Now that we are hunkered down at Great Keppel Island, sitting out this blow and waiting for the rain, I thought that I would post a number of the photos we took while at Lady Musgrave Island. We have great Interest here, so why not!
Here is Mary Margaret modeling her stringer suit as we swam over to one of the reefs.
04/26/2012, Great Keppel Island, AU
We arrived at Great Keppel Island this morning at 0900. The "sail" (it was really a "motor") last night and this morning was relatively easy. While the skies were overcast, the air was clear and we could see the other boats and ships near us very well. There were a few times when a flashing white light would appear that surprised us. A couple of the capes that we passed have these amazing strobes lights that flash for a fraction of a second and then are off for about 10 seconds. They are so strong that when they flash, they appear to be from a source that is very close to you when, in fact, they are 10 to 20 miles away. We have never seen anything like it. In one instance, I changed course about 20 degrees because I thought the light was representing a FAD (fish attracting device) that we have seen a few times in the South Pacific waters. Later on, I figured out that the strobe light was actually marking a cape that was 20 miles away! Wow! Now that is some light!
I had checked our chart and it only identified the light as flashing and white. Usually the chart will tell us how long it is on and how long it is off. However, neither of the two strobe lights we saw had that information on the charts. How strange is that?
The "sail" ended up being a little frustrating for me because the winds shifted to the SW and they actually increased during the night and early morning. Here we were with the sails down and I could have been sailing for 6 or 7 hours, instead of running the engine. I hate motoring and I need to learn to love it since we are told that is all we will be doing a lot of in Indonesian and Malaysian waters.
I wanted to at least raise the headsail and sail with just the genoa. However, because we are a catamaran we have no backstay. The Lagoon manual makes it very clear that one should never sail with just the headsail since it puts too much unbalanced strain on the shrouds. While we see other cats sailing with just their headsails, my guess is that they are doing so because that is what they were used to doing when sailing monohulls. That or our manual is just blowing smoke up my skirt...
Anyway, we are nice and snug at our anchorage on the north side of Great Keppel Island. We are facing a long (a mile or so long) white sand beach and are anchored in 10 feet of water. There are only two other boats here so it is nice and quiet. Just the way we like it.
We have been adopted by a score of fingerlings. I am not sure what type of fish they are but they are about 3 to 4 inches long and are just swarming around the hulls. It is kind of mesmerizing to watch them.
I am hoping to go ashore tomorrow to enjoy the beach. However, that is up in the air right now. A blow of 25 to 35 knots is heading our way with rain for the next couple of days. That may end up keeping us on board Leu Cat.
04/25/2012, In Route To Great Keppel Island
First, for the benefit of our kids, let me say that both your mom and I are healthy and happy. The title of this blog is not about one of us. Instead, it is about an Australian guest that came aboard last night. Alas, our guest passed away this morning and following the traditions of the sea, we conducted a burial at sea. I wish I could have draped an Australian flag over the body before we slid it overboard but, after 6 months of fluttering in the breezes, our Australian courtesy flag that is flying up by the first spreader is nothing more than a swatch of blue with a few stars and a bit of red and white stripes.
Anyway, when I got up this morning, I went to the top of the helm to adjust how the third reef line ties onto the boom. That is when I found our guest. He was still alive but was having a hard time keeping his head up. Most of the time he was just sitting there with his beady little eyes closed.
I am not sure what type of sea bird he was. He was about the size of a morning dove but with a black body and wings and a patch of white on top of his head. He had webbed feet.
After watching him for a bit, I went below to get the camera and I took some pictures of him. I will post one of them when we next have Internet.
I left him alone in the hopes that he would recover and fly away. When I returned about a half hour later he had keeled over and was lying there with his little web feet sticking straight up into the air. This is when the burial at sea occurred as I picked him up by his feet and tossed him into the drink. So much for our morning excitement!
