Friday, August 31, 2012

Continue of Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club at Monte's

As promised more photos of the SICYC weekends party.

(This is a short video of the Pirates Party held on the Sunday it was well attended even though many yachts left this morning, many heading for Airlie Beach as they may have to go to work of fly out tomorrow, the party is held at the Dingo Beach Hotel some 20 minute drive. People with cars and a couple of small buses were available to take us and bring us back)

(Yours truly with his wench Nancy)
(Frank, Jane, Sussan, Mark me and Carolyn before we left Monte's to go to Dingo Beach)
(Linda and Mike, great couple lots of fun)
Mike with a very Welsh sence of humour, saw a mate with bushy eyebrows, Mike said to him that he used to have bushy eyebrows just the same but he used to lick them with his tongue, he said it entertained the ladies they used to get a little excited but it ruined his eyebrows.
(Susan< Kathy, Linda and Mike)
(Susan, Lynette and my wench Nancy)
Susan and Mark)
(The hardest worker for this weekend Brian who is a local in the area, here he is with Lynette and Susan, he stated he didn't think he had as bigger smile on his face on his wedding day)
(The two sets of twins, well in dress anyway)
(The wenches out in force, showing a little leg)
(Stuart was the winner, centre left, second year in a row and in a different outfit, well done he looked the part)
The turnout was very successful with over 400 members at the main event and 140 yachts/boats, plus the people that drove or flew in from all over the country. Again what pleases me is that with that number of people and I would not like to guess how much beer, wine or spirits passed the lips there wasn't a bad word said through out the event. There are many workers for the events and too many to name a few stand out more than most but the one bloke that is the best is the local bloke Brian. I like his attitude, he states that he never looks at any situation like some do of the half empty glass he always looks at it has being half full. He is always smiling and happy probably a little more with the two wenches above.
Thanks Brian.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club at Monte's

(Monte's Resort, home of the SICYC)

Monday - 27/08/2012

Well the first day at the anchorage with 20 other boats and during the day the amount was growing with many that we know and some that we don't this was to be the trend for the week some boats arriving on the big party day which was the Parrot Head Party on Saturday making the total number of boats of 140, last year there were 80 boats. On the Friday we had the picnic day on Shag Islet with a total of 350 people attending this is well over the 260 people that we had last year.
(Gloucester Passage, 180 degree view from the beach at Monte's, Shag Islet is the small island in the centre also known as Passage Island)

(Shag Islet)

People have come from all over Australia and a large number did not bring their boats they flew in or drove here all the places of accommodation were fully booked out and also the campground where people used tents or caravans.
(Gloucester Passage sunrises)

The events started on Thursday with the meet and greet at sundowners this year with a singing artist that went for many hours and the dancing and drinking started. Some of the members worked hard Susan and Mark off 'La Scandell' worked many days taking new memberships applications amongst other things. Nancy was the official photographer so I did not see much of her, I also helped with being runner for the raffle draw and selling the wrist bands for the Parrot Head Party and also doing a little photography.

Prior to the Parrot Head Party we had George and Maree's wedding (off yacht  ' Warpdrive')on the beach, Nancy and I were the photographers for that, all our services were given free. George and Maree are a great couple and after their long engagement of around 30 years they thought they would tie the knot.
(Maree and George have been together for many years and have now got married)

Following the wedding everyone assembled on the beach in front of Monte's for the clubs group photo this year it was taken from the air with Nancy and Mark flying in a helicopter. I covered the ground photos for that time.
(The SICYC Group photo with the Hogs Breathe Cafe blow up hog behind as they are our major sponsor )
(The group photo from the chopper taken by Nancy)
(Ken and Rhonda, the founders and workers of our club)
(Lord and Lady Canning, yes for real Greg and Lou)
(This is Stuart)
(Brian and Annette)
(Lynette and Trevor, Trevor was the sponsor of our major item in the auction)
(Susan, Maretian & Mark, Mark and Susan are our hard workers and have donated quite a lot to SICYC towards our charity)
And the winner is (of the best dressed) Daryl from Raby Bay)
Many people dressed up for the party and it was a great night good music, good food and good people. The raffle prizes were drawn and there were many of them with some great prizes, one item was a fully paid for charter catamaran for the period of this clubs turn out next year. The raffle draw was followed by the auction of other items with the main item being worth $9,500 for a charter boat for Lan Cowie Malaysia with the bidder paying $9,400 for. This is how generous some people are as all the money goes to Prostrate Cancer Foundation, so basically the person that bid that much for it was really giving a donation and getting something nice for it. It was a top night with over $27,000 raised for the charity.
(The parking lot, 140 yachts means 140 dinghies)

Sunday it was the day of the Pirates, we were taxied to Dingo Beach Pub some 20 minute drive where the Pirates Party was held. There were many well dressed pirates and wenches at the party. Another great day and the club ended up with the $30,000 to give to the Prostrate Cancer Charity.

