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.

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