Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Nelly Bay Magnetic Island 2013

Nelly Bay. Magnetic Island
View of Dreamagic in her berth from Peppers Hotel
On the last day of the cyclone season, Cyclone Zane has formed off the North Queensland coast. Our choices are to hang here for a few days, or take our chances and go north hoping it won’t affect us. Not that cost would be a consideration over safety but at $47 per night here, this is the cheapest, and one of the nicest marinas to get caught in.
Since that decision we have been here 4 days. During that time we have had a fish and chip dinner at the Horseshoe Bay Yacht Club, also known as the bus shelter, we have had dinner at Man Fridays and organised for them to open on the 27th August so that I can have my birthday party there, and Rona has booked herself into the Day Spa for a pedicure, seen a special offer for massages and spent a while having one of those. Not all wasted then.
Today we hired a car to visit the Island. We drove from one end to the other in 33 minutes, and then back again. We have visited every coffee shop that is open, (most are not) and the three pubs. We have had remarkably bad service at virtually all of them, while listening to the proprietors moaning about the lack of business, and been grossly overcharged at most. It is quite amazing to witness the sense of entitlement that these people have towards their businesses and tourists. Good luck with that.  That said we have also met some really nice
Horseshoe Bay 
people and had some great experiences. The pub at Horseshoe Bay has great food at really good prices and a seafood plate which is amazing. We found a coffee shop and gourmet grocer we could have spent all day in, and a co operative art gallery at Picnic Bay where Rona bought a picture for out Trinity Beach home. We saw plenty of signs saying “No Hire Vehicles Past this Point” and by ignoring those found Cockle Bay which was just delightful, and we visited X Base which is a purpose built Backpackers resort about 3 kms by road and 1.5 kms by beach from the marina. X Base is absolute beachfront, has a great deck on the beach itself, a pool, and would be a terrific place to watch the on water activities during Race Week. The bar is plentiful and affordable, the food is good and cheap, so take note those reading this who are coming up in August!
Having had the car for the rented 24 hours we filled the tank with fuel, at a cost of $11.20 (I said it was a small island) and gave it back unscathed.
View from the X Base Backpackers
Curlew caught stealing chips

Horseshoe Bay Yacht Club, aka The Bus Shelter

Helping a women put her dog into a baby carrier. Why?

