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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