Circumnavigating Australia Part 3

Whitsunday Islands

Whitsunday Islands – Macona Inlet and Airlie Beach

Sunday 17/06/2012

As usual we were out of bed early and we got underway from Tongue Bay before the sun popped up from the horizon, being no wind we motored north to Hook Passage and then into Macona Inlet. When we arrived at Macona there were a few yachts already there but plenty of room for us to anchor.

(Turbulence of the sea in the passages between islands these can throw a small boat around)

I noticed a catamaran had gone in at high tide past the reef and onto the beach area that dries out at low tide. The other two yachts were anchored where we usually go close in the bay on the eastern side, it is a small basin with reef all around the beach. The chart plotter is quite accurate as far as the bay and reef area it is easy to see the reef near low tide it’s not so easy at high tide unless the sun is high. Soon after we anchored the two yachts left so we picked up the anchor and moved closer in the bay.

(One of the tourist yachts ‘Solway Lass’ anchored in calm waters in Hook Passage)

Macona Inlet is quite pretty and not that many yachts come in here I think all the times we have visited there has been a maximum of around 6-7 yachts for an overnight stay. I think the reef and the entrance deters people from coming in. The charts show a narrow entrance to the inlet but in actual fact the whole mouth of the inlet is deep enough at high tide to cross in most areas. I always stick to the deeper water in the marked channel but I have taken a short cut at times.

(Chart of south Hook Island with Nara Inlet & Macona Inlet, there are many anchorages in both inlets)

Today was a day of rest, after we dropped anchor we cooked breakfast a team effort I cooked the bacon on the barbie and Nancy cooked the poached eggs and toast in the galley. We then sat in the cockpit and ate breakfast listening to Macca on the radio.

(The bay from our anchorage at Macona Inlet)

After breakfast we caught up on phone messages and emails and get some scribbles for the blog as we have not had phone service for a few days. We had a quiet night before crashing into bed.

Monday 18/06/2012

Another quiet day today, I was a little tired as I got up a few times during the night. This is a normal thing when we have a first night at an anchorage when situations change during the night. I was aware from my checks on the weather that there was a change in wind occurring during the night hours. The winds were going to pick up to SE 15 – 20 knots then increasing 20 – 25 knots early morning. When there is a slight change in wind or movement of the boat I wake up and then the normal thing is to go up on deck have a look around and then check the anchor watch GPS and make sure we have not moved. Naturally doing this the brain wakes up and then it takes awhile to get back to sleep.

I was up and making the cups of tea at 0515 hours and then checked the weather on the internet and decided we may head over to Airlie Beach tomorrow. We need water as we are just about out of it, we have used 880 litres since we left Mackay on 5 June and we have done a fair amount of washing with the machine.

I worked on the anchor chain roller this morning, we cannot buy the type and size we require in Australia and I made one myself out of a couple that can be bought but it was a softer material and did not last long. I have replaced it with another modified roller but that is of the same material and I don’t expect it to last too long. I may have to get one made. Other than this we have had a lazy day.

Tuesday – 19/06/2012

Up after day break this morning a little sleep in for me, not much of a sleep in the sun had not got over the horizon but it was light. Did the usual made the cups of tea then got on the net to check the weather. Hamilton Island is getting 17 – 21 knots wind from the SE which means Whitsunday Passage will be a little active with wind against tide. So we have decided to wait until just before the tide change before we get ready to sail.

The tide is supposed to change around 1025 hours so if we get ready at 1000 hours by the time we get to the passage the tide would be on the change and the waves will be a little less active and not standing up as much.

This we did after breakfast we got things ready and at the allotted time we weighed anchor motored out of the bay and hoisted the mainsail with a reef in it, the wind increases as you sail around the islands so a reef in the mainsail makes it a little safer and it is not so hard on the gear.

(Reef in the sail means that we shorten the mainsail resulting in less sail area, our mainsail has two reefing points where we can lower the sail to one of these points dependant on wind strength, it is suggested to put the first reef in at 20-25 knots wind speed and the second in at 25-30 knots after that no mainsail and very little headsail.

As we left Macona Inlet we changed course for Airlie and unfurled the genoa (headsail), I left a couple of turns on the furler as the wind strength was 22 knots. As soon as the sails were set they took over and the engines were shut down. We sailed along our rhomb line at speeds between 7.9 and 8.5 knots, the waves were near beam on and although photos do not show it was quite a lively sail.

(Keeping watch as there are a few other yachts and I believe the whales have arrived)

As we neared Airlie we passed a P&O liner, ‘Pacific Sun’ anchored and ferries were taking passengers ashore. These ships always look as though there is too much structure above the waterline to me.

