed on the hard. Rick asked when I was going to haul out and I told him Friday less wind and we may get better weather.
I went back on board our boat and made a few phone calls regarding paint and items required. Rick had asked if I was going to purchase the paint through the contractor he was using to do some work as he had offered to get everything Rick needed. I said I would get some prices first.
I contacted the Altex dealer here in Mackay and asked if he had the Altex 3000 in stock and at what prices. The agent Paul Curson said that he had plenty and the price was $420.55 per 10 litre tin and $159.95 per 4 litre tin. I had been quoted around $450 for the 10 litre elsewhere. I told Paul I would be there the next day for the paint one 10 litre and two 4 litre tins.
I went to see Rick after and the price he was given by his contractor was quite an amount above that. I think the price surprised Rick.
When we first arrived we met other sailing friends that were sheltering here from the weather some crews that were in Island Head Creek with us and Julie and Simon off 'Goodonya' who have been tracking us up the coast, they said they tried to call us on the radio but we did not hear them.
So we ended up having sundowners with them on their yacht, and a good time was had by all, I think we poured ourselves home. We had not seen Julie and Simon since last year, they are a nice couple and we always have fun. They got held up this year as their boat got damaged by a boat that was alongside them in the marina. The hot water service blew up from overheating and high pressure build up of steam, they were lucky they did not get injured. Apparently the boat that had the problem had been sunk at one time and this bloke bought it after it was refloated and had renovated the boat throughout with the exception of the hot water service, no doubt that the safety pressure relief valve did not work due to corrosion after being submersed when it sank. All the renovations of the boat were also destroyed by what Simon has told me.
We had organised the marina hire car for the morning. The marina has two Holden station wagons that they hire out at $39 for half day and $78 for all day, you can get cheaper all day prices with other car hire firms but the half day is very attractive.
We set off as soon as we got the car and headed for the Altex agent. Paul was very obliging person and I would recommend him for your Altex products wherever you are. He sells the products to everyone at trade price. The average sailor off the docks can get the products the same price from him as what the contractors and other businesses do.
Not only that he said we need not have hired a car, he said he would have delivered the order if we had phoned it through at no cost, he said he often goes the shipyard after a person has contacted him to have a look at the boats and give advice on what is required. He has also told us that if we need any paint wherever we are just phone him and he will ship it to us at the same trade price. He also added that if we are in a port that has another Altex agent to still ring him first and he will contact the agent and get the paint at his price. He also supplied me with a paint gauge so I get the right thickness of paint on the hulls because it is important. He told me that once the antifouling paint is mixed and put on the hull nearly 50% actually evaporates this is the solvents in the paint, if you put the paint on too thick the outer layer of the paint will dry trapping the solvents below the surface this can lead to blistering and finally the paint peeling off. So it is also important not to put the second coat on until the required time.
So if anyone wants to purchase Altex paints here is Paul's details.
Altex Coatings, 24 Prospect Street, Mackay QLD 4740. Phone 07 4914 2557, Mob. 0414 248 717
I do not give many businesses a plug in my scribbles but this bloke is worth a mention especially if he can save you and me a few dollars on the paints and products that he sells.
After getting our paint and a few other things from Paul we then went to the good old Bunning's store to by other odds and ends needed, then went to see Dan Murphy who has a great store for the beer, wine and spirits and by the time we finished there it was time to get the car back and get all the gear on board. Once all that was done we went to the local cafe for lunch.
We had a quiet night aboard with the weather being so windy and raining.
Today Nancy did the laundry and I had to repair a pump for the shower and just get things ready for hauling out in the morning. We haul out at 0700 hours all going well so these scribbles will be all you get for a few days, I am hoping to only be out 3 or 4 days, so it will be solid work the whole time we are out.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Island Head Creek - 22/05/2012
(A wonderful display of Mother Nature at Island Head Creek sunrise)
Many yachts left this morning three heading south selecting the lighter winds of the day Gary and Mercedes on 'Forever Dreaming' went north their catamaran is a lighter built Easy Catamaran that Gary built himself only weighing in around 3 to 4 tonnes they prefer the lighter winds to sail where most of us need a little more wind as we are heavier. Gary made comment when aboard 'Neriki' a 45 Leopard catamaran how steady it was in the water at anchor with the wind and wind waves his boat being lighter moves quite a lot.
'Endless Dream' that was here a couple of days we met the crew last night are heading to Busselton south of Perth they also headed out this morning. I think they will still have to run and engine at times as the wind comes and goes.
(Crew on 'Endless Dream' they are heading to WA)
Yesterday we had lunch on 'Neriki' Nancy made up a couple of dishes and Michelle did also, Michelle had invited a group over there was us, Michelle and Rick, Mercedes and Gary off 'Forever Dreaming' Jill Knight off 'Cooee' and Jim off 'Prosper'. Jill and Jim have been friends for many years quite well known around the yachting world. Jill has written many articles for Cruising Helmsman magazine plus other and she has written at least one book. She has been sailing on 'Cooee' a timber monohull built in 1884, she originally crewed on it sailing around Asia in the early 80's then she finally purchased it from the skipper/owner a few years later she is quite a lovely lady and enjoys a good laugh. Jim is also a bit of a character, he bought his first boat also in the early 80's and then learnt to sail by taking it out on the ocean. He purchase 'Prosper' some time later also a monohull, it was a new boat but had not yet been fitted out with mast, rigging and sails. He works a few months a year in Japan on a wealthy persons boats maintaining them during the active season there where he earns his money to continue cruising when he returns to Oz.
(The ladies, L-R, Nancy, Mercedes, Michelle and Jill. Jill Knight is quite famous in the yachting world for her knowledge and writings in many magazines)
We had a great lunch and a great afternoon before returning back on board, as we went by 'Endless Dreaming' we waved to the crew and Gary and Mercedes were talking to them alongside in their dinghy. When we got back on board Brian on 'Endless Dreaming' called us on the radio and asked if we could have a chat. We dropped the dinghy again and went over, they are heading around the top like us and wondered if we were going the same time. The good thing about it was that they provided information about sailing WA and we were able to give them information about QLD.
