Saturday, May 30, 2009

WEEK 5 : 23 May - 30 May - Flinders Island to Escape River

Well we should be careful what we wish for!! We have gone from being becalmed to a strong wind warning and waaaaay too much excitement. Have informed the skipper that if we have to bring the boat back down from here then he will have to get another crew - so all you budding sailors out there, be ready for the call!!!!

Day 30: Saturday 23 May - Flinders Island
Another really boring day in paradise. Had nice drinks on the beach with crews from the other seven boats in here. Incidentally, people who were at Ingram Island the night after us saw a big skinny crocodile on the beach there.

Day 31 Sunday 24 May - Flinders Island
Absolute frustration - no wind (in future when there is no wind we will appreciate it and just motor along!). Fridge/freezer stopped working but Peter managed to bypass something and get it going again. Tender definitely has a hole in it somewhere. Went to the water tank and did some washing and showered. The tide was too low to get in to see the Aborigine paintings. Marine Parks boat came in. Everyone stayed on their boats. We had sundowners on Tookawile.

Day 32 Monday 25 May - Flinders to Magpie Reef
Were heading for Morris Island but didn't get there. Left at 6.30am with about 6 other yachts. Tried putting the spinnaker out looking for some wind. Took it down and put it up again and caught 7.4knots (5knots is an average per hour) and the fishing rod went off and we were heeling over so bought it down again and caught some seaweed!!! Peter saw a yacht (Kristie 1) about 500 metres to our starboard and said he looks close to the reef, I had a look with binoculars and said what is he thinking and then Peter said he is on the reef. Singlehander got excited cleaning a fish and his autohelm let him down! Escape, the boat in front of us came back and launched their tender and put out a stern line but there was little we could do for him. All the yachts were milling around and one by one they asked us if they could leave so off they went. Kristie 1 called the Marine Parks boat which was about 6 miles away and they came down so three of us yachts anchored about a mile away behind a sandspit on Magpie Reef. When the tide came up Marine Parks called us up and Geoff (Tookawile) picked Peter up and Eric (Escape) and they went down to help Kristie 1 with the lines. Marine Parks had divers down and checked the bottom of the boat and marked all the big bommies and our lot slowly winched Kristie off and Geoff pushed with his tender. That man should never buy a lottery ticket because he used up all his luck - just a few scratches to the bottom of the boat!! Interestingly Marine Parks never actually touched the boat but supervised as it came off. Peter and Eric came back on Kristie and we all anchored together.
Miles 48 Total 1186nm

Day 33 Tuesday 26 May - Magpie Reef to Night Island
The next morning I heard a funny scraping noise and then when we were having coffee in the cockpit we suddenly starting spinning. Seems we had come off a bommie and our anchor was loose. Lucky it didn't happen in the middle of the night! Headed off at 6.30 with light winds. We took a detour to have a look at Morris Island which was very pretty but didn't stop - time and tide and crocs withstanding! We sailed very slowly and when I said I could swim faster than this Peter started the motor and we made it to Night Island at 3.30. Peter lost his favourite lure today. Whatever it was took the lure, the wire trace and broke 50lb breaking strain line. I am fairly happy we didn't get whatever it was on board!
Miles 43 Total 1229

Day 34 Wednesday 27 May - Night Island to Portland Roads
We had a great day today - left at 7.15 along with Tookawile, Kristie 1 and Escape. We motored for the first hour and then put the spinnaker up and had a great sail. Had to fight with it for a bit as it collapsed every time the wind died and it tied itself in a knot at one point. But we got along really well and found that Portland Road was a very pretty little place with houses in the trees on the hill and some of them seemed to have manicured lawns! The wind started howling that night and it poured with rain. I thought we were getting closer to Tookawile through the night but Peter didn't think so.
Miles 43 Total 1272nm

