Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hinchinbrook Channel, Dunk Island and Mourilyan Harbour

Wednesday - 05/09/2012

Looking at the weather report this morning we thought we would sail today as there is very little wind between now and Sunday and today has the most wind. We had breakfast and started to get ready to go. I did have one problem and that was to get the First Mate to put her bloody camera away and get ready for weighing anchor. The problem was there were dolphins and bird life hanging around and that for Nancy is a stop on everything else.
(I photoshopped this, it is six photos taken in rapid time and then cropped and put into the one phot, it is one dolphin diving)

The morning was a little wet it had rained through the night and there was still rain hanging around, it is not unusual for clouds to hang around Hinchinbrook Island the aborigines call it the cloud maker it is similar to Cradle Mountain in Tasmania in the way your very lucky to see the top of it without cloud.
(Mt Bowen of Hinchinbrook Island, photo taken last year whilst very little cloud was around)

This area has a lot to offer for those that have time but not for swimming it is the home of many crocs. The only place I would swim is at the waterfall at Zoe Bay. Zoe Bay is on the east coast of Hinchinbrook Island and the only time you can really go there is when there is no or very little wind or the wind is from the north through to south west. We went there twice last year it is a beautiful spot. Hinchinbrook has many creeks to explore good fishing but unfortunately during warm windless times the mosquitoes and sand flies come out to annoy.
(The waterfall swimming hole at Zoe Bay, this picture taken last year)

Nancy finally stopped taking photos and we got underway, we motored a short distance and thensome wind came so we hoisted the mainsail and unfurled the genoa and shut the engines down. It wasn't going to be a fast sail but we have plenty of time. I got the fishing gear out and Nancy set it up not too long after putting it in the water when we got a hit. It was one of those hits I don't totally like, I could not pull the thing in and I eventually lost it along with the lure as it snapped the line. In one way it was a good thing something that big I don't really want to tackle with it on deck and two we would probably not be able to fit it all in the freezer.

Nancy rigged up another lure on the line whilst I navigated the channel a while later we had another hit another spotted mackerel but it had to go back as it was under size. We did not get anything after that.
(Chart showing track from Sunday Creek in the Hinchinbrook Channel to Dunk Island)

We sailed quite steady up the channel and as we approached the Cardwell area it seemed strange prior to cyclone Yasi you could hardly see the town for the huge trees along the waterfront the buildings were basically hidden but now everyone living there has a waterfront view.  Just south of there was the Hinchinbrook Marina which was also destroyed in Yasi and to date has not been rebuilt. To stop at Cardwell and anchor off the jetty to go ashore you need perfect calm weather which we do not have today.

We sailed on and change course for Dunk Island as we neared Gould Island the wind dropped away and the swell came beam on shacking the sails we started one of the engines to keep going forward as I had got below the speed where the rudders work so no steerage. I started an engine hoping that when we leave the shadow of Gould Island we would pick up the wind again  but the swell was stronger than the wind so we had to motor sail the rest of the way. Some other yachts in the area maintained some sailing with the sails doing the same they are a lot lighter than us, however, once the sails start slapping one you lose air in them and two it does damage to the sails. We had wind when the rain squalls occurred and we would sail as soon as the rain passed the wind would drop again. It didn't matter whether I tacked to get the seas off the beam we still could not get enough wind to sail so we motor sailed to Dunk Island and anchored.
(Chart showing Dunk Island main anchorages the Bramm Bay is the most common with S/SE winds, the anchorage to the SW is for NE winds, there are a few other bays around the island that you can drop an anchor in fair conditions. In Brammo Bay if possible anchor on the east side of the jetty and as close into the beach as depth will allow)

The anchorage was quite rollie with the swell sneaking around the sand spit on the western side of the island but not uncomfortable. Looking at the weather we will stay here until Sunday when we get some 15 - 20 knot winds there is little wind until then.


Thursday - 06/09/2012

We had a lazy start to the day not doing much just photos on the computer and doing a few notes then later in the morning we lowered the dinghy to go ashore and surprise the board would not start so I had to use the spare, me on the oars. On the way to shore we called in on 'Cassini' a catamaran and we met Peter now partner to Tania who we had met on Virginia's yacht 'Overproof' last year.

