Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 25 Mosquito Creek

Curtis Island
Near Gladstone

5th February 2011

After such a big night we were not feeling that bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning. We crawled up to the cafĂ© for tea and toast, filled our water tanks and put 40 litres of fuel from our jerries into the tank before untying and setting off. On the way we managed to bump into several people we had met and said our goodbyes one more time. People seem incredulous that we are actually going. They ask in amazement “You are actually leaving? What, today?” Although they are cruising yachties, most have been here years. Rosie has been here three years, the old fellow with the dog has been here six. All very Hotel California. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”.

We got out of the marina and set a course for the mouth of the Fitzroy River, some 25 miles away. The wind was actually blowing an Easterly so we could set sails but we, or more accurately I was that lethargic I could not be bothered. Kepple bay is wide and shallow so the sea was flat but with an awkward slop from amidships. The Autopilot, sensing it might actually be relied upon to do something useful decided to read about 80 degrees from where we were headed. This autopilot does that sometimes when it has just been switched on but usually settles down after a cup of coffee or whatever. Today it decided not to. God, I hate it when inanimate objects get moody.

We hand steered 42 miles to cover the 25 miles we had to go. (Don’t ask, OK?) closing on Curtis Island and the entrance to the river. This is a very wide, very sand banked area which funnels water in and out of a narrow channel, interestingly called “The Narrows”. Navigating through The Narrows will save us a day going around Curtis Island to Gladstone. However in the middle of The Narrows is a sandbank which actually dries until it is sticking 2 meters out of the water at low tide. This is called “The Cattle Crossing” because at low tide, well you can guess the rest. It should also be called the Yacht Trap because it has caught many a yachtie unawares and left their boat high and dry. The key is to be at the very top of the sandbank at the very top of the tide. That is 5 miles down the river so if the boat does 5 knots we should leave an hour before to make sure we are there at the right time. The tide has to be 2 metres plus our draw which is 2 meters so 4 or better. Multiply that by the tidal range difference mean average between Gladstone and Rosslyn Bay, factor the tide difference between Rosslyn Bay as a major port and Curtis Island as a minor one, add Ronas’ age in whole years to the length of Dreamagic in feet, divide by the number of glasses of red I drank last night and we should be leaving here at 03.38 in reverse at a steady 16 knots but certainly no less then 12 to make a safe passage. I may revisit these calculations in the morning.

We anchored in a wide channel opposite Mosquito Creek and had a beautiful dinner of Tandoori Chicken washed down with water. (Yes that’s right. It’s a designated AFD or Alcohol Free day. And there is no one here to buy my drinks as happens on most Alcohol Free Days.) An Early night for Rona, I sat and watched Heartbeat on TV and amused myself spotting Ford Anglias and Austin Healy Frog Eyed Sprites until the mosquitoes decided it was time for dinner and made the 300 metre flight to find some. Mosquitoes at Mosquito Creek. Who would have guessed that?

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