Saturday, November 24, 2012

LWH – Week 20 –Cairns – Cape Upstart

Sun – 18 – Cairns
16⁰55.025S / 145⁰47.176E
We passed Cape Tribulation in the morning. It was quite warm already and humid. Very pretty – rainforest mountains to the sea. It was a beautiful day with perfect conditions and we dropped anchor opposite the Cairns marina at 6pm. A really good run down. The anchored boats were all over the place and facing all sorts of different directions with the wind and the current. In the evening they settled and we had a good night.
Miles: 211 TTT: 3,366

Mon 19 Nov – Cairns marina
Berth G 23
We had booked in to get fuel at 9am so upanchored and proceeded to the fuel dock where we took on 311 litres at $1.46 a litre. We then headed to our berth and by this time it was getting quite breezy. The skipper had the boat in reverse as we came into the arm as we were getting blown forward and sideways and he brought her in beautifully. We said hullo to Jasmin who we had last seen rounding the Cape. We managed to do our shopping, laundry and booze run and then went out to dinner. We had noticed that Cairns had lots of tourists and in the evening was buzzing. It was Monday night and we had a half hour wait at the restaurant. Found out later that there had been 15,000 people at the Eclipse party and thats why the town was full. Cairns is a very pretty town with large swimming pools on the shore of the bay and the marina right in the middle of town within walking distance of everything. I was coming back from the shower at 10pm and there was a couple at the security gate to the our dock and it turned out to be Casper – they had left their dinghy on the dock and couldnt get back in as the gates are locked at 6pm. Had a quick catchup and they headed off across the river to their anchorage Also caught up with Suspense earlier in the evening. We last saw them in Miri. They are settled in with their kids all now in school.

Tues 20 Nov – Fitzroy Island
Mooring – 16⁰55.949S / 145⁰59.112E
We packed all our shopping away and left around 9am. Bach & Byte and Mandolin Wind had anchored out at 2am after a marathon 69 hour run down from the Cape. We went by Bach & Byte and said hullo. We had a slow motor sail over to Fitzroy and managed to pick up a mooring quite close to the rocky shore. We spent the afternoon doing chores. Snorkled in the water to clear some molluscs off the bottom of the boat but it was very murky so didn’t stay in long. The water is a very pretty colour and the island very green though its beach is corally rubble – not sand. A comfortable night
Miles: 17 TTT: 3,383

Wed 21 Nov – Dunk Island
19⁰06.776S / 146D51.549E
We dropped the mooring at 5am and motor sailed through the day with lovely weather and calm sea and anchored at 3pm off the sandy spit at Dunk Island. They are rebuilding the jetty there and the resort seemed closed. Its possible they have not recovered from the cyclone of a few years ago. The skipper worked on the loo – pulled it out and put it in again three times – I was surprised it did not go overboard! The language was rather blue. By 9pm it was working better than it ever has so its all good! We were supposed to go for drinks to Mandolin Wind but the loo took precendence!
Miles: 63 TTT: 3,446

Thurs 22 Nov – Horseshoe Bay Magnetic Island
19⁰06.776S / 146⁰51.548E
We upanchored just before 4am in the dark and motor sailed along with Bach & Byte and Mandolin Wind. The seas were not as calm as yesterday but not too bad. We had great wind to start with but as we got closer to the Palm Islands it dropped out a bit. Lots of coral spawn in the water. The wind came up in the afternoon but the seas were calm. A good run doing 7+knots motor sailing. The crew actually put a jumper on this morning! Arrived at Horseshoe Bay at 5pm. Strange coming in with only a couple of boats at anchor. This place is usually packed but everyone has gone south for the summer. Makes us feel we are dragging the chain a bit but we are making good time.
Miles: 84 TTT: 3,530

Fri 23 Nov – Cape Upstart
19⁰42.550S / 147⁰45.122E
Another dark 4am start. By the time we rounded Magnetic Island and went past the five tankers at anchor the sun was rising and reflecting pink off all the clouds – very pretty. Headed east and passed Cape Bowling Green around 9.30am then turned south. Seas are good. Motor sailed doing almost 7 knots but when we turned south we dropped to around 6 knots and less. Good wind filling the sails. Around 1pm the Coastwatch plane came in from behind us low and close – woke the crew from slumber and gave the skipper quite a start. They then called us up by name wanting our details – last port of call, next port etc. We wondered what they were doing on this part of the coast. Also thought what a cushy job that would be! Coming into Cape Upstart its just a glorious day – the sky so blue the sea such a pretty green and Cape Upstart bare and rugged in front of us. Anchored at Cape Upstart off a tiny beach with a few little houses – holiday shacks. A huge healthy looking eagle. Beautiful spot. People come from Ayr and Home Hill. Some locals came out trolling and got a Spanish mackerel each. A spot to come back to.
Miles: 68 TTT: 3,598

Well we are making good headway and tonight we are in the next bay from Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays. The weather is blowing up again on Monday so we may have another enforced rest!

