27/05/15, Crocs in the Marina.
After a windy and rolly night in Svendsen's Bay on Great Keppel Island I was glad to get up at 0600 and be sailing at 0700. We easily sailed across Leekes Beach at 5 knots, under two reefs and a jib, before clearing Middle Island and the crossing to Rosslyn Bay Marina. I did notice that several of the larger yachts departed due north towards the Whitsundays. There were over twelve yachts anchored around us last night, some were foreign going.
The crossing to Rosslyn Bay was unremarkable but we did see one lone dolphin that swam with us for a few moments. We averaged near 5 knots on the crossing and by 0930 we were tied up and booked in for two nights. Today I have done the washing, rewatered and changed the inboard engine oil and oil filter. Also got out the charts for the next section of the coast and stored away some unwanted gear. Later this afternoon I went and got 10 litres of diesel to give us a full load of 60 litres or 65 hours of motoring.
Tomorrow Louis [of Top Hat Windchaser] will come over from Rockhampton to take me into Yeppoon for a shopping expedition.
I am planning to leave here at 0600 on Friday morning, subject to weather, for Port Clinton. That should put us at anchor sometime between 1400 and 1600.
26/05/15, Maria Inlet at dawn.
The weather on the BOM Meteye internet site suddenly changed so that Tuesday to Thursday would be much the same. I therefore made the decision to go on Tuesday. So at 0600 today I rose and we were underway by 0650 and out of Maria Inlet at 0700. I had the full main and Genoa up in the light winds as we motor sailed along the Sea Reach from Port Alma. I noticed that there were differences in the placement of the port channel markers, no doubt resulting from the last flood in the Fitzroy River.
As we cleared Sea Hill I decided that we could cut the corner, without going to the outer buoy, towards Peal Island and soon after we did that we came out of the shelter of Curtis Island. The seas were about 1 meter plus, as predicted, but the wind from 0800 till about 1000 was a tad stronger than forecast. Now this caused an immediate problem; we were overcanvased. [Always wanted to write that!] So thanking all those who convinced me to bring all the sheets back to the cockpit, I immediately put in two reefs. To do this of course I had to heave too, [the act of stopping the boat by allowing the sails to draw on the wrong side without adjusting them] that was no problem and I very quickly had two reefs in and had Seaka turned around and sailing again.
Well almost, a few moments later I had to duck below and found my bed soaking wet, Arggg! Quickly chucking the dry stuff where it wouldn't get wet I returned to the cockpit. Thinking about what had happened I realized that I had just been unlucky. See, when I hove too, the Genoa was across the deck as it was supposed to be but unfortunately the leach [bottom] of the sail was across the forward hatch and we must have taken a wave over the bow onto the sail and down into the rear of the hatch dorado and so down onto my bed. Just plain dumb bad luck! Normally water would never enter through the dorado.
Apart from that the sail today was one of the fastest Seaka has ever done. Over 30 nautical miles in five hours we averaged a speed of 6 knots. We were averaging around 6.5 to 7.5 knots between 0800 and 1000, even after putting two reefs in the main sail. After that the wind did drop, but our speed was still around 5.5 to 6.5 knots. The wind was from the SE and hard on the starboard quarter.
After arriving at Great Keppel Island we rounded Middle Island towards the anchorage. The wind was now fine on the starboard bow so much so that eventually I gave up started the iron sail and dropped all standing. Looking at a couple of yachts off Leekes Beach I decided that was to exposed to the SE wind so motored over to Svendsen's beach and anchored at 1200 in 1 meter of water [it's low tide]. I spent the next three hours changing the foresail down to a normal jib, once bitten twice shy, stitching up a strap that came adrift and drying out bedding and wet weather gear.
The plan now is to leave Great Keppel Island tomorrow at 0700 and sail the 9 nautical miles into the Rosslyn Bay Marina [Yeppoon] by about 0900. This will give more time to do the necessary jobs than if I had gone in today at around 1400. We will stay there tomorrow night and sail [42nm] for Port Clinton early on Thursday morning.
