Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Sailing to Queensland, Winter 2015 - Part 9
Latest update 27 August 2015.
Continued from last part
Wednesday 12 August 2015 - Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island
|Magnetic Island - Horseshoe Bay is on northern side, Townsville at bottom|
It was again calm for most of the night but at 0500 we got a bit of slop which made it a bit rolly. Not too bad, but a bit annoying. It is again a sunny day. We get up at 0800 and have breakfast of bacon and eggs. After this, Michael takes Phil and Vikki to shore as they are going to do a walk. He also takes Veto.
Michael and Veto walk with them to the end of the beach to show them where the walking track starts. He then heads back to Catlypso. Michael checks the weather for Saturday and we are disappointed to see that the wind is now forecast to be 17 to 20 knots for most of the day. This is the day that we had hoped to go and dive the wreck of the SS Yongala out off Cape Bowling Green.
Michael calls the dive operator and they confirm they have plenty of spots. When asked about the weather, they advise that when he looked yesterday it was 50:50, but he checks again and says it is now probably 70:30 that they will not go. We will keep an eye on the weather and see if it improves. Unless it does, we will probably not go.
We read for the rest of the morning. About 1300 Phil calls us on the portable VHF and we go to shore to collect them. They walked to both Balding and Radical Bays and even saw a koala just off the track when they were coming back. We motor back and have lunch and again relax and read.
|A photo of one of the small birds|
that visited us most days at Magnetic Island
|Drinks in the park behind the beach|
After lunch Lauren Maree comes in and anchors near us. Michael adds 13 litres of petrol to the fuel tank of Thunderbird 2 so that we have empty containers to fill up when we go to Townsville tomorrow.
At 1630 we go to shore to have sundowners on the beach. This seems to be a popular thing to do this evening as quite a few other boats come ashore. We end up sitting with Burnice from Brahminy Too (Hans went back to Brisbane this morning to move their old boat), Michael and Louise from Samskara and Heather and John from Phantasia.
We end up leaving about 1800 but discover that Thunderbird 2 is full of water (well not really, but it has a lot in it). The swell has come up over the 90 minutes we have been here and small waves have been breaking over the stern into the boat. Michael has to take it for a run to get rid of all the water.
Michael cooks a flat marinated lamb on the barbecue and Kelly does some vegetables. We go to bed about 2200.
None as we did not move
Thursday 13 August 2015 - Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island to Townsville Marina
Last night was quite rolly till about 0230 when the wind moved to the west and then later to the south. By 0330 it was quite strong from the south, perhaps 20 knots. However, the anchorage was very flat. It is again sunny when we get up, it is about a month since we have had anything more than a spit of rain.
We are up at 0800 and Michael takes Veto to shore. Today we have to take Phil and Vikki to Townsville so they can head home and we also are going to the rugby league match in town tonight.
We have breakfast and Michael flushes the watermaker (which he should have done yesterday). While doing this the water runs out. That means we have used 195 litres or so in 10 and a bit days, so 7.5 litres per person per day. Pretty good really.
He swaps over the tanks and completes the flushing. At 0920 we leave and motor out on one engine. However, as soon as we get around the north-eastern point of Magnetic Island the wind gets much stronger, over 22 knots at time. Our speed drops to about 3 knots or even less at times as we are bashing right into the wind and the very rough sea. We put on the second engine and our speed increases to 5.8 knots or so.
|Phil and Vikki Rose as we motor to Townsville||Approaching Townsville|
About 45 minutes after rounding the point the seas start to drop as the wind has gone down to 20 knots and we are now closer to the shore. Just before we enter the marina (as Kelly and Phil are preparing the fenders and ropes), Michael hears a call on the VHF from a cargo ship relaying a message to the port control that a dive boat has reported a scuba diver missing. Shit! Over the next hour we hear more about this which we will detail later.
We enter the Townsville Breakwater Marina and find our spot. We have help from the staff with our ropes and we easily berth. Imagine our surprise when we see that next to us is Spy Panda, another Lightwave 38. This is the boat that lost its anchor at Great Keppel Island and who Michael assisted by trying to find it for them (unsuccessfully).
Once berthed, we hear more about the missing diver. It is a 63 year old Canadian (we think) woman. She started her dive at 1045 at Lodestone Reef which is north-east of Townsville and east of Palm Island. She is on the boat Adrenaline which is the one we had planned to dive with yesterday and on Saturday. She apparently surfaced at 1115 but then disappeared.
It takes a very long time for the authorities to act and they ask stupid irrelevant questions when they should be sending out a rescue helicopter and Water Police and then asking the questions. It is of course complicated by the fact that the two cargo ships that are relaying messages from the dive boat are crewed by people whose knowledge of English is not all that good and who know even less about scuba diving.
Finally a helicopter is stated to be on its way, about 60 minutes after we heard the first call. We hear nothing more on the radio. Later in the afternoon we see the dive boat come in and also see the Police and other authorities with it. It is immediately obvious to us that this has not had a good outcome as the passengers are very sombre. We learn on the radio news the next morning that the women died and was recovered. Very sad.