It is now Monday and we did intend to sail today, however, we do not have any decent wind to sail by so we will stay another day.
(There will be more photos of our mad weekend in the next couple of days)


Monday, August 20, 2012

Line Reef to Gloucester Passage

Sunday - 19/08/2012

Weather predictions determine that we sail today with winds getting up to 15 to 20 knots and possible 20 to 25 knots being on the reef is no place to be. The good part is that we do get a good sail out of the wind, at first light the wind from the SE at 10 knots is enough to get us underway.

After sunrise we had breakfast and whilst Nancy cooked I got the boat ready for sailing. Breakfast over we weighed anchor. Nancy had a little problem with the anchor this morning, we were held fast as usual with this anchor and usually when the length of chain in the water equals the depth of the water I have to drive the boat forward to release the anchor. This was no different this morning, however, when the anchor was up it had a large piece of coral on it and Nancy could not get it off so I had to go forward and get rid of it for her.
(The coral hooked on the anchor, it was quite heavey)

We motored away from the reef and the bommies area before hoisting the mainsail and unfurling the headsail, the wind had picked up slightly and we sailed off shut the engines down and set course for the Gloucester Passage 50 NMS away.

Nancy made another cup of tea and put the radio on my favourite Sunday morning show, Australia All Over with Macca. I trimmed the sails and we were off at 7.5 - 8.5 knots this varied as we sailed during the day but from weighing anchor at the reef to dropping anchor at Gloucester Passage was 7 hrs 15 minutes so we averaged over 7 knots for the day with the wind dropping away in the last few miles due to the mainland and islands blocking it.

The sail across was good  but as the tied changed to wind against tide the seas stood up a little more and it was near a beam on sea and the wind then picked up and we had a reading of 28 knots so we furled the headsail turned into the wind and put a reef in the mainsail set the course again and unfurled the headsail leaving four turns on the furler, it did not slow us down much as we went from 8.2 to 7.7 knots. It was a little lumpy but a good sail.

As we approach Gloucester Passage some 3 NMS out I could see four yachts in front of us and two others coming up the coast from Airlie Beach so it looks like a few have the same idea as us.

We selected an anchorage out the front of Monte's where the party week begins, the Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club rendezvous commences on Thursday this week. The reason for coming early is one the weather determined that we sail and two to get a good anchorage. Last year there were more than 80 boats here and over 300 people. Some people fly in to Airlie Beach and drive here for the event because it is too far to sail in the time that they can spare. They say this year will be bigger.

There are a number of anchorage areas around here and so far looking at them all there are possibly 18 club members already here.

We could not anchor in the spot we had last year as another yacht was too close to that spot and nearby is a large bommie (coral head) just below the surface of the water that not many people are aware of. Once anchored the first thing I did was grab some cord and a small foam float, went ashore and found a large rock then dinghy over to the bommie and mark it with the float so no one will hit it.

There are quite a few yachts arriving this morning so it should be a good week all we need is the weather to clear up again with the wind yesterday came the clouds and rain today.

The Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club is a fun club, anyone can join you don't need to own a boat, we have well over 1500 members some from overseas. The one major rule of the club is that you not allowed to take it too serious, it is a one of membership fee $48, every member is a Vice Commodore there is no Commodore we are all equal, all money raised is given to Prostrate Cancer see the website.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Stonehaven, Black Island and Line Reef

Thursday - 16/08/2012

Today was our last time we would be in Airlie Beach, yes I know what you're thinking, "it's about bloody time he moved on". Well we got up and had breakfast I updated the blog to keep a few off my back and then I went up on deck to look over the marina's break wall to see if there was a yacht alongside the public dock and there was so we had to wait a little time before going in.

