2019 Brisbane to Mackay

How slack have I been in not updating the blog!!!! It’s now August and more than a year since we started our journey on CDI from Sydney, we are now back in Townsville.

Needless to say a lot has happened since the last blog entry, when Stu helped Bob bring CDI back from Mackay to Scarborough in Brisbane. Emily was working as a flight attendant Jan-Jun and Bob did some remote work for COVA. We enjoyed a bit of house sitting while in Brisbane – it helped break up the live aboard life and we got to look after some lovely pets for their owners while they were away. Also had some visitors and visits around the Brisbane area.

Bob did a few jobs on the boat, including:

  • replace the house batteries
  • fitted the new 140% genoa (had to trim length a tad at North Sails)
  • try to fix the bow thruster with limited success (still ongoing issues…)
  • cleaning teak & stainless steel
  • make packers for the swim ladder so it’s not vertical and easier to climb
  • made a fly screen for the saloon door
  • replaced toilet joker valve
  • new jib sheets from Tamar Marine
  • had the boat lifted out for cleaning and replacement anodes
  • new stickers for the stern

We also bought a hammock two kayaks, which are getting a lot of use.

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In June we had a road trip to take the Subaru back to Tassie and catch up with lots of wonderful friends and family and see the Dark MOFO.

We departed Scarborough on 27 June. The week thereafter was spent around Moreton Bay, as there were some quite big swells on the ocean side and the timing of the tides didn’t yet line up for our arrivals and departures at Maloolabah and Wide Bay Bar. We enjoyed anchorages at Moreton Island and in the Brisbane river, where we set up opposite Eat Street at Hamilton Wharf. The day trip motoring up the river to Brisbane CBD was pretty nice and definitely one to cross off the to-do list of experiences. We also saw lots of military ships, here for war games up the QLD coast. Included aircraft carriers from the USA, Japan and Australia as well as the US nuclear submarine that follows the Ronald Regan around.

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We anchored at Tanglooma on 7 July, for an early getaway on the 8th so that we could get in to Maloolabah on the high tide. We met up with fellow Tasmanians Dave, Gabriel and ‘Captain’ off Elegant Gypsea for drinks and dinner. Seems we are heading North at the popular time this year and it is nice to be able to compare notes / sail in generally the same locations and schedule as other like-minded cruisers.

Departing at first light on 10 July with 0.1 clearance over the bar (who really needs more?) we made it to the Wide Bay Bar for the high tide that afternoon. The anchorage at Hook Point was full, so we kept on to Snout Point for a long day and anchored on dusk. The next morning was spent waiting for high tide (kayak and stroll on the beach), then motored through the shallows to South White Cliffs. I toyed with the gopro time lapse and made a 2 minute video of our 4 hour journey through the inside of Fraser Island.

12 July was a short day cruise following another “Carpe Diem” on the AIS, who we had first seen in the Brisbane River. Later we met up with Rosy and Steve in Mackay and found out that their boat is actually “Adina”, but incorrectly shows on the AIS as its old name. Climbed the hill next to the Kingfisher Resort for a nice view.

13 July and a brief sail inside Fraser Island, with a lunch stop at Coongal Creek, then headed to Hervey Bay Marina for 2 nights to re-provision.

Monday 15th was departure to Bundaberg with a nice sail for most of the day. We had a Honeyeater as a hitchhiker for 2-3 hours during the day (blown 10km offshore – the poor chap was exhausted and needed a rest). We anchored in the river near the Port and rode bikes into town the next day. Did the tour of the Ginger Beer and Rum factories. Unfortunately a few sugar field fires around covered our boat in ash  from burnt cane.

Wed 17th had us up early again and a quick refuel at the marine before departing to Pancake Creek. Had to anchor just inside the creek entrance as the inner creek was full with 20+ boats. This is becoming a common theme, with all the anchorages full at this popular time of the year for cruisers. Had a rough night with wind against tide and the anchor chain wrapped around under the keel in the morning. This gave us a few scratches on the hull but luckily we managed to pivot the boat and the chain was not caught on the keel bulb, so it dropped off. Next day was a motor sail into Gladstone.

