July 31, 2013
Sailing north from Bundaberg. July 2013
Peter had the pleasure of returning to the boat early to effect our preparations. The weather had been very kind to us, allowing all to be completed. We departed mid June, opting to spend a night at anchor in the river just outside the marina in a well-used anchorage. It just so happened, that at 0300 when we got up to leave, we found that the anchor was well stuck on something. It took us 45 minutes to free ourselves, finally going forward at high revs, dragging what ever we were attached to.
It was a little cooler than anticipated and reminded us of our first sail across the sea of Cortez.....with two layers of thermals, beanie and our wet weather jackets. The wind came up with the sun and we were off in a 20 knot SW breeze, reaching along at a little over 8.5 knots. After we passed 1770, the wind died and we made good time to Pancake Creek at 1300 hrs at the top of the tide, completing our 65 mile run. An amazing anchorage awaited us; calm and quiet with some nice walks.
With the new prop, the engine runs beautifully and we can now motor at over 6 knots at 2000 rpm. What a relief!
Bill Fleetwood from Blue Banana fame had said that when they were there around 10 years ago, the lighthouse and buildings were being restored. We are happy to report that all has been completed and looks fantastic. You can go on a tour of the buildings for a small fee.
At an isolated beach, we watched the small plane land to drop off some happy day trippers. We decided not to rain on their parade.
With our next destination, we toyed with the idea of going into Yellow Patch.....a beautiful sandy anchorage with a yellow sand cliff, but a bit if a challenging entrance over a sand bar. We now have the new seasons waypoints from another yacht and may got here on the way back. Instead we decided for another long day if the wind held and go through to Great Keppel Is, 73 miles away. We managed this is 11 hours, which we were more than happy with, dropping anchor in a stunning flat sandy bay, with 23 other yachts! Another 6 day stay, with only 6 miles to go to Keppel Bay Marina.
Although a little rolly in spring tides, the anchorage is surely one of the stunning anchorages on the east coast and the only one without a fringing coral reef.
Yeppoon, Keppel Bay Marina afforded us the time to get our Bimini and dodger replaced and somewhere to leave the boat whilst we returned to Perth to look after the grandchildren for two weeks.
As the war games were on with the US and Aus troops in Shoal Water Bay, just north of Yeppoon, the area was out of bounds for yachties, making our first leap a long one from Yeppoon to Hexham Island, some 83 miles north. Winds were lighter than forecast and many yachts were heading our way. Interesting to note that the US justified dropping their unexploded ordinances over the Barrier Reef, rightly causing a bit of a fracas, because of the amount of private vessels in the area. What do they expect when the military plan their games at the busiest time for yachts heading north with two major yachting regattas and the cruising fleet heading to the Queensland playground?
We found some good anchorages on the way to the Whitsundays. Hexham was rolly but easy for a night entry with moon; nearby Marble Is less rolly on a flooding tide, but nice walks and phone service at the top of the hill. Although many yachts in the area, you can still find anchorages on your own. We did get the tide right, only thought there were less rocks at this part of the beach!
..and Curlew a lot better with a drying sandbar behind us at LW, but with lots of bullets. Here, we did 2.8 miles at anchor in 4 days! Our track on the GPS....
Last year in the Pacific, the highs were only around 1028HP which did not feed into the trades. This year, so far the BFH ( big fat highs) are around 1035, giving us reinforced trades from 25 to 30 knots! It's gets a little bumpy out there with wind against tide! At least we can sail!
On board we are enjoying our cockpit covers, keeping us warm and dry. Peter has installed a new transformer and inverter and has spent many days gazing inside the electrics trying to work out where all the 110V have gone. He finally found a short with the water heater and after taking it out of the system, hey presto, we are good to go!
We decided to do a runner down to McKay marina for 2 nights where we found Twice Eleven, whom we met crossing the Pacific. It was fantastic to catch up with them.
Port Newry, south of McKay is an absolute gem of an anchorage, behind Outer Newry Island. Ticked our main box....being calm! There are many shoals to a avoid on our way to Newry. Having the navionics chart on deck has now become our mobile plotter when we need to check our course. We found out how accurate the charts are with the shoals as Peter had to run up on deck amid baking Parkin to assist the gybe before we ran aground! I did not wait for him to get sorted and gybed anyway with 1 m under the keel! Bit of a bang crash! We were just in the edge of the bank and I don't think we would have run aground...been there done that last year!
We are now officially in the Whitsunday area and our next anchorage at Shaw island will be our fist Whitsunday anchorage. We have a forecast of a few days of winds below 15 knots! Woo hoo! At least we have sailed 80% of the way up here!
Two more weeks and Hitchhiker will be here. We will enjoy watching them at Hammi Island.