(P&O Liner ‘Pacific Sun’ as I took the picture they started a diesel hence the initial smoke from the stack)
(Checking things out as we near Airlie Beach, wind chill factor requires a jumper)

We entered the Abel Point Marina and headed for the public dock where we filled our near dry water tanks and then gave the boat a good wash, unloaded our garbage and then went outside of the marina and anchored. This marina and the other two one at Port Doulas and Horizon Shores on the Gold Coast went into receivership last year. They must be suffering here as the marina has many empty spaces but that is their own fault for what they charge. Most places it costs us $60 per night in a marina here it is $128 and they wonder why we anchor out. If we need to go into a marina in the Whitsunday’s we will go to Hamilton Island, it is also expensive but cheaper than Abel Point.

(Alongside the public dock at Abel Point Marina, I am putting on the mainsail cover)

There is no doubt that businesses are doing it tough in Airlie Beach but they do not help themselves with their high prices let’s hope they learn before all the doors close.

Anyway after we anchored we lowered the dinghy and went ashore for a feed, a late lunch, we went to Sorentino’s the pub in the marina complex and had an ice cold beer and a seafood plater for two which was very nice and plentiful, it included skewered BBQ prawns, smoked salmon, muscles, oysters and salt and pepper calamari with salad and sauces, oh what a life. Then it was back to reality we got back to the dinghy returned on board and I had to fix one of the toilets that decided to play up this morning, see it’s not all wine and sunshine.

We will stay here a couple of days to do shopping and a few jobs before selecting an anchorage in one of these gorgeous islands.

Wednesday 20/06/2012

I just love shopping day with my lovely wife Nancy, that’s what we did today. We walked the few kilometres to the supermarket did a fairly large shop to stock the boat and caught a taxi back to where we parked the dinghy. We got it on board and started the unpacking and packing, I repack the meat and put it in the freezer then stay out of Nancy’s way whilst she does the rest. In actual fact I usually find something else to do, today I went ashore again and visited the chandler and giving a sizeable donation after purchasing a portable navigation light. Why do I say donation? The fact is I believe that part of the price must be a donation because the items really can’t be that expensive, they are a third the price overseas.

(This is Pioneer Bay taken from the walkway towards the Coastguard building northern end of the bay)

The reason for the purchase of a portable battery operated LED navigation light was for two reasons, one is that it is always best to carry a spare nav light setup in case your nav lights fail and it is too rough at sea to repair them or you can’t repair them. I had this happen just off the coast of New Caledonia the nav light globe blew and fortunately I had a battery operated light at that time which has since died. At that time the nav light failed whilst we were passing through a fishing fleet, these things never happen when no one is around. The second reason is that I only realised yesterday that a dinghy or motor driven boat to put it correctly, that has a maximum speed above 7 knots is required to have navigation lights not just a white all around light or torch. I was thinking in the sense of if you travel at less than 7 knots but it is not it is the maximum speed the boat is capable of travelling. So I have purchased this very expensive light which if I had bought it anywhere but here would have only been expensive. I checked this about the lights required because friend Ric of ‘Neriki’ told me that the Police were pulling people up in Cairns for not having the correct lights, there are probably 99.9% of yachties that do not have lights and we have only used a torch for the past 5 years some do not even use that. I figured it is cheaper to buy the light than give the government more money in fines.

(The LED portable nav light, the centre button operates the light in different modes, all lights on, white stern light only, port and Starboard lights only or individually)

At the marina here they have a pub called ‘Sorentino’s’ that has a special deal with pizza and pasta between 1500 and 1700 hours you get two of either for $15, what a good idea for a sundowners. So the crew off ‘Neriki’, ‘Forever Dreaming’ and us arrived there at 1630 hours had a drink and at 1645 hours we ordered the pizzas and I can recommend them they were very nice.

As we finished our cheap dinner and the cool air dropped in we headed back to the dinghy and back on board, had a quiet night watching a movie.

Thursday 21/06/2012

(Sunrise over Pioneer Point, Airlie Beach)

The plan today was to help Ric remove his sails for repair, ‘Neriki’ is 14 years old and has the original sails, being a 45 foot catamaran the sails are quite large. Ric has not taken the sails off before so asked if I could help, help is required with these sails just to manhandle them. We need calm weather to do the job because we have to hoist the sails before we can remove them. So this morning I look out the wind is blowing lightly but too much to do the job, then a short time after the wind drops, I hopped in the dinghy and over I went, just about to start and the wind kicked in from another direction it was a lull before the change. An hour later it dropped again, over I went again. Fortunately whilst I was over the first time I asked Rick to disconnect a few things that could be done so we had less to do when the wind dropped.