Bob flew out for a 2 day site visit for work Fri & Sat and Emily caught up with our friends Vanessa and Randall who are living in Gladstone. We stayed for 4 nights in Gladstone.

Monday 22 July was a later departure on the high tide through the channel between Curtis and Facing Islands. We were going to anchor inside Facing Island, but nearly ran aground while scoping the channel for the morning exit. So, decided to just go through to Great Keppel and arrived at 8pm for a night anchorage. We then had a couple of nice calm days around Great Keppel at Monkey Beach and Svendsens Beach.

Leaving GKI on 25th, we made it to Pearl Bay. Saw our first whales, saw a shark while kayaking around and met some locals who were camping on the beach and diving. Swapped some cold beer for crayfish. We awoke a little late to help Helsal IV off the rocks in the morning (oops!), but they appreciated a bottle of Bangor wine to drink while waiting for the afternoon high tide to float off.

With SE winds this year, there are a lot more island anchorages available between Gladstone and Mackay than we had last year, when the winds were from the North. Next stop was at Hexam Island where we had a Dufour 450 “Mim” next to us and the water so clear we could see the anchor on the bottom in 9m of water.

Sat 27th was anchoring at Middle Percy Island. This is a mecca for yachties and the ‘A’ frame shelter is chockers full of boat ‘shingles’ and other named memento items. We put up a Carpe Diem Infinity timber that Bob engraved with the soldering iron (thanks for the idea Darren). Saturday night is Goat stew night, so we donated a bag of spuds and some rice and had a very sociable dinner ashore, cooked by “Shipwreck”, and made more new friends Denise, Peter, Coco and Chanel from “Sea Kestrel” and Peter and Brenda “Lilac Wine”.

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Some more good sailing with wind from the rear quarter. Next night was Digby Island, where we had a hike up the long grass for phone reception and shared the anchorage with another Tasmanian boat “Josida”. Unfortunately our kayak “Bluey” managed to slip it’s rope during the night and ran away.

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Into Mackay was the next stop as we were running out of water and needed to resupply and do laundry. We spent 3 nights there and got a replacement kayak for poor Bluey. Had a couple of sociable nights with other boaties we had met at the Islands on the way up from Great Keppel. Starting to get rather crowded with boats everywhere now, with peak season in the Whitsundays and race week in Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island and the Shaggers Rendezvous all in August.

Until next update, keep on smiling!

sailing fun

Mackay to Brisbane

So, the news over the Xmas break is that Emily got a stewarding job based out of Brisbane! This means that our 2019 plans change a bit and we will be living on the boat in Brisbane for 6 months with Emily doing flying work. Bob will take some casual work from COVA that can be done remotely and we’ll do some weekend sailing around Moreton Bay.

Emily started on 10 Jan, so Bob flew up to Mackay to get the boat ready for a ‘delivery’ trip down to Brisbane. Stu came up to crew and have a tropical holiday with, as it turned out, a break from the Tassie heat and bushfires.

It was nice to find that the boat wasn’t at all musty or smelly. The preparations worked well. And thanks to Darren for stringing CDI up with extra mooring lines after we had departed.

25 Jan: Headed off after re-fuelling, early start at 6am, motoring out through the bulk carrier anchorage field off Hay Point. Winds 20-30 degrees on the nose.

Initial destination was to be Middle Percy Island if we could make it,  but the headwinds and sea slowed us down.

We headed to our ‘reserve’ anchorage plan at Curlew Island. That proved to be quite a nice spot with only a little roll on the pick from an Easterly swell.

26 Jan: A long day from Curlew Island to Island Head Creek. Still pretty choppy and headwinds, so motoring all day again.

On the AIS, we spotted the HMAS Shepparton hanging around Hexam Island and that got me wondering whether there might be some military exercises going on that I hadn’t realised. Luckily, after a google search with rather slow connection speed due to poor coverage, we found out that the HMAS Shepparton is an underwater survey ship and is unarmed. Stand down, business as usual!

