Circumnavigating Australia Part 4

Whitsunday Island to Gloucester Passage

Airlie Beach – Whitsunday’s or Windysunday’s

Monday – 16/07/2012

Well at least we have the sun trying to shine through the clouds but the wind is howling, through the night and this morning we had winds of 32 – 34 knots and now it has settled to 15 – 20 knots with the occasional higher wind gusts and the wind is rather chilly. I don’t think we will be doing much outside today.

Tuesday – 17/07/2012

The rain had stopped today other than the occasional drizzle but still a wind chill factor. We stepped ashore for a walk and met up with Ken and Rhonda the founder and workers of the SICYC and had a coffee with them before walking into town. I think Nancy is very cunning like most wives she always suggests we go ashore just before lunch so I can buy her lunch whilst we are there. So we had lunch at the Whitsunday Sailing Club, the meals are always nice there and you have great views over the water.

(The view from the Whitsunday Sailing Club)

For those members of the SICYC the Whitsunday Sailing Club is offering our members free membership to their club for a period of August (1 month) this year as they know we are all heading towards our club weekend at Gloucester Passage during that month. They would also like us to join in on their fun day race on the 18 August 2012.

(The ‘Young Endeavour’ this is a training ship which is crewed by the Royal Australian Navy)
website –

After lunch we finished our walk and returned on board for a short time before going over to Ken and Millie’s Leopard 46, ‘Rhiannon’, they had invited us over for sundowners another very nice couple and we had a very pleasant time.

(The Australian Bush Turkey, they say the best way to cook these is to place it in a camp over, placing a large stone of similar size mix with vegetables and cook for three hours on an open fire, when cooked throw the turkey away and eat the stone with the vegetables it will taste a lot better and be a lot more tender)

Wednesday – 18/07/2012

Time to move we needed to get out of the anchorage and we are hoping the weather is on the improve. The weather forecast last night indicated that today we had around 10-15 knots of wind but I think it is a little higher than that.

After breakfast we weighed anchor , motored away from the anchorage and moored boats before hoisting the mainsail as soon as that was up we set the course and then unfurled the headsail and shut the engines down. Sailing between Airlie and Pioneer Point can always be a little testing as the wind changes due to the different landforms you can experience bullets of wind to no wind and then when you near Pioneer Rocks the wind bends around the corner of Pioneer Point bringing the wind on the nose. At this point I usually start one of the engines and let the sails flap for the short distance.

(Our track across from Airlie to May’s Bay)
(Sailing to Mays Bay)

Today we did quite well in this area but as soon as we entered Molle Channel the wind was around 18 – 21 knots from SSE, this was the start of an invigorating sail as soon as the wind filled the sails we were off at 7.5 to 8.5 knots on a very close reach with an apparent wind of 23 – 28 knots, seas were not bad the waves of around one metre. Again we had picked the time where the wind was going with the tide although the tide of around 2 knots was against us. The course we chose would take us close to the northern tip of North Molle Island and after this I was hopeful that we could creep the course a little deeper south to head for May Bay and anchor off Bernie’s Beach and fortunately we were able to do this. This anchorage is not a large anchorage but offers good protection from S – SE winds. When we arrived there was only one yacht there and a little later a motor boat arrived and that was all. The anchorage is quite nice and we have had some resident turtles around the boat which is good to see.

May’s Bay & Bernie’s Beach anchorage

(Mays Bay anchorage near Lion Point which is just outside of Cid Harbour)
(Mays Bay anchorage 20* 13.473 S 148* 56.584 E)

According to the guide book ‘100 Magic Miles’, Bernie’s Beach was named after Bernie Katchor, as it was his favourite spot when he started a crewed charter boat operation in the early 70’s. May’s Bay was named after Lindsay Heiser’s wife, she and her husband were partners in the underwater observatory (no longer in operation), before their accommodation was finished they lived on their boat and when strong S/SE winds would occur they would anchor in this bay.

This anchorage is good for S to SE winds of 25 knots and E winds of 15 knots although with easterlies it can become uncomfortable with the swell. Coming into the anchorage there is a shallower area that you cross before going into a little deeper, 1.5 metres difference. Last night winds outside the anchorage was SE 18 – 21 knots and this anchorage was calm. We may stay here for a couple or more days.

Thursday 19/07/2012

We went ashore to explore Bernie’s beach today and have a little exercise we had a partly sunny day which was pleasant. This anchorage is good for the current winds which are S-SE 20 – 25 knots. We do get an occasional bullet of wind but less than in Cid Harbour. We also get an occasional small swell creep around the corner but it is not uncomfortable.

(Bernie’s Beach looking over May’s Bay anchorage)
(East end of Bernie’s Beach)

When we got back on board Nancy downloaded her photos and commenced work on them, the sun was reflecting on the computer screen so she put a shield using one of the folding cockpit cushions when the sun set and Nancy was still on the computer, I said jokingly and at the same time moved the cushion, “I don’t think you need this now Nancy?” Nancy suddenly jumped, I had knocked Nancy’s drink over and it went over the keyboard of the computer. We lifted the computer as to drain the liquid (soda water and lime cordial) then used the vacuum cleaner to try and pick up any remaining liquid, all appeared to be alright.

(Twilight at May’s Bay)

We had dinner and a quiet night.

Friday 20/07/2012

Nancy started her computer up this morning but could not sign in as half the keys on the key board are not working. Bugger!!!! I tried a few things but with no result. I was going to replace this computer at Christmas, it looks like I have to do something a little sooner. Another major point is if Nancy is out here all weekend not being able to work on her photography I don’t think it would be a good place to be, so for self preservation I had better buy her a new computer.

We chose this anchorage for the protection against the predicted winds and today the winds predicted are 20 -25 knots and the tide is coming in so the waves in the Whitsunday Passage will be standing up. I said to Nancy we had better sail back to Airlie and get you that new computer. She said what about the conditions out there, I said it will be easier than being here with you and no computer we both laughed. So we got ready to sail, we secured everything as we will rock a little with a beam on sea as we cross the passage.

(Sea Eagle resident in the area)

We weighed anchor and headed out under headsail as the wind will be slightly after on the port side and with the beam on standing sea it will cause the boom to slap and shake wind out of the mainsail if we used that.

As soon as it turned 0900 hours I phoned Harvey Norman Store, I had already checked around for a suitable computer on the internet and they had a good one on special, fortunately for me they had one left in stock and Mark the manager put it away for me. We dropped anchor outside the north wall of Abel Point Marina for a short dinghy ride into ‘A’ dock secure the dinghy and walk to town to catch the bus to Centro Shopping Centre. We arrived at the shop and met Mark the manager and Jason the computer technician. Jason used a program to delete the password so Nancy could get into the computer to check she had everything backed up on her external hard drives, we also purchased a cheap key board so that the computer may still be used.

