11 October: Left Yeppoon in a ripping 22 kt Northerly. Would have been good sailing if were headed any direction other than North. So we just motored into it and did a bit of slappin’. Some were fairly hard and it jammed up the drawer under the bed as we later found out. Had to be prised free and re-assembled. Tried trolling the lure and again, no fish. Have been getting gamer in going close to rocks trying for a catch.
Anchored in Port Clinton, at the Northern end. There is a live fire military exercise on at the moment, exercise “Wallaby”, with the Singaporean air forces. We didn’t hear any that night, but the next night in Island Head creek we did.
12 October: Island Head Creek is a nice anchorage and we went ashore for a walk in the boggy sand. Found a safe and comfortable anchorage in a side creek and not too many mozzies or midgies thankfully, but we are leaving our hatch open at nights now and putting the mozzie net over it. Next project for Bob – a fitted frame with mozzie mesh to fit in the door slot.
13 October: We figured 2 more stops to Mackay and broke the trip up into thirds, as there are plenty of islands on this part of the coast. So we moseyed up to the Duke Islands. They are privately owned and run as a cattle and deer farm. We anchored in a nice spot, protected from the NE /N winds. Went ashore for a wander and saw the said deer. They wandered down the beach into the water and looked to be sipping the salt water… a bit strange. The island is very dry and so maybe they can tolerate a bit of salt?
That night, was the worst we have had so far! A HUGE thunderstorm rolled in with 40 knot winds from our unprotected Southern side. Masses of lightning all around and I think luckily we were not hit. We unplugged all the electronics we could. The swell felt enormous and we had to pack everything into the cupboards and lock them to stop from flying around the boat. As the tide was rising, Bob let out 20m more of chain and secured the dinghy with a second rope, took in any loose items from the cockpit etc. That was not much fun on a boat bouncing around wildly. Probably should have had the harness line attached.
The storm finally abated after 5 hour or so.
14 October: We decided to head for Stanage harbour the next morning for a quiet day and the storms were predicted again, so a more sheltered spot. In fact the storms headed South and abated, so was not an issue but we enjoeyd a day rest and look around the small village. Met a friendly couple in a camper truck who were on a trip around Aus and had been up to Cape York and were travelling back. Emily bought a bottle of coke zero at the local shop / cafe / pub that tasted like soda water when we opened it! Must have forgotten to put in the flavouring?
The swallows here were rather insistent that they were going to make our boat their home. Even trying to fly in the hatch to the inside of the cabin. We had to brush out mud from in the main sail bag and under the dinghy cover. When we left the next day they were rather upset!!
15 October: Finally got a sail in, close hauled for part of the way up to Curlew Island. Had some WNW’ly in the morning, but mostly we have had Northerly winds and we are headed N-W.
Anchored on the South side of Curlew Island out of the wind in a bit of swell. Wasn’t too bad. There is a good anchorage on the Northern side of the island, but we didn’t know how protected it was going to be so we stayed there. Had a walk on the beach and saw a lot of plastics and rubbish. In about 10m of beach we collected 10 different items footwear (thongs, boot bases etc).
16 October: Pulled up anchor and accidentally a piece of coral. We had anchored on sand but must have swung round in the night to the edge of a bommie and hooked up the lump. Bob went out in the dinghy to free it from the chain and luckily the anchor was free. The lesson is to anchor further away from potential reefs! We did see a few turtles hanging around.
After motoring in the morning, the sea breeze came in from the NE and we had a good sail up to Mackay, doing up to 7.5 kts under full sail into the 14 kt NNE’ly. Past the coal terminals at Hay Point / Dalrymple Bay and through the edge of the ship parking zone, where there were 41 vessels waiting to be loaded! Called up the Hay Point VTS (traffic control) on the phone as we could only hear static on VHF ch 10, and they sounded as though they didn’t care but gave us a traffic report anyway. Unlike Gladstone, who called us first. BTW, the published phone numbers on the web are not right – it’s 44218199 if you are interested!
Pulled into Mackay into the trickiest marina berth spot yet – bow thruster still on the blink. Had to turn in about 25m of width, reverse around another boat into a light breeze onto the dock. A friendly chap was there to help grab the stern line and Em did a good job on the bow line. Phew! The boat next to us happens to be a couple from Kettering on their Bavaria 42, who left their boat here and took a cruise ship to Noumea.