VALE Garth John Farquhar
08 August 2022
Not so much of a positive experience in the last 24 hours.
Kath’s dad, my father-in-law Garth passed away peacefully yesterday afternoon. It was a little unexpected as he has been a bit up and down of late, but it was his time to leave us yesterday.
Garth was a terrific bloke who had a marvellous life.
His wife of 64 years Maxine, daughters Liz, Kath and Heather, sons in law Kenny and Brett, 7 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren will all miss ‘Poppy’.
In My Life
06 August 2022 | Whitehaven bliss
“There are places I remember, some have gone and some remain…”. Well, it’s days like these where you never forget !
After ‘Butterfly Gate’ and the Marine Park enforcers we journeyed around to Cid Harbour for the day and evening. The wind dropped back and the evening was calm and quiet. How was it past the entrance at Reef Pt we wondered ? We would find out in the morning. We discussed the plans for the next few days and all agreed we would try and make it to Whitehaven for the next few days and night. We sleep in hope.
The morning delivered a calm aura, a spattering of cloud, as per normal, and the wind still barely registering on the meter. Lookin’ good Shazza.
We rounded Reef Pt To port as we exited Cid Harbour and headed for Fitzalan Passage on the north side of Hamo. Passing through Fitzalan Passage will give us a good feel of the conditions leading up to Whitehaven.
The sea was unexpectedly flat and we were building in anticipation of flat water after passing the resort beach.
Someone has made a sacrifice to the Gods … Neptune and Poseidon have joined forces to calm the water and stop the wind … conditions were benign as we motored past a distant Catseye Beach. We tried this at least 3 times with the kids and failed every attempt.
Our approach to Solway Passage on the eastern point of Whitehaven continued to build on our positive anticipation. We rounded the point to see quite a few boats anchored in what looked like a lake .. or at least … it seemed like a lake. Ripper.
There were no interfering seaplanes to destroy our arrival, no pesky wind squalls to dampen our resolve to anchor, just calm, smooth turquoise water and pearly white sand waiting for us to enjoy. If there was a day to take photos for a tourist brochure, today is the day. I never expected to see as many boats along the beach anchorage strip, each with their own ‘zone’ so to speak enjoying the excellent conditions. We lowered the tender down and after a brief lunch all went to shore for exploration and relaxation ! That first beer when we get back on board will be a beauty !
The evening was an extension of the day, calm and relaxing. Kenny was in charge of the lamb BBQ and by the time that was cooked to expert perfection the sun had disappeared behind Whitsunday Island and we were settled in the flybridge recounting the excellent day over lamb, salad and wines. Geez …. This is nice !
You could have forgotten we were on the water overnight, not a ripple. The Skipper was up early fussing about placing the cabana in the tender all eager to set it up on the beach! Kenny and I were the advance party to select a site and erect aforementioned cabana ! It’s the pineapple pattern, very tropical. We selected the site, erected the pineapple haven in a few minutes remarking to each other “.. how good are these things !! ..”. Set the folding chairs up angled to the shoreline to take advantage of the amazing vista the crew was to appreciate. The advance party returned to Charmer glancing back at out solitary cabana’s commanding view of Whitehaven. It was purely coincidental the chairs faced Charmer sitting pretty on the still millpond, however … I digress. We arrived back aboard while the crew finished their breakfast of champions - a cup of tea and a few pieces of toast .. is there no end to the luxury on this cruise ?
We grabbed towels, chairs and sunscreen (can’t forget the sunscreen .. it’s winter remember !!) and headed for the pineapple haven. I threw the dinghy anchor out a few metres and ‘Albo’ floated comfortably in about 30 cm of crystal clear water, even he was enjoying the conditions (boats are ‘she’, tenders are ‘he’).
Walking up to the cabana we commented it was like we were the only people on the beach .. which, if you consider the closest person to us … we were ! Needless to say we enjoyed the fruits of Whitehaven until late morning, hauled Albo back aboard and then BBQ’d bacon and egg rolls for lunch and headed for Airlie. The conditions remained pristine and the water glowing that turquoise blue and green colour that photos don’t really do justice, not to mention the islands surrounding the water in the photos. Liz and Kenny had a few days on land before they returned to NSW and the country life in Main Arm and we intended to anchor out the front of the marina wall in Airlie, drop them off then hang around for a few days until Steve and Marise arrived for our next visitor phase.
It was a 3 hour journey from Whitehaven and we dropped the pick out the front of the Coral Sea Marina, surrounded by mooring buoys it was a little worrying if things were to blow up. However, we were far enough away not to impact our sleep, well, my sleep at least. Next morning we would move.
