Sunday, September 30, 2012

Low Islets to Cooktown

Friday - 28/09/2012

Well I said we would have an early night to get going early and we did. I was up before 0400 hours but when I went on deck there was little wind so I put the kettle on and made the heart starter cup of tea and whilst the kettle boiled went out and got things ready to go. After the heart starter we started the engines switched on navigation lights and instruments, hoisted the mainsail and slipped the mooring. We now had around 10 knots of wind from the east as soon as we cleared the shallow bay we unfurled the headsail and then shut the engines down, the wind got stronger and as daylight approached I could see why. A rain squall was coming from the southeast, I normally have a reef in the mainsail when we sail at night but this morning was that close to daylight and the winds were light I did not bother I hoped now that I was not going to regret that. As the first squall approached the rain came then strong winds up to 26 knots we sailed along at 7.5 - 8.2 knots. It was good to get the wind and sail at a good speed.
(Short video showing the different conditions sometime we sailing well then the sail flaps due to lack of wind after the squall had passed.)
As soon as the first squall left us there was another one, then I ended up with three squalls around us one passing ahead of us one behind and another to the east abeam of us. These squalls caused a lot of work as the wind kept changing from SE to SW so I was changing sails from one side to the other on a regular basis. The squalls headed toward the coast and left us with sunshine and SW winds but not enough now to use sails alone. I also noticed once the squalls had gone that there were two other yachts behind us, one very large schooner that was motoring and a Seawind catamaran that had full sails up but obviously motor sailing. I motor sailed with one engine and the headsail because the sloppy seas caused by the squalls was rocking the boat causing the mainsail to slap side to side which only damages the sail. A little later the winds came back from the SE, this had happened whilst I had a nanna nap and Nancy was on watch the different movement of the boat woke me and when I went out to the cockpit Nancy had changed tack to suit the wind. After checking everything we decided to hoist the mainsail again having first to furl the headsail then turn into the wind to hoist it. Once back on course and full sail we cut the engine once again. The schooner left us as we passed Hope Island as it turned in to anchor with other yachts there. The Seawind catamaran suddenly got more power and passed us, I think they may have started an engine. We seemed to reach Cooktown a lot earlier than expected so we must have done well as far as sailing.

We headed into Cooktown and dropped sails just outside we had sailed 63 NMS so we averaged around 6 knots which under the conditions was quite good, Cooktown is not an easy place to find an anchorage especially near low tide which is where we are at. The guide books show two anchorage areas one close to shore  which is now full of moorings and the other following the leads (I say leads the front lead is missing there is only the frame that it used to be mounted on left there and has been like this for some years), anyway follow the leads right the way through then pass the first on its starboard side where you cross a sand bar which is not possible until you have some tide over it.
(As you can see by the depths on this chart you have to pick your anchorage well and the tide to get to it. The red dot is just inside the turning circle for ships coming in and I don't think that is very often, many yachts with deep keels anchor there, the first anchor point marked just passed the turning area is where we anchored this time and due to spring tides at present the low tide is low. The purple arrow points to where the bottom triangle for the leads should be, there is still the large frame standing that you can sight.)

We ended up anchoring just passed the turning circle yellow buoys opposite the docks in a depth at the time of 2 metres, we calculated that at the very low tide at 0249 hours in the morning we would be close to touching the bottom. The fact was with the wavelets coming in on the change of tide we kissed the bottom as we turned, naturally I got up a number of times to check all was well and a short time after the tide change we were OK again.
(Some of the shallow anchorages and moorings at Cooktown which is the mouth of the Endeavour River)
(Nancy by the statue of Capt. Cook)

Saturday - 29/09/2012

I slept in until daylight this morning unusual for me but I did have those awake times during the low tide at around 0200 hours this morning. We had breakfast and I started on these scribbles then once the breakfast had settled I topped the fuel tanks up with fuel out of the containers then we went ashore with the two trolleys and containers and walked to the fuel station to top the containers up. Took them back on board and stowed them then went ashore again for a look around and lunch.
(The Sovereign Resort Cafe and Bar)
(Museum in Cooktown)
(HMS Bark Endeavour's anchor at the museum)
(The Cooktown Hotel)

