The Narrows to Pancake Creek

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Sunrise from the Narrows

After last nights effort we still had to catch the tide so as to get through the shallow part of the Narrows.  Well this is mosquito infested country, so despite all the screens we have we still had a zillon mozzies to swat in the morning.  More to the point they woke us up at about 0430.  So we were away by 0530 and approach the shallow part, all 10km of it.  We backed the motors off a bit so that if we hit anything, it would be a bit slower.  Most people like to go through it fast as there is not a lot of time where the tide is high enough.  The tides are about 3.5m, and you need the last 0.5 of the tide to get through, atg least that is what we needed, or was recommended.  As it turns out, all the excitement was a little bit of a let down.  We didn’t see anything less than 2m of water and as we draw 1m, that left plenty of room.

It was indeed pretty narrow in parts, with the stern of the boat brushing past the mangroves in parts, but it was pretty interesting listening to all the birds and animals in these swamps.  I can’t say I would want to go swimming there, and I would not want to breakdown there either, but it was still an interesting diversion.

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Travels through the shallow parts of the narrows
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The next part of the trip was pass the Port of Gladstone
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Then on to Pancake Creek
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The whole trip

The tide slung us out of the southern side of the Narrows and we were at Graham Creek before 0800.  As the prediction for the day’s weather was clearly falling apart and the nasty weather seemed to be all wrapped up in the previous evenings storm, we decided to press forward to Pancake Creek.

The Port of Gladstone is one massive port.  There are jetties everywhere and more beacons to keep a whole nation of sailors happy.  It took us 2hrs to motor past the port.  There are natural gas works and port, coal port, I assume bauxite jetties, and your run of the mill stuff.  As on our north bound journey there are ships anchored out over the horizon waiting to come in.  It certainly was a very strong contrast to the nature we have been seeing.

Once past the port we pretty well sailed to Pancake Creek, though the winds were light.  The seas were occasionally around 2m, but very long swells, and actually a bit of fun to surf down.  However, the though of getting into Pancake Creek with these swells was a little concerning. As it turns out, it was a waist of time worrying about it as the entrance was smooth, with the surf confined to the areas either side of the entrance.

Once inside and anchored we meet up with Greg and Kerry, who are sailing a similar boat to ours that they also built themselves.  So lots of fun times there.

Now tomorrow is a rest day as today we traveled another 90km and we need a break.  Also the weather is no good and the way it looks we will have a couple of days here. The mozzies are just as bad as the Narrows, so a new technique for mozzie eradication may need to be developed.

Now tomorrow, I am going to update all the latest blog sites with maps and photos.  But too tired now.

Allan and Hilary.

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Where the road crosses the channel at low tide
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Some leads in the bushes which we couldn’t see due to the morning sun
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The Narrows
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The Narrows
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Not a lot of wind in the Narrows
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Nice pearch
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The ever present mountain as we travel the Narrows.
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Yes sometimes it was a little close
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Even when you look back, it still looks a bot close at times in the Narrows
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A boat following us through the Narrows
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Just an arty shot in the narrows
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And another
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Getting close to the end ofthe shallow bit of the narrows
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Finally in Gladstone

 

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This guy was coming into the port as we were leaving.

 

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Pancake Creek entrance.
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Great Keppel to The Narrows

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Sea Hill Pt lighthouse

Last night we had a discussion with the captain of the boat which we nearly hit and after a bit of throwing around ideas, we decided that instead of trying to make Pancake Creek, which was a long way off, we would be better to try somewhere closer. The big issue is that a server storm was predicted for the afternoon.  If it was early, then the last place I wanted to be was trying to make Pancake Creek. So a short day was planned instead and we decided to head for The Narrows.  It is a narrow stretch of water between Curtis Island and the mainland.  Although it was a short trip we still got up at 0500 and were away 15 minutes later.

We left with some pretty strong winds, in fact winds that had persisted all night and were now left over to the joy of the many that left before us.  Although we were sheltered from the waves, the wind would come in big gusts nearly all night.  It seems that this is pretty consistent with previous evenings.  Anyway, the gusts were still there in the morning which made for some interesting moments as we put the sail up. But as you would expect, it soon died off and we were left with the 2m of slop and about 10knots.  Not really that bad as it was a following sea.  You can see from the track we took, that we tacked all the way down wind.

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Today’s travels

At the entrance to the Fitzroy river we had a very strong wind over tide situation.  The waves were really standing up.  Again it was not dangerous, but a bit untidy.  But we sailed our way through it, although at times it was hard to make headway with the tide.

