12 December 2008 | Mooloolaba
25 November 2008 | Bundaberg
22 October 2008 | Magnetic Is
30 September 2008 | Palm Island Group
30 September 2008 | Breakwater Marina Townsville
15 September 2008 | The 'Upstart Hilton' on Cape Upstart
11 September 2008 | Bowen
06 September 2008 | Woodwark Bay
04 September 2008 | Hook Is. Whitsundays
03 September 2008 | Shaw Island
29 August 2008 | Scawfell Island
15 August 2008 | Mackay Marina
05 August 2008 | Kepple Bay Marina
Home at Last
12 December 2008 | Mooloolaba
Wednesday morning saw us up early with the smell of home in the air and the excitement was present in both of us to finally be nearing home. At 0600 we left the Bundaberg marina and shortly after we were doing 8 knots under full sail in a 10-15 knot breeze.
These great conditions died off before morning 'smoko' however, so we motored for most of the rest of the day. It was about this time that we heard the latest Met weather forecast hinting there was a good possibility of a strong wind warning arriving on the Sunshine Coast on Friday or Saturday, or maybe even earlier if the front got a move on. Waiting in Tin Can Bay for a few extra days for this weather to pass did not appeal, so the decision was made by all to push on to Pelican Bay (Inskip Point) even if this meant arriving there after dark. The anchor finally went down at 1940hrs in pitch darkness - a good Radar ( and torches in closer) are essential for this in-close manouvering, and a bit of local knowledge also helps..
Today we travelled 105nm (195km) in 13.5 hrs - some of which was at 2knots through Sheridan Flats on low tide, but when we only draw 1.15m this was OK, especially as it was a sandy bottom. We spoke briefly via VHF with Dennis and Joy on Molokai who were also preparing to cross the Wide Bay Bar in the morning, then it was lights out until 0500hrs.
Porridge for breakfast, check the whole boat for the bar crossing including putting extra tie-downs on the dinghy, donning our PFD lifejackets and we headed for the bar at 0600 beside Molokai and 4 other yachts, also with similar intentions.
This was Annette's first bar crossing so her 'excitement' was apparent. Fortunately, it was a moderate to easy crossing with no broken water and only a 1 - 1.5 m swell.
Once outside, up went the spinnaker to join the main and we were off at 6-7 knots. Yes, not really enough to get all that excited about, but any day under sail is a whole lot better than the chug-a-long. We finally pulled into Mooloolaba at 1500hrs and tied up at our home jetty shortly later. We toasted a drink to the safe end of our first trip, and then began the clean-up.
Looking back on the trip now, there were many highlights for me including meeting many like-minded new friends, not feeling guilty for just sitting down and not doing anything except read or relax, catching up with friends on board, but especially just being together alone with Annette on board sharing our cruising experience together.
Total distance travelled for return trip was 2172nm
The final leg home
25 November 2008 | Bundaberg
Six days sailing to go and we'll be home, and today we've just completed the third day of those six. Yep, Yeppoon to The Narrows, The Narrows to Pancake Creek, and today Pancake Creek to Bundaberg. Tomorrow we go to Big Woody Is (Near Kingfisher Bay Resort), then Wednesday on to Inskip Point, then finally on Friday we cross the Wide Bay Bay in the morning for a final spinnaker run home to Mooloolaba.
The winds have all but gone, well they are really around 10-15 knots from the north, but when we are doing 8 knots south, that only leaves 2-7 knots to hang up the big white sun umbrellas so we have been using a bit of diesel this week, but they are still digging it out of the ground, so that's OK. See you all at home on Friday!
The photo was taken at dawn on the day we left Yeppoon.
Sun, wind, spinnakers, and storms
23 November 2008
Our friends, Garry and Liz Stewart from Perth, arrived Saturday afternoon and the weather looked perfect for our southbound trip to Yeppoon, so we departed Mackay early on Sunday morning for our first stop-over at Digby Is. Tony Patch and the crew on "Last Resort" joined us in this beautiful anchorage and invited us over to help them eat the spotty mackerel they had caught as they entered this sheltered anchorage - Yum.
The next day we called in to West Bay on Middle Percy Is. and hung our boat name and date of visit in the A-Frame on the beach amongst the thousands of other cruising yachties' names and dates placed there over the last 50 years or so. We walked up the island track to the South Percy Is lookout, then returned to Antidote for a well earned swim and cool off from the back steps.
Now this was a very special day because it was someone's 59th birthday, and my party was about to begin. A couple of bottles of Verve Cliquot Champers and 'nibbles on the back deck watching Garry try his hand at fishing was a most relaxing time (especially as he shouted the Verve Cliquot) The sunset was very colourful, however the peace and tranquility was interrupted by the screaming sound of fishing line being stripped off the overhead reel and as Garry lifted the rod to strike the hook, an Amberjack of about 15 kg leapt clear of the water, did a flip in the air and spat out the hook...bugger!
