A special moment with my life mate!
A rare view for us in the Whitsundays: A golden sunset!
Here is the Yacht Club's pool and beach.
05/28/2012, Hamilton Island Marina, AU
We slogged through 30 knot winds and steep choppy seas this morning to arrive at Hamilton Island Marina around noon. It was not the most enjoyable sail but we have had much worse. The pounding was not fun.
When we pulled into the slip at the marina, we were greeted by Marian, of S/V Kilkea. She was so sweet and in no time the dock lines were secured and hugs and kisses were enjoyed and cherished. We last saw Marian and her husband David in September of last year in Noumea, New Caledonia. Soon David arrived and completed the reunion.
As we were talking, Marian spied S/V Sea Mist coming into the marina and we all ran over to where they were docking and made the reunion complete. Soon John had Sea Mist secured (despite the cat calls that I and David were making about him docking their boat) and the six of us were all hugs and slaps on the backs. The day was a rare sunny day and being surrounded by the special friends from Kilkea and Sea Mist just added to the warmth.
We spent the afternoon having lunch and touring the island on the free jitney bus that takes you all around the island. Lunch was a hoot as we ate outside along the waters of the marina and were soon surrounded by Cockatoos. Mary Margaret could not resist sharing the bread from her sandwich with them and they responded by lining up on the guard rail next to her, all vying for her attention. In a few minutes she was screaming as one jumped on her shoulder like the parrot did on the pirate Long John Silver in the famous book "Treasure Island". Arrrr, matey. The bird enjoyed his post and after awhile even climbed on top of her head, which generated more screams as Mary Margaret shooed the bird away. I wished I had brought my camera to capture all of this. We will just have to do it again while we are here so I can get my pictures.
After lunch we strolled past the shops that lined the wharf. While the girls did their window shopping, we men did our manly thing of making a bee line to the ice cream shop and devouring chocolate coated ice cream bars. When you cruise, ice cream is a pure luxury and nothing tastes as good as ice cream when you can find it!
Next we all hopped on the island bus and began our exploration of the island. With us were a couple of large groups of Aussies who were here to attending weddings. We soon were all telling jokes and having a grand old time. Everyone was laughing and howling away as the bus passed one remarkable view after another. Of course, none of us had our cameras so you will just have to take my word for how beautiful the island was and as spectacular the views of the bays and channels between the other islands were that we saw from the top of the island. Sorry about that...
After our bus tour, Mary Margaret and I returned to Leu Cat where we enjoyed hot showers and got gussied up for sundowners at the Hamilton Island Yacht Club and then a special birthday dinner for the birthday kids.
We arrived at the Yacht Club right before sundown and took lots of pictures as the sun set. I will post them to and above this blog. The lass who served us said that she could make any type of cocktail we desired so I ordered my favorite: a Manhattan. I told her that to make the drink properly she really needed a couple of maraschino cherries and that I knew Australia does not have them. But she surprised me and said that they had imported a few bottles just for occasions like this. Thus, as the sun set I was a happy camper toasting my birthday cohorts and friends with a tasty Manhattan in my hand with two not one maraschino cherries!
Once the sun went down the wind became the dominant weather feature and the wind chill factor chilled us all to the bone. Thus, we scurried over to the Italian restaurant where we had made reservations for dinner. The six of us were joined by our friend, Frank, of S/V Tahina. His wife, Karen, had just returned this afternoon from a long flight from the States and was in bed asleep.
The seven of us had a wonderful time eating, drinking, laughing and celebrating not just a trio of birthdays but a quartet of birthdays. Cheryl had her birthday less than two weeks ago so we insisted that she also be celebrated along with Marion (May 26th), John (May 28th) and myself (May 29th). A wonderful time was had by all!
We ended up stumbling back to our respective boats at the ungodly hour of 2130. After all, cruiser's bedtime is usually around 2000....
05/27/2012, Butterfly Bay, Hook Is., AU
We remained at Butterfly Bay today as we watched the ragged edge of the trough that had been battering us for the last couple of days slowly drift to the east. Morning was mostly overcast and it was not until about 1500 that the skies above us started to clear. By 1700 there was clear blue sky above us. The winds have eased and it is very quiet and still here in the anchorage as I write this.
Even though the trough passed us by, the cold air has stayed. However, as the skies cleared our closed in stern cockpit acted as a sun room and kept the entire boat warm.
Last night we had played with the thought of moving back to Stonehaven Anchorage today but nixed that idea since the reason we were going to move was to go snorkeling and the air was just too darn cold to hop in the water. Today was our last chance to go snorkeling. Tomorrow we head south to Hamilton Island marina, where we will be staying for the next three days. After that, we will start to make our way north as we head off for Darwin. The marina is just 15 or so nm from here as the crow flies but we may have to sail about 30 nm to get there. Based on the weather report, I am expecting 20 knot winds from the south so we may have to tack a few times to cover the distance. It could be a bashing sail as the seas will be short period and about 2 meters. It was this type of conditions that forced our friends of S/V Infini to abandon their attempt to sail south to Nara Inlet a few days ago and instead opted to go west to Airlie Beach. Keep your fingers crossed for us that the wind will be more from the SE then the S.