Then we turned into The Narrows proper.  At this point we were doing 1knot as the current was strong and the wind was fairly light.  We struggled for about an hour, but it eventually got to the point where we had to motor.  We were heading for Badger Creek, as it would provide a lot of protection, but we were arriving at low tided, where it presented its true issues.  There is not a lot of room in this or any of the creeks.  I am not sure we would have been able to turn around.  Anyway, it was clear we were not going to anchor in any of the creeks leading into The Narrows, so we went as far as we could with the tide we had and anchored there.

The problem with The Narrows, is that at about half tide there is no water in the channel for a short portion in the middle where the tides meet.  In one part of the channel there is a road crossing and in another is a cattle crossing at low tide.  So the way it works is that boats go through at high tide and I assume 4×4’s go through at low tide, but in a direction at right angle to the boats.  Well we had arrived at the place where there was no more water with the tide we had.  So we anchored up for the night.

The spot we anchored in was a bit narrow for the chain length we had out, but it looked ok.  But that is another tale which will follow.  The evening was spent discussing the approach to getting through the shallow part of the Narrows, with another captain.  Lots of different approaches, but they all hinged around getting through the shallow bit as fast as you can at high tide.  The shallow bit ran for 10km.  Funny enough the captain we got talking to built the house of our neighbours back at Cedar Creek.  This generated a significant amount of conversation, to say the least. All was good as we watched the predicted storm build.

The storm was later than predicted, and as it was to arrive around dark, the thoughts were that it would not be as bad as a 4pm storm.  In Brisbane, these are usually the bad ones.  However, the sky looked a bit ominous and I actually took a picture of it.  It turns out it was nearly my last!  Well it hit, and it hit hard.  Within a few seconds the winds changed from a 15knot Northerly to a 30knot Southerly.  It was that quick.  This picked Bush Spirit up and speared it towards the other shore.  The anchor took some time to recover, and I think it did, but we ended up very close to the shore.  About 10metres from the mangroves.  That is just too close for me with the wind howling and the rain pouring down.  We were prepared to some extent and we had the motors ready to go.  So very quickly they were on and we were motoring into the wind to help the anchor settle.  Well it was clear we needed to reset the anchor to give us a bit more room between us and the mangroves.  With some miracle the anchor came up without a hitch.  The rain was teeming down and Hilary was up the front pulling the anchor in, whilst I was doing my best to steer into the wind.

Then I felt a tingle between my hand on the wheel and that clutching to the superstructure of the boat.  Hilary felt it also as she was winding up the anchor.  Then the bang.  The loudest you have heard.  We were struck by lightning, or it was very close.  My immediate thought was about if we had any of our communications left, as it probably hit the mast.  All the motors were still operating, Hilary was yelling something, so was alive, and we appeared to have navigation, which was a blessing, but thoughts ran through my head about whatelse was left.  But we moved Bush Spirit into a large area where we were doing circles just to wait it out a bit to make a proper assessment of the situation, as the storms usually only last for a few minutes.  Well then it got a bit harder.  The navigation system failed and then the back up failed because there was so much static electricity, all the GPS based systems were being jammed.  So all we could do was use the lightning flashes, of which there were many, to light up the passage so that we could see the banks which gave us a lateral bearing, and the lights of three other boats, which we could occasionally see to give us a longitudinal bearing.   With this we went round and round in circles many times until the wind pretty well stopped.  It took about 10 minutes.  Then we anchored again, and cleaned up the mess.  There was water everywhere and we were drenched.

We then had tea and went to bed.  There was another storm later on, but I slept through it.  I think it was pretty minor.

So survived another experience.  I am not so sure it was useful, but I am sure it will be somewhere.  Tomorrow we head through the shallow part of the Narrows and plan to have a short day and stay in Graham Creek, just north of Gladstone.

Allan and Hilary

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Entering the Narrows from the North. Sea Hill point on the left
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Looking back at Sea Hill Lighthouse and the community that lives there.
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One of the creeks we thought we might anchor in. A silly idea as it turned out.
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Where we did anchor which had a bit of room, and we needed it.
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Looking North back up the Narrows from the beginning of the shallow area.
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Here comes the storm. Mmm, not looking too good. The area in between us and the boat you can see was where we circled for about 10 minutes in the dark without GPS but dead reconning
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Yep, didn’t look any better from this angle either.  This will have to do for your sunset (-1/10)

Island Head Creek to Great Keppel Island

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Sunrise from Island Head Creek

This was definitely one of those early start days.  We got up as the sun came up and were on our way before it popped its head across the hills. Along with another yacht, we sailed out of the relatively narrow channel to the open sea, to be greeted by the endless waves that had been stirred up by the solid breeze the night before.