The word must have been put out regarding our arrival. About 7:30 pm we were casually enjoying a wine watching the Comm Games when fireworks started in the centre of the bay. Well, that’s a nice welcome we thought. Thanks. Further research revealed we are now in the week of Airlie Beach Festival … bands, comedy shows, carnival on the foreshore etc .. it’s party time. Following the fireworks, which were fantastic, especially given our front row seat, an Indigenous band started playing inside one of the tents or from a pub, couldn’t really tell. Prominent with digereedoo we weren’t sure if someone was being sacrificed or he needed to tune his digg ! Anyway, it was great atmosphere for our first night back.
The wind chop patted the bow most of the night, but nothing too alarming. By morning the wind had abated to virtually nothing and the conditions were mild with the odd swell from a passing boat ( ie. now we’re out of the marina let’s see how fast this baby will go !). However, it was tolerable. We moved down towards the overview of Sorrento bar and bistro part of the Coral Sea Marina and set up for the next few days. It wasn’t long before the wind died down to nothing and the tidal current took over, rotating us almost 180 degrees to face Sorrento and the drinkers in the outside bar. There’s always one patron who has the loudest laugh and seems to be laughing at anything thrown at him …. Mate … you’ve had too much … get on the water ! I myself, never getting to that stage.
The afternoon was turning into a smooth haven for boats and a few more soon turned up to secure their spot, conditions were great. We invited Graham and Faye (Lagoon catamaran called Meraki we met in Pittwater before we left Sydney) for some drinks before the sun was down and enjoyed some banter on boats, the weather, family and general “what are your plans” stuff.
They returned to Meraki about 7:15 pm and it wasn’t long after that the fireworks were back on again. This time we were had more than a front row seat as they were pretty darn close to us, however, not nearly as close as the yacht you can see in the photos ! (check out the gallery photos). There was no wind, so the echoing of the fireworks were reverberating throughout Airlie Beach. Almost as if there was a celebration of the day, it was a nice way to close out the evening.
Tomorrow we decide if we stay for a day or two or do a bit of exploring north of Airlie Beach.
Onwards and upwards.
Here , There and Everywhere
05 August 2022 | Butterfly Bay
“Here there and everywhere … making each day of the year “…
Kenny and Liz arrived early on their Jetstar flight which was a pleasant surprise. We met at the trendoid cafe on the Coral Sea marina where your açai bowel is a cool $20 … thinking about that more, it’s about 8 litres of diesel .. how the cost of living has changed ! I’m not sure which value is better ?! Probably the bowl !
Anyway, we walked down to ‘P arm’ and our guests quickly settled down into Charmer. We took the scenic walk to Airlie Woolies to stock up for the tour. We caught a cab back as it was a little challenging carrying a case of beer, bottles of wine and of course, a little food to compliment the wine or is it the reverse ? No matter, we had enough for either approach. We jostled for position at the taxi rank and did the customary wave to any passing cab thinking they couldn’t quite see us waiting at the rank. Of course they all had passengers and we were doing the tourist salute as they passed. You can just imagine the cab drivers ‘tsch tsching’ as they drove past the frantic waving then noticing the stocked shopping trolley… mmpf.. tourists are back !
We eventually secured a taxi and arrived back to the marina in time to unpack, restock and make our 4:30 booking at the Garden Bar Bistro on the marina. An enjoyable welcoming night was had by all. Next morning we would depart for Nara Inlet after adding some fuel into Charmers tanks.
The morning rolled around to reveal a rather sunny morning with a scattered clouds. The obligatory cuppa and toast was devoured by all and we untied to head for the fuel wharf.
Rounding the last pontoon we could see the fuel wharf was clear of any boat. In we go. As we were tying up one of the marina attendants walked over and asked “have you booked in for fuel ?” .. “booked in for fuel ??” was my surprised response - “what do you mean ?” … During busy times the marina slap a booking system in place for fuel .. “I’ll call the office to see if you can get a booking time, you’ll have to come back”. Well, that was a nice how do you do ! Luckily we were reasonably well known in the office and although there was a boat on the way to get fuel ( who was booked) if we moved down the wharf to the end we could obtain the fuel we wanted. So, with the assistance of the attendant we pulled Charmer down to the northern end.
“Geez”, she said “how much does she weigh ?”… “about 45 tonnes”, I informed… “she’s moving quite easily then” she said as I was delivering pretty much all of the effort to pull her down to the end. I feigned a courteous smile and continued to manoeuvre Charmer to her new resting place to pump fuel.