We had lunch at The Sovereign Resort Cafe-Bar it appeared busy with locals so we assumed it would be the better place to go and it was good. The meals were very nice and well presented. We got talking to some of the people there and probably stayed longer than we should have and just maybe had more beers than we intended but there you go, it was enjoyable.
(This Cairn marks the spot where Capt. Cook beached the Endeavour for repairs)
(Edmund Besley Court Kennedy JP rememberance plaque)
(The Gold Rush)
This place has a lot of history as it was here that Captain Cook landed, in fact he beach HMS Endeavour on the steep beach on the 18th June 1770, to carry out repairs after hitting the reef and doing serious damage to the timber hull. In the 1870's began the gold rush where the township grew, many of the aboriginal tribes were wiped out by white settlers. Then years later Cooktown played a major part in the second world war with some 20,000 Australian and American troops were stationed here, the civilian population were evacuated along with aboriginal people that were relocated in the Palm Islands, many of these also died which was related to them being moved from their known home place. They have a brilliant museum here with all the histories, but be warned the building where the museum is housed used to be an old convent and there are some that say when they visit the feel the presence of ghosts.
(We are well into the croc country now but so far not sighted any)
(Well if you read the sign above the armourment was sent because of the threat of Russian evasion, well it may not have worked)
(This unusual sailing vessel came into Cooktown just ahead of us, there are six crew that I counted and if you look at its flag it is from the Federation of Russia, They are lifting the anchor by hand here just before leaving harbour)

We returned on board for a quiet evening, I cooked some nice steak on the barbeque.

Tomorrow we stay here as the winds are not too strong as they will only be around 5 to 15 knots so we will sail on Monday where we should see 15 to 20 knots of wind from the southeast. We have to be very mindful of sailing to save fuel as there are not that many fuelling stops along the way.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cairns, (Yorkeys Knob) to Low Islets

We were up before the sparrow passed wind this morning and we did not have that much to do to get ready to sail as I did most things before going to bed last night, all we have to do this morning is top up one water tank to replace what we used yesterday, disconnect the electricity and single up lines ready to slip from the dock. So we had time for a leisurely  breakfast and cup of tea, check the emails and the weather and hope the wind is in our favour as predicted yesterday.

We started engines and slipped the lines at 0630 hours and we slowly motored out of the marina whilst Nancy put the ropes and fenders away in the fwd hold. I had the sails ready but there is no wind. The predictions are for SE 10 - 15 knots . We motored with both engines to Double Island then I shut one engine down still no wind. It is 31NMS to Low Islets and running with the tide on one engine we motor at 5.8 knots (10.4 kph). The winds did not arrive when we were around 8NMS from the island we had a little wind that I unfurled the headsail which increased our speed by 0.5 knots.
(A wave rider buoy, this measures the wave height and frequency and transmits the information, this one is just near Double Island)

After passing Double Island I put out the fishing line, new stronger line than what we had before having lost one reel, and two lures. It was not long after when we had a hit and it was strong. I asked Nancy to put the engine in neutral as it is not good having the drag of nearly 6 knots. Whatever we have on the line is a fighter it kept diving and then go loose then dive again, after some time we got it to the stage of landing it on board when the lure let go of the fish and there was a big splash and it was gone, it looked like a tuna mackerel. We set the line again and continued on motoring. Late we had another hit and did not fight as hard as the last this one we landed it was also a tuna mackerel of around 60cm a bit smaller than the one that got away I think, I bled it cleaned it and cut it into fillets, Nancy took them into the galley and washed the fillets and cut them into meal sizes which ended up being three meals for us. So we put the fishing line away and when we have nearly finished these fillets we will troll the line again.
(Coming, coming, going - gone, the one that got away and my lure ended up on the roof of the cockpit after it let go with such force)
(Now this is better, a 60cm tuna mackerel)

We arrived at Low Isle at 1130 hours and entered the anchorage area to find one of the moorings free so we picked that up rather than anchoring. Since anchoring the wind has picked up but we thought we would stay here as with tonight's predicted winds the this is the better location this side of Cooktown.

Low Islets are attractive islets with coral and nice beach there are many tourist boats that come out from Port Douglas and it is a major stop over place for yacht  sailing the coast when going north and returning south. Today though it looks like there are only local yachts as they have headed out during the afternoon for the coast as did the tourist boats.
(The main part of Low Islets, there are three islets but this is the only one with a beach and where you can land)
Just after getting here we were welcomed first by a large bat fish that probably came to get some food from us and then it was joined by a reef shark that had three sucker fish attached to it. The sucker fish keeps the shark clean of parasites. Each time we come here we have the same welcoming committee. Nancy fed the fish some bread and those sucker fish are incredibly fast, they would race away from the shark grab the bread and race back to the shark again. Reef sharks are considered harmless to humans many people swim amongst them here and other places.
(The first visitor, a bat fish)
(Reef shark with the bat fish)
(Reef shark with the three sucker fish)

The anchorage is good holding here and is sheltered for any wind from SW to SE, there are three public mooring buoys and a number of private ones owned by the tourist companies. Although the charts show a 1.8m depth we have 6.6m depth at high tide and around 4.0m at low tide. You do have to look for any coral bommies in some of the anchorage areas and when you go ashore in the dinghy.
(Low Islets anchorage with a storm on the left, it went north and missed us, the main islet is on the right the other two are covered in mangrove)

We will have an early night tonight and get going early in the morning heading for Cooktown some 65NMS to get there so it will be a 10 or 12 hour days sail depending on wind.