Day 35 Thursday 28 May Portland Roads to Shelburne Bay
The wind was howling and we were where Tookawile was and Tookawile was 200 metres further out in the bay. We had both dragged through the night! When Peter retrieved our anchor it had a white teeshirt wrapped around it! Tookawile decied to stay and we left behind Kristie 1 and Escape. It was very rough at first but settled down. Kept looking back to see if Tookawile was coming but no - very sad. We got to Margaret Bay which was supposed to be beautiful but the tide was up, the wind was howling and it didn't look that great so continued on to Shellburne Bay, another 10nm and anchored in fairly shallow water with Escape by our side. Kristie 1 had decided to go straight through to the Cape (a huge effort). Kept looking for Tookawile's sail to come around the corner but it didn't come.
Miles 55 Total 1327

Day 36 Friday 29 May Shelburne Bay to Escape River - Happy Birthday Bill
Today was the big one and the day of way too much excitement. We left at 6.30 and it was a long horrible trip in huge seas 4-5 metres with the winds howling and hitting 35+knots at times. We got to Escape River at 3.30 and headed in. (we have a 1.8 metre draught and our depth sounder is set half a metre lower so when the depth sounder shows 1.4 metres we are on the ground). Escape was in front of us and the lowest we went down to was 3.9 metres and we were in the river and out of the swell and all was good. Or so we thought then all hell broke loose. Escape says they are on the ground. We showed 2.4 metres so immediately turned hard to port and Peter put the gear from forward to reverse without stopping at neutral so all of a sudden we had a jammed gear and no engine. Escape is on the ground and we are sailing at a great rate of knots up an unknown river with no engine!!!!! And pearl farms all around. Heart rate went up a bit. Peter finally got the gears sorted so could start the engine and we went back to assist Escape. After much stuffing around we got a line to them and starting pulling but the tide was falling, the wind was blowing a gale and we were heading to the left. Metres - 2.0, 1.9, 1.8, 1.7 - I am screaming at Peter to cut the line - 1.6, 1.5 and finally Peter cut the line and we spun out into deeper water!! Stress levels going through the roof! We stayed around for a little while longer but light was fading and there was nothing else we could do so started up the river and the pearl man came out in his tinnie and told us to stick to the right, there is a yellow buoy over the rock and don't get into the water as the lizards up there are rather big!! The pearl rafts come at least half way across the river, with black buoys unmarked and in some places both sides of the river. Peter stood up the front to make sure we missed them all. And the sun was nearly down. The river had good depths and we almost found the exact spot for the anchorage and were anchored just after the sun went down. The skipper had a well deserved rum or two and I had a couple of wines. We just left the mess downstairs where heaps of stuff had got thrown around in the rough seas. We are working on getting everything in its place but something always goes flying!!
Miles 65 Total 1392

Day 37 Saturday 30 May - Escape River
There is a strong wind warning for tomorrow. Escape arrived at about 7am and Eric and Kim came for morning tea to tell us of their terrifying night. The boat went over on its side as the tide went out but they didn't get any water in as it righted itself when the tide started coming back in. They finally got the boat into deeper water at 1am and their depth sounder had stopped working!! The wind howled and the swell was coming in. Nightmare stuff. It is now only 20 miles to the Cape but looking like we may be spending some days here before we can get out!! The tides seem to be a little bit cockahoop. The pearl farm man very helpfully informed Escape that a lot of yachts run aground there!!! It is marked on the charts as safe.

Still no internet or phone coverage. Hope all is well. Desperately missing Jack and Rosie and little Jessie's hugs.

Fair winds
Dell and Peter

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Friday, May 22, 2009

WEEK 4: 16 May - 22 May - Lizard to Flinders

Well we have made it up to the Flinders Group of Islands where we are pretty much becalmed and what wind there is is coming from the south west which is not supposed to happen but we have heard that down south is copping some horrible unseasonable weather too.

Day 23: Saturday 16 May - Lizard Island
Listened to the weather, would you believe a strong wind warning for this area! We took it easy and just went for a walk along the beach and checked out the water pump

and the camping sites which are very nice. There were about eight boats in the bay and we all met at 5pm on the beach for sundowners - take your own drinks and nibblies.

