Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Sailing to Queensland, Winter 2015 - Part 5
Latest update 1 July 2015.
Continued from last part
Friday 19 June 2015 - Pearl Bay
It was calm overnight but a 10 knot southerly comes up just before dawn. Lying in bed, we hear the drone from the stinkboat fly overhead. I get up at 0750 and decide to go and see the owner to see if I can get a copy of the footage. However, by the time I am leaving the boat in Thunderbird 2, he is heading off. I take Veto to shore for a quick run.
We have breakfast and then decide to soak the sheets (ropes) for the screecher in napisan. We have heard that this will rejuvenate old, tired stiff ropes. While we are doing this, Kelly sees a dugong in front of the boat. We leave them soaking for about three hours. We head back to shore again and go for a walk to the western end of the second beach. This takes almost 30 minutes one way. We cannot go further as the tide is up and the only way would be over the rocks and we have bare feet.
|Looking to the south clearly shows the damage from the cylcone ||A selfie taken from the western end of Pearl Bay looking east|
Back at the boat, we relax in the sun on the foredeck and trampolines, it is nice with the wind just strong enough to cool us. We put the sheets back on the screecher and then make up a new anchor rope for Thunderbird 2. This is now 30 metres long and one piece compared to the shorter line in two pieces. Michael also adds some stainless steel chain to the second anchor for the dinghy and swaps one of the sections of rope to that anchor. He also does a few other minor changes to ropes for Thunderbird 2.
We spend the rest of the afternoon reading. A small trawler and a power cat come in and later Ohmless, a cat we saw on the Gold Coast and which Michael has been watching for months via AIS. It is a bit cloudier this afternoon, but still nice.
|Having drinks around the fire on the beach ||A bit later and darker, Catlypso is in the middle|
At 1615 we head to shore again, this time with drinks, nibblies and chairs. We start a fire on the beach and sit and watch the sunset while having beer and wine and some nibblies. Fantastic!!! We head back to Catlypso at 1750. Kelly cooks us zucchini fritters for dinner. We read for the rest of the night.
Our power seems to be working out okay, we end up back at full power of 910 amp hours this evening. We also still have a working anchor light, so hopefully the fix Michael did two days ago will hold up.
None as we did not move.
Saturday 20 June 2015 - Pearl Bay to South Percy Island
|Pearl Bay at bottom, South Percy Island near top and Middle Percy Island at top|
We get up at 0600 and Michael takes Veto to the beach for a run. He is soon back at the boat and we have breakfast. The wind is about 15 knots from the south here and it is very cool. Michael even gets out his beanie and wears it for most of the day.
Michael starts the engines but the starboard one does not even kick over. Bugger! He tries a couple of times but nothing happens. We also link the two starter batteries via the emergency switch but this makes no difference.
We open up the engine room, take out all the things from the upper compartment and then pull up the floor to access the engine. Michael thinks it is probably the starter motor, so he takes the rubber mallet and hits the starter. Kelly turns the key and it starts. Lucky it was that simple to solve, hopefully it is a one off problem.
Now with two running engines, we pull up the anchor at 0650 and motor out of the bay. By 0700 we have the screecher out and are making 5 knots in a 6 knot wind with one engine at 2,000 rpm. By 0735 the wind has picked up to 17 knots and we are doing 5 to 6 knots, so we turn off the engine.
|Sunrise over the small islands|
on the north side of Pearl Bay
|The entrance to Island Head Creek|
At 0805 we pass the entrance to Island Head Creek and at 0900 we pull out the genoa and again sail wing and wing. This gives us an extra half to one knot. By 1000 the wind has increased to 18 to 22 knots and we are doing 7.5 to 8.0 knots, with bursts up to 10.7 knots.
We notice a vibration whenever we get over 8 knots. We figure out it is related to the props. It turns out the starboard prop has not properly feathered. When we turn the engine on, engage forward and then turn it off, the vibration disappears. Looks like our thoughts were correct. The seas are a bit rough, a swell of probably 2 to 2.5 metres from our starboard aft quarter.
At 1135 we pass Hexham Island and at 1230 we pull in the genoa and swap the screecher to the port side as the wind has moved a little to the starboard. We are doing 6.0 to 6.5 knots in 15 knots. At 1400 we put one engine on as the wind has dropped dramatically to as low as 5 knots and our speed is under 4.0 knots. The engine goes off and on a few times over the next 30 minutes before it is on permanently.
We decide to go to South Percy Island. This was our original choice, but we decided a few hours ago to go to Middle Percy. We figure we will check this out and if no good, go to Middle Percy. As we approach the gap between Hixson Islet and South Percy Island, we furl the screecher. A big problem arises where the knot in the furling rope has jammed again in the furler. This means we cannot fully furl the sail and have heaps of flapping canvas.
The only option is to drop the whole sail on the deck which we do. Kelly has to lie on it while we motor into North West Bay where we hope to anchor. This is just inside the north-western corner of the island and seems quite calm. We drop anchor at 1500 in 5.0 metres which means we should have a minimum of 2.9 metres under us at low tide in about three hours. We are the only boat anchored here, although there is another one at the anchorage to the east.
