SV SEAKA: CRUISING AUSTRALIA IN 2019.

Vessel Name: SEAKA
Vessel Make/Model: 1969 Top Hat Mark 1
Hailing Port: Camden Haven Inlet NSW Australia
Crew: Phillip Bowman
About: Sailing the Australian East Coast towards Lizard Island, 2019
Extra: The Top Hat Mark 1's were built by Baker in Sydney from 1965 to 1971. Seaka was built in 1969 and launched in 1970 from the boat ramp under the new Tom Ugly’s Bridge in Sydney.
11 September 2019
30 August 2019 | MacKay Marina.
19 August 2019 | Airlie Beach
06 August 2019 | Airlie Beach
06 August 2019 | Approaching Pacific Creek and SunHill 9th July.
01 July 2019 | The Narrows.
23 May 2019 | Dunbogan in the Camden Haven Inlet NSW
01 February 2017 | Approaching Port Stephen Heads
23 October 2015 | Camden Haven in sight at last.
14 October 2015
09 October 2015 | Moreton Bay
26 September 2015 | Off Pancake Creek
19 September 2015 | Sunrise beyond Round Island at the entrance to Port Clinton.
13 September 2015 | Island Head Creek
05 September 2015 | Outer Newry Island anchorage
01 September 2015 | Crayfish bay
30 August 2015 | Cape Gloucester
24 August 2015 | Cape Gloucester
23 August 2015 | Refuge Bay, in Nara Inlet, Hook Island.
Recent Blog Posts
11 September 2019

Sitting in Gladstone Marina.

The Tidal Range at MacKay Marina

30 August 2019 | MacKay Marina.

Waiting at MacKay Marine for better weather

On the 8th August we set off from Airlie Beach to find the sea like glass as we made our way to Hook Passage and down the eastern side of Whitsunday Island to the Whitehaven Beach area. We finally anchored in Windy Bay on Haslewood Island, going ashore for a refreshing swim before dark.

19 August 2019 | Airlie Beach

Photos Added.

New photos have been added in the photo folder called:

06 August 2019 | Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach to 7th August. Pearl Bay Beach

On Monday [22nd July] we were away at 0645 for the sail across to Curlew Island. This was one of our better sails with gentle winds, the tide with the wind and a low general swell. I arrived at noon in company of Lewie and Third Man. A lunch of pasta on Third man was enjoyed by all. We also found Sylphide [...]

06 August 2019 | Approaching Pacific Creek and SunHill 9th July.

To West Bay on Middle Percy Island

On Tuesday [2nd July] I moved out Maria Inlet where I caught up with a few jobs that had been put off for some time. That night we dragged 150m downstream, this was caused by the extremely high 5m tides we are experiencing at the moment. So the next night [3rd July] we did the same but I stayed up till [...]

01 July 2019 | The Narrows.

Third 2019 post

Third Edition:

Sitting in Gladstone Marina.

11 September 2019
Phillip Bowman | Fine with strong winds
The Tidal Range at MacKay Marina

On Saturday [31st August] I serviced the inboard motor and looked at the weather which meant we are here for another 24 hours. I went for a walk along the marina break wall, something I haven't done before. As we have paid for Sunday we "planned" to leave that night and we did at 0500 [2nd Sept.] into a flat sea with a 5 knot SW wind, perfect! We attain speeds around 6 knots plus which meant we were anchored at Curlew Island at 1400 hours.

Tuesday [3rd Sept.] night was a bit rough with the NE wind and we will now face this problem all the way south as our anchorages from going north are now all exposed to the northerly winds. We had also anchored in a bit close, assuming we would lay to the north but in fact we lay to the south, and ended up with only 30cm below the keel at low water. The other overnight problem was that the mast had started to creak in the mast girder again with the rough conditions. This resulted in several visits to the mast with lubricating grease and spray before I was able to get to sleep again.

We got away at first light to find little wind and a very flat sea. So we were motoring again. We were slowed as we approached Hunter Island as the tide had changed against us before anchoring in our usual bay.

On Wednesday [4th Sept.] we motor sailed south with the tide towards Island Head Creek. Once again the seas were flat with about a knots worth from the sails. At first the tide was of great assistance but by the time we reached Cape Townsend we were battling the flooding tide and Seaka was down to 1.9 knots. So I said to myself "why not" and I got out the spinnaker.

Now for those who don't know, I've never flown a spinnaker before, so this was going to a bit of a learning curve. It took me over an hour to sort it out and rig it correctly but then came the moment when I hoisted the spinnaker. Wow, it worked and on the starboard tack our speed increased up to 5 knots which was great. For the next couple of hours we steadily approached Island Head Creek where in my wisdom I decided that I should jibe the spinnaker around onto the port tack. Well after a bit of the heart in the mouth stuff we got onto the port tack and heading into the anchorage with the port gunnels under water and doing well over 6 knots, gulp!

