Saturday, May 19, 2012

Keppel Bay to Island Head Creek

Tuesday 15/05/2012

We were out of bed by 0500 hours this morning and as usual the cup of tea comes first then we get ready to sail getting the charts out, roll up the cockpit covers, disconnect the electricity and single up the docking lines. We have a W/SW wind in the marina of around 6 knots which is going to blow us off the wharf and we had another boat alongside of us which makes it a little tricky when there is just the two of us. Our normal routine is that we remove all dock lines other than a bow and a stern line which are just one round turn on the dock cleat and back to the boat so we can just slip the lines from onboard. I usually let go of the stern line and race back to the helm to take control of the boat and call to Nancy to let go of the bow line and away we go. If we did this now the stern would swing around on the wind and hit the other boat, even though we have fenders out on that side just in case we don't want to do that.

Before letting go any lines I explained to Nancy what we would do and this is what we did. I stayed with the helm and put the port engine in slow ahead this pulled on the stern line and because that was holding us the bow was forced forward and hard against the dock, Nancy then released the bow line, then she came to the stern line and when she was ready I put the port engine into neutral and gave the starboard engine a touch astern taking the weight off the stern line Nancy quickly retrieved the stern line and I moved both engines slow ahead before it had time to blow across to the other boat. This is one of the advantages of a catamaran with two engines you can do these manoeuvres.

We motored slowly out of the marina whilst Nancy ran around putting the ropes and fenders away and as soon as that was completed we went out of the marina, as we moved into deeper water I shut down one engine and unfurled the genoa and then as we got away from the land I shut down the other engine and went sail alone. It was a tail wind and not that strong but we got along around the 5 knots. The seas were very sloppy with swell from ESE and wind waves from the south.  In the distance I could see one yacht ahead of us which turned out to be a French monohull and about after we had been out about 20 minutes two sails appeared to our stern they had the sails wing on wing. (Wing on wing is where the foresail is out one side of the yacht and the mainsail is out the other side as with a tail wind having both sails out the same side the mainsail would block the wind from the foresail).  We could have done the same but I found that going any faster in these seas made it more uncomfortable I had worked that out when we had one engine and the foresail (genoa) working together.

Coastguard had told us about the military exercises in the military zone which start just north of Five Rocks and ends north of  Townsend Island the exercise in operation at the moment does not affect the areas we need to go but most of the area will be closed after the 11 June. We could hear the heavy shell firing at the Keppel's.

We continued to sail along having to change course slightly at times to keep the wind in the sail and stop it from flapping from one side to the other which it did on a couple of occasions because the large waves would  turn the boat off course now and again. I could see the yachts behind gaining on us and as they say more than one yacht going in the same direction constitutes a race, however, I was comfortable with my feet up at the helm keeping watch and reading a funny book so I let the other two race behind me they passed me near Port Clinton about 4 NMS from our destination one was a catamaran 'Aquavista' the other a monohull 'Sporanza'.

'Sparanza' furled their foresail soon after and we again caught up and followed them into Pearl Bay where the French yacht was also anchored.
(Pearl Bay - dotted line shows track into the bay or you can go around the north end of the islands. I noted that the electronic charts show some sunken obsticles where the guide books do not show this.)
(Approaching the entrance of Pearl Bay, 'Sporanza' is in front of us passing through the entrance)
(Inside Pearl Bay anchorage, quite pretty beaches)

After we anchored and got settled the crew from the French yacht came over for a visit they come from New Caledonia and asked if we had any weather reports which we gave what we had. We also supplied information regarding anchorages and where they are better to hold up for strong winds.
Pearl Bay is quite pretty and although the seas were a little messy outside however, as the seas livened during the night it became a little rocky.

Wednesday 16/05/2012

This morning as we rocked a little having our cup of tea at first light we talked about what we would do, we knew the weather was going to be stronger winds today and considering the amount of swell here in Pearl Bay at the moment although not too bad, we knew it would get worse so we decided to move out straight away and head for Island Head Creek some 6 NMS north for better protection.