We got the headsail down in no time, it took longer to roll the big sail up to cart away, then we did the mainsail and the sail bag lowered them into the dinghy and then the wind kicked in again but we had the job done. We then carted them over with lots of grunts and groans to the sail maker for repairs.

I took it easy for the rest of the day and we had a quiet night aboard and watched another movie that’s second night of movies, I don’t think we have watched one since Brisbane.

Friday 22/06/2012

Getting a few things done before leaving for Cid Harbour. We had a bit of an experience with a plastic taste in our water supply and it may have been our hose from when I cleaned it at Mackay it was covered in dirt and grime from sanding the antifouling paint and I used some thinners to get it clean. So today we walked a few kilometres to the Bunning’s store and purchased some drinking water hose that we will only use for that purpose hoping that this will fix the problem.

Mercedes and Gary came shopping with us and we stopped for coffee on the way back to the dinghy after the long walk there and back I was a little tired and spent the afternoon reading a book. We invited Rick off ‘Neriki’ over for dinner and had some nice coral trout that we caught with silver bait. (Yes we bought it).

Saturday 23/06/2012

The girls wanted to go to the Airlie Beach market day so I suggested that we go in early and get back on board and head off before the strong winds hit. Looking at the Met wind charts the winds are going to be 20 – 30 knots and possibly higher at times over the next five days and they were supposed to start around lunch time today, I would like to get over to Cid Harbour before the high winds kick in.

We finally got away at 1105 hours and the wind was just kicking in, I initially thought I may go out with a double reefed mainsail but as we moved into the bay the winds got stronger and we were in the lee of the main land which means it may be rough once we leave the main land and enter the channels. We also have the last 2 hours of wind against tide so I just unfurled half of the genoa, (headsail). With only this sail we were cruising along at 5.5 knots and quite comfortable with a beam on sea. As we entered Molle Channel the wind hit full force and we had 22 – 28 knots and seas around 2 metres or better. This passage is the better of the two with the second channel being Whitsunday Passage and that looked quite rough from what we could see. When we neared the northern end of North Molle Island I could see that we would not be able to sail direct to Cid Harbour with the sea conditions and wind direction so we furled the headsail and motored the 2NMS to Unsafe Passage on the southern end of North Molle Island and then a sailing a little way toward South Molle Island once through the passage this gave us a better sailing line to Cid Harbour. We unfurled the headsail just leaving a couple of turns on the furler as the tide had started to change so now with wind is with the tide the waves were not standing up as much although we still had green water occasionally coming over the bows. We kept the same speed which was again more comfortable than if we had used the mainsail and gone faster.

(Chart of our track from Airlie to Cid Harbour, depths in fathoms)

We arrived at Cid Harbour there were quite a few other yachts/boats anchored, we were able to get to one of our favourite spots and dropped the anchor. The wind was a lot less in this sheltered anchorage but the real strong winds had not kicked in as yet.

(This is where we try to anchor when we go to Cid Harbour it gives good protection)

We had a quiet night and watched many other yachts were heading here for shelter. As nightfall came it started to drizzle rain and the winds got stronger, although we do not get the continuous strong winds here we get strong bullets of wind that steer around the mountain and hillsides.

(Cruise Wine & Dine boat from Hamilton Island, it is not unusual to see this boat arrive around end of sunset and enter Cid Harbour and drop anchor amongst the anchored vessels and you think he would not fit there, the skipper is good and finds a hole for the evening, they usually leave by 2200 hours)

After going to bed I woke a few times to make sure all was well the wind had picked up and the bullets were swinging the boat from one side to the other, I am very pleased that we have one of the new age anchors which is a Rocna she holds very well we usually have to drive the boat forward when the amount of chain equals the depth of the water to set the anchor out otherwise it is too much strain on the anchor winch and we have a reasonable large winch and anchor.

We have this wind and weather here until next Thursday so we will not be going far.

Cid Harbour and back to Airlie Beach

Thursday 28/06/2012

We have been in Cid Harbour since the 23rd and the weather has not been too good. Looking on the met bureau website on the observation pages show that Hamilton Island that’s around the corner is getting winds of 28 – 34 knots, here in Cid Harbour we are getting bullets of wind of around 20 knots so we in a good spot. With the winds we have had rain some days just drizzle and quite cool.