Inside Island Head Creek I found that things had change a bit since we came through a couple of months ago, the most dramatic being the changes in the harbour depths, which were shallower. So now I had to get that bloody spinnaker down! After trying several ideas I eventually just pulled in the tack as far as I could and let the head go until it hit the water were I was able to haul it all over the port safety wires. Later I would dry it off so I could put it in its bag. It would not be until Gladstone where I was able to fold it up and bag it correctly.

After surviving a night of an enormous number of midges, we motored down to Pear Bay [5th Sept.] where we anchored in clear water. I immediately got in the water to give Seaka's bottom a scrape to remove more of the growth we've had since we left the Camden Haven Inlet. The increased speed we got was worth the effort so I will have to do that more often. While there with the clear water I was able to check that the sounder was reading the correct depth under the keel. After 1330 Greg and I motored down to Port Clinton, doing our phone calls as we crossed the entrance and up to the southern anchorage. Once there I found the NW'er put us on a lee shore so we turned around and went back north to Perforated Head where we found a calm anchorage from the now very strong NW wind.

On Friday [6th Sept.] I was away at 0430, an hour before Greg, with the tide in my favour doing 5 knots plus under motor and sail. Just before Manifold Head and Island we caught our first fish after some 1300 nautical miles. Unfortunately it was 80cm long [too big] and a Mac Tuna which is only suitable for bait. So one lucky fish got to swim again. Still motor sailing on over a flat sea we finally approach North Keppel Island where the NE wind started to pick up to give us a rollicking sail into Long Beach on Great Keppel Island. There we joined a host of boats that would number over forty as they continued to arrive overnight. By first light the next morning [7th Sept.] they started to depart so that by 0700 when we departed, less than half were still in the bay. I don't know where they went.

Seaka was able to sail directly for The Narrows giving us a pleasant change from motor sailing. Arriving at The Narrows we had to motor again to get to the start of the crossing where we had a two hour wait for the tide to be an hour from official high tide. We found it very hot there with the thermometer reaching 31 degrees C. We were later to hear that the day before it had reached 33 degrees there.

Three yachts crossed The Narrows with one doing it for the first time and panicking when they radioed that their chart plotter showed them crossing land. They had to be told sternly to ignore their chart plotter and just follow the buoyage! Later they received a photo of The Narrows at low tide to prove they had "sailed upon the land". Once through The Narrows we motored down to Targinie Creek where we completed our anchoring just on dark.

The next morning [8th Sept.] we had a 2 hour sail and motor with the tide down to the Gladstone Marina. The staff at the marina are the friendliest I know of and we always enjoy a bit of banter with them. During the day I discovered that the protective coating to my glasses is breaking down, I just hope it doesn't get to the point where I can't use them for reading.

Monday [9th Sept.] was a shopping day for fuel and food. Had a last shower, there will be no more showers before I get home as this is the last marina of our voyage.

Well Tuesday [10th Sept.] didn't start off very well as we now have a strong wind warning for our area today and the narrow window we had to get to Pancake Creek is two hours shorter. So the decision was made to abort today's sailing, this is at 0600 with a strong wind blowing, until Friday where we plan to sail to Pancake Creek, Saturday to Burnett Heads and then Monday to the Great Sandy Strait with a possible crossing of the Wide Bay Bar sometime next week.

Oh, and that last shower is delayed until Friday morning!

There are new photos in the 2019 Gallery.


Waiting at MacKay Marine for better weather

30 August 2019 | MacKay Marina.
Phillip Bowman | Fine and windy from SE
On the 8th August we set off from Airlie Beach to find the sea like glass as we made our way to Hook Passage and down the eastern side of Whitsunday Island to the Whitehaven Beach area. We finally anchored in Windy Bay on Haslewood Island, going ashore for a refreshing swim before dark.

The next day [9th August] we moved over to Whitehaven Beach to observe the tourist hoards that arrive and leave there every day. Greg and I went ashore and climbed the track up to the Chance Bay lookout where we were able to make a few phone calls. It seems strange but there is still no phone coverage on the eastern side of the islands when you consider the number of tourist, near half a million, that come out here every year. There was an assortment of vessels here with stink boats causing havoc with their wakes and float planes flying at mast height, well below the 500 metre minimum.