We then had a bite of lunch before catching the bus back to Airlie and return to the boat, as soon as we returned we hoisted the dinghy and got ready to sail back to May’s Bay. The wind had dropped down to around 15 knots so we hoisted the mainsail and then unfurled the headsail and shut down the engines. The chill factor with this wind from the SE was not good, the sun was shining but the wind went right through you.

(Sunsets over the mainland from May’s Bay)

We got back to the anchorage to find more yachts and power boats anchored so we had to anchor out a little further than before. We had a nice dinner watched a video before going to bed.

Saturday – 21/07/2012

Nancy got breakfast before starting the day of setting up the new computer which will take some time so it looks like the little generator will be working today. Two of the other yachts left this morning so we moved closer into the shore and re-anchored. The winds have kicked in again so we will be staying here for a few days.

Sailing around the Whitsunday’s

Tuesday 24/07/2012

We had a call from a friend Reece from the Blue Water Sailing group on Facebook the other day, he and his wife Shirley had arrived in Airlie Beach so we said we would catch up with them whilst they were here and we had made plans to see them on Wednesday but looking at the weather we changed plans and headed to Airlie today.

We left first thing this morning before the strong wind kicked in and having wind against tide through the Whitsunday Passage as it was we had a good sail across to Airlie sailing between 7 and 8 knots most of the way.

We decided we would go into the expensive Abel Point Marina for one night and give the boat a good clean do some shopping and meet Reece and Shirley. We contacted Reece and invited him to come out for a sail on Wednesday and arranged to meet them at Sorentino’s for a drink at sundowners. So once all the work was done we headed for Sorentino’s. We met Reece but Shirley was not feeling too well and she had stayed at their accommodation. After meeting Reece we invited him and Shirley to spend a couple of days on the water with us having an overnight stay at one of the anchorages. I think Reece was quite pleased, we took him down to see the boat so he knew where to come the next morning, he then left to tell Shirley the news.

After Reece left I asked Nancy what she had got out for dinner and we had both forgot to get something out so we went back to Sorentino’s for a meal and I must say it was very nice. On Tuesdays they have an oyster special making a variety of different ways to have oysters we got a dozen of mixed with the six different varieties and the one that we had last that we initially thought was some sort of dip in small shot glasses were actually an extra and was oysters in a shot of Bloody Mary, man were they nice. The oyster specials are only on Tuesdays after 1700 hours.

Wednesday 25/07/2012 –

Airlie to Tongue Bay to Macona Inlet

Reece and Shirley arrived just after 0800 hours and we were almost ready to get going Nancy and I was just finishing breakfast but the boat was ready to go we just had to return the key to the office and put the hose away, single up the lines and go.

(Reece and Shirley enjoying the sail across to Togue Bay)

We motored out of the marina and we motor sailed until we reached Pioneer Point as the wind varied until we were around the point, we unfurled the headsail and set the mainsail and with engines shut down we sailed at 8 – 8.5 knots. The plan now was to sail over to Hook Passage, passing through there and then down to Tongue Bay. When we had passed through Hook Passage we headed south with the wind on the nose we had to start the engines. We entered Tongue Bay and there were two public moorings vacant however, we chose to anchor, I prefer to anchor where I know it is good holding as the mooring buoys can do damage to the boat as they tend to have long tails on the float (buoy) and at times they rub on the antifouling and wear it away it takes some setting up to ensure this does not happen.

Once we were secure we lowered the dinghy and all went ashore to show Reece and Shirley the views from the Hill Inlet lookout, there were a few tourist maxi yachts arriving with many groups aboard and we wanted to get up to the lookout before they all arrived and crowded the place.

(‘Solway Lass’ anchored in Tongue Bay, this ship takes tourist on overnight tours around the Whitsunday’s)
(Tongue Bay anchorage, tourists waiting for the dinghy to come in to take them back to their boat)

The lookout is about a fifteen minute walk with the hardest part at the start going up the many steps but they are not that difficult. The view was magnificent as usual from the lookout platform, the incredible blue water and white sands. The water was clear and you could see stingrays in the shallow waters. I think Reece and Shirley were impressed. We returned back on board and got underway again, unfortunately the wind had dropped so it was iron sails once again, we headed back to Hook Passage and then into Macona Inlet where we anchored for the night. We had the whole inlet to ourselves. We had a pleasant evening although it was cool outside.

(Hill Inlet 2 hours after high tide)
(Nancy, Shirley and Reece at the Hill Inlet lookout)
(Hill Inlet from the second lookout point)

Thursday 26/07/2012 –

Macona Inlet to Cid Harbour to Airlie Beach

This morning the wind was still and the seas flat like glass and we were treated to the view of dolphins and turtles swimming around the boat after watching them for a while we had breakfast and when that was complete we set off for Cid Harbour unfortunately we had to motor once again. We anchored near the beach as we were going to go ashore. After anchoring we lowered the dinghy and everyone got in and just as we moved away we noticed Virginia on ‘Overproof’ was heading towards us so we went over to say hello. We continued ashore and Nancy and Shirley went shell hunting, Shirley stated that there are very few in WA. Reece and I went for a walk over to Dugong Beach seeing a small snake, small lizards and goannas along the way. We spent a couple of hours there before returning aboard and setting off this time under sail back to Airlie Beach via Hunt Channel between Whitsunday and Cid Islands, then over to South Molle Island through Unsafe Passage and then on to Airlie. We entered the Abel Point marina complex and went alongside the Public Dock to let Reece and Shirley off, it was good to finally meet them in person. Whilst there we topped up with water when we finished we went out and anchored. We then had a quiet night aboard.

(Sawmill Beach, Cid Harbour)
(Eastern Water Skink)
(Lace Monitor -Goanna)

(Dugong Beach, this beach is in the northern end of Cid Harbour it offers basic camp ground facilities but I think you require a National Parks permit. Many small boats like tinnies come over from the mainland during holidays and weekends and camp here and then go out fishing)

Friday 27/07/2012 –

Airlie to Cid Harbour

Today was shopping, we walked to the Whitsunday shopping centre and did some grocery shopping caught a taxi back to the public dock where we had left the dinghy loaded all the stores and returned on board. I did a small fuel run and as I was returning to the boat NE winds kicked in making the anchorage uncomfortable I said to Nancy that if this does not back off we might set off after seeing Reece and Shirley at Sorentino’s for sundowners.