As soon as I saw the yacht move off, or should I say the mast move because that is all I could see over the wall. We weighed anchor and headed for the dock. As we approached the dock there was an Asian man fishing as soon as he realised I was going alongside he started to reel his line in and just as he did he got a fish on the line and by the look of it the fish was a good size. I held the boat off the dock until he landed the fish for two reasons, one I did not want to spoil his catch by rushing him and two I did not want the fish to seek refuge around my rudders or props. He landed the fish and it was a real good size, I think it was a Mangrove Jack, the bloke and his wife were very happy with their catch.

We got alongside and filled up with water, one bloke on the wharf asked me if I was filling up with water, I said yes and he replied we might have to come to some arrangement because that trimaran wants to come alongside. It was a commercial tourist boat that mainly took backpackers out for a few days. I said there is no problem he can raft alongside me. Then one of the female crew came over in the dinghy and asked how long I would be. I said just as long as it takes to take on 400 litres of water, she said thanks and then spoke to the bloke on the dock. She then returned to the trimaran , I asked o they want to take people on or off? He said they are dropping them off but they are going to do it with the dinghy. I continued topping up the water and as soon as we were finished we left the dock just as they were loading the first lot in the dinghy. I don't know why either he did not wait or just raft alongside us and let the people off. The real fact is though the public dock has a sign that states it is not to be used for commercial use and due to the high prices in the marina many of the commercial boats use the public dock, not that it worries me, I don't blame them. I suppose though as it was a commercial boat that he would not raft up because of insurance issues.

Well with all that garbage out of the road let's get back to sailing or should I say motor sailing, no wind other than that which was caused by the baked beans for breakfast.

We motored out of the marina and got the mainsail hoisted, my daily exercise hoisting the mainsail by hand most of the way up the mast, but I am noticing that I am not getting it up as far as I did 5 years ago, must be something to do with age, yes I am talking about the mainsail.

The plan was to go north but we had not decided where. I suggested that we go to Stonehaven and Nancy said whatever. So the course was set for Stonehaven, full sail and motor, we knew the next few days weather stated little wind so we knew we had to motor. Motor sailing is a bonus in these conditions, if you can make use of the sails by using the apparent wind that the forward motion created by the engine it will give additional speed and reduce the load on the engines therefore reducing fuel use.
(Chart showing Airlie to Stonehaven then to Black Island)
(Chart showing the small Black Island)

We picked up a mooring at Stonehaven and I did the usual lasso trick on the mooring buoy, later in the afternoon after a nanna nap which was needed for both of us after last night's social event, I checked the weather and it was benign no wind at all or 0 - 5 knots, so I decided to move over to Black Island, a great place but not so comfortable for sleeping if there is some wind. We motored over the short distance and picked up a mooring buoy. Not many stay here the night because of reported conditions of being uncomfortable so we were the only ones there.

After we settled we noticed the sea eagles nest that I had photographed last year and an eagle was feeding two young, it was hard getting photos again from our moving platform (the boat), and the long distance between us. They are a magnificent bird to watch in flight and when they fish they are so swift.
(Young sea eaggle on the side of the nest)
(One of the young testing it's wings)

The next thing was a whale going along the Southern Passage probably going to its favourite place for the night, it only surfaced the once with the spray rushing through its blowhole and then it did not surface again until it was quite distant from us. We sat and watched another sunset, one never gets bored with seeing sunsets and sunrises they are all different. Personally I like the sunset the best owing to the fact that I woke this morning which I reckon is always a bonus in life the alternative is too permanent.

We had a quiet night with a nice dinner and a drop of red.

Friday - 17/08/2012

We were up just as the first light started to appear as we were hoping to see some whales on the move but all I did was hear one with the air gushing through its blow hole, last time we were in this area we heard them communicating through the hull of the boat but nothing this morning. I should be thankful in a way, last time Nancy kept me up most the night asking if I could hear them. I did hear the young eagles making a big noise wanting the mother to feed them.

After settling down and starting my scribbles I checked the weather on the internet calm conditions for the next two days. I said to Nancy that it might be an idea to motor out to Line Reef the conditions are ideal for being out there. So it was get ready and go.