But today the wind was good with about 10 to 15knots and from the north.  We moved away from the coast as soon as we could as close to the rocks on the coast was a multitude of waves coming from a multitude of directions.  I also thought that as the day wore on, the breeze would turn to the east, so what was looking like a direct tack to Brisbane, would eventually turn to one to Great Keppel Island.  Well I at least I got that one right, as it turns out.

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Now there was not a lot to do and the sun was pretty warm, but this time we were on the lookout for boats, after yesterdays little mishap.  Well in all the ocean we could see the yacht we left with (for about an hour) and one way over next to the mainland, which was clearly slowly moving our way.  Well after about 6 hours this yacht was clearly getting very close and indeed we looked like we may have to avoid each other.  Not again I thought.  Is this ocean that small!  Anyway, no big deal this time and we passed with a good 100m between us, in a controlled manner.

The wind then picked up and we made good time to Great Keppel.  We averaged 7knots over the 120km (70NM) trip.  About an hour after we arrived, the boat we crossed arrived and much to our surprise got in his dingy and came across to us.  Well if it had been the other day, I might have expected it, along with a frank discussion about my lack of attention to the matter.  But today, I was a bit puzzled. Anyway, the captain was all smiles and in his words he “came to see the boat he nearly hit twice in two days”.  We were puzzled at first, but it was the same boat we nearly hit the previous day!  We discussed the upcoming weather, who had right of way (turns out we did, just as well somebody knew) and various other things.  It was all good and in the end the discussion lead to our change of plans for tomorrow.

So all in all, a very good day, if not a bit long.  Tomorrow, as it turns out, due to the weather, we will head for the Narrows., rather than Pancake Creek.

Allan and Hilary.

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The centennials at the entrance to Island Head Creek to wish us luck for the journey. Or was the fishing just good there. Probably the former.
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Looking back at Island Head Creek (I think)
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They are still there. Island Head Creek
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The small yacht that we left with from Island Head Creek. We didn’t see him again, but assume he made it in his good time.
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Looking north to Island Head Creek after about 45minutes.
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The Keppels approach after a good number of hours of sailing. North Keppel in the foreground, Great Keppel in the background. About an hour to go.
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Time for a picture of a sail
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Anchorage at Long Beach at Great Keppel Island.
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Not exactly sunset but the sun was over the zenith.

 

Middle Percy to Island Head Creek

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Leaving Whites Bay on Middle Percy Island

This will be a short update as there is not a lot to tell you. There is a big open void south of middle Percy Island which doesn’t seem to have a lot of anchorages which are suitable with northerly winds. So we set out for Port Clinton, which is 23km south of Island Head Creek, about 100km south of Middle Percy.  We took a tack to the east of South Percy, because the charts said the current running between the Percy Islands was 3knots, and we certainly wanted to be going in that direction. As the tide was falling, that direction was East.

The night before the wind was a little bit persistent and this had left the sea state a bit sloppy.  It was especially bad off the eastern end of South Percy.  We were all alone out there because most of the boats had left before sunrise by the look of it, and all those other slackers who left at 0600 went to the west of South Percy.  We never did see them again.  Maybe they are further south.

Anyway, one great big long tack out to the ocean then one back to the mainland and a short one at the end which resulted from an inconvenient wind shift near the coast.  There was a bit of wild life with a few dolphins, and a bird that persisted and sit on our front deck and hitchhike all the way.  Of course he needed a toilet, and he found the top of the hatch very useful.  At one stage he was on our solar panels as well, which I took a very dim view of as he was shading it.  Again a convenient toilet spot.  By the afternoon the hatch had a white covering to it.  I suppose it kept the sun out…Not so good for the solar panel efficiency though.

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The track today on a pretty large scale.