After initiating the prepayment for the diesel the hose was placed into the filler and fuel starting flowing at a reasonable rate. An understatement in some respects as the numbers are just a blur as the dials click from 0 to 9 pretty darn quickly ! One of the crew members (who shall remain nameless), inadvertently bumped into the hose as it was filling the tank. Now, picture the panic that ensued…. Diesel was suddenly spewing out all over the side of the boat soaking the teak and basically almost bathing said crew member up to their knees in nice, fresh, smelly, oily diesel. In a somewhat coordinated and cool fashion, the trigger was shut off and replaced into the filler pipe to continue fueling. The first mate informed the marina attendant of the situation and we were advised not to let any of the diesel spill into the water - the ensuing paperwork a miserable nightmare. She proceeded to open the yellow ‘spill bin’ and hand out the soaking mats which we placed along the teak decking to soak up what diesel they could as we continued to fill Charmer’s tanks. Other crew members did a commendable job stopping the diesel making its way into the drains on deck by stuffing rags over grates and adopting a more than effective and responsible role in hazard prevention. Miserable nightmare avoided. Having seen what happens when diesel is accidentally spilled into the water on a previous trip, we averted an embarrassing situation becoming a major public spectacle at the marina ! Let’s just say both the first mate and I were witness to a boat owner whose friend thought the rod holder was the fuel filler cap … it wasn’t pretty.
So we waited until the fuel was in, cleaned up the ‘diesel soakers’ as best we could and placed them in a plastic bag marked ‘ hazardous waste ‘ and was instructed to “put that in the rubbish area”.
We backed out of the wharf, threw Charmer into a 3-pointer and headed off for the morning. The clean up commenced on the first opportunity outside the marina heads. Soapy hot water scrubbed into the teak and saloon wall exterior until we were all satisfied ‘the diesel has gone’. We were headed to Nara Inlet and once past the last protected landmass of Pioneer Point we copped a bit of wind chop as we headed east towards the inlet. Fortunately, (and thankfully for some of the crew), it wasn’t a rough ride at all.
Reaching Nara Inlet and navigating the narrow entrance we ventured down to the bottom of the inlet and cast an anchor in what we expected was about 5 metres of water. It soon became apparent we were just on the edge of a drop away and low tide would see us swing perilously close to the bottom. So we upped anchor and moved a little more towards the centre and a few hundred metres back down towards the end of the inlet. It ended up being a prime spot and once a few more boats arrived, we still had plenty of depth and swing room. It would be a nice hassle-free sleep tonight !
Night passed and we woke to the often sunny morning with the usual spattering of clouds that ‘burned away’ by early afternoon, today would be no different.
Leaving Nara Inlet I set up a trolling line out the back hoping to catch a monster from the deep. We travelled up the western side of Hook Island towards Hayman Island, passing between Black Island (a small island with good snorkelling) and the western most point of Hook Island before we turned to the east and approached Butterfly Bay. As we were travelling past Black Island the Marine Parks Catamaran followed us and pulled up alongside. It is a rather imposing vessel and probably 5 or six metres from our midships. I went out through the starboard side door to see if they wanted to speak, but with no sign of life I stared for a short time into the fully tinted windows without seeing head nor human and then they sped off. Quite weird really. We continued onto Butterfly Bay.
As we approached the Bay proper I was thinking about the trolling line out the back reminding myself I needed to bring it in. We entered the bay and I dropped the revs back to idle while I pulled in the line. As I was doing so the Marine Parks vessel seemingly appears from nowhere and kept a course that followed us into the bay. We selected a mooring buoy and secured the boat. All the time being watched by two of the Marine Parks guys in a dinghy they deployed earlier as they followed us in. This was becoming even more strange.
After we had secured the boat, they came over in their dinghy and asked who was the master of the vessel. “I am the Skipper” I said. “I need to talk to you .. can you come down to the back of the boat ?” the guy in the official-looking Marine Parks uniform requested. He had a camera hanging around his neck with two sound recorders and a nice little notebook in his hands. He asked who was trolling as we entered the bay and naturally I said I was. Well, that started a whole series of questions and answers that could have been avoided had they spoke to us when they passed us 20 minutes earlier. “Do you know you can’t troll in this bay, it’s a marine park”. “Yes” I replied “that’s why I bought the line in when we came in”… “but you had the line in as you came in - I’m going to need to board your vessel to see your trolling line”… it was at this stage I realised they had stitched me up and all the time they were planning how to nab me for trolling once I got into a protected area. To cut a long and ridiculous story short, my man in the Marine Parks uniform who proudly showed me his identification, issues me “with a caution today” and would be “passing my details on to the Marine Parks for their information”. I was informed twice that anything I said may and could be used in a court of law. So I basically said nothing.
It was such a disappointing welcome to Butterfly Bay and an even more disappointing introduction to the Marine Parks patrolling work. What an absolute waste of time and money they spent to ‘hunt me down’. I acknowledged I was doing the wrong thing as I entered the bay and did in fact pull the line in, but apparently I was over the starting GPS coordinates and should have done so earlier. Guilty as charged … send me to the salt mines.
It was all a bit of overkill to be honest, but there was no denying I had flaunted the rules. Luckily we didn’t catch anything as I’m sure they would have called for a black hawk helicopter to air lift me out to Borralin Correctional Centre jail.
