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.


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