This afternoon we weighed anchor at 1500. We carefully made our way across the lagoon, zigzagging past the coral heads and then through the narrow channel. While the winds were very good in the morning, (i.e. 15 to 20 knots) by 1530 they had moderated to about 10 knots from the SE. Since our course is to the WNW, they are, once again, basically behind us. We have about 5 knots of apparent wind. The apparent wind was so light that we decided not even to put up the sails since the winds have been dying down some during the night.
Our sail is just 90 nm and at 5 knots, it should take us about 18 hours. We should arrive sometime around 0900 or 1000, depending on the current. Our position at 1830 is 23 48.06'S: 152 07.4'E. Our course is 290 True and speed is about 5.2 knots with low RPMs. The seas are only about a meter from the SE with a 5 second period. Our destination is Great Keppel Island, about 7 nm west of the mainland.
04/18/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina
We are all set and ready to GO!!! We are now sitting here at the fuel dock, all fueled up, all provisioned up, and waiting for dawn tomorrow morning. Boy, it seems like it has been years since we sailed into Bundaberg Marina. So you can understand how excited and anxious we are to be under sail again with the sun shining down, the wind in our hair, listening to our favorite music and sailing across the bounding main! Even though it is just a day sail of only 55 nm, it still will be a hoot!
This morning we walked over and said our goodbyes to Trim and Sea Mist. Ken and Lori of Trim will be driving down to Melbourne soon so Ken can start his new job. Cheryl and John of Sea Mist are thinking of leaving here in a couple of days. We are sure we will be bumping into each other either in the next couple of weeks or someplace in the Whitsundays. We also hope to see Paul and Julie of Silver Lining II and Jerald and Anz of Spirit. We will keep our fingers crossed.
Our first anchorage is Lady Musgrave Island. It is a sandy cay sitting on a lagoon inside a fringing reef. The channel through the reef is well marked but we will have to be careful once inside since the lagoon is not surveyed and we have read that there are a number of coral heads sitting just under the surface. However, as long as we get there before the sun gets too low in the sky, we should be able to eyeball our way around the coral heads just fine.
We have talked to a couple of boats that have shaken hands with a few of the coral heads. But with each incident, they were doing something that they should have tried to avoid. One cut in from the channel too soon and the other left very early morning and could not see the bottom well. However, when you sail a lot, sooner or later you will run aground. Both boats just had minor damage so that would a good thing.
When we leave, we are planning to leave the lagoon mid-afternoon the day before we sail to the Heron Island and just anchor off the leeward shore of the reef. That way we will be able to see the coral heads just fine and still get an early start the next morning. However, we will need to be sure that the winds will not be shifting that night.
Tonight is our last night of having Internet access for a couple of weeks. Thus, I will be posting our blogs through SailMail. We will still be able to get our emails but I will not be able to post any photos.
04/17/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina
Today our friend John of S/V Sea Mist and I drove into town to pick up my outboard. It was finally ready to be picked up. John had wanted to go to town to get a new battery for his watch. Having him with me also was a big help in moving the outboard engine back to the boat. The cost of servicing my engine was just $178 AU since the plugs were in good shape as was the impellor. The corrosion on the crankshaft was the problem and that just took some labor time to remove. They were able to restore and reuse the old seal so a new one was not needed. Hooray! Now with the outboard back on the boat, we are ready to start our cruising season.
While we were gone, Mary Margaret cooked up a storm and made some great tasting gazpacho and a wonderful vegetable medley for dinner. It went great with the roasted chicken.
We plan to move over to the fuel dock tomorrow to fill up our tanks and then leave at dawn on Thursday to sail over to Lady Musgrave Island. We are sooo ready! The weather continues to look very favorable for a comfortable stay at Lady Musgrave Island. The winds should be below 15 knots until at least Tuesday. If the winds blow over 15 knots, then at high tide the swells pass over the lagoon reef and make the anchorage a bit dicey. Boats have dragged in such conditions and have washed up on the coral. Not good! However, if the weather continues to behave, we should have a great time there.
