Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cooktown to Lizard Island

Sunday - 30/09/2012

(Putting the sails away on the way into Cooktown)
(Cooktown at low tide on the waterfront walkway)
I was awake very early this morning probably due to the anchor chain rattling against itself as the change of tide. After daylight I topped up the water tank with the water containers I have as spare and the tank took the whole 80 litres, I then put the containers in the dinghy and headed ashore to fill them up. There is a tap with a long hose near the boat ramp so as it was high tide it was possible to take the dinghy all the up the left side of the boat ramp where the tap is located and fill the 20 litre containers without having to lift them in and out of the dinghy.

After returning to the boat and stowed the water containers we had breakfast and then I worked on this blog, scribbling and selecting photos and of course listening to Macca on the radio (Australia All Over), after this we readied to go ashore, I filled the little generators and the outboard motor fuel tanks with the ULP so I could fill the fuel container. It was when I was doing this that I opened the gas locker where I keep the measuring cup for the oil/fuel mix for the outboard when I noticed the gas bottle in use was empty. Ashore we went with trolley, fuel container and empty gas bottle, I asked a local where I could get the gas filled he told me the Caltex station the end of town. It was a very long walk and when we got there the lady on duty was not trained to do gas bottles, she said the other fuel station will do it, the one half way back the way we came. So away we go again and when we get there it is the same story. So to make sure we have enough gas I had to purchase one of the exchange gas bottles at a cost of $74. I blame myself I should have topped it up when we were in Cairns.
(A tribute to Mrs Watson who died of thirst after fleeing Lizard Island when the aborigines fought with the Chinese servants)

With all that done I took it all back to the boat and then returned ashore for lunch, today we had it at the RSL Club, also very nice meals. After lunch we went for a walk, as if I really needed it, I was already worn out. We returned on board had a nice cup of tea and a nanna nap.

Another yacht came in and it was low tide and the skipper was bringing her in appeared to be confident of where he was going so I said to Nancy this bloke might be a local I may watch where he goes because I may learn something. He followed the docks round close to the boats on the dock heading in the direction of the boat ramp. Just as he neared the boat ramp some bloke ashore yelled out to him saying he will run out of water and to go back. The skipper put the boat astern quickly and when in safer water he called the Coastguard but no answer. I called him up on the VHF radio and gave him some advice on what I would do and that was to anchor in the turning circle in deeper water. He did this and then came over in his dinghy to say hello and ask why he could not have dropped anchor where he was originally heading. I explained that the boat ramp is there and there is not much swing area for anchoring and at present being low tide one can't cross the sand bars to the deeper anchorages. He thanked us for the advice after introducing himself and said he was also sailing tomorrow for Lizard Island and we can then catch up.

So we will have a quiet night aboard and sail in the morning.

Monday - 01/10/2012

It's funny the eve before a sail I wake up a number of times during the night probably not wanting to sleep in and be late leaving in the morning. Last night was the same I probably got up about three times. Well I got up at 0400 hours and there was no wind so I went back to bed, up again at 0500 hours I put the kettle on there is a little wind so I checked the latest wind charts on the net, they say 15 - 20 knots E-SE that will be good.

After I made the tea and took Nancy's tea to her in bed, got to look after the Admiral. I had my tea and then started to get things ready to sail, Nancy got up and helped. Looking out of the harbour it looked a little crappy with storm clouds and a few rain squalls on the horizon, looks like we might get wet today.
We started the engines and weighed anchor then motored out of the harbour to an area we could hoist the mainsail this complete we set course for Lizard Island and unfurled the headsail and shut the engines down. I had put a reef in the main due to the squalls ahead and I was pleased I did as the winds picked up to 22 plus knots and we set off at 8.2 knots to start off with, I thought this was good as we have 63NMS to get to Lizard Island. Nancy asked if I was going to troll a line, I said I think we are going a little too fast for that.

Unfortunately as we approached Cape Bedford we started to lose the wind and eventually we were glassed out with the sea being almost waveless other than the swell. I had to start an engine and motor sail. I then set the fishing line and as we passed Cape Bedford we had a strike, it did not seem to put up much of a fight, when I landed it, when we identified it was a tuna mackerel  but undersize so we released it. I set the line again and we did not have anything for a while, however, the wind came back after passing Cape Bedford and we were under sail again the wind was not as strong as before so I went up forward and took the reef out of the mainsail so we had full sails. We had come a fair distance without any fishing action and  I was going to pull the line in as we only had 1NM before entering a no fish zone when we had a strike. I had to get Nancy to change the course to take the wind out of the sails to slow us down as we were sailing along at 6 knots, the fish on the line was heavy. It took 25 minutes to get the fish onboard it was a 85cm long tail tuna also known as a blue fin. Well after I filleted it and Nancy washed and packed it, it will give us both five nice meals. So we won't fish now until that is nearly all gone or we find more freezer space. We don't fish for sport or just to see what we can catch we fish for food needs only and more so this voyage because we are going to be far away from shops from now until we get to Darwin. There are a couple of places one in from Seisia and another at Gove but that's about it.
(I got a big that is)

Once the fish was aboard I had to stay on the helm as we were now entering the shipping lane as we have to cross a junction where the lane splits into two and we have one merchant ship ahead coming towards us and another behind also coming towards us.

The ship behind is a lot closer than the one in front, however, it will be the one ahead that we will have to deal with first, both these ships are underway at around 13 knots, I am now sailing at 7 - 7.5 knots so the approaching calculated speed of approach for the ship ahead is around 20 knots the one from behind is around 6 knots, simple maths.

Stronger winds kicked in as we sailed but not too bad but it did pick up the seas slightly, now with the ships out of the way I had to fillet the fish it is not fun when the boat is rolling on the sea but the job was finally done and then it was clean up the mess. I must say that it was a good benefit putting in the saltwater tap in the galley so we save on our freshwater.
(This photo is as we pass The passage between Lizard adnd Palfrey Islands with North Direction Island in the distance) 
We arrived at the beautiful Lizard Island at 1430 hours which I thought was good going with the couple of slowing down times we had. We anchored in Watsons Bay there are quite a few boats hear but not as many as last year but I know a lot of yachts have been and gone, over the last few days of sailing we have seen yachts heading south.
(The end of a good day)
As I said before this is really where our adventure starts because so far the places we have sailed we have done before what lies ahead we have not sailed ourselves before. The next leg is from here to Darwin  which is 1232 nautical miles (2,217.6 kilometres), the first part of this leg will be from here to Seisia which is 365NMS which will be done in 7 days sailing time and sailing during daylight hours then from Seisia we cross the Gulf of Carpentaria to Gove 354NMS continuous sailing 3 days 2 nights.

 In the next few days we will attempt to go ashore in these strong winds and have a look around.
I tried to upload a video but unfortunately the internet connection is not that good here I will try again later. I will do another update before we leave here and I do not know where the next internet service will be available but I will do updates when I can.


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