Possums at the Restaurant we have booked for my birthday

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mackay to Magnetic

We stayed in Mackay for three days. Our engine is still blowing steam although it isn’t getting overly hot. Through a process of elimination now we have decided that it must be a raw water blockage. We managed to get a diver to check the leg and clean the holes that let the sea water in so hopefully this might fix the problem. We also bypassed the seawater strainer which we will replace with a clear topped one that we can look into. Andy was the local diver and at $40 for about 45 minutes work I thought was a great guy, We spent our time here doing maintenance on Dreamagic and enjoying the pub and fish and chip shop. The hotel here puts an effort into what they offer, the food is good, there is live music and Sunday afternoon we spent enjoying a cold bottle of White, listening to an excellent guitarist and watching the ramp rage on the 5 lane boating ramp as macho mine workers whose sudden wealth has allowed them to buy the best utes and fishing boats try to bully their way down the ramp with their trailers to retrieve their toys.
Mackay to Thomas.
On the beach at Thomas
We left Mackay just after dawn and made our way to Thomas Island. The wind is at last being favourable to us and we sailed to the Island relatively easily. Thomas Island is one of our favourites and is also just outside the cruising grounds of the Charter Yachts from The Whitsundays so we always see it as the gateway to the Islands. We chose to anchor on the south side as the forecast was for northerlies and anchored in a picturesque bay where a live aboard mono and a Sunsail Cat were already parked. As is our custom we went ashore to fossick for shells and then returned to DM for an afternoon nap.
We decided to set a fire on the beach and took the dinghy around to the other boats to invite them to join us. We built a great fire and initially thought our offer had been declined but Steve and his wife the Live Aboards, and Kate, Nigel and Tom, from the Sunsail Cat brought their dinghies ashore. Steve and his wife, (sorry I have forgotten your name but if you ever read this let me know and I will edit it) had just sold their house and were in the process of moving aboard. Nigel, Kate and their son Tom were up from Sydney. Nigel was a keen sailor and ‘worked in corporate’. What a great evening! We swapped nibbles and stories, and enjoyed the warmth that sailing brings to people who are from widely different backgrounds but share a common love .
Thomas to Hamilton Island
Fuel Wharf at Hammo
We left Thomas before there was signs of life on either of the other boats and made the very quick trip around to Hamilton Island, or “Hammo” as we pretentious sailing types call it. Our previous visits here are well documented but we went onto the fuel wharf and refueled before calling the office for a berth allocation. Previously Hamilton Island insisted on escorting you to your berth but this time, because the berth guide or whatever he calls himself was busy they told us where to go. A very brave move, or else he hadn’t realized who they were dealing with, because I know Rona does not like being told where to go.
Rona didn’t like our berth allocation and decided Dreamagic deserved better. Another phone call to James at the office, and the berth guide was out at double time and guided us onto Millionaires Row, right in front of the Yacht Club. Now that is more like it! He tied us off, only charged us $105 per night instead of $120 and, after another period of major suck up, departed.
How would you like to pay for that?  Before you get off the dock
We actually like Hamilton Island in a perverse sort of way. The entire Island is owned by one family and wherever you go and whatever you do, the prices are controlled by them. However it is very well done, spectacularly looked after and very upmarket. Wherever you go people are helpful, courteous, and make you feel like a guest at a 5 start resort. We had cocktails at the Yacht Club. $18.50 each is expensive but the views are to be admired, especially as our boat is centre stage on the view looking at the harbor. A couple at the next table left their drinks to have a cigarette at the end of the deck. The steward collected their glasses without being asked and took them to the couple.  We went to the pub for dinner and during our meal asked the pot man if there was an Anzac Service the following morning. He didn’t know but came back with an answer, a map of the island, and gave us advice on the best way to get there. Well done guys.
In her rightful place
We were berthed next to a sister ship to Dreamagic called Ozsea. The owners had owned theirs from new and sailed it extensively in the Mediterranean . We compared notes, shared stories and generally agreed that the Bavaria is the best value for money yacht available and the 44 is the best of breed. But then we would wouldn’t we? Having mutually congratulated each other on our obvious great taste in yachts we departed for Nara Inlet.
Another of our favourites, Nara has also been well documented by us before. This time, as always it did not disappoint and we had a great, safe anchorage and settled to watch the charter boats come home to roost. Nara is a popular first anchorage for many charterers and its interesting to see how they handle the boats. Capt’n I Know Boats comes past standing in the bow of his rubber ducky like Capt’n Cook about to claim Nara for the Queen while his 8 year old son is driving. He soon sat down when the kid turned the boat too quickly. Then there is  Master “I am only following orders” who has been told that he has to start his engine for a hour every morning and
Hitch hiker in Nara
evening so starts it just as the most beautiful moon rise commences, forgetting that he has already run the bloody thing for three hours to get here. And finally we have “The Born Again Catamaran” sailors who have been told that these craft are faster / easier to sail/more stable than a monohull so feel the need to come into the marina with both engines falt out while they try to steer their floating squash court while sticking their head out of the roof like a World War Two tank commander. Each to their own
Moonrise over Nara
Magnetic Island
We planned to go to Montes Resort at Gloucester Passage for the night and left Nara to arrive at lunchtime. The wind was blowing up to 20 knts from the South East and Dreamagic scooted across the Whitsunday Passage but when we got to the resort we realized that anchorage had no protection whatsoever should the wind increase. We considered Bowen but the bay is equally open to the south. We did try to call the Yacht Club to see if we could get a berth in the harbor but they don’t answer phones until 4.00pm so we decided to push on to Magnetic Island about 120 nms away. Dreamagic is a very easy boat to do these long stints on, and Rona and I seem to have got them down pat so we settled into the trip with tea, chocolate, a great curry at sunset, more tea, lollies, and finally just before daybreak we made Horseshoe Bay.  This bay is large, beautiful and easy to enter. Or at least it was before the powers that be put a row of shark lines across the mouth. Unlit, not even a bit of reflective tape I saw one pass by very close to the starboard side of the boat. I immediately put Dreamagic in neutral but the next one ran up our starboard side and the boat stopped. Fortunately it was around our keel rather than our saildrive leg and luck was on our side as we reversed, trying to get away from it. The bouy went under the boat and just as I was contemplating diving on it at dawn, after 24 hours with no sleep, and where a bloody shark or two may already be down there, it broke free and we were clear. We motored into the bay as the light was improving, dropped anchor in about 4 meters of water and retired.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Keppel to Mackay