We had a friend on the powerboat “New Moon” join us for the last hour or so motoring along and into the anchorage (alao our neighbours again at Inskip Point too).

We decided to take a different route into the entrance than when we stayed here on the way up, along the Southern side. This proved to be a much easier, deeper channel and I’d recommend it to the Northern route that I think is (or was) suggested in the Lucas guide books. (red route = North side, black route = South side)

27 Jan: Was a bit like a washing machine coming out of the heads, with a stiff Easterly wind, swell and tide running out.

Conditions got better late morning and as we rounded Cape Manifold to a Southerly heading, we got the sails up. Had a nice sail across to North Keppel Island, then motored in to anchorage off Monkey Beach. Listened to the last 30 or so songs of the hottest 100 countdown – man there were not many good ones in the top 10 this year.

28 Jan: The mooring proved to be quite good with tide in one direction and bloody awful with tied the other! Had 3-4 hours of bad roll during the night and not much sleep. Still, off at 6am, long day ahead past Gladstone down to Pancake Creek.

The swell had eased and we motor sailed under the jib once rounding Cape Capricorn. Dodged some moored tankers off Gladstone and met an ore carrier coming out the shipping channel. We could have crossed in front of it, but decided the safer option to do some circle work and let it pass first before crossing. Was interesting to see a helicopter come and land on the moving tanker’s hatch cover to pick up the pilot before leaving again at the head of the channel.

The entry to Pancake Creek proved to be fairly shallow and Stu was a bit nervous seeing clearances under keel of only 1m. As we had used this anchorage on the way North, this was expected and so not a big drama, for Bob anyway. Took one of the four moorings inside the creek and shared it with 4 other boats.

29 Jan:Glad to have a calm night for some good rest.

The swell was just awful going out of Pancake Creek and rounding the rocks. Worst so far I think. After turning South-East the running was better, but still sloppy until after Seventeen Seventy, when it flattened right off and we had a much more enjoyable motor down to Bundaberg. Still had wind on too shallow an angle to sail unfortunately.

There were lots of schools of fish around so Bob put the trolling line out. A couple of times we went right past them, but no bites. I think we have the wrong lure and I was tempted to just cut the line and let it all go – useless! Must have been something in my thought power because when I went to wind the line in just off Bundaberg the wire trace and the lure had both gone. Saved me the trouble of throwing it away I guess.

Note to anyone planning to stop at the Port Bundaberg Marina, check the tides when you go in. There is a nasty shallow sand bar just off the Black colour berths (the seaward side of the seaward arm). I think we were lucky to have high tide when going in and then only 1m clear under keel.

Quite nice food at the marina restaurant, pity about the mosquitoes – they had a good feed on us too.

30 Jan: We needed to re-stock on supplies and a rest day seemed a good idea, so took 2 nights in the marina at Bundaberg.

Took the bus into town for some touristing and food shopping. Stu got a new pair of $10 sandals as he had a ‘blow-out’ with his pair the previous night when they caught on the transom.

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In the evening, we wandered across to Burnett Heads for some dinner at the pub. The IGA shuttle bus felt sorry for us walking in the rain showers and gave us a lift – thanks guys! Wasn’t raining on the way back so we legged it for a quite nice evening walk.

(Edit – TBA)

31 Jan: Refuelled and headed off early on the high tide. Had motoring again, with the winds continuing to shift onto a more oncoming heading (now SE’ly) and only light anyway. Saw a pod of 20 or so dolphins playing near the Northern entrance to the inside Fraser Is passage, including a few young ones. Stu spotted two jumping stingrays.

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We anchored at South White Cliffs to wait for the high tide in the morning for the shallowest part of the passage. This is a very picturesque part of the QLD coast.

1 Feb: Made the Fraser shallows passage from 06:00 – 10:00 and had the rest of the day for relaxing at Inskip Point. Was a bit of breeze there, but not uncomfortable.