This morning I did the usual up early and got on the internet to get the weather from different websites, did the Shaggers Net on the HF radio at 0700 hours and then at around 0820 hours I broadcast the weather to those that are interested in the Creek here.
Because some of the yachts decided they were leaving this morning I did the weather for them last night as well so they could make their commitment to sail this morning or wait for better weather. Today is the only day for the lighter winds so they went today.
Before we came to the Creek Rick had phoned us whilst we were down Keppel and asked how long before we would be as he had his crab pots in and was catching too many for just him, I told him it would be two or three days so he said he would have to pull the pots out until we got here. Well when we finally arrived he put the pots in and sure enough no crabs. Rick said he could not believe it the crabs and fish all of a sudden disappeared, we know the feeling every time we try to fish they seem to do the same. It may have been the rough weather that had sent them to more sheltered waters. Well this morning he came over with big smiles and said Nancy I have the crabs I promised you . He said he found where they were hiding. So we have crabs and big ones.
(Rick bringing the crabs over that he promised Nancy)
(We got crabs)
Nancy has stunk the boat out cooking them and now We both then turned to and removed the meat from the crabs and put it all in a large pot having to crack the shells to get the meat out. After this Nancy started cooking again making a large corn crab dish with spices, we had some for dinner with lots to spare.
(Nancy preparing the crab meat, we made a mess getting the meat out of the shells)
Today was a little calmer as far as the winds so Nancy went out in the kayak to investigate some of the shore and take photos, I made her tie a lifeline to the kayak around her ankle and take the handheld radio with her as the tidal flow here is quite strong and if the wind kicks in again she could find it difficult. I asked her which way she was going and when she told me I said that she would have the tide against her coming back, (talk to yourself John she will not agree), well she went her way and the tide was flowing against her on the way back but nothing said. She enjoyed herself anyway.
(Photo taken by Nancy is 'Alana Rose' near sunset with the sun lighting the cloud in the NE)
I stayed on board to do some chores I drained off some diesel out of the tanks to make sure we did not have any water in them, I found that I had not completely tightened the port filler cap and was concerned with the amount of rain we had that some water may have got through but there was no evidence of it. However, I dosed the tank with diesel additive just in case. I then serviced the little generator as it had done a few hours with the cloudy rainy days we have had.
(Nancy ready with her camera)
Michelle called up on the radio and asked if I could print out the weather forecast for the French boat as they could not understand my morning weather report as they have difficulty with the Australian language. Each morning after 0530 hours I download the weather from different internet sites and then I broadcast it over the VHF radio at around 0820 hours each morning to all the boats in the area. Lots of the boats cannot get internet due to the type of setup they have and they appreciate the weather information. Thirsty Sound Coastguard do transmit the basic weather forecast but more often than not we do not get the VHF reception in the creek, I heard it this morning for the first time in two days.
Later Michelle came over to pick the weather from us to take to the French couple and Michelle said she had asked them over for sundowners and for us to come over and join them at around 1600 hours and so we did.
The French couple Annie and Daniel had arrived in Australia some time ago having sailed the Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific Oceans, they had returned to France a few time by plane and at one time when they were away was when the Queensland floods occurred and the place in Bundaberg, somewhere up the river they had paid for a dock and a person to keep an eye on the boat for them, the flood occurred and the boat, a Fontaine Pajot catamaran was swept away. When they returned their boat was gone and all the bloke said your boat was swept away with the flood, no one had bothered to look for it. They finally loaned a dinghy and went looking for it on the way a lady asked them what they were doing and when they told her she took them home and she looked after them until the boat was found, recovered and repaired. They found their boat the next day in the trapped in the mangroves. One interesting point was they contacted their insurance company and the company told them they were not allowed to retrieve it themselves it had to be a company that they would allocate, if they did it themselves the insurance would not cover any of the damages. I have heard this before, so if your boat is damaged and your insurance is required contact the insurance company before you do anything. Insurance companies are tough and they only require the smallest loophole to wipe you. Unfortunately they had some bad treatment by a few of our countrymen but they also had some good, especially the lady that took them into her home and looked after them.
One interesting factor was they approached an authority for permission to cut the mangroves so they could get the boat out, the person gave them permission but he said he could not put that in writing. What a wimp, this is the way it has got with litigation in Australia, people are frightened to commit themselves, very sad.
We had a pleasant sundowners before returning aboard our own boats for the evening.
Thursday - 24/05/2012
After dong the weather report we decided to up anchor and move a little further into the creek for a bit more protection from the NE and SW winds that are predicted today and tomorrow. I called 'Neriki' on the radio to let them know what we were up to so they did not think we were taking off without them as they are going to sail with us. 'Neriki' has a damaged anchor winch and has to wind it in by hand and in the windy conditions the boat is always pulling on the anchor so a third person can be hand one to direct, one to wind and one to drive the boat, so we said we would go and anchor and then come back in the dinghy and help them move.
This we did and after both boats were at anchor Michelle made a nice cup of tea and we sat yarning for awhile. The day was incredible we had a blazing sunrise this morning but the day was basically calm, calm before the storm maybe.
We did a little cleaning and Nancy did a little cooking, Anzac biscuits, of course I had to test them. Michelle and Rick came over for dinner last night and we had another pleasant night, we talked about making a move on Saturday if the weather that is predicted stays the same.
Friday - 25/05/2012
After moving yesterday the internet service has dropped out but I was able to get a few minutes of service to download most of the weather and was able to inform the other yachts on my usual radio transmission at around 0820 hours. There is a strong wind warning today with the S/SW change coming in around mid afternoon with 20-30 knot winds and seas up to 3 metres. We are hoping that by morning this will settle down and we will make a move north.