Michael heads off about 1230 and is picked up by our friend Colette Wasson. Colette used to work with Michael in NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and was also a member of our dive club for a while. She moved to Townsville about 10 years ago (maybe more). Colette has offered us the loan of a car while we are here and she takes Michael to her house to collect it.
When Michael gets back around 1330, we load Phil and Vikki's things in and find a place along The Strand for lunch. We end up getting hamburgers and chips at a Greek place. It is one of the best burgers we have had for years. We then take Phil and Vikki and drop them at the place where they left their four wheel drive. It has been great to have them on board for the past three days.
When we get back to the marina, Kelly does two loads of washing and then hoses down the boat as we are covered in salt from today's trip. Meanwhile, Michael is attempting to find out why we are not getting any 240 volt shore power. He fails as the cable appears okay.
We have showers and then talk to Geoff from Spy Panda who has come home from work (Michael had earlier spoken to Naomi). We head off to the football at 1810. We have decided to drive out to near the stadium (stupidly named 1300SMILES after a sponsor) to a shopping centre the marina office has told us about and park there. Here we find a nice Indian place that appears to be part of a chain. We have a quick and cheap meal.
We then walk the kilometre or so to the stadium. Doing it this way means we do not get caught in the traffic jam getting out of the stadium car park after the game.
Of course the reason we have come to the game is that our team, South Sydney Rabbitohs is playing the local team, the North Queensland Cowboys. The Cowboys are coming second and the Bunnies are fourth, so it should be a good match. The ground is not huge, but big considering the size of Townsville.
|South Sydney on the right||Michael and Kelly at the match|
We have to pick up our tickets which we do quite easily and then find our seats. There is a lot of confusion about this as people have mistakenly sat in the wrong rows for about four rows. There is plenty of space so it does not really matter. The game starts at 2000 and within a couple of minutes GI (Greg Inglis) scores for Souths. A great start. Souths are never headed from here, although at half time we are only just ahead 13-12. To be honest, the Cowboys may have even played better this half.
After half time Souths go up a notch and the score ends up 31-18, with the Cowboys only scoring again in the last couple of minutes. A great night. It was good to see Souths play well considering last Friday night they played atrociously and got beaten by Manly.
Things are looking better for the finals, with only three more rounds before they start. Of course, Souths won the competition last year, their first for 43 years and we were there for it. This year if they make it we will have to watch it somewhere as we will still be away.
We drive back and get to the marina about 2245. We have a celebratory drink before going to bed at 2330, the latest of this trip we think.
Friday 14 August 2015 - Townsville Marina
The wind that we had yesterday appears to have totally gone, despite what the forecast originally said. We get up late at 0830 and after taking Veto for a walk, we have breakfast. Michael then attempts to contact the electricians at the marina but all he gets is voicemail so he leaves a message. Kelly goes to the marina office to pay and also get our gas bottle filled.
At 1100 we go for a drive to Castle Hill. This is the high mountain behind the city CBD. It has fantastic views out to Magnetic Island and to all other directions. We walk to each of the nine or ten lookouts and take some great photos. This is a must do if you get to Townsville.
|The view from Castle Hill towards Magnetic Island in the centre and Cape Cleveland at right|
|Looking towards the city and the marina||This is looking to the west and the airport|
After this we drive to Kissing Point which is at the north-western end of The Strand (the road in front of the marina). This point had defence fortifications from the 1880s. These include gun emplacements to protect Townsville from attack (against the Russians at that time), shell storage rooms and more.
There is also a museum here but it seems to be closed as they are setting up for tomorrows Victory in Pacific 70th anniversary celebrations. We spend about an hour here, it is quite fascinating, but similar to the fortifications back in Sydney at Bare Island and Sydney Harbour which were built around the same time.
|The armament storage at Kissing Point||One of the two 7.5 inch guns at Kissing Point|
After this we head back to the marina where we have lunch on Catlypso. As we have not head back from the first two electicians (sorry, but very typical from tradies), Michael phones another one who rings back a few minutes later. He says he is off-site at the moment but will be back later. We make plans for him to come at 1600.
We go off to do some shopping and refuelling. Michael drops Kelly at Woolworths in the city centre and then drives to the nearest petrol station that he knows of. Here he gets 88 litres of diesel and 32 litres of petrol. He comes back to the shopping centre and then checks out beer and wine in two liquor stores near the Woolworths. He gets another carton of beer and some wine casks for Kelly. Kelly finishes the shopping and we head back to the marina.
As we drive back, the electrician phones and says he is at the marina, much earlier than he thought he would get there (it is 1500). We arrive a few minutes later and he starts looking at the problem. He discounts the cable as the cause, then looks at the socket on the boat. This is also soon discounted. After a bit more work we discover one thing, there is another safety switch that we did not know about behind the helm and near the freezers' controls. We reset this and then turn on the power and we have power for a fraction of a second before one or more of the breakers trips. It takes a lot of work but eventually it becomes apparent that the problem is caused by the port hot water system. This has some corrosion and the thermostat has corroded to an extent that it has fallen down. Once the wiring to the hot water tank is removed, the 240 volt breakers stop tripping. Looks like we will only have hot water for showers when we have engines running.
|Castle Hill from Kissing Point||Michael, Colette, Mark, Eloise and Kelly at dinner|
After this we have showers and just before 1900 our friend Colette and her husband Mark and daughter Eloise arrive. We have a drink and some nibblies before we go off for dinner at their favourite place, an Indian restaurant up near the Greek place where we got lunch yesterday. We have a great dinner. This is the first time Kelly has met Colette so it is good that they have finally been able to meet.