Our stay in the Whitsundays has been disappointing. Of the three weeks or so we have been here, we have only have gotten in 4 days of snorkeling due to the bad weather. The water has been murky but what we saw of the reefs we really enjoyed. Thus, I guess those 4 days did make our stay here worthwhile.
For the last 1 ½ days we have been draining our 4 ½ year old batteries. We have let them slowly deplete themselves by cutting off the wind generator, covering the solar panels and not running the generator. We have 5 195 amp-hour gel batteries and each year we need to drain them down to empty (10.5 volts) and then fully recharge them. It takes about 2 to 3 days to fully recharge them on shore power and this is what we are planning to do once we get to the marina tomorrow. I would like to do this twice in a row but we will not have enough time to do that.
We have discovered by reading and then by doing, that draining your gel batteries and then recharging them restores their rigor. I have noticed over the last few weeks that they were accepting less and less amps when we would charge them with our generator. By draining them, we pit the outer surface of the lead plates, which reduces the resistance of amps going into them. I wrote up a few techno-tips on this last year when we were in Auckland getting ready to go to Fiji. If you wish to learn more about this, then go to the Year 4 Day 124 blog and read that tip and a couple of the next ones.
05/24/2012, Stonehaven Anchorage, Hook Is., AU
A couple of days ago I received an email from John of S/V Sea Mist. It turns out that between S/V Sea Mist, S/V Kilkea and S/V Leu Cat, we have three birthdays all about the same time. Marian of Kilkea has her birthday on May 26, John of Sea Mist has his on May 28 and I have mine on May 29 (this is just a very subtle reminder for our kids, hint, hint, hint...).
John has suggested that we all get together for a trio of birthday parties at the Hamilton Island Marina on May 28th. This is a great suggestion works great for us since we had made reservations at the marina starting the 28th. I am anxious for an electrician to go up our mast then to see if he can fix my mast head light problem.
David and Marian of Kilkea apparently have decided that the weather is just too crappy here in the Whitsundays and have given up on rolly anchorages. They have booked an entire week in the marina! This is quite a feat since this is the most expense marina we have booked into. As a catamaran, we will be paying $120 a night! Ouch!!!
We last saw Marian and David in New Caledonia last year so we are anxious to see them again. Last fall they decided to sail SE from New Cal and spend the cyclone season in New Zealand. We first met them in 2010 in the Galapagos. We anchored next to each other at Isla Isabella. The six of us go back two years and about 7 thousand nautical miles, they have known John and Cheryl of Sea Mist for over 6 years. They all met while sailing around the Med and have followed each other ¾ of the way around the world!
We will look forward to seeing both the folks of Kilkea and Sea Mist in just a few days and after a super duper birthday celebration!
05/23/2012, Stonehaven Anchorage, Hook Is., AU
The good news is that we did not have any liquid sunshine during the daylight hours today. The bad news was that it was hard to know when we were in the daylight hours. A dark grey, thick overcast hung over Leu Cat all day today. Additionally, the winds were remarkably still. Thus, between no sun and no wind, we did not take in much of nature's energy today to charge our batteries. The poor solar panels and the old wind generator just sat there and looked pretty, not doing much.
This meant that we had to run the generator a lot today. Normally, we can get away with not running it or, at most, just an hour. However, with no energy hitting our solar panels or wind generator, we first had to run the generator for 2 hours in the morning and then another hour this evening. We like being as green as we can and try hard to minimize our carbon print. However, today we failed miserably...
With it being a low energy day outside, it made for a low energy day on the inside. I scoured the boat hunting for boat projects to do. I found two little ones. The first was making some adjustments to the hanging boat steps I made for Mary Margaret. When we dock in a marina, sometimes we cannot use our sugar scoop steps to get off the boat. With smaller slips, our stern sticks out past the dock. When that happens we have to use the one little foot hold that is molded into the side of the hull amidships. With Mary Margaret's short legs, it is a challenge to reach that foothold and then it is a big leap to the dock. Last week I made a set of hanging steps that hopefully will make getting on and off the boat a bit easier for her.
The second little project was removing our speed sensor: what I call our "speedo". It is a little propeller that spins in the water and measures and reports our speed through the water. Whenever we sit at anchor or in a marina for a while, growth develops on the speedo and clogs it up. Thus, I removed it and put it in glass of diluted vinegar which will dissolve the calcium carbonate of the shells of the little critters that latch on to it.
After that, it was just reading, listening to music and playing Mexican Train Dominos and Sequence with Mary Margaret. Great day, huh?