Thursday, September 6, 2012

Magnetic Island to Hinchinbrook Channel

Monday - 03/09/2012

Up again before first light a nice cup of tea to wake the body up properly then out on deck to get ready to sail whilst Nancy got breakfast underway. After a quick light breakfast and checking the weather we set to weigh anchor. The wind was dead ahead whilst at anchor so we took the advantage of hoisting the mainsail before lifting the anchor saves bobbing around outside the anchorage keeping your balance whilst trying to hoist it plus you can get under sail a lot sooner saving fuel and engine hours.

We were heading for the Palm Group of Islands and hopefully pick up a mooring at Little Pioneer Bay at Orpheus Island. The anchoring there can be a little tricky with coral and sand mix bottom, mainly coral if anchoring make sure the anchor is properly set and put plenty of chain out.
(Chart showing our track from Breakwater Marina to Magnetic Island and onto Orpheus Island, you can see where we changed to the starboard tack away from the 5 NM military zone)

Sailing out of Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island we had to tack slightly to port to get the wind in the sails on a very broad reach having light winds at this stage we needed to make the best of it and get the apparent wind speed up, this tack was sending us around 10 magnetic off our rhumb line but we would get there faster than having the wind directly behind us. Just after 0800 hours Townsville Coastguard opened on the VHF radio so we logged on with them. They then informed us that they were about to put out a Securitay Message regarding the Air Force conducting live fire on Rattlesnake Island and there is a 5NM zone that we needed to keep outside of, at this point we are just about entering that zone near Cordella Rocks, time to tack the other way. As we left this morning Nancy got out one of the fishing rods to troll she fitted the lure put the rod in the holder and secured it then went inside, just after we did our course change the fishing line started to run. Nancy came outside as I got to the rod and I started reeling it in, I must say it was not putting up much of a fight and my first thought was that we have picked up a piece of weed. It wasn't until I got it just about on board that it started to give a little fight. I landed it then bled it before cleaning it and cutting it into fillets. It was a Spotted Mackerel  of 70cm in length fresh fish for dinner tonight and enough for two more dinners.
(The fish coming aboard, can't get fresher than that)
(Cutting of the nice fillets they will provide three good size meals)
(The first meal on the barbaque, tasted wonderful)

No whales in sight today, I am not sure whether they have all moved south and maybe the one we saw the other day was the last, past years we have always seen a whale and her calf at the southern end of Orpheus Island but nothing there today. Some say they are moving south a little early this year which concerns me some. It means they know something I don't, a couple of years ago they went south early due to high water temperatures the year of Yasi Cyclone the water temperatures are not high this year as yet they are between 23.5 C and 24.8C north of latitude 20. Creatures know more about the weather and conditions than we do, you don't see many injuries of wildlife during or after a cyclone for instance and the main reason is they are either buried down in a safe area of they have gone well before it hit. I am reading a book at the moment , Sue Williams "Welcome to the outback", she describes in there where she flew over the inland sea after the major rain that Australia received like when Lake Eyre was full of water, the pilot told her that the birds arrived there twelve months before the water so the locals knew something was about to happen and people think we are the smart ones. The Australian Aborigine used to know when floods were coming unfortunately a lot are losing these skills , I can remember years ago when I lived in the Alice an aboriginal woman told me to stay on the town side of the river because the Todd River was going to flow, all the aborigines had or were moving out. It had not rained in the Alice and there had not been a cloud in sight for days within the next couple of hours the Todd was flowing quite well, they were the days they only had a walk bridge from one side of the river to the other.

Anyway back to where we were. We arrived at Little Pioneer Bay on Orpheus Island and we managed to pick up one of the mooring buoys , there are four moorings available the late yachts had to anchor. The wind increased after we anchored, the afternoon sea breeze and stayed most of the night.
(This photo taken last year of Little Pioneer Bay, we did not go ashore this time in)
(This again is last years photo at the top of Orpheus Island)
Orpheus is a pretty island and is well worth going ashore to climb the peak for the views we did this last time we were here. There is a restricted area on Orpheus and that is Pioneer Bay just south of the moorings. There is a marine research station there. Further south is a private resort and a national park area with walks, the resort is private and yachties are not allowed to enter this area.

We had a quiet time aboard I had a busy day sailing continually adjusting sails which means going from one side of the cockpit to the other which is only 4 metres wide but one has to step up one side then down to and up to go to the other so it is good exercise and tacking is even more work and having to do it a lot faster.