We leave the restaurant and walk back to the marina getting home about 2200. A great day in Townsville.
None as we did not move
Saturday 15 August 2015 - Townsville Marina
We get up at 0815 and have breakfast. After this we head off as there is a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the ending of the war in the Pacific (VP day or previously VJ day). Kelly puts on a load of washing and we walk to The Strand. The parade comes along, there is a US Army regiment and then lots of World War II veterans. They are in Jeeps, old US convertibles, other convertibles and lots of other fancy/old cars and some in buses.
There are also a couple of bands. The parade ends at the Townsville war memorial at Anzac Park. Everyone walks there after the parade passes. We have to wait a while for the next part of the commemoration to start as this part seems to have gone quicker than planned.
|The USAF B-52 bomber flies overhead (zoomed in)||The RAAF C-17A Globemaster cargo plane does a spectacular low level pass|
Just after 1000, a USAF B-52 bomber from Darwin (I think) flies along The Strand and over the service. This almost 60 year old plane roars overhead before turning out to sea to head back home. A few minutes later an RAAF C-17A Globemaster cargo plane comes roaring in. This is heaps lower than the US plane, seemingly almost skimming the tree tops. The crowd roars after it passes, the Aussies certainly outdo the Yanks on this.
After this the service starts. There are some good speeches by the Townsville Mayor and the Australian Army boss as well as the US head honcho. There are the usual things for these type of commemorations, the Last Post, national anthems and more. It is all over well before 1100, well done that it was not stretched out like some other events.
|The US Army regiment and the war memorial||Some of the wreaths on the war memorial|
After it is over, we talk to some of the US Army soldiers. They are based in Hawaii and have been in Townsville for six weeks. They are leaving in a few days and going to Indonesia for some more training exercies and then heading home. They seemed to appreciate the crowd coming to talk to them after it was over.
We head back to the marina and Kelly puts on another load of washing and then the first lot into the dryer. We go back to Catlypso for lunch. After lunch we head off shopping, we need to get some things. Kelly gets a cheap ($8) watch to temporarily replace her good one which has had a battery failure. We also get some steaks, vegies and calamari.
We come back to the marina. After Kelly goes and talks to Geoff and Marina on Island Home, we go to the Townsville Yacht Club where we have a couple of beers. This is a nice place that overlooks Ross Creek and their marina. We come back to the yacht and watch Australia play New Zealand in the second rugby test. After scoring first, Australia get killed, 41 to 6. Typical, we win the first match and then we get run over. NZ now has not lost a test at home for something like 33 matches.
|At the Townsville Yacht Club|
Michael cooks a creamy pasta dish and we watch some TV, the first for a couple of months before going to bed.
None as we did not move
Sunday 16 August 2015 - Townsville Marina to Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island
We get up at 0730 and Kelly heads off to do another load of washing. Meanwhile, Michael flushes the watermaker and fills the water tanks and spare containers. This actually takes a while as the waterflow is not all that great. After this we have breakfast. Kelly checks us out and we leave the marina at 1030.
Once we are out of the channel that leads into the marina, we pull out the screecher in 10 to 12 knots of easterly wind which makes us close-hauled as we head up the eastern side of Magnetic Island. We are doing about 5 to 5.5 knots so turn off the engine. The wind increases to 15 to 17 knots with the occasional gust to 20 or 22 knots. It also is now abeam of us so we increase our speed to 6 to 7 knots with bursts of over 8 knots at times.
|Looking back at Townsville as we head out of the marina||Radical Bay as we pass by|
The sea is a bit choppy, but further on it is a bit better. This is a nice easy sail. For a lot of the trip over we keeping hearing on VHF 16 a Search and Rescue (SAR) plane calling a fishing trawler. This goes on for over an hour and at no time does the trawler respond. In the end the plane does a call advising any ships/boats in the area (north of us) to be on the lookout for the trawler. We assume that they have set off their EPIRB and that they cannot be found. However, this is not the case as you will see later.
We round the north-eastern point of Magnetic Island and the wind is now right behind us. We pull in the screecher as we approach Horseshoe Bay and motor the remaining nautical mile or so. There are lots of boats here, but not as many as last weekend.
We anchor near where we were last time, just near Nardu. We have lunch and relax. Michael also sprays the thru-hull for the toilet holding tank with WD-40 as it is very difficult to turn. This requires him to lay on the floor of the toilet and shower and work through a small hatch. It seems to be a bit easier after this, he will test it again tomorrow.