Taking my details and snapping numerous evidence pictures, he eventually joined his escort in their dinghy and returned back to their mother ship, no doubt high giving each other and planning how to trap the next careless boating enthusiast. We settled in and enjoyed the beauty that is Butterfly Bay. There is a small secluded beach on the NE corner which we took advantage of in the tender and just soaked up the warm afternoon sun as we walked around the beach and went for the odd dip in the refreshing turquoise water. Goanna tracks in the sand indicating there was wildlife around - sizeable wildlife.
Back onboard late afternoon, Liz whipped up a very tasty risotto and we sat around watching the Commonwealth Games for a while. Bedtime was around 9:30 and one by one we sauntered off to the berths leaving Kath up watching Athletics track and field events.
Lying in bed waiting to doze off to sleep the silence was suddenly interrupted by a loud banging noise up the front of the boat. I’m sure we all had the same thought - someone is struggling to close a door somewhere on board. But then it happened again and then again. It was loud and images of a ‘boat on the loose’ filled my mind immediately … banging and scraping into Charmer’s bow. I raced upstairs and called to Kath “what the hell was that ?”… “I think a boat has hit us” she said. Hard to tell as it was pitch black and we were connected to a mooring buoy. We grabbed the torches and immediately started the search on both sides of the boat hoping to spot the offending boat or at least the offending tender that had unwittingly broke its tethered line off the back of someone’s boat. Scouring the perimeter we saw nothing, no sign of a tender, no close boat, no sign of any vessel anywhere near to us.
By this stage Kenny joined the search and we were all asking the same question ..”what the hell was that ?”. We were all hypothesising on what the noise sounded like it could be with no agreement, just puzzling laughs … After we settled down and deduced there was no offending craft, I considered there were two potential possibilities for the incident … the first; an off-course Russian sub surfacing in the hope they have located the Ukrainian humanitarian grain boat and the second, and most likely, it must have been a turtle surfacing in the dark which kind of made sense, but then again, do turtles travel at night ? Who really knows ? If they do, they need to improve their night-time navigation .. does FLIR have a marine animal division ? I’m sure someone somewhere has completed a Masters degree or PHD on the journey of the Whitsunday night turtle, but for now, we must assume that was the offending creature.
One more lap around the boat with torches blazing revealed no other evidence. Must have been a turtle.
Ok, let’s settle back into pre-sleep routine.
Tomorrow is another day … in paradise.
Cry Baby Cry
30 July 2022 | Smelly business
“Cry baby cry .. make your mother sigh … had a little problem at the local bird and bee ..”.
It’s been a relaxing time since the family returned to rainy ol’ Sydney town. Kath returned from Tweed Heads after visiting family (and Billi, who by now has been brainwashed into becoming a Byron Bay Greenie, I’ve been told he now enjoys bowls of brown lentils ! We will be enrolling him in K9 Boot Camp on his return ! ).
I’ve had some time to investigate a rather smelly problem. The VIP head (ie. visitors toilet), emits a rather pungent smell when flushed. Doesn’t matter how it’s used, but when you flush it, it smells like you’ve just opened up the black water tanks … not a pleasant experience by any means.
Thinking we had a ‘toilet problem’ I contacted the “Dunnright” plumbing team again and had a visit from Tony, the guy who expertly replaced our hot water system in mid June.
After explaining the smell emanating from the toilet when flushed he proceeded to explore the potential origins. Kind of like Mr Spock deploying sensors from the Starship Enterprise. “How do you get under the toilet?” he asked casually… I lifted the floor hatch where the hot water system was housed and commented “same area as the water heater”. Ah yes, familiarity washed across his face and down he jumped. It wasn’t long before his assessment (no doubt from the sensor probe) that the toilet system was in fact in excellent condition, the hoses and toilet system operating to expectation. The smell was coming from somewhere else.
Dion, his young apprentice was asked to flush the toilet while we remained in the master bedroom. Flush… no smell … “flush it again” came the instruction. Flush … within what seemed like a second, a massive stench filled the air and into our noses and it was clear .. yep, there’s a smell alright. We opened cupboards and sniffed around the wardrobe like we were searching for truffles .. but alas, no smell. “Flush it again” he cried to Dion .. flush .. and the tantalising smell of a thousand rotten eggs filled our senses. “Ha-har “ .. we summarised .. it’s coming from outside and coming back into the boat. It wasn’t long before we deduced, mainly Tony rather than I, that it was the tank odour filter .. it was failing. That’s when things started to get really interesting.
You see, when boats are being built a large number of primary features, gadgets and services are laid out against the hull, attached to the hull lining if required, or attached to lengths of hosing or pipes for water or air or waste .. whatever they may be designed to carry. All neatly affixed to the inside of the vessel. Then the cupboards and other mouldings are installed, sometimes on top of said pipes or hoses, cabinets set in places that butt up against hoses and pipes or pieces of machinery etc. - are you sensing where I’m going with this ?