We then continued ashore and went for a walk, the resort here was damaged badly in cyclone Yasi the owner at the time had been hit with two cyclones in five years, first Larry then Yasi so he put the place up for sale as he was unable to get any insurance if he rebuilt. It was sold last year and the place has been cleaned up a little but buildings are still damaged. The units that survived or had little damage have been cleaned up and the open air bar and swimming pool have also been cleaned although the swimming pool does not have a working pump and filter it is heavily dosed with chlorine. I have been told that the new owner held a 50th birthday party not long ago and that is probably one of the reasons for the pool and bar clean up. It is a sad sight though. The island is still beautiful and the trees are slowly recovering, it was good to see some business operating a water taxi delivers people to the island from the mainland for the day to do the walks or laze on the beach, there is also a charter yacht that seems to be working the island called 'Big Mama' a large alloy ketch. Men are still coming over and doing work National Parks have all the walks open and they appear to be doing some work on the airport and airstrip.
(The damaged resort)
(The damaged jetty which shows what forces there would have been when Yasi cyclone hit)
(Dunk Island beach in front of the damaged resort)
(The resort bar, it has been cleaned up and furnished probably for the party the owner put on)
(Resort swimming pool cleaned up but at this stage there is no pump or filter so they dose it heavily with chlorine)
(Log for sitting on at the top of the beach out front of the bar)

After returning on board I pulled the motor off the dinghy to see if I could find the problem it appeared tight to turn over so I had a look at the rope start and checked everything else but could not find the problem so I thought I would wait until we got to Cairns.

We had Peter and Tania over for sundowners that ended up having them stay for dinner as Nancy had prepared dinner earlier and invited them to stay. We had a very enjoyable evening which we do most of the time meeting great people and having a few laughs.

Friday - 07/09/2012

Had a sleep in this morning it was light when I woke up at 0630 hours must have been the red wine. I got up and made the cups of tea and had a look outside, it was cloudy and looked like rain a short time later we had a light shower.

We intended to stay here as the weather charts this morning showed very little wind until Sunday when we will get 15-20 knots from the SE. However, we appear to have some SW winds of around 12 knots and the sea is getting a little bumpy. I kept an eye on it for a while and it appeared to get stronger so we weighed anchor and sailed. We headed for Mourilyan Harbour.
(Chart showing track from Dunk Island to Mourilyan Harbour)

When we left Peter and Henry on their catamarans also set off, their cats are light weight compared to ours and they can sail on light winds, they would be less than half our weight. I took a different tack to them they appeared to head directly for the destination with a tail wind, I went on a starboard tack out to sea to get passed the island wind shadow and hopefully get better wind by tacking. When we got out about 2 NMS passed the east end of the Dunk Island I changed tack giving us an almost direct track for Mourilyan Harbour and with the wind behind but slightly to the port side and was able to sail on a very broad reach having to change tack to clear North Barnard Island and then change back once we were clear. Nancy had set the trolling fishing line and about 10 NMS north of Dunk Island we had a strike, I wound it in and it was a 76cm spotted mackerel. I landed it, bled it, cleaned it, filleted it and gave it to Nancy to wash and cut into dinner sizes and put in the freezer with the exception of one lot for this evening. So that's how we catch a fish, I have made a deal with Nancy that if she wants to claim she caught a fish she has to set the line and put the line away and I will do the in between stuff then she can claim that we caught the fish. The fact is Nancy after hurting her wrist last year would not be able to wind a fish that size inboard when we are also under sail going around 5 knots. Once we are under sail we don't want to stop it is different if we are just motoring we just pull the engines into neutral making it easier to land a fish.
(76cm Spotted Mackerel we landed aboard)

We sailed on to Mourilyan Harbour we ended up 2 NMS behind the faster catamarans which I thought was pretty good. The entrance to Mourilyan Harbour is good, it may look a little narrow on approach but it has leads and the depth is maintained at around 13 metres as freighter vessel come here to load raw sugar and molasses from the Innisfail, Babinda, Tully and the Atherton Tablelands , they started a new log product export operation commenced in 2011this will see 250,000 tonnes of woodchip and export log pass through the Port. The Port includes a livestock export facility and the capacity to expand into new bulk cargo exports. So when entering make sure there is not a ship coming out or moving in the harbour.
(Approaching Mourilyan Harbour leads, markers and leads are lit in dark hours)
(Chart plotter showing Mourilyan Harbour entrance)
(Chart plotter picture showing anchorages, to anchor passed the pile mooring you sail between the two rows) 

Anchoring isn't a problem but you have to find a spot there is an area outside the shipping turning circle which is marked by yellow buoy yellow markers, do not anchor inside of these. There are two main areas one is just outside the yellow marker buoys between the boat ramp and the pile moorings. The other area is through the pile moorings and in the area just passed those the electronic charts are quite good in this area but be careful as the shallows can move from one year to the next. There are no real facilities in this port as far as shops, toilets and showers. They have built new boat ramps here with floating dock and in doing so have placed four wheelie bins for rubbish in the car park. This harbour gives good protection in high winds and can be entered under quite heavy seas.
The evening was beautiful with pictureque skies.
(Twilight in Mourilyan Harbour, Nancy sitting on the bow seat taking pictures)

We will stay for a few days with heavy winds on Monday this is probably the better anchorage.



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