Later in the afternoon a large dive charter boat comes in and anchors next to us. It is MV Kalinda, the boat that Michael dived off up here last November when on a dive trip with our dive club. Michael goes over and says hi to the owner, Dave Stewart. He says to come over later.
|Michael fixing the holding tank thru-hull||MV Kalinda|
At 1630 we go over to Kalinda and Michael introduces Kelly to Dave. Dave also introduces us to his partner Jo and their seven month old baby, Lachy. We have a good chat and discover that next weekend they are doing a charter to the wreck of the SS Yongala where they will do six dives. Dave says there is still space, so we decide to go. Dave offers to help us get Veto to a kennel for the weekend.
Dave also tells us that the trawler eventually responded to the SAR plane. My guess is that they were anchored and asleep, hence no response. Turns out the EPIRB was set off by accident. A large waste of public money but at least it shows the system works.
We go back to Catlypso and have sundowners and then Kelly cooks the calamari she purchased yesterday. She makes three types, garlic, salt and pepper and the last one a mixture of hoisin sauce and sweet chilli sauce. All were excellent. We have an early night after two nights of nearly midnight, in bed by 2100.
Monday 17 August 2015 - Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island
It was a bit sloppy early in the night but it got better. Kelly has had an upset stomach since last evening and has spent a bit of time you know where. Michael gets up at 0830 and takes Veto to the beach. When he comes back, he has breakfast while Kelly stays in bed recovering. She eventually gets up but is still not well.
Kelly makes enquiries about a kennel for Veto for next weekend. She has already booked us back into the marina for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. The weather today is nice, sunny yet again, with very little wind till about 1130. Michael reads while Kelly (and Veto) mostly sleeps.
After lunch, Michael and Veto go for a walk. Kelly is still not well enough to leave the boat. This time they head up into the streets behind Horseshoe Bay. They come across a woman who is looking for her dog which has escaped from the yard. A bit further on Michael spots it in the grounds of the old Horseshoe Bay State School. He goes back to where the woman was but cannot find her so he tells the owner of another house who knows whose dog it is. She says she will come and get it.
|The old abandoned Horseshoe Bay State School||The forest kingfisher|
Back at the old school three people tell him the dog is going down a track so the woman heads off after it. Hopefully she found him soon. Michael walks back to the main road and then heads a bit further inland. He passes the koala park/accommodation place but does not see any koalas in the gum trees.
A bit further on is a football field and there are three red-tailed black cockatoos on the ground. Later he sees a forest kingfisher, a small blue,white and black bird. They walk back to the beach and go back to Catlypso. Later Michael takes Veto to the beach for another run.
Michael makes dinner, a pasta dish with bolognaise sauce. Kelly has improved a bit as she has a small serving. We read some more and then go to bed.
None as we did not move
Tuesday 18 August 2015 - Horseshoe Bay Area, Magnetic Island
It was pretty calm overnight and a beautiful morning again when we awoke. As is sometimes normal, we lay in bed and listened to the ABC 7:45 am Radio News and then AM. After this finishes at 0830, we get up and have breakfast.
We notice a strange ship to the north of us and examining with binoculars shows that it is HMAS Canberra, Australia's newest warship. It is also the ship on which our dive buddy Sarah Lockley's husband Cal Johnson is a Lieutenant. However, he is not on it at the moment as they are in the processing of moving. The Canberra appears to be doing training, with helicopters taking off and landing from her flight deck and later two more come in from Townsville and land.
|Catlypso and Thunderbird 2 off Norris Bay ||Some of the amazing boulders around Norris Bay|
We decide to head around to Norris Bay again so at 1000 we up anchor and motor the 2.6 nautical miles to this beautiful bay. On the way we have a call from Dave Stewart from MV Kalinda confirming that we are on the dive trip next weekend. Kelly then books Veto into a kennel for this period. At 1035 we anchor close to the beach and go ashore. The bay has no access via land and we are the only ones here.
We spend the next 90 minutes on the beach and swimming. The water here is not as clean as last week, but it is much cleaner than Horseshoe Bay. We go back to Catlypso just after 1200 and have lunch. We stay here till 1405 when we motor back around to Horseshoe Bay.
For the first time, Kelly is taking us into an anchorage and Michael is going to drop the anchor. After Kelly gives Michael a quick lesson on how to drop the anchor, we successfully anchor at 1440 back near where we were this morning.
|The view of Norris Bay from Catlypso ||Catlypso and HMAS Canberra in the setting sun|
At 1615 we go to shore and Michael takes Kelly on a walk over some of the spots he went to yesterday. The woman who was looking for her dog yesterday recognises Michael and thanks him for helping to find the dog. We come back to the beach and sit on one of the chairs and have a beer. HMAS Canberra has come back closer to Magnetic Island after spending most of the day near Palm Island and we get some photos of it with Catlypso in the foreground.
After the beer we go back to Catlypso and have showers. Kelly cooks some garlic bread and then makes meatballs and spaghetti. We read for the rest of the evening (and Michael does the web site page).
Wednesday 19 August 2015 - Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island
It was calm again overnight and this morning sunny when we get up. We cannot remember the last day where we had bad weather and it certainly has not rained during the day for well over a month. We get up at 0815 and have breakfast. This morning we are going to walk to the south-eastern side of Magnetic Island.
