Monday, December 10, 2012

LWH – Week 22 Home is the sailor

One thing I forgot to mention last week when we were at Scawfell we could hear the helicopter pilots talking to the cargo ships waiting to go into Abbot Point. They fly out to drop the ship pilots off and one we heard was late at night blowing 21 knots, very dark and he asked the ship to speed up so he could land – some very precise flying !

Sat 1 Dec – Fraser Island
25⁰23.029S / 153⁰01.729E
We should be putting our Christmas tree up today! We left at 4.40am at low tide again. There was a yacht anchored outside having a very rolly time and we passed them coming in as we were going out. Its not the easiest of places to get in and out of. Passed the Bustard Head lighthouse at 5.25am with the sun quite high in the sky. The sea was rather lumpy and not all that nice. The skipper was remembering when he and Amy went fishing up there. Well it was very swelly and uncomfortable and then it was just swelly. We arrived at Bundaberg at 3pm and having ascertained that we can in fact get diesel at Kingisher Bay we decided to go through. The seas had calmed and it was pleasant enough. However, on dark the winds came up and the seas came up and we were getting slewed around sideways as the waves hit our aft – not pleasant. The moon came up at 8pm and it was a relief to see the leads to the channel into Fraser. We hit 8 knots at one point. We could see boats anchored and went round then anchored further north and further out. We dropped the anchor at 11.20pm.
Miles: 112: TTT: 4,074

Sun 2 Dec – Kingfisher Bay
We went ashore at high tide and walked to the petrol station and got some diesel. The skipper found a trolly and took three jerries back while the crew waited with the other two. A very nice man came in and offered to take the other two for us. He was driving what looked like a glorified golf buggy turned into a covered ute. He said he had got really excited when they had told him he was getting his very own work ute! I walked back as he only had the one seat and then he kindly took the trolly back for us. The skipper put the fuel in then we went into the day area of the resort and had a hot shower (after I had a cold one then realised there was hot!) and lunch along with all the other daytrippers who were using the pool there. In the afternoon our decision to come through last night was vindicated when a northerly came through and it got very rough. It was only when the wind stretched us right back on our anchor chain towards the beach that we realised we were only 5 – 10 metres from the sandbank! Its called perfect anchoring!! All the other yachts anchored left and we were left on our own again. The skipper reckoned it would drop off in the evening and sure enough it did and we had a lovely calm night.

Mon 3 Dec – Garry’s Anchorage
25⁰37.790S / 152⁰58.390E
We upanchored just after 8 to make our way through the shallows of The Great Sandy Straits on a rising tide. We came though the shallow bit following the red and green buoys. One of the green ones had been moved since our last journey through. We followed a big American yacht through part of it with another yacht behind. Both of us then passed the American yacht and I think he was happy enough to follow us through. The lowest we got to was 1.4m under the keel. We pulled into Garry’s Anchorage at 12 noon. The other two boats kept going. There were two other yachts anchored there. It came up very windy in the afternoon and was windy all through the night. Usually it drops off at night. Its amazing at low tide to see how close the sandbars are.
Miles: 21 TTT: 4,095