Getting closer! Love to all
Fair Winds and Calm Seas
Dell and Peter

Sunday, November 18, 2012

LWH – Week 19 –Night Island – night passage

Sun – Wed 11 – 14 Nov – Night Island
Sunday was a very sheltered day wondering if we stopped too soon but Monday the big blow came in with 30 knot winds and we were very glad to be where we were. Each evening the pigeons came in and we could hear a deep buzzing sound of thousands of pigeons cooing on the island. Another yacht came in on Tuesday afternoon heading north and anchored towards the north of the island. The next morning they were rolling badly. We had a slight bit of swell but all in all were pretty comfy.

Thurs 15 Nov – Morris Island
13⁰29.430S / 143⁰43.377E
Today would have been little Jackie matys birthday
We left at 6.30am but it was still pretty blowy so we decided to head 20 miles up to Morris Island which is a lovely sand island with a coconut palm and surrounded by lots of reef. The colour of the water was reminiscent of the Philippines. When the tide went out there was a huge sandspit coming out from the island. A couple of pelicans on the beach when we arrived (haven’t seen one of those for ages). We anchored at 12 and by 12.15 it was pouring rain but it didn’t last long. Some large white heron type birds were on the shore and also lots of little birds sitting along the beach. We are still following the shipping channel as it goes between all the reef. This little sandspit island turns into a huge island at low tide when all the reef is exposed and if you were inclined to you could walk for miles. At high tide you wouldn’t know there was any reef around so it just goes to show how close the reef is lurking to the surface! The wind howled till after midnight. A horrible sound but very comfortable though our track at anchorage was all over the place – we think currents are at play here. The skipper had a bit of luck here and caught a huge Spanish mackerel. The freezer is full so it is no more fishing for a while!!!!
Miles: 21 TTT: 3,093

Friday 16 Nov – Flinders Islands
14⁰10.677S / 144⁰13.729E
We left at 5.30am. The wind had died off but started up again at around 5. We put the sails out and could see a tug towing a barge out in the shipping channel – shades of Indonesia! And just to really make it like Indonesia someone did a nonsense gargle on channel 16! The skipper has taken to wearing a shirt as he is cold! We saw the biggest yellow seasnake sunning itself on the surface – it had to be 6 – 7 ft long. It was a beautiful sunny day and we motor sailed over 6 knots all morning following the edge of the shipping channel. During the afternoon the winds increased as did the waves and then we had to turn up into it to get to Cape Melville so we pulled into the Flinders Group and anchored at 4.30pm in 7.3m. We were surprised to see six other boats in there and two more came in after us. Some are heading north and some south. We ran out of pineapple, banana and pawpaw yesterday so now we are on the oranges. The wind howled through till about 2am. A comfortable night.
Miles: 62 TTT: 3,155

Sat 17 Nov – night sail
We upanchored in the dark at 5am and motored through the Owen channel. The Flinders Islands are stark and beautiful. It started out another lovely sunny day – area of interest rounding Cape Melville – hills covered in huge boulders and around the Cape three piles of boulders like God just dumped them there like piles of building blocks. Barrow point – really pretty – very rocky with big slabs of rock which look like it used to be an ancient building (its not) – unusual rocks here. A cat had been anchored at Barrow Island and left just before we got there and called us up for a weather report and it was so good they went back to Barrow Island. Just before Lookout Point we saw the most wonderful white sand cliffs shining in the afternoon sun – they looked quite spectacular. Lookout Point is where Captain Cook left his ship Endeavour while he went out to Lizard Island to try to find a way through the reef. Yes he did and they went out through a gap in the reef the other side of Lizard Island. We also passed Watson Island today which is where Mrs Watson and her baby died of thirst after escaping an Aborigine attack on Lizard Island in a bech-de-mer tub. Just watched the most beautiful sunset. The sun was a big orange orb – could have something to do with the smoke haze from burning off. We went through the night in perfect conditions except the wind dropped out.