At about 1130 hours the wind changed the first we noticed was that the tide had changed but we turned at a different angle when I looked out the SW winds had just started light at first then it got stronger, then a front hit with rain and cold air and the winds increased up to 30 knots. The first big gust straightened the anchor chain out in the opposite direction putting us in a little shallower water than what I really liked so we have been watching closely whilst the tide goes out and fortunately the tide is now at the bottom and the flow has kept us in 5 metres of water. I think we are in for a rough night with the wind howling.
Anchored: 22⁰ 22.212 S 150⁰ 38.766 E (Good for E-NE handled the SW wind change of strong winds but it does put you on a lee shore with the sand bar, good anchor and good length of anchor chain no problems we had 50m chain out.)
Saturday - 26/05/2012
Well we did have a sleepless night last night I think I got up about four times. The first time Nancy banged me with her arm which is my dragging anchor alarm. We have a handheld GPS on the navigation station that is on 24/7 and when we anchor we set the alarm, when in bed due to me being a deaf old bugger I do not hear it but Nancy does, so she hears it that wakes her she hits me and tells me the anchor alarm is going off.
Well I put my eyes on (glasses) and go up top and I still cannot hear it, I get to the GPS and no alarm is indicating and I cannot hear one. I tell Nancy that she is dreaming it, next thing the bloody things goes off. No Nancy is not psychic, what happened is that we stretched out of the alarm distance the alarm probably sounded then we went back into the safe area again then by the time I got back into bed and got comfortable we went past the limit once again but this time stayed there.
Well I finally got back to sleep and then woke again at 0200 hours nature calling, I attended to that then at 0320 hours the tide was pushing us one way then the wind would push us another this occasionally would put us side on to the wind waves and they would slam into the ships side making quite a noise, then to make matters worse the wind would push from behind and push us over our anchor chain and because we are a catamaran that uses a bridle on the anchor chain which has a loop of the chain behind where the bridle is fixed to the chain this loop sags as we go forward and rubs on the anchor chain on the other side of the bridle, this make the chain grate against itself.
I woke again at 0520 hours and got up to make a cup of tea and check the weather on the internet. We have had strong winds for days and it is not changing, however, there is a small window over the next couple of days where the wind is easing through the night this gives time for the seas to settle down for the next day. The added bonus is that the winds are SW which means the winds coming off the land therefore by sailing near the coastline there are very few wind waves or they have not the distance to gather height.
So we readied ourselves to sail straight after the SICYC HF radio sched at 0700 hours, which was good to hear a few on the net this morning. Then we waited for 'Neriki' to see if they needed a hand as there anchor winch is not working at all. They managed it themselves so as soon as they were underway we did the same. We motored out of Island Head Creek and just as we got outside I did my last weather broadcast for those that were up and about and wished the ones that were staying well and that we may catch up again further north. If we had not left today we would have had to stay another week with what weather is coming.
We got clear of the land and turned northwest and set course to pass Cape Townsend before changing course for Hunter Island. The wind was not that strong so we unfurled the genoa (headsail) and motor sailed for a short time then as we past Island Head the wind came good and we shut the engine down. 'Neriki' followed us out along with another catamaran 'Kularoo', 'Neriki' stayed closer to the land where I went a little further out to sea before turning northward, the reason I do this is that I find more often than not the wind gets sheltered by the landform more so close by than further out to sea. This can be the same if the wind is coming off the land like this morning or blowing onto the land, sometimes the benefit from wind close to land is when it is blowing along it, it tends to hit the ranges and reflect out a little. As we sailed along a pod of dolphins went by the starboard side out for their morning fishing.
(Sailing northward again at last)
(Cold? No, 8 degrees below normal temperature for this time of year)
We stayed with the headsail only even though when passing Strong Tide Pass at the lower end of Townsend Island where the wind came out of there at nearly 20 knots, I knew that Townsend Island would shelter the wind once we were going along it. 'Neriki' soon after that turned into the wind and hoisted the mainsail with two reefs then turned about and unfurled the headsail as well, I stayed with the headsail as we were doing well under that alone and I wanted to see what the wind was going to be like once we passed Cape Townsend with the SW blowing straight up Thirsty Sound and going on the wind charts that will be where the strongest winds would be. As we rounded the Cape the apparent wind was around 18 knots this would give a true wind of around 24 -25 knots, I called the deckie out (Nancy) to assist with sails, we furled the genoa and then Nancy on the helm turned the boat into the wind and I hoisted the mainsail to first reef point, then turned back on course unfurled the genoa leaving four turns on the furler and shut the engines down once again. We had a great sail speeds ranging from 8.5 to 10 knots not that I am a racer but we romped ahead, Rick told me later that he had reefed to the second point and that is where we did better than they. The seas were a little lumpy in places but not that bad.
(Our track from Island Head to Curlew Island and beyond on the way to Mackay, I noticed on the elctronic charts that the shllower areas are slightly out by about 200 metres, this is not uncommon, my theory is that the chart plotter is looking at Datum WGS84 and the chart has been plotted from older charts of Geod66, as I say my theory because that is about the distance that is different between the two datums. Always be wary around shollow waters and check sea surface and your depth sounder to confirm you are safe).
As we neared the Marble Island group the SW winds and seas were still there it had not yet changed to SE direction. 'Neriki' called up and asked about the anchorage they cannot afford to change anchorages if Hunter Island turned out bad due to wind direction and they had to move having to manhandle the anchor chain, so we made the decision to go to the north anchorage at Marble Island and on arrival found it to be a good decision.
(Marble Island anchorage, we are right in line with what Curtis guide book suggests)
(I took this photo to indicate the rock that you set at 180 degrees magnetic as you approach as indicated in Curtis guide book, you can go each side but keep an eye out for the reef and rocky areas)
The weather today was wet and cold, 15⁰C this is ridiculous bring on the global warming.
Anchored: 21⁰ 58.338 S 150⁰ 10. 433 E, good anchorage for strong SW - SE winds can get swell during strong SE winds. Hunter Island is the better anchorage for SE - NE winds 21⁰ 58. 507 S 150⁰ 08.315 E.