We leave Catlypso at 0950 and start walking at 1000. There is a map of the walking tracks in the various Magnetic Island free guides, but to be honest they are crap. The guides say that it is 3.5 kilometres from Horseshoe Bay to Arcadia, but as we will show it is a lot more.
|A section of the walking track to Arcadia,|
not a great track considering it is only four years old
|A view of Townsville from the track|
The first part of the walk is along Horseshoe Bay Road and then you walk along a track that appears to be the old dirt road. This comes back out on the road at the car park for the start of the Forts Track (a walking track to old defence fortifications). From here you head back into the bush on a walking track. This again comes out on the road. According to the map there is a track from here on the other side of the road but we see no signs. The only sign points uphill back into the bush so we follow this.
Along this whole walk there are occasional glimpses of the water, but nowhere is there a spot where you can take a decent photograph. We follow the couple of other signs and end up on a tarred road that seems to go nowhere (we think it goes to a water tank) and then into a residential street. There are no signs from here to show which way to go so we use GoogleMaps on our phone to work out the way.
We arrive at Arcadia 90 minutes after leaving Horseshore Bay. There is no way that we have taken 90 minutes to walk 3.5 kilometres, even if some of it was uphill and on a rough track. We head to a shop (the only one we see) which is a newsagent and get a couple of cold drinks as it has been very hot coming over the hills.
|Alma Bay, a beautiful beach facing the east ||Veto and Kelly relaxing at Alma Bay after the very hot walk |
We then go to Alma Bay which has a really nice beach. We sit in the shade on the grass in the park behind and cool down and then go for a swim. It is really clean water, much better than at Horseshoe Bay. By now it is 1230 so we go back to the newsagent and purchase a pie each and another drink. We have this in the park.
We head back at 1245 and this time walk up Horseshore Bay Road in an attempt to find the track that parallels the road. We find it and walk along this. It is a much easier walk and a better track, amazing since we later read that this was closed and the other track opened in 2011. This is a shorter, easier and much better track, but it is not signposted at either end. Veto is getting a bit tired as she sits down at times and we need to carry her for a distance before she will walk again. We end up back at Horseshoe Bay at 1400, taking only 75 minutes for the return trip.
We purchase a six pack of beer at the pub (and get told there is a surcharge for using PayPass - of course there isn't, it is for using a credit card) and sit in the park and have a nice cold beer. Michael later works out using our mapping software that the minimum distance for the walk is not the 3.5 kilometres claimed, but at least 4.8 kilometres for the way we went there and 4.2 kilometres for the return trip.
We are back on Catlypso by 1435. Just before 1700 we take Veto to the beach for a run (she is now revitalised). After this we have sundowners and Kelly makes curry beef and rice for dinner. A nice day out that would have been more enjoyable with more accurate maps and better signposting.
None as we did not move
Thursday 20 August 2015 - Horseshoe Bay Area, Magnetic Island
Yet again it was very calm overnight, we are having some great weather the past few weeks. It is sunny as well when we get up at 0815 and it stays that way all day. We have breakfast and then take Veto to the beach.
We pull up the anchor at 0940 and motor around towards Radical Bay. However, as soon as we get outside the bay it is obvious that there is a fair bit of swell running and the wind is a lot stronger than in the bay. We motor on and get called by Brahminy Too who are ahead of us. They are heading to Nelly Bay marina to get water and food.
When we get closer to Radical Bay it is clear that it is not calm in there so we turn around and head back to our anchorage. We re-anchor, this time closer to the boat ramp. Michael decides to reglue the protection strip at the port stern of Thunderbird 2 as it has come loose after he last glued it a couple of months ago.
|Sailing away from Radical and Balding Bays|
the seas do not look that rough but they were
|Island Home comes into Horseshoe Bay|
After lunch, Island Home arrives from Townsville and anchors next to us. We then go to the beach (and notice Mango is back) and walk almost to the western end. We stop where we saw the osprey nest last week. There are still two juveniles in the nest it seems. Back on the boat, we later have showers as we are going to the pub with Geoff and Marina from Island Home. At 1730 we head off and go to the pub.
Michael orders the $10 beer jug special (before 6 pm), a bargain he cannot resist. Geoff and Marina arrive and a bit later Paul from Mango and his daughter Cheyenne together with a German backpacker Jens arrive. Geoff and Marina have invited them along.
|Michael, Geoff, Marina and Kelly at the pub ||Jens, Cheyenne and Paul at the pub|
Most of us order the Thursday night special, chicken parmigiana. This only costs $15 and comes with a middy of beer or a glass of wine. Another bargain (and why we decided to come here tonight). We have a really nice evening with these other boaties.
We are back on Catlypso by 2050 and head to bed about an hour later.
Friday 21 August 2015 - Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island to Townsville (Catlypso), on the way to SS Yongala (Michael and Kelly)
This morning we get up earlier as we are heading back to Townsville and the marina. We are up by 0730 and Michael takes Veto to the beach. Back on Catlypso we have breakfast and at 0900 we pull up anchor and motor out of Horseshoe Bay and around to the western side of Magnetic Island.