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2 Feb: Off early again for the Wide Bay Bar crossing on the 07:00 high tide. Actually, this turned out to be the easiest part of the day, as the seas were not that large (1.5m) and our only complaint was a rain shower that hit just as we were crossing he bar. Afterwards, we had a nice rainbow to see us off.

The other trials of this epic day were as follows:

  1. Pulled up a 4m long length of corroded steel wire rope on the anchor at Inskip Point
  2. Met the ‘washing machine’ seas at Double Island Point. Wow, this was really rough and short seas, reflected off the point.
  3. Stormy squalls coming through on multiple occasions during the day. 30 kt winds and rain (at least it is warm).
  4. Multiple floating log hazard in the water off Mooloolabah. There were 25 or so 2m long, 300×300 square bits of timber that would have made quite a thump if we hit them.
  5. Negotiating the Mooloolabah bar. Unfortunately our arrival time was about half tide and we knew the keel clearance was going to be pretty small, only 1-1m.5m. There is also a side swell across the entrance to the bar and a sand shallow encroaching from the Northern breakwater. We saw 0.6 clearance and I am glad I was wearing the brown underpants!
  6. Navigating into the berth at Mooloolabah marina. We were allocated a berth a fair way up in one aisle and the tide was flowing pretty strongly pushing us straight  into the berth pen, with a 45 deg. cross breeze pushing us off the dock, into the boat next to us. We abandoned after one failed attempt and parked up on the end of the pier instead.

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What a day! We certainly enjoyed a couple of beers on the boat and then wandered via the walkway along the beach side to “The Wharf” for dinner. As it was Saturday night, the locals were dressed to the nines and we felt a little underdone, even in our clean shirt / shorts combo.

3 Feb: Last day! Had a sleep-in as the high tide was not until 07:30. The outwards bar crossing was a lot better than the inwards one, with 1m more of tide. Only problem, we had to steer around the Mooloolabah locals who were out on their surf skis / SUP’s / outriggers, surfing on the end of the breakwater and crossing the channel right in front of us. Managed not to run anyone over (just) and also avoid the others paddling off the point.

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Still rough seas and very windy – consistently 25 kts, gusting to 30 (forecast was 10-15 only). Bob had the helm out the bar and down to Caloundra. The turn into the top end of the shipping channel was interesting to say the least. The turn downwind in 30 kts & 3m seas had us surfing along at 11.5 kts of boat speed. Then at the last minute I hear Stu yell “boat! – turn right NOW”. And we missed a fisherman on a jet ski by two boat lengths. I had not even seen him until we passed. What the hell he was doing out in that awful swell and weather I have no idea.

Thankfully, the weather eased and we had a relatively nice motor down the shipping channel in to Moreton Bay, past the various sea birds on the channel markers.

We navigated the sand bars off Bribie Island OK and followed a yacht race around the marker off Scarborough. We knew the entry was going to be at low tide, but the Scarborough Marina guy had given us some dud information about the depth of their channel. As we entered, the keel clearance read 0.0 – far from ideal!!!!!!! Then, after a 10 day, 600 NM trip, we actually got to within 150m of the marina berth pen and as were were idling up the aisle in reverse, Bob noticed that we were no longer moving. Stuck! A burst of forward got us off and we tied up on the end of the pier, which was luckily vacant.

Emily arrived shortly thereafter and we relaxed with the last of the cold beer, blue cheese and bikkies, waving to the yachts coming in after their race.

We waited till 21:00 to relocate in the dark into our allocated pen on the high tide. Thankfully, this went really well and no dramas at all.

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So, that’s it. CDI is now at Scarborough Marina a f the foreseeable future. We’ll be taking her out for weekend sails and a few overnights at Moreton Island / Stradbroke Island no doubt. If you are in town, give us a call – we’d love to have visitors.

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas 2018

Merry Christmas from Carpe Diem ‘s crew.
Has been a big year for this mob but totally worth the horse-2-sea change.
Hope everyone has a festive time with friends and family and look forward to sharing the adventures of 2019 on the watery seascape 🎅🎄🎁

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Here’s a facebook compilation video of our adventures in 2018. It’s actually not too bad and lots of holiday shots, so I though I’d post it here.