Once anchored, we spend the next 40 minutes fixing up the sail. We have to first roll it onto the furler and then reattach the sheets. However, when we do this, we wrap it many times around the sail. Our idea is that we will then pull out the sail and refurl it. We do this a few times and we have moved the knot in the furling line back well away from where it will cause a problem. This works well (and is how we fix it for the rest of the trip).
|A panoramic photograph of North West Bay on South Percy Island|
After this we take Veto to the beach. However, there is a bit of swell and we decide we can only attempt to land at the western end of the beach. Even then, we both get a bit wet and Thunderbird 2 has to ride up and over small breaking waves while we are ashore.
Back on Catlypso we have showers and then sundowners. Kelly makes tacos for dinner. Excellent as always.
We relax for the rest of the evening, still being entertained by a Dutch couple in a yacht we have heard a few times since Bundaberg. Her radio etiquette is atrocious, she only says the name of the VMR and her boat once, never repeats her call sign when they do not hear and appears to have the squelch turned right up.
|Kelly and Veto on Thunderbird 2|
as we come back to Catlypso
|Sunset reflected in the cockpit window|
They only make radio contact when he takes control of the radio. We actually decide to keep watch as they have stated they will be coming into South Percy (we think, he has not specified which island they are going to) after dark and we want to make sure they do not run into us. We are appalled by the poor radio etiquette of many people over the past few weeks.
Anyway, that is our rant for the day. Tomorrow we will either stay here or move to Middle Percy Island depending on the conditions. The forecast for the next two days is winds from the south-east to 25 or 30 knots. We are not sure if our location will be okay for that.
Sunday 21 June 2015 - South Percy Island
It was a bit sloppy overnight, with some beam on swells from about 0100 till 0500. Michael slept well but Kelly was awake for a lot of the time. We turned many times during the night as the wind and tide battled for supremacy. The anchor alarm went off a few times as we turned.
Michael gets up at 0815 and takes Veto to the beach for a run. This morning it is much calmer than yesterday afternoon and he has no problems landing Thunderbird 2 on the beach. Once back on the boat we have breakfast.
Michael then cleans the watermaker filters and then turns it on as it is five days since it was flushed. You must run or flush it at least every five days. He also transfers 66 litres from water containers to the front starboard water tank. The watermaker can only feed into the rear starboard tank, so he needs to use the containers to move the water to the other tanks (since we are keeping the three tanks isolated from each other).
Kelly washes some clothes as it is a nice sunny day with lots of wind, so we need to take advantage of this (hence also running the watermaker to use solar and wind energy). We again hear the Dutch boat calling on the radio. Once again, when the VMR answers they do not respond. He then calls on VHF 67 for any boat to answer. I do and he again does not respond. What is wrong with his radio? I suspect he has the squelch turned right up. Finally he hears the VMR.
At 1000 we go ashore and have a walk and a swim, the first we have both had together on this trip. The water is very clean and warm.
|Thunderbird 2 with Catlypso in the background ||Kelly and Michael on the beach at North West Bay|
We even give Veto a swim, she has not had a bath for about four weeks, so we use the salt water to wash her and then rinse her off once we get back on Catlypso. Kelly finishes washing the clothes and Michael transfers some water he has made to the starboard tank.
We have lunch and Kelly then has a nanna nap to catch up on the sleep she missed out on last night. We end up running the watermaker for six hours and making about 135 litres of water. We now have full tanks and containers. By mid-afternoon the weather has deteriorated, with 20+ knots of wind and heavy cloud.
Since just after high tide, the conditions have got rougher. It seems that the outgoing tide causes side on swells to rock the boat. This is what happened last night. At 1615 we try to go ashore but it is too rough to land.
|Another panoramic photograph of North West Bay on South Percy Island|
Tonight we again need jumpers to have sundowners outside. We cook a barbecue for dinner of Scotch fillet and sausages and salad. After dinner we play a few games of Uno, we end up even.
Today we heard very few boats on the VHF radio, really only the Dutch people and one other boat. We only saw one boat and that was a large power cruiser which came and anchored at the eastern end of South Percy Island. If the conditions are suitable tomorrow, we will move the short distance to Middle Percy Island as the anchorage in the predicted easterly winds is better.
None as we did not move.
SOME OBSERVATIONS AFTER SIX WEEKS SAILING
Tomorrow marks six weeks since we got on the boat back in Sydney. The following are some observations so far about our trip.
Marine Rescue NSW
The forced amalgamation a few years back of the various volunteer marine rescue organisations in NSW has gone well and generally created a very integrated and consistent organisation. When travelling from Sydney, we only had to give our boat details once (when we left Sydney). These were then passed on as we travelled up the coast. Additionally, when we logged on in the morning with one base, they passed our details (ETA and destination) onto the relevant base that we needed to log off with. Excellent service.
Marine Rescue in Queensland
Well, what a total opposite experience up here. There are at least two different organisations, even in the same port (eg Gold Coast). There is Volunteer Marine Rescue and the Coast Guard. In addition, apart from when we sailed from North Stradbroke Island to Mooloolaba, you need to give all your details to each base, sometimes multiple times to the same base.
If you transit from one location (A) to another (B), it is not uncommon to have to log on with Base A, then log on with Base B and log off with Base A and then log off with Base B. Each time you have to give your rego, phone number, boat description etc. In addition, none of the bases runs 24 hours, even in the bigger cities.