I consulted Charmer’s vessel ‘manual’ to locate the ‘toilet services’ schematic. There where odour filters installed for each head, the challenge now would be to locate them. After following the main piping from the toilet pump, through to the master bedroom we lifted the mattress and the mattress base hatch covers to locate the black water tanks ie. waste tanks. Beautifully installed under the king size bed are two quite large stainless steel tanks in exceptional condition with all components showing no sign of leakage or damage. We then followed the exit pipes to the side of the boat approximately where the vents were situated on the outside of the hull. Great, it was evident the location was somewhere behind the cupboards that formed the corner of the master bedroom on the starboard side. I removed all the clothing from the cupboards, removed the sectioned shelving, expertly cut and fitted into the location with sometimes 6 different angled cuts to fit, to reveal another panel screwed into the wall of the cupboard. A-har … this must be the location of the odour filter ! Unscrewing the panel there it was, in all it’s glory .. the top of the odour filter wedged behind 2 large white pipes and a number of cables, sitting there knowing full well that it was in an absolutely diabolical and protected location to be removed.
“Right”, says Tony, “we’ll just take that out and get it replaced”. After about 30 mins of educated assessment and attempted removal it was clear this filter wasn’t going anywhere. Access to the bottom of the filter was made through another panel in the lower cupboard, the view obscured by one of the stabilisers hydraulics component and the accompanying pipes and cables from above. Tony wedged his body inside the cupboard and he pushed and pulled that bloody filter but it wasn’t coming out.
I suggested we (ie. Tony) purchase another filter and attach it to the existing one, now becoming a slave if you like, so the new one did the job of filtering the smelly air before being exited outside the boat. Tony acknowledged that was an acceptable solution. So, a rag was inserted into the top of the existing filter with the careful instruction of “I wouldn’t use that toilet if I was you”. I didn’t need too much convincing.
Fast forward 18 hours… no new filter.. no update despite my texting and voicemail messages. 4:45 pm arrived and I called yet again. Apparently there was a problem obtaining a filter in the Whitsundays… but they would keep at it.
The next day dawns and no update .. it’s such an unfortunate scenario, the marine industry doesn’t do itself any favours - customers ie. me in this case; just want to know what is happening; particularly when it concerns your toilet ! Anyway, a returned call 15 minutes after my message revealed they have sourced a filter and would be there within the hour. Bewdy.
Tony did in fact turn up within the hour (yes, I was shocked), triumphantly holding the new odour filter. “Geez”, I said as he held it aloft like he’d just beaten Michael Jordon for MVP, “.. it’s a big sucker …” I remarked.
We immediately went down to the cupboard area to assess the situation. A number of strategies were proposed, cutting this and doing that, adding some hose here and there and positioning the new filter there or possibly there .. however, in the end we both agreed “it ain’t gonna fit !”. Talk about deflated. “Well mate” I painstakingly expressed to Tony, “you’ll have to put it back together and I’ll get some enzymes to pour into the tank” (the last few days of issues warranted options and I found a number of articles on the use of enzymes, apparently very effective).
Dejected, he walked off the boat with filter in hand to obtain the extra tools to reconnect the existing filter. Returning shortly after with the new filter still in his hand, he had another plan. He would cut the existing filter out, remove some of the existing plumbing, adjust the position of the filter so if ever it is replaced again it will be more easily done and the job will be done right - just like the name of the plumbing company - ‘Dunnright plumbing’. Now we are talking !
By the time I had walked back up top to update the First Mate and then back again to the scene of ‘filtergate’, he had already cut the existing hose to the top of the filter. “I’m going to get more hose and I need this to get the right size”. And he was off.
To improve access further, I volunteered to remove yet another panel in the lower cupboard above the Naiad stabiliser unit. Bending my arm and back in unnatural ways to unscrew a panel revealed improved access … Low and behold the bottom of the existing filter was plain to see and an obvious point of extraction became apparent. My confidence grew immediately.
By now, reading this, or maybe you have stopped, you’re probably wondering how long can this go on for ? Well, I can tell you one thing, Tony returned and stealthily repositioned himself in said cupboards to remove the existing filter. I heard a power-saw cut through what I assumed was the existing hose and he completely removed the old filter and reattached the new unit. The finished product, with the help of Dion who returned with him, was excellent and it was ‘Dunne right’.
After a few flushes it was all agreed there was no smell - smiles all round !
I volunteered to replace all the shelving and panelling and thanked them for the great job yet again. “Don’t hold it against me if I don’t speak to you again” was my parting remark.
Having said that, there is always something that will fail, break or need investigation on a boat … that’s just the way it is.
Onwards and upwards.
All Things Must Pass
22 July 2022 | Hamo marina on departure day
"Sunrise doesn't last all morning, cloudburst doesn't last all day ..."
Somewhat reflective lyrics that hold pretty true no matter what.
The sunrise, or at least some light, couldn't come quickly enough and as soon as I could see the surrounding area we dropped the mooring rope and headed off ! There were no complaints from any of the crew. We were headed for Cid Harbour and smooth water. We still had the tender down in the water and I attached a longer tether line to make the towing less troublesome for the dinghy. Cruising at 7-8 knots the tender looked quite comfortable bobbing around in Charmer's whitewash of wake.