Mackay Hideout

5 – 7 December: The weather is getting worse and there is a lot of rain predicted for Mackay over the next few days. In fact, over 4 days, that’s more rain than a whole year at our old place in Richmond, TAS.

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With this weather, there is no chance of getting to Gladstone to leave CDI for the Xmas break, so we are staying put.

8 December: We attended the Shaggers (SICYC) Christmas party in Mackay and had a great time. What a wonderful and funny bunch of people we met there! The ‘naughty’ secret Santa present giveaway was a hoot, with each person in turn having the chance to ‘steal’ any present that had been previously given out. The Rolling Stones T-shirt, the soda stream bottles and the rainbow sarong were very popular and were ‘stolen’ multiple times.

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9 December: Still SE winds and rain on and off. Thankfully we didn’t get the 150mm per day rain that was predicted – only about 30mm per day and that was enough.

10 December: Wind and rain has eased off (finally) so we can do some boat tidy jobs and get her ready for the Xmas break. Took down the shade covers, lashed down the headsail with the spinnaker halyard, lashed down the mainsail and tied off the boom. The dinghy has a slow leak and so if tied down on the foredeck, the straps will come loose so we might deflate it and strap it down upside down.

Lots of other preparations before heading off, including a vinegar rinse (anti-mould) for the walls, toilet additive to stop the smell, put out the de-humidifier on a timer and lay around some moisture absorbents in the cupboards so the clothes don’t go moldy.

Departed on 11 Dec, with a lift to the airport thanks Darren. And hope CDI is all tied and wrapped up for any nasty weather that might com her way in December / January.

 

Heading South for the Summer

It pays to keep plans flexible. Well, that’s what we say now. After a few weeks more than we had planned in Townsville and some reflection of what it might be like if either of us became ill when a long way from a hospital, as well as the thought of spending many hot nights on the pick in a non-air-conditioned cabin, we have decided that we will head South for the Summer. The plan is to make it to Gladstone and leave CD∞ there while we fly to Tassie for Christmas. So, off we headed.

29 November: Departed Townsville and motored in light winds round Cape Cleveland then sailed to Cape Bowling Green. It is kind of nice knowing the anchorage locations in advance (we stayed at these places on the way North of course) and approximately how long it will take to travel between locations.

Tried catching a fish from the dinghy where the Fisheries people told us last visit, but no luck (again!) Nice sunset with a bit of smoke haze to help with the orange colours.

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30 November: Departed and sailed all the way down to Cape Upstart. Emily is doing a cross stitch and really getting stuck into it.

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Had a strong following wind and so arrived fairly early. Tried going further South down the West side of the Cape to get more shelter from the NE winds, but the swell just rolled around the corner and down the length of the Cape, so we went back up to our anchorage of last visit.

1 December: Lots of schools of bait fish around this morning, with birds diving to feed. So, we chucked out the line with the lure as we were motoring slowly (about 3 knots) off the anchorage. What do you know, BAM! had a strike from something that looked about a metre long! Unfortunately, Bob still had hold of the line in his hand and it pulled through his fingers (made a small burn) and jerked off the end as it was tied onto the railing of the boat. By they time we had a chance to get gloves on and get the line, there was nothing left. The fish had taken the lure and the wire trace, just a blank end of the line left. Now at least we know how to hook a fish, but still not how to catch one. We did put the other lure on the line and trolled out of the bay but no more strikes.

After that, was another relaxing day sailing with winds from the beam. Arrived in Bowen in the mid afternoon and saw half a dozen yachts racing around the bay on a course (Saturday afternoon races). We could have joined them, but went in to the harbour and anchored off the entrance to the marina.

