Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Island Head to Mackay 28/05/2012

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)

Wednesday 23/05/2012

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: 22 22.212 S 150 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, 15C this is ridiculous bring on the global warming.

Anchored:  21 58.338 S 150 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 21 58. 507 S 15008.315 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: 21 35.596 S 149 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.


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