Another beautiful day in Airlie, still can’t get over the beautiful azure colour of the water.
We had booked the free marina car for the 8:30 to 10 time slot with the intention of grocery shopping. Instead we took a drive to Shute Harbour to show Dave and Laura a little of the area. The scrub along the roadside was dry and brittle looking, obviously in desperate need of rain.
The rest of the day was spent on Mulligan Geotechnical work ( new company name), and a couple of boat chores. John and Dave hauled me up the mast to check the connections on the wind instrument. I should have taken my camera up there as the views were excellent. None of the wiring was exposed and I got a good look at everything so I know whats up there now.
Laura spent the day checking out the main street and its shops and getting her vitamin D levels up at Shingley Beach.
After work John and I rode into town for an ice cream then stopped at Sorrento’s for a few beers. It was Sorrento’s 5th birthday so we were offered free nibbles.
We ate dinner upstairs and Laura who has been a vegetarian for a year and a half ordered seafood marina and thoroughly enjoyed it.
How about that, northerlies at last and we aren’t going south. Oh well all our sailing friends will be happy. More office work today and some boat chores which were a pleasant change from paper work.
We changed the oil in the sail drive. It was a tricky job squashed in the engine bay syringing the oil out of the reservoir and into an empty water bottle but the task was completed. The old oil was very burnt and had lost some of its viscosity. The boat needed a tidy as we had neglected it over the last few days so it got a spruce up and wash as well. The boat repairs have been finished and now we have a lovely light bridal, a new vang strap and bolts in the gooseneck instead of rivets. Tomorrow we shall try and calibrate the wind instrument before we leave on Saturday.
Dave and Laura arrived at 4:00 and after familiarisation with the boat we walked into Airlie.
We enjoyed a pleasant stroll along the boardwalk and beachfront to the yacht club.
Laura is coming back to Airlie in March for a wedding at the Whitsunday sailing club Pavilion, a lovely Balinese style pagoda out on the point and she wanted to see the site.
A yacht had been blown onto the breakwall surrounding the yacht club and is slowly breaking apart. It was a shame to see the lovely old girl come to such a sad end. She still had a lot of her equipment on her, even the radar was still attached and the furler looked to be in good shape. It was scary looking at it thinking how easy this can happen. Apparently earlier that day a catamaran Cool Runnings had crashed into the rocks on Boathaven Beach near the lagoon .The boat was wrecked but salvaged the next day.
On the way home we stopped at Barcelonas, our favourite restaurant on the deck overlooking the marina. We ordered 8 tapas and it was nearly too much to eat but somehow we finished it all.
It was a very pleasant evening with a guitarist singing an excellent selection of songs in the corner.
Well the good times don’t last long, retirement was short lived but thoroughly enjoyable. Its back to the grindstone to coin a phrase. The fellow we sold our company to struggled to make a go of it so the bank has taken it back. Either we lose all the money he owes us or we buy it back and try to build it up again and resell it.
The latter was a better option for our retirement plans back we go.
The last days have gone past in a blur of phone calls and emails as we try to restart a company without infrastructure and personnel, especially the admin staff. From dawn to midnight we’ve been busy organising work, personnel and everything else required to get a company back on its feet. Lucky we’ve seen Airlie before as we’ve been closeted in the boat with poor Morgan getting fatter laying around sleeping.
Our plans have changed. After Dave and Laura have spent the week with us we will sail the boat down to Mackay and leave her in the marina for two to three weeks and fly or drive home to sort things out. Once the initial sorting out is done we will come back up and sail her down to Yamba on a reasonably fast trip, that is as long as we have northerlies not those nasty south easterlies.
On a more enjoyable note on the first night we arrived here we caught up with Chris , Mick and Todd Bleach from Yamba on Curlew. We savoured a lovely meal at Sorrentos in wonderful company . They a have a few days to spend in the Whitsundays then are migrating south with all the other sensible yachties.
We managed a trip to the chandlery at Jubilee Pocket yesterday to buy the parts for the repairs and in between phone calls we are madly trying to get them done before our guests arrive.