With a bit of daylight to spare, we got the Rainman watermaker out for a run, after not having run it for 6 weeks when in and out of Townsville. It is supposed to be run every 2 weeks and I think I know why now, as the fresh water tasted faintly like rotten eggs! The inlet filter was also ‘overgrown’ with green. So we ran the pickling solution through it and packed it away. Probably won’t be needing it again until the Spring.

Took the dinghy in to Bowen for a night out. It is Saturday after all. There was a Christmas carols, well attended, at the waterfront and we wandered around the very wide town streets before deciding on the Grand View Hotel for some tucker (the air conditioning was a big draw card). It was quite full and noisy, but we had nice meals. They have some sailing pictures on the walls and a dinghy up in the roof.

After a large meal, we though it best to walk out the length of the pier (not a short walk) and then rowed the dinghy from the beach back to our boat (not a short row).

2 December: A lighter wind day,  but Bob was determined to sail as much as possible and we didn’t have too far to go from Bowen to Hook Island. A non-eventful day really, and it was rather nice to get the anchor down in familiar surrounds again. The Curlews and Pheasant Coucals gave us some enjoyable songs in the evening. Not too many boats in Nara.

Bob’s new white long sleeve rash vest is working a treat in the heat. Small video here (sorry it’s a mirror image, was taken with the front camera on the phone)

Had a look at the longer term weather forecast and the outlook is not good for our Southward endeavors! TC Owen in the Coral sea and a High pressure system down South looks like giving 25kt SE’lies from about Wednesday to Sunday coming.

3 December: We decided that as we would be held up for 4-5 days, better to be safe in Mackay harbour. Thus, we could have a couple of shorter days and enjoy the good weather in the Whitsundays and not rush it. Bob had a hair cut and we had bacon and eggs for brekky. The local seagulls were on hand to pick up any scraps we had.

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The sail Southward through the Whitsunday Passage was fun, with a Northerly breeze and some wind against tide. We took down the jib and sailed with just main directly downwind. This got more exciting when we approached Goldsmith Island, as the wind gusted to 25 kts and we had to negotiate the gap between Goldsmith and Linne Islands with a tide running (thankfully in our favour) so we were doing 10.5 kts at one stage. Anchored on the South side of the island. We did have a bit of a thunderstorm in the night swinging us around, but it was not too severe.

4 December: With the forecast still for deteriorating weather and possible severe thunderstorms tonight, we took a short day trip to Brampton Island, then headed directly to Mackay harbour.

Brampton is a beautiful location and it is such a shame that the resort, badly damaged by the recent cyclones, has not been repaired as yet. At least the airport runway is usable still.

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We sailed into Mackay under darkening skies and strengthening winds. It was a little tricky getting into our berth; we had requested the same berth as our last stay, next to our friends on ‘Karm’. Don’t worry guys, we didn’t crack the gel coat!

With the weather worsening, I think we’ll be in Mackay for a while……

I have been trying each day to record the section where we sailed (not motored, or motor sail) using my Ripcurl GPS watch. Here are the screenshots from Townsville to Mackay as a bit of a visual. The parts not highlighted we motored of course. It’s maybe 30% motoring / 70% sailing on average.

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Townsville

16 November: Bob is finally released from the hospital. Diagnosis is suspected to be a Rikettsia, but the blood tests do not come back positive for anything, so … who knows.

17 November: Went to visit the Reef HQ aquarium. This is quite interesting and the very large tank with all the corals and fish is great just to look at for hours. It is used to study how to keep the corals alive and healthy as well and they have a turtle hospital. Was a good air-conditioned, slow walk for Bob whilst recovering.

18 November: Did some more Townsville touring, with a drive up Castle Hill and some walks in the heat. Not too strenuous for Bob. Also visited Rowes Bay and Pallarenda Park.

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19 November: Bob has an appointment back at the Hospital to take some follow-up blood samples. It is hot again, so we also hide out in the shopping centre.