We had pretty light winds most of the day, except in the afternoon.  But by the time they came up we had decided to cut the day short and head for Island Head Creek.  The only excitement we had was that we nearly hit another boat.  I think we would have missed if avoidance maneuvers had not been performed, so it sounds more exciting than it really was.  The story goes like this.  With a 100km trip there was lots of time to do things other than sail as the autopilot occasionally is good at that, and today it was having a pretty good day.  But being the diligent captain, I sat on my chair to keep a general lookout for ships, rocks and wildlife.  But you have to appreciate that being in the sun like it is (and it is awfully hot at times), you tend to get a little less diligent as the day wears on.  But this is not the complete excuse. As it was a longish sail without a lot of action, I decided to read a book.  It was an interesting book, possible a bit too interesting, anyway we were plodding along at about 1500 and a call came on the radio.  Somebody wanted to know if they should avoid us or were going to avoid them.  Really, who I thought!  No bloody boats within coe of here.  Then I bent my head and looked beyond the sail and oh maybe somebody is actually well and truly within coe. So the immediate reaction was to bare away, but we were all ready hard over on the wind and to bare up would mean certain collision, so I said to Hilary that we would like to take up his offer to avoid us.  So we missed by about 50m, and as we did so I noticed he was not steering it from the outside either, so probably didn’t see us till the last moment.  Probably his collision avoidance system worked better than ours.    So a touch of excitement, but what would be the chances of actually hitting.  Pretty remote, but having said that, it would add to the pretty remote problems we have been having anyway.  It would make the news!

We got to Island Head creek after about 10hours, and averaged about 6knots.  It was a pretty slow run most of the day, though we did get to 11knot at one stage, probably for a millisecond.  Island head Creek was very quiet for about an hour then 3 others joined us.  It was all good, and we had a good evening watching a movie. Actually I fell asleep.  So tomorrow we have another early day as we need to get south a fair way.  There is a storm coming Tuesday night, so I want to get to Pancake Creek by then.  I should have no troubles doing that, but “no troubles” doesn’t seem to fit the bill lately.

I am sorry the pictures have been a bit scarce lately, but I will catch up when we get some solid internet service.  Probably at Great Keppel Island.

Allan and Hilary

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The bay we were in repairing the prop
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Looking back into Whites Bay as we depart
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Going to the East of South Percy with Middle Percy in the background
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The hitchhiker
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Hilary and our washing as we go past High Peak
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And we still have our friend, who has now started to make the hatch his own toilet
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Somewhere out here was a boat we close too.
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Approaching Island Head Creek on the left.
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Looking back to the North just before we turned into Island Head Creek

 

 

Middle Percy and the relay switch and prop problem.

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Getting into our working clothes to do the deed of removing the prop.

So last night we had managed to determine we had problems, but solutions were a way off.  I know from my work that the first challenge is to define the problem, and the second is to find the solution. We we had succeeded in the former, but were not a long way up the ladder to success on the latter.

So first thing to sort out was the relay to the anchor winch.  I had it on the bench working on it and Tully arrived (around 0600).  He said he had a thought which involved the location of springs inside the relay.  I had a thought about the assembly as well, but a different one which I had worked on last night.  Turns out that both were important and together we got the relay working on the bench.  It all worked as expected and with a lot of confidence and a little effort we put it back in position.  It all worked, well initially.

So now to solve the second problem of the falling off prop.  We decided to put the boat in shallower water as it was pretty deep where we were and if we dropped anything it would be harder to retrieve.  So while Tully was having a bit of breakfast, Hilary and I decided to get in the dingy and look for a suitable spot to moor the boat so that when and if we dropped anything off the prop we could retrieve it.  So basically it had to be less than 2m in depth and out of the wind.  Well in the bay we were in, the water was over 3m right up to the beach, and at the beach there were rocks.  This was kind of unacceptable, especially as the wind was getting up.  But the bay next door offered much better landscape.  It was more shelving and sand (except for somebodies underwear we found…) and the winds were not too bad.  So with our refurbished anchor relay we up anchored and with one motor we moved the boat to the new beach.  Well that was the plan, but the relay failed again as it got hot, but after a bit of fussing around it worked enough to get us off the bottom and we motored the very short distance right up to the beach.  Tully provided us with another stern anchor, so we nudged the bows to within about 15m of the beach dropped our anchor and then set Tully’s anchor further out so that we were fairly stationary.

Well not quite.  We didn’t play out much anchor from the bow as we wanted to be in the shallow water, but when we went to set the stern anchor we managed to pull the bow anchor out of the ground and the stern anchor was all that was holding the boat.  So we quickly rushed back to fix the issue.  In the whole process we then lost hold of the stern anchor and its rope sank to the bottom, so we abandoned that for a bit as the water was so clear we figured we would find that later.  We then we repositioned the boat with one engine (as the prop was falling off the other engine), got the bow anchor set again, gave up on the idea of standing on the bottom to fix the prop and positioned the boat in about 3m of water.  Tully and Hilary went looking for the lost anchor and I stayed with Bush Spirit, trying to keep it off the beach, with a lot of help from the wind.

The anchor was found and we reset it and then tied it to the boat and we were good to proceed with the fixing of the prop.