On Saturday [10th August] we got up early to go to Gulnare Inlet, but having stuck our heads out into Solway Passage to find 15 knots of wind we turn around and headed north up towards Hook Passage. With the tide taking us north and light winds we enjoyed a wing an wing [sails on opposite sides of Seaka] sail, getting up to 5 knots! During that sail I kept smelling this awful smell and it was some time before I realized it was coming from the whales astern of us. There were plenty of whales around that day. Once we rounded Hook Passage we found a south west sea coming in so moved around to Nara Inlet for lunch before moving onto Cid Harbour. We had gone to Cid Harbour in anticipation of strong winds over the next few days. In Cid Harbour we found a line of reef markers, we are not allowed to anchor between them and the shore and nobody had. It wasn't until next day that I discovered that they were actually warning of the shark attacks occurring in Cid Harbour. We spent the next day [11th August] sheltering from the winds.

On Monday [12th August] it was still blowing hard in the morning but by lunchtime we were able to get away for Stonehaven Anchorage where we found a mooring and I set up the four buoys to prevent the mooring buoy banging on the hull. I tried all sorts of lures that night but did not even get a nudge. The next morning [13th August] we made our way around to Butterfly Bay with the intention of holing up for another three days of strong winds. On arrival I was lucky enough to get the inner mooring which I've always wished to get on during my last two visits but were unable to do so. That afternoon I dived on Seaka's hull and using a wide plastic plaster trowel to removed the fur growing there.

Over the next two days [14th & 15th August] it blew hard, at times gusts over 25 knots, but we were comfortable on the mooring. With not much happening I baked a chocolate cake and did a bit of snorkeling around the bay.

With the weather improving we moved [16th August] around to the back of Nara Inlet where we visited the Aboriginal cave shelter and then moved back out to do phone calls and emails before finally anchoring in Refuge Bay off Nara Inlet. We stayed there another day with Greg catching a Trevally which provided a welcome change of diet.

On Sunday [18th August] we motored out to the entrance of Nara Inlet and enjoyed a sail across to Airlie Beach. Once there we entered the marina going to the public dock where I filled up the water tank. I had used 5 litres a day since being in Gladstone. The next day [19th August] I spent shopping which included buying an extra 10 litre fuel drum to get us through some of the longer stretches down south. Then the next two days [20th & 21st] were too windy to go north to the Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club get together at Cape Gloucester.

Finally on the Thursday [22nd August] I got away for Cape Gloucester. On the way I was boomed again by a stink boat who passed, less the 100m ahead, across my course. Arriving at the Cape around lunch time I went ashore and registered, got a number 2 haircut, I enjoyed that, and got rid of all the books I had read to a sale table.

The next day [23rd August] I caged a lift ashore to go to the Shag Islet Day. A very windy day and we can now see that there are only about half the boats that were here in 2015. Saturday [24th August] greeted us with low clouds and rain all of which had cleared by 1000 hours, so allowing the Hands Across The Seas to go ahead. It was still rough for my small dinghy but as Frank, in Third Man from Port Macquarie, and I were first there we got a sheltered position behind the 90' three deck stink boat from which the event would be conducted. After the official bit we were all invited aboard, there weren't that many people, for Champagne and eats. The interior of the boat was well appointed and the liquor and food flowed freely, so much so that I would only stand one more drink that night!

Returning to our yachts we soon noticed that there was a police inflatable doing the circuit which caused most of us to call for the ferry boat to avoid them. I reckon I was over the limit at that stage, after the free liquor that day, so really had no choice. Having had not intending to be at the Shaggers do I had no fancy gear for this Rio night but the good people on Third Man and Freya came to the party with enough gear to pass muster. The only downer for the day was the chicken in the evening dinner ashore which was not properly cook and early the next morning, when I got rid of it, I felt so much better.

Spent the next morning [25th August] I repacked the forward lockers and gave Third Man my copy of Going Troppo as they are heading further north. I went ashore for the Pirate Party at lunchtime but found it to be pretty lame compared to 2015 when there were more yachts here. Later that day I got Seaka ready for sea.

So, at first light on Monday 26th August I turned Seaka for home and along with a stream of yachts took the Gloucester Passage south. I was motoring as the wind was on the nose [again] but I was keeping up with the bulk of that fleet. A couple of hours later I had to turn the AIS receiver off as the poor chart plotter was struggling with receiving all the information from so many moving vessels around me. Around midday off Airlie Beach we had a baby whale doing leaps some 100m off Seaka's starboard bow. With conditions so good I decided to motor on down pass Long Island arriving an hour before dusk at Puritan Bay on the north side of Round Head on Cape Conway.