Day 24: Sunday 17 May - Lizard Island

Still a strong wind warning. Met Cheryl and Geoff on the beach at 9.30 and headed to the other side of the island to the Blue Lagoon, walked along the beach and then up through scrub, grass and rock and then skirted along sheer rock faces (thank goodness for non slip shoes!) and came to a rope which we used to get to the bottom and came to Coconut Beach where we had lunch. There is heaps of flotsam and jetsam washed up on to these southern beaches. Its amazing how many thongs people lose - always only one though - never a pair! There were lots of floats of assorted sizes, a stainless steel thingy off a long line fishing boat - even a motor bike helmet! Headed back and met at the Marlin Bar at 3 to play pool. The three policemen off the police boat came for drinks too. A good night.

Day 25: Monday 18 May - Lizard Island
Started cloudy but turned beautiful. Went for a snorkel - one reef had good fish and the other had good coral but not as good as we remembered from last year! Went to the water pump for a shower and did our washing - kind of fun under a water pump. Had drinks on the beach again and said our farewells.

Day 26: Tuesday 19 May - Lizard Island to Ingram Island
We left at 6.45 in company with Tookawile and had a wonderful sail. We just went the direct route and Geoff and Cheryl sailed all over the place trying to catch better wind. We went past Watson's Island which is where Mrs Watson floated to shore and died. A huge ship (923 feet long, 103 feet wide and a keel of 11.5 metres) was due to come through Howick Passage which as far as big ships go is quite narrow so we opted to go between the reefs between Ingram Island and Coombe Reef. A little disconcerting knowing that you have reef both sides of you. Anchored in windy conditions off little Ingram Island. Peter spent his evening fishing - got a few small ones.
Miles: 43 Total 1091 nm

Day 27: Wednesday 20 May - Ingram Island to Flinders Group of Islands
What a beautiful day - unfortunately not a breath of wind so we had to motor the entire way. Crossed the shipping lane after three ships had gone through and just motored up the coast which had some pretty awesome scenery. Peter finally caught a large Spanish mackerel so he was very happy! We passed Cape Melville which has a fearsome reputation for very strong winds - in fact people call it Cape Hellville. But it was Cape Smoothsville today. Tookawile opted to go into Bathurst Bay to check it out but I had read that there are heaps of snakes in there so we continued on to the Flinders. We came into the passage between Flinders and Stanley Islands and it was like a millpond. The countryside was awesome - all the reds and greens on the north and craggy hills and bits of mangrove. Very pretty. Anchored on the east side of the sandspit behind the German boat Frejya.
Miles: 47 Total 1138

Day 28: Thursday 21 May - Flinders Island
At about 4.30am the wind turned to the SW and we were rocking and rolling quite a bit so moved to the north eastern side of the sandspit. Tookawile came in at 11.30 and anchored nearby. We took the tender (dingy) - after much trepidation about crocs - and headed about a mile away to a water tank but the tide was too low for us to get in so had a long wet trip back. Went to the other side of the sandspit and joined Geoff and Cheryl in gathering huge oysters (mission accomplished) and trying to find an aboriginal painting (mission not accomplished). We had sundowners and oysters (natural, lime & chilli and Kilpatrick) on Tookawile. Vulcan came in and after a little trouble managed to anchor nearby (they have a broken anchor winch). Anchorage pleasant - no wind so stuck here for a while.

Day 29: Friday 22 May - Flinders Island
I have spent the morning confirming that I have no natural talent for either sketching or water colour painting. Peter has finally started to read his book and Whitby Lass has just come in so now there are four yachts here. We are hoping to get some decent wind on Sunday to leave.

Missing my little dogs and Jessie. Hope you are all well and haven't been blown or washed away!

Fair winds
Dell and Peter

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

WEEK 3 : 10 May - 15 May - Dunk to Lizard Island

Well we made it to Lizard Island three weeks after leaving Brisbane. A little bit exhausted so will take a few days here to catch our breath and plan the next section of our trip. We feel that our trip is now finally starting as from now on it will all be new. Following is a catch up.