(An unusual sound when you anchor, cattle they are at a trot going down the hill and then over the next and gone out of sight, we thought it may be some feed time. This group of islands are owned by a pastrol company and is private, you should only go ashore after getting permision from the manager)
(Early morning at Marble Island)
(Marble Island anchorage, as you can see there is plenty of room, we were fortunate to get the prefered anchorage point)
Sunday - 27/05/2012
I had a bit of a restless night again last night, I was warm enough as Nancy put the doona on the bed but around 0120 hours I woke and had to go to the head and whilst up I had a check around, checked the GPS we had not moved from the original spot where we settled at anchor. I must say under these conditions this anchorage is good, the wind was strong and you could hear that but that's not a problem as we are used to that. The sea was quite flat and it was calm this is probably due to the wind being SW - S all day and this evening, the good book states that it can be rollie here during strong SE winds the swell curls around into the bay. There is no tidal flow effect so the boat generally stays in the same position and does not turn with the tide.
I think this was my problem why I could not get back to sleep thinking of things woke the brain up and could not stop thinking of things after that.
I was up by 0530 hours put the kettle on, it was cold out and I ventured out to give the gas solenoid a tap because it was cold too and would not operate, the little tap on the side fixed that. I often find that if it is really cold (cold to me anyway), that the valve sticks. After a cup of tea and checking the weather charts we got organised, I had to get away from the island before 0700 hours because I had to run the SICYC HF radio net as Andy was out yacht racing this morning.
As it was close to the radio sched time by the time we had nearly everything done we had to rush a little. The wind was a SSW and 20-25 knots and cold, I had all my foul weather gear on plus track pants shirt and woollen jumper and I was still cold. I was a little harsh on dear Nancy this morning she was fluffing around a little this morning doing this and that which were not important at this time. I asked to get the anchor started so we could get moving whilst I was finishing a few things, then she went on doing something else unimportant, so I had to pull the skippers cap on and say sternly "anchor please". She is a darling she just went off and started getting the bridle off the anchor chain and probably calling me precious names under her breath, well maybe not under her breath because she knows I am deaf it would give her more enjoyment to say it out loud.
We got clear just in time to do the radio sched, we put the engines in neutral and thought we would drift whilst doing the radio and also wait to make sure 'Neriki' was alright with their anchor. I went and did the radio sched and surprised to get a few responses, all week we have just had Andy and I and a couple listening on the side. Today we had David on 'Moonglade' in the Mary River at Great Sandy Straits, another Dave on 'Quinco' who is still in Brisbane hoping for weather to settle so they can sail this week. Then a surprise a call from Luganville, Vanuatu a yacht named 'Riptoure' (I think), he wanted to check on Dave of 'Quinco'. When I finished the radio sched I went to the helm Nancy had been keeping an eye on things, the first thing I noticed that we were doing 4 knots without engines or sails and against the tide, I think we will just unfurl a little genoa today and see what that does.
'Neriki' got underway and they hoisted their mainsail to first reef, I still thought I would stick with the headsail as I know the weather is going to get a little stronger and I want to clear the islands to see what is happening in the open seas before putting anymore sail up. I find with short hand crew meaning only two of us I use sails which make life easy, with a near or tail wind the headsail is easy to control it is all done from the cockpit where mainsail hoisting or reefing have to be done out at the mast and one has to turn the yacht into the wind to make the adjustments. Many sailors would do what 'Neriki' did and that is use the mainsail reefed some would do what I did, each to their own.
As we got out to where the real action was happening winds were sometimes 20-25 and occasionally 25-30 knots I reefed in the genoa four turns on the furler. The wind waves had got larger now the tide was in full swing we had wind against tide so the waves were standing up with white tops. We sailed along between 6 and 8 knots and in these conditions that was fast enough. We had a good sail albeit a little uncomfortable.
(Lively sail but not too bad)
We arrived at Curlew Island and motored into the anchorage and we dropped the anchor where the recommended spot was in the Curtis Coast Book the same place we had anchored in years before, it was still windy in the anchorage with the bullets of wind coming through the gap between the mountains. Later that night it became uncomfortable with the bullets of wind swinging the boat from one side to the other. None of the boats had a comfortable night and we all suffered lack of sleep. The stronger wind woke me at 0020 hours and I don't think I slept after that.
Anchorage: 21⁰ 35.596 S 149⁰ 47.915 E This anchorage under strong SE can be uncomfortable with the swell creeping in, three years ago we anchored in very strong SE winds and in spring tide times with the swell, current and wind we travelled 9 NMS in three days around the anchor.
Monday - 28/05/2012
We got underway just before 0700 hours in time to clear the island to do the Shaggers HF radio sched, once clear of the island the wind was blowing and the seas were up a little but not as bad as yesterday. I set a course for Mackay at the same time to try and miss some of the high wave spots marked on the charts which are caused through shoals and sea streams around the islands. I still maintained sailing with the headsail only as by the weather forecast I knew the wind was going to get stronger, however, I also knew by the wind charts that the closer we got to land the less windy it would be.
We were just over half way when the wind died down to around the 12 - 15 knots and I toyed with putting the mainsail up but Nancy had gone for a rest on the lounge and it looked as though she was asleep so I was not going to disturb her. Anyway it was quite pleasant the seas had dropped with the wind and although we had the tide partly against us we continued to sail between 5 and 6.5 knots.
Another catamaran 'Kularoo' had set off before us, Bill the owner was by himself on board and he did well under a Screecher, he was just in front when we left Curlew but was around 4 NMS in front by the time he arrived in Mackay. 'Neriki' who was around 3 NMS behind at the start after hoisting a reefed mainsail when the winds calmed had caught up with us as we arrived at Mackay.
We had our allocated berth and went straight to it, it was fun getting in with the wind deciding to increase as we arrived, catamarans are easily grabbed by the wind once you slow down and we have to slow down to get in the berth. Fortunately it was a blow on dock and a bloke off another yacht came to give a hand.