I had planned to leave at midnight but as I had had only a short disturbed sleep due to the short swell coming into the Bay, put it off to first light. So at first light [Tuesday, 27th August] we lifted the anchor and by 0730 had cleared Cape Conway and pointed our nose directly for MacKay. We saw several whales during the day but none close to us. As I passed Thomas Island, way to the east, a 30 to 40 foot yacht joined me, but he was sailing, and for most of the day he tacked back and forth but never getting any further than 2-300 metres in front of me, as he crossed my course, until he gave up and tacked away to Brampton Island. We continued to motor on, trying at various times during the day to get the Genoa to draw, but without any luck. It was 1800 hours as we rounded the last corner to line up the lead lights to the harbour and just as it turned pitch black, we motored in between the walls. It was then a dash to get fish'n'chips [Mackerel] and a shower before crashing into bed.

On Wednesday and Thursday [28th & 29th August] I did shopping and cleaning. The fuel and water were topped up, the engine serviced. Friday [30th August] was spent writing this blog and doing a last few jobs. We leave early Sunday morning for Curlew Island some 45 nautical miles away to the south.

I have added photos to the 2019 album. To see the photo titles hover your mouse pointer over the photo.

Photos Added.

19 August 2019 | Airlie Beach
Phillip Bowman | Fine with strong winds
New photos have been added in the photo folder called:

Seaka's 2019 Voyage to the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland.

Airlie Beach to 7th August. Pearl Bay Beach

06 August 2019 | Airlie Beach
Phillip Bowman
On Monday [22nd July] we were away at 0645 for the sail across to Curlew Island. This was one of our better sails with gentle winds, the tide with the wind and a low general swell. I arrived at noon in company of Lewie and Third Man. A lunch of pasta on Third man was enjoyed by all. We also found Sylphide was still here but with her furler now back up. Turns out Catherine had manage a temporary repair to her furler but now had problems with her engine. Other at Curlew had had a look at the engine but had not found out what was wrong so Greg and I had a look and discovered that a bolt hole had been stripped on the fuel return to the fuel filter. The whole unit was replaced in Mackay. Just on evening Greg and I saw 2 metre Mackerel jumping high in the air as they chased bait fish.
Tuesday [23rd July] saw a daylight start and once clear of the sandbar and rocks around Curlew Island the light winds required the use of the iron sail if we were ever to get to MacKay today. Conditions were very good with the light wind but later in the day with the flood tide being against what wind there was the seas built slightly. As I approached the Hay Point anchorage with some 37 large ships anchored there, I could see this one ship moving and then it swung west to point straight at my proposed course. With no change in its bearing and the AIS plotter saying we are going to collide it was time to call her up. At first I got no response and checking her full details on the AIS, realized I had her name incorrectly. Once I called her with the correct name they came straight back, unfortunately it wasn’t the pilot speaking and I was only understanding the odd word. What I worked out was that he wanted Seaka to pass her stern. I was in complete agreement with that and now he knew that was what I would do. After half an hour stuffing around I was final clear and once again on-way to MacKay where we arrived at 1630 hours. I had a shower and then with the crews from Lewie and Third Man we went and had fish n’ chips and a beer for tea.
We spent two days in MacKay during which I did an oil and filter change and took on water and fuel. I threw away the last of that meat from home and found a butcher where I got meat that they vacuum packed for me. The three yachts hired the marina car for one afternoon and we went and had a look at the northern suburbs of MacKay and completed our shopping.
On Friday [26th July] we tried to exit the harbour but got caught by a fuel ship entering and ended up tied to a marina arm while waiting for the docking to be completed. Once clear we headed for Brampton Island which was a downwind sail. Later in the day we had to add the motor after the tide change to arrive at 1500 hours. I inflated the dinghy as it will be stored on the foredeck from now on while we are in the Whitsunday Islands. I went for a trawl but didn’t get anything.
We spent the next day [27th July] at Brampton Island. Greg and I went ashore in my dinghy and spoke to the caretaker. Seems the whole resort is condemned but to rebuild the owners of the lease have to barge off all the present building materials. It would be a huge job as I could see heaps of asbestos sheets in the buildings which is probably why nothing is happening. By the time we departed the shore the tide had dropped to the point where we had to walk the dinghy out over the shallow bar.
Sunday [28th July] with a late start we sailed up to Goldsmith Island and anchored in Rosslyn Bay. Went for a trawl but didn’t get anything so when the tide had come in a bit so I could get over the reef I went ashore and made a few phone calls. The weather reports do not look from Wednesday this week with 30 plus knots predicted.
Monday [29th July] we sailed the 9 nautical miles to Thomas Island and anchored in behind Young Tom’s Island. No fish again but later that afternoon the crews from seven yachts went ashore for drinks during which we caught up with a few yachts we had been seeing on the odd occasion. The following night can be rated as amongst the worst I have spent onboard Seaka and by daylight I was over it and decided to bolt north, remember we do have extreme weather coming, where I would decide once around Burning Point on Shaw Island. Before I left I managed to ring Greg and tell him of my change in plans. Greg said he would stay another day, which he told me later he regretted as it was worse than the first night, then go to anchor behind Burning Point.
Leaving just after daylight [30th July] I by chance got the tides right and sailed up to Burning point doing 5 knots. Once I got to Platypus Rock, off Shaw Island, I saw that the Whitsunday Passage was relatively calm and it was an easy decision to head across to Long Island which I reached as the tide turned to an ebbing tide and as a result we surged through The Narrows at 9 plus Knots. This continued until our speed had dropped off to 6 knots just north of Shute Harbour. So the 30 nautical mile trip was done at over 5 knots average, our best run yet. On arrival at Airlie Beach we anchored in our normal location off the western entrance to the Able Point Marina, now called the Coral Seas Marina, at Cannonvale.
So on Wednesday [31st July] and over the next few days [to 7th August] we started to prepare for the coming high winds by getting shore jobs done and food onboard. During this time I fitted an automatic float switch to the bilge pump, fixed a broken fishing rod and brought fuel so we have all containers full. I also baked a cake for my birthday. Over these last few days we have had high winds, up to 33 knots and periods of heavy rain.
Tomorrow [8th August] after eight days here we will sail towards Whitehaven Beach to take advantage of a two day period of little wind. After that we will head north to the top of Hook and down the western side of the island before coming back into Airlie Beach to reprovision before the Shaggers get together at Gloucester Passage during 22-25th August.
After that we will return to Airlie Beach for a final reprovision before heading south for home.