We quickly got organised and weigh anchor and headed out the same way as we entered as we knew we could get some internet coverage out there to check weather reports for the next few days. As we got out of the bay the seas and swell were around the 2 metre mark and a little sloppy, I headed almost straight into the waves heading east until we were away from the islands and then turned quickly to go with the waves before one of the large ones hit us on the side.

We unfurled a little of the genoa and motor sailed as we needed to charge the batteries and we wanted to get into Island Head Creek before the tide change so we were moving along at 8.5 knots. Nancy got on the computer and got the weather information and did a few other things.

(heading to Island Head Creek from Pearl Bay passing the South Hervey Islands)

At 0700 hours I had to ask Nancy to do the HF radio sched with the Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club, it started yesterday and but I forget to do it. Nancy got on the HF radio frequency 8161 and made contact with Andy on 'Paws' who kicked the sched off. Apparently he had no one yesterday and only us today. I now have the alarm set on my wrist watch so I do not forget the sched.

It was a little lumpy getting into Island Head Creek the tide had just turned and as we entered I was quite surprised at the amount of yachts/boats anchored I believe there is 22 in number anchored here. Most of the good spots were taken up, we saw 'Neriki' and went over for a chat the boats were evenly spread along the sand bar for protection and I felt that if we did go between any of them it would be too close for the amount of chain everyone plus us would have out. So we decided to go over to our usual anchorage by the fourth beach near the entrance and drop anchor there.

After we had anchored we got breakfast underway and checked how the anchoring here situation was with the effects of wind and tide. Whilst we had breakfast we started to get these bullets of wind coming around the hillside up to 30 knots, the seas were much calmer here but the wind bullets were a little worrying, I prefer to have a constant wind force than bullets as the bullets of wind give violent movements of the boat and this can dislodge the anchor. After breakfast we went looking again and anchored the NW side of the creek, this puts us on a lee shore which I did not like but we anchored well away from the beach and put heaps of anchor chain out after making sure the good Rocna anchor was buried deep.
(Photo of chart plotter of Island Head Creek there are two ways to enter close to the south head or the northern track, I have always used the northern track as the chart plotter shows that track (light blue deeper water) and this makes it easy to follow. Many people follow the Alan Lucas guide and go the southern track. The anchorage close to the entrance is for SE wind around 20 knots but you can get bullets around the hill, the next anchorage is where we are at present because the other anchorage which is better was full of boats when we arrived).

The strong winds kept up all day but the wind waves were quite small but constant slapping on the hulls. After lunch and making sure all was well we went ashore for a long walk. We met other yachties doing the same. They said they would be having sundowners on the beach at 1600 hours so we said we may see them there. However, when the time came it was also tide change and we swung around the other direction and I did not want to leave the boat until I knew all was well so we missed out on sundowners. Just as we waited the anchor dragging  alarm sounded, this was expected as we always set the alarm short at first to let us know when the boat has turned with the tide so we can check that the anchor is holding. Once satisfied that all is well we add a little more distance onto the alarm setting. We held strong and fast so we were happy we had our sundowners on board.
(Island Head Creek at low tide view from the beach on the NW end.)
(Nancy walking on the beach with Island Head in the background)

Earlier Rick from 'Neriki' came over to see us to see what our plans were, we told him nothing set in concrete but we may stay here tomorrow and sail the next day for Hunter Island. It all depends on the weather. Rick said that he is booked in to go on the hard at Mackay in two weeks so he has time to waste here and around the islands before heading to Mackay.

We had dinner and read for a while before going to bed, I went before Nancy she stayed up reading a little longer.

Thursday 17/05/2012

I was up just before first light this morning I put the kettle on before going out on deck to see what the weather was like. The wind still blowing but not as bad as yesterday. I made the cups of tea and took Nancy hers as she remained in bed for a short while. I then got onto the computer to start the scribbles.

We had the HF radio sched at 0700 hours and again we spoke to Andy, no one else came on the radio, it is only a new thing that we are starting and it may take some time before people remember to switch on.


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