Keppel to Pearl Bay

Pearl Bay at Dawn
Pearl Bay is, in my opinion the prettiest anchorage on the Queensland coast. The approach looks like sailing straight into the hills until it suddenly opens to reveal a beautiful, protected bay with golden sand all around. The island which hides the bay protects you from any wind with a south or east in it and the wave action is negligible. A must stay for anyone travelling up the coast.
We left Keppel reasonably early with absolutely no wind. This was to continue all day, the sea being so flat one could barefoot waterski on it. We made Pearl Bay just before sunup. In the past we have headed from Pearl Bay to Middle Percy Island. This Island has an A Frame home built by the Andrew, the original tenant of the island as a place for yachties to gather. The tradition is to leave something from your boat behind and there is an assortment of things accumulated over the years including old navigation gear, crockery, signage and a collection of various items of intimate apparel. Every square inch of the two floor structure is covered and it is a must do visit. However Dreamagic has visited it three times and what it does not have is a comfortable anchorage. The swell makes you feel like you are trying to sleep in a washing machine so we opted for Hunter Island instead.
Pearl Bay to Hunter Island
Sarong or Sari? Well if I am Sarong...I am Sari
Hunter is in the Duke Island group and according to Alan Lucas, the author of Cruising the Coral Coast its “South West headland provides remarkable shelter.”  No it doesn't  Well, not unless you want to drop anchor a mile from the nearest coastline. We found Marble Island the better bet and we also found the plotter charts to be inaccurate here as there is actually deep water virtually up to the beach. There is a homestead at the far end of the beach which according to Lucas is a cattle station. We were considering the financial sense of shipping cattle from here , which does not appear to have a dock when a very expensive sea plane landed in the bay behind us. 20 minutes later another joined it.  We took the dinghy ashore to collect shells and stretch our legs, but the large signs erected on the beach made it clear that visitors were not welcome. Maybe they fly the cattle in and out one at a time. Or maybe they are doing something else now.
Hunter to Curlew island.
This morning was clear and windless so we motored to Curlew Island, which is in the Guardfish Cluster. Again, according to Lucas there is an anchorage to the north of the Island but we didn’t like the look of it at all. As the wind was very light we anchored in a delightful bay to the south in about 10 meters of water. One has to be very careful anchoring here as tides have a 4 metre variance between high and low which can make for a bump in the night if you are in too  close. Our intention was to stay here a couple of nights but without a forecast and with ominous dark clouds building we made the decision to head for Mackay the next day.
Curlew to Mackay
Another windless day so a motor across to Mackay. It’s a straight run from Curlew but there are a couple of shoals. There is probably enough water not to worry, especially at high tide but if the risk does not have to be taken, why bother? We telephoned when in range and got a berth allocation which suited us, but nearer to the marina we heard a foreign yacht calling on the radio for a berth. His ETA was about the same as ours so we were scanning the horizon for him. The conversation form the yacht to the land was as follows:
Mackay Harbour, Mackay Harbour. Mackay Harbour, This is Sailing Yacht 42, Sailing Yacht 42.
Mackay Harbour, Mackay Harbour. Mackay Harbour, This is Sailing Yacht 42, Sailing Yacht 42.
Person Calling Mackay Harbour, please repeat your message
Mackay Harbour, Mackay Harbour. Mackay Harbour, This is Sailing Yacht 42, Sailing Yacht 42.
Mackay Harbour, This is Sailing Yacht 42, we would like a berth for tonight and to get some fuel.
I am in my car at the moment can you call back?
Sure. I will call you in 30 minutes.
30 minutes later, the yacht calls again, and gets exactly the same response, except Mackay Harbour was now “In the yard”
30 minutes later:  Mackay Harbour, This is Sailing Yacht 42,
Mackay Harbour, This is Sailing Yacht 42, we would like a berth for tonight and to get some fuel.
We don’t have berths here, you need Mackay Marina. Click
Mackay Marina, Mackay Marina, Mackay Marina, this is Sailing Yacht 42….
It’s so Monty Python it’s laughable. Are you the Judean Peoples Front? No! We are the Peoples Front of Judea. Welcome to Australia.
The skipper, who was a young German was booking in just ahead of us and I did say that we heard him on the radio and felt sorry for him.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Yeppoon to Keppel

Yeppoon to Keppel

We have finally departed. We slipped our lines, again, said our Goodbyes to our neighbours, again, and left the marina. We have probably not been the best neighbours to have had but I hope we were the funniest.
The trip to Keppel is short and easy. Straight across the bay for about 90 minutes. We anchored off Svensons which has a very small eco lodge on it in company with a couple of yachts already there. Dreamagic’s sounder has decided to sulk and would not give me a reading. As with people  have found the best thing to do in this instance is ignore it.