When we had all secure we decided to book in. I turned my phone on now that we have service and a couple of messages came through one from the shipyard here so I rang their office. When I inquired what they wanted me for, they wanted to know what happened I was supposed to haul out that morning. I politely said that I had phoned and cancelled the booking because they would not let us live aboard whilst out on the hard. They apologised and said they had forgotten about that. So I said I will haul out if that policy has changed. I was told that we may be able to live aboard if we kept quiet. Apparently it has always been the rules here that no live aboard on the hard but in previous years it has not been enforced, well we will haul out on Friday. There are a few new rules that have to be complied with, power cords you use must be tested within the 3 months that they are to used, you must wear covered in footwear in the yard and safety goggles when using sanders or grinders. I am lead to believe that children are not allowed in the yard.
Monday, May 21, 2012
Thursday 17/05/2012 cont....
(Some of the crews of the anchored yachts at the BBQ)
This morning Bret on 'Swanning Around' called on the radio letting everyone know that they were having a BBQ on the beach for lunch if we would like to join them so we did. Getting ashore in the dinghy we got rather wet with the wind waves, the wind was blowing up to 20 knots, but we soon dried out in the sun. We had quite a gathering with crews off 'Swanning Around', 'Sasha B', 'Aquavista', Neriki', 'Sporanza', 'Annalese' and us 'Alana Rose' We had a great lunch and socialising for sometime then we noticed the wind had first settled then started to pick up again and this nasty cloud formation across the sky appeared and was moving from the east to west in our direction.
(Photo of the storm just after we got back on board)
I was the first to say "I think we will start to move back to our boat", and soon after I said to Nancy let us make a move I want to be on board before that hits, so we said farewell to our friends got the dinghy in the water and sped back to "Alana Rose'. We got back on board hoisted the dinghy and then the rain came most of the others that waited longer got rather wet getting back to their boats, it poured rain for about twenty minutes and very heavy, after the rain it got rather cool.
The weather today is still cool and the wind is howling so we decided to just do a few chores on board. We have had the internet coverage on and off depends which way the boat swings with the wind and the tide, it is a very week signal so it can be frustrating but we are getting better service with the outside antenna where others do not have any service. I have continued to get the seven day weather reports from the different internet sites and then broadcasting it to all the other boats in the creek.
Nancy did general cleaning and I cleaned waste water strainers and gave the bilges a clean out and just checked engines and all the necessary things. We then sat around reading our books.
We decided to relocate over to the other side of the creek this morning near the sand bar that gives a little more shelter from the fetch and this reduces the wave slap on the hulls. We then did a few more little jobs after giving the weather out to the other boats.
I did a little rope splicing which I am still not the best at with certain rope this one being a soft nylon rope makes it most difficult. We have these opening for boarding in the guardrails that is stainless wire with a latch that can easily open if grabbed wrongly. They always give me a little concern when at sea and moving about the deck thinking if you grab it to save yourself when the boat rocks it may come open and you will just keep going over the side. So I am replacing these with nylon rope spliced to the one side of the rail support and a spliced eye at the other end that will be held in place with a 'D' shackle, much safer I think.
(The gate latches that rely on the tension to hold the locking clip in place with movement they can come loose)
(Latches replaced with rope that is spliced to the rail one end and through a 'D' shackle the other end so that it can be opened, don't look too close at the splicing I am a little out of practice.)
Late afternoon we lowered the dinghy and went over to see Michelle and Rick on 'Neriki' for a chat and we had a couple of drinks with them which was good. We stayed a while and then I saw the clouds bounding over the hill and decided to move before we got wet bums on the way home.
We cooked some nice fish that we got from dear friend Mark at Keppel Bay and had to make a wind break so that I could use the BBQ on the back because the wind was on our beam due to the tide flow being stronger than the wind. The fish was very nice.
Very disappointing this morning could not get Macca's Australia All Over on the radio well good job Nancy cooked me a nice breakfast, with my help of course, I cooked the bacon on the barbie.
I did the weather report over the radio and also each morning we are doing the HF radio sched with SICYC although at this stage it is only Andy on 'Paws' and us doing it but I have a feeling others are on the side and a little bashful to comment. (Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club's HF radio sched 0700 hours eastern standard time (2100 Zulu or UTC) on frequency 8161.0 kHz).
A little later Rick called over, he said he was going to go for a trip in the dinghy and taking Gary and Mercedes on 'Forever Dreaming around to Pine Tree Point and would we like to follow and have a look around with them. So we got ready to go.
We lowered the dinghy as Rick was leaving his boat and we started to follow them although they having a larger dinghy and outboard motor left us some way behind. The wind was still blowing strong and when we went through the sandbar between the mainland and Island Head the seas were a little lumpy and I said to Nancy it is going to be fun coming back unless it settles down. We were going with the wind and waves coming back we will be against both.
When Rick invited us he said they were just going around the point so I did not think it was going to be far, wrong, it was quite a distance. We kept on going and Rick disappeared around the next point when we eventually got there we could not see where they had gone. I said to Nancy I not sure how far we have to go but I think that we will just go as far as that beach ahead. We finally got around that head to the beach and there was Rick and the rest all set up on the beach.
(The solid track showing where we went and the dotted track showing our return through the narrow hole in the wall the distance to this beach was 3.6 NMS, wind and waves from SE)
When we arrived at the beach the waves were breaking on the shore so Gary and Rick helped us by holding our dinghy in deeper water whilst we got out then we just lifted the dinghy and carried it to the beach without getting swamped.
Michelle was organised with thermos of hot water and made us a cup of tea, then we set off on a walk along the beach. After we had been for a walk it was time to head back. Rick said that they had decided that the Mercedes and Michelle would walk back to via the beach as four in the dinghy might be a bit too much for the seas that we had to slam into. I asked Michelle if she had her handheld radio with her, she said she had, so I told her I would have mine switched on Ch16 if they run into trouble to give us a call.