We are currently enroute to Cairns having motor sailed through the night. We want to take the best advantage of this wonderful weather window we have been offered.

Hope all your days are sunny too.
Much love
Fair Winds and Calm Seas
Dell and Peter

Monday, November 12, 2012

LWH - Week 18 -Seisia - Night Island

Sat 3 Nov - Seisia
We had a quiet day on board and had seen children swimming off the beach near the jetty. Around 4pm we joined the crews of the other boats and went in for a game of cricket. One of them had fashioned a bat out of a piece of wood. We all had a couple of goes at batting and while we were playing we saw one of the two resident crocodiles swimming past. He was around 4 metres. We then went to the Fishing Club but it was closed so that meant no dinner but they were happy to serve us drinks. Back to the boats before it got dark!

Sun 4 Nov - Seisia
We joined a few of the others on the beach on the little island off the anchorage (Red Island), which incidentally is apparently where the big croc hangs out. We walked around the island. Barbara off Casper is something of a botanist and knew all the scientific names for plants and trees. Another couple are bird watchers and photographers so it was an interesting exercise. It took us around two and a half hours - a good morning. Spent the rest of the day reading and waiting on a weather window to round the Cape.

Mon 5 Nov - Seisia
Went ashore and watched a large ship dock at the jetty - quite a feat getting in there as it is very shallow. Someone had caught a shark and tossed it on the beach and one of the workers told us that both crocodiles had been chased away from it a couple of times and it would have to be moved. This was just near where we saw a man have an early morning swim. We then headed up the road and a lady offered us a lift and we declined but then a resort bus stopped and offered us a lift to Bamaga so we thought why not. There is not much in Bamaga - we checked out the supermarket and had a pie at the bakery then headed back towards Seisia. We met the others a t the New Mapoon cemetery. It is so colourful with heaps of artificial flowers on the graves and headstones with a photo of the person and a rundown of their life. Then we went to the Art and Craft shop where the Indigenous people do paintings. They are not the dot paintings - they are a different style. We walked back to Seisia calling in at the butcher on the way back. In the late afternoon ten of us met on the cat, Easy Rider and had a game of dice. We have never played this before but it was a good game and we had a great evening.

Tues 6 Nov - Seisia
We went ashore and did last minute shopping and a water run then adjourned to Easy Rider for the Melbourne Cup. There were twelve of us as another boat had come in. The ladies all wore hats and Wayne off Casper did up a Melbourne Cup quiz and we had a sweep and had a fantastic afternoon. We then watched the race on delayed telecast on the computer but that was the least important part of the afternoon!!! A great afternoon with good company.

Wed 7 Nov - Cape York
10 41.248S / 142 31.474E
We left at 10am after the tide came up a bit. It was a good trip up the Cape and then beating into the wind and tide for an hour or so and we anchored on the west side of the Cape at 2pm. Casper, Easy Rider and Jasmin came in shortly after. It was really blowing but it was a calm anchorage. The weather forecast for tomorrow is 15 - 20 knots instead of 20 - 25 knots so we are going for it.
Miles: 19 TTT: 2,898nm

Thurs 8 Nov Day/night 1
We left at 8am and pushed current around to the Albany Passage. We followed Easy Rider and Jasmin through. A beautiful sunny day. Pushed a bit of current then came out into a wavy ocean and pushed into more current. The further we got from the passage the better it got. We had current against us and the waves were a metre with the odd two metre wave which stopped us in our tracks at times. We only managed to do 2.5 - 3 knots so it took forever and was most unpleasant. But we remember it being quite unpleasant on the way up here - its just not a nice part of the coast! At midnight the crew could see a ship on the AIS and it looked as though we were going to meet it at the narrow stretch between the reefs. As soon as we passed the reef we headed for the starboard side of the shipping channel and when we saw his red light we knew we were going to be ok. The wind blew hard all night.