Cairns and Yorkeys Knob

It has been a busy time for us in Cairns doing some repairs and maintenance and storing and fuelling ready to sail on Thursday on our big new adventure. It is really north of here that the new adventure really starts as we have sailed up to Lizard Island before but that is the furthest north we have gone on the coast. We have three days sailing to Lizard Island but we will be stopping along the way at Lowe Isle, Cooktown before arriving at Lizard Island. We need winds to save fuel usage although we do have a back stop in case we need additional fuel.

Monday - 24/09/2012

We have hired a car for a couple of days to do all the running around, one of the first things on the list was to purchase an air-conditioner a portable type as we will need one for the months we spend in Darwin during the wet season, we shopped around eventually buying one from The Good Guys, they didn't event haggle the price the manager came over to the girl that was serving us and told her to knock $100 off the price for us. We also bought a couple of other needed items that were on special. On the way we met up with Yvonne, Vic's wife who we saw yesterday, it was good to catch up and say hello.

The next was to purchase some flat fenders to go through the lock gate at the marina in Darwin as we believe we do not have that much clearance getting through the gate with our width, I could be wrong but we need to be prepared. We did some shopping at The Deck Store which Brian on 'Muscat 7' told us about and we also went to Whittworths for some items that the other store did not have. After that we visited  SeaSwift that runs a Mother-ship Service, we registered with them so that if we need fuel or water we can get it from their vessels that will be going to the Torres Straits it is also possible to get food goods or supplies delivered  to SeaSwift to be sent to you on your travels, naturally it all has to be timed to their schedule.

The next item was to try and get cables for the Pactor 3 we have purchased so we can send emails via HF Radio, we were not successful with that project so that will have to wait until Darwin. When we had finished the running around we headed back to the marina to unload all the gear. By the time we had finished it was time for late lunch and a relax.

Tuesday - 25/09/2012

It was time for more shopping, we had listed the places we had to go and Nancy was navigator again giving me the directions to get to the different locations. After we had done some running around in the city we went down to the esplanade for an early lunch after a short walk around the swimming lagoon.
(The Esplanade In Cairns)
(The Esplanade is full of Cafes and Restaurants and gets rather crowded in the evenings)
(Now I reckon that this Lifeguard would have the toughest job going)
(The tides well out, this young fella up to his knees in mud)

Then we drove out to the Smithfield Shopping centre to do the grocery shopping and then to Dan Murphy's to top up the beer and wine supplies, then we had to go back to the city because the Chemist did not have all the medication that we needed.

The car was packed with stuff and it took two four wheel trolley loads to get it from the car to boat the only light items were my wallet and the bank balance.

Then it was stowing all the extra stuff trying to balance weight throughout the boat, we finally got it all done. With everything stowed away it was time to have showers and then meet friends Trish and Courtney for dinner at the yacht club here at the marina, Trish being a school friend and Courtney being her daughter. We had a very nice evening with two very nice people.

Wednesday - 26/09/2012

Cleaning day, Nancy went off with the laundry and I scrubbed the boat and filled water tanks and containers then started getting things ready to sail tomorrow. That took all day.

In the evening we went to dinner with my good ex-Navy mate Billy Simpson and his lovely wife Lynette, yes we went to the yacht club again. It is a great place to eat and the views over the sea are terrific. After a good meal and long chats we turned in for the night.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fitzroy Island to Cairns

Scribbles 16/09/2012

The last couple of days has been quite good on the social scene and catching up with people. Friday afternoon we went ashore for sundowners at Foxy's Bar at the happy hour which starts at 1630 hours to 1730 hours. When we arrived and got the first drink we noticed Jonathan's dinghy anchored of the beach and the surging tide was causing it to crash into the coral beach, I went down to pull it further ashore and notice the anchor was slowly being dragged. I secured the anchor and hauled the dinghy as far as I could up the steep slope of coral beach, the dinghy was quite heavy and I could not drag it up all the way. I returned to my drink and kept an eye on it. Soon after this Jonathan and Joey arrived and joined us for a drink, well a couple of drinks whilst happy hour was on.
(Foxy's Bar on Fitzroy Island)
(Happy Hour at Foxy's, as you can see I am happy)

We returned aboard just at last light and had dinner and a quiet night, Saturday 'Backchat' arrived with Jenny and Irvin so we had afternoon tea with them, Jenny knows I like muffins so she baked a fresh batch for us. Irvin offered to check my outboard motor for me so I took him up on the offer.