It was a reasonable journey around the top of Whitsunday Island to the northern side of Cid Harbour and a useful resting spot was spied just before the open entrance to the harbour ... there were about 5 boats anchored and it was calm and rather than go around the corner I thought this would provide some respite for a while. Lion Point was fully protected from the SE so we positioned Charmer and dropped anchor between two boats spread across an area more than 100 metres away. Feeling quite happy with our position I shifted Charmer into reverse to set the anchor. A strange rumbling sound emanated from the rear ... oh buggar .. the dinghy line !!! I quickly shifted into neutral and ran down to the stern expecting to see an upturned dinghy and chaos everywhere. The crew were still chatting away totally oblivious to the misery I had just created. I looked over at Dan and exclaimed ..." .. I think I just wrapped the dinghy rope around the prop ... ".
Sure enough, I peeked over the stern to find the dinghy sitting pretty close to the transom board (floating very still as if guilty of some crime and waiting for punishment), as Dan reached over and grabbed the painter. He held it up to show it had been completely severed ! Well, I thought to myself, at least the rope cutters on the prop shafts did their job. But how much was wrapped around the prop ? A quick trip below deck for a goggle and snorkel will give me that answer. I donned my swimmers, grabbed my underwater knife (also doubles as the bait knife), folded out the swim-stairs, spat in the goggles and eased the body into the chalky blue for my early morning swim. Did I mention there are floating buoys throughout Cid Harbour warning of sharks and not to swim ? .... What's life without a little nervous excitement ? The painter attached to Charmer's cleat was taught and was an easy slice with the knife to cut through the rope. It was obvious the rope cutter was very effective as there was only about 4 or 5 loops around the shaft before the cutter did it's thing. I managed to make two heavy strikes with the knife thinking to myself .. " .. hey this knife is pretty sharp " ... and pulled the wound rope off the shaft removing all traces of previously experienced misery. At the same time trying to scan the water for any sign of marine life. As I climbed out of the water the first mate exclaimed, ".. you know there's sharks around here don't you ?" .... Hey, someone could have cared before I dived under the boat !
With the problem averted we headed into Cid Harbour proper (where we should have journeyed to) and dropped anchor - paying full attention to the revised length of tether line on the dinghy !
After another lack-lustre fishing effort managing the swirling current we decided to retreat into a marina and booked a few nights into Port of Airlie to recuperate. This wind is non forgiving and although you can get out of the swell, which is nice, the wind persists.
Our journey back to Port of Airlie was pleasant enough and we settled in for a day or two in the marina. The shops are close to the marina and we took advantage to top up on essentials ... boutique beer, spirits and a few things for the kiddies ! The weather remained sunny and we were soon back out cruising around to find those elusive fish.
We ventured out towards Happy Bay and then Palm Bay where we pulled up a visitors mooring after exploring the shallow waters in front of the resort beach. A thought bubble ensued... I guess the moorings were installed for that very reason, if you go in close, you're gonna get get beached ! We deployed the fishing gear yet again with lines running in all directions eagerly waiting for the monster of the deep to throw themselves on the hooks. Tommy, throwing any cares to the wind decided he would fish naked and proceeded to cast off the transom deck, parentally warned and being careful not to jag any body appendage (gallery photo carefully selected). There was some minor success but was returned to the chalky blue .. we want the bigger stuff !
After a genuine effort with no reward we decided to take a trip into the resort grounds and have a look around. What a great resort it is. Palm Bay Resort is very secluded and very quiet. We naturally discovered the main bar and pool area hidden amongst palm trees and thick planting expertly positioned to hide the built structures. This would be a great place to zone out for a while. It was quiet, had a great feel and was protected from most of the bad winds the Whitsundays cop. With the purchase of a few beers the kids were permitted to swim in the pool and generally enjoy the facility. On our way in there was a team of guys trimming the coconut palms, the serenity being marred by chainsaw motors at full tilt ! Needless to say as soon as Sophia saw the coconuts falling from the sky she exclaimed to Reensy ..".. mum, can we have one of those coconuts ?". The workman encouraged her to "pick one out", so we had a companion with us as we sipped on our beers around the pool. Kind of like 'Wilson' from Castaway, only if you kicked this it would break your foot. Anyway, Sophia was very excited to have her own coconut.
Back aboard after our land exploration we again decided to head for Hamo for the remaining two nights with the family as the weather clearly wasn't doing us any favours unless you were bunkered down in a protected bay. We had sunshine which was nice and were lucky enough to secure a good berth in Hamo for the remaining time. Being in Hamo also provided a location for a few short trips in and out of the marina, which is what we ended up doing.