The blog will continue as long as we are on the boat.
Another early start to try and miss the strong winds so we headed out of Gloucester passage at 5 for the short hop to Airlie Beach. The wind was already blowing through the passage as we passed sleepy yachts bobbing at anchor so it didn’t bode well for what was ahead. Coming out of the passage the wind was right on the nose forcing us to hug the coast and motor round the edge of Shoal bay. We managed to have a bowl of porridge as it was relatively tucked in behind George Point. We passed between Saddleback Island and George Point then out into the wind again. There was no point in pulling the sails as we were directly into the wind and waves.
Once again we bashed our way south, down to Woodwark Bay , the last bay before Pioneer Bay the home port of Airlie. Round the point of Woodwark the wind had pushed the waves up into a very uncomfortable steep choppy sea. Once we turned towards Abell Point Marina we were able to unfurl the jib and sail.
We were almost at the marina and it was only 9.30 so we booked the fuel wharf for 10 and were very grateful to the marina them for letting us into our berth early. Normally checkin is at 12:00 as outgoing boats depart at 11.
We berthed in R3 and 4 the last finger before the shore. Last time we were here it was mostly mud especially at low tide. The dredge has done a great job since then as we had 2 metres on water under us as we maneuvered into our berth.
We have a week before Dave and Laura arrive and a lot of paperwork to do in between.
We also need to :
Replace the boom vang on the foot of the mainsail
Replace the bridal
Replace the oil in the port saildrive
Recalibrate the wind instrument
Replace rivets on the gooseneck
John cooked us Spanish mackeral with a ginger, garlic, honey sauce which he made up and was absolutely delicious
We figured we needed to leave early to cover some miles before the wind became too strong. Just on daylight we upped anchor and headed off passing three other boats with their occupants snugly tucked up in bed. The plan didn’t really work because by the time we had gone an hour south the wind was already picking up.
We headed out to the east to get an angle to clear the headlands and capes and hopefully clear Abbot Point. Well we bumped and bashed and rolled along managing 8 knots but then getting slower as the day wore on.
We got a good look at the Abbot Point coal loading facility, I thought we were aiming to dock alongside the bulk carriers at one stage.
We tacked away from the wharf and headed towards the northen tip of Gloucester Island. Bashing into the shallow waves in Edgcombe Bay was not very pleasant but finally we got into slightly protected waters and the sea flattened. It was a relief to arrive at Gloucester passage and drop anchor off the eco resort among seven other boats. We found we had anchored next to Clear Horizons a boat we had spent time with in Island Head creek months ago.
The wind was still howling but the waters were flat. We put the bridle onto the anchor chain but 5 minutes later with a loud crack it snapped on both sides. We thought it was the stitching but when we had recovered it and John tied the bridle back on with a bowline, it promptly snapped again. I guess snatching straps do not like UV and salt water. John made up a temporary rope bridal.
We took Morgan ashore for a well earned walk, she hasn’t been on land for two days . She charged up and down the beach running in the shallows and going mad. John and I bought a beer and a Kahlua at the Eco resort then ambled further along the beach to Monte’s for an early dinner. The sun dropped over the horizon as we ate sticky pork stir fry at table that wasn’t moving.
Another early start except John had layn awake some part of the night worrying that we didn’t have enough fuel to push south against the wind. He decided he needed fuel so went ashore with 4 jerrys or jugs as the yanks call them and attempted to get a lift to Nelly bay where the fuel station was. Not much hope, so he paid a hippy in a campervan $50 to drive him the 8 kms . They ended up going to a servo at Picnic Bay 10kms instead, as the one at Nelly Bay wasn’t open.
John arrived back at 7:30 and we refilled the diesel tanks. Paul on Moor R & R had a bag of Schmackos on board for Morgan so a mid water transfer ensued with the landing net and John motoring up to the back of Moor R & R. Paul and I transferred the goodies and Morgan was one happy pooch. Thanks Uncle Paul.
