This blog is about my wife and I sailing our 13m sailing catamaran around Australia during 2012 2013 and 2014. We will sail from Brisbane at the end of April 2012 and slowly head north anticipating that we will arrive in Darwin for the cyclone season and head west when safe to do so and complete the circumnavigation.
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
(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
againbut 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
(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 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.