(Blast from the past – This is ‘Mee Too’ Seawind 1000 catamaran the very same catamaran that we sailed, we cut our teeth with this yacht it was a charter boat in Rick and Lou’s fleet when they had Fraser Island Rent a Yacht)
(One of the grey days in Cid Harbour)

Today however was fine the winds have dropped and many yachts have left and sailed to other areas we did the exciting thing called washing, took the washing machine up to the cockpit and run the generator and did the washing rigged up the clothes lines up forward. We have to make the best out of the good weather to dry the clothes.

(One of the small beaches at Sawmill Bay southern end of Cid Harbour)

Afterwards I got the kayak on the water for Nancy and she went off with camera and handheld radio to do some photography and I stayed aboard pottering around and reading.

(Cid Harbour)

There was an influx of very expensive motor boats arrived today not sure if it is a club or if it is coincidence that they all arrived within an hour of each other but there are a few of them. The motor boats usually mean plenty of lights they always have the blue underwater lights going and usually flood lights out the stern. I think they use all the lights to load their generators up when they are running which is most the time during warmer nights to keep the air-conditioning going.

(A Cid Harbour sunset)

Well this night I think they were out done by a Perry 57 sailing catamaran ‘Beachhouse’ it had these bright white LED’s all around the outside of the salon (front and sides), the mast and rigging were lit up and they had the blue lights on the stern shining in the water, a little over kill I think.

(Catamaran ‘Beach House’)

We had a nice cool quiet night, because it is cold out which has been unusual we have not stayed in the cockpit seating area we have moved into the salon so we have watched movies which is unusual for us. A high percentage of nights we sit have dinner outside and afterwards sit and talk, read and sometimes Nancy does some knitting. It is just nice being outside and have the views of that the water brings us. When there are strong winds here many head for Cid Harbour and at night it becomes a city of lights, late at night the anchor lights glow and shine across the water.

Friday – 29/06/2012

We were up at first light and I checked what the wind was doing before deciding what we would do. There was 10 knots of wind and looking at the forecast it shows very little wind tomorrow and Sunday so if we want to sail it has to be today. We had our usual cup of tea then breakfast and got ready to get underway. Covers rolled up, mainsail bag unzipped, things secured. There is no wind here at the anchorage so we hoisted the mainsail before weighing anchor. We motored out to the wind and unfurled the genoa (foresail) and shut the engines down. We had a broad reach with an apparent wind of 7 to 9 knots the tide was in our favour as we were going with it so we sailed a slow pace of 4 to 5 knots. It was a beautiful morning hardly a cloud in the sky and the sun shining and flat seas, just the sound of the water rippling along the hulls. This is my type of sailing, I am not a racer I am a cruiser, naturally when we have miles to make it is nice to go a little faster but if it is a day sail there is nothing better than just cruising in good weather. We are heading for Airlie Beach for two reasons one is that the Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club is having a social event at Hogs Breath Cafe on Sunday and I want to help Ric on ‘Neriki’ to put his sails back on once they are repaired which he was hoping for them to be ready today but they won’t be finished until Monday.

(Sailing past South Molle Island, this is a beautiful island manly national park however, it does have a resort although it is not fully operational. Unfortunately the place was run down some years back and it needs a major overhaul. There are moorings there which cost $50 per night but thats all you get for your money is the mooring nothing else. I find it cheaper to anchor you can still go ashore and use the walks).
(Daydream Island as it is called the charts show West Molle Island, this place is worth a visit, it is probably better to use a mooring there and also pick your weather as there are strong currents in the channel and can be rough in strong winds. The moorings cost $55 per day/night and you get the use of the facilities on the island including showers, toilets, swimming pools. It has cafes and dinning areas, as we sailed past there was a naval landing craft anchored to the north of the island, I dipped the ensign as we went past but it went unnoticed. One dips the ensign (flag) as a salute to a senior ship).

Airlie Beach

We anchored outside the marina which most people do because of the prices they charge in there. They are not very smart, the marina is half empty and will stay that way whilst they charge what they charge, the place is in receivership and they still do not learn.

(Sunrise over Pioneer Point)

Well it was a great day today, the night is cool, but another good day tomorrow.

Saturday – 30/06/2012

(Airlie Beach markets)
(Sandy at her Grotty Yachty Stall)

Saturday morning after breakfast we went ashore to the markets to buy vegies and some meat. The markets here are quite good with quite a bit of variety and entertainment and you generally meet other yachties that are doing the same as us stocking up the yacht plus we always call in to the Grotty Yachty Clothing stall and say g’day to Sandy and Kelvin. They have shirts and other items with nautical themes and the shirts are good quality.