We slipped the mooring and motored out as we started to exit the passage between Black Island and Hayman Island there was a whale and her calf passing in front of us going down South Passage, I put the engines in neutral and drifted as we watched them pass it is an incredible sight.
(The whale passes in front of us you can see the spray from her breathing through the blow hole)

As we headed north clear of Hook Island we had a little wind but not enough to sail on, we hoisted the mainsail and unfurled the headsail, set the course for the reefs and motor sailed creating our own apparent wind moved us through the water at 7.5 knots which was good as we had 30 NMS to go. We had just got underway with sails when whales started breaching north of Hayman Island a fair distance from us we weren't able to get a decent photo. A few miles later I had to change course because of whales ahead of us then there was a third lot. The trouble is when we are close they dive and it is hard to get good photos.
(Whale and her calf in the distance off Hayman Island)
(Whale and calf on the way to Line Reef)
(Whale near Bait Reef and catamaran on mooring, this photo taken by wife Nancy)

We arrived at the passage between Bait and Barb Reefs, Bait Reef is a favourite for divers, however, you cannot anchor there and there is five moorings which are usually full when we have passed and it was no different today not that we mind because we don't dive. Just as we were passing Bait Reef a whale surfaced, possibly a male as there was not a calf with it, Nancy managed to get a couple of photos of its tail as it dived. Now being little wind and north of Hook Reef the water was flat calm without any swell. We continued on to Line Reef and when we neared the anchorage we dropped sails. I got Nancy on the bow after she readied the anchor to watch for bommies and coral reefs found a suitable anchorage and dropped the anchor.  After a cup of tea we lowered the dinghy and went to have a look at the coral on the reef. The other side of Line Reef is Hardy Reef, also known as Fantasea World (which I may add that the company Fantasea went broke and has been bought out by Whitsunday Cruising), as there is a large complex there where a Wave-breaker boat  brings out tourist each day mainly to diver and snorkel. There are also a couple of helicopters that do flights around the reefs and also bring people out from Airlie or one of the tourist islands.
(Fantasea World main complex on left working barge alongsine helicopter pad, this is the only visible thing here at high tide, at low tide some of the reef shows through)

(Fantasea World complex at sunset the sun being in the opposite direction, some mainland to the right and the Whitsunday Islands to the left)

As we neared the reef area close to the entrance a whale surfaced and headed out of the entrance a short time later the Wave-breaker departed going out the entrance then after the Wave-breaker had gone the whale and it's calf came back. When we were here last year there was a whale in the same spot so I am not sure whether they return to the same place each year I will have to check up on that. Many books refer to whales having stop over places but we have noticed it seems to be more of a stay area because you can see the whales there day after day. We sat aboard watching the whales in the distance breaching and playing. We are the only yacht out here and all around us is flat smooth water the reefs show through a little at low tide so this anchorage is only good for up to 15 knots of wind from SW through to NE, it would be very uncomfortable in higher wind speeds.

Another incredible sunset was enjoyed although a little plain without cloud forms or land and no other vessels just water and sky. After that it was dinner and a movie, the night air was cool and it was dark as it was new moon but the sky was full of bright stars there is nothing like a sky at night without the interference of city lights it's like another world.
(Solid gold)
(The after glow of the sunset)

Anchorage  19⁰43'644 S 149⁰10'762 E

Caution in this anchorage area there are a number of bommies to stay clear of also the tide flows at around 2 knots so make sure you have plenty of cable out. Another interesting point is that the guide books and the electronic charts show depths in metres and they range from 2 to 6 metres, the paper charts that I have the depths are in fathoms ( 1 fathom = 6 ft which = 1.8 metres), also range from 2 to 6 fathoms, my depth gauge showed depths of 6 to 12 metres in most areas, once again the paper charts are correct and the electronic charts are incorrect.
(Alana Rose anchored in the distance as we head back from the reef)
 (The coral pictures are a little distorted as they are taken from above the water)

Saturday - 18/08/2012

(A new day begins)
(Nancy on the bow taking the picture of sunrise)
(Nancy in the morning)
We were up again just after first light and when Nancy saw the red glow on the water there was no chance for a sleep in and this morning I could have done that one of the rare occasions. Which is probably due to a busy few days and sailing whether motor sailing or plain sailing you are on the go adjusting , hoisting, dropping and furling sails and keeping watch for other vessels and whales plus the fact the movie was a long one and I did not get to bed until 2300 hours.

The sunrise was spectacular and soon after that whales were jumping out of the water some distance away not good for photos but great to watch.
(Nancy in relax mode)
(Fishing boat passing through the channel between Line Reef (below the water0 and Hardy Reef)

We had a relaxing day and just enjoyed the wide open views did a little reading and editing photos. The day ended with another great sunset and a nice dinner with the mandatory glass of red or two.
(Another great sunset)
(The other side of sunset)

We leave for Gloucester Passage tomorrow as sail of 50 NMS, they promise wind so should be a good sail.