Some of the bases had terrible radio etiquette and most seem to prefer to use their base number rather than name when making calls. There were a couple of exceptions to the above, especially VMR Round Hill and VMR Gladstone which were both very professional in how they dealt with boats.
Boaties Radio Etiquette
As I mentioned above, some boaties and yachties seem to have no idea about how a VHF radio works or how to use it properly. Some seem to have no understanding of duplex channels and a huge number do not make calls correctly (stating the name of the called party two or three times and then their name two or three times). Some people make a call and if it is not responded to, do not follow it up promptly with another call in case the called party was busy on another call. People also do not seem to take notice of what they are told, for example, the name of the next base to contact and the channel they use. It is very frustrating for us both who have been professionally trained to use radios for work.
We are also amazed that many people transit the coast without logging on with the marine rescue bases. It is such a simple thing to do (notwithstanding my above comments) and it gives such a big safety buffer if something goes wrong.
Monday 22 June 2015 - South Percy Island to Middle Percy Island
It was very windy last night, probably the strongest winds we have had on this trip so far, with well over 30 knots for sustained periods. The wind changed to easterly during the night. Michael slept well for the first three hours, Kelly not so well. Around 0015 the tide got stronger and turned Catlypso beam onto the swell. For the next two hours neither of us got much sleep.
Around 0430 or so the tide slows up and we turn more into the swell again. We get a bit of sleep after this. At times the boat rocked like a bucking bronko. We had a few loud crashes when things fell over or totally off benches. This is very rare indeed on our boat, even in rough sailing seas we can leave things sitting on benches.
We end up staying in bed till 0840 (Michael) and 0900 (Kelly). It is a bit better now, but still windy and rocky. We have breakfast, there is no way we can take Veto to shore in this sort of conditions. We decide to leave and go to Middle Percy Island as it should be a bit more protected there.
We pull up anchor at 1015 and motor out. We decide to motor the whole way as we need to recharge batteries and also want some hot water for showers. We are using the starboard engine at 2200 rpm, giving us about 6 to 6.5 knots. After 15 minutes we hear an alarm. It takes a while to work out that it is the high temperature alarm for the engine.
We start the port engine and shut down the starboard one. Not much we can do now, so we continue on. It is quite rough going across to Middle Percy as the channel is totally open to the easterly wind. Once we turn north around the south-western corner of the island, it becomes calm. Nice.
|West Bay on Middle Percy Island ||The "Percy Hilton", the hub of activity on the island |
When we radio in to VRM Thirsty Sounds to advise our passage, another boat, Apataki, which was anchored next to us at Pearl Bay last Friday, calls and asks us to let them know what the conditions are like at Middle Percy as they are heading this way.
We motor into West Bay, a very protected anchorage from easterly winds. The water is fairly deep till you are relatively close to the beach. We end up anchoring in 5.0 metres about 1.0 metre above low tide. The wind has by now dropped to perhaps 15 to 20 knots and it is less here.
We go ashore and have a look around. There is a couple of buildings here, the first is an A-frame hut called the Percy Hilton. This has thousands of signs from visiting yachts. The second is called the Telephone Exchange, it is a metal building that has some of the oldest signs from the 1950s and 1960s. we go for a walk over the ridge past the "Tree House" where Marty, the caretaker, lives.
Our goal is the lagoon where there are five boats anchored. Two are cats, including Nardu who we met at Great Keppel Island and one is a huge 18 metre schooner. The tide is out and they are on the bottom, the schooner supported by tree branches. We speak to Carol and Jim from Nardu.
|Some of the boats moored in the lagoon ||Michael looking at the plaque commemorating|
Matthew Flinders entering the above lagoon
in the early 1800s on his circumnavigation
We head back to Catlypso. While Kelly is preparing lunch, Michael checks out the starboard engine to see why it overheated. As far as he can see, the salt water supply is okay, but the belt driving the water pump may be a bit loose.
He then notices that there is a line of dirty water about 300 mm above the bottom of the bilge. How the hell did that get there? He checks everything but can find no obvious way this much water could have got into the engine compartment. This is a worry, where did the water come from. The dirty line is composed of rubber pieces from the old v-belts that were wearing when replaced.
Michael checks the raw sea water filter, it has been leaking a tiny bit but there is nothing more than that. He pulls it open and recloses and also reattaches it properly to the bulkhead. The only possibilities we can come up with are that a large wave came onto the back transom and then got into the engine compartment (there is some water on the floor of the upper compartment) or that the huge beam on waves we had last night threw the bilge water around so much that the rubber pieces were deposited where they were. This is a possibility.
We decide to keep the floor out for the moment and monitor the bilge. We have already checked and the bilge pump is working, so it should not be possible water to get to the level it seems to have done. Michael tightens the belts on this engine in case that is what caused the overheating (a wet loose belt meaning pump not working properly).
In between doing this we have lunch. At 1500 we decide to move closer to shore and a bit shallower as we are getting a bit of side on swell. We move about 80 metres and anchor in 4.7 metres, hanging back in 5.8 metres. We should have 3.8 metres at low.
|The "Telephone Exchange", houses the oldest ship signs and a book exchange ||Percy Island Honey is available in the Hilton|
We then go to shore. We have been told that if you walk up the track towards the Homestead building you can get mobile phone access. As we are about 85 kilometres from the coast, you need to be pretty high. We walk for about 20 minutes and see where everyone has left the main track. We get access, but it is poor. Michael makes a phone call to his brother, but he can hardly hear him. He can get no internet access and it takes five minutes to send an SMS. Kelly has a bit better luck with her newer iPhone.