In the afternoon 'Muscat 7' anchored nearby with Brian and Annette, Brian had his sons family aboard and called over for a chat and a beer.

Sunday, Irvin and Jenny came over and we had morning tea and Irvin and I had a look at the outboard motor, the problem had got worse, it has been out of the water on the stand and it has seized completely since it has been sitting there, so it looks as though it has to go to the Yamaha dealers.
(Our floating home, 'Alana Rose' at anchor at Fitzroy Island)
(Trawler anchored nearby in the calm waters)
(Day visitors come from Cairns for water sports and relaxation)
(The yellow submarines that operate at Fitzroy Island)
(One of the four ferries that come to the island daily)

Then this afternoon 'Walk on Water' arrived and Martin and Raewyn came over for sundowners they are sailing south tomorrow under the lighter ESE winds.

Monday - 17/09/2012

Today we went ashore for a walk and went over to Nudey Beach and on the way we bumped into Jenny and Irvin off 'Backchat' who were talking to a New Zealand couple Jim and Gina off 'Tiare Taporo III'. Jenny said they had been down to Nudey Beach and there were no nudes she stripped off and went for a swim.

Nudey Beach is more coral than sand the southern end has more sand than the main area on the northern side. We walked the whole area and when crossing the rocky area I was confronted by two white pointers, a young lady sun baking and I must say very pleasing to the optic nerve. We walked on a little further to see six young ladies flaunting their breast taking photos of each other and running around giggling. The views are very nice on this island I thought to myself.
(Nancy on the walking track to the Nudey Beach)
(Looking towards the mainland from Nudey Beach)

Fitzroy Island is a very nice island not just for these pleasant sights but for the walks and the resort itself. There are quite a number of day visitors that come over on the ferry each day and there is plenty of water sports to entertain, many just come over and relax on the beach or snorkel around the coral. They have kayaks, jet skies and two yellow submarines. They also have glass bottom boat tours over the coral areas.

After the walk we returned on board and later went ashore for sundowners at Foxy's Bar, they have happy hour from 1630 to 1730 hours, a schooner of beer is $4 and a jug (4 schooners) for $11, they also have wines, cocktails and spirits. After a couple of drinks we returned on board for dinner.
(Sunset from Foxy's Bar)

Tuesday - 18/09/2012

We said farewell to 'Backchat' this morning Jenny and Irvin headed off to check out some of the bays on the mainland around Cape Grafton as the wind was favourable to anchor over there. We stayed as today I wanted to dive on the props and make sure they were clean. I did this when the sun had warmed up. I was pleased with the props they were clean, it is the first time I have checked them since going back in the water when we hauled out at Mackay in June. I coat the props with lanoline grease and this stop barnacles from attaching themselves to them. I have a cotton gardening glove that I cover in the lanoline and when I dive on the props I wipe fresh grease over the props. This is probably the last chance I can do this other than Lizard Island as else where there is the danger of the crocs.

After I had finished the props I then went around the hulls wiping the areas around the waterline as we had algae come in on some north winds the other day and this clings to the hulls waterline.
(The algae that floated in with the north winds also known as plankton)

Jim  and Gina sent us a text message saying that they would be going to Foxy's Bar for sundowners so we joined them, Jonathon and Joey also joined us so we had a good chat.


Wednesday - 19/09/2012

Jonathan and Joey on 'Peggy Jane' left this morning they were heading over to Cairns anchoring at Trinity Inlet, they are not sure whether they will venture further north or start heading south. A little later Peter and Tania on 'Cassini' headed out, Peter had a rash on his arm and it was getting worse so they are off to see a doctor.

We had a quiet day I did a few maintenance chores, it was a very warm day, we ended the day with our last sundowners at Foxy's Bar with Jim and Gina as we will both be heading off tomorrow for Half Moon Bay Marina at Yorkeys Knob.