Fri 9 Nov - Day 2 Portland Roads
12 35.629S / 143 24.432E
We didn't make it to Shelburne Bay till the early hours of the morning so continued on to Margret Bay and then made the decision to keep going. We pushed up around Cape Grenville and through some islands, one of which had a resort on it, and then had a lovely sail with current for most of the morning. A big ship went through the narrowest section of the channel just before we did and we passed him quite closely. The winds were about 10 - 15 so it was lovely. Shortly after we had to turn up to head towards Portland Roads. we had current against us and wind on the nose which had come up a bit. We tried to hug the land as much as we could. We thought about pushing through to the Flinders but it would have meant another two nights and we weren't sure we could make it before the next big blow came through and we were pretty tired so we pulled into Portland Roads and anchored at 5.45pm in 7m beside another cat. And fell into bed. We think the other boats stayed at Shelburne Bay.
Miles: 133 TTT: 3,031

Sat 10 Nov - Night Island
13 10.779S / 143 34.376E
We left at 5.40am and had wind on the nose till we were able to get up around Cape Waymouth and Restoration Island. A couple of ships passed us. We are staying just on the edge of the shipping channel. Apart from the shipping channel which is quite narrow there is reef everywhere. The reef provides good shelter so the seas are not too bad. We had a good run in the morning doing 6 knots but in the afternoon slowed down to 4 knots. We thought about the Flinders again but were afraid of getting caught out in 30 knot winds so pulled in behind Night Island at 2.30pm. The wind was really starting to come up by then. We had a little bit of rain after we anchored. The island is a haven for Torres Strait pigeons which are white with black under their wings and on the tips and are really pretty. We were able to sit on the deck (not quite so windy here) and watch them all coming out from the mainland in the evening. A very sheltered spot. No email or phone.
Miles: 41 TTT: 3,072

We are currently waiting for the big blow to come through thinking maybe we could have gone a bit further but this is a good place to sit out a blow. Hope to be on the way again around Thursday.

Love to all
Fair Winds and Calm Seas
Dell and Peter

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

LWH – Week 17 – Gove - Seisia

Sat 27 Oct - Gove
Happy Birthday Simone
We finally got our part around 10.30am and the skipper had it installed in around 15 minutes and we should have left straight away but that would have meant being in the Gulf of Carpentaria for three nights. Instead we did a water run, did a final wash and joined Bob and Gordon at the Boat Club for dinner. There was supposed to be a band but no one turned up so Ron the manager did it himself. Apparently he used to have a band down south and he was exceptionally good. A lovely evening. We left at 8pm and put Bob and Freddy aboard.

Sun 28 Oct – Day/night 1 Gulf Crossing
We left just before 6am and headed out in the calmest sea – so hard to believe what it had been like two weeks previously. Had lots of calls and texts for the crew’s birthday including the two lovely gentlemen off Sometime. We motor sailed all day doing up to 7 knots but settling pretty much to 5.5. The seas were fairly calm which was a lovely surprise. The skipper saw some dolphins and a booby bird kept trying to land but kept trying to land in the middle of the sail and finally landed on the water. We had been keeping a careful eye on him. The skipper cooked a lovely birthday meal of silverside with white sauce and potato and greens washed down with a glass of Kyle’s lovely white wine. A lovely evening. We had a full moon and it was so bright it was beautiful. At 1am we had dolphins all around the boat. They seemed huge. At one point a dozen of them surfaced all together, just off the bow of the boat. They frisked around the boat surfacing right beside the cockpit and they kept me amused for quite some time.

Mon 29 Oct – Day/night 2 Gulf Crossing
Have checked the gribs and it is going to be a near run thing to make it before the big winds come in so we are heading for the closest possible landfall. We passed halfway in the morning then the seas came up though there wasn’t a lot of wind and we found ourselves in 3m seas. One of the earlier boats reported the same thing when they crossed. We think it is to do with the currents etc and not a lot to do with the weather. Anyway suffice to say it was a horrible horrible day and very uncomfortable. During the evening the wind dropped right off, the seas calmed with just a slight swell and had that calm oily look about it and we had our full moon and it was quite lovely. Around midnight the skies got very dark so checked the radar and sure enough there were storm clouds ahead. Funnily enough just right at the spot we had to go through the clouds had almost cleared left and right and left us a little channel! We copped about 30 seconds of rain and then we were through and it joined up behind us again. Around 2am the wind picked up and the seas picked up and it was sooooo uncomfortable. At 4am the autopilot stopped working (cant tell you what an important part of the boat this is!) and the skipper rudder steered for two hours.