(Pioneer Bay- Airlie)

We went ashore and met Reece and Shirley on the way to Sorentino’s when we got there I ordered a couple of pizzas as they have 2 for the price of 1 between 1500 and 1700 hours so it was early dinner for us. The wind and wave direction stayed the same so when we finished sundowners we headed back to the boat, Reece and Shirley walked us back to the dinghy and gave us a package which I thought was goods they had bought for their stay and was surplus to their needs, however when we returned to the boat and Nancy went to unpack it we noticed that they had purposely gone out to shop for some items for us, it was very nice of them. We weighed anchor and headed over to Cid Harbour we did not arrive until 2030 hours and there was a large number of yachts already there so we slowly motored around and looked for a good spot to drop anchor. We were lucky that we had moonlight that assisted us in seeing the other boats. Just as we were anchoring the wind change came in this is also a reason for leaving Airlie Beach anchorage a strong SW wind was due to hit around midnight and would change to S by morning so it was better to get across the passages prior to the change as it turned out the SW change was very short time and swung to the south, it was a very windy night and woke me a couple of times.

Saturday – 28/07/2012

This morning in Cid Harbour the wind was still blowing around 25 to 29 knots and bullets of wind was swinging the boat a little so we decided that we may go back to May’s Bay, I thought it would be a good test for conditions as after being at May’s Bay before I considered it to be the better anchorage in S-SE winds. We motored over there as it is only a short distance and we had the selection of anchorage spots as no one else was anchored there. The anchorage was just about dead calm with an occasional wind gust but not bullets like in at Cid Harbour.

A little while later another yacht sailed in and anchored, I quite like this anchorage although it can get a swell roll in from time to time manly in more easterly winds so it is an anchorage for S-SE winds or calm conditions only. The place is quite pretty it has coral reefs that you have to watch out for when anchoring but it also has a number of resident turtles one being a very large fellow. Dolphins also swim the area looking for breakfast around early morning.

(Turtles coming up for air and checking whats around)

These windy days slow things down as it has a wind chill factor that keeps us inside in the warmth. We have been doing a few chores cleaning and a few repairs, there is always something to do in these areas.

Sunday – 29/07/2012

No Australia All Over on the radio this morning as the Olympics are being broadcasted so no Macca today. We had our usual Sunday breakfast of bacon and eggs on toast and waited for the sun to warm us through we had a lazy day listened to the Olympics for the time it was on but after that we did little else other than play on the computer doing our photos.

(Sunset at Mays Bay)

Monday – 30/07/2012

Another very cool morning which does not entice anyone to go outside until the sun has warmed things up, I started off doing a few repairs and then a yacht came close by, it was David and Jan on ‘Moonglade’ they said they would anchor for a short while and asked if we would like to go over for a cuppa, we said that we would.

(The view out of the bathroom hatch this morning)

We lowered our dinghy and went over to their yacht, David had been wanting to catch up and talk to me about HF radios, he stated that I transmit very loud and clear and wanted to know what my setup was. He was quite surprised when he found out that my grounding is not in direct contact with the sea. My system is that I use 75 mm (3 inch) wide copper strap that has two strips 70 mm apart passing through a void space at the stern from one hull to the other and fore and aft in the hull within the lazerettes, I explained that the only downfall was that because all the equipment is aft I have a directional problem, if a distant station is calling and my stern is pointing away from them I can hear them but they cannot always hear me. It was good to catch up with David and Jan and we will do more whilst in the area and at the SICYC meetings. After we left them they weighed anchor as they were heading to another anchorage and only called by to see us.

Tuesday – 31/07/2012

The wind has eased and it is warmer so it is time to do some outside work and tackle some jobs I have been avoiding. We have some of the top deck hatches leaking a small drip during the rain, mainly the small hatches in the heads. They are Lewmar hatches and although some friends explained how to repair the seals these hatches are different to what they had worked on. These hatches are split frame type and uses a full seal without sealant or should I say they did not because the only way I can repair them now is with a sealant. I started with the starboard aft head hatch which we changed to a storeroom as we had four heads and showers we removed the head (toilet) and installed shelves and we also store our small washing machine and this hatch leaks the worst. I pulled the hatch completely out to reseal the area between hatch and deck, first cleaning the old sealant off on both surfaces. I then cut around the Perspex and alloy frame to remove what I had been told was sealant. It was then that I removed the screws at the join in the frames which allowed me to remove the Perspex and seal, it was then that I realised that the part that I had cut was part of the seal itself. Time for modification. The lower part of the seal was in good condition, so I cleaned the seal and frame with alcohol (not the type you drink), I then used the sealant to replace the top section of the seal between the frame and Perspex. It was then left to dry overnight before replacing the whole unit in the deck, I had sealed the hole with a piece of clear plastic sheet taped to the deck to keep the night moisture out.

(Cleaning the old sealant from the hatch)

I can remember saying to our friend Rick who found this boat for us once when talking to him, I said I love this retirement, he replied, you are not retired you own a boat. Always something to do.

Wednesday – 01/08/2012

After the morning had warmed I tackled the port aft head hatch but left the hatch in the deck and split the hatch frame and removed the Perspex and seal and did the same as the other hatch using the sealant to replace the top part of the seal that I cut off.

Whilst I was working on the hatches Nancy set off on her kayak to take photos and look around the bay, I always make her take the handheld radio just in case something goes wrong.

I refitted the starboard aft head hatch resealing between hatch and deck once this was done I then cleaned up the gear and where I had been working

As I was cleaning up Keith and Patti off yacht ‘Speranza’ that had anchored earlier in the day came over in their dinghy and invited us over for sundowners at 1630 hours. Sundowners has been set at earlier times the last month or so because of the cold nights.

We had a good sundowners and also met Mike and Glenda off yacht ‘Mim’ another very nice couple that come from Yeppoon. When the cold wind got too much for us sitting in the cockpit we all decided it was time to head off to our own yachts. We are all leaving this anchorage tomorrow Mike and Glenda are off to Cid Harbour to do the Peak walk, Keith and Patti was off to Windy Bay and we had decided to sail to South Molle Island. Our decision was made due to two things, the winds were dropping away to very little wind by the weekend this gave us the opportunity to sail to South Molle Island before the wind totally disappeared and that would also get us closer to Airlie where we have to be for the weekend and it is not that windy at that anchorage as when it is windy the bullets come around the hills and can be uncomfortable, plus it will not be that windy to do the mountain walks.

Thursday – 02/08/2012

After breakfast we got ready to sail, ‘Speranza’ had already sailed, we hoisted the mainsail before weighing anchor as it was dead calm in the anchorage, we then weighed anchor motored clear of the reef area and then set the headsail. Mike and Glenda waved as we went passed and they were getting ready to leave also.

We had a good steady sail across to South Molle Island sailing at around 6.5 to 7.5 knots on arrival we checked a couple of places to anchor to the west of the island but found that there was a lot of coral reefs in the area so we decided to head just to the east side of the jetty leaving space for vessels to come and go from the jetty. Holding is very good in this area, there are moorings that cost around $50 per day but knowing that the resort is not operational as a resort and is run down I am not sure what condition the moorings are in, they could be fine many people use them but I know when I anchor it is secure.