To West Bay on Middle Percy Island

06 August 2019 | Approaching Pacific Creek and SunHill 9th July.
Phillip Bowman
On Tuesday [2nd July] I moved out Maria Inlet where I caught up with a few jobs that had been put off for some time. That night we dragged 150m downstream, this was caused by the extremely high 5m tides we are experiencing at the moment. So the next night [3rd July] we did the same but I stayed up till 1am. At 0630 [4th July] I raised the anchor and motored 1.5 nm [Nautical Mile] upstream partly to get better holding and to also get out of the 20 plus knots winds. After anchoring three times I was sort of satisfied but not happy with where we had ended up. With the weather predictions there is the prospect of having to stay here until the 11th July. That Thursday night I hardly sleep and I certainly didn't get a chance to go to bed! So I made the decision to go back to Gladstone [5th July] and passed back over The Narrows around 1130 hours. I then had a bash 12 nm down to Gladstone directly into the SE 20 knot wind. I had one advantage in that I was going with the tide and at some stages, when apparently completely stopped by the waves, I was still doing 6 knots. I did get caught out by the large [or so I thought, but more about that later] standing waves at the last coal berth, just before going into the marina. Once settled and fed I slept for eleven hours straight. I would stay in the marina until the morning of Monday 8th July by which time the weather had settled down.
I must relate one incident that occurred at the Marina's monthly BBQ on the Sunday. I wondered up and decided on a coffee first. Approaching the coffee table around which a few blokes had gathered I asked if there was a que or just dive in? I got a reply from this fellow, who owns one of the 16 Riviera motor boats heading north, "No, this is a private function for the Riviera's" My reply was blunt "Mate, this is the Marina's monthly BBQ for ALL in the marina, it isn't something put on especially for you blokes!" He quietly ran away with his tail between his legs. The Riviera's have been causing a bit of strife with their wakes along the coast as they head north.
We got away around 0845 [8th July] with plenty of time for The Narrows. Two other yachts joined me for the passage, Third Man, from Port Macquarie, and Spirit. During the crossing of the shallow part of The Narrows Third Man went aground for 10 minutes until the rising tide lifted him off. That night I anchored in Barking Creek which I thought was better than Maria Inlet, apart from the thousands of biting midges the next morning [9th July]. I joined Greg in Lewie off Pacific Creek and we headed off for Great Keppel Island. To start with the sea was like a mirror, then the wind started to pick and died completely so the passage was made mainly under motor.
Now remember how I got Bombed by that 50' motor boat between 1770 and Busted Head, well its happened again! Just as I was approaching Severdenson Bay this large motor boat, I'm talking three decks worth here, went to pass me on my left then decided no right hand would be better and cut across my stern only 10m away. He got a blast on the radio [channel 16] but was too timid to reply.
Greg and I went ashore for a swim then we both went fishing. I got an estuary cod from which we got 7 meals. The next day [10th July] was overcast and with the number of boats present, there had been over thirty the day before we arrived, we decided to head north to overnight at Stockyard Creek. When we arrived near there, Greg who was ahead of me went in but found it too rolly so we headed to Freshwater Bay arriving just on last light. Oh, almost forgot. I was bombed again! After we passed Stockyard Creek this smallish motor boat came within 15m of me, causing me once again to do a 360 through his wake. What is it with these guys, yacht envy or something more sinister? That's the third time now!
The next morning [11th July] we were away by 0700 but with no wind it was a motor up to Pearl Bay. Greg and I were up against a lack of fuel between us as Greg should have ducked into Rosslyn Bay to refuel before we headed north. As a subsequence we need at least two whole days of sailing to ensure we get to MacKay. We didn't get that today and we motored into Island Head Creek mid-afternoon. We will have to stop here until after Sunday as there is a stiff blow coming through. With that in mind we proceeded up the creek to the inner mooring. I spent Saturday [13th July] fishing for no result apart from losing a lure to something with very sharp teeth as all I saw was a swirl and the line went limp! On Sunday [14thJuly] afternoon we motored down to the entrance but the weather report we got and the large swell we could see sent us back to the upper anchorage.