Tues 4 Dec – Garry’s Anchorage
Well the wind howled all day and this is a very protected little spot but we had whitecaps on the water. It was gusting 30 knots so we were hunkered down in here. It was a hard day for the crew though as we could see boats flying past in the main channel and could hear them on the radio going out and heading south. It kind of makes you wonder if we are wooses but really we thought they were nuts and must have had a fast but thoroughly uncomfortable trip down. The SE change is supposed to come through this evening. But meanwhile the northerly is still howling and apparently Brisbane has a heatwave heading towards 40⁰.
Wed 5 Dec – Inskip Point
25⁰48.835S / 153⁰02.472E
The wind dropped out entirely at 2.30am and the mosquitos and sandflies started coming in so we had a chemical spray – both the boat and us and went back to bed. 6am and it was so still, not a breath of wind and the water like glass and a mist hanging over everything and the constant buzz of cicadas. It was absolutely beautiful. After yesterday, unbelievable! Visibility would probably be 100m – couldn’t see the next marker buoy. And wherever we go there always seems to be one lonely koll (bird) calling for his mate. So still - where is the SE change. We need it to go through and pass so we can go south. We left on a rising tide at 10am and motored down to Inskip Point. We vaguely thought of continuing but were a bit late to cross the bar. We anchored at 1.10pm in 3.7m and had a good night.
Miles: 13 TTT: 4,108
Thurs 6 Dec – Inskip Point
It was calm in the morning and the SE change came through around lunch time as predicted and the wind was very strong. We just had a boat day. One boat went over the bar at 9am on a low tide but they couldn’t have checked the weather because we heard them on the radio calling up VMR for a weather report saying they were bashing into a southerly. Couldnt have been too nice out there – we just stayed hunkered down and a few more boats came in.
Fri 7 Dec – Inskip Point
One of the boats left at 2am and two cats went out at 4.30am and 5am. A whole stack of jelly fish went past under the boat – the majority of them white clear but some with a rim of dark blue – very pretty. We had intended to leave at 11am but the weather came up and it was forecast 1.2 – 1.7m seas on top of a 1.5 – 2m swell which was kind of big so we decided to wait till tomorrow. A thoroughly frustrating afternoon.
Sat 8 Dec – Home is the Sailor home from sea
The skipper ran the motor earlier in the morning to put some charge in the batteries and all of a sudden the water exhaust exit wasn’t working so well. Turned out to be a heap of jellyfish parts in the skimmer box filter Its so hard to wait and by the time we left at 11.30am the crew had herself in quite a stress about crossing the Wide Bay Bar. As it turned out it was lumpy but ok. The lowest we went down to was 3.4m under the keel. We saw a light brown coloured shark beside the boat as we went out It was quite swelly at first and then it settled a bit. We notice by the weather forecast that we have just snuck through another small weather window and it will start blowing up again Sunday night. How lucky have we been really. Well we came through the night and it was really swelly and the skipper did some cargo ship dodging off Mooloolaba and we came into Newport marina at 5.30am. There were a few people to take our lines and Pacific Express is now tied up in the marina in our home port.
Miles: 97 TTT: 4,205
Since the 10th of July when we left Miri till we arrived this morning we have done around 4,205miles and the round trip from the end of April till today is 17,400 miles. We want to really thank you all for travelling with us and we hope the trip has been as enjoyable for you as it has been for us. If anyone has any questions or would like to see our wonderful Pacific Express please email us. Also I have to say I had a really great skipper. Someone (Brian) asked me once if anything happened to the skipper would I be able to bring the boat home alone and I very glibly said of course. But if it had been up to me she would have sunk, been drifting around out in the ocean or run ashore on the Wessels!
Anyway hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year and all the very best to you.
We dared and we did it
Fair Winds and Calm Seas
Dell and Peter signing off

Sunday, December 2, 2012

LWH – Week 21 –Cape Upstart – Pancake Ck

Sat 24 Nov – Airlie Beach
20⁰15.031S / 148⁰45.006E
Left at the civilised hour of 5am in daylight! It was blowing quite hard as we came round the Cape. So rugged. Rocky cliffs straight into the ocean. The sea was a dark colour and it was overcast and a bit swelly. But as the day went on the sea settled and turned a lovely blue then went to green as we rounded Gloucester Island. Then we turned off the motor and had a lovely sail all the way down to Airlie Beach. It looked a lovely little town all built up the side of a mountain but so many boats. We could see lots of mooring buoys and it all looked so busy we opted to go next door to Funnel Bay and anchored there around 5.45pm. It was swelly at first but it settled through the night and we had a very comfortable sleep.
Miles: 69 TTT: 3,667

Sun 25 Nov – Scawfell Island
20⁰51.616S / 149⁰35.958E
It was lovely to hear all the birds chirping as we upanchored at 5.30am – a sleep in! We came round into the passage between The Molle Islands and the mainland. The sea was choppy as it was wind against tide but the current was with us so it was all good. The Whitsunday Islands are scrubby tree covered hills with the odd pine trees with beaches dotted here and there. They are not all white sandy beaches with palm trees – not tropical islands. Whitehaven Beach is a beautiful exception with the whitest sand beach you will see. Though some of the resorts have planted lots of palm trees, notably Daydream Island. But the Whitsundays is a pretty place and a great cruising ground. You can anchor off a beach and be on our own or anchor with heaps of other boats in the more popular anchorages. We came between the islands doing up to 7.5kn with the current. The water was turbulent. A sunsail charter boat played chicken with us this morning and then veered behind us at the last minute. He thought it was a huge joke. We were less than impressed. The wind came up and we were pushing in to it and were pleased when we came into Refuge Bay on Scawfell Island. There were six boats already in there. There was a bit of swell coming round and it was very windy. Its a very pretty bay and a turtle surfaced right beside us to welcome us!
Miles: 65 TTT: 3,732nm