We walk back to the beach and Michael swaps four books for ones from the book exchange. There was not a great selection, but at least he has something new to read. We purchase a jar of Percy Island Honey for $8.50 ($15 for a large one). Michael then takes these back to Catlypso and gets some drinks. There are people from the power cat Apataki and a monohull here as well as some people from the boats in the lagoon (and Marty the caretaker). He has also caught some garfish which he has cooked.
We come back to Catlypso as the last of the light fades (1750) and Kelly makes pumpkin gnocchi for dinner. We have showers and then read. It is so nice having flat seas, hopefully it will last all night.
Tuesday 23 June 2015 - Middle Percy Island
It was calm again overnight with the occasional gust of 15 knots. It rained heavily for a few minutes before 0700. When we get up at 0800 it is overcast with some blue sky. All the boats have left by now and we are alone.
Michael takes Veto to shore for a run and as he returns, a boat comes in. This is Windarra from Wilmington, Delaware, USA. There is Carl, his wife and three kids (I think one is a nephew). They have sailed overnight from Pearl Bay.
While we are having breakfast we hear Island Home calling Windarra on the VHF. We met Geoff and Marina from Island Home at the Gold Coast about five weeks ago. Later in the morning they arrive as do many other yachts.
|Kelly in the engine room ||The sparkling clean engine room |
Kelly decides to clean the starboard engine room, something she has been saying she would do for the past year! This takes her the best part of three hours (with a few breaks). She removes all the oil, grease, and junk that has accumulated over the past 10 years. While she is doing that, Geoff and Marina come over on the way to the beach. We have a good chat. We decide to have drinks on the beach at 1630.
We have an early lunch and at 1245 we go into the lagoon in Thunderbird 2 and take the track to the Homestead. It is a nice easy walking track (in fact a 4WD track) and we see more goats (yesterday we also saw a kangaroo on the beach). We end up not going all the way (it is 3.5 kilometres each way) and turn around probably about 2 kilometres along. We go back to where we were yesterday trying to get phone coverage.
|The entrance to the lagoon near high tide ||All the boats in West Bay this evening|
Today we get better reception, and download all our emails and read some Facebook posts. We also upload a couple of photos to Catlypso's Facebook page. We are back on the boat by 1450.
|Michael and Kelly with our sign ||A close up of the sign|
Later, 10 year old Scott from Island Home comes around and invites all the boats to drinks on the beach. Michael makes dinner, curry chicken and rice so that when we come back from drinks it will be ready. By now there are 12 boats in the bay, 7 are catamarans.
We go to the beach at 1625 and soon nearly everyone is there. We put up our small sign (a dive flag sticker) on the underside of the roof. We meet people from quite a few boats that we have seen along the way, including Ohmless which Michael has been following on AIS since they left Sydney a week or so before us.
It was a nice evening. We head back to Catlypso just after dark, but some people stayed there till at least 2000. We have dinner and then go to bed as we are getting up early to go to Scawfell Island.
None as we did not move.
Wedneday 24 June 2015 - Middle Percy Island to Scawfell Island
|Middle Percy Island at bottom, Scawfell Island top and Keswick Island top left|
We get up at 0545 and have tea and coffee before pulling up the anchor at 0625. We motor out of the bay and soon have the screecher up on the port side. We need to have one engine going as the wind is too light. We need to average about 6 knots today to make it to Scawfell Island before dark.
At 0700 we pull out the genoa and have the sails wing to wing. We are doing 6.0 to 6.5 knots in 16 to 17 knots of wind. However, within 30 minutes we have an engine back on as the wind drops. The engine is off, then on, then off again as the wind is very fickle.
From 0945 one engine is on for almost all of the rest of the day as the wind drops to 10 to 12 knots with some gusts to 16 knots. We need the engine on to keep up our average. At 1045 Kelly spots a striped sea snake on the surface a few metres from the boat. As readers of this page would be aware, she really does attract snakes, both on the land and in the water!
|Approaching Scawfell Island from the south ||The eastern beach in Refuge Bay|
For all of the day we have three other catamarans within close proximity. They are Too XS 2, Ohmless and Dream Maker 2. The rough choppy seas from this morning gradually ease as the wind drops and by the afternoon it is a very pleasant run. We approach Scawfell Island on the western side and come around into Refuge Bay.
We decide to anchor off the western most beach. The problem with this bay is that there is a reef off all of the beaches. We are not sure how far out it extends, so we probably end up anchoring deeper than we need to. We drop anchor in 8 metres (almost at high tide) which should mean a minimum of 6.5 metres tomorrow morning at low tide.
|Sunset in Refuge Bay, Scawfell Island |
Michael takes Veto to shore for a run (easy to get to the beach at high tide) and then comes back for showers, sundowners and a nice dinner of spaghetti and meatballs. There are now seven yachts in the bay, three of which are catamarans (Dream Maker 2 did come into the bay but then inexplicably left for Hamilton Island, 49 nautical miles away).