(Airlie Beach)
(Urinal at public toilet at Airlie Beach, which one would you stand in front of?)

When we got back to the boat Nancy unpacked the groceries and I did a water run and filled the water containers so we could wash the sheets and towels that was today’s chores. After all the work was done we went over to ‘Neriki’ as Michelle and Ric had invited us over for dinner, Ric cooked a nice roast pork so we had another good evening on ‘Neriki’.

Sunday – 01/07/2012

Time goes by so quickly another month has disappeared. This morning we thought we would be smart and go to the public dock early and fill up with water before others needed to do the same. We weighed anchor and set off to the public dock inside the marina complex when we arrived there was a yacht alongside. We went close by and asked how long they would be and the owner stated he had a broken anchor winch and needed to stay for repairs but said we could tie up alongside him so that is what we did.

One thing you have to watch when berthing alongside another yacht is to make sure the masts are separated by some distance fore or aft, if you berth with the masts alongside each other there is a danger if the yachts rock from a wave they can clash together causing some expensive damage.

We stayed just long enough to top up both water tanks and the four water containers then we left and dropped anchor just outside the marina wall. The weather predictions are for strong winds again all week so we may be sitting here for a while.

At 1700 hours we went ashore to meet up with the Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club members at the Sunday sundowners at the Hogs Breath Cafe which had a good turnout of around 20 people, we caught up with yachties we had not seen since last year and we ended up staying for dinner. It was a good night and a good meal.

(Ken, Rhonda and Nancy at the Hogs Breath Cafe)

Monday – 02/07/2012

I was up early this morning as the winds have arrived and they woke me at 0330 hours so I got up to check all was well re the boat and being awake that did me for any further sleep so here I am tapping on the keyboard.

Monday – 02/07/2012

This morning at around 0300 hours the wind hit around 25 -30 knots and as we are in a new anchorage from when we moved yesterday I had to get up and check all was right. Although we have a GPS on anchor watch I still prefer to see our track and make sure we are not dragging anchor and we are secure. The other thing that got me up was the headsail sheets were banging on the deck due to the strong wind stretching things out so by the time I got some clothes on and went out in the cool wind I was wide awake and no chance of getting back to sleep so as I said yesterday I stayed up.

I expected the wind to howl all day by the weather forecasts however, the early wind came from S/SW which produced a few bullets of wind around the hills but after the sun was up the wind went around to the S/SE and the wind dropped at our location being protected from the mainland, the wind at Hamilton Island was around 25-29 knots. Hamilton can read a little higher by 3 to 5 knots to what is actually happening in the waterways I think they have the sensors at the airport and the wind accelerates around the hills nearby.

After the wind dropped we went ashore to do a little shopping and to go for a walk, walking back was a little harder being loaded down with our shopping but it gives us both good exercise. Needless to say during the afternoon we relaxed having a read.

(Airlie Bay Beach with the lagoon to the right)
(Part of Airlie Lagoon for safe swimming)
(Pioneer Bay from Abel Point)

Late in the afternoon Ric off ‘Neriki’ called by he said his sails were ready and he was going to pick them up on his way back I asked if he wanted to get the sails back up now. I suggested it would be a good time to start getting the sails back in place before the winds pick up again. It takes a little longer to get the sails back in place especially the huge mainsail. I got my tools and followed him over to his boat, Garry and Mercedes off ‘Forever Dreaming’ came over to help . I was leading the group basically because this is the first time Rick has removed and replaced sails and although Garry has done it on the catamaran he built this cat is a lot larger and has a different setup. Unfortunately I could not spend the time to take things slow to show Ric every detail because we was trying to beat the wind and also sunset before it got dark. However, I am sure Ric watched everything I did.

We first got the mainsail bag in place and attached the lazy jacks to the starboard side and lifted that side of the bag to prevent the mainsail falling over that side of the boom when we haul it in place using the outhaul and the winch, this drags the heavy sail aft to the end of the boom. Normally we would have fitted the batons before doing this but all the old batons had delaminated and Rick had to get new ones but unfortunately the batons have come in two lengths and have to be cut to size this may have to be done at leisure once the winds settle. We then started to hoist the mainsail sliding the cars on the track. (The cars are units that are bolted via a bracket on the sail and the cars slide up and down the track attached to the mast). The wind kicked in a little bit but we managed to get the mainsail on and secured.

When the mainsail was secured and lowered into the sail bag we started on the genoa (Headsail), this was a lot easier although we had a small problem which turned out to be a small piece of securing wire that had broken off at sometime and had got caught in the slide. We just beat last light in finishing the job. I had a quick beer before returning to ‘Alana Rose’ for a quiet night inside out of this bloody cold weather.