A last-ditch effort to get to Whitehaven on the morning of their departure was aborted as the swell was ever-present in Fitzalan Passage yet again. Despite my early morning reconnaissance in the dinghy to gauge the conditions, we were fighting 1-2 metre swells and becoming worse the more we ventured NE towards Solway Passage, the last point before the turn into Whitehaven Beach.
It was a well-timed u-turn that set us on a course for Henning Island and hopefully some protection from the sou'easter. It was, yet again, an opportunity to land the fish we wanted ! Unfortunately this trip was not going to have the kids play on the Whitehaven sand, maybe another time.
Yet again the fish eluded us, primarily due to low tide we surmised and what creature would be out from home in these windy conditions was another thought. We headed back to the marina, tied up and decided a trip to the main resort was warranted. We walked to a deserted shuttle bus stop, waved the green bus down and headed for the resort. We then swapped buses and ventured up to One Tree Hill where the view around Hamilton Island is pretty special. The sunset bar is on the list for a drink at some stage, being around 11:00 am, it as a tad early for a rum mojito ! Luckily the bar doesn't open until 3:00 pm.
We got back to the marina about lunchtime and visited Popeyes Bakery for a fill of sausage rolls, a pie and a very generous chicken sandwich. All consumed with vigour and excitement as the sauce was spread across sausage rolls and faces !
It was back to Charmer to finalise packing and then a walk to the airport for their departing flight. Sad to see them go, but great to have had them onboard for a week. It will be another 3 months or so before we can hug them again.
With Kath in Tweed Heads visiting family, it was up to me to get the boat back to Coral Sea Marina the next day and bunker down until Sunday when Kath returns.
The weather has taken a turn for the best, with the winds settled and the sun out. One day late - typical !!! Looks like I will be taking short bursts around the waterways in the tender until my first mate returns !
Got To Get You Into My Life
20 July 2022 | Palm Bay
.."... I was alone I took a ride, I didn't know what I would find there .. another road where maybe I could see another sign there ...".
Well, that kind of reflects the last week or so ... we have been waiting for Dan and Reensy and the kids to arrive and arrive they did ! It's been a while since we had some real action and I'm happy to say we have had a few exciting chapters in Cruising with Charmer. We've had a few rides, mainly to escape the wind, but always enjoying everyone's company aboard. Bloody terrific to have them with us !
Dan, Reensy, Sophia and Tommy flew into Hamilton Island on Thursday afternoon. Being the optimistic one I enquired about an 'airport transfer' a few days before they arrived. Unfortunately I was informed that buggy hire (there are at least 9,435 on Hamilton Island - or at least that's what it feels like), need to be booked one month in advance. Rightyothen... looks like we walk to and from the airport.
Like a scene from 'The Castle' we met the family at the arrival gates, great hugs and tearful greetings ... we exchanged the kids bags for hand holding and set off back to the marina ... walking. All that was missing was the shopping trolley. It was confirmed, Twister was not an option on the movie list.
We were berthed in the penultimate pen position on F arm .. 'Foxtrot Sierra 5'. Any closer to Dent Island and we could jump off to have a round of golf ie. it was a long walk from the Hamo shore to the boat. On a brighter note, it was a short journey to get out with plenty of manoeuvring room. We pulled in bow-first next to a rather large 'super yacht' whose rub rails were level with our flybridge. A large, bulbous boat built by Horizon, there seems to be a few models of these around here. Rather pretentious some may say. Ah, so what, this is Hamilton Island and it was a great day and we had a good berth and the beast next to us sheltered us somewhat from the 30+ knots of wind that blew in Hamo on that night.
It was all somewhat passé as we intended to depart for the white shores of Whitehaven Beach about 10:30 am. Once tied up we decided on a reconnaissance mission; aka, a visit to the pub. With Sophia and Tommy in tow, we headed off to the Hamo Tavern for a few welcoming quiet ones. We returned to Charmer in time for the glowing sunset and after numerous, non-relenting checks out to the bow, the full moon finally rose above the mountain behind us.... "Look Tommy, look ... it's a full moon!"... shrieked Sophia .. " .. I like it " .... came the giggly reply from Tommy as he strangled Bunny closer to his chest. The night was off to a good start. The Skipper whipped up a batch of his somewhat famous spagbol (famous only within the small family group) and both Sophia and Tommy came back for seconds ... we started on a few reds in anticipation of the adults spagbol and slowly worked up to boiling the spaghetti for us ! Bedtime was approaching for Sophia and Tommy because tomorrow we are going to the beach !
The day started early, partly because Sophia and Tommy rise about 5:30 am and partly because the Skipper and his son always seem to get up early anyway ... no sleeping in when there's things to be done ! It wasn't long before the two dads took Sophia and Tommy for a morning walk and an opportunity to grab a morning coffee and possibly a snack for the grandkids.