Lunch on board
It will realize eventually that I don’t care and start to behave.
Dinghy launched we went ashore to explore. W came across a quite elaborate bush camp that someone had built on the high water mark complete with marquee, fire pit, seating, even a billy. Further down the beach we spoke with a couple of yachties who were trying to temporarily repair an aluminium dinghy with fiberglass. It seems they were the owners of the two other yachts in the bay and they had woken to find the dinghy with outboard had sunk overnight. Naturally we asked if we could help but they had it all under control and we were invited to “Svensons Bar and Grill” for Sundowners that evening. Bring a bottle.
Svensons Bar and Grill
Keppel has beautiful sandy beaches and Rona and Susan  spent a few hours collecting shells while I swam and wandered over to look at the hundreds of Oysters on the rocks at either end of the beach. I don’t care for oysters from tropical waters so we didn’t collect any but there was certainly a good meal for anyone who does. Well at the moment anyway. A developer has bought the lease to the old resort and the council has also granted a lease to a piece of public land, “Lot 21”. The locals do not seem too pleased but a marina will be built, luxury housing around the marina, and then the powers that be will ban anchoring on the beaches siting pollution from boats and ecological damage. So what is now free will cost $60 per night and instead of digging up a bit of sand with your anchor which is replaced at the next tide, we can tie up to concrete secured by piles to the ocean bed and we can all deposit our combined waste into a small harbor. Still I am sure it makes sense to someone.
Just another bloody sunset
We spent the afternoon on the boat and about 4’ish went back to the beach. Peter Emerson, one of the yachties we had met earlier had beaten us there and got the fire going to deter the bitey things. What an interesting guy he is! Used to be a truckie but now lives simply on his boat. A tragic story is that until 2 days ago he had an 18 year old companion cat with him on his travels but the cat fell overboard in a storm. His boat is a work in progress. Until recently it had no engine because the starter motor had failed and he no way of sailing because the furler had jammed. However the good news is that a replacement starter has been fitted so he can start the engine. He cant take it anywhere because if he puts it into gear the shaft seal leaks at an horrendous rate but he can use the engine as a gen set to charge his batteries. He’s getting there! We shared stories, swapped Facebook pages and finally said our goodbyes as we were leaving early in the morning.
With our host, Peter
Peter it was a pleasure to meet you and I hope we can do it again soon.
The following day dawned crisp and bright and we got underway for the short journey around to the other side of the island where Susan would catch the ferry back to the mainland and eventually home. Anchor up, instruments on and I was pleased to see that the sounder had decided to join us this morning. I was not so pleased to see that, like a child that ahs to own up to something, The sounder was telling me that  it was absolute low tide, and the clearance under my keel was less than 10 cms. You wait ‘til I get you home!
We anchored off the main beach, had breakfast in the resort restaurant which is the only thing open, found starfish on the shore, and generally whiled away the time until 2.30 when the ferry took Susan  over the horizon and out of our lives. I don’t necessarily recommend taking another girl on your honeymoon for every couple, especially one you met for the first time on your wedding day, but if you did want to take one, Susan would be the pick.  We’ll see you at that famous coffee shop/deli  in Trinity Beach. You know the one.
Susan, waiting for the ferry
Now down to just two on our honeymoon we spent the rest of the afternoon  on the boat before having dinner and retiring. Tomorrow we start our push North.

Yeppoon Still here!