Thursday 25 June 2015 - Scawfell Island to Keswick Island
We get up at 0800 and went to the beach, the water was so blue and clear and the water almost mirror-like. We walked the whole length of the beach and then took Thunderbird 2 over to the point to check out the reef. It looks like it might be a nice dive here as there are some walls and bommies.
Back on Catlypso we have breakfast (big mistake) and then Michael decides to go up the mast again to fix the navigation lights. By the time he has got everything together, the wind has picked up a little. Half way up the mast it starts to blow. And blow. And blow. He waits 10 minutes but it is not abating, so he comes back down. He should have went up before having breakfast, we will not make this mistake again.
It seems that water is coming in the starboard transom somehow, into the very rear compartment. This has a circular inspection hatch and a few days ago when we had a lot of water in the bilge, this hatch was floating around in it. Anyway, Michael opens the hatch and about 10 litres of water comes out. For the life of us we cannot see where it is getting in. It seems that what happened before was the rough seas forced the hatch off and the accumulated water came rushing out and flooded the engine compartment before the bilge pump removed it all. We need to investigate further (something that we do not end up working out till the last month of the trip).
|Connie Bay on Keswick Island ||Another shot of Catlypso from Connie Bay|
At 1025 we up anchor and sail close hauled with the screecher the almost 12 nautical miles to Keswick Island. We make about 5 to 6 knots the whole way in 15 knots of wind. At 1220 the wind drops as we pass behind St Bees Island and our speed drops to 2 knots. We pull in the screecher and motor the last 1.5 nautical mile.
We drop anchor at 1255 in Connie Bay on the northern side of the island. This is a small partially protected bay. It is quite deep compared to most anchorages we have had so far. We go in as far as we can, there is a fringing reef right around the bay, including across the beach. We anchor in 7.0 metres at low tide. Michael takes Veto to shore for a quick run while Kelly makes lunch.
After lunch we have another look at the bilge pump as it was running when we anchored but not pumping any water. We end up pulling out pieces of plastic, resin, rubber and other crap and it now works. Kelly also gets all the water out of the rear compartment using a scoop she made. She also pulls out pieces of fibreglass that have obviously been left there when the boat was built as the pieces are neatly cut. Why were they left here?
|Some of the second lot of crap that we|
took out of the starboard rear compartment
|A goanna on the beach at Connie Bay|
We go to shore again and Veto has a good run around. We check out the reef and there is a possible dive off the eastern point (there are apparently caves here). When we get back on board, there is a smell of burning electrics. We work out that it is one of the solar panel regulators. Michael unhooks it, it is boiling hot. The fuse has blown but the problem is a short between one of the positive wires and a negative wire. This is hard to avoid as the wiring is heavy gauge but the spots where the wires go are very close together. Michael has had problems before with this.
He ends up shortening the exposed wires and putting it back together, but now it is not working at all. Looks like it might be buggered! Michael then transfers about 90 litres of desalinated water from containers to the forward starboard tank. He also adds 44 litres of diesel to the main tank.
|A panoramic photograph of Connie Bay|
At 1625 we go to the shore again for a short walk. We come back, have showers and sundowners and Kelly makes us teriyaki pork and rice. We finally get some internet access via the iPhone up the mast trick. We update this web site and also pay some bills etc. We go to bed at 2100.
Friday 26 June 2015 - Keswick Island to Brampton Island
|Keswick Island at bottom, Brampton Island above this, Goldsmith Island towards top and Shaw Island at top|
Track at bottom not recorded
Last night was okay till 0145 when wind when rain lashed the boat. We turn 180ΒΊ and the anchor alarm goes off. The next 45 minutes has wind of over 30 knots, mostly from the south. We do not sleep much as the alarm goes off a few more times as we stretch right back on the anchor chain.
The wind drops a bit after 0300 but is still 25 knots at times. Later the swell picks up and is coming into the bay, rocking the boat a bit beam. However, by now it is 0600 so Michael is awake and Kelly is sometimes awake. We get up at 0830 and it is still 25 knots. Michael puts on the watermaker as it is five days since we used it and we need to flush or run it today.
There is no way we can take Veto to shore, so we have breakfast and ask VRM for the weather forecast for today. It is supposed to be 20 to 25 knots southerly. We decide to wait till after 1000 to make a decision on what we are going to do. By then the wind appears to have dropped a little, so we decide to head off.
|The seas as we approach Brampton Island, this|
does not really show how big they were
|Rounding Western Point of Brampton Island|
At 1025 we pull up the anchor and within a few minutes we have the genoa out. The wind starts off at 15 knots but once we are away from the island it is an almost constant 26 to 28 knots. We change our minds about heading for the northern side of Carlisle Island as the wind is almost straight behind and the sail keeps pooping. We head for the southern side of Brampton Island.
We end up doing about 5 to 6 knots the whole way, with bursts of over 30 knots of wind. The seas are about 2 to 2.5 metres with some well over 3 metres. We cop a few side on and have water over the bows, the helm and the cabin. Not too bad and a good experience for us. We round Western Point of Brampton (looks like a submarine) and then motor the short distance to what used to be called McLean Bay, part of Maryport Bay.