Well to get at the problem we had to disassemble the prop, which had last been assembled when we built the boat. There were multiple grub screws to remove and together Tully and I managed to get all of them out without dropping any.  After a bit of a tap with a hammer, whilst underwater I might add, we got the pins out which held the prop blades on.  Then we could access the locking screw and washer and finally the nut which held the prop hub on.

We decided to take everything off except the hub, to give it a clean.  The locking approach that Yanmar takes on this shaft is close to pathetic.  A good split pin would work wonders, but oh no, some smart bugger has decided to use fancy screw which requires some locktite to make it all happen and not fall off.  Well guys if you have any influence, as an engineer can tell you that your approach is rubbish, albeit I can see you will sell a lot more props using your approach, but if it comes to an investigation, I will gladly testify that your approach is clearly stuffed, and you probably know it.

So getting of the soap box and on with the saga.  Now I did a test to see if Locktite would actually set underwater.  It doesn’t….  It sort of says so on the bottle.  But desperate times require desperate measures.  Tully had some epoxy designed to set under water, and so did we, but his was a bit more runny.  So we decided to use that as something which would help the locking bolt stay where it should.  The nut which held the prop on was also a problem as it was very large and we did not have that large a spanner or socket.  Fortunately Tully did, so that issue was solved, but we did not have a large enough lever arm on the ratchet that we were going to use (under the water…) to do the nut up with.  So Hilary and I set forth to extend the ratchet arm with a bit of timber bolted to it.  Meanwhile, we had decided that some of the holes we found in the nut which were clearly meant for a splitpin (did I mention that this might be a good idea), could be used to put a grub screw into it, to at least help the locking screw do its job.  I had forgotten to bring my tap and die set, but Tully had a tap, which fitted the whole.  Tolbert (Tully’s son) then went around to all the other boats looking for a suitable grub screw while we tapped the treads and got ourselves sorted for the final assembly.  Well it turned out that out of all the random threads that we could have had, I actually had a couple of screws that were a match to Tully’s tap.  A bit of grinding later (another trip back to La Misteral), and sawing off excess thread length and using a nail file to clean the threads (we eventually found a suitable file) and we were ready to reassemble.

The first thing was the main nut.  I had tied the prop hub on with a rope as I did not want to lose that to the depths, so we undid that, got the nut on with no worries and then with our you bute extension proceeded to do it up.  Well we needed something to stop the shaft rotating and as it turned out, a bit of timber I had, just fitted the hub and we could use it to stop the rotation by wedging it between the hub and the hull.  Tully then lent on the spanner and lifted himself out of the water doing it, but finally we got it up.  Then we had to put the new “grub” screws in.  This was a little bit problematic because the despite the fact that we had tapped 6 holes in the nut, none and I mean none, lined up in any way with the small gap we had to work with to put them into the nut. A half an hour later with a little filing and lots of holding of breath whilst working under water, we managed to get all the grub screws in.  Then the locking screw with it s underwater epoxy was next, which worked a treat (well hopefully, at least it went in).  Finally the blades went on, in the right order, without hassles.  It only took 5hrs and we didn’t drop a thing. We could of saved an hour with the anchoring if we actually had confidence.

Through all of this whilst looking and sorting things out, I/Tully managed to identify a potential issue with the relay.  Certainly some of the terminals were lose and basically the awful way I had mounted it was making it difficult to do them up. So I remounted the relay and got a few good turns up on the terminals.  Well the anchor came up ok, but I am still not confident it is fixed.  We will see as we go on.

However, for now we are on our way again.  We spent afternoon doing very little, but enjoying the scenery.  However, Tully and Tolbert caught a big fish which they also gave us after all the work they had put in today, which I promptly gutted and Hilary cooked it for tea.  Pretty nice!  We also went to the beach and had a few drinks with the 17 other boats now in the bay, which was very nice indeed.

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Not a very big days travels today.

So in summary, a bit of a day, but not too stressful except for a lost anchor, a dragged anchor and close encounter with the beach, a few heart stopping moments with screws but not much else.

Tomorrow we are heading south.  We had a text message from a friend of ours who says they are in Townsend Bay.  Not sure why anybody is there, but clearly if he is there he needs a friend right now.  So if we make contact with him again we may head over there.  If not, we will try to make Port Clinton, or Island Head Creek.

Allan and Hilary

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This looks like a nice quiet bay to remove a prop as one does every day. Now I just need to get a lot closer. A good idea if I had dragged the anchor up the beach.
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Yes its under the boat somewhere boys.
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Yes, well tools at the ready, and you can just see one of the blades already removed.