We had an early lunch and then we went ashore to do one of the walks, we decided to do the Spion Kop walk which is just over 4 kms return this is the rocky knoll on the most eastern point of the island the degree of difficulty as far as the walk is less than moderate.

(View from shore along the jetty with the resort beach)
(Alana Rose anchored at the end of the jetty)

When we go ashore for walks I like to keep walking mostly taking the occasional photo this is a little different to Nancy she often stops for long periods taking photos so I have got into the habit of going ahead but if I sense that I may be going too far ahead I stop and wait to make sure she is alright. The walk was great as far as views, I like this island it is very pretty island has a good beach and the views are wonderful, it is a shame that a previous owner let the place run down so now mainly backpackers come here. Outside the resort grounds is all National Parks so anyone can come ashore for the walks.

We got to the Spion Kop and the views were great you can view two sides of the island from here. Looking at the time I said to Nancy we will not have time to do one of the other walks it will get too late. We headed back down the walk and as usual Nancy had stopped a number of times to take photos and I would stop occasionally and wait for her to catch up. I was close to the end of the track near the golf course which is kept in good condition, when I heard Nancy yell, “JOHN”, I thought she may have seen a snake or had something interesting for me to look at but as I got in view of her there she was on the ground with a twisted ankle, she had stepped on a rock awkwardly and twisted the ankle falling to the ground. The first thing she said was she had hurt her ankle the second thing she said was check my camera and make sure it is alright. That’s my girl. We rested the ankle for a few minutes then she tried standing on it and she limped back to the dinghy and we returned to the boat where we ice packed it and had a cold beer. After she had rested it for a while with the ice pack she had her shower then I strapped the ankle. So my plan of doing the other walk tomorrow before we leave was out the window.

(Whitsunday Passage from half way up the Spion Kop track Planton Island in the foreground with Dent and Hamilton Islands behind)
(Nancy at Spion Kop lookout with Whitsunday Passage in the background, Hamilton Island in the distance)
(Is it a UFO? No it is a Northern Jewelled Spider in it’s web)
(The view from Spion Kop of Bauer Bay looking towards Pioneer Point in the distance)

Later I cooked dinner and then we relaxed and watched a movie.

Friday – 03/08/2012

Nancy’s ankle is a little better but still sore and she needs to keep her weight off it. So we relaxed for the morning and after lunch we weighed anchor for Airlie there was a little wind but not great, we motored through Unsafe Passage before unfurling the headsail and shutting down the engines. It was a slow sail of 3.5 to 4 knots and I think much of that speed was due to the outgoing tide.

We arrived at Airlie around 1600 hours and anchored just off the marina wall, there are a few from the club already anchored here, we anchored near ‘Bamboozle’ and Warwick yelled out a G’day so I asked if he wanted to come over for sundowners. Warwick and Judy came over in their dinghy and we had a nice sundowners. The cold of the night started to hit and we had dinner then watched another movie.

(The moon rises over Airlie )

The wind has eased and it is warmer so it is time to do some outside work and tackle some jobs I have been avoiding. We have some of the top deck hatches leaking a small drip during the rain, mainly the small hatches in the heads. They are Lewmar hatches and although some friends explained how to repair the seals these hatches are different to what they had worked on. These hatches are split frame type and uses a full seal without sealant or should I say they did not because the only way I can repair them now is with a sealant. I started with the starboard aft head hatch which we changed to a storeroom as we had four heads and showers we removed the head (toilet) and installed shelves and we also store our small washing machine and this hatch leaks the worst. I pulled the hatch completely out to reseal the area between hatch and deck, first cleaning the old sealant off on both surfaces. I then cut around the Perspex and alloy frame to remove what I had been told was sealant. It was then that I removed the screws at the join in the frames which allowed me to remove the Perspex and seal, it was then that I realised that the part that I had cut was part of the seal itself. Time for modification. The lower part of the seal was in good condition, so I cleaned the seal and frame with alcohol (not the type you drink), I then used the sealant to replace the top section of the seal between the frame and Perspex. It was then left to dry overnight before replacing the whole unit in the deck, I had sealed the hole with a piece of clear plastic sheet taped to the deck to keep the night moisture out.

(First light at Pioneer Bay, Airlie)

Saturday – 04/08/2012

Happy Birthday Nancy.

(Birthday girl Nancy on Langford Island)

Nancy’s ankle is still swollen and sore so she is taking it easy and hating every moment of it. I went into the Airlie Beach markets to do a little shopping and after running around got back on board lunch time. After lunch I went to the public dock in the dinghy and filled the four water containers to do some washing which was the afternoon job.

(Welcoming Swallow, they sure are. Each time we enter a port or anchorage out they come and crap all over the boat)

Warwick off ‘Bamboozle’ came over a said that sundowners is going to be on the yacht ‘Pioneer’ owned by John and Marjanne, so we joined them. There were about five couples attended and it was a good night but due to flowing red wine the next morning was a little tough.

Sunday – 05/08/2012

Today is the local Shaggers (Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club), barbeque lunch which is held every year on the first weekend in August at Shingley’s Beach so we went ashore for this event at midday and a good afternoon was had by all. Some of the members kicked on to the Hog’s Breath Cafe for the usual Sunday sundowners that is held there but after heavy night last night we decided for a quiet night aboard.

(Here I am trying to pose for a lovely photo with my wife and this is what she does when I am not looking, sometimes I think we are well matched)
(New navigation aids so one can tell which is port and starboard but be careful when using these that you do not cross your legs – each male of the SICYC gets this done at the function courtesy of Julie off ‘San Susi)

Monday – 06/08/2012

Nancy’s ankle was a little sore from being out on it yesterday so it was a day of resting it again for her so I went to do some shopping taking the dinghy down the bay to near the boat ramp next to the VMR building as it is a shorter walk from there to the Whitsunday shopping centre. I did the shopping and loaded my backpack and headed back to the dinghy then the boat. After unloading the shopping I did a gas and fuel run. The marina does not fill gas bottles until 1500 hours so it made it too late to head off anywhere so we stayed anchored here another night.

Langford Island

Tuesday – 07/08/2012

(Early morning with the mist flowing out of the creek to sea)

We were up early which is the norm, so I checked to see if I could see anyone at the public dock, I could not see a mast in that direction so I was hoping there wasn’t a motor boat alongside. We weighed anchor and headed into the marina complex to the public dock and it was free. Once alongside I started taking on fresh water and Nancy went to the marina shop to buy bread as I did not get enough yesterday. Half way through topping up another two yachts having the same idea of getting to the public dock early entered the marina, I yelled out we would be another twenty minutes they waved and stood off and waited for us to finish and move off. We left the dock and headed out for Langford Island, there has been little wind the last few days and today was no different. We managed to motor sail to Langford and all the yachts that were there had started to move off with exception to some of the maxi-yachts with backpackers and other tourists that were either anchored or tied to private moorings, this left us with the choice of all the public moorings. There was a navigation marker maintenance ship working on the markers near the three islands.