We anchor off the deserted wharf at 1245 in 3.7 metres at low tide. It is very calm here. The watermaker is turned off about now, having made about 95 litres of water for us. Michael takes Veto to shore, she has not had a wee etc since yesterday afternoon. She is very relieved! Kelly makes lunch while he is gone.
|The deserted main buildings of the Brampton Island Resort ||Some of the accommodation at the resort|
We check the rear compartment behind the starboard engine and there is only a tiny bit of water. As there was none at all this morning, we come to the conclusion that it is leaking out of the exhaust pipe (turns out to be wrong). We base this on the fact that we got no water in overnight despite some very rough pounding.
Later Island Home comes in and anchors next to us. Already here is Saltwater Dreaming who we met at 1770 a few weeks ago. There are two other monos and two more come in later.
At 1520 we go to shore near the deserted Brampton Island Resort. This used to be a very popular resort but it closed down a few years ago, allegedly because of storm damage. We cannot walk through the resort as the caretakers do not permit you to, but we walk along the beach to the airstrip (we later meet people who did and said everything is still there, including jetskiis and more).
|The runway at the airstrip ||The remains of the train line that ran from the wharf to the resort|
The resort is overgrown, but there is no apparent storm damage that we can see, apart from perhaps some retaining wall damage. However, the next morning Michael does find some more damage, see that post. It is really quite depressing to see what was a fairly upmarket resort totally abandoned and allowed to go to rack and ruin. We go back to the boat, try to use the internet to update this page and also pay the registration on our 4WD, however the connection is poor and we can do neither.
We have sundowners and Kelly makes chicken leak and pasta for dinner. Afterwards we listen to South Sydney play Manly in the NRL using the HF radio pulling in the Sydney ABC radio station 702. As Brisbane is also playing tonight, the radio and TV up here are showing that game. Souths win 20-8.
Saturday 27 June 2015 - Brampton Island to Goldsmith Island
It was calm during the night but there were some strong gusts of wind and also heavy rain at times. The anchor alarm went off a few times during the night. However, it was still not a bad night. We get up at 0800 and Michael takes Veto to the wharf fro a walk. He ties up and starts to walk along the wharf to the shore when he has to stop. The wharf ends! Yes, it looks like the cyclone took out the start of the wharf where it meets the breakwater.
They go back to the dinghy and motor over to a rocky beach on the western side. From here they can get ashore. Looks like the whole breakwater section of the wharf has been badly damaged. We also previously mentioned that the train line was totally destroyed and it also has been here. To get the resort back operating would need the train line or a replacement road built over the water's edge.
We have breakfast and soon after Island Home departs, we decide to go too. We are both planning on heading to Goldsmith Island for the night. We up anchor at 0945 and after motoring out a few hundred metres we pull out the screecher. The winds are a lot stronger than forecast, at least 27 to 32 knots, with gusts of over 35 knots. We sail at 7.5 to 9.3 knots with the wind off the aft quarter.
As we approach a mark where we need to turn a bit to starboard to head towards the northern end of Goldsmith Island, the winds are closer to 30 knots, so we pull in the screecher and swap it to the genoa. We make the turn and we are still doing 6.5 to 7.5 knots with the wind right up our clackers! The seas are much more comfortable sailing this direction, Island Home which has decided to go around the southern end also has to pull down their main and put up the headsail. They radio us that the seas were really rough as they cross a shallow area, another reason we decided not to go that way.
|Sailing between Goldsmith and Linne Islands ||The Eurocopter A340 landing on the island nearby|
We sail in between Linne and Goldsmith Islands and then turn to port to round the top of Goldsmith between it and Locksmith Island. We twice accidentally gibe when the wind changes direction due to the islands. However, it is no problem. We sail down almost into Roylen Bay, another bay named after Roylen Cruises from the 1960s. See the page on one of their old boats that Michael dived in the Solomon Islands.
As we enter the bay, Geoff from Island Home radios that this bay is much calmer than the one further south and also the water is deeper than the charts show. We end up anchoring at 1155 next to them in about 8.5 metres about an hour off low tide. While we are preparing lunch, a helicopter comes in from the south and loops around the island opposite us. This island has private houses. The chopper lands and obviously someone gets off or on and then it departs. That is the way to travel!
|Roylen Bay on Goldsmith Island ||Catlypso from the southern end of the beach|
After lunch we go to shore, it is very shallow and rocky/corally near the beach, so we have to thread our way in and anchor carefully. We walk the beach, there is a campsite and toilet here, but it does not look like it gets used much. On the way back we drop past Saltwater Dreaming which has moved here in the past few minutes from the other bay, it was too rolly. We also go to Island Home and are invited over for drinks at 1700.
Back on the boat, we have wind that varies a lot and we do a few 360s and point in the opposite direction to everyone else at times. We end up having to pull Thunderbird 2 up on the davits as it is bashing into the rear a lot. Finally we get some more internet access, so Michael updates these pages (he previously got access and paid the registration for our 4WD which he has been trying to do for the past week). We also run the generator for 30 minutes to add some power back, there has been very little sunshine the past week.
|Having sundowners on Island Home |
We have been invited over to Island Home for sundowners so we head over at 1700. We have a very nice time chatting to Geoff and Marina. We are back on Catlypso by 1900 and we have dinner of chicken pasta. The wind picks up a bit and there is some rain. The wind was even stronger after dinner, 25+ knots. We read and then go to bed at 2100.
