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.


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