Saturday, September 1, 2012

Gloucester Passage to Townsville

Tuesday - 28/08/2012

(Sunrise in Gloucester Passge)

Our original plan was to sail yesterday but there was little wind so we decided to stay and prepare some of the photos that we had taken, it turned out to be a busy day. We contacted George about his wedding photos and he invited us over for sundowners. Nancy still has work to do on the wedding photos but I had the ones I had taken finished so at least it gave them some photos to show family and friends.

Nancy had worked to get some photos of the clubs party days as they were in big demand by Ken for newspaper articles this will keep her busy for many days.

Sundowners last night with George, Maree and many others lasted many hours and we poured ourselves home, George likes topping your wine glass up and I have a weakness for red wine.

Never the less we were up this morning before first light and got everything ready to sail, as first light appeared we weighed anchor as did some others some going south some going north, we and 11 other yachts went north some steady cruisers and some that like to race. They often say one yacht is a cruiser two is a race, but considering it is race week at Magnetic Island and some of these yachts are heading there for that I stay a cruiser I don't even attempt to race them. They are already lightened for racing we are almost maximum load at a total of 14,000kgs, we are 10,500kgs bare, yes that is heavy for a catamaran but it is a good sea boat. Given the right winds we can sail at 10 - 14 knots not that I try I prefer to sail around 7 to 9 knots more comfortable and less of putting the hand in the pocket for repairs.

The fast yachts left sometime after us we left with about four others, the winds were not great and those with spinnakers had the advantage. The first yacht to leave for north was a Voyager catamaran that are a not really good yacht for speed and it floundered in the light winds. I met a bloke with one of these yachts a few years ago and he said that the sails were for the purpose of making it look like a sailing vessel, he had two 100hp engines in his and said that is the only way he sails. We did pass the Voyager early in the sail, I was taken by a monohull that appeared to be doing very well and passed us about an hour out he left just after us but when talking to him this morning on the radio he stated there was not enough wind to get him going so he had the engine idling over.  We saw our first whale for the day just after leaving it surfaced just off our starboard bow.

The winds were good to start with but backed off near Abbots Point for a while which was just before a wind change, we sailed wing on wing in these lighter winds as the wind was almost directly behind us. At the change the wind was stronger but now right on our stern and the waves picked up with the tide change this caused the mainsail to slap shaking the wind from the sails. We dropped the mainsail and went under genoa (headsail) only and I used the additional sheets (ropes) on the sail through a pulley on the stern port side to  hold the sail out wide our speed dropped to around 4.5 to 5 knots but it was a great day and we just enjoyed the sail at cruising speed. The faster yachts put the spinnakers out again. We all anchored within an hour of each other with a total of twelve yachts anchored at Cape Upstart.

Cape Upstart anchorages -

There are a number of places to anchor at Cape Upstart shown on this chart. Care should be taken if entering in the dark as some close in areas have rocks  there are navigational marker lights at the danger areas. The holding is good in the sandy areas. The water shallows to 4-5 metres a fair way from the beach and many people get as close in as possible to reduce any bullets of wind.

There is another anchorage that you do not find in guide books for the occasional  south - south westerly winds and that is a small beach the eastern side of the Cape.
(Cape Upstart anchorages, I find for SE - NE winds that the middle anchorage on the left of the chart is the better, you can get close to land which slows the wind. The anchorage on the right is one I would use for SW - S winds, care should be taken using all these anchorages as there are areas of rocks)

Wednesday - 29/08/2012

Early start weighing anchor at 0400 hours, wind was better than expected and we sailed under genoa to start with as it was dark the moon had gone and I did not want to go too fast due to the whales in the area. I don't want to hit one but if it did happen I only want to be at slow speed. We were the first to leave  and a few others followed a short time after they were under full sail and caught up just as sun was rising. We furled the genoa and turned into the wind and hoisted the mainsail set course and unfurled the genoa again. Seas were a little sloppy as they came from the side but we sailed quite well. Soon after sunrise we saw a whale and it's calf but again by the time we got the cameras they were well south of us. We saw four lots of whales  around the Cape Bowling Green area I did manage to get a couple of shots with these although not that great.
(Whale wave, this is a common activity of whales I think they are rolling and playing with the calf)
(A whale and its calf going south)

As we change course around Cape Bowling Green the wind died down, I was able to sail by tacking for some miles but that soon failed with winds under 10 knots so it was time to kick an iron sail into action, the starboard engine was started and we motor sailed to Townsville.  We could not get into our favourite marina the Townsville Yacht Club because the Magnetic Island Yacht Race and the fishing competition is on at present and they are fully booked so we got into the Breakwater Marina. This marina could do with a little TLC on some of the older docks. The staff are very friendly and helpful though. A few years ago they knocked down the small shopping complex that was in the marina to make way for more blocks of units once the land was cleared everything stopped obviously due to the economic downturn. Getting in and out of the marina cannot be done at low tide we entered 2 hrs 30 minutes after low tide and the shallowest point was 2.7 metres we draw 1.4 metres draft.
(Cape Cleveland near Townsville)
(The lighthouse complex on Cape Cleveland, all lighthouses are automatic these days and some lighthouses now are used as tourism some have stay holidays)

We will stock up clean the boat do a large wash of the cloths, sheets and towels over a couple of days and then we will head to Magnetic Island.




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