(Rick, Gary, Michelle sitting down getting me a cup of tea, Mercedes and Nancy)
(The unnamed beach around from Pine Tree Point)
(Reflections in one of the creeks along the beach)
We all set off and it was a little lumpy and sea spray was constant, Rick lead us through the whole in the wall which made the trip a little better than going out past the point but when we got to the other side it was head on wind and seas, again it was sea spray and we got drenched. Rick having the larger dinghy raced ahead of us for us to follow in his wake so he was basically knocking the tops of the wave for us which made it a little better but we still had water coming at us at times.
(The gap in the wall that is hard to see until you pass it)
(You could say it was a little wet out there, Nancy took delight in taking this photo)
(Rick and Gary coming up to pass and knock down the waves for us in his larger dinghy, photos never show how rough the seas really are.)
We were pleased to get back on board and dry off and get warm again. Rick came over later and said he was sorry if it was a bad idea, but we said it wasn't we had a good time. Poor Michelle and Mercedes were worn out after their long walk back. We had a lot of fun and it was better than just sitting around on the boat or doing chores.
(Back on board at the anchorage cloths drying on the guardrail.)
We then had a quiet night aboard Nancy had cooked a silverside in the shuttle chef and with the vegies white sauce and a couple of glasses of red wine it was a nice night.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
We were out of bed by 0500 hours this morning and as usual the cup of tea comes first then we get ready to sail getting the charts out, roll up the cockpit covers, disconnect the electricity and single up the docking lines. We have a W/SW wind in the marina of around 6 knots which is going to blow us off the wharf and we had another boat alongside of us which makes it a little tricky when there is just the two of us. Our normal routine is that we remove all dock lines other than a bow and a stern line which are just one round turn on the dock cleat and back to the boat so we can just slip the lines from onboard. I usually let go of the stern line and race back to the helm to take control of the boat and call to Nancy to let go of the bow line and away we go. If we did this now the stern would swing around on the wind and hit the other boat, even though we have fenders out on that side just in case we don't want to do that.
Before letting go any lines I explained to Nancy what we would do and this is what we did. I stayed with the helm and put the port engine in slow ahead this pulled on the stern line and because that was holding us the bow was forced forward and hard against the dock, Nancy then released the bow line, then she came to the stern line and when she was ready I put the port engine into neutral and gave the starboard engine a touch astern taking the weight off the stern line Nancy quickly retrieved the stern line and I moved both engines slow ahead before it had time to blow across to the other boat. This is one of the advantages of a catamaran with two engines you can do these manoeuvres.
We motored slowly out of the marina whilst Nancy ran around putting the ropes and fenders away and as soon as that was completed we went out of the marina, as we moved into deeper water I shut down one engine and unfurled the genoa and then as we got away from the land I shut down the other engine and went sail alone. It was a tail wind and not that strong but we got along around the 5 knots. The seas were very sloppy with swell from ESE and wind waves from the south. In the distance I could see one yacht ahead of us which turned out to be a French monohull and about after we had been out about 20 minutes two sails appeared to our stern they had the sails wing on wing. (Wing on wing is where the foresail is out one side of the yacht and the mainsail is out the other side as with a tail wind having both sails out the same side the mainsail would block the wind from the foresail). We could have done the same but I found that going any faster in these seas made it more uncomfortable I had worked that out when we had one engine and the foresail (genoa) working together.
Coastguard had told us about the military exercises in the military zone which start just north of Five Rocks and ends north of Townsend Island the exercise in operation at the moment does not affect the areas we need to go but most of the area will be closed after the 11 June. We could hear the heavy shell firing at the Keppel's.
We continued to sail along having to change course slightly at times to keep the wind in the sail and stop it from flapping from one side to the other which it did on a couple of occasions because the large waves would turn the boat off course now and again. I could see the yachts behind gaining on us and as they say more than one yacht going in the same direction constitutes a race, however, I was comfortable with my feet up at the helm keeping watch and reading a funny book so I let the other two race behind me they passed me near Port Clinton about 4 NMS from our destination one was a catamaran 'Aquavista' the other a monohull 'Sporanza'.
'Sparanza' furled their foresail soon after and we again caught up and followed them into Pearl Bay where the French yacht was also anchored.
(Pearl Bay - dotted line shows track into the bay or you can go around the north end of the islands. I noted that the electronic charts show some sunken obsticles where the guide books do not show this.)
(Approaching the entrance of Pearl Bay, 'Sporanza' is in front of us passing through the entrance)
(Inside Pearl Bay anchorage, quite pretty beaches)
After we anchored and got settled the crew from the French yacht came over for a visit they come from New Caledonia and asked if we had any weather reports which we gave what we had. We also supplied information regarding anchorages and where they are better to hold up for strong winds.
Pearl Bay is quite pretty and although the seas were a little messy outside however, as the seas livened during the night it became a little rocky.
This morning as we rocked a little having our cup of tea at first light we talked about what we would do, we knew the weather was going to be stronger winds today and considering the amount of swell here in Pearl Bay at the moment although not too bad, we knew it would get worse so we decided to move out straight away and head for Island Head Creek some 6 NMS north for better protection.
We quickly got organised and weigh anchor and headed out the same way as we entered as we knew we could get some internet coverage out there to check weather reports for the next few days. As we got out of the bay the seas and swell were around the 2 metre mark and a little sloppy, I headed almost straight into the waves heading east until we were away from the islands and then turned quickly to go with the waves before one of the large ones hit us on the side.
We unfurled a little of the genoa and motor sailed as we needed to charge the batteries and we wanted to get into Island Head Creek before the tide change so we were moving along at 8.5 knots. Nancy got on the computer and got the weather information and did a few other things.
(heading to Island Head Creek from Pearl Bay passing the South Hervey Islands)
At 0700 hours I had to ask Nancy to do the HF radio sched with the Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club, it started yesterday and but I forget to do it. Nancy got on the HF radio frequency 8161 and made contact with Andy on 'Paws' who kicked the sched off. Apparently he had no one yesterday and only us today. I now have the alarm set on my wrist watch so I do not forget the sched.