Sunday 28 June 2015 - Goldsmith Island
The seas were calm last night mostly there was not too much wind. However, at 2330 it poured rain for an hour and there were some very strong gusts. The anchor alarm went off at least six times during the night as we turned and pulled back on the anchor chain. It rained many times. We slept reasonably well considering all this.
We get up at 0910 and Michael takes Veto to shore for a run. It is very overcast and raining on and off. We have breakfast and soon after, Michael's sister-in-law, Gail McFadyen, phones us. She is with his brother Stephen on her sister's power boat Chilli Bella and coming towards us. We have poor coverage so we cannot talk, so she SMSs that they will be here at 1015. They anchor next to us a little later than this at 1030.
|Chilli Bella approaches with Stephen on the bow ||Morning tea on Chilli Bella,|
Phil, Gail, Stephen, Kelly and Cathy
We go over and have morning tea with them. Phil and Cathy Mackenzie have brought their boat up from Botany Bay over the past month in stages. They are leaving it at Hamilton Island in a few days and flying back home for a while. It is a Bertram 35 which cruises at 20 knots, a little faster than we do!
The wind is all over the place and they start getting a bit close to us, so we go back to Catlypso and Phil moves them towards the centre of the bay. Stephen later swims over to us and the others come in the dinghy. They then go ashore. After we have lunch, we meet them on the beach. Just before this we hear the Hay Point VTS (the port control for Mackay) doing a Mayday radio relay. They are asking if anybody is near Credin Reef as a boat has sunk and two people are in the water. We look this up and find that it is about 42 miles to the east of us, way too far for us to assist.
We invite to come over for sundowners and dinner at 1700. Back on Catlypso we hear that one person has been picked up by helicopter but we do not hear what happens to the other person. Nothing more is heard, so we have no idea what happened. We have so far heard nothing on the radio news either about this incident (and never do).
|McFadyens and Mackenzies on the beach ||Michael his brother Stephen|
At 1550 we decide to move our anchor location as the current is turning us all around the place like last night. Also, there is some swell coming in from the notth and this is also bouncing off the rocks near us so we have double the swell to deal with. We motor over to the centre of the bay and anchor near Chilli Bella. It is much calmer here, although perhaps a bit windier.
We run the generator for an hour to charge the batteries and also make some rice in the rice maker. At 1700 Michael runs over and gets Steve and the others from Chilli Bella as their dinghy cannot take four. We have a great time with a lot of talk about both our trips so far. Michael cooks a flat chicken on the barbecue and then some sausages and pork chops that Cathy brought over. Michael also made a fried rice earlier and we have a couple of other salads. We have an excellent dinner.
Since 1700 Veto has been very quiet. After Michael takes the others back to Chilli Bella at 2015, we check her out. She will not eat or drink and also is just lying on her side. We are very worried about her, has she picked up a tick? We examine her but find nothing. Michael suggests that this is what she was like when she hurt her back a year or so ago, so perhaps she has done something similar. We give her a dose of the anti-inflammatory medicine she was prescribed for that. She is not much better at all and when she tries to stand up she falls over.
We go to bed with a great deal of concern for her, she is virtually not moving at all and will not even lick a wet finger. It is 2115 and very windy, over 30 knots.
None as we did not move.
Monday 29 June 2015 - Goldsmith Island
What an awful night! Veto was not well the whole night, she hardly moved, although a bit later on she did move up the bed a bit from our feet. At least this is something we think. At 0300 Michael got up and saw the cruise ship Pacific Dawn sail past us just north of where we are anchored. It was heading west in the channel.
Things get worse when at 0345 we hear a huge bang. We get up, wondering what could have happened. As soon as we go out into the cockpit Michael knows what it was. The wind generator is vibrating all over the place. He guesses that one of the three blades has broken off. We get a torch and sure enough it looks strange, even though it is spinning wildly. He turns it off and it brakes to a slow turn. Yes, one blade is totally gone. Damn!
Even with the brake on, it is turning and as it is unbalanced, the pole that it is on is moving about. We get a rope and tie off the top to a winch. This is about all we can do now.
|Veto is still not very well early in the morning ||The wind generator showing the missing blade|
We go back to bed, Veto is still not good, but she has some water off our hands, at least this is promising. It is still very windy at 0800 and Veto has some more water. Michael gives her another dose of the anti-inflammatory medicine. Within 30 minutes she is a lot better.
We get up at 0930 and Veto has some more water and even eats some food. We are now fairly confident that our hunch about her back is correct. She walks very timidly and even wags her tail a few times. She is also much more alert.
At 1030 Chilli Bella leaves for Hamilton Island and 20 minutes later Island Home sails out for Shaw Island. We were going to go with them but decide to stay here today till Veto fully recovers. By now she is almost 75% back to normal. We decide to move over to near where they were anchored (and where we were the night before) as it is too windy here. By 1125 we are re-anchored.
|The damage caused by the flying blade,|
the black marks are where it hit and
the cut is presumably from the blade
| Veto has now recovered enough to be|
climbing all over Michael
We decide to take Veto to shore as she has not been to the toilet since yesterday despite our attempts to encourage her to go on the boat. Once on the beach she runs around, perhaps not as she normally would, but she is very happy. We do not let her over exert herself.