Tuesday – 03/07/2012

Today we caught a bus to Centro Shopping Centre, a little too far for me to walk and get there and back before dark. Centro has a larger shopping complex with a larger arrange of shops, we did a bit of clothes shopping to start with and into BCF (Boating, Camping and Fishing Store), then could not find all the items we wanted so we headed for the bus and went back towards Airlie and stopped at the Chandlery/Home Hardware store and got a few other items. We walked back from there via the Whitsunday Shopping Centre where we normally do the shopping, we had lunch bought a few other items before walking back to the public dock loaded up.

That’s the trouble coming to a civilised centre you tend to spend money, you can’t do this out at anchor in the islands where there are no shops.

(The view at 0330 hours in the morning when the wind was howling the moon shining across the bay)
(A yacht from Guernsey in the marina, it is some yacht luxury plus)

We may stay here for a few more days looking at the weather, the winds are going to get stronger over the next few days and I think we will be more comfortable here. Looking at the observations today Hamilton Island had winds between 23 and 27 knots which is alright if we were heading north at this point but whilst we are in the Whitsunday’s you look for the best sheltered anchorages and with the current conditions we are better off staying here so there may be little to scribble about for a while.

(This section of the Abel Point Marina, south end ‘P’ finger at low tide, these boats would not be able to get out in an emergency and the bay with the large hump is never used, wonder if they have ever heard of a dredge? Not bad for the most expensive marina)

Saturday 07/07/2012

The weather is not the best at the moment last night and most of this morning we have had high winds and drizzle type rainfalls. Wind speeds at Hamilton Island are around 30 to 34 knots SSE to SE. I feel sorry for the people that are here for the school holidays as the winds have been strong all week which really whips up the seas in Whitsunday Passage and restricts the amount of anchorages that you can safely go.

I must say that where we are offers the best protection during these winds as the mainland gives protection, we are not experiencing the winds that Hamilton Island are getting, we still get bullets of wind from time to time but probably not what we would be getting in places like Cid Harbour.

These winds will remain until around the middle of next week and before then they are turning easterly so we may have to look elsewhere for cover.

(This photo is of the moon rising directly above the lit up mast of that luxury sailing vessel I posted the other day)

Needless to say we are not doing much. Thursday I went to the doctors to get checked for sun spots as part of the melanoma problem I had and had a few sun spots hit with the nitrogen spray, the one in the middle of my back felt like a hot knife going in. This doctor when she uses that stuff makes sure she does a good job. I had one on the back, one on the hand and three on the face.

Yesterday when the wind took a short break we went ashore for a walk to the Whitsunday Shopping Centre to pay my RANSA (Royal Australian Navy Sailing Association) membership. RANSA accepts membership of any service, Navy, Army and Air Force service personnel or ex-service personnel. The club is actually situated in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney Harbour.

When we returned I had a couple of repair jobs to do as you do when you own a boat.

Tuesday – 10/07/2012

There is little to scribble about the weather has been lousy it has been constantly windy and the last couple of days we have had rain so we have done very little other than go ashore during breaks in the weather for a walk to get some exercise. The rain is here for a few days but the wind starts to drop off tomorrow. We are thinking of going over to Hamilton Island Marina around Friday for a few days to give the boat a wash and have a look around the island.

Wednesday – 11/07/2012

Last night we were blasted with winds of 35 plus knots. The winds swung the boat around violently but we had little waves being just outside the marina wall with the wind direction coming from that direction with the ESE winds. However, it was a restless night with the first gusts around midnight then it settled to a steady 20 knots for two hours before kicking into the 30 plus knots again and this repeated itself four times through the night. Each time the wind increased I got up to check all was good. I have a feeling our Rocna anchor is going to be buried very deep in this sand/mud seabed and will take some driving out and cleaning when we leave tomorrow weather permitting.

It is 0800 hours at the moment and we have winds in the 20 – 25 knots from the ESE.

Nancy went by herself to do the shopping as I did not want to leave the boat for too long in the current conditions, I continuously kept my eye on the weather there was supposed to be a lull around midday and if all was well we might make a move over to the islands so that we will be closer to Hamilton Island Marina.

After Nancy had returned with the shopping and unpacked everything we had lunch, the weather had not changed other than we had some sun shining through. After lunch I went into Airlie to pick up the essentials, beer and wine. As I was returning the wind steadied so as soon as I returned on board we got ready to weigh anchor. I did not bother to open the mainsail bag as we would be having the wind on the nose all the way and knew it would be an iron sail job, it wasn’t going to hurt giving the engines a run it would charge the batteries for the night and give us plenty of hot water.