Thursday - 20/09/2012

Jim and Gina headed out about 0630 hours this morning but there was no wind I thought we might wait a short time to see if the wind kicked in once the sun was up in the sky, by 0730 hours I could see some ripples on the sea away from the island and Jim's yacht in the distance had a sail up so we headed out. Unfortunately the winds were very light and all we were able to do was motor sail.

It was a great morning as far as the weather but no wind, as we passed Cape Grafton 'Backchat' that had been anchored in the bay also weighed anchor and was heading in the same direction of Yorkeys Knob. It was 18NMS from the island to Yorkeys Knob, we checked with the marina to see if we still had the same berth they had allocated to us, it was we are on the end of 'A' finger the same as last year.
(Entering Half Moon Bay Marina at Yorkeys Know north of Cairns)

As we entered the marina Jim and Gina was at the fuel dock they are going up to the next marina up the creek, Blue Water Marina, apparently they have had a fall out with this marina. 'Backchat is also going to Blue Water Marina as they are leaving the boat for a short time and it is cheaper rent up there and it is cyclone proof, if we were staying for the cyclone season we would have gone there to. The only drawback with that marina is that there aren't any shops close by although I believe they do have a courtesy car available that you can book for 3 hour periods.

My first job once we had booked in was to source an outboard motor mechanic to have a look at our seized outboard motor. I saw Don at the local chandlery and he gave me a contact but unfortunately this bloke is very good and like all people that are good at their work they are also very busy. However, after talking to this guy he gave me a few things I could check and he said if it is the engine itself the parts are hard to get and expensive it is cheaper to buy another motor. We really live in a throw away world.

I went back aboard and took the starting mechanism off and I could not turn the engine by hand, I put a spanner on the shaft nut and was able to turn the engine although it was a little stiff, I then drained the gearbox oil and that was clean and then I unbolted the gearbox and lowered it about 100mm and all this rubbish fell out which included salt and one small piece of alloy. However, as soon as I cleaned it out the engine turned freely. I could not get the gearbox completely off without force so I thought I would put it all back together. I did this and the motor turned freely still so I put it back on the dinghy and it started first go and ran well so I thought I will leave it as is until we get to Darwin when I have more time.

Friday - 21/09/2012

The first job I did this morning was load all fuel containers in the dinghy and went over to the fuel dock to fill up with diesel and ULP, the outboard ran well so I was quite pleased although my concern about this small piece of alloy.

After getting the fuel I started the shitty job of the day, the port aft head was leaking dirty water. I knew what the problem would be as I had the same problem some time ago with the starboard forward head. The toilets are the TMC brand which is a good toilet one of the cheaper ones and I have found that the flange where the macerating pump screws on to the toilet bowl is where it leaks and the reason for this is that the pump has a metal flange and the toilet is a plastic flange and the sealing face is very thin between each hole and is sealed with a rubber gasket. Over a period of time the flange with the operation of the pump flexes and creates a leak in the seal face at the top and bottom of the flange and it erodes the metal face. I have found the easy fix is to clean the flanges thoroughly and then use Permatex form-a-gasket. I still use the rubber gasket as it is in good condition and use the form-a-gasket on all mating surfaces. I did this with the other toilet over 12 months ago and it has not caused any other problems. After doing those repairs I had to refit the toilet and hoses. By the time all that was done and everything cleaned up it was time for a cold beer. The weather is nice now and temperature around the 30C which after the cool or cold winter we have had we need to get used to the climate again.
(One of those shitty jobs, this is the macerating pump, the eroded flange)
(A good thing to have on board, if you break an 'O' ring or need a gasket this will do the job)

Both Nancy and I had a busy day doing things and it was good to sit and relax have a good meal and crack a bottle or was that bottles of wine, yes I think it was bottles, it was good anyway.

Saturday - 22/09/2012

Had a nice surprise this morning a friend on the FB site that we have tried to meet on a few occasions when they have been sailing or we have been in Cairns and it has never happened was on line this morning so I sent a message to say hello and let her know where we were. Friend Kelly answered and asked if we wanted to go into the markets in town, I said that would be great and she picked us up within the hour and off we went. It was good meeting Kelly after all this time, Kelly run a number of marine colleges, one here another in Gladstone and she looking at another place now.

Kelly took us to the bloke who is a farmer that grows the produce he sells really great bloke we had a good chat with him the vegetables were nice and fresh. Then Kelly took us to a butcher that has very good meat so we are pretty well stocked up with vegies and meat. She then took us home for coffee and we met her father who is also a good old sailor from Victoria.

Kelly took us back to our boat and came aboard for a while and we had a good chat.

The rest of the day was a bit of a lazy day which may have had something to do with the night before.