After 20 minutes we pull out the screecher and sail, making between 3 and 5.5 knots in about 10 to 12 knots of wind from behind us. At 1000 as we pass Liver Point the wind dies so we start one engine and pull in the sail. The wind then comes on our nose, although as we get closer to Townsville we could have sailed for about the last 12 minutes when it moved more to the east.
|Michael and Veto on the foredeck|
as we sail around the top of Magnetic Island
|West Point and the western side of Magnetic Island|
We tie up at the marina at 1210. The reason we are back in the marina so soon after we were last here (last Sunday) is so we can go out on the dive charter liveaboard, MV Kalinda. We will be spending Friday and Saturday nights onboard and diving the wreck of the SS Yongala on Saturday and Sunday. The wreck is located off Cape Bowling Green.
We have lunch and at 1400 the pet boarding man comes and collects Veto. We are not very happy that we have to put her into a kennel, she has never been in one and has always had someone she knows look after her, even when we have gone away overseas. She is put in a large cage in the back of the van and looks so sad with her paws up on the bars. Hopefully she settles down and is okay.
|Veto in the cage in the back of the van as she is taken to the pet boarding kennel|
After this Dave Stewart, owner of the Kalinda arrives and takes us and our dive gear to the boat. We walk back to Catlypso and spend the rest of the afternoon reading. Michael also flushes the watermaker.
One great thing about being in a marina is we can have showers that are longer than 30 seconds or so. We can tell you that we certainly take advantage of the water! Michael makes some creamy pasta for dinner and we have it with garlic bread.
We do not have to be on the boat till 2130 as the rest of the passengers are coming from Cairns and will not arrive till that time. We stay on the boat and watch South Sydney play Canterbury in the rugby league. They get killed 32 to 18, the score is actually flattering to Souths. After this we walk over to where the Kalinda is berthed. The other passengers (all from the Nautilus Dive Club in Cairns) have not all arrived so we have to wait to board.
Once on board, we settle into our cabin and then complete paperwork etc. After this we have a couple of beers and chat to the members who have let us come on their trip. We depart Townsville just after midnight and motor towards the wreck which is east of Cape Bowling Green.
There is at least 18 to 20 knots of easterly wind, so we are heading straight into it. It is a very uncomfortable trip.
Saturday 22 August 2015 - Townsville (Catlypso), SS Yongala and Cape Bowling Green (Michael and Kelly)
As mentioned, it is a very rough trip out from Townsville to the wreck of the SS Yongala. It seems that we do not sleep at all, however, we must have got some sleep as when we arrive at the wreck at 0600 we do not feel as tired as we thought we would.
We get up at 0645 and have breakfast. After this Dave gives the dive briefings about diving in general and this wreck. It is not only an historic wreck with laws to govern behaviour (eg no penetration of the wreck), it can be a very difficult dive due to sea and current. It is also relatively deep at 27 metres to the sand, but is only 15 metres to the shallowest section.
|Sunrise as we approach the wreck of the Yongala ||Looking along the top deck of the Kalinda at the wreck site|
We are moored at the bow and it is only a short distance from the stern of Kalinda to the descent buoy on the bow. The Yongala was a 100 metre long passenger and cargo ship that sank in 1911 in a huge storm with the loss of 121 lives. It is considered to be one of the top couple of dives of anywhere in the world. It certainly deserves that reputation in our view. We start our first dive at 0835, Michael's log book entries for our dives are below.
Diving from MV Kalinda on weekend trip. Very rough seas but no current. Moored on bow, went to stern near sand and then back higher. Lots of fish as expected. Saw 2 sea snakes, a turtle, lots of Maori wrasse, GTs and more. Excellent dive. Visibility very good.
As you can see we have a great dive. This is certainly the best conditions either of us have had here (Kelly has dived it twice and Michael five times). After a cup of tea and a bit of cake, we head back into the water at 1114.
Similar to last dive but only very slight current. Lots of fish as before. At stern heard whales, singing a very strange song we had never heard before. Also very loud. Saw a large cod off bow. Excellent dive. Visibility very good.
After this dive we have lunch and then do another dive.
|Kelly at the bow with Hold One and the mast|
hanging over the sand to left
|Another shot of the bow, this time from in front of it|
|Kelly above Hold One||Kelly approaching Hold Two from the stern|
Another dive from bow to stern. Lots of large barrcuda high above the wreck. Another excellent dive. Visibility very good.
The fishlife on this dive is incredible. Not only are there lots of fish, there are lots of huge fish. It has certainly not disappointed us so far. There is a night/dusk dive planned, but we decide against doing it as we do not want to have to get back on the boat at night during very rough seas. Even in daytime it has been a challenge to get on board safely, we both have a few bruises to show where we slipped on the ladder etc.
Just after 1800 we a relaxing in our cabin when we hear a loud bang. We then hear Dave shouting. We rush out and find that the mooring line (owned by the Queensland Government) has broken and we are drifting away. There are two divers underwater and also the line from the stern of the boat to the descent buoy needs to be taken into account when he manoeuvres the Kalinda to another mooring. The crew work well and Dave gets us on the nearby mooring without wrapping the line around the prop.
This is exactly why we did not want to dive this wreck out of Catlypso without at least two other people on the boat to watch it. Apparently the mooring was only checked a month ago, guess the contractors did not do a good job!