It wasn't long before we stopped at a cafe that was being heavily queued by the local workforce and visitors just arriving on the daily ferry. Naturally as soon as the kids spotted the donut shaped biscuits with blue icing there was going to be demands - all in a days trip to the cafe. Dan stumped up with my coffee and the treats for kids which were whoofed down before we finished our coffees. The only trace was the blue smears of icing surrounding Tommy's mouth - from the look on their faces they were more than enjoyed. To make matters even better, as we were leaving one of the servers suggested they have a baby-cnos each. Dad, quickly went back up to the counter and baby-cinos were on their way !
Dan and Reensy wanted to have a look around Hamo and the best way to do that was on the free shuttle bus. We walked up to a less frequented pickup spot at the pub area and beat the line of punters we walked past. Clearly a partial local knowledge advantage. Picking up the 'line of punters' at the next stop meant some did not board .. standing room only ! The shuttle bus provides a great view of the resort area and general features of Hamo. I stayed on to return to the boat to prepare for our departure while Dan, Karina and the kids stepped off at one of the resorts to look around and walk back.
We departed at 10:30 and headed for Whitehaven Beach. Turning into Fitzalan Passage and passing the Hamo resort to starboard it was evident the wind was doing us no favours. The trade winds have continued and grown in their intensity blowing up chop and sending waves over the starboard side bow requiring the wipers to once again operate with the crystal clear backdrop of blue skies above us. It wasn't long before some of the crew were looking a little green, not really enjoying the choppy conditions. As I said to Dan, "don't let anyone tell you it never gets rough in the Whitsundays ... as you can see, it can be 'quite unpleasant'...".
We rounded Solway Passage and headed into a calm looking Whitehaven Beach. The southern corner was quite protected but busy with tourist boats coming and going. We headed for a position about 500-600 metres down the beach. It was blowing over 25 knots but the water was relatively smooth. As we approached our targeted area Dan said, "hey dad check out the Seaplane over there ..." ... I replied back ..".. that's a chopper mate.."; then he said .."..no, not there .. over there (pointing to my right through the starboard side windows)". Bloody hell, there was a seaplane heading straight for us and there was nothing I could do in such a short space. As he approached closer you could see he was trying to get some air speed and altitude ... he was getting pretty close as he (kind of) dipped his wing toward us as if to say "... no worries mate ..." .. like ... you are kidding ?? .. scared the crap out of us. He flew over us what seemed like 10 feet above the roof ie. bloody close, to the bow and flybridge. I was worried about the aerials on the flybridge roof !!! I looked over at Dan and he was looking at me and said ... "... is he allowed to do that ?..". My immediate thought was ..".. buggared if I know ...".. which was pretty close to what I genuinely felt ! Don't recall having any seaplane regs in the boating license .. maybe I missed that section. The issue was further exasperated by the strong SE wind so any sound from the opposite direction was effectively muffled out. Anyway, as he almost collected Charmer's flybridge, I spotted an obvious smear of dirt just near the rego number on the belly .. he needs to get it cleaned ! I would hazard a guess seaplanes command right of way ... one thing for sure, when you see them up real close like we did, they are rather invasive !
Once we recovered from the near seaplane disaster we attempted to anchor ... all in all 3 times before we decided to visit the western side of Hazelwood Island offering mooring buoys and better protection. It was a strong breeze ! We motored over to Chalkies Beach and pulled up one of the moorings. After a short time the crew then decided they would like to reach the overnight location and settle in for the afternoon. Tongue Bay was selected for the evening.
It was a 40 minute journey along the crystal sands of Whitehaven Beach to Tongue Bay and we arrived to find a selection of mooring buoys and settled in for the afternoon, looking forward to our evening and night festivities. Everyone except for Katie ventured out to the beach and while the Skipper stayed behind with the tender, Dan and family trekked across to Betty's Beach. Luckily I did stay as the tide was dropping and it was falling fast, I moved the tender away a couple of times from the increasing number of rocks being exposed and was hoping they would return soon.
While waiting for the exploratory team to return another boaty arrived and offloaded a mother and young daughter .. "the tide is still going down mate" was the informed comment. Thanks Sherlock, I thought. Mind you he was right, and it was happening quickly. By the time the trekkers returned rocks were aplenty and we had to walk the tender out a few hundred metres to find some depth. Back on board, it wasn't long before the coral reef was fully exposed and no water present between the reef and the beach. The mother and daughter had to walk a few hundred metres across the exposed coral reef to be picked up. Luckily, we made it out before it reached low tide!
We settled in for an excellent BBQ and sunset drinkies while we discussed the days activities. Unfortunately the rolling swell increased as the night wore on and it was a most uncomfortable nights sleep. The best part was the kids slept well and didn't find it a problem .. must have been all the rocking.
The skipper was up from 4:00 am waiting impatiently for the sun to rise to get the hell outa there ! He was joined shortly after 4:30 am by his eldest son and there was nothing but joint agreement on when we were leaving ! As usual, the only saving grace was that the other 6 boats in the bay had experienced the same misery! Now, where's that cup of coffee ?
Onwards and upwards.