Mon 26 Nov – Scawfell
20⁰51.826S / 149⁰35.971E
The wind was supposed to be blowing up today so we decided to stay. We then realised how much we needed a break! All the cats left and the other mono moved in closer and so did we so it is much calmer. There is reef here and it is a 4 metre tide. We watched as the people of one cat used their dinghy (obviously a bigger motor than ours) to tow someone on a water ski. Then they left towing the skier behind their cat till he fell in and then they picked him up and left. The skipper made some bread and the crew finished her book (The Quiet Game – Greg Iles – an excellent read). Cant get over how beautiful the colour of the water is. Before we moved we had the biggest bat fish out the back of the boat. We went ashore in the afternoon and had the beach to ourselves and walked the length of it. There are picnic tables, water tank and loo ashore and camping is allowed. As it turned out the weather looked perfect out there but we do need the rest. There are only the two boats in the entire bay and it is beautiful – so picturesque. The skipper got something huge on his fishing line and he played it for a while but then it bit him off.

Tues 27 Nov – Scawfell
It poured rain in the middle of the night so we got up to put the cockpit sides on and got soaked and just as we got them secure it stopped raining! We awoke to have the whole bay to ourselves. The other boat had gone. Parks & Wildlife came in in a boat and whippersnipped around the camp tables (wonder how many people actually camp to warrant the care). We took Bob around to the other beach and could see the tracks where turtles had gone ashore to lay their eggs – we counted 17 nests. Then a turtle came out of the water about 50 metres in front of us and started going up the beach. We though wow but then she saw us and turned around and went back into the water. We checked out the coral but it seemed to be dead. There was no colour there anyway and we didn’t see too many fish – we weren’t snorkelling, jut looking through the bathoscope. It is so beautiful in this bay. The water is a gorgeous colour. Four dolphins came in close to the boat and swam around. Wonderful to have time out. We hadn’t realised how tired we were. Another beautiful day.

Wed 28 Nov – night sail
We left at 6am and decided to come around the outside of the island to get a better angle of the wind instead of the lee of the island. Always do the latter!! We found ourselves in huge waves as we came around the point – it was like being in a storm without the storm! Lasted over half an hour till we got away from the influence of the island then it settled but there was still a big swell out there. We hadn’t been looking forward to this section of the journey as there are strong currents and big tides courtesy of Shoalwater Bay and Broad Sound where they have tides of up to 8 metres and thats a lot of water to move in and out during the tides. We got to the Percy Islands around 6pm and decided to go through the night. We really wanted this one out of the way. It was pretty rough with wind against tide for a while. At one stage the skipper had to go 25⁰ off course to keep us on course – the current was pushing us. But we had the biggest full moon and we could see everything which was great. We both had to put our jumpers on. We are finding it a big cool (Axel and Elisabeth will think thats pretty funny!)

Thurs 29 Nov – Cape Capricorn
23⁰29.077S / 151⁰13.835E
Its a lovely sunny day as we continue down the coast but there is a big swell out here. We keep trying to get south to get the lighter northerly winds but the further south we go the further south the light northerlies seem to go! Passing the Kepple Islands the seas have settled and its quite pleasant. Lotsa coral spawn in the water – streaks of baby poo yellow! Anchored off lovely Cape Capricorn at 4.30pm. We anchored right in the little bay and had a bit of swell coming round the Cape but we were held stern to it so that was ok but a bigger yacht anchored a bit further out and rolled all over the place and he disappeared a bit later in the evening. We had quite a good night.
Miles: 186 TTT: 3,918

Fri 30 Nov – Pancake Creek
24⁰00.556S / 151⁰44.242E
We left at 5.30am and motor sailed in the sunshine on calm seas. We could see on the AIS that there were around 53 boats in Gladstone Harbour and 27 anchored outside. Thats an amazing number of boats. Had a pleasant run down to Pancake Creek. The wind was starting to get a little stronger when we pulled in and anchored off the little beach at 2pm. We didn’t go all the way in as we want an early start in the morning. Its very calm here and we can see the waves breaking on the sandbar out the front. It was interesting to see the sandbar at low tide as we gave it a nudge and had to reverse off last time we were in here. Well we saw Pancake Creek at spring lows and could see all the sand spits and rocks and then the tide comes in and it all looks so innocent! A big catamaran came in in the dark and anchored behind us. A lovely calm night.
Miles: 44 TTT: 3,962

Well we are going like the clappers to try to get home but at this point in time we are anchored off the Kingfisher Resort at Fraser Island in strong winds which look like blowing for a good part of the week so instead of being home on Wednesday (!) we will be hunkered down here till this weather blows itself out. Disappointing but there you have it and the Great Sandy Straits is probably a good place to get stuck.

Miss you all – cant wait.

Dell and Peter