We settled down for a nice dinner with the fish WE caught, we have settled on saying "we caught" as Nancy has set the line before as she did this morning and then gone inside the boat doing her photography or notes on the computer whilst I do meagre tasks of sailing this yacht from one place to the other and then when something is on the line Nancy states she has caught a fish. So this morning Nancy said I have caught a fish I looked at her and said you put the line out, I had to reel the fish in land it, bleed it, clean it and fillet it. She said ok we caught the fish, sounds fair don't you think. Anyway spotted mackerel is very nice very white and sweet meat.
(Sunset over Hinchinbrook from Orpeus Island)

Tuesday - 04/09/2012


I was up before light this morning and started on these scribbles, we are not in too much of a hurry to get away this morning Nancy wanted to go through the Hinchinbrook Channel we have not been through there since the first year we started coastal sailing after bringing the boat from overseas. I can remember the first time was a navigational challenge to us not that it is difficult but after sailing from the Caribbean to Australia classed as blue water or ocean sailing and having depths below you then of up to two nautical miles crossing water that shows a datum depth of 0.3 metres and less that all you really have is the depth of what the high or near high tide is takes a little getting used to. It was also the time that I did not trust electronic charts as I had seen many places we had travelled where we pass and island and the chart plotter shows we are going over the land when we are clearly in good depth of water. This is still the case today in some places here in Australia the electronic charts are wrong. So I still don't trust them but I still use paper charts and my depth gauge and my eyesight along with the electronic charts we do alright.
(Using a third sheet (rope) on the genoa, the sheet going through a pulley aft end of the port side holds the sail out further to catch the wind good method for catamarans if you do not have a pole to pole out, when going down wind with light winds I use a forth sheet going forward through a pulley on the bow to pull the sail forward and get better shape)

We set off around 0800 hours just under headsail with the wind behind us this would get us to the leads 90 minutes before high tide giving plenty of depth across the shallow sections, this entrance is near the town of Lucinda. Lucinda stands out very well in fair to good visibility it has a very long jetty going out to sea passed the shallow waters. It was built to load ships with sugar but it proved an expensive exercise as during not so calm waters a couple or more ships damaged the jetty badly so it was fixed but not used again. Coming from the south you sail passed the jetty towards the fairway buoy (red and white floating marker) a little further and you come to the line of leads. The leads are two triangle markers and they have orange lights on each, the lower triangle marker is on the side of the jetty itself not far from the sugar storage silos and the top triangle marker is beyond the jetty, you naturally line these markers up and proceed in a straight line towards them  and the unnerving thing is that you follow them almost right up to the jetty where you turn to starboard and go through the port and starboard navigation markers. Please note that these markers are the exit channel markers therefore you have the port marker to starboard and the starboard marker to port. Going through these markers is also interesting the starboard markers are actually on the ends of a wharf and you go that close to the wharf you feel you could shake hands with the people standing watching you go through. After a couple of other port markers there are a set of leads to take you through to another set of markers where you turn to port after this the water depth is good. We motor up to this point and this morning there was a little wind just enough to unfurl the headsail with the wind directly behind I used my third sheet (rope) to hold the sail further outboard (in place of a pole), and we sailed along at 4 - 4.5 knots with just the sound of rippling water as there were hardly any waves. Very relaxing, the channel from here on has good depth and is reasonably wide.
(Chart showing our track into Hinchinbrook Channel from Orpheus Island)
(Heading for Hinchenbrook Cannel entrance, Hinchinbrook Island with the cloud around it, aboringines call it the 'Cloud Maker")
(The chart plotter pics, left, shows the track in, right, shows the track very close to the wharf, this end of the channel is the main port Lucinda therefore on entering it is port marker to starboard side and naturally starboard marker to port side)
(The leads with lights lower triangle on the jetty the higher one on a structure well behind on the shore they lined up perfectly with what my two chart plotters shown)
(Approaching the channel that passes Lucinda Wharf which is passed the jetty, you pass quite close makes you wonder if it is right the first time you go there.)
(Video taken by Nancy, produced and editted by yours truly, the first section is under motor as we enter the first section of the leads the second part you will see the sail out as we quietly sail under headsail only at a steady 4 - 4.5 knots through very calm waters, the last section you will see Haycock Island a small island in the middle of the channel, it is home to a couple of crocs and a sea eagle)

We anchored on the north side of Haycock Island a small island in the middle of the channel, we have anchored here the last visit and it proved to be good but you can get a strong tide flow at times so we put out plenty of chain. About mid afternoon the wind must have picked up south of us as I could see white waves beyond the island and it started to bring in a swell which made life uncomfortable. There are two other anchorages in the area but these were taken and they are probably better anchorages for higher winds. Looking at the one yacht I could see hardly had a ripple in the water. We chose to up anchor and head for Sunday Creek a short distance north this proved to be a better anchorage, the creek goes quite a distance and it has plenty of depth. We just tucked in around the corner out of the wind waves and swell.

(The anchor lady, Nancy getting things ready to anchor at Haycock Island)
(Anchorages in the southern end of Hinchinbrook Channel, there are many places south of what is shown here however other than near the Lucinda Wharf not many of the others offer protection from prevailing winds, these are good anchorages with the exception of the one north of Haycock Island it can get a swell creep around on you)
Once settled and had a cup of tea I got the ships barber to give me an overdue haircut, the ships barber has been busy with her photography from the clubs events. After a nice shower I am finishing these scribbles with a cold beer.


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