Day 17: Sunday 10 May - Dunk Island to Fitzroy Island
We left Dunk Island at 6.50am - it was overcast and raining and thoroughly miserable. Went through all the Family Group of islands which are just beautiful but it was not a nice day. On days like these sailing is really a slow way to travel!!! Had sardines on toast and a nice bottle of wine for mothers day!
Miles: 65 Total 875nm

Day 18: Monday 11 May - Fitzroy Island to Yorkeys Knob (Cairns)
Left Fitzroy at 7.45 and arrived at the fuel dock at Yorkeys at 11 am. We were fuelled and berthed by 12. Peter hired a car and raced around trying to get a part to repair the wet exhaust hose for the engine. The elbow we had had rusted through. Peter finally found someone who could make another one by 8am the next morning! We spoiled ourselves and had dinner at the yacht club. A bit rainy.
Miles: 20 Total 895nm

Day 19: Tuesday 12 May - Yorkeys Knob Marina
Peter collected his part and got a prepaid modem (no external aerial however). Took him most of the day to fix the exhaust and after all that he bypassed using the new part so I guess we have a spare for future use!! I did the final shop before our push north and we again shouted ourselves dinner at the yacht club.

Day 20: Wednesday 13 May - Yorkeys to port Douglas to the Low Isles
We left Yorkeys at 5.45 in the dark. A rigger in Port Douglas could change our quartz halogen anchor light to LED if we could be in port Douglas around 10ish. (LEDs use a lot less power than quartz). We made it by 10.30 and were instructed to head for the red boat up the river and we would have to reverse in!! Our boat doesn't reverse all that well and Peter had never reversed it into anywhere before. We were heading for the wrong red boat and almost went past when we saw the rigger waving and we really blanched when we saw where we had to go. It was a tiny little inlet with boats tied on both sides of it and double parked on the side we had to go into. We had a go and got in there - I threw the line and missed and threw it again and landed it all over the rigger. We got our back in and then I had to throw the front line and he pulled the front in. It was the sort of dock you had to climb a ladder to get up. It took a couple of hours for the rigger and his sparky mate to change it all over. I popped up the street - we really like Port Douglas. We thought later we should have taken a photo because we couldn't believe we were in there. At 1.30 it was quick we have to get out of here as the tide is going out. Our depth sounder was showing that we were sitting on the bottom but we seemed to be still floating! Luckily the double parked boat left 5 minutes earlier so I pushed off with a long stick and we headed out. Our keel pushed through about 200mm of mud but we finally got back into the main river and headed for the Low Isles. Arrived about 2.55pm. There are three buoys for boats at the Low and we were the fourth boat to arrive! It was a beautiful day and a great sail.
Miles: 38 Total 933nm

Day 21: Thursday 14 May - Low Isles to Hope Isles
We left the Low at 6.45 and motored for an hour and then put the jenneker (spinnaker - the big pretty sail!) out and had a great sail. But we always realise too late that the wind is getting a bit much for the jenneker - it always feels so good racing along at a great rate of knots!! Had a terrible time getting it in. I thought either Peter would get dragged off the deck or we would blow a hole in it!! After much manouvering we finally got it in and had a great sail with just the headsail out. We had experimented with the mainsail up earlier in the day but found it went heaps better with just the headsail. Arrived at the Hope Isles at 2.30. There are two buoys at the Hope and we were the third yacht to arrive!!!
Miles: 47 Total 980nm

Day 22: Friday 15 May - Hope Isles to Lizard island
Weather windy 15 - 20 knots then 20 - 25 a lovely sunny day. Left at 6.20am - the wind howled all night. Had a great run up - put Mr Fleming our wind vane (which does all the steering) on and away we went. Two pilot whales travelled with us for a while - magic. Did 7 - 8 knots - got a couple of knocks where the back of the boat slews around before it rights itself. We came around the corner and there in the bay were our friends Tookawhile. We had to do the go around anchor thing again as the anchor wouldn't go down (when its rough weather the chain gets knocked around and gets a bit knotted up). Anchored besides Tookawhile and Cheryl was so excited. It was so good to see them again and talked till late!!! A great reunion!
Miles: 68 Total 1048

Miss you all, fair winds
Dell and Peter

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Week 2 - 3 May - 9 May 09 - Montes to Dunk

Well the disaster has been that we broke our modem - the external and internal aerial! Very bad for us and very bad for the hip pocket. Still haven't resolved our dilemma but hope to do something in Cairns. When we were going past Great Keppel Island we noticed some clouds which according to the Cloud Appreciation Society meant it was going to get very windy within 24 hours (ha Debbie!!!). It actually took 36 hours for the strong wind warnings to start but we have been sailing in them pretty much since.