Curlew to Middle Percy

Well it is a bit amazing but tonight we have internet connection.  So here we go as fast as I can to give you an update,

when we went to sleep at Curlew Island there were more boats than you could poke a stick at, but the wind changed during the night to the north and this set a bit of a chop up in the anchorage, so when we woke up at 0600, all but one boat had left.  So we decided to do the same.

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Large scale map of the trip across to Percy
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Leaving Curlew Island passing north of Bluff Island and a rather shallow spot.
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The approach to Whites Bay on Middle Percy, again avoiding a shallow area as we got close to the island.

So off we set to Middle Percy. It was a very nice sail for a change with the wind coming from the north.  We didn’t have much, around 5 -10knots, but it was certainly sufficient and we cruised very nicely toward Middle Percy Island.  We  could see that the weather was turning a little more blowy from the  north, so we went for Whites Bay on the southern side of Middle Percy.

This is a magnificent bay and as we approached there were only 2 other boats there, so it was sort of very nice.  This changed a bit with another 30 boats arriving later, but having said that, there was plenty of room and only the interactions were pleasant.

We arrived just around lunch, but we had a job to do, and that was to fix the anchor relay.  It has been failing on occasion recently and although we have worked our way through it, at Curlew, it was very touch and go.  So I decided to give a major overhaul.

But rather than working in the sun, I decided that we should just give the rudders and the hull a bit of clean, in the heat of the day.  The water was crystal clear and we could see 30-40m, so it was not like it was a real chore.  At this point in time things started to go down hill a little.  As I was cleaning the rudders and the propellers, I noticed that one of the props looked a little loose.  Upon further inspection, it was nearly falling off.  Now at $2000 a prop, this is not the sort of welcoming sight you want to see, although a prop shaft without the prop would be a tad worse. So now we had two issues.  One we couldn’t get the anchor up and two even if we managed that feat, we could only use one engine to go anywhere.  So at this point this lovely bay was going to be home for a bit.

Now at this point we informed Tully and his family on La Misteral that we were staying for a bit longer due to our problems and very shortly after most of the people around knew of the issues.  So Tully very generously offered to assist with the relay issue.  It was certainly very good to have somebody to talk through the issue with.  I was going to swap out the relay with another we had for the second anchor, but it was slightly different so I decided we had a chance of fixing the one that wasn’t working.

So I pulled it apart, and it was apparent that it was well worn. So a lot of filing later I reassembled it.  At this point it has to be admitted that the assembly was wrong, albeit, it took another 15 hours to sort it out.  Yes a bit of an issue. So after testing it, and noting some strange things we decided to put it back in.  well this is difficult, but to cut a long story short, it didn’t work.  So Tully left us for some dinner and I decided after some thought that I needed to pull it all out again and look at it on the bench.  I also needed to set up a way of testing it on the bench.  I did all this and it still didn’t work, and made not a lot of sense at all.  So we went to bed very frustrated, knowing we had a prop problem as well as an anchor problem.

Now you have to wait till the next blog to see how it all worked out.

Allan and Hilary

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Leaving Curlew
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Looking towards the journey ahead
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Goodbye Curlew
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Some rocks you would not like to hit
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Bluff Island. I saw thison the way up, but now a bit closer
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As we put Curlew in the rears
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Hilary as we approach Middle Percy
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Coral spawn
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Going around the bottom of middle Percy
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The sand blow out on Middle Percy
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Middle Percy
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Approaching Whites Bay
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Looking towards South Percy
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Whites bay
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Getting closer to anchoring at Whites bay

 

 

St Bees to Curlew Island

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Leaving St Bees Island

We started around 0530 today because the winds were going to be light and there was a fair way to go.  It all started so so as the anchor winch would not work.  The relay that operates it has been stuffing around for a while.  I thought it was the switch which operates the relay but after sorting that out, it still only occasionally works.  Anyway today was less occasionally than normal.  But we still managed to get it updespite the god of electronics trying hard to stop us.  I have a spare relay that I can salvage from another winch, but it is a bit of a pain to do so.  Notwithsatanding after this little start we were greeted with excellent winds and in a good direction to make Curlew Island.  About 6 other boats had the same idea and we all vacated the place around the same time.  They were headed from Digby and Percy Islands as well as Curlew.  We even saw some disappearing further south, so I am not sure where they were headed too.

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We covered over 90km today. You can see the bend we took off Mackay due to the wind shifting to the South. After that it was a tad frustrating.