On Monday [15th July] I did a heap of odd jobs which included throwing away cyro-vaced meat which had been treated with Sulphur by the butcher, he will be getting a visit when I get home. Today we met 83 year old Geoff on Spirit, a 36' Clansman which he has lived on since 1986 and done the run north from Brisbane on many occasions.
On Tuesday [16th July] our early start was abandoned with a very bad weather report. Later that day we slowly sailed and motored down to the entrance in preparation for an early start the next morning. Wednesday [17th July] was a glorious day and we got in a good sail until north of Cape Townsend when the wind dropped and the tide turned against us. We have to be aware of the tides now as usually they have a 5 metre range with the flood [rising] tide heading south and the ebb [falling] tide going north. This becomes really important when we get wind against tide as it can get very rough.
During the later part of the day we were surrounded by over five large naval vessels and their aircraft from the big military exercise in Shoal Bay to our west. So with the flooding tide we were only doing 2 knots as we entered the Duke Islands heading to an anchorage on the west side of Hunter Island.
The next day [18th July] Greg was going over to Thirsty Sound to get fuel but after a terribly windy night accompanied by a chop from the west we canned that idea and had a quiet day in preparation of going out through the Lola Montes Channel tomorrow for West Bay at Middle Percy Island.
Friday, 19th July. Today I almost lost Seaka! We left the Hunter Island anchorage at 0700 and motored around to the Lola Montes Passage. I had thought that it would be quiet, being just after low tide. It looked OK but almost as soon as I moved Seaka into the Passage I found the tide against us with a series of very large overflows, some of which were over 2 metres deep and just far apart enough to accommodate Seaka. It happened so fast that I realized that I couldn't turn back [Greg in Lewie later said the same thing] and working hard to keep Seaka in a straight line I reeved up the motor and we pushed out of the overflows at a rate of 1.9 knots. I didn't have time to be afraid until it was all over as it happened so quickly and even now I'm a bit vague about the whole thing!
So at 0800 we finally cleared the Lola Montes Passage and with a full main and genoa struck out for West Bay on Middle Percy Island some 20 nautical miles away. This was definitely not my day as the forecast gently winds built to 25 knots. First one reef then two, then the mainsail down and the furler in a bit and then I had the motor on to get across the waves as we ended up with tide against wind. Then came my second fright of the day as a whale surfaced and blew hard along the port side [where I was sitting] of Seaka. I got such a fright that I found myself on the starboard side of the cockpit before I realized it was a whale! The whale surfaced once more and that was the last I saw of him/her. Conditions were so bad now that autohelm could not cope and I ended up hand steering for the next 5 hours until we reached West Bay.
West Bay was a relief with only a slight swell, which remained for the time we were there, instead of the normal rocking swell that they get during SE winds. Greg had been there for a while and came out and brought me ashore. We found the "A" Frame is getting really crowded with boat tags now which reflects the increase of cruising boats over the last few years. Greg and I had a swim then a creek fresh water shower, beautiful. Local Camden Haven yacht Silver Lady with Derek and Janice is here also.
The next day [20th July] we walked over to the Lagoon and saw the three yachts anchored there and met John, the Lessee of the island. We then walked up to "Andy's Lookout" to make phone calls and check on the weather. On return to the A Frame we found that another boat from the Hastings had turned up [Third Man from Port Macquarie] so the yachts from the Hastings had a BBQ that night at the A Frame. Greg and I decided to stay while the weather is good.
That day a yacht, Sylphide, had turned up in West Bay with her furler along the deck. The Frenchwomen owner was in a bit of strife and all we could advise was to get to Mackay. She motored off the next day to Curlew Island on her way to MacKay. More to follow!
The next day Greg and I went ashore for Yoga stretching exercises, a first for me. We then walked up to Andy's lookout to make phone calls and check on the weather again. We will go to Curlew Island tomorrow and to MacKay the day after. Before returning to Seaka a gathered and husked a few coconuts.
So on this Sunday 21st July I'm a month behind my schedule to get to Lizard Island and only two weeks ahead of my 2015 trip so I've made the decision to go only as far as Bowen [if we get there] but I will go to the Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club get-together at Gloucester Passage on 22nd to 25th August after which we will turn for home.

