06/19/2012, Hope Island, AU
Today we left Port Douglas and headed north to Hope Island. It is about 50 nm from Port Douglas. We left about 0815 and for the first hour or so, there was no wind. But then the winds came up and we had 10 to 15 knots from the SSE. We put up the sails and went wing and wing. We were making about 5.5 to 6.0 knots in about 10 knots of apparent wind.
As we approached noon, the wind kicked it up a notch or two and started blowing in the 15 to 22 knot range. The seas responded to the wind and we started getting 5 to 6 foot swells. The winds continued to build a bit and we peaked at 27 knots. Good Ol' Leu Cat responded to the winds as she always does and soon we were going 8 to 10 knots with peaks of 12 to 13 knots surfing down the swells that were behind us. Wheeeeeee!
We arrived at Hope Island just before 1400 and by 1430 we were tied to a National Park mooring ball that John of S/V Sea Mist told us about in his blog. We were happy to take this mooring since the anchorage is choked full of coral just waiting to grab hold and gobble up anchors. Mary Margaret did a masterful job at the helm facing 25 knot winds while I snagged the mooring ball.
Sitting behind us are three fishing boats with large drag nets. Our guess is they will go out tonight and net either squid or prawns. Both love to come to the surface at night.
You know we have not had much wind since last year when the noise of 25 knots of wind sounds a bit foreign to us as we sit in this anchorage. It is howling and we usually welcome the noise since our wind generator is working and pumping mucho amps into the batteries. We are using a lot of amps right now since we have both refrigerators and the freezer going. We are stuffed to gills with fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, cheese, and the sailor's elixir: beer.
As we get ready for dinner, I am using S/V Sea Mist's trick of hoisting the WIFI dongle up the mast. Without doing so, we have no Internet. With it up, we have spotty Internet even through it is showing 4 bars. Maybe the Internet on shore is having some troubles. As soon as I am able, I will post this blog and some pictures that I took.
We are going to leave Hope Island tomorrow around 0900. We want the sun well up so we can see the reefs that are all around us here. This may prevent us from making Lizard Island tomorrow if the winds are moderate. The passage is about 65 nm. If that is the case, then we will either duck into an anchorage behind Cape Bedford or Cape Flattery. If we stop at Cape Flattery, we would have a very easy sail to Lizard Island the next day since that passage is only 18 nm.
We are anxious to get to Lizard Island because John and Cheryl of S/V Sea Mist arrived there a couple of days ago and confirmed that the water is warm and clear. The reef is right behind their boat so they just fall off their boat and swim over. This is the type of snorkeling we are so used to after spending a couple of years crossing the S. Pacific and we are sooo looking forward to it again!
06/18/2012, Marina Mirage, Port Douglas, AU
Our hopes of moving on to Low Island today were laid aside this morning when Peter Grieg, the rigger here in Port Douglas conducted his inspection. After a detailed inspection of all of our rigging, the mast, the spreaders and even our antenna housing and the housing for our radar reflector, he suggested that we consider replacing both the cap shrouds and the lower shrouds. He showed me the repeating pattern of rust discoloration that was spiraling up the port lower shroud. He said that this is an indication that one of the interior metal wires that make up the shroud had failed. He said it was obvious from looking at our rigging that most of the winds during our 4.5 years of cruising have been coming from the port side, which is correct.
He also showed me the base of the mast and pointed out that the Lagoon folks screwed in four screws through the mast and into the pedestal on which the mast fits tightly over. He said that all of the Lagoons that he has seen have this and that these large screws do more damage than good. Since the mast is designed to bend and give a bit as conditions change, the base will rock very slightly around the pedestal that sits inside it. However, with the screws through the base of the mast and into the pedestal, the base cannot give and so what happens is that small cracks form around where the screws are. He pointed out one such crack that has formed and is in the process of growing. It is still small and insignificant but he recommended that I remove the screws if I can get them out. They may have been distorted a bit and therefore, may be very difficult to remove.
Peter said that he could replace the lower shrouds with new hardware today but that he would have to order the larger shroud and that could take a few days to arrive. Instead, he recommended that we continue up to Darwin and use the rigger there to replace the cap shrouds. He said that he does not see any obvious signs of failure with them but since they are 6 years old, they are nearing the end of their life expectancy for a blue water cruiser. He could call the rigger and make sure that when we arrive, he would have set time aside for us. There will be well over a hundred or so cruisers in Darwin waiting for the rally to start when we arrive and the rigger there will be swamped. However, with a call from Peter and with an explanation of what needs to be done and with the dimensions, the rigger can have everything made up for us when we arrive.
During his inspection, he also noticed that the radar cover was missing two screws. Apparently, the battens had hit the radar housing a number of times and the screws were stripped and tossed out. He used some of my silicon sealant and sealed the housing for me, making the housing watertight. We were lucky that water had not gotten into the radar unit and killed the unit.
Everything was completed by early afternoon so we are ready to leave Port Douglas first thing tomorrow morning. We have decided to by-pass Low Island and just go straight to Hope Island. It is about 50 nm north of Port Douglas and a bit shy of Cooktown. We had wanted to go to Cooktown to see the museum there but the river entrance and anchorage is best to enter during higher tides. It would be dead low tide when we would arrive so we will be by-passing it.
Cooktown is where Captain Cook put in to make repairs to the HMS Endeavour in 1770 after the ship had run aground on what is now called Endeavour Reef. They ran aground in the middle of the night and had to jettison a few of their anchors and all of their cannons to refloat the ship off of the reef. There was major damage to the hull and Cook was able to limp into what is now called Endeavour River to beach the ship and make repairs. The repairs took six weeks to complete.
The museum in Cooktown houses one of the cannons that was recovered in the late 1960s and gives a lot of historical information about Cook, his efforts to restore his ship, the history of the recovery of the cannons and anchors, etc.