These public moorings have a 2 hour limit however, if you get on one and there are no other yacht approaches you can stay and also if you are on one around 1500 hours your 2 hour limit takes you past 1700 hours you can stay the night. Well today only one boat came through the day and there are four moorings so we stayed the day and night. Many tourists visited on the mega yachts and spent time on the beach and snorkelling and there was a boat that ferried people from Hayman Island with blue sun umbrellas.

(Marine Parks public moorings – these buoys are made from a very hard plastic and can be a problem, the buoy is attached to a rope which is spliced to the main rope that is attached to it’s anchor point, the rope on the buoy is quite long some longer than others and it can normally reach around the outside of the hull with the rope passing under the hull which will rub away your antifouling paint. Not only that but the buoy will sometimes start banging on the hull with the waves and this not only keeps you awake at night it can do damage to your hulls. My fix for this is to pull as much of the rope up on deck then with a small line make a lasso and place it over the buoy to restrict it from reaching the hulls, I also attach another rope to the lasso so that I can pull that to release the lasso when we are leaving)
(The mooring rope on deck, here I have pulled up enough rope to a centre cleat so that the buoy and main rope cannot reach the hulls, securing the eye of the rope as a second securing point, in high winds I would use a similar size rope as what is on the forward cleat and run a rolling hitch on the main mooring line near where it comes over the front of the boat and secure that to the centre cleat and then place the mooring line around the centre cleat on top as it is here)

We had lunch before heading ashore ourselves to get a little exercise and take photos, Langford Island is a long island but at high tide the sand spit and coral become separated by the sea the depth varies naturally depending on tide levels, (spring or neap tides). At times you can walk through the water ankle deep and at others times it can be over your head.

(Langford Island anchorage showing the narrowing of the sand spit between the main beach and main island section)
(Dried coral as the tide went out)
(The sand spit with tourists from Hayman Island)
(I had a couple of photos of the Navigation Marker Maintenance Ship but for some reason this one looked the best)
(‘Solway Lass’ sailing near Langford Island)

We spent the night there with one other yacht the only other vessels around was the maintenance ship and a motor boat over at Black Island. The maintenance ship had a load generator running and bright flood lights going all night which did not bother us due to the distance but the motor boat at Black Island was stuck with it close by and because it was a charter boat and they are not permitted to sail in the dark hours.

(This young lady left the group on the sand spit and walked to the main island she did a little posing for photos)

We went to bed around 2200 hours but I had a sleepless night at around 0200 hours Nancy got up to go to the toilet and although she tries hard not to wake me I often stir, I just rolled over then I heard Nancy quietly saying “John”, I asked what was wrong and she said I can hear whales come here and listen. I got up to listen and could not hear a thing, I went and put my hearing aids in and still could not hear a thing. Nancy has very good hearing complete opposite to me.

We went back to bed and she was laying there listening and occasionally she would sit up and listen which did not help me sleep. Finally we rested until around 0400 hours and the whales came that close that I could hear them without my hearing aids. We got dressed and went up on deck it was a cold morning. We scanned the sea in the moonlight but we could not see any movement. First light came and we could still hear them but could not see them, then when it was quite light but the sun was still below the horizon Nancy had gone inside to warm up and I had relaxed and then the whales surfaced ahead of us, unfortunately I did not get a photo, they did not surface again until they were in the distance near the NW corner of Hook Island I could see the water spray from the mother whale leaving a light cloud of water drifting over the sea.

I went inside and put the kettle on and made cups of tea to warm us up and reflect on my sleepless night. However, it is special to listen to the sounds of the whales through the hull of the boat. We had breakfast and I started these notes but did not get very far. At about 0930 hours other yachts started to arrive looking for moorings so we slipped our mooring and sailed slowly away towards Blue Pearl Bay.

We had a light tail wind so as soon as we were clear of the mooring a set the headsail and shut the engines off, we sailed at around the 3.5 knots and it was pleasant with the nice sunshine. We arrived at Blue Pearl Bay and picked up a mooring our intention was to just go out in the dinghy and row around to view the coral from there as Nancy could not snorkel with her ankle but we were surprised at the amount of wind that was bulleting around the island stirring the water that made it difficult to see the coral from a dinghy. We had smoko break (morning tea), and then slipped the mooring and sailed around the north of Hayman Island hoping to see some whales but we were out of luck. The wind had actually kicked up a few knots around 15-20 knots from the south. We decided to go to Stonehaven and see if we could pick up a mooring there, however, just as we were approaching the moorings Nancy spoke to ‘Forever Dreaming’ Garry and Mercedes, they had just left Langford and was heading to Macona Inlet for the night so we changed plans and headed for there to meet up with them once again. They have been away for a few weeks to Bali for a wedding and Darwin on the way back. This meant that we had to motor straight into the wind to get there but it was only about 6 NMS. The waves stood up a little with wind against tide so we did a bit of slamming into waves.

We caught up with ‘Forever Dreaming’ and entered Macona Inlet just ahead of them. A short time after anchoring Garry and Mercedes came over to catch up which ended up being sundowners. They are nice people and it is good to see them again.

Wednesday – 09/08/2012

Today is a maintenance day with the fine and not so hot day I tackled the other two heads top hatches resealing them to stop a couple of drip leaks when it rains. Whilst I did these chores Mercedes came over with her computer for Nancy to show her a few operating things and photo stuff. Mercedes then invited us over to their boat for sundowners and dinner. We had another very nice night with them.

(Yours truly, working on the fwd stbd head hatch)
(My sun shade to keep me and the hatch out of the sun)

Tomorrow the wind is coming back for a few days so we will head back to May’s Bay for this period, I want to tackle the large Starboard Cabin hatch and reseal that as occasionally in long periods of rain we get a small leak, we need to get all these fixed before the wet season in the north.

Airlie to May’s Bay and back to Airlie

Friday – 10/08/2012

We left Macona Inlet early and had to motor across to May’s Bay as the water will be calmer in the bay for working on the boat. People think that we just cruise around enjoying life, well we do sometimes, but the general run is that we carry out repairs and maintenance to the boat in exotic places.

Well the four small heads (toilet) hatches appear to be a success, now to tackle the big hatch. This is my first time of repairing hatches so I am learning as I go. The first thing was to remove the hatch and I know that the pins can be knocked out of the hinges on this hatch which is different to the smaller hatches I have just repaired. Once the hatch was out and in the cockpit it was a matter of separating the glass from the alloy frame. I used a thin metal scraper and run it along the topside of the frame on the outer part of the seal separating the seal from the frame then turning the hatch upside down run the metal scraper between the glass and the bottom seal separating the seal on the underside the glass then popped out with little force.