It was a little lumpy getting into Island Head Creek the tide had just turned and as we entered I was quite surprised at the amount of yachts/boats anchored I believe there is 22 in number anchored here. Most of the good spots were taken up, we saw 'Neriki' and went over for a chat the boats were evenly spread along the sand bar for protection and I felt that if we did go between any of them it would be too close for the amount of chain everyone plus us would have out. So we decided to go over to our usual anchorage by the fourth beach near the entrance and drop anchor there.
After we had anchored we got breakfast underway and checked how the anchoring here situation was with the effects of wind and tide. Whilst we had breakfast we started to get these bullets of wind coming around the hillside up to 30 knots, the seas were much calmer here but the wind bullets were a little worrying, I prefer to have a constant wind force than bullets as the bullets of wind give violent movements of the boat and this can dislodge the anchor. After breakfast we went looking again and anchored the NW side of the creek, this puts us on a lee shore which I did not like but we anchored well away from the beach and put heaps of anchor chain out after making sure the good Rocna anchor was buried deep.
The strong winds kept up all day but the wind waves were quite small but constant slapping on the hulls. After lunch and making sure all was well we went ashore for a long walk. We met other yachties doing the same. They said they would be having sundowners on the beach at 1600 hours so we said we may see them there. However, when the time came it was also tide change and we swung around the other direction and I did not want to leave the boat until I knew all was well so we missed out on sundowners. Just as we waited the anchor dragging alarm sounded, this was expected as we always set the alarm short at first to let us know when the boat has turned with the tide so we can check that the anchor is holding. Once satisfied that all is well we add a little more distance onto the alarm setting. We held strong and fast so we were happy we had our sundowners on board.
(Island Head Creek at low tide view from the beach on the NW end.)
(Nancy walking on the beach with Island Head in the background)
Earlier Rick from 'Neriki' came over to see us to see what our plans were, we told him nothing set in concrete but we may stay here tomorrow and sail the next day for Hunter Island. It all depends on the weather. Rick said that he is booked in to go on the hard at Mackay in two weeks so he has time to waste here and around the islands before heading to Mackay.
We had dinner and read for a while before going to bed, I went before Nancy she stayed up reading a little longer.
I was up just before first light this morning I put the kettle on before going out on deck to see what the weather was like. The wind still blowing but not as bad as yesterday. I made the cups of tea and took Nancy hers as she remained in bed for a short while. I then got onto the computer to start the scribbles.
We had the HF radio sched at 0700 hours and again we spoke to Andy, no one else came on the radio, it is only a new thing that we are starting and it may take some time before people remember to switch on.
Monday, May 14, 2012
Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers.
(A little ray of sunshine)
We have just arrived back in Keppel Bay Marina after being out the islands for a couple of days. But I will go back to where we left off in the last scribbles.
(Tourist class on the fwd deck, Nancy taking photos as we approach Heron Island)
Chart showing the track we took from Bundaberg to Lady Musgrave Island then to Wistari Reef and then onto Great Keppel Island)
(Wistari Reef where we dragged anchor, this is supposed to be a good anchorage we could not see the bottom due to poor visibilty if we could have seen the clear sand it may have been different.)
(Nancy sitting with her herb garden watching the sunset)
(The sunset from Wistari Island)
We arrived at Great Keppel Island at 0935 hours and after anchoring and having a cuppa I had a sleep, I am still shaking the tail end of the flu so I figured I needed a little rest. So we did very little all day after sailing through the night having little sleep but we did enjoy the scenery and the relax.
At 0845 hours we pulled the pick and sailed over to Keppel Bay Marina there was no hurry so we just sailed under the genoa which gave us a speed of 5.5 knots, seas were still a little messy but not too bad. As we left GKI we noticed 'Swanning Around' friends that we met in Brisbane last year and saw them again in Brisbane this year. Nancy called them on the radio and asked what they were up to and we will catch them up north. We also saw a couple of other yachts that we knew from earlier days and caught up with some of them it goes to show it is the start of the cruising season.
(Sailing to Kappel Bay Marina the mainland ahead)
Getting back to the seas in this area, when sailing from island to island or to Keppel Bay with windy and swell conditions the seas can stand up a little due to the shallow sand bars on the western side of the islands.
(This chart shows the Keppel Islands and the surrounding shallow waters that cause the waves to stand up in high winds and especially wind against tide)
Once we had berthed in Keppel Bay Marina we went to book in with the usual very friendly people here. The marina is quite a nice marina and the people are so friendly. After booking in we had a coffee and something to eat at the cafe before starting on some of the chores. We are in for one night, tomorrow we have friends coming aboard for a couple of nights, Dot and John, we always call in here or Gladstone to see them, Dot has been a friend of Nancy's for a long time when they lived in Geurie.
We did a bit of running around to get the necessary items we needed and when it came to late afternoon we realised that the wind was blowing from astern and it would be impossible to use the BBQ with that wind so we decided to go to the restaurant the only problem is that the area they have as a night setup was fully booked. However, they do have a menu that they call the boaties menu which is a choice of fish or steak with chips and salad. The other choice you have is that you can have it served at the outside seating or you can have take away and take it back on board. We chose the steak and the outside seating, the steak was large and was a rib eye fillet cooked to perfection so we were not disappointed. On the way back to the boat after dinner we called in to see the crew on 'Charon' as they had called by on their way past when we were out at GKI. This ended up in going aboard for a couple of wines.
We did a little running around getting some fuel and Nancy had ordered some bread from the servo so we picked that up then Dot and John arrived and took Nancy into Yeppoon to get some items we could not get out here. When they arrived back I had the boat ready to go. Once they were on board I went up to the marina office and told them we were leaving and booked us in again for Sunday and Monday. I also enquired about the courtesy car and they pencilled in a booking for Monday.
This marina has a courtesy car that you can book for a two hour period, totally free of charge, two hours is just enough time to drive into Yeppoon do a big shop and return to the marina unload your stuff and return the keys. This is the only marina I have seen that does this. But let me say that when the cruising season is in full swing it is not easy to get the car the exact time you want it and some people will dip out, this happened to us last year we could not get it in the time frame we was at the marina, that's the breaks. So don't expect to come in for only one or two days and be able to get it you may miss out but it's not always the case.