Day 10 - Sunday 3 May - Cid Harbour to Montes Resort
We left Cid Harbour at 6.30 am in windy conditions heading for Montes Resort at the bottom of Gloucester Island. Arrived at 11.50am and went in to the resort (on the beach) for a shower and a few drinks. Back again for dinner (always delicious and more than you can eat) and then sat by a fire on the beach for a while - magic. (Also first time off the boat since Mooloolaba!).
34nm - total 604

Day 11 - Monday 4 May - Montes to Bowen
Decided to head for Bowen in the hope of fixing our modem. Very strong winds but a beautiful day and a fantastic sail all the way to Greys Bay off Bowen (and the nudie beach!). Mind you at one point I could hear waves breaking to the left and then to the right and then behind and looked back and OMG!!! Dont look back!
13nm - total 617nm

Day 12 - Tuesday 5 May - Bowen to Cape Upstart
No Telstra shops in Bowen so left at 8.30 to head for Cape Upstart. Weather beautiful - wonderful days sail arriving at 2.15 - hoiking along at 7 - 8 knots!!
38nm - total 655nm

Day 13 - Wednesday 6 May - Cape upstart to Magnetic Island
Left Cape Upstart at 6.15am. Two yachts left before us and one cat after us. Strong wind warning still current so we knew it would not be nice! Seas were a minimum of 2.5 metres and to head for Cape Bowling Green (which is just a nasty sand spit preferably to keep well away from) we were getting hit from the side by waves which were kind of big! Quite a bit bigger than 2.5metres but after a couple of screams decided the close the eyes school of sailing is quite good. When you feel the back of the boat sliding off a wave close your eyes and hang on to the "close your eyes and pray rail" we had installed last year above the tiller and when you open your eyes and are totally off course just compensate and when you overcompensate compensate some more!!! Easy!!. Didnt know whether at this stage to mention that it was day 13!!! Anyway motor sailed till Bowling Green and then set a course for Maggie and put Mr Jennings (the wind vein) on and he pretty much steered us all the way to Maggie. We were almost there and wondering what a big 3 masted yacht was doing anchored so far out and then we realised we had reached Horseshoe Bay and whoops had nearly sailed past!!! Arrived at 4.45pm rather tired
Miles - 70nm Total 725nm

Day 14 - Thursday 7 May - Magnetic Island
Caught the bus and ferry into Townsville intent on replacing our modem but it was not to be. A replacement was $320 but they didn't have any (old technology - just over a year old) and the new one was $600! Still mulling it over but will do something by Cairns hopefully - probably wont be as good as what we had but...........
Day 15 - Friday 8 May - Magnetic Island to Orpheus Island
Left Magnetic Island at 6.45am and had a dream sail (strong wind warnings still in place - how good are we getting!!!). The weather was beautiful -the wind was just right and it was lovely. Arrived at Little Pioneer Bay on Orpheus Island (Palm Group) at 2.10pm. Picked up a buoy so didn't have to anchor and had an early night and slept well for a change!
Miles - 40nm Total 765nm

Day 16 - Saturday 9 May - Orpheus Island to Dunk Island
Strong wind warnings continue - we left at 6.15 overcast and windy getting hit by waves on the side thinking oh dear was this a good idea! Motor sailed for two and a half hours and then cut the motor and had a lovely sail albeit a rather wet one. Still didn't get into Zoe Bay on Hinchinbrook Island and Hinchinbrook always seem to have a big cloud over it. Once we got to the top of Hinchinbrook we changed tack and had a quite good sail though it has been overcast and rainy all day. Arrived Dunk at 2.10pm - have showered and feel good.
Miles - 45nm Total 810nm

Missing our doggies and grandson Jessie like mad. Spoke to Jessie through the week (22 months old) and told him we were on the boat and he said where's the boat - what do you say!!! Anyway all good. Hope you are all fine.