Sunday - 23/09/2012

Nancy cooked me a very nice breakfast this morning and after that I did the last fuel run getting all the containers filled. I then had to rearrange storage so I could place the fuel in the forward hold area so that I do not have to bend over on the transom step waving my backside at crocs.

After lunch a friend Vic came to visit, we first met Vic and his wife Yvonne in Brisbane when he was getting his Leopard 47 catamaran ready to go to Tonga in the charter fleet, he also has a Leopard 46 in Airlie charter fleet. Yvonne was working so she was unable to visit. It was good catching up with Vic once again, he is bringing his cat back from Tonga next year that would be a good trip. We had a good afternoon chatting about boats and sharing information. It would be great to do the Pacific run again.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mourilyan Harbour to Fitzroy Island

Wednesday - 14/09/2012


Around 0500 hours the VHF radio crackled it was VTS Mourilyan Harbour calling a freighter that was anchored outside the harbour informing him that the pilot boat was on its way out and to rig a ladder on the starboard side for the pilot to board. So we got up had a cuppa and waited to watch the ship come in. They bring the ship in with tugs getting in place before they get right into the harbour and then when they reach the area that is designated the turning circle they spin the ship around before going alongside so the ship is facing out to sea.

As soon as the ship was secured alongside they opened the hatches and started loading sugar but was soon halted by rain. It turned out to be a miserable day with windy light rains so we stayed inside. They tried a few times to load the ship to be halted by rain showers. It was after sunset when the weather cleared so loading went through the night.
(ship enters Mourilyan Harbour to load sugar.)
(It is not only the turning of the ship, its not a bad photo)
(Tugs at work turning the ship around)
(This goes to show one thing, there is very little to write about when your in a harbour sheltering from the wind and it is raining, so you have to put up with this ok)

I spent the day plotting a course from Lizard Island to Gove and printing off some charts, I have the large area chart that does not give close in detail but I have a program that I can print off Australian charts which is very handy, it makes one realise how far we have to go just to get to Darwin. I am full of these bright ideas in life, I have always liked challenges thats probably why we even bought a yacht to live aboard. But looking at charts and plotting the days of sailing brings back the time when we bought Alana Rose, once we had everything paid for and Oz registration and ready to sail from St Lucia in the Caribbean for Australia our first ever full over night sail to Grenada, I felt quite proud, then after having breakfast at a roadside cafe in St Georges, Grenada I went inside to pay the bill and on the wall was this mural of the  world atlas that filled the whole wall, I looked at it and could see where we were and where Australia was and I thought to myself, shit what have I done? I never told Nancy that story until we arrived back in Oz, we did it and more than I my Nancy deserves a bow, I had travelled oceans before Nancy never had. She is a gutsy girl.
We had an early night as we sail early in the morning for Fitzroy Island 43NMS north.

Thursday - 13/09/2012

We were out of bed by 0445 hours and I put the kettle on before going outside and removing the covers and getting sails ready. Nancy made the teas then came out to help, Jonathan on 'Peggy Jane' was also getting things ready to sail. As soon as the engines warmed we weighed anchor, 'Peggy Jane' had moved before us so I steered away from them into the ships turning area when I felt we had a good distance I turned to follow them out of the harbour. 'Peggy Jane' appeared to be almost stopped as we neared them and I was a little concerned their engine was playing up again so I increased speed and got up alongside and asked Nancy to ask if they were alright. Jonathon stated that he was waiting for us to pass because we are a faster boat.
(A little video as we sail and the daylight begins, we have a slightly cloudy sunrise to starboard and a rain squall of the port side coming from the coast, it was a good sail, seas were slight and not uncomfortable, its a great time of the day sunrise)

We headed out  passed the markers and then set course for north, the winds appeared to be very light but once clear of the harbour I unfurled the headsail and shut one engine down this gave us a speed of 6 knots then as daylight started to approach the wind got a little stronger so we furled the headsail turned the yacht into the wind and hoisted the mainsail then got back on course and unfurled the headsail again. To get the most out of the wind we had to alter course slightly taking us a little further out to sea but the benefits was that we sailed at a speed of 7.5 to 8 knots and as a bonus this course was taking me between two rain squalls. We continued on that course until I was sure we could change tack and maintain a broad reach this went well until we reached High Island and the wind dropped away after a large rain squall.

Just as we changed tack we saw a whale, the first one we have seen since Magnetic Island, Jonathan said he saw some south of Mourilyan Harbour so there are still some about but I think they must be close to the last ones heading south.  The whale only surfaced the once in our view so it looked as though it was on the move.