Photos courtesy of Kath
The day started reasonably well and we averaged 7 knts for a while , however we had to steer a course between 60 and 80 to use the wind. This was taking us far away from the land and it seemed we would be all day zig zaging and not making much progress south.
O’vive was taking a beating as we bashed across and into the waves, the wind instrument gave up on us and told us we had winds speeds of 250 to 300. I don’t think so. The direction pointer couldn’t seem to reflect the correct direction at all. At least we had the wind vane on top of the mast.
It seemed to take us forever to clear Cape Bowling Green and get enough angle to sail down to Upstart, each wave we bashed into the boat shuddered and objects inside jumped and rolled. The strap that holds the clew of the mainsail and outhaul to the boom snapped with a great bang so John and I climbed onto the rolling roof and effected repairs with a spare rope.
It was the worst day we had had so far this sailing season. The oncoming swell was topped with white caps sending spray over the bows and up to the cockpit.
We arrived at Upstart at 5:30 feeling very weary so we reheated the remains of the irish stew.
Up early to avoid some of the wind although today’s weather was forecast for lighter winds. We looked around and could count about five boats that had already departed. Seems we were last to leave of those going south. Never mind we’ll overtake them.
We had a pleasant motor sail averaging 7 knts with the main and jib up as we crossed towards Cape Richards on the eastern end of Hitchinbrook. By now at least three of the boats were behind us and we were closing the gap between the other two.
Sailing down past Orpheus and Palm Islands the wind swung further east and we managed a good run into Magnetic dropping anchor about 6.15.
To our delight we discovered Moor R & R anchored in the bay having spent last night at Orpheus. A phone call told us they were waiting for us with full pints of Great Northern at the bar on shore. The three of us hopped in the dinghy and were greeted on shore by Paul and his mate Phil. Morgan was overjoyed to see someone she knew especially someone who carries Schmackos in his pocket.
It was really good to see Paul and Kath again and enjoy their company whilst eating freshly made seafood pizzas.
Wind 10 – 15 knts SE sunny with 60% chance of rain 82 nm
The morning was overcast and threatening rain as we departed Cairns for the last time. We are heading south to rendezvous in the Whitsundays with Dave ( Johns mate) and his daughter Laura. Departing at 6:00 we headed out and up the shipping channel then turned east towards Fitzroy island with both motors at 1600 revs and the main and jib up. As the wind was from the south east we made good time averaging 7 knts. Some squalls came our way but didn’t dampen our spirits only the boat.
At Fitzroy Is we turned south so the wind and waves were almost on the nose, we were getting down to 3.9 knots at times, far to slow to get anywhere. We tacked towards New Zealand, or so it felt like we going there, then tacked back to Australia then out again.The further south we traveled the sea conditions improved with the wind swinging slightly round to the east.
We finally arrived at Dunk at 8 pm and dropped the anchor off the beach in beautiful calm water. It had been a long day beating against the wind and waves with the last leg in the dark but we finally made it. Irish stew for dinner as we were too lazy to cook a fish meal.
The sun shone over the reef this morning giving us a clearer view of everything. We had the anchorage all to ourselves except for the thousands of noisy birds which inhabit the cay. Some even decided Ovive might be a good spot to alight.
Breakfast consisted of what else ? Fish ! The tuna cooked up quite well although a little dry.
We fed our fishy friends again, captivated by the large school of sweetlip hanging around. There must have been at least 40 of them vying for scraps, then hoping for more.
John took Mick and Roz ashore for a swim and a snorkel while I donned my wetsuit and snorkelled over to my favourite spot which was not far from the mooring buoy.
Once again I was delighted to see the variety of fish hanging around the coral. I saw all the large parrot and trigger fish I saw last time as well as schools of sweetlip and smaller reef dwellers.
I spied a very large light coloured coral trout under an overhang accompanied by a another large speckled fish that resembled a cod of some variety. Every time I dived down to get a photo he tucked himself further under the ledge, I managed one photo but not good quality especially as the wind and waves were stirring up the sand. My estimate was he measured approx 80 cm in length and quite deep in the body.
