06/01/2012, Gloucester Island, AU
This morning we tossed off the dock lines and started our journey north. Of course, as soon as we turned on the engines to warm them up, it started pouring. A dry send off would have been so out of character that we just sat back, shrugged our shoulders and said: "It would not be the Whitsundays without the rain!"
In 15 minutes it stopped and we were on our way. We left the marina at 1000 and were greeted with light winds for the first 3 hours. Then the winds came up to 10 to 12 knots from the SE and as we turned west for the last leg of our sail, we had a wonderful time. We were on a beam reach and with 10 to 12 knots of wind we were making 6.5 to 7 knots.
We had timed our arrival for the Gloucester Passage to be a couple hours after low tide so we could have a couple extra feet of water under our keels as we snaked through the shallows on the western end of the channel. We ended up with 3.8 feet of water under our keels, more than enough to keep me from getting nervous. I hate not have much water under our boat.
Our course, as it was time to anchor, it just had to rain. Certain things are just to be expected. However, it was a light shower. It just washed the salt off Leu Cat. Aren't the rain gods considerate?
We have decided that since we left Hamilton Island a day late that we will just press on to our next anchorage tomorrow morning. We will be sailing to Cape Upstart. After tomorrow, the weather should start to clear and the winds are expected to die so we will spend a day there and then press on to our next anchorage.
05/31/2012, Hamilton Island Marina, AU
Based on the comments we received, I see that there are a number of prudent sailors out there. Each of them opted for the "stay put and be happy" option. This is exactly what we did. It killed us to spend another day in the marina but when it comes to weather, I try to pick the best and safest weather window to leave on. If there is any doubt, we stay put.
However... with that said, let me share with you what John of S/V Sea Mist wrote us:
"When I looked at all the weather inputs this morning, I decided that it was "a good day to move north"....and it turned out to be a terrific sail and no rain. I didn't want to start through the Gloucester Passage until after the flood tide had started so that there would be enough water to float us....so we left about 10:15 -10:30; the sailing was so fast, that I had to slow down at the entrance to the passage to wait for the water to start rising.....the last part of the Passage showed 0.5 m under the keel ....so we slowed down just enough to come through with no issue. It is now about 9 pm and the anchorage is no problem....a bit of a chop causing a minor pitching. The wind is going to drop going forward...sure hope there is enough to carry us tomorrow. Hope to see you and MM down the road on this northbound highway."
Apparently, the storm track that I was watching so closely stayed on the mainland as it went over Bowden and just missed Gloucester Island. Gloucester Island is just off the coast near Bowden. Go figure! Anyway, we are happy that John and Cheryl made it there safe and sound and that the storm missed them. They will be continuing their passage north at a more aggressive clip than us so it looks like we will not see them again until we get to Darwin in July.
I have posted to this blog the current weather radar. As you can see, it just shows scattered showers going north, which seems to be the best weather we get here in the Whitsundays area. Thus, we will be leaving here around 1000 to time our arrival the Gloucester Passage for a bit past low tide. We draw a bit less than 1.5 meters so we should be fine if we arrive after 1500 (low tide is at 1322 today).
05/31/2012, Location: ?????
All right, we are going to see what kind of cruiser you are with this blog. I am not going to tell you what we ended up doing today. You will have to wait until tomorrow morning to find out what we did. Instead, we would like to hear from you and learn what you would have done if you were in our shoes.
This morning we were all set and anxious to leave but then we looked at the weather radar and saw a big mass of rain cells headed right toward where we would be sailing and anchoring near Bowen, AU, we had second thoughts. I am going to set the stage for you by giving you all the facts that we had this morning. Would you pound your chest and laugh at the rain and wind gods and head out from the security of the Hamilton Island Marina or would you tuck your tail between your legs and cower from the rain and the wind and stay another day, snug as a wimpy bug in a rug in the marina...
Here were the facts as we knew them at 1000, the latest time we felt comfortable in leaving the marina to make our destination:
1) We have been in the Whitsundays for almost a month and during that time, we saw the sun maybe 5 or 6 days and a number of those days the temperatures were very cold. Most of the time we had day after day of downright nasty weather with rain cell after rain cell belting away at Leu Cat. In fact, every cruiser we have talked to said the same thing as us: this has been absolutely the worst and longest period of bad weather any of us have had during our cruising years.
2) We are so anxious to start heading north and over to Darwin in hopes of working our way out of the bad weather that last night I opened the sail bag and set the dock lines up for an easy release;
3) We are the last one, of all of our friends to still be in the marina: Sea Mist, Kilkea and Tahina all left yesterday. Furthermore, for our three days here in the marina, the slip fees were a whopping $120 a night! This is the most we have ever paid for a slip. This morning, as we were weighing our options, I went to the marina office and negotiated a fee of just $80 for another day and the office said that if we wanted to, for that $80 more, we could stay not just one more day but they would let us stay another 4 days for that extra $80. Thus, for a total of $440 AU, we could stay between 4 and 7 days total, depending on when we wanted to leave;
4) The forecast for the next three days is: "Central Coast Waters, Bowen to St Lawrence: A Strong Wind Warning is current. Winds could be 40% higher than predicted and seas could be twice the predicted heights. Thursday until midnight: Winds: SE 25 to 30 knots, decreasing to 20 to 25 knots by late afternoon. Seas: 2.2 to 3 metres in open waters. Swell: SE 1.5 to 2 metres in open waters. Scattered showers. Friday: Winds: E to SE 15 to 20 knots. Seas: 1.7 metres. Swell: SE 1.5 to 2 metres in open waters. Scattered showers. Saturday: Winds: E to SE 10 to 15 knots, and inshore afternoon NE sea breezes." While all of that sounds bad, it really isn't so bad. The winds would be behind us, thus our apparent wind would be around 8 to 10 knots less as we should be making between 8 to 11 knots of speed. Plus, while we would be leaving and arriving in the rain, we would be nice and dry in our enclosed bimini that surrounds our helm up on the flying bridge deck;
5) The weather radar was showing what I posted earlier at 0700 and at 1000 (posted to this blog). Basically, a major storm was racing down from the Cairns area to the north and heading south into our area and would be blowing over our planned anchorage in Gloucester Island before and during the time we would be arriving. Plus, it looked like it would be passing over a major part of the passage area we would be sailing to get there.
OK, now you have the same information we had as we made our decision. WHAT WOULD YOU DO???? Leave us a blog comment and let us know.
It is now the 0700 on May 31 and we are preparing the boat for our departure this morning. A minute ago a deluge hit so we are waiting for it to stop before we leave. I ran the weather radar to see how big this rain cloud is and this is what I saw.
We are at Hamilton Island. The white is the "light" rain we are now having. It is pouring buckets! We will be sailing over to that finger that juts out above Bowden. The blue above that is a really big storm and it is heading south...
Mary Margaret just asked me if we really want to leave this morning. After seeing this, it has me pondering her very good question...
This cockatoo seems to be telling the lorikeet: Hey, little fellow, don't even think about it!"