Well we clearly had paid the rent with the God of Wind, as we made good time towards our destination.  I was even thinking when we were a third of the way there that we would make it in 6hrs (about 85km=46nautical miles).  Well there was my mistake.  Just after thinking such wonderous thoughts, the wind went south, literally.  We had to head further west to make headway and this persisted for hours.  Then the wind dropped to about 5knots, which made it somewhat frustrating.  There were times where it teased us and swung to the north with a gust up to maybe even 10 knots, but it quickly stopped that and swung south again and stopped.

I also had an encounter with the God of Shoals.  There are lots of shoals marked on the map enroute to Curlew and some are supposively as shallow as 2 metres, which out here is pretty shallow (yes I understand if you sail in Moreton bay, that you are laughing at this statement).  God of Shoals and the Gods of Wind (one for direction, one for strength) and God of tide conspire against you at every possible opportunity, and just about everytime I had to cross one of these shoals, it was always at the shallowest point.  As it turned out the God of Maps was wrong and there was plenty of water where it said there wasn’t, which doesn’t go a long way at providing one with confidence when it says there is a lot of water under you.

As for any adventures along the way, I am happy to say there weren’t really many.  We saw a stingray of about 1m width basking in the sun.  A big ship decided to move just as we approached it, and apparently it was not suppose too.  In the end we had to motor for about an hour to make Curfew as the wind was just not co-operating.  The rest of the day I was talking to a number of people on the phone and steering.  The autopilot in these conditions struggles.

So we are expecting a little bit of a rocky night as the wind has swung to the north, something we wanted all day.  So yes the God of wind is still a bit annoyed at us, or somebody here.  Tomorrow we are moving to Middle Percy and Whites Bay, where we will not have reception.  In fact, reception  is going to be limited for a couple of days as this part of the world is a little remote from such first world technologies.

So till next time

Allan and Hilary.

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Sunrise over St Bees Island
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Looking back to St Bees’s rugged coastline
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Over 50 ships were parked out side Hay Point, and the one closest to us decided to move.
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Approaching Curlew Island
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Curlew Island when we arrived. the wind is now in the north and it is good for going south but not so good for anchoring here.
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Pre-sunset at Curlew Island
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Sunset at Curlew Island (3/10)

 

 

 

Goldsmith to St Bees

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Beach at St Bees in Homestead Bay.

After bashing our way south to Goldsmith yesterday, we had a great evening with Tully, Jasmain and Tolbot on Le Minstral telling stories for many hours.  This was somewhat contrasted by the hours that followed when all we could hear was the anchor chain grinding over the bottom.  Both Hilary and I were up most of the night wondering which bommie we would have to remove the chain from in the morning. As it turned out, it came up without any problems and all that lost sleep was for no good reason at all.

So off we went going south.  There was no real destination, but rather options.  It is a fair way between suitable places, but having said that there are a number of places that are suitable and quite pretty.  It is all about which way the wind is blowing and your best guess as to which way it will blow later in the day.  Le Minstral also set off at the same time, so we shadowed each other most of the day.  When there are two boats within sight of each other, I am afraid that there is always a race.   Well we lost this one.  We did well until the waves started building and then their longer length won out. However, another boat joined us at one stage and all I can say is that he would have been disappointed.

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The overall view
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A bit more detail

Around morning tea we were starting to toss up whether we would have a big day and go to Curlew Island or we would make a big tack across to St Bees.  I was inclined to go to St Bees, but it was a 2hr trip sort of in the wrong direction.  But Le Minstral made the choice for us and gave us a call and said they were off to St Bees.  So we gladly followed suit.

It was a wise choice as the winds did not go as predicted, and in fact went in exactly the opposite direction.  Also a storm ran through the southern areas as well.  So all in all a good choice.

St Bees is an island next to another island called Keswick.  They are separated by a small channel.  Keswick has some private homes on it, and looks interesting in its own right.  It may be worth an explore, but probably this will have to wait as we are looking for a weather window inn the next couple of days, so will probably head off tomorrow.  In any case, it is a very pretty spot, and well worth the effort to get here.

Allan and Hilary.

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Looking back at Goldsmith as we head south
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La Misteral sailing past Goldsmith.
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Looking south to the next island and storm. It looks a long way so we turned left and went to St Bees.
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St Bees and Keswick, only a few hours away.
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A few hours later approaching St Bees
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Approaching Keswich and St Bees with about 30 minutes to go.
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Getting there. You can see some of the houses on Keswick on the right.
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Now that looks like a nice anchorage, despite what the books tell you. maybe tomorrow we will feel differently about it.
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Looking off the back of Bush Spirit up the passage between St Bees and Keswick (on the left)
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Yes well not every beach is great, but I am sure at high tide it is better. (Homestead Bay, St Bees)
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Sunset from St bees (looking west) 7/10
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Yes not bad a bit later as well.