(Lewmar hatch to be removed)

(The hinge pin, tap it into this position leaving a small gap to feed the pin in place when  refitting the hatch to the hinge)
(Cleaning the hatch seal area)

(Tape on each side of the seal area, apply the sealant in the frame place glass inside then run  sealant in the gap, then scrape the sealant level to the taped area and leave to dry, then remove  the tape)

The next part is the dirty part removing all the old seal from both frame and glass, I used a knife, a scraper and emery paper and then cleaned the surface with alcohol (not the type you drink, well I hope you don’t).

Once all cleaned I placed sealant on the mating face of the alloy frame then put the glass in position pressing it down firmly then I run a bead of sealant in the spaces left between the glass and frame and then used a plastic scraper to level the sealant. I then left it well alone for a day.

The bloke I bought the sealant from does this for a living and he told me that it is a delicate job and the first time is not always successful, I hope he was wrong in this case.

It took me all day just about after arriving here to do this job the longest part was the cleaning the surfaces to ensure they were clean for the new sealant. I know I deserved the beers that I had.

(End of another day)

Saturday – 11/08/2012

Today was washing day so I grabbed our small washing machine that weighs 12kgs, up to the aft deck and set it up for washing. Nancy always wanted a washing machine for the boat she had researched them and said that we could store it in the stbd aft head that we changed into a storeroom. My thoughts on the matter was water usage, electricity etc. So I avoided it for 5 years, quite well done I thought. Then last year sailing south I had to go in a hardware store in Yamba to buy a small tin of white paint and what should be sitting in the store a small washing machine, a little twin tub, wash and spin dry, takes a 2kg load. I was sunk and to be honest it was a good buy as it was on special. However, at that time I did not realise the what would happen in its future.

Due to water usage and electricity I found it easier to carry 4 x 20ltr water containers for the purpose of using the washing machine this way we are drawing very little from the batteries running the boats water pump and we can manage the water usage very well as we are not drawing much water from our main tanks. This brings to a mathematical equation, 20ltr water = 20kgs, Nancy = bad back answer John does the washing. Whilst I do the washing Nancy cleans the inside of the boat such as the heads and showers as we have three of them and the cabins. She also hangs out the washing as I complete a load so we work as a good team. We have probably already paid for the washing machine from the money we have saved at laundromats, also the washing is cleaner as laundry’s machines have had some dirty things go through that stains your clothes.

Some of the best conserves of water and electricity are sailors on yachts I might add, there are some in the motor boat world but not the high powered types like Riviera’s , vessels like that that use $25,000 worth of fuel between Melbourne and Whitsunday’s you could not class as conservationists.

Anyway I did the washing it was clothes today and when we top the water containers up in a couple of days it will be sheets and towels. Boy I love this life.

When all else was done it was time to refit the hatch and that all done it was time for sundowners, the beer tasted good after a day’s work.

Sunday – 12/08/2012

We were up at first light as usual and we weighed anchor straight away and sailed for Airlie. I have run out of drugs. I need my Bee Gee tablets, (Staying Alive), you know the usual blood pressure tablets, Lipitor for the cholesterol and the old aspirin for blood thinning. We had a great sail across not real strong winds but enough to sit around 5.5 to 7.5 knots depending on landform getting in the way of the wind.

We got to Airlie got changed lowered the dinghy and went ashore in time to catch the bus into Centro Shopping Centre where I needed to see Telstra to pay some money but not the amount they billed me because of a stuff up. Then got the tablets and then had breakfast at a cafe. Well it should have been breakfast and it looked like breakfast as it was poached eggs, bacon, mushrooms and tomato on toast, but by the time we got there after the running around the shops it was 1150 hours so we will settle for brunch I guess.

We caught the bus back and returned on board unpacked what we had bought then we went into town to by more medicine, red wine, white wine and beer. I often get some smiles from people walking by when I have my fold-up two wheel trolley loaded with 2 cartons of beer, a box of red and a box of white. Many offer to help me drink it but no one offers to cart it for me.

This all done we return on board to stow our goodies and sit down for a while, Mercedes and Garry from ‘Forever Dreaming’ came over for coffee before going to the Shaggers (SICYC) sundowners at Hoggies, we decided to stay aboard as we had enough running around for one day.

Monday – 13/08/2012

Looking at the weather this morning staying anchored here in Airlie is going to be a little uncomfortable, we have been considering when to do the final shopping before heading north and we were going to stay a few days and do that but with the predicted winds we have decided to head out for a couple of days.

We were up and about before daylight so we weighed anchor at first light and headed into the public dock in the marina complex and fill up with water again after filling tanks and containers we gave the boat a good wash down and found out that the four small hatches I had repaired did not leak water but the large cabin hatch did, a little disappointing to say the least this meant it had to come out again and redo the whole job.

(Alana Rose at the public dock)

We set sail for May’s Bay once again but the wind had not yet kicked in so we had to motor sail, we had full sail and one engine running which gave us a speed of 7 knots. Just after passing the northern point of North Molle Island I spotted a whale and her calf in the middle of Whitsunday Passage dead ahead of us so I had to slow down as it is illegal to approach whales closer than 300 metres. I backed the engine off and furled the headsail just leaving us with the mainsail as we drifted along. We were hoping that we could get closer to them within the legal distance but the whales dived and we did not know where they went. We slowly headed for our destination keeping our eyes on the water looking to see if they surfaced. Sometime later they surfaced again to the north of us but still a good distance away, we got a couple of photos but not good ones as they were too far away and we had to use the zoom to its full extent.

(The whale and calf below the water)

(Whale and calf)

We arrived at the anchorage and our usual spot was free as there was only one other yacht anchored a sole sailor that had been there for some time.

The first job on the list now we had more water was to do some more washing, sheets and towels, once all that was done it was time to work on that hatch again. So I removed it and using a thin scraper parted the glass from the frame then cleaning all the sealant of the surfaces and then putting fresh sealant on the frame put it all back together then left it alone to dry.

The wind kicked in during the night around 25 -28 knots from SE, many boats had headed for Cid Harbour for sheltered anchorage and a couple of other boats had anchored near us. I think May’s Bay is the better anchorage for these winds. The only disadvantage is there are no walks like you have in Cid Harbour there is only a small beach.