04/16/2012, Port Bundaberg Marina
Today I drove into Bundaberg to pickup our outboard and do a number of errands. While in town, I received a call from the Yamaha dealer saying that my outboard (which he had previously told me it was ready to be picked up last Friday) actually was not yet ready and that they would need a new rubber seal to closer her up. However, they did not have such a seal and it was backordered and would be another two to three weeks before it would arrive. Yipes! There was no way we would be willing to hang around here until that seal came in and I nicely but firmly let him know that. He said that they would call around for a generic seal and see if they could get that. After finishing the rest of my errands, I stopped by the dealer to see what the status was. It turns out that they could not find a generic seal but the mechanic said that he could clean up the old seal and it should be good to reuse. Thus, my outboard should be ready to be picked up tomorrow. We shall see and it better be ready!!!!
Once I dropped my stuff off at the boat, I picked up Mary Margaret and we returned to Bundaberg to finish our provisioning. We went to two supermarkets to get all the things we needed and it took all afternoon. By the time we had returned to the boat and had everything put away and inventoried, it was 1730. We were exhausted.
A number of boats start to head out tomorrow. Our neighbors, Julie and Paul of S/V Silver Lining II, moved over to the fuel dock this afternoon to top off their tanks. They will be spending the night at the fuel dock so they can get off early tomorrow morning. We are expecting to see them again at one of the anchorages between here and the Whitsundays. We hope so.
Our itinerary for the next couple of weeks is tentatively the following:
Leave Port Bundaberg Marina and sail to Lady Muscat Island: Thursday, April 19
Leave Lady Muscat Island and sail to Heron Island: Monday, April 23
Leave Heron Island and sail to Great Keppel Island: Tuesday, April 24
Leave Great Keppel Island and sail to Pearl Bay: Thursday, April 27
Leave Pearl Bay and sail to Middle Percy Island: Saturday, April 28
Leave Middle Percy Island and sail into MacKay: Monday, May 1.
We are planning to haul out for a week at Mackay to do a little hull work but even that may be postponed until we get to Malaysia at the end of the year. We shall see.
If you are interested in learning more about each of the places we will be sailing to, you can Google them and/or you can zoom in on them using Google Earth. Each place has a series of pictures that you can click on once you zoom in on them. If you do this, be sure to include the words "Queensland" and "Australia" with the name of each anchorage.
04/15/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina
Each day it gets harder and harder to wait to start our cruising season. It seems like years since we last sailed. It has been 5 1/2 long months since we last sailed from New Caledonia to Bundaberg. During that time, we have traveled a lot. We first went back to the States for 3 months and criss-crossing the continent visiting family and friends, many who we had not seen in years. It was a great trip but exhausting.
When we returned to Australia, we checked out the boat and then spent about 5 weeks exploring this country. This too was wonderful. Thus, when you add our land travel time up, it comes to a bit over 4 months. This means we have only been on the boat in the marina for just 6 weeks or so. That is not so long so I really should not be complaining. The problem is that we just love the sailing life and sitting in a marina, waiting for the weather to turn, gets harder and harder as we are more and more anxious to return to the sea.
This evening we had our friends Lori and Ken of S/V Trim back over for more cards. Ken and I were ready to avenge the thrashing that the girls gave us a couple of days ago. However, it was not to be. In fact, it was worse. After the first hand they had totally demolished us. If we had added up the points, they would have been in the many thousands and we would have been deep into the negative numbers. To avoid counting, Ken and I just declared the girls the winners of the game and pleaded to start a new one.
The girls took pity on us and agreed to begin a new game. While we never did finish the second game, once again the girls were so far ahead that we guys were thankful to call it a night and leaving the game hanging.
Tomorrow Mary Margaret and I will be going into town to finish our provisioning and to pick up our outboard. Yea!