Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 18 This wasn’t in the brochure

29th January 2011
Island Head Creek
Australian Mainland

06.00 Dreamagic had an uneventful night. The wind, which peaked at 29.5 knts was strong enough to stop the boat swinging with the tide and by 06.00 the depth under us was a healthy 8.5 metres. The better news is that the wind generator, which I paid nearly $2000 for eighteen months ago and which has only worked one night in the Louisiades in similar conditions worked like a charm and the batteries are at a healthy 12.8 volts. At a mere $1000 a charge, what a bargain!

The day has dawned bright, blue skyed and windy as hell. The water is a muddy brown and swirling as the tide races this way and that. We can’t get a forecast until about 7.00am this morning. The AM/FM radio can’t find a station, phones and wireless networks are useless, so we are reliant on our VHF and the Coast Guard weather, although I will try to get some sense out of the HF at 08.30.

(To give you an idea of where we are, it’s between Mackay and Rockhampton, on what by road. is called the “Marlborough Stretch”. There is little comms when I have done that road by motorbike either.)

Dreamagic has an HF radio fitted for just these occasions. Unlike the VHF which has a range of about 17 miles, HF can speak to anyone. A space shuttle if I want.  At $3500 second hand it bloody well should, but I do have a special licence that they only give to responsible people who will not call up the space shuttle for a chat.  When I first fitted it I was eager to try it out and called Brisbane radio. They didn’t answer which was strange given I was in Brisbane at the time.  I tried the local VMR (Voluntary Marine Radio) and then any VMR in Australia. I didn’t get a response there either although New Zealand answered which was nice of them. HF radio has made no more advances than the Second World War sets depicted in the TV comedy ‘Allo ‘Allo. After all the whistling and static that precede and follow each transmission I still want to say “Come in Night Hawk. I shall say this only once”.

06.30 Thirsty Sound has come over VHF with the weather, which isn’t good. 30 knts S/SE today, 30 to 40 knts S/SE tomorrow. Possibly a N/E of 15 to 20 Monday. We are stuck here until Monday. Initially I thought “How frustrating. We are one day away from Yeppoon. Safety, communications, showers, cafes, bars”. Not necessarily in that order. Then I thought, “Maybe not. We are stuck up this creek for two days with nowhere to go and not much to do. I can get the guitar out, we can explore by dinghy, although I can’t post it I can write the blog, (which is why this entry is so long!), we can do anything.  Really, when I had a real job, even anytime I was terra firma, when did I ever get two days off to do as I pleased?

As Willi Cinque would say, “The difference between ordeal and adventure is attitude”.

Our only real concern is that we can’t let anyone know we are OK, although we can fire off the Spot Tracker which reaches my Facebook contacts and a couple of responsible pre-nominated friends. (At last! A real use for Facebook!) Spot Tracker works off Geo Satellites but only sends a beep to an earth station that in turn transmits a pre recorded email. Hopefully our friends are smart enough to know that if we can fire off that transmission we are OK. If not, then once I publish this when we get back, reading this you’ll know that we were thinking of you at the time. J ) 

16.20. Rona has pottered all day as only Rona can. We have fresh bread, yoghurt, washed clothes and clean and polished woodwork. She has showered, fixed her hair, nails, and other girlie bits, learned how to read the tide tables by actually deciphering the gobbledy gook that only bureaucrats can write, and can tell me that we will run aground…..Now! We had lunch of smoked salmon and ciabatta bread, dinner is hot spiced barramundi. She is definitely the girl you most want to be wrecked on a dessert island with. Oh, we are. Both dessert and desert. Meanwhile I have attempted to strum my guitar until my fingers are sore, and listen to the HF and VHF radio for ever depressing news of the now fully functioning, don’t write me off, I am back, Tropical Cyclone Anthony. And the good news is that he wants to pay us a visit!  We have let all 80 metres of anchor chain out, lashed everything down that needs lashing, threatened the now fully functioning sounder with a lashing of its own, secured EPIRB and lifejackets near the companionway with the emergency grab bag and we are ready! Rona is of the opinion that if I am not scared she has no reason to be. I just wish she would stop humming “For Those in Peril on the Sea”.

19.30. Being English I identify with only performing under adverse conditions. This feels like I imagine the Blitz would be. The air raid warnings have gone off, we have made what preparations we can, now we just have to see what happens. We have 40 knots plus coming in tonight, we are stuck in the middle of a shallow bay and exposed as much as a streaker at the cricket. Stiff upper lip old chap. In keeping with the mood, after dinner I played a British dance band album from that era and we dressed in our best sarongs for cocktails on the poop deck.

“We are being dropped into France tomorrow night, dahling”  
“Gosh, Suicide mission?”
“Oh, How beastly,”
“Kiss me you fool!”

We watched the storm clouds gather over a darkening sky, listening to “Red Sails in the Sunset”.

The Last Waltz

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