John got his James Bond toy out ( well he calls it that) the sea scooter and zoomed ashore just like 007 would, to give to Mick who enjoyed scooting over the coral.
We departed Michaelmass about one and headed towards Cairns with the lures out. Not far from Upulo Cay we hooked a Spanish Mackerel and then it was the usual procedures of Jenny take the helm, Roz get what she is told to ( knife, filleting board, bucket etc) and the boys bring the fish in. He was a lovely Spaniard , John’s favourite. After filleting him we put the rods away as we didn’t need any more fish and concentrated on getting back to Cairns. Cargo ships and tankers were were busy departing the area so we had to make sure they weren’t on a collision course.
We arrived in Cairns at 5:00 and berthed on E finger at Marlin Marina. Fairly expensive for one night at $133. Steve Reynolds formerly of Drill Search was in Cairns at the time and dropped in to see us.
After filling the water tanks, washing the boat, washing the clothes and sheets, getting some supplies from Woolies and sending Mick and Roz to their motel we rejoined them for dinner at a Japanese restaurant on the Pier above the marina. The food was excellent made all the more pleasurable as Mick paid for it. We had a fantastic week with Mick and Roz and were glad we could finally get out to the reef with them.
We have woken up to another windy day, yet its time to head out to the reef so Mick and Roz can get a sail and a fish in before their holiday ends. It was 9:30 by the time we cast off the mooring lines and headed out into a fresh breeze of 17 knts. Across the shallow water through the channel markers the swell was about 1 metre and lumpy but settled down a bit when we got more depth under us.
We hauled up the main and jib and headed due east towards Arlington Reef where we hoped to stop near Oyster Cay for a fish somewhere out of the green zone.
The sailing in this direction was excellent reaching along between 6 and 8 knts. We didnt want to go any faster as both lures were out the back trying to tempt fish to have a go. A storm appeared on the horizon so we dropped the main and sailed on the jib.
As we neared Arlington Reef we got lucky and hooked a very nice size Yellow finned Tuna. Mick reeled it in while the jib was furled and the other line brought in so it didn’t tangle with the fish. John gaffed the fish, brought it on board and filleted it colouring the white transom with crimson blood.
By the time John had cleaned and filleted the fish we were almost in the buoyed channel marking the way into Arlington Reef. Another squall arrived reducing visibility to almost nothing as we searched for a place to drop anchor somewhere away from the reef. The anchor was dropped in 9 metres of water just off Oyster Cay and the bait lines went in while Roz and I prepared lunch.
John caught a variety of smallish fish, coral cod, fusileer and sweetlip but nothing large enough for the barbeque. ( we only keep the really big ones these days.).
With lunch over we upped anchor and headed for Michaelmass Cay, distance of 2 nm arriving just as another squall swept in with a vengeance.
Mick and I were up the front trying to pick up the tether on the mooring buoy but the strong storm winds kept blowing Ovive past the buoy just as Mick and I were in reach of grabbing it. The horizontal rain pelted Mick and I as we struggled to grab the rope and pull the heavy mooring line up over the front roller. Eventually after several attempts and a lot of cursing from John we managed and all was secure just as the storm passed. Morgan and Roz had dived for cover when John started cussing and weathered out the storm inside. The three of us were cold and soaked to the skin so we enjoyed a lovely warm shower. ( not together).
We berlied scrap pieces of bread and tuna and once again were delighted by the large bat fish that came up to the transom . They have such gentle looking faces and a rather trusting nature that enabled me to touch them.
We were awed by the dark coloured Amberjack and Giant Trevally that fought for scraps and disappointed that we couldnt put a line in and catch the extra large sweetlip that jostled for food. Morgan just loves this place and spends her time whining and wanting to lick the fish.
Happy hour started a little early at 4:00 followed by a game of Black Bitch and Nominations.
A simple meal of steak and steamed vegies was quickly cooked up after dark as we had pigged out earlier on happy hour food.
At high tide there was little protection from the swell so we had a rolly night on the mooring buoy.