We had finally realised what is causing our run of bad luck with the weather. Kelsey, a  good friend of Dreamagics’ is currently working at Gladstone for a mining company. Her roster allows her only Saturday afternoon and Sunday off and without much to do in a mining camp she is bored. The devil makes work for idle hands as they say so Kelsey, by her own admission has spent the past week putting a hex on the weather so that we will get caught in Yeppoon and give her someone to visit when the weekend arrives. Sure enough on Saturday her 4 wheel drive arrived in the marina car park and she unloaded enough grog to last a fortnight, a colleague of hers who was working the same shift and was also a bit bored., and Susan the Bow Cow who had sneaked aboard to have another go. The three girls had driven the 2 hour journey . The colleague, Dominique or Dom had lived up to her name and brought French Champagne as a way of saying “thank you for letting me stay” (Tip for anyone thinking of joining Dreamagic. That always works) and we proceeded to party aboard. The Yacht Club was having a function for someone’s 25th and although we were invited, and the locals were keen to meet the now three women I have with me on my Honeymoon we decided we might not fit in so stayed within the confines of the boat. More or less. Rona had spent the morning making one of her superb curries, to which we added another from our freezer. The vote in the morning was that they were probably very good and she should make them again some day so that we can truly appreciate them.
Breakfast with the birds
The next morning the sun was up, the day was still and still full of the Joi de vie of the previous night, we decided to take the boat out for the day. Stumbling out of bed, still in their nighties the girls got Dreamagic ready and we backed out of our berth. Our next door neighbours handed our lines as we said our goodbyes, slipped out through the Harbour Wall and set our sails. Fantastic.  The wind was blowing about 10 knots, from about 45 degrees to the bow for once and Dreamagic slipped through the water like the greyhound that she is. Breakfast! What do we want? Bacon and eggs. We don’t have any. They do at the restaurant. Let’s go back.
30 minutes after saying Goodbye our neighbours were handing our lines again as we returned to our dock for victuals. The crew scarpered up the dock to the Waterline Restaurant where coffee was drunk, bacon and eggs were devoured, and hangovers attended to.
Jimmy Buffett, eat your heart out
Kels and Dom finally left for the trip back to Gladstone, leaving Susan in our care. We whiled away the afternoon before going over to the Yacht Club to say our goodbyes, or in Susan’s case Hellos and Goodbyes. There was a wine tasting being held and although we paid the quite exorbitant $5entry fee so that we could tase the wine, we decided that’s ticking to one favourite that we know rather than mixing wines would ward of any after effects. The hosts, as always were fantastic and plied us with food while the event took its course. We have met some wonderful people here. Everyone is so friendly. Once the crowd had thinned a little a guitar came out and musicians took turn to give us a tune. Lyle was a professional singer and did some great Jimmy Buffett and Neil Diamond. The star o f the night was a girl who said she could only play base and could not sing before giving us a wonderful couple of songs in a style reminiscent of Loreena McKenitt , her voice mixing hauntingly with the clear tropical sky.
When at a party, I often ask people “Do you sail”. The answer is always “Yes”, and they go on to tell you their achievements at chartering in the Whitsundays for a week 12 years ago, “No” and we change the subject or “A Bit”. Watch that one. They say nothing but have done 6 Hobarts, 9 Gladstones, 3 Trans Pacs and an Americas Cup. So it is with guitarists. Thank God for once in my life I said No.
We are definitely leaving here...tomorrow. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Yeppoon. Next to Yerpork.

Dreamagic at Yeppoon
Sleep was impossible after our marathon sail last night so we thought a breakfast at the Marina Restaurant would help. Well actually it was going to be coffee at the restaurant and breakfast on the boat as we had eaten here before and it was too early to call the bank and get an extension on our line of credit. On the walk up I mentioned that I had not had a bacon sandwich since Rona’s doctor had called me an obese binge drinker on my last , and only visit some 6 months ago. ( My bulk billing Indian GP wouldn’t say that to me. Then again she might, I can’t understand her. Rona’s Scottish doctor, very exclusive, 12 months waiting list for a pregnancy test sort of woman insults me, whacks me $75 for the privilege, and says she wants to see me again in 3 weeks. As I told her, “No chance. I am not paying $75 to be insulted when I have a woman at home who will do it for free.")
It's all in the presentation
I digress. I mentioned I fancied a bacon sandwich and Rona said she would treat me. I questioned their ability to actually create such a culinary masterpiece but I was assured by my wife that it was not that hard. Bread, butter, bacon, butter, bread. In that order, not that difficult. Right? Wrong.
I have never had an open bacon sandwich before. Where is the other slice of bread? Obviously made by the same girl who didn’t notice the dredge for the past month.
On a roll, (excuse the pun) we decided to bus into town. Stopped at the Sailing Club which is truly magnificent and had a bottle of wine while we waited for the restaurant to open. On ordering the waitress mentioned that drinking in the morning was a good way to start the day so I explained that I had now been up for 29 hours straight and was hoping this would act as a night cap rather than an aperitif. At midday the restaurant opened for business, we ordered another bottle of wine to help the digestion of our selection, and I assume we caught the bus back to the marina.

Dreamagic at Yeppoon

I have written about the Capricornia Cruising Yacht Club before and am pleased to say that nothing has changed. Nothing, even the same customers are still there. The playful puppy from 12 months ago is now a playful young dog but everyone else is occupying the same position in the bar they were in when we left. Like Groundhog Day, we ordered the same $4.50 Rum and Cokes and $15 bottle of Pinot Gris and carried on with the discussions we had left last time we were here.
Our weather window has slammed shut and we now have rain and more rain accompanied by wind and more wind. Dreamagic is in a huge berth for a change rather than jammed in so we’ll just commute between the Fish Co op, the Sailing Club, the coffee shop  and the boat while I give some more thought to the words of Rona’s Doctor.