Fair Winds
Dell and Peter

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Week 1 : 24 April - 2 May - Brisbane - Montes

Well it was a lonely figure Amy and our grandson Jessie cut as we sailed away and watched them disappear into the distance at 9.15am on Friday 24 April – finally!!! Leaving so much behind.

Of course we left in a northerly which meant we were beating into the wind all the way to Mooloolaba. Wasnt too bad but the swell started to increase and there were breakers across the river entrance which wasn’t very pleasant. We were advised later to stick to the western side of the wall on approach – well we did this – didn’t really have a choice at the time as that was where we got washed!!! Anyway safely into the river which is where we stayed for Saturday just to catch our breath. Had sundowners with Les off Moonlight Dancer who we met at Lizard last year. – 43 nm

Sunday 26 April we left at 5.30am. A long and boring day with some wind but not a lot. Got to the Wide Bay Bar at 3.30 on a rising tide and were anchored at Inskip Point at 4.30pm. (60nm) The sea was like glass and it was absolutely beautiful for sundowners.

We left Inskip at 7am to go through the Great Sandy Straits on a high tide. Just as we got to the really tricky shallow bit 24 Rivieras (rather large motor boats) passed us without slowing down!! We were practically dipping our gunwales (top edge of the boat) in the water swaying from side to side – a rude and arrogant bunch – and then the real estate agent rang and was a little alarmed!!!!

Anyway we got through there about lunch time and the weather was beautiful, the seas were flat so decided to continue on to Bundaberg. The weather was so lovely when we got to Bundaberg at 9pm that we decided to keep going and try a night sail. The seas actually came up a bit through the night and it was a little unpleasant. Got Peter’s tracksuit and beanie out and left it on the lounge but when I checked on him he had a towel over his legs and a winch cover on his head – couldn’t find his tracksuit and beanie!!!! The seas were pretty sloppy and we got into Cape Capricorn at 1.50pm on Tuesday 28th and had a very welcome sleep. (206nm)

Left Cape Capricorn in calm weather heading for Great Keppell. We put the jenniker out and having a lovely sail so decided to keep going (trying to make the most of the good weather). It was a beautiful day – we did 3 hour shifts through the day. Got up towards Port Clinton, took the jenniker down and put the head sail out and the seas were so lovely we just kept going and the currents were also with us. This was the section which caused us so much grief last year. We motored sailed through the night – put the autopilot on and just kept checking the radar, course and anything else that was about and sat back and enjoyed the ride!!! Everything at night is amplified. The land which looks like we could almost touch it is actually 6 miles away and the stars were so bright. We were heading for Curlew Island but got there around 9.30am and the seas were so lovely and it was a beautiful day so we just kept going!! Rounded Double Island and got the jenniker up again and had a dream run all the way to Scawfell Island arriving at 5.10pm. There were three other yachts there and it was a beautiful anchorage and we decided to stay a day. ( 208nm)

However, Friday 1st May we decided to keep going – after all what would we do all day on a beach in the middle of nowhere!!!! So left at 8.45am and arrived at Shaw Island (well and truly in the Whitsundays by now) at 4.15 pm after a wonderful sail. Still no fish – obviously Jack is not here to supervise! (40nm)

Saturday 2 May left Shaw in around 20 knot winds at 7.45 and flew along with the wind up our tails with just the headsail out. Have caught lots of fish in the past trolling but never a shark on a lure trolling. Hooked onto one going past Hamilton Island at 7.5 knots. Took a bit to stop the boat to haul it in. Arrived at Cid Harbour at 11am which is where we sit catching up on all our chores. Winds are starting to come in a bit stronger now so we are happy we moved along as quickly as we did. Will head to Montes Resort (Gloucester Passage) tomorrow and will see how we handle the winds. Hope this finds you all safe and well.

Total miles so far 575. Last year it took 5 weeks to cover what we achieved in 7 days

Fair winds

Dell and Peter