Only two other divers decide to go in. The first two cannot figure out what has happened when they came back to the buoy as they could no longer see the boat. Anyway, they reported a good dive.
After they are back we motor back towards Cape Bowling Green and anchor inside its protection about 2030. We have dinner and a couple of beers and are asleep by 2200.
Catlypso at Townsville as yesterday so none
Sunday 23 August 2015 - SS Yongala back to Townsville
It was very calm at Cape Bowling Green overnight, we both have very good sleeps. We leave at 0530 and motor back out to the SS Yongala which is about 13.5 nautical miles (25 kilometres) off the tip of Cape Bowling Green.
We are moored at the stern of the wreck by 0640. We do our first dive before breakfast, entering the water at 0720.
Moored to stern today. Early dive before breakfast, a bit dark as also overcast. Not as much fishlife on wreck as yesterday, a lot was off over the sand near bow. Also barracuda were back and up above 10 m. A large bullray, a few sea snakes, a large cod and a couple smaller ones. Another excellent dive. Visibility better, excellent.
We have breakfast when we come back and then do our last dive at 0958.
|Looking towards the bow along the top of the hull|
from the stern - Kelly on the right
|The stern with Kelly up high, rudder and prop shaft left|
|The huge school of barracuda that was high over the wreck||Kelly above the rear hold|
Similar dive to previous one. Went to bow, showed Kelly the toilets as she could not refind them. A turtle there as first dive. An eagle ray, bullray and more. Last of five fantastic dives here, virtually no current and more than 25 m viz on each dive. Visibility excellent.
Once everyone is back on board, we depart for Townsville. It is a very calm trip back with the wind and seas behind us. We arrive back at 1715. We unload the boat and then use our trolley and Dave's trolley to take our gear back to Catlypso at the marina. We leave the gear soaking in freshwater and walk back with his trolley. Before we leave, we put three loads of washing on.
We decide to get pizza for dinner as we have nothing ready to cook. We find a place and order a takeaway pizza and have a beer while we wait. We walk back to Catlypso and have the pizza. It is okay, but not one of the better ones we have had.
Kelly goes and puts the washing in the dryers while Michael washes the dive gear, hangs it up to dry and fills the almost empty starboard forward water tank. We also have showers, very nice after two days of diving and limited ability to shower (due to the rough seas).
Catlypso at Townsville as yesterday so none
Monday 24 August 2015 - SS Yongala back to Townsville
We have another great night of sleep, we have now probably caught up with the missing sleep from the other night. It is a bit cloudy this morning and very humid when we get up at 0715. Kelly is going to the supermarket (Woolworths which is closest we think) to get a few things while Michael puts away the dive gear, flushes the watermaker and tops up the water tank again to replace the water used for this.
When Kelly comes back we walk up to the marina buildings to wait for Veto to return from the boarding kennel. It has been very hard not having her with us considering for the past almost four months she has not been apart from us for more than an hour or two (when we have gone to dinner or diving).
When the door to the van is opened, she starts jumping up and down and almost crying, we get her out and she jumps from Michael to Kelly and back again, licking us. We think she missed us! It is great to have our daughter back. We go for a walk along The Strand and she enjoys it. When we get back to Catlypso she runs all over the boat sniffing everything to see if things have changed.
|Veto when she sees us||Two Army landing barges practising on the beach|
We pack up the power cable, hose and other things and at 1055 we leave the berth and motor out of the marina. Once we leave the channel, we change direction to go around the western side of Magnetic Island (as the wind is not conducive to going around the eastern side) and pull out the screecher. The wind is only 11 to 12 knots, but we are making about 3.8 to 4.0 knots.
Later, the wind increases to 17 knots and we are doing 5 to 6 knots. However, at 1225 off the north-western side of the island we are becalmed. We pull in the sail and motor. Further on the wind comes back but it is now on the nose, so we have to motor all the rest of the way. We anchor in Horseshoe Bay at 1425.
There are two Army landing barges in the bay when we arrive. We have heard them on the radio since we left the marina. They are practising landing on the beach and also getting towed off the beach. We spend the rest of the afternoon reading and making phone calls. Michael calls his Mum and Kelly rings her Dad, Tomas. Tomas is now at Kurumba in the south-eastern corner of the Gulf of Carpentaria which is way off to the west of us.
At 1615 we take Veto to the beach and give her a good run. Back on Catlypso we have showers and sundowners. Kelly makes mustard pork and vegies for dinner. After this, Michael works on the web site and Kelly tries to figure out our plans for the next week.
Tuesday 25 August 2015 - Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island
This morning just before 0600, Veto was sick on the bed. Michael took her outside and she was sick a few more times and then did a huge poo on the cockpit floor. She then vomited a bit more and did a runny poo. The vomit was mostly a frothy water. What brought this on?
Last night she had a chicken neck for dinner that had been in the fridge since last Thursday, but the fridge was always cold and we have kept them that long before. She also ate something on the beach, perhaps that was it. It seems to be food poisoning we think.