After High Island we had to motor sail for a short while, the mainsail started to flap from side to side so we turned into the wind and dropped the main and then sailed under the headsail only until 2NMS before Fitzroy Island I started both engines to give the batteries a charge and get hot water for showers. The other reason for running both engines was that a couple of the lighter catamarans were gaining on me and I wanted to get a decent anchorage.
(Fitzroy Island from our anchorage)
(North of the jetty at Fitzroy Island taken from the jetty)

(Fitzroy Island anchorage, this chart shows the two areas where you can anchor, if there are already boats anchored you can bet they have the shallow anchorages of around 5 metres, there are the usual white cone buoys that indicate the reef and you are not allowed to anchor inside of these, so you may well be in for a deep anchorage, around 12 metres at high tide or deeper, putting out 5:1 ratio depth/chain you need to make sure other yachts do not anchor too close)
 (This anchorage can become uncomfortable during strong S-SE winds and no cover from any from SW through to N)
(The jetty entrance has navigational markers, keep a clear path a number of ferries and tourist industry boats go alongside the jetty.)

We arrived at 1330 hours which was a good result, we set the anchor and started tidying up all the gear as other yachts started arriving. After Jonathan arrived he came over to make sure we had his contact details. We had showers and went ashore just before 1700 hours went to Foxy's Bar for a sundowners drink, no one else came ashore so we had a drink and returned to the dinghy to go back on board as we rowed back we called by 'Cassini' to say hello to Peter and Tania they invited us aboard for a drink which ran into dinner, I went back over to our boat to get a bottle of wine. Peter cooked a nice meal and we had another pleasant night with some good people.

We will stay for a few days as the weather is good and there isn't any wind to sail on.




Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mourilyan Harbour

Saturday - 08/09/2012

(Yesterdays sunrise)
After breakfast and having got photos ready for the blog scribbles I got out to do some work before the heat of the day hit. I had to fix the batons in the sail cradle as the port one keeps sliding out under sail and the starboard one is in two sections and have come adrift both ending up in the middle of the bag and is going to be difficult to extract. It was slightly overcast when I started but as Murphy's Law would happen the sun came out in full force as soon as I started the job. Fortunately it went quite easier than I thought it would be. The hardest part was keeping the sweat out of my eyes.

As I was finishing and packing things away Jonathan of 'Peggy Jane' a monohull anchored next to us called out but with my deafness I could hardly hear him so he said he would come over.
('Peggy Jane' anchored nearby, this is at sunrise but looking to the west with the clouds lit up by the sunrise)
Jonathan and wife Joey (short for Josephine), had tried to call Coastguard and another yacht before entering Mourilyan just ahead of us yesterday and did not get an answer, so I called them and just let them know that they were getting out because when you call a boat just ahead of you like they did without answer sometimes you wonder if you have a problem with your own radio. They thanked me and said that they had engine failure and would have to sail into the harbour, I said I was just behind them and would watch out for them.

After that as we were now slowed with the wind dropping close to land I started the engines and dropped the sails on the run rather than the norm of turning into the wind, I did this by speeding up to better the speed of the wind from behind and then dropped the mainsail. By the time we got to the harbour they were inside safe and anchoring.

Jonathon came over and asked if I knew anything about diesel engines and then he told me about his situation. I told him that it sounds like he has air in his fuel system. The problem with his system is that it is a Westerbeke engine and it does not have a manual fuel lift pump or anywhere on the engine where you bleed the air on the engine as the electric feed pump is designed to force the fuel through the system making itself bleed. Jonathon thought it may be a problem with the electric fuel pump, he said he had a spare so I suggested he change it and that would prove if the pump is faulty. I said I would go over and help him but I think he felt that he would be imposing. He went and did this and then return with his electrical drawings which are all drawn by hand. I followed the drawings and worked out the circuit for the fuel system as the new pump still did not fix the problem. I asked if he had previously checked voltage at the pump and he had not. I pointed out areas he should test and he came back over and said that he had voltage. We discuss more options and I said to him that I feel he still has an air lock in the system. I suggested a few places where he could eliminate air from the fuel system on the engine. A while later he came over all smiles he had bled the engine of air and the engine had been running for 30 minutes, which was good because his fridge/freezer is from a compressor driven by the engine. We invited he and Joey over for sundowners. They came over and we had a very pleasant evening.
(Twilight in Mourilyan Harbour)

Sunday - 09/09/2012

Jonathon called over this morning and invited us over for coffee so we went over and I was armed with a bit of gear to help them.