Tuesday – 14/08/2012

The winds are a little stronger this morning there are a few yachts out there enjoying the sailing mainly charter yachts most cruisers are staying in the anchorages as there are many yachts like us waiting for the SICYC bash at Monte’s in the weekend after next and have learnt over the years that with these winds although good for sailing can cause an uncomfortable night sleep in the wrong anchorage. Our friend Garry had experienced the bullets of wind in Stonehaven that is considered in most guide books as a good anchorage in such winds which we had experienced in previous years where I had to stay up all night on anchor watch. Garry said never again, he reckoned he gained a few grey hairs from that experience. It is a bit unnerving when your yacht is swung about in the bullets of wind stretching your anchor cable to its limit with the boat swing one way then the other. Most anchorages around the Whitsunday’s have bullets of wind due to the high hills and mountains but I have found in these strong southerlies that May’s Bay has the least.

We had a quiet relax day playing with the photos that we had taken preparing them for the blog and later in the day I refitted the hatch. Tomorrow we sail back to Airlie to do the big shop before heading north.

Wednesday – 15/08/2012

We set sail just after first light, it is the last day of sailing wind for a couple of days that is why we are heading back today so that we can sail and not motor. The winds around 10 – 13 knots from the SE so it was a good steady sail with little waves. We sailed at speeds between 5.5 and 7.5 knots and we saw whales again but in the distance they are probably the same ones as the other day. There is little traffic this time in the morning many people are still asleep.

We arrived at Airlie and found an anchorage just off the wall of the marina, as soon as we were settled we went ashore and walked to the Whitsunday Shopping Centre and did the big shop then caught a taxi back to the public dock and loaded all in the dinghy then back aboard.

I then did fuel and gas run topping everything up we will not be near a shop for at approximately three weeks, we then went ashore and went into Airlie Beach to pick up a couple of items on the way back to the boat I topped up our water containers to do another wash of clothes. Just as we got back on board George on yacht ‘Wormdrive’ called and invited us over for sundowners and a BBQ so that’s what we did after doing the washing. We got back aboard our boat somewhere around 2300 hours after a very good night.

Stonehaven, Black Island and Line Reef

 Thursday – 16/08/2012

Today was our last time we would be in Airlie Beach, yes I know what you’re thinking, “it’s about bloody time he moved on”. Well we got up and had breakfast I updated the blog to keep a few off my back and then I went up on deck to look over the marina’s break wall to see if there was a yacht alongside the public dock and there was so we had to wait a little time before going in.

As soon as I saw the yacht move off, or should I say the mast move because that is all I could see over the wall. We weighed anchor and headed for the dock. As we approached the dock there was an Asian man fishing as soon as he realised I was going alongside he started to reel his line in and just as he did he got a fish on the line and by the look of it the fish was a good size. I held the boat off the dock until he landed the fish for two reasons, one I did not want to spoil his catch by rushing him and two I did not want the fish to seek refuge around my rudders or props. He landed the fish and it was a real good size, I think it was a Mangrove Jack, the bloke and his wife were very happy with their catch.

We got alongside and filled up with water, one bloke on the wharf asked me if I was filling up with water, I said yes and he replied we might have to come to some arrangement because that trimaran wants to come alongside. It was a commercial tourist boat that mainly took backpackers out for a few days. I said there is no problem he can raft alongside me. Then one of the female crew came over in the dinghy and asked how long I would be. I said just as long as it takes to take on 400 litres of water, she said thanks and then spoke to the bloke on the dock. She then returned to the trimaran , I asked if they wanted to take people on or off? He said they are dropping them off but they are going to do it with the dinghy. I continued topping up the water and as soon as we were finished we left the dock just as they were loading the first lot in the dinghy. I don’t know why either he did not wait or just raft alongside us and let the people off. The real fact is though the public dock has a sign that states it is not to be used for commercial use and due to the high prices in the marina many of the commercial boats use the public dock, not that it worries me, I don’t blame them. I suppose though as it was a commercial boat that he would not raft up because of insurance issues.

Well with all that garbage out of the road let’s get back to sailing or should I say motor sailing, no wind other than that which was caused by the baked beans for breakfast.

We motored out of the marina and got the mainsail hoisted, my daily exercise hoisting the mainsail by hand most of the way up the mast, but I am noticing that I am not getting it up as far as I did 5 years ago, must be something to do with age, yes I am talking about the mainsail.

The plan was to go north but we had not decided where. I suggested that we go to Stonehaven and Nancy said whatever. So the course was set for Stonehaven, full sail and motor, we knew the next few days weather stated little wind so we knew we had to motor. Motor sailing is a bonus in these conditions, if you can make use of the sails by using the apparent wind that the forward motion created by the engine it will give additional speed and reduce the load on the engines therefore reducing fuel use.

We picked up a mooring at Stonehaven and I did the usual lasso trick on the mooring buoy, later in the afternoon after a nanna nap which was needed for both of us after last night’s social event, I checked the weather and it was benign no wind at all or 0 – 5 knots, so I decided to move over to Black Island, a great place but not so comfortable for sleeping if there is some wind. We motored over the short distance and picked up a mooring buoy. Not many stay here the night because of reported conditions of being uncomfortable so we were the only ones there.

After we settled we noticed the sea eagles nest that I had photographed last year and an eagle was feeding two young, it was hard getting photos again from our moving platform (the boat), and the long distance between us. They are a magnificent bird to watch in flight and when they fish they are so swift.

(Young Sea Eagle testing it’s wings)

The next thing was a whale going along the Southern Passage probably going to its favourite place for the night, it only surfaced the once with the spray rushing through its blowhole and then it did not surface again until it was quite distant from us. We sat and watched another sunset, one never gets bored with seeing sunsets and sunrises they are all different. Personally I like the sunset the best owing to the fact that I woke this morning which I reckon is always a bonus in life, the alternative is too permanent.

We had a quiet night with a nice dinner and a drop of red.

Friday – 17/08/2012

We were up just as the first light started to appear as we were hoping to see some whales on the move but all I did was hear one with the air gushing through its blow hole, last time we were in this area we heard them communicating through the hull of the boat but nothing this morning. I should be thankful in a way, last time Nancy kept me up most the night asking if I could hear them. I did hear the young eagles making a big noise wanting the mother to feed them.

After settling down and starting my scribbles I checked the weather on the internet calm conditions for the next two days. I said to Nancy that it might be an idea to motor out to Line Reef the conditions are ideal for being out there. So it was get ready and go.

We slipped the mooring and motored out as we started to exit the passage between Black Island and Hayman Island there was a whale and her calf passing in front of us going down South Passage, I put the engines in neutral and drifted as we watched them pass it is an incredible sight.

As we headed north clear of Hook Island we had a little wind but not enough to sail on, we hoisted the mainsail and unfurled the headsail, set the course for the reefs and motor sailed creating our own apparent wind moved us through the water at 7.5 knots which was good as we had 30 NMS to go. We had just got underway with sails when whales started breaching north of Hayman Island a fair distance from us we weren’t able to get a decent photo. A few miles later I had to change course because of whales ahead of us then there was a third lot. The trouble is when we are close they dive and it is hard to get good photos.