By 0715 she seems a lot better but we had already decided at 0700 that we were not going to sail to Palm Island as originally planned. We have another tea and coffee and some toast for breakfast. By 0915 Veto seems okay so we take her to the beach. We walk to the eastern end of the beach and while she runs a bit, she is not her normal self.
We run into an English couple (from Yorkshire) who appear to be looking for the walking track but who have already gone past where it comes off the beach. We point them in the right direction and have a bit of a chat to them about cricket (arghh), Captain Cook and other things.
On the way back to Catlypso, we stop at Chances, a Lightwave 35 that came in last evening. This boat used to be called Longtime and is owned by Gary and Ann Ryan. Gary used to be a member of South Pacific Divers' Club, a club that Michael was also a member of for a while. However, Michael does not remember him, so perhaps it was at a different period of time. We stay there for over half an hour chatting.
When we get back on Catlypso we read and also check out the weather. We then decide to head out to the reef instead of going to Palm Island as the conditions for the next week or so are going to be very good. Then, next Tuesday we hope to be able to sail to Cape Bowling Green and perhaps onto Cape Upstart with a north-westerly wind.
After lunch, Michael and Jenny from Wongadir drop by. We first met them at Pancake Creek and last spoke to them almost a month ago at Butterfly Bay in the Whitsundays. We actually saw their boat last Sunday at the Townsville Yacht Club when we came back from the dive trip.
Their boat, built in 1939 and launched the next year, is from Townsville and they spent the past week catching up on the history of it and meeting some former skippers. They also got some old photos of it from various people. They are heading north in a few days and we might see them at Palm or Orpheus Islands.
At 1615 we take Veto to the beach again. She is still not herself, perhaps a bit less energetic than this morning. She has done a few more liquid poos and after we get back to Catlypso she does some more. At least she is doing them on the bottom of the port stairs. Poor thing, if she is not better tomorrow we will not be going out to the reef.
We have sundowners and then Michael cooks steak and sausages on the barbecue. We have with a beetroot salad Kelly makes. We go to bed early as we plan to get up at 0600 and leave at 0630.
None as we did not move
Wednesday 26 August 2015 - Magnetic Island to John Brewer Reef
|Magnetic Island, Horseshoe Bay at bottom, John Brewer Reef just below top on right, top right is Back Numbers Reef|
Veto is still not the best overnight and she wakes Michael four times to take her to the toilet. We are very impressed with this. We get up at 0600 and make a cup of tea and coffee. Veto has a few small things to eat, at least she is not totally off her food.
We pull up anchor at 0620 and just before leaving the bay we pull up the main sail and then pull out the screecher. We turn off the one engine we use to motor out and sail at about 4.7 knots. The wind is 10 knots from the east and we are close hauled. The seas are very calm, almost perfect. We have a few whales surface near the back of the boat as we leave Magnetic Island.
The wind goes a bit more abeam at times and then we make 5.5 knots. At 1000 the wind drops to 6 to 9 knots and we are only doing between 3 and 4.5 knots. A couple of times we put an engine on but within a few minutes the wind picks up and we turn it back off. Just before 1000 a large cargo ship, Atlantis Blue, passes within 0.6 nautical mile of us.
|Kelly setting up the fishing rod||The cargo ship passes between us and Palm Island |
The water today is by far the cleanest we have had on this whole trip, the water is a bright blue. Kelly sets up our fishing line and has it trolling out all day. We do not get a bite!
At 1100 the wind is back up to 10 to 11 knots on the beam and we are doing 4.5 to 5.0 knots. Just before 1200 it hits 13 knots and we are doing 6.5 to 7.0 knots. Just as we come level with the western point of John Brewer Reef, the wind drops and we pull in the sails and put on an engine. We motor the rest of the way.
We are not sure where to anchor. The reef is kidney shaped and about 6 kilometres long (north-east to south-west) by 2.8 kilometres wide. The depth is mostly well over 20 metres around it but our charts show a shallow section of between 5 and 10 metres about two thirds of the way along the north-western side.
|Catlypso anchored off John Brewer Reef||Catlypso from inside the reef|
We motor along this side but find no trace of this shallow section. In fact, the depths along here are generally nothing like shown on our charts. In the end we back-track over a section we checked out earlier and decide to anchor in about 20 metres just south-west of the "entrance" to the lagoon. We anchor at 1405.
Once anchored we go for a run in Thunderbird 2 to check out the reef. By now the wind has picked up a bit to about 15 knots, so we go into the "lagoon" through a small entrance and have a look if there are any anchorages. We go to the main entrance, and while we could get in through there, even at low tide, there is not much room that we can see to anchor.
We head back to Catlypso and then have a swim and snorkel around the boat. We can easily see the bottom at 20 metres, even from on the boat. The anchor is set well in a sand patch that Kelly found.
|Veto resting, she is not all that well ||The sun tonight looks so huge as it sets over the water |
We spend the rest of the afternoon reading and then have hot showers and sundowners. We have some Chinese entree items for dinner. It gets a bit rolly around sunset as the tide approaches high. Hopefully it will drop later.
Veto is still not one hundred percent. She has been going to the toilet about every two hours and it has generally been very runny. Other than that, she seems not too bad. Hopefully she will be better by tomorrow.
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