Third 2019 post

01 July 2019 | The Narrows.
Phillip Bowman | Fine
Third Edition:
It’s been just over 20 days since I last posted and the reason has been battery charging issues which I’m happy to say have now been resolved. At this time we are in The Narrows waiting for the weather to do her thing and the military to finish their games. I’ll explain as we go along.

We left Newport Marina at first light and headed for Mooloolaba in very light conditions [9th June]. We hadn’t gone far when we heard a very rare “Security call” asking shipping in the Caloundra area to look out for three persons in the water after their boat had sunk. Not long after that we heard the Captain of a large ship saying he could see them off his starboard side. Thankfully all were recovered alive.

Our entry into Mooloolaba was accompanied by a large schooner worth mega bucks. In the 1800s vessels of this size were common on the Australian coast. The next day [10th June] Greg [in LEWIE, an H28 sloop] and I went up to Whitworths, I needed a thicker furling line and a couple of over small items. With the food shopping and refueling completed we were ready for an early 2am start for the Wide Bay Bar.

As we left Mooloolaba [11th June] I logged onto Mooloolaba Marine Rescue as they now transfer details to Tin Can Bay Marine Rescue. Hopefully in the next couple of years they will combine all the rescue outfits in Queensland as they have in New South Wales. The winds were light again so did a bit of motor sailing to make the bar at high water. As we started to cross I was joined by two other yachts. The crossing was excellent and entering the Great Sandy Strait we were soon anchored in Pelican Bay for an early night.

The next day [12th June] we rested and waited for the tide change at 2pm to go up to Garry’s Anchorage. That morning I found that both my battery banks were really struggling, something was not right. The sail up to Garry’s Anchorage was a beauty of around 6 knots assisted by both sail and tide. On arrival I inflated the dinghy and installed the beach wheels.

I went fishing trying various lures and got some bait for the mud crab pots [13th June]. Only thing worth eating was a large cuttlefish, which I enjoyed for a change. With bait I tried a bit of night fishing but gave up after a couple of sharks, a stingray and a puffer fish. Still having power issues.

A big day [14th June] with the fishing as I finally crack the code for fishing in these estuaries. Caught a bream and large flathead, both of which I gave away. The highlight of the day was catching and releasing an 80cm flathead. Unfortunately this fish did a job on my dinghy which required an immediate puncture repair (of the largest hole) during which I discovered that the transom is coming away from the tubes, so essentially it’s done.

On our last day [15th June] in Garry’s Anchorage I caught two flathead and taught another cruiser the secret, he caught a flathead also.

On Sunday [16th June] we had an easy motor sail around to the Kingfisher resort at the top of the Great Sandy Strait. I made arrangements for the possible delivery of a new dinghy in Bundaberg. The purchase of the dinghy on Monday morning [17th June] over the phone to Whitworths was made at 8.30am and as it was very bumpy Greg and I decided to go for Burnett Heads while we still had the ebbing tide. We had a good three hour sail out to the Fairleads (to the Great Sandy Strait) before heading north into very light winds. It would take me until 8.00pm before I finally anchored at Burnett Heads.

As soon as the tide turned the next day [18th June] we set off on the three hour motor, with the odd jib out, to Bundaberg. On the way I was informed that my new dinghy had already arrived and arrangements were made to do a swap as my friend said he would take the old one to see if he could repair it.

As I first mention we had problems with charging our batteries and as we were in Bundaberg [19th & 20th June] I had the opportunity to sort the problem. After a discussion with Shaun I decided as a first move to replace the solar panel regulators for an MPPT type. I purchased one from Jaycar but we just couldn’t get it to work. After a discussion at a local Solar Panel shop I was a bit more enlightened. Seems we should have had only one regulator before, which would explain why I kept blowing fuses, which should not have even been there! With no results from the Jaycar regulator I took it back for a refund during which one of the shop assistants said “Oh we had one of them returned last week as well!” So I will be getting an MPPT eventually but not from Jaycar. I split the system through another three way switch and upgraded all the solar wiring to a heavier grade and we now have control of the system. Or so I thought!