The look on Garry's face as he said "Did you see that?"...Priceless! Yes Garry, we all saw that...a truly magic moment!
A BBQ party whilst catching up on old times topped off a great day.
The next day saw us again battling the tides around Broad Sound ( even out wide) and our 45nm trip took 65nm to complete, finally anchoring at Is. Head Creek, exhausted.(or was that leftovers from the party??)
Before we moved off our anchorage the next morning, Garry (the fisherman) hooked into a stingray (?) and played it for 10mins before "IT" decided enough was enough and headed off for the last time with all the ground tackle. We had not moved more than 400 meters from this anchorage when I caught a 750mm long spotty Mackerel. By now, we all had our jobs when a fish was caught, and this helped our strike/capture rate enormously. But wait, there's more! The day was not over and an hour later when we cruised into Pearl Bay, Garry landed a 6Kg Golden Trevally (delicious) The day's weather was perfect for snorkeling, and just wasting time at one of my new favourite beaches. Whilst snorkeling off the beach, acres of fingerlings were being schooled up around us, before the big baddies charged through them and thinned their numbers. Later on, we moved around the corner to Port Clinton to better suit the wind conditions for our overnight stop.
Our final day to Yeppoon started with a beautiful spinnaker run alongside Peter and Julie's "Adagio", a Seawind 1000, and we took lots of photos of each other under spinnaker.(CD's to be exchanged) However our good northerly weather was not to last, and after about 5 hours of soaking up the sun on the front trampolines, a storm was brewing. We snuffed the spinnaker in it's sock and continued under headsail only until we reached North Keppel when we furled the lot and motored whilst the heavens opened up 'big time' with 100mm rain, small hail, and lightning everywhere. Even the birthday boy had eyes-wide-open! We tried to lay off and skirt around the central storm cells, but when RockyMet announced that this latest storm could last up to 2 hours, and when we heard on the VHF radio another yacht near us saw a water spout close to them, we decided to enter Rosslyn Bay Boat harbour (Yeppoon) sooner, rather than later. This, in torrential rain, saw the birthday boy do a "Captain Ron" into an empty pen in 20 knot cross winds with no damage to anything ... a perfect landing!! Wow! All that driving Go-Karts finally paid off! All tied up and the fridge opened up straight away,...And we needed it!! A really great trip ended with lots of great memories and good stories to tell. Thanks Garry and Liz for a great week.
Spinaker runs to the south
11 November 2008
After Mario and Carmel (friends from back home) boarded at Hamilton Island, we set off for Shaw Is. and anchored in Billbob Bay for the night. After sundowners on the beach with the other cruisers in the bay, we headed back for a great BBQ tea and long catch-up chat.
The wind was finally from the north and at around 15knots so up went the spinnaker for the next days sail to Goldsmith Is. We stopped at Linne Is. on the way so we could go ashore and collect Oysters (read eat as many as we could before feeling ill), lunch back on the boat with a cold beer, then a 10 minute motor into the bay on Goldsmith Is. for the night.
The next day also saw a spinnaker run to Brampton Is. with speeds of up to 12 knots- fantastic. We started from Goldsmith early so our arrival at Brampton at 0900 meant a walk around the island circuit track (8 km) was in order, hopefully having a coffee at the resort midway, however yachties are no longer welcome here so we kept going. This is a well defined track and traverses different forests/eco-systems depending on which point of the compass we were walking through. It was a great walk on this very hot morning, and our arrival back at the dinghy saw about 100m of sandy beach from it to the water,s edge. Just what we needed...oops.(Captain Gilligan strikes again) Fortunately, the sand was hard enough to take the dinghy wheels, and with Marios help we made water before long. Lunch then a Nanna Nap followed by sundowners with Glen and Michael from "Great Sandy" filled out the rest of the day.
We had decided to get an early start on Sunday as the weather was expected to change from NE to SE early in the afternoon. The storm hit at 0100 with lots of rain and a 15 knot wind now from the opposite direction, which meant we were on a windward shore! After a quick early breakfast we began retrieving the anchor at 0545, however it decided it wanted to stay down there. We must have wrapped the anchor chain around a coral bommie or some rocks or something when the wind had changed direction. After 45 minutes of manouvering all around and after finally letting out another 20 meters of chain and motoring in a wide clockwise circle with a loose chain we retrieved the lot with out any further fuss. Lucky this time as we were in 11 meters of water with no scuba tanks on board. By now the winds had become a constant 15 knots SE so we tacked for 2 hours before motor sailing the last part into Mackay Marina arriving there by 1100 hours.
Carmel and Mario now truly had the complete picture of what the cruising lifestyle was all about. The really good, the not so good, and the get me out of here anyway you can PLEASE!