A great days sail, hope I have more of them now!
24/05/15, Pancake Creek at Dawn last Wednesday
Well last Wednesday we were moving by 0630 onto the leads to leave Pancake Creek in very calm conditions compared to the last week. We were very glad to be finally leaving, seems I have a one week connection with Pancake Creek as we were here for a week in 2011 and at about the same time.
There was only a very long one meter swell out of the south east to greet us and a light wind. We had to maintain around 5 knots to ensure we got into Gladstone with as much of the flood tide as possible, so the iron sail was also on. It was a pleasant trip but as we approached Gladstone I noticed that we were about to cross the main channel. Now my voyage plan did not have that fact in it so a quick check on the chartplotter showed that I had entered a way point incorrectly! Remedial action was immediately taken with new waypoints created to correct the mistake. This could have been embarrassing as there was a coal ship heading out of Gladstone as we came around the corner of the main Gladstone channel. [ For non-sailors a waypoint is a pre-planned position created on a chart or chartplotter towards which I sail. In Gladstone there is sufficient depth for yachts outside the main channel, so most of the time small yachts sail along side them. ]
Well it was my intention to enter Gladstone on the flood tide but this was not to be and the next 10 nautical miles took almost three hours against a 3 knot ebbing tide. On the way in I was passed, at 7 knots, by a ship over twice as large as any coal ship I have ever seen. This was a gas carrier going up to one of the three, or is it four, gas depots on Curtis Island. It was still at the dock when I went up to The Narrows so have no idea how long they take to load.
Once in the marina I started on my jobs the first to refuel, only ULP this time for the outboard motor. I did have four containers for diesel but have converted one for outboard petrol as we almost ran out at Pancake Creek. Next on the list was washing which we completed about 1900 after a scratch meal. A long day.
On Thursday at 0900 I was up at the marina office as they had offered me a ride into the shops in central Gladstone. What I didn't realize was that there was another Woolworths out at a major shopping center. So after doing a major shop I rang the marina office and they came and picked me up and on return I quickly dumped everything onboard Seaka and walked 1 km out to the bus route that goes past the marina and the Queensland University. Enquiries at a local shop gave me no information on bus activities. So one hour after waiting for a bus and seeing only one going the wrong way I started to solicit rides from the shop's customers. The first I asked said he wasn't going that way but was soon back saying he had to get stuff out that way so gave me a ride. That saved a 4km walk!
At the shopping center I discovered another Woolworths, grrr, so got those items that I couldn't get in town. There was also a Big W which meant I could get another kettle; the one on board was breaking up, and a couple of cheap T-shirts. I now had to find BCF and Bunnings to get a new landing net, the old one was stolen in the Scarborough Marina, and some methylated spirits for the stove. While waiting for the bus a got talking to a lady and we both missed the bus, so we then walked about 2km to get there. After doing my bits and pieces I started back but no buses, then just after I had rejoined the walking path on the opposite side of the now four lane highway one went past. This was not my day for transport. As I arrive back at the shopping center a bus pulled up, just the one I wanted, so now I only had a 1km walk back to Seaka. By dark I had repacked the sea berth food storage with all the food brought today and was tucking into a T-bone steak. Wonderful!
On Friday morning at 0700 we left the marina on our way to The Narrows. Just outside the marina we saw a large coal ship, or should that be small compared to that gas carrier, being docked by three tugs. We proceeded up the harbour at 5 knots with the flooding tide passing on the way all the industrial wharves of our mining industries. One good thing I learned in Gladstone was that The Narrows would not be bridged and thus shutting off access to yachts going north or south inside Curtis Island. The gas pipes the bridge was to carry are buried under the harbour.