(Chart showing our track from Airlie to Beach 25, southern end of Whitsunday Island)
(Beach 25 anchorage near Gulnare Inlet in the Fitzalan Passage)

We weighed anchor and headed off we weren’t sure what the Whitsunday Passage was going to be like it is possible it could be stirred up from the heavy winds, my thoughts were that now we have a wind change to an easterly there would be little wind waves as the Molle Islands and the Whitsunday Island would offer protection across both passages, as it turned out I was right. We also had the advantage of crossing the Whitsunday Passage at still tide so there was no wind/tide effect. As the conditions were good we decided to anchor off Beach 25 just north of Hamilton Island on the southern end of Whitsunday Island, we arrived at last light in very calm conditions with light rain starting again.

We had good hot showers before dinner and red wine and had a quiet night watching a movie.

Hamilton Island Marina –

Thursday – 12/07/2012

I am very pleased we made the trip over yesterday as today’s weather has been awful. As we anchored at Beach 25 just on dark last night it started to rain albeit only drizzle and that continued through the night. As it got light this morning the rain started to come down a little heavier and visibility was very poor. The winds predicted from the east only lasted until about 2200 hours last night then it change to a southerly, fortunately this anchorage was good and the only annoyance we had was wind waves slapping on the hulls which can make it hard to sleep for anyone that has not experienced it before but we slept through it.

We had booked into the marina at Hamilton Island and we can enter there at 1100 hours so I again kept an eye on the weather hoping there would be a break in it around that time or a bit later so we can go in without getting drowned. Unfortunately looking at the weather radar on the net there was no relief in sight. Nancy phoned the marina to get a berth allocation so we knew prior to getting there where we would be going, Nancy has a book with all the marinas layouts that we use off the internet or we get from the marina by email. This makes life easy when one enters a marina you don’t go in blind. We was allocated an end of finger berth so it was our choice which side we wished to tie up, we always prefer starboard to as this is the same side as the helm on the boat making it easier for me to see the dock.

(Not a nice day)

We donned our offshore foul weather gear, the rain was steady not really heavy but the wind was around 20 -25 knots driving the rain right into you. We rigged the fenders and docking lines ready then we started engines rolled all the covers up around the cockpit and weighed anchor. I had the navigation lights switched on due to poor visibility, whether they are necessary or not I rather have the lights burning as many yachts/boats like us are hiding behind the clears (plastic screen), to keep dry and these clears also reduce visibility under rain conditions.

(This is the visibility from outside the clears, the clears reduce this visibility slightly)
(Concentration, holding the boat near the orange buoy with other boats around)

As we got outside the marina we called on the radio and was told to enter and wait at the orange buoy just inside the harbour where we would be met by a staff member and taken to the berth. This is the normal routine a guy or girl comes out on a boat and guides you to the berth and normally will go ahead and be on the dock to tie you up, however, today we could see that he was busy in the pouring rain and he had to take a yacht that was in front of us first and the radio was going with more customers for him some leaving wanting his assistance as well as others coming in. I asked Nancy to radio him and ask if we could go to the berth as it was close by and the wind was blowing me in that direction, by the time he answered I was about 10 metres away from the dock I just moved forward about 3 metres and let the wind blow me straight onto the dock, the boat just drifted right into position all we had to do was tie the docking lines and shut the engines down.

The young bloke came over in the boat to book us in, it is all done on the dock as he has a portable EFPOS machine, he asked if we were alright and thanked us for freeing him up and looking after ourselves. That is one thing I like about this marina is the service, it is still an expensive marina to be in but a lot cheaper than Airlie’s Abel Point Marina, but you get service here and the use of the facilities on the island such as the swimming pools the free bus service to take you around the different places on the island. As he was booking us in he asked the size of the boat we said 42 foot, he looked at me and said 40 foot, 12 metres? I said that will do. That saved us $15 per night. They did the same with us last year on each occasion we visited, although I must say the prices have increased by $5 per night since last year. Last year we paid $100 per night and for our size boat it should have been $115. Abel Point Marina is $128 per night and you do not get the same service, most other marinas charge around $60 per night for a boat our size.

Well we have been in the marina all day so far and the only time we have been off the boat was to tie up and hook up the electricity. Let’s hope for a better day tomorrow.