So on Friday [21st June] with food and fuel onboard we motored down to Burnett Heads for a 2am start for Pancake Creek tomorrow. Well the winds were blowing a lot harder than predicted [22nd June] so the early morning hours were fairly hard and then between 1770 and Pancake Creek I had to do a bit of hand steering as we are still having battery problems? During that stretch of sea we were passed by a 60’ motor boat doing some 20 knots, 10 metres from me! I had to do an immediate 180 to just meet his two metre wake! Maybe he just missed me, I’ll never know!

We would spend two days [23rd & 24th June] at Pancake Creek during which Greg and I walked up to the Busted Head Lighthouse. I finally figured out that maybe the engine regulator is stuffed so rang an Auto Electrician near the Gladstone Marina and made arrangements for a service call on Wednesday.

With a gentleman’s start for a change of 7am [25th June] we sailed out for Gladstone, passing Pascal and Troy, from the YouTube Free Range Sailing site, at the outer Pancake Creek anchorage. We had a good sail into Gladstone but the wind died at the shipping channel. Once we arrived it was a hot shower first, then the washing.

The Auto Electrician [26th June] soon confirmed that the regulator was shot (probably always has been since I first owned SEAKA) and they would have one tomorrow. I then recharged all the batteries off the main power with my charger, it turned out that that was the problem with the solar panel not being able to get the batteries up to 100%. That evening four yachts got together for a BBQ at the marina.

When the Auto Electrician fitted the regulator [27th June] he also got the engine control panel charge light to work as a bonus. Now the batteries are fully charge and it’s a management problem for me to ensure they all stay at full charge.

Today [28th June] we were supposed to head north but after I had done the last few jobs it was still blowing very hard (25 knots plus) so we decided to stay another day before heading north to The Narrows.

The next afternoon [29th June] we headed north to Black Swan Island where we anchored for the night.
The next morning [30th June] at 6.45am we proceeded into The Narrows. This area actually dries out to 1.2 metres above low tide so we had to get out timing right. During our passage another eight yachts also went through The Narrows.

After coming through The Narrows I anchored and went fishing during which I caught a Tailor, half which was consumed that night. The frame was used last night to catch a Mud Crab which I have been nibbling at while writing this blog.

We have two problems to get around at the moment, first is a strong wind warning for Thursday to Saturday and the closure of the Shoal Bay Military area until the 9th July. So I will retreat to Maria Inlet off The Narrows tomorrow until Sunday when I intend sailing to Great Keppel Island before heading north on the 9th or 10th July depending on the weather.

I will post photographs within 36 hours that relate to this blog.

Monday 1st July 2019.



SEAKA's Photos - Main
Photos of SEAKA's 2019 voyage
48 Photos
Created 8 June 2019
Towards Lizard Island 2019
1 Photo
Created 23 May 2019
Solo Voyage to the Whitsunday Islands 2015
65 Photos
Created 23 March 2015
The refit of Seaka in preparation to sail around Australia.
16 Photos
Created 28 December 2014
Seaka's Voyage Towards Tasmania.
36 Photos
Created 6 December 2012
4 Photos
Created 18 September 2011
2 Photos
Created 31 August 2011
4 Photos
Created 15 August 2011
6 Photos
Created 14 August 2011
18 Photos
Created 14 August 2011
5 Photos
Created 18 July 2011
5 Photos
Created 13 July 2011
8 Photos
Created 10 July 2011
7 Photos
Created 10 July 2011
14 Photos
Created 10 July 2011
2 Photos
Created 10 July 2011
77 Photos
Created 20 June 2011
18 Photos
Created 24 May 2011
17 Photos
Created 24 May 2011
6 Photos
Created 21 May 2011
18 Photos
Created 15 May 2011
6 Photos
Created 13 May 2011
5 Photos
Created 12 May 2011
10 Photos
Created 9 May 2011
13 Photos
Created 8 May 2011
8 Photos
Created 6 May 2011
3 Photos
Created 5 May 2011
8 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 22 April 2011
6 Photos
Created 21 April 2011
7 Photos
Created 20 April 2011
5 Photos
Created 18 April 2011
3 Photos
Created 12 April 2011
The voyage from Camden Haven to Trail Bay.
10 Photos
Created 7 April 2011
Showing the Camden Haven River, arrival of Seaka in Laurieton in 2002. Seaka's interior layout and Seaka at anchor.
10 Photos
Created 30 March 2011

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