Dreamagic in the Tropics

Dreamagic in the Tropics
The weather in Bundaberg has been sunny and warm but the wind is blowing at 30 knts (approx 60 kms per hour) so we have stayed put an extra few days. Dinners with friends, entertaining on the boat, or just reading while we wait for a weather window. The only TV stations that we can get are SBS and NITV. I can watch the news in Polish, Italian, Russian, Greek, German, or Arabic. Not in English though. My research shows that the Italian newsreaders are the most attractive, nothing ever happens in Poland and the Arabs are not very happy. Crossing channels I now know that traditional Aboriginal music is extremely similar to American Country and Western (both types). Fascinating.
The sunny weather but strong winds finally gave way to perfect winds and torrential rain.  We waited yet another day fully appreciating the term “Cabin Fever”. Finally, on Monday morning we woke to sunny skies, a good forecast and good winds. At 06.30 we left Port Bundaberg and headed north.
An uneventful trip, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn at 21.15. As is our tradition we celebrated entering the Tropics with wine (we don’t have any ingredients for Margarita left) and listened to Jimmy Buffett sing “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes”. I know it’s just an imaginary line but I swear it felt warmer as soon as Dreamagic crossed.
The wind was perfect, and at the speed we were travelling we would arrive at Yeppoon at 3.30 am, and low tide. Yeppoon is one of our favourite harbours and the Capricornia Cruising Yacht Club is definitely our favourite club in Australia but the entrance to the harbor is very shallow. Half a metre according to the girl on the desk at the office when we booked our berth. Last time we were here we grounded in the mouth and waited over an hour for the tide to lift us off. Rather than suffer that ignominy again we decided to slow the boat down and arrive at daybreak. Motor off we sailed on headsail only for the next 6 hours still reaching 7 knots. Sailing in the pitch darkness, relying on our plotter to safely pass unlit islands that ghost past is a special experience. The seas were reasonably large and we surfed down waves we couldn’t see until they broke around us and picked the stern of the boat up for a short sleigh ride. One did break in the cockpit and Rona, who was dozing lying on a cockpit seat, got a surprise and a drenching but most breakers went by with just a hiss of their power.
We arrived outside the entrance to Rosslyn Bay at 04.00 with the wind blowing about 20 to 25 knts. My calculations put about 1.5 metres of water over the harbor mouth, not enough for us. We sailed up and down in the darkness for about 2 hours making our approach at daylight, when the water level would be, by my calculation about 2.5 metres.
It’s always a tense moment as we entered the harbor mouth. What makes a harbor a great place to be in bad weather is what makes it difficult to enter in bad weather and with moderate winds, a narrow entrance, vicious looking rock walls, poor visibility  and a sudden doubt about my ability to understand the “Rule of Twelfths” when applied to the state of the tide this entry was particularly harrowing. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to see Dreamagic’s sounder never read under 6 metres. Entering the harbor I was also obliged to quickly remember whether to pass a dredge on the side the two diamond shapes or the two balls are displayed. Mostly though, I was wondering why the girl at the desk had not noticed the bloody great dredge that had been grinding out the harbor outside her office for the past month, and why I had bounced about outside the sea walls for two hours in the dark waiting for ground clearance. I had been awake for 25 hours and not in the best mood as we secured Dreamagic to her new if temporary home at Yeppoon and retired to bed. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bundaberg to .....Bundaberg

That’s the trouble with sailing. The wind is either too strong, too weak or blowing in the wrong bloody direction.
Our head blocked on the way from Harvey Bay to Bundaberg. It turns out that the pipes have calcified and are not large enough to let the waste out. Cost of new pipe, about $30. However the sea cock that needs to be turned off to stop the ocean coming in has seized sufficiently that I broke not one but two admittedly Chinese spanners on it trying to free it. Cost of a new seacock, about $100. To do that job the boat needs to be lifted out of the water. Cost for a “Quick Lift” in the yard, $350! Then to change the stop cock we had to change the skin fitting, $70, plus two hours labour by 2 guys who could not have worked more slowly if they tried, $140. So the toilet is now working fine and the cost was only $690! While the boat was up I did find a huge barnacle that had grown inside the engine water intake and had completely blocked that side so that was a bonus.