At 11 30 hours we left the marina, the wind outside was lively so I left a reef in the mainsail when I hoisted it, once hoisted we set a course for the NW side of North Keppel Island, one of the guide books state it is the best SE wind anchorage. Once course set we unfurled the genoa and away we went at 8.5 knots, choppy seas and not knowing how our guest can handle the seas I thought that will be fine I will leave the reef in the main. The waves stood up a little more in the shallower areas but only one or two waves washed the upper deck.
As we approached the anchorage we furled the genoa and then turned into the wind and dropped the mainsail then carefully motored into the anchorage area as we had never been in this anchorage before. We were at high tide with a 3 metre difference between high and low I did the math and with us drawing 1.4 metres decided that 4.8 metres depth at high tide would keep us off the bottom.
I found the anchorage alright but I would not say it is the best SE wind anchorage as the waves still work their way up from the southern end and being quite away of the beach there are some small wind waves from the direction of the wind. It is also prone to some slap from waves under light SW winds that tend to be around in the mornings. Don't get me wrong it would not worry me anchoring here in these conditions it is still comfortable but it is not the best SE wind anchorage I would say close in on Second Beach on Great Keppel Island would be a better anchorage.
(Another great sunset, this is from our anchorage looking over the mainland)
Besides this we had a good night at this anchorage and a nice sunset a good meal , a few drinks and a lot of laughs. We did not stay up too late as we were all a bit bushed. John had come off night shift so he was feeling more than any of us.
As usual I was out of bed at first light and it was a beautiful morning, we had the S/SW slight wind that caused some wave slap on the hulls in the early hours of the morning but the skies were full of colour before the sun got over the horizon. I made a cup of tea and Nancy got up, our guests stayed in bed. When the time got to 0720 hours I suggested to Nancy that we pull anchor and head for Second Beach and have breakfast there. So we got ready and was away by 0730 hours unfortunately startling our guest with the starting of engines and the rattle of the anchor chain.
They surfaced and I asked them if they liked the alarm clock. They said that they were awake and thought we were still asleep because they did not hear us moving around.
We motored all the way to Second Beach as the wind was on the nose and it was not that strong anyway.
We anchored close in to the beach and then cooked a good Aussie breakfast of sausages, bacon and eggs on toast. After that and the dishes were done we lowered the dinghy to go ashore for a walk. We first went ashore at Svendsen's Beach, we walked to the end of the beach then went over the walkway to Butterfish Beach on the NE end of the island which is very picturesque we then walked back to the dinghy and went over to Second Beach and walked that and then onto Leekes Beach and went up to Leekes Creek.
(The view of Great Keppel Island from our anchorage)
It is possible to take a yacht into Leekes Creek on a high tide and beach it during low tide. I have seen a yacht in there high and dry supported upright by ropes attached to halyards abeam of the yacht attached to trees so it does not topple at low tide. The bloke that owned it was a Kiwi, he left the yacht there and went back to New Zealand for a few weeks.
(Northern side of Great Keppel Island taken from the NE point of Svendsen's Beach)
(Inside a shallow cave looking out at the eastern end of Second Beach)
After we had walked all the northern beaches it was time to go back to 'Alana Rose' the midday heat was getting a little warm, yes people in the southern states it was hot in May, yes it cools in the night to around 13⁰C, but the days are lovely above the tropic of Capricorn. I should not rub it in too much because we will be sailing south next winter.
We had lunch followed by a quiet afternoon, I had a nanna nap for half hour the rest of the crew soaked up the sun and a couple of beverages on the forward deck. Late afternoon Mark on 'Perfect Solution' a Lagoon motor catamaran anchored alongside and came over with prawns and fish for us, so the prawns were entree and fish was main course. If you followed the blog in the early days we met Mark two years ago he had his boat on the hard at Mackay the same time we were on the hard and we became friends from then. He had come by as soon as we were in the marina the other day with a tray of fish. He loves fishing and he always gives fish away to visiting friends that turn up at the marina. His wife is not keen on the sea so he goes out by himself. Makes me think how lucky I am with Nancy enjoying this life as much as I do.
(What can one say, a glorious sunset)
With our seafood dinner and a few drinks and laughs it was time to turn in for the night and I think we all slept very well. I was up again at first light followed by Nancy our guests surfaced a little later then we cooked the big breakfast once again.
After the big breakfast and all dishes done and stowed we weighed anchor and motored around the western side of the island anchoring close in to Fishermans Beach. This beach is the main inhabited tourist part of the island there are a few commercial places such as holiday units, Pizza Restaurant, etc. The old resort is there that has been closed for some years.
We went ashore to walk off the big breakfast and look around, I must admit it looks a little healthier as far as business than last time we visited. But there is a big cloud hanging over this island. A big developer apparently worked wonders with the now defeated Labour Government in getting a development approved to build a 37 acre marina, 18 hole golf course, 300 apartments 750 villas.
This is not to benefit the beautiful island that it is, it's about a developer selling real estate. GKI is one of the few islands left for yachties and local people from Yeppoon being able to visit and enjoy the freedom of an island with some facilities to cater for tourist at an affordable price. It is funny how the land zoning had changed from National Park to this development just before the election. Tell my suspicious mind that money did not change hands between the government of the day and the developer. Let's face it elections cost money.
Well after our walk on the beach today we went back on board for lunch and then had to motor over to the marina as there was not a drop of wind to fill a sail. Once in the marina we said goodbye to our friends Dot and John and here I am.
We did the shopping and running around today followed by sundowners at the sailing club with friend Mark of 'Perfect Solution'. We sail first light in the morning for Pearl Bay and we may be away from phone and internet services for a couple of days.
We did the shopping and running around today followed by sundowners at the sailing club with friend Mark of 'Perfect Solution'. We sail first light in the morning for Pearl Bay and we may be away from phone and internet services for a couple of days.