Our friends said they had a ball and loved nearly every minute of their time aboard, (although they did book an earlier flight home.)
The next few days saw strong wind warnings so we decided to stay put in the marina and do work on the boat, washing, and re-provisioning for our next friend,s (Gary and Liz from Perth) arrival on Saturday, when we will decide to go further south to Yeppoon, or just locally returning back to Mackay, depending on the wind conditions forecast for the next week.
Cruisin' the Whitsundays
04 November 2008
The next morning I cleaned the other hull and then set sail for Macona Inlet. WOW! A 15knot breeze over the beam and we sat on 9.5-10.5 knots (Max 12 knots) for most of the trip. It's amazing what a clean bottom can do!
After a well earned rest, the next morning we motored to Langford Is opposite Hayman Is. and snorkeled here, just as we had done so 34 years ago on our honeymoon. (Sort of déjà vu as I had no brownie points on either snorkel?) We then motored into Butterfly Bay for the night. There were a few very loud bareboat charterers here and we couldn't wait to leave in the morning
Yesterday snorkeled at Manta Ray Bay early then sailed to Cateran Bay on Border Is. for smoko, before sailing to Tongue Bay and walking across Tongue point to the Hill inlet/Whitehaven Beach lookout. There was not a cloud in the sky, 5-10knots gentle cooling breeze, and the colours of the waters to our south have to be seen to be believed. (see photo album) From there we sailed south and into Turtle bay for the last 2 nights before Carmel and Mario arrive from Mooloolaba on Thursday. This anchorage is not used except when there is a 'northish' wind and it is very relaxing just kicking back and reading a book.
A trip to remember
01 November 2008
With the SE winds dropping we topped up the water tanks at Nelly Bay at and made the bold move to head for Airlie. The forecast on Monday was "E/NE winds 10/15 knots with afternoon seabreezes 15/20 knots inshore. Seas to1.4 m" Our heading for most of the day was SE so we went for it. It was a reasonable trip to Cape Bowling Green but after seeing that the anchorage there was a bit 'rolly', we left for Cape Upstart at about 1230 hrs expecting to be at Upstart before dusk. 2 hours later, the winds increased to 15/20 knots as forecast but they were more E/SE ! (hey what happened to the N?) We heard an updated forecast on the radio which put the seas at 1.7m, however the sea we were on increased quickly to 2 m. With 3 hours to go the first reef went in, followed half an hour later with another. The seas were now building and there were some sets close to 3 or 4 m high and the strongest wind over the decks I noticed was close to 30 knots. Our Seawind cat surprisingly never slammed into many waves at all on this close hauled leg, although the crests of every wave, and especially those larger ones, were foamed off and sprayed all over us. I manually steered this section so I could bear away a little for the bigger ones, and this made life onboard a little more comfortable for the both of us. Our max speed for the day somewhere here was 11.1 knots with this double reefed combo. I furled the rest on the headsail (even using the windward sheet as a barber-hauler it was not giving much assistance this close hauled and ¾ furled) for the last hour and started one motor so we could make a better angle into the wind and we finally dropped the anchor at Cape Upstart at about 1830 hrs just as the light was fading. We had anchored here on our way north, and I was confident of anchoring here even after dark as I had marked our last anchorage point on the chart plotter, and there were no reefs on the approach to it.
The next morning, the wind had eased off to a comfortable 3 knots from the SW in our tucked away corner, but the forecast was NE so we headed off with another 5 yachts to go to Bona Bay on Gloucester Is.(9nm east of Bowen). This was a much better leg with the 15/20knot E/NE winds making for a fast albeit lumpy sail arriving at 1530hrs.
The next morning, turtle tracks on the adjacent beach showed where a turtle had nested in the early hours, and there were another 5 similar tracks along other parts of Bona Beach. I spent the rest of the day trying to catch some fish, before enjoying sundowners on the beach with the other yacht owners who sailed with us since Maggie Island. We all had similar stories of this trip and they confirmed my observations of 4m seas and 30 knots across the decks. We rested another night at Bona and finished our sail to Airlie by midday on Thursday.
The drying salt had piled up everywhere on deck, so a very thorough fresh water hose off was the first job, even under the targa and shade covers over the cockpit area, the helm stations and the cabin doors and windows.
The crew was most impressive now that she has her 'sea legs', not needing a bucket once during the whole trip, although now we talk about Oct 27th with wide open eyes.
PS. I was also informed over tea that night that all my brownie points I have ever earned in our 34 years of marriage have just been wiped off the slate! Oh well........
We are now finally cruising the Whitsundays in good weather, and today I cleaned the port hull of all the slime attached to it in readiness for the final push for home.(I didn't even get sunburnt like you did Dennis, although I am envious of you having only one hull to clean right at this time!)