(At Line Reef in the dinghy looking back at Alana Rose anchored)

We arrived at the passage between Bait and Barb Reefs, Bait Reef is a favourite for divers, however, you cannot anchor there and there is five moorings which are usually full when we have passed and it was no different today not that we mind because we don’t dive. Just as we were passing Bait Reef a whale surfaced, possibly a male as there was not a calf with it, Nancy managed to get a couple of photos of its tail as it dived. Now being little wind and north of Hook Reef the water was flat calm without any swell. We continued on to Line Reef and when we neared the anchorage we dropped sails. I got Nancy on the bow after she readied the anchor to watch for bommies and coral reefs found a suitable anchorage and dropped the anchor. After a cup of tea we lowered the dinghy and went to have a look at the coral on the reef. The other side of Line Reef is Hardy Reef, also known as Fantasea World (which I may add that the company Fantasea went broke and has been bought out by Whitsunday Cruising), as there is a large complex there where a Wave-breaker boat brings out tourist each day mainly to diver and snorkel. There are also a couple of helicopters that do flights around the reefs and also bring people out from Airlie or one of the tourist islands.

(Coral on Line Reef)
(Coral on Line Reef)
(Fantasea World in the early morning)

As we neared the reef area close to the entrance a whale surfaced and headed out of the entrance a short time later the Wave-breaker departed going out the entrance then after the Wave-breaker had gone the whale and it’s calf came back. When we were here last year there was a whale in the same spot so I am not sure whether they return to the same place each year I will have to check up on that. Many books refer to whales having stop over places but we have noticed it seems to be more of a stay area because you can see the whales there day after day. We sat aboard watching the whales in the distance breaching and playing. We are the only yacht out here and all around us is flat smooth water the reefs show through a little at low tide so this anchorage is only good for up to 15 knots of wind from SW through to NE, it would be very uncomfortable in higher wind speeds.

(Whale tail in the distance)

(Whales in the channel)

Another incredible sunset was enjoyed although a little plain without cloud forms or land and no other vessels just water and sky. After that it was dinner and a movie, the night air was cool and it was dark as it was new moon but the sky was full of bright stars there is nothing like a sky at night without the interference of city lights it’s like another world.

(The sun has set over flat seas)

Anchorage 19⁰43’644 S 149⁰10’762 E

Caution in this anchorage area there are a number of bommies to stay clear of also the tide flows at around 2 knots so make sure you have plenty of cable out. Another interesting point is that the guide books and the electronic charts show depths in metres and they range from 2 to 6 metres, the paper charts that I have the depths are in fathoms ( 1 fathom = 6 ft which = 1.8 metres), also range from 2 to 6 fathoms, my depth gauge showed depths of 6 to 12 metres in most areas, once again the paper charts are correct and the electronic charts are incorrect.

(Chart showing Line Reef anchorage)

Saturday – 18/08/2012

We were up again just after first light and when Nancy saw the red glow on the water there was no chance for a sleep in and this morning I could have done that one of the rare occasions. Which is probably due to a busy few days and sailing whether motor sailing or plain sailing you are on the go adjusting , hoisting, dropping and furling sails and keeping watch for other vessels and whales plus the fact the movie was a long one and I did not get to bed until 2300 hours.

(Sunrise Nancy on the starboard bow taking numerous photos)

The sunrise was spectacular and soon after that whales were jumping out of the water some distance away not good for photos but great to watch.

(Twilight across the water)

We had a relaxing day and just enjoyed the wide open views did a little reading and editing photos. The day ended with another great sunset and a nice dinner with the mandatory glass of red or two.

We leave for Gloucester Passage tomorrow as sail of 50 NMS, they promise wind so should be a good sail.

Line Reef to Gloucester Passage

Sunday – 19/08/2012

Up this morning and the weather predictions determine that we sail today with winds getting up to 15 to 20 knots and possible 20 to 25 knots being on the reef is no place to be. The good part is that we do get a good sail out of the wind, at first light the wind from the SE at 10 knots is enough to get us underway.

After sunrise we had breakfast and whilst Nancy cooked I got the boat ready for sailing. Breakfast over we weighed anchor. Nancy had a little problem with the anchor this morning, we were held fast as usual with this anchor and usually when the length of chain in the water equals the depth of the water I have to drive the boat forward to release the anchor. This was no different this morning, however, when the anchor was up it had a large piece of coral on it and Nancy could not get it off so I had to go forward so the anchor dragged through the water for the water pressure to off load the coraol..

(Coral picked up on the anchor)

We motored away from the reef and the bommies area before hoisting the mainsail and unfurling the headsail, the wind had picked up slightly and we sailed off shut the engines down and set course for the Gloucester Passage 50 NMS away.

Nancy made another cup of tea and put the radio on my favourite Sunday morning show, Australia All Over with Macca. I trimmed the sails and we were off at 7.5 – 8.5 knots this varied as we sailed during the day but from weighing anchor at the reef to dropping anchor at Gloucester Passage was 7 hrs 15 minutes so we averaged over 7 knots for the day with the wind dropping away in the last few miles due to the mainland and islands blocking it.

The sail across was good but as the tied changed to wind against tide the seas stood up a little more and it was near a beam on sea and the wind then picked up and we had a reading of 28 knots so we furled the headsail turned into the wind and put a reef in the mainsail set the course again and unfurled the headsail leaving four turns on the furler, it did not slow us down much as we went from 8.2 to 7.7 knots. It was a little lumpy but a good sail.

As we approach Gloucester Passage some 3 NMS out I could see four yachts in front of us and two others coming up the coast from Airlie Beach so it looks like a few have the same idea as us.

We selected an anchorage out the front of Monte’s where the party week begins, the Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club rendezvous commences on Thursday this week. The reason for coming early is one the weather determined that we sail and two to get a good anchorage. Last year there were more than 80 boats here and over 300 people. Some people fly in to Airlie Beach and drive here for the event because it is too far to sail in the time that they can spare. They say this year will be bigger.

There are a number of anchorage areas around here and so far looking at them all there are possibly 18 club members already here.

We could not anchor in the spot we had last year as another yacht was too close to that spot and nearby is a large bommie (coral head) just below the surface of the water that not many people are aware of. Once anchored the first thing I did was grab some cord and a small foam float, went ashore and found a large rock then dinghy over to the bommie and mark it with the float so no one will hit it.

There are quite a few yachts arriving this morning so it should be a good week all we need is the weather to clear up again with the wind yesterday came the clouds and rain today.

The Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club is a fun club, anyone can join you don’t need to own a boat, we have well over 1500 members some from overseas. The one major rule of the club is that you are not allowed to take it too serious, it is a one of membership fee $48, every member is a Vice Commodore there is no Commodore we are all equal, all money raised is given to Prostate Cancer see the website.