At 0930 we arrived at the first port beacon for The Narrows and anchored up to wait for the last hour of the flood tide. On the way here we had seen a pod of those small Queensland Dolphins, I don't know their proper name, and believe it or not a Sea Snake. At 1115 we up anchor and proceeded into The Narrows. The flood tide took us along at an easy pace and we had no problems with navigation. As we approached Boat Creek the flood changed direction, yes it was now coming towards us, and we slowed to cross the shallowest section with only 15cm or 6 inches under us. With that over we motored out into the northern section of The Narrows at 1240.
With the predicted high winds and seas over the weekend I had opted to weather them out at Pacific Creek under Sea Hill on the northwest corner of Curtis Island. This was in preference to siting in the marina at Yeppoon for a week! We motored out of The Narrows and headed towards the Sea Reach, into Port Alma, for Pacific Creek. As we cleared the mainland we came under the influence of a strong westerly wind which was building a short choppy sea. This chop was starting to reach one meter when we were one nautical mile from Pacific Creek. With the tide now half way out and considering that we had to cross a small bar to get into the creek I spun Seaka on her heels and we beat our way back to Maria Inlet which is inside The Narrows and thus not affected by the westerly winds.
We motored up two bends into Maria Inlet and let go the anchor in 4 to 7 meters [tidal range] of water. We are here on our own and I don't expect to see anybody else either. On Saturday I raised anchor and motored around a bit trying to sort out the depths in this area and eventually re-anchored close to where we started. I am thinking seriously of re-anchoring again but closer to the southern band as the ESE and SE winds are pushing us towards the northern bank.
At this stage we are going up to Yeppoon on Tuesday or Wednesday, overnight in the marina for fuel, water and fresh food before going to Great Keppel Island then up to Port Clinton on Friday.
New photos in Gallery.
Just a quick note to say I have been in Gladstone since Wednesday afternoon. Spent today shopping.
Off up the Narrows tomorrow [Friday].
Full report on Saturday.
18/05/15, Pancake Creek Mud Crab.
I spent Monday morning getting Seaka ready for sea. At that early stage on Monday I was planning to sail to Cape Capricorn on Tuesday [today] then to Yeppoon Marina on Wednesday morning, do my shopping in the afternoon and move out to either Great Keppel or Port Clinton on Thursday or Friday to once again shelter from another spate of strong SE winds. Will they ever calm down?
That Monday afternoon I had Mark and Leigh of Outnumbered over for a cuppa. We talked about the weather and I decided I really needed to take another look at it. Well the above plan is actually two plans. The dash north to Port Clinton from Yeppoon was an additional response to the upcoming strong SE winds.
On review I decided that one plan would be better and that involved going to Gladstone on Wednesday with better sea conditions, should be there by 1300, and doing the shopping in the afternoon. Stay one night and move to Graham Creek [on Curtis Island] before going up The Narrows by Saturday at the latest. I will then hang around on the northern side of The Narrows until the wind is ok for a passage to Great Keppel Island. From there I will go to Port Clinton, Pear Bay and Island Head Creek.
After that we will be in the Northumberland Isles and hopefully better weather conditions.
This morning I got up to find it was raining and that the seas were still very rough. I could see that in the rolling of the six yachts that left just after six o'clock this morning. At midday now its warm and sunny, but most importantly the wind is dying.
16/05/15, Looking south over Jenny Lind Creek.
Still very gusty, today as the wind has averaged around 12 to 18 knots with frequent gusts to 25 plus. As a result I have spent most of the day leaning over 3 or 4 degrees in the wind gusts. Only time we have laid to the wind has been at tide changes as with these large tides at present, Seaka prefers to head into to the tidal stream of 4 knots plus.
Yesterday was a bit better and Tony of Outahia and I walked over to Jenny Lind Creek to the south of Busted Head. We spoke to the Lighthouse Caretaker on the way over.
Our aim was to fish the creek but we did not get a thing worth keeping. We were away for 5 hours and walked about 10 km so I crashed at 1900 last night, completely done in. That I think was the most exercise I have done since I left home.
The thinking now is that we can get away from here on Tuesday. I hope so as I only have 9 days food left and will have to do a large shop at the next stop to get us to the Whitsundays.