Hamilton to Goldsmith

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The weather is changing and this is the start of a storm that we just missed

Well today was suppose to be an easy trip to Thomas Island from Hamilton.  Well we had a bit to sort out at Hamo (got to get the right lingo in place) and then as we finished a bit early with refueling, buying bread rolls, toilets, showers and paying our respects over a cup of coffee, we decided to leave.  Probably a mistake, (well actually definitely a mistake) as I knew the wind direction was better in the afternoon.  Anyway we left and the truth be known we suffered as a result.  Well you can see from the map that things did not go well for us, but moreover, there was wind against tide which generated some very nasty chop.  As far as I could see everything was against us (I am not sure but the tide god doesn’t seem to accept credit cards).  Anyway we bashed our way south finally realizing that it was probably stupid to head for Thomas when Goldsmith was in reach.  We had also been in contact with some other people that had said they were going there, so we decide to head for it instead.  They beat us despite the fact that they had further to travel.  So it was kind of frustrating, as we bashed through all the waves, and general uncomfortable conditions.

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We also had some interesting navigation through a bunch of rocks at the end, just to add to the thrill of the day, but were basically glad to get there in the end.  But having arrived and had a couple of goes at anchoring, we had a great evening catching up and winging about the days weather.

Notwithstanding, it appears that the region we left got clobbered with a storm, so who is complaining.   But it was a bit of a bugger of a day….

So a short blog today, but basically we are waiting for a window to move south.

Allan and Hilary

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:Looking back at Hamiliton Island, which was a pretty nice place, and very unique.
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Looking north as we leave the central part of the Whitsunday Islands. The number of boats suddenly drops.
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Approaching Goldsmith after a bit of a day.
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Looking out from our anchorage at Goldsmith Island

The sunset was at least a 9/10 and I have been promised that a picture will be provided later.

Whitehaven to Hamilton

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Hill Inlet looking over Whitehaven Beach

The first thing we did today was to go to Hill Inlet again and finish what we started yesterday. We were rewarded with a magnification view of Hill Inlet as well as the inlet to its north.  After that we motored in our dingy to Bush Spirit and setforth to Hamo.  Well this day was very significant as we had to have many reefs in the sail, and indeed we didn’t even put the sails up as there was no wind. We motored to Hamilton island and the only thing of any interest was the whirlpools we encountered off the bottom end of Whitsunday Island.  They were very interesting and sometimes the core of the whirlpool was about 0.5m below the surface of the water.  It would turn the  boat around in all directions, so was sort of interesting.

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At the arrival of Hamilton Island, we were asked to park outside the marina to wait for an escort into the marina.  I’m am not sure what this added to the arrival, but it was certainly different and absorbed 30 minutes as we motored in circles waiting for the all important escort.  So the the escort arrived, and asked if we had ropes, and of course we did have.  The most important information we needed was where we were headed, but this was provided in the form of “follow me”.  So off he went in his powerful motor boat leaving us to figure out exactly where he went, which we eventually did, but only after a bit of “can you see him now” type of bantering.  I assume he had a similar response, like” can’t they go any faster”, but in the end we all made it to the berth.

So with that Nathan and Clem(entime) went and checked out the island and got lost, then eventually just caught the plane, Hilary washed the clothes, I did something important, and then the toilet had an issue so Hilary went exploring and I fixed the toilet.  I managed the latter, and Hilary enjoyed the former, so it was all good.  Then we had dinner at the pub and wondered back to the boat and fell asleep.  Kind of awoken due to the storm and closed all the hatches, but still had a good sleep all the same.

Also Nathan and friend got onto the plane home so we are left with just ourselves.

Allan and Hilary

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Hill inlet from the lookout
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Looking East over Hill Inlet at the latest storm.
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Another view of Hill inlet.
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The “bushwalk” to Hill Inlet lookout
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The bay north of Hill Inlet. Where Hill Inlet only has sand, this bay only has rocks.
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Approaching the passage south of Whitehaven beach. The planes flew through this to get altitude.
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There were lots of whirlpools. i appreciate the photograph doesn’t show how dramatic they were, but trust me they were dramatic.
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At Hamo, some yachts needed us to lift the class of the place. Some didsn’t. This was our neighbour who was sooo glad to see us arrive.
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Bush Spirit at Hamilton Island.
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An add for QANTAS as it prepares for takeoff at Hamilton Island, just over the water from where we stayed.