We head back to Catlypso. It is now sunny, the first time for quite a few days. The wind is still 15 to 20 knots. We do some washing, have lunch and generally laze around. The stress of the past 18 hours has been very hard on us, Veto is our "daughter" and to lose her would be devastating for both of us.
We put the generator on and also the watermaker. With the very cloudy weather over the past week and the fact we have not used the engines much mean we are steadily losing amps. We also heat water for showers. Michael also refuels Thunderbird 2 and the generator.
At 1630 we take Veto to shore for a run, she has a great time and is very nearly back to normal. When we get back to Catlypso, we decide to move again as the swell has come back and is hitting us side on. We move back to near where we were this morning. It is much better here, although the wind is stronger.
We have showers and nibblies and then make a chicken curry using the chicken left from last night. We also give Veto some more anti-inflammatory medicine. We go to bed at the very early time of 2000 and are asleep by 2030.
None as we did not move.
Tuesday 30 June 2015 - Goldsmith Island to Shaw Island
The weather was very good overnight, we had the best sleep for a week or more. A squall came through at 0630 with rain and strong winds. We get up at 0800 and Michael takes Veto to shore. She is now her normal self. We have breakfast and decide to leave here.
We pull up anchor at 0850 and within minutes have the screecher out. We are doing 5 to 5.5 knots, with some bursts of over 7 knots. The wind is 15 to 20 knots but we get a few gusts of 25 knots. The seas are quite good and we have a quick sail to Shaw Island. We pull in the screecher off Burning Point and then motor into Burning Point Beach.
We anchor during a squall in 6.6 metres about 2 metres before low tide. The water here is very flat, the best we have had for almost a week. There are a couple of boats here now, but later there are 13 in total. We are opposite the old Lindeman Island Resort, later Club Med Lindeman Island, which shut down in 2012. It is so sad that all the famous resorts up here appear to have gone under.
|Looking back at Goldsmith Island as we sail away ||The beach at Shaw Island|
After lunch we go to the beach. We have to anchor a fair bit out as it is very shallow. We walk to the beach but do not stay long as the tide is dropping quickly and we do not want to be stranded here. Also, there is a big, black cloud coming. We are not stranded, but we do get soaked by the rain before we get back to Catlypso.
We read for the rest of the afternoon. When Michael attempts to check on some things in one of the cupboards, a can of beer that he moves decides to erupt. It is leaking a bit and when he picks it up, it slips through his fingers and hits the floor. Well, it is now spraying all over the place. Both he and the area nearby get soaked in beer. He salvages the rest of the can for later on (adding fresh beer to it - not bad).
|A panoramic photograph from the beach at Shaw Island|
At 1630 we go to shore again. The tide is now incoming but we have to anchor even further off the beach than before. Veto has a good run around before we return to Catlypso. We have showers, sundowners and then mustard pork and vegies for dinner. It is still very calm here. We go to bed a lot later than last night!
Wednesday 1 July 2015 - Shaw Island
It was calm overnight, just a few squalls, one set off the anchor alarm. It is overcast and rain is threatening when we get up at 0830. Michael puts the generator on at 0805 (and then goes back to bed) as we need some power, we have had little sun over the past week or more and the engines have hardly been run.
We have breakfast and Michael makes some more yoghurt. We have been making our own yoghurt for some time now and it is easy to do on the boat (and very cheap).
Michael phones Ian Gowan who is on holidays at Airlie Beach with his wife Sharon. You might recall that when we went into Port Macquarie in the first week of this trip Ian and Sharon came on the boat at the marina and Ian also sailed part of the trip last year when we came back from the Gold Coast.
Ian says they are not doing anything for the next week, so he will see about getting out to one of the islands and we will pick them up and they will spend almost a week with us. He later phones to say they will come out to Hamilton Island tomorrow morning. We tell him that is okay and we will pick them up there. Kelly sends an SMS to him with some food items we need for the period.
|The rain squall that we had early in the day ||Looking back at the anchorage from the beach|
We take Veto to the beach and then go to another beach to the east. It is high tide so very easy to land there. Most of the boats have left by 1045, there are only three of us here now, but later a few more come in, nowhere near as many as last night.
Michael refuels the generator as it stops due to a lack of fuel. He also tops up the 5 litre containers and then transfers the remaining 20 litres from one container to the other. This is so he can try and get the end of the jiggler hose out of it (it came off inside a few weeks back). However, this is not successful as it appears to have swollen. He ends up pulling it apart to get it out.
Michael then swaps the solar regulator that is sending power to a starting battery for the one that broke a few days ago. He tries to get that one working but without success. Meanwhile, Kelly does some tidying up as we have been using the other queen size bed for storage. Later we go to the beach again, this time the tide is even lower than yesterday afternoon so we have to traipse through even more mud.
|The beach was full of these shells, perfectly|
round and with holes in the middle
|The almost full moon rising over Shaw Island|
Back on the boat we have sundowners as a nearly full moon rises and the sun sets. Michael makes chicken schnitzels and Kelly does potato mash. A very relaxing day with little wind and later, a lot of sun. Hopefully this will continue.
None as we did not move.
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