Brunch at the Bargarra Hotel

Rona and I enjoyed a terrific Easter Monday brunch at Bargarra. The Coffee Shop that we had chosen had unfortunately broken its Espresso machine so we had to repair to the local Hotel. I have never actually drunk coffee in a Hotel before so ordered Champagne. Ned and Craig and Rona and I were joined by Susan, our now resident Beer Bitch and Bow Cow, (That is a new position brought about by her expertise and enthusiasm for scrubbing the fore deck), Chris and Kate whom we had met before and were instrumental in our getting our berth also joined us, several of their friends drifted in, and we also had the pleasure of meeting Kate’s Mum and Dad , Paula and Bob.  What a great afternoon! Good friends, great conversation, great food , great weather. It doesn’t get better.
I must say that everyone we have met here has been so generous to us. Paula and Bob offered for
Susan, our latest Dream Girl
us to stay in their beachside penthouse, and also offered us the use of a car, Chris went and got a heat gun when I thought that changing out the loo hose was a 10 minute job, Susan took Rona shopping for provisions, Ned and Craig let us borrow their beautiful, red  V8 SS VF FF whatever it is Commodore complete with Doof Doof machine and loud exhaust for the day so we could get some more shopping. Thanks guys for all of your help, and please try to find time to join us sailing on our journey north.
Now Dreamagic is sitting in her berth at Bundaberg waiting to set sail. She is provisioned, watered, fueled. We have so far had two farewell parties aboard and we are still here. The days are sunny, the nights are balmy, and the wind will not stop blowing up to 30 knts! We have been waiting two days, it is now Friday morning and Sunday morning is our latest target window.
Meanwhile we are whiling away our time reading, and catching up on boat chores. Yesterday we caught the bus to Bundaberg and had lunch at the RSL before coming home and watching Pirates of The Caribbean on the boat. I use it as a training video.
Important! If you want to keep reading Capt'n Willi's rantings, you need to fill in the little box on the right hand side of the page and you will be sent an email when he posts. He tries to tell everyone when something new happens but he has the attention span of a puppy. (He will also follow anyone home who is nice to him, and occasionally has been known to wee on the floor)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Brisbane to Bundaberg 2013