Oh well, we now have a reason to come back...
06/17/2012, Marina Mirage, Port Douglas, AU
Once again the winds were light and behind us. Thus we motored sailed the short 35 nm from Cairns to Port Douglas. For a little while we were able to turn off the engine but after about 45 minutes the winds died again so back on it came.
Getting into the Marina Mirage was a bit of a challenge. The marina is up a river and we were entering it at low tide. We had repeatedly hailed the marina as we approached but no one answered. We had reservations so they knew we would be arriving at this time. I turned into the marina's turning basin to wait until someone answered but the depth in the turning basin quickly went from 3 feet under our keels to about 1 inch. Yikes! I backed out and moved a bit closer to one of the boats tied up to the end of the dock while Mary Margaret went below and got our cell phone to call the office.
The maintenance man answered the phone and instructed us to go between the A dock and the shore and proceed to our slip. I told him about the shallow water but he said it should not be a problem. With those encouraging words, we slowly eased around the large motor yacht that was at the end of A dock and started toward our slip. Once again the depth narrowed to just a couple of inches under our keels so, instead of going toward the slip he mentioned, we made a 90 degree turn and eased into the slip next to the motor yacht. Fortunately, there was no current and no wind. The slip was not very long and my port bow snuggled up close and personal to the electricity pedestal. With Mary Margaret now at the helm, I jumped onto the dock and secured the lines to hold us back from the pedestal.
The marina is rather old and a bit on the stogy side but the daily fee is right up there with the more world class marinas ($74 a night). We will only be here one night since the rigger is coming first thing in the morning and then we will be off to anchor at Low Island. Low Island is just 7 nm NW of Port Douglas so tomorrow should be a relaxing day...
After we were all tucked into our slip, we received a call from Marlin Marina in Cairns. The Assistant Manager had read my email and had called the manager at home. She sincerely apologized for the inconvenience they caused and the mistake they made regarding the costs and she made everything right for us. Thus, that little saga is over with and taking the time to write my complaining email sure paid off.
We ended up the day by walking over to one of the dinning clubs for dinner. The Marlin Marina Asst. Manager had recommended that we eat at the Tin Shed. The walk was nice and we watched the storm clouds roll into the Daintree rainforest and mountains to the north of us. As we ate dinner, a fleet of Lagoon 500s sailed in returning large groups of tourists from their day sail to Low Island. I will post a picture I took to this blog.
06/16/2012, Marlin Marina, Cairns, AU
Every Friday through Sunday Cairns has an indoor's farmers market where all kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables are sold. This is Mary Margaret's dream time since she loves to go from stall to stall checking out all of the goodies. This is really the only type of shopping she enjoys. I am soooo lucky!
While there she bought the fresh fruit and vegetables that we will need to last us through to Darwin. We plan of leaving Cairns tomorrow morning and sailing up to Port Douglas. It will only be about a 35 nm jaunt so it should be an easy sail with winds predicted to be in the 15 to 25 knot range. Once at Port Douglas, we have a rigger coming to our boat on Monday morning to tune our shrouds. One cap shroud was a bit loose during one of our recent legs up to Cairns. I have since tightened it but I wish to make sure it is tuned properly.
As we schlepped all of the fruits and vegetables back to the boat from our foray at the farmers market, we stopped at the marina office to pay our bill. At that time I was given a shock. When I emailed them to make our reservation as a 44 foot long catamaran, they returned an email to me confirming a slip for us and quoted a rate for the week of $49.19 per day. Since we ended up staying 8 days, I was expecting a bill for just under $400. However, they presented me with a bill for almost $600! I said the bill was in error and told them about the written price quote they had given me. The gal at the office basically said: "Opps, we made a mistake and quoted you the monohull rate. Since you are a catamaran, the fee is $73.79 a night for a total of $590.32. And, since you are a catamaran, you MUST pay the catamaran rate!"
I was epileptic! I told her that my email specified that I was a catamaran and that their email that quoted me the lower rate had my email attached to it. I viewed all of that as a contract and if I had known about the higher rate, I would have anchored in the harbor for free. I said they were basically pulling a "bait and switch" on me and that was not ethical. She just grinned and said there was nothing she could do. Since it was a Saturday, the marina manager was not in so I ended up paying the darn bill and stormed out.
However, I have since written the manager an email stating that I am disputing this bill and will be putting a hold on the credit card payment until this can be properly settled. I have been told that the manager is reasonable and a couple of locals have agreed with me that I should not have to pay the higher rate. We shall just have to wait and see...
Techno-Tip Of The Week: Up Date On Saildrive Drive Cone Repair
Last year, when we were in Fiji, we met up with S/V Isabella, another Lagoon 440. Its skipper was Mark Scapens. At that time, he shared with we verbal instructions on how to repair a worn Drive Cone in the Yanmar saildrive without having to move the engine forward. It is a repair that you can do yourself and save the $1500 to $1700 a repairman typically charges for the all day job.
With Mark's method, the job only take 3 or so hours. Anyway, I wrote up his instructions and added a number of graphics that showed the step by step method.
Last week, I got this great email from Greg and Janie of S/V Skedaddle of Townsville, AU. They have a Lightwave 45 that also uses the Yanmar saildrive. They had followed the written instructions I posted as techno-tips and then improved on them. They were kind enough to write up their improvements and have posted the revised instruction on an "Outbox.com" web site. You can download for free their improved version of the instructions by going to http://sailblogs.com/member/skedaddle/?xjMsgID=227174 and then clicking on "click here for instructions".
Thank you Greg and Janie!!!!
We mermen are a little slow on the uptake. Now what was she trying to tell me? Oh, now I get it! Ahhhhhhhh!