20 November: Bob has a follow-up appointment with the infections diseases doctor at the hospital. We have been looking into portable air conditioning units that we can use on the boat, as we are due to move out of the air-conditioned unit. We decide on a Delonghi unit from The Good Guys – it is not the cheapest, but a pretty good price and has good reviews for being not too noisy. It has 2.5kW cooling capacity (12,000 Btu) and uses 800-850 Watts continuously (I checked with the power meter I have to plug in between the power point and the unit). Here it is, after we also went to the air conditioning shop and bought a properly insulated outlet duct. It dumps a lot of heat through the outlet and also the evaporated moisture from the dehumidifying function.

Silver snake

Saw a set of antique aeroplane stairs at the local radiator repair shop while driving round Townsville. Emily had to get a photo.

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We had a dinner at the casino as a late birthday dinner.

The unit also has Netflix! This is good and bad, as we started watching a TV series “frequency” and king of got hooked on it. Over three nights Emily watched the entire 13 episodes of the series!

21 November: We were due to move out of the unit, but Bob’s headaches returned quite strongly and we had to have a ‘go-slow’ day. So just relaxed at the pool and did some recovering.

22 November: We really did move out of the unit and back on to the boat today. The air-con is working pretty hard and keeping it about 10 degrees cooler inside than out. This means 30 degrees in the day and 23 at night. We use the small 12V fans to blow the cool air into the bedroom door at night and this keeps us sleeping with a sheet and light blanket in the early morning as it cools down. Also picked up some tarps from the hardware store to use as shade. The boat is starting to look like a shanty town, but most boats up here do the same!

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23 November: Went to the movies to escape the heat. It is 40 degrees and due to remain this hot for the rest of the week. The locals all reckon it is quite unusual to be this hot. Well, that’s global warming for you….. Saw ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and quite enjoyed it. There was only one other couple in the entire cinema.

In the afternoon we went round to see Karen, a WWSA local Townsvillean that had friended and helped Emily while Bob was in the Hospital. Had a relaxed chat for a couple of hours.

24 November (Saturday): We still have the hire car – it’s only $30/day – so we decided that to escape the 40 degree heat (again), we’d take a drive to Cairns and stay overnight.

Stopped at Port Hinchinbrook on the way up. Bob remembers this being a popular harbour full of boats back in c. 2007, but now it is sad to see it full of mud (not even at low tide) and pretty much empty. The cyclone in 2011 trashed the place and Nature has reclaimed what was originally mangrove swamp.

Had a nice walk around the waterfront after checking into the hotel room in Cairns. Decided to have dinner at the Turkish restaurant, although we had Barramundi and prawns – not very Turkish!

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25 November: Met up with Tim, an ex airline colleague of Emily’s for brunch.

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After which, we took the rental car up to the tablelands to really test it out in the 40 degree heat. Didn’t do too bad a job actually, only had to turn the air con off a couple of times to get decent power up the hill. We visited lake Barrine and saw quite a few people snorkeling in the lake. It was still bloody hot, 39 degrees up at the higher elevation and it was quite amazing to see one guy put on a full wet suit, with hood, and take to the water snorkeling. I guess it must be a lot colder at deeper parts of the lake.

Went to the Milla Milla falls for a look and was a bit disappointed – the water over the falls was not flowing very much and the place was full of tourists and people splashing in the pool in front of the falls.

Milla Milla

A much better attraction was the Mamu Tropical Skywalk. It was still unbelievably hot but we suffered in the heat and the walk was not too steep. We quite enjoyed the views and walking through the different levels of the rain forest canopy. Didn’t see any Cassowaries though.

Passed many bush fires ablaze on the way back down South to Townsville. It was quite smokey. Arrived at the boat after dark, but had a good day.

26 November: We had booked in an engine service for CD∞ today and left the service guy to it. I think he was glad that he didn’t have to work in 40 degree heat (yes it is still oppressively hot up here), only 30 degrees inside the boat with the air-con going. We went to hide in the shopping centre again. Drove past the Air Force base and took some pics of the planes on display out the front.

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27 November: Last day with the rental car! Did a big shop to resupply the boat in readiness for our proposed departure tomorrow. Bob joined the COVA AGM via skype in the afternoon (we have the technology!) and Emily went to return the car and get some Christmas decorations for the silver snake on the boat (air-con outlet duct).