Brisbane to Bundaberg 2013
The big news is of course that Capt’n Willi, that loveable rogue has finally got married. Yes, on the 21st March no less, exactly four years to the day since Rona walked onto his boat and changed his life forever he stood in front of a small group of friends and family and whilst completely sober said I do.  Who could have foreseen that when this blog started all that time ago?
No one would be surprised to know that the honeymoon is to be a sailing trip from Brisbane to Cairns. Those who know Willi would not be surprised to learn that he is taking not only his bride but one of her best friends on the voyage. So this is the tale of the voyage of Capt’n Willi, and Rona and Susan .
The weather in Brisbane had been atrocious. The original plan was to take Dreamagic to Mooloolaba, use her as a floating apartment for friends attending the wedding, and then take her north from there. Unfortunately we had heard such terror tales of the entrance to Mooloolaba having silted over that we decided to take Dreamagic in one overnight run to the Wide Bay Bar , hopefully cross that and carry on through the Sandy Straights, or go around Fraser Island and into Gladstone.
The best laid plans. While in Mooloolaba I visited the Coast Guard who said that the bar was passable as long as we stayed to the Port side. With this in mind we brought Dreamagic up the coast to Mooloolaba and caught up with the last of Thursdays wedding party who still hadn’t left yet. While safely in harbor we experienced heavy rain and thunderstorms but we wisely sheltered in the lee of the bar at The Surf Club until they passed.
Dreamagics journey up the coast was uneventful except for our exhaust which is carrying an unusual amount of steam. The motor doesn’t seem to be overheating but we are blowing white smoke which is a concern, especially given we spent over $3000 on it in Brisbane to fix that. The other issue we have is with the new toilet, or head as we call it. It doesn’t seem to want to flush to the outside of the boat. I think the pipe is calcified and fixing it will be a simple if messy job. However it can’t really be done at sea so I promised to look at it once in a marina.
I make no secret of the fact that I detest the Wide Bay Bar and arriving just before dark with two and a half hours of tide left to run wasn’t going to help my opinion of it  To wait would mean a crossing the dark, to go while it was light would mean a rough trip but we did go over and it was kind to us. Susan and Rona were life jacketed and tethered in, I had a jacket on but we passed over at sunset and opened the red wine to celebrate before finding an anchorage inside the bar.
The next morning we rode the incoming tide the entire length of the straights and arrived at Urangan mid afternoon. I had learned this trick when bringing John Pools boat  “Now or Never” up the straights and it works a treat. At the shallowest part we had the pleasure of watching a 40 foot sailing cat waiting nonchalantly at the mark until someone, Us, could show them the way through. We draw 2 meters, they would draw about half a meter. Always a pleasure to help a cat sailor in trouble.
We called Urangan for a berth and received our first hiccup of the trip. They didn’t have a spare one for us! Rona does what she does best and turned a “No room at the Inn” response to a “We have one berth directly outside the club but with no power or water”. That’s good enough. She also told the fellow she was speaking with that we were short handed, he said he was too, but would give us a hand with our lines if we called when we got in.
True to our word we called Jim who by now was Rona’s best friend, and true to his word he had upgraded us to a much better berth. We reminded him again that we were short handed, he reminded us that he was too, but would be waiting at the end of our dock. And sure enough as we turned into C row, there was Jim leaping up and down to maximize his stature of about 4 feet tall ready to catch us.
What a funny bloke this guy is. He may be only 4 foot in physical height but he is 8 feet tall in my opinion and an absolute credit to the club. He was joking with the girls about being “Short handed” telling stories and generally making us feel very welcome.
If you have read the previous blogs you will know that we have always had a good time an Urangan Boat Club. The food is excellent, the wine is cheap and the entertainment is plentiful. Times must be tough because while the food and wine were good, there was no entertainment either of the nights we were there. We did win the seafood tray in the raffle which was a bonus though, and made for a great lunch on our next leg.
The weather was perfect on the leg to Bundaberg, but not a breath of wind. Rona was up at 5.30 buy ice and milk and had innocently asked if they had any spoon lures. The shop was full of fishermen getting bait and by the time she had listened to the various advice regarding what, where and how to catch fish we were armed with a “never fail” lure and wondering how we were going to kill these monsters of the deep we were guaranteed to land.
We dragged the lure for 60 miles and Rona was considering how to get her money back when I pulled it in to find it had gone, along with half the trace. I would like to think a shark had taken it, or at least that is Rona’s first fishing story.
Bundaberg was very badly damaged in the recent floods and one marina was destroyed. The other marina, Port Marina was also extensively damaged and as a consequence there is an extreme shortage of berths for the boats that are already here let alone find room for visiting boats. Susan to the rescue. Although now London based she is a Bundy girl and similar to Rona doesn’t understand the word “can't”. A phone call to friends connects her with other friends one of whom is up there with the Port authority. A couple of hours later and we can put our boat on the Customs Berth. Now this is a big deal because usually if a boat goes onto that berth it’s been arrested and isn’t coming off again anytime soon.
On approach we called again to confirm our intentions and were given another real berth allocation. Pink 16 looked like an easy berth to get into with another yacht of similar size already on 17. However it was only when we were half way in that I realized that it was going to be tight getting our 4 metre beam in beside her 4 metre beam. With fenders now on both sides of the boat we tentatively edged forward worrying about being blown onto our neighbour. Fortunately he was aboard, and the sight of two girls on the deck brought out more willing helpers to catch lines. I must admit I thought my seamanship at holding her in place was exemplary until I realized we were actually on the bottom and she wasn’t going anywhere anyway. I think I’ll keep that to myself .
Susan’s mother Carol visited the boat, as did some of her friends. Dreamagic turned into the party boat she always has been and we played host to Chris and Kate and their delightful children Meghan, Jack and Annabelle. Finally Susan left the boat and Rona and I spent our second night alone since we were married, now over a week ago.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

We're Back!

Its that time again when the weather starts to turn cold and cruising folk start looking towards following the sun. Our plans are to take Dreamagic to Mooloolaba on the 12th March, park her there for 10 days while we get married, and then sail her North to Cairns via Bundaberg and the Whitsundays arriving at our winter home at the end of April.
A great plan that has been dreamed of and looked forward to for nearly a year. So why is Dreamagic still sitting in her pen at Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron? Because the Mooloolaba Harbour has silted over to the extent that we can't get in there. Speaking with the local Coast Guard their view is that attempting to cross will probably result in the loss of the boat, and perhaps death.
Rona, my bride to be feels that the loss of Dreamagic and a possible drowning may put a dampener on the proceedings so the new plan is to sit here until next Tuesday, when we will drive to the Sunshine Coast, get married up there, drive back and leave around the 23rd for a long stretch straight to Bundy, or hopefully a calm bar crossing at the Wide Bay Bar.
Meanwhile Dreamagic strains at her lines to get free of the dock she has been tied to for the past 18 months. I know how she feels.