Tues 30 Oct – Day 3 Gulf Crossing
12⁰20.253S / 141⁰40.655E
At 6am we started half hour shifts of rudder steering. Every time we hit a big wave we almost stopped and we were really doing it tough. Then about 10am the seas started calming and the skies were clear and it turned into a lovely day. The half hour shifts worked well so it wasn’t too wearing and we dozed in between but by late afternoon we were pretty tired not having much sleep the night before as it had been too rough. We saw a yellow sea snake floating on the surface and also a floating turtle with a bird sitting on its back. At 14 miles out the skipper could see land and at 9 miles out the crew could see land so we just headed for the coast and it seemed to take forever. We dropped anchor in 8m a few hundred metres from a lovely deserted white sandy beach. We had a lovely bucket shower (our camp showers have long since given up the ghost) and a lovely steak washed down with a glass of Kyle’s wine and fell into bed.
Miles: 304 TTT: 2,764

Wed 31 Oct – coastal anchorage, Qld
11⁰59.575S / 141⁰50.183E
We slept really well and awoke to a lovely beach. The wind had dropped off and it was really calm. At last now it is starting to feel like we are coming home. This feels like Australia! That was our last crossing. From now on it is day hopping and only doing over nighters if we choose to. The skipper got out the two other broken autopilots and managed to make one good one out of them so we again have an autopilot. He then changed the fuel filters and we upanchored at 11.30am and had a lovely sail up the coast. The wind was a bit gusty and we did between 3 and 7 knots and sailed all the way. We pulled into the coast again before the Wenlock River and dropped anchor at 5pm. The last hour or so had been very windy. Its a beautiful coastline of just continual beach. Saw a couple of isolated huts but nothing else. A lovely day.

Miles: 24 TTT: 2,788
Thurs 1 Nov – coastal anchorage, Qld
11⁰11.403S / 142⁰08.113E
We left at 6.30am and sailed with just the headsail out. We had to go a long way out to get around the Wenlock River as it was shallow. The wind came up and it is amazing how quickly the waves and chop can build in such a short distance from the shore. It was blowing hard and gusting 25+ knots which really heeled the boat right over. The crew is not a fan of heeling so far and it was not a nice day. Though we sailed up to 7.5knots. It was so windy and wavy and we came into the coast between two points and went into 300 metres from shore so the waves dropped off and anchored in 6.5 metres. It was a wonderful anchorage and the wind dropped right off for the night.
Miles: 53 TTT: 2,841

Fri 2 Nov – Seisia, Qld
10⁰50.856S / 142⁰21.799E
We left at 4.50am to beat the strong wind and to catch the rising tide. It was very calm as we motored the ten miles across to the channel through the shallow water into the Endeavour Strait. We put the headsail out and must have had current with us as we were doing 7 knots. Saw a huge black and white snake floating past. The wind came up on the nose around 8am but it wasn’t too bad. - We could see another yacht coming in from the opposite direction. We followed the leads in and anchored off the township of Seisia at 11.45am in 6.5m. At 1pm we put Bob in and took our jerries ashore to the service station (about 500 metres). The lovely lady at the servo drove us back to the boat ramp with our jerries. We did another trip and she drove us back again. Then we went to the supermarket. The fruit and veges were really cheap. Only $4 for a kilo of tomatoes as against $10 a kilo in Gove! On the way back to the boat we called over to say hullo to Easy Rider. They have been here a week. One boat headed south but Easy Rider decided to come back when they saw the weather forecast. Said hullo to Caspar who have also been here a little while. There are five of us boats here now all waiting on a weather window to go south. Seisia has a much nicer feel to it than Gove – more free and easy maybe or more equality - don’t know. We are glad to finally be here but there is heavy weather on the way so we will stay hunkered down here for a while as it is quite sheltered in this little anchorage. We phoned the boys off Sometime and they had their motor fixed and had just left Gove heading across the Gulf. We really hope they get in before the weather changes. We had a good trip up the Endeavour Strait but the others in here had a nightmare trip of it. Guess we finally won one!! A lovely calm night.
Miles: 38 TTT: 2,879

Getting closer – when we get the window we will go for it but it may not be until Wednesday or Thursday. Rosie’s birthday is on Monday 5th November and she will be 13. Happy birthday little one.
Love to all.
Calm Seas and Fair Winds (I don’t think thats an Australian water saying!!!)
Dell and Peter