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We invited the local marina residents around for some drinks and nibbles on CD∞ in the evening as a bit of a thank-you and a farewell. The night was enjoyed by all and we went through 5 bottles of Bangor wine (even the Pinot Nior that Emily put in the fridge thinking it was bubbly – actually when it warmed back up a bit it was just the right temperature, still being below 30 degree ambient).

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28 November: Was supposed to be our departure from Townsville, but Bob might have had a bit of a hangover and slept in till 10:30. There were severe thunderstorms forecast anyway and as it happened we had a ripper of a storm later in the day, with strong gusty winds, pouring rain and lightning. Was a good thing that we did not to go sailing after all. We visited the museum in the middle of the day and we hid there when the storm hit.

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The temperature actually cooled down from 40 degrees (again) to be rather more reasonable 27 after the storm. This gave Bob a chance to check the repairs in the forward locker (all good) and make a replacement bracket for the one that had fatigued off (holds the bow thruster control panel and cabling), without dying of heat exhaustion while in the front locker. Everything is set for a departure tomorrow (Thursday) and catch the NW winds down the coast. We have decided to take CD∞ to Gladstone and leave her there for a month or so over Christmas / January while we fly back to Tassie for a break from the sailing and to see family and friends.

Whitsundays to Townsville

3 November:

Left Hamilton Island after finishing the crack repairs and enjoying Hammo’s restaurants and pools. Sailed North-West most of the day with following winds and reached Gloucester Island in the afternoon.

Saw a couple of dolphins and a turtle off Dingo Beach.

The passage between Gloucester Island and the mainland is pretty tricky to navigate, especially for us with 2.2m draft. Good old Navionics phone app came through with the goods again! Managed the dog-leg turn in the channel with a good 1m clear under keel and then out past Passage Islet (Shag Islet). Having recently become “Shaggers” ourselves (members of the Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club), this stop was a necessity. We picked up a mooring off the Resort and took the dingy in to the Shaggers local watering hole, but…. it was closed for a wedding!!!

4 November:

The usual casual start and found ourselves motoring for a bit in the light winds. Picked up around 11 and we had 5 hours of reaching, up to 9 knots of boat speed. Made it comfortably round Cape Upstart and anchored in Shark Bay (no swimming!)

Beach walk in the evening past all the graffitied rocks. No need to add your name, just look around – it’s already there somewhere.

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5 November:

Still NE winds and so the sailing started out well, then we struggled to tack up past the end of Cape Bowling Green. This is an interesting landform. It is a really long sand spit that it growing all the time as sand gets deposited from the currents running alongside.

Cape Bowling Green

Took the anchorage behind the sand spit in 5m of water and wandered around amongst the ATV wheel tracks on the spit. Took the drone for a bit of a fly.

6 November:

Had a visit from the Marine Parks people in the morning. Nice boat. Not a bad job to have either. They were checking that we knew where the marine park no-fish zones were. Apparently it’s confusing for the locals because the spit keeps moving but the no-fish zone stays fixed. Anyway, then gave us some tips on how / where to catch some good fish, but as we were about to head off anyway, we are still fish-less for the entire trip!

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Did some sailing up toward Townsville and decided to anchor off the North side of Magnetic Island at Horseshoe Bay. There were a lot of boats in and we had some difficulty finding space.

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Went in to shore for a walk and a pub meal, which Bob didn’t really get the best of (The Sickness was setting in at this point). Still, had an OK evening.

7 November:

Bob had fevers all night and woke with pains all over and severely dehydrated and headachey. We decided it best to go straight to the marina in Townsville and see a GP that afternoon.

8 November:

Still having high fever and headaches we went back to the GP to check on the results of the blood tests taken the previous day.

9 November:

Bob couldn’t hold down breakfast and the rash was spreading. Blinding headaches and severe fever still. That was it, took a taxi to the hospital.

And that’s where I stayed for 7 days!

See the other Blog story “The Sickness”.