Friday – 13/07/2012

The boats a bit of a mess which is due to the weather more than anything, everything is damp from the rainy weather. Nancy wanted to get it all cleaned up so I volunteered to do the laundry, so being a smart person I am I grabbed our dirty clothes washing and got out of the place. Fortunately I got up there early because everyone had the same idea they were all having the same problems of not being able to get things dry with the weather the way it has been.

The weather was still wet with light rain showers and low drizzle clouds so this day was spent just doing chores. Although on the bright side we met some very nice people off other yachts.

(Southern end of the marina)
(‘Reflections’ Southern end of marina at night)

(There’s always a bright side to cold raining weather, Cheers)
(The cooks in the galley and foul weather gear hung out to dry)

Saturday – 14/07/2012

I woke during the early hours for the usual call of nature and when I looked out the hatch I noticed we were fog bound so I went topside to see what it was like, the moisture from the fog had floated in under the covers of the cockpit and everything was wet and when I got up in the morning the fog was still there and I thought of our neighbours on yacht ‘Phantom’ who were flying to Sydney hoping the fog would lift so the airways could operate.

(A foggy morning looking at the southern side of the marina and airport)
(As we had both been busy I bought Nancy and I an iced coffee and an apple danish, Nancy sat on the transom step to eat hers and as soon as she did a friend arrived, the cockatoo)

I gathered more washing, all the mats and sheets a got up to the laundry very early filling all four washing machines whilst Nancy cooked breakfast, it took most of the morning to finish it all as drying everything took a long time. We then got changed to go for a walk the weather had brightened and the fog had lifted which pleased the people flying out. We had a good walk and a good look around the place, we had lunch at a cafe before continuing our walk in another direction.

(The northern side of the marina, look at that motor yacht in front of our ‘Alana Rose’ it is worth a cool $15m, note the magnificent building of the Hamilton Island Yacht Club in the background which I believe cost $35m to build)
(Cockatoos try to get a feed)

Later in the afternoon we went for our showers then went to the yacht club for sundowners and yes today the sun was there. After we had a drink and took some photos we headed for Manta Ray’s Cafe for dinner, we had a very pleasant night.

(Sunset taken from the Bowsprint of the Hamilton Island Yacht Club)
(What a glorious sundowners it was, until today I don’t think we had seen the sun all week)
(Sunset and the Bowsprint of the Hamilton Island Yacht Club)
(Sunset reflection)
(Sunsets behind Dent Island)

Sunday – 15/07/2012

Our initial plan was to sail up to Cid Harbour after looking at the wind charts last night as the stronger winds are returning at midday today according to the forecast. However, after rechecking the wind charts this morning I suggested to Nancy that we go back towards the mainland as the weather as far as wind would be better on the coastline. Predictions indicate 25 – 30 knot winds for later today and all day tomorrow. So the plan now was to have breakfast fill the water tanks and set off around 1000 – 1100 hours. As we sat having our first morning cup of tea just after daylight the boat started to swing on the dock a bit. Then we realised the wind had already kicked in, looking on the net Hamilton Island real time wind indicator was indicating winds of SSE 27 knots gusting to 34 knots. Our plans changed quickly, I suggested we get ready and go as soon as we can before the seas pick up too much.

We went to the bakery to get fresh bread and bought breakfast, ham, cheese and tomato croissants and had that with another cup of tea. Whilst having breakfast I topped up the water tanks and then got everything ready to head off.

One problem we had was that the strong wind was blowing and holding me on the dock and just ahead of us on the next finger there was this $15m motor yacht and the wind would push us in that direction. We waited until 0800 hours when the marina staff are available and asked them to assist which they did promptly. They took a line off the port bow and towed the bows away from the dock which then made it easy for us to exit, we thanked the staff for their assistance and headed out of the marina.

(The friendly staff that meet you at the orange buoy to take you to the berth and assist in docking you)

Once out of the marina we unfurled the headsail I figured with the wind direction and it’s strength that’s all we would need and sure enough we sailed along at 7 – 7.5 knots. The wind was cold and the light drizzling rain returned as we entered Whitsunday Passage. It was a good sail but it was wet and cold. As we neared South Molle Island I turned the navigation lights on because the drizzle was causing poor visibility.

(Sailing up Whitsunday Passage)
(During strong winds it pays to sail this passage wind going with the tide, these waves would really stand up if it was wind against tide, we had 20 plus knots of wind today)
(A tug towing a dredge platform today going the opposite way to us, imagine it is going against wind and tide but it would be worse if the tide was going with him and the wind was against him)
(A tug passes us in Whitsunday Passage)

We anchored outside the marina wall at Airlie a little further out as someone is anchored in our favourite position.

Hopefully the weather will get better during the week and we can get out to the islands