Jonathon has been sailing nearly all his life, he has run a charter yacht in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, he also ran the sailing school in the BVI's. He is American born but Australian by choice and has been here since the early 90's, Joey is an Australian. Jonathan navigates with a GPS and paper charts and said he must update to a chart plotter soon. So we went over for coffee and I assisted him by setting up his computer with charts and have loaned him a GPS antenna that he can mail back to me when he returns home to Airlie. I thought it best for him to know where his yacht is if he is going around the reefs and Lizard Island, naturally electronic charts are only a system for assisting navigation it should not replace paper charts and normal human observations.

We sat and had a good chat aboard his yacht which is over 27 years old and he has sailed it many places around the world.

When we were leaving to return to our yacht Jonathon and Joey insisted to tow our dinghy with theirs instead of me rowing because our outboard has a problem at the moment. We thanked them and went back aboard Alana Rose and had a quiet evening.

Monday - 10/09/2012

After breakfast and a tidy up we went ashore to stretch the legs and have a look around and do a rubbish run. One good thing about the new boat ramps is that they have four rubbish bins there for the boaties. When Premier Bligh took over a few years ago they doubled our boat registration fees to improve facilities and they have been putting in these boat ramps which are no good to vessels our size so I guess they can't complain about us using their rubbish bins.

At the side of the car park there is an 18 metre catamaran hauled out on the land, 'Rainbows End' looks like a Crowther design. I wondered what it was doing there and when I inspected it I found out why. The starboard hull is holed badly in many places. I asked a local what had happened and he told me it broke away from its anchorage in high winds and smashed against the rock wall by the boat ramps.  I looked it up on the net and found the story in a Cairns newspaper clip. The catamaran had been anchored here for 3 months as the owner had just finished repairs from cyclone Yasi. On the day it broke its anchorage there were winds of around 50 knots which caused it to break free. According to the story there were naval vessels anchored nearby but said they could not assist as they required permission from head office Canberra, good old red tape and litigation was the cause of lack of assistance. The damage could have been less if the boat had been pulled away from the rocks straight away but because no one could help it was left to smash against the rocks with the waves caused by the high winds. The coastguard here could not be raised on the radio because of the lack of volunteers they only operate on weekends. Talking to a good friend if the owner had called a 'Mayday' on the radio which indicates a ship in danger the Navy would have had to help him.
("Rainbows End' the catamaran that smashed against rock wall the picture show some of the damage)

One of the major problems Australia is facing is the loss of volunteers and I can fully understand after working 20 years in a volunteer organisations, again the red tape and bureaucratic regulations are the cause along with employers  over the years have had to down size staff and they are not that willing to let volunteers leave work during working hours to attend incidents. This situation also breeds a different type of volunteer, earlier days the volunteer would just go help where required and return to his/her work and not look for any thanks it is just what you did, a little different today. I understand why some changes had to be made but some of the requirements of today turns the old volunteer away.

Well we had our little walk around not that much to see, the fenced yard is full of cut logs and stacked wood chip. These trees that are going as wood chips are the trees from the forests that were damaged during the cyclone. Apparently it is at a stop at the moment because of the sugar season, they use the same conveyor belts to load sugar and wood chip, so the wood chip is on hold as I suppose they have to thoroughly clean the belts from wood chip to load sugar so whilst sugar is in season wood chips take a break.
(View of Mourilyan Harbour from the rock wall near the new boat ramp and dock on the right)
(Stacked timber waiting to be chipped and shipped)
(Wood chip ready for shipping)

At the moment there is no sign of any large ships coming here as I looked on the internet this morning, however, I have heard that there may be one arriving Wednesday, there is a continuous line of trucks arriving day and night with sugar or molasses.

After our little exercise we returned to the dinghy and started rowing back to our boat, it was a little choppy as the wind was against us but all was well, Jonathon on 'Peggy Mae' saw us and came and towed us back, I told him it was alright I can do with the exercise, he said you don't need that much.

He rang us a little later to tell us the mechanic that was working on a trawler had offered him the use of his car to go into Mourilyan to get some supplies and asked if we needed anything so he picked up some bread and fruit for us. Some people are very kind, can you imagine someone in the cities doing that.

Tuesday - 11/09/2012


Up early or should I say earlier than normal, the wind hit around 0330 hours this morning along with some rain that woke me so I got up to have a look around and make sure all was well then went back to bed but I was wide awake, I lay there for nearly an hour and decided to get up and make a cup of tea.

The winds are in for a couple of days so we may sail Thursday for Fitzroy Island.