Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Sailing to Queensland, Winter 2017 - Part 9
Latest update 27 August 2017
Click here for previous part of this trip.
Wednesday 9 August 2017 â Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island
It was a very calm night and at 0800 when we get up there is no wind and it is beautiful and sunny. While Michael takes Veto to the beach, Kelly gets breakfast ready. After breakfast we do some washing and Michael hangs it out to dry. Michael then washes the watermaker filters, they are filthy, despite only using the watermaker in âcleanâ open waters. He also flushes it (recommendation is to flush every three days when not using but we normally do it every five days).
Michael then checks the oil and water in the starboard engine. He also checks the V-belts and finds they are a bit loose, probably they have stretched since they were new in April. Adjusting these can be difficult as the pulleys you need to move are hard to get to, at least for the water pump one. He adjusts the alternator belt first, relatively easy to do. However, the water pump one has a nut that is almost impossible to get to as it is behind the pulley and under the bottom of the engine.
|The port engine showing the two belts. The hard to get to nut is under and behind the left pulley
|The final filter for the watermaker after being cleaned, look at the water!
Michael also checks the starboard rear bilge to see if there is any water in it. It is empty, so our replacement of the Sikaflex joint a week ago appears to have worked. Kelly then checks the port one and finds some water there, but we think that is probably from before we did the work as we did not check it. Michael then checks the oil and water in this engine and then adjusts the V-belts, a little harder despite having access from the front of the engine.
Kelly then puts some more Sikaflex on the starboard step joints as it is a bit light from the first go. After lunch and a relax, we go to the beach at 1530. We go via Ilakai as we have not seen Richard or Sussanah for quite a while. They are with Rhythm and are leaving tomorrow for Cairns. We continue to the beach and walk to the eastern end of the beach.
|Kelly in the port engine room getting water out of the rear compartment
|Monica, Kim and Kelly after dinner
When we get back on Catlypso we have cold showers as we are going out to dinner tonight. At 1720 we motor in and haul T2 up the beach as the tide is now incoming. Kelly has arranged to go to the pub for dinner with a couple of women from Women Who Sail Australia. We meet Kim and Steve from Cat Play and Monica and Martin from WOW (Walk on Water). Tonight is steak night, so we all have steaks, pretty good value. Make sure you get there before 1800 as they have cheap beer and cocktails then.
We swap stories over dinner and head back to our yachts by 2010. We are in bed by 2115.
Thursday 10 August 2017 â Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island
It is relatively calm for most of the night but the wind picks up a bit from the east for a few hours and there was some slight rolling. When we get up at 0800 it is calm and overcast, although the cloud soon burns off.
After breakfast Michael tries to tune the TV so that he can watch the football tonight. He is unsuccessful. It seems that the fancy aerial and booster are not that great or there is some problem with them. He has spent a lot of time trying different combinations of aerial cables between the booster, the separate tuner and the TV. At 1130 we go to the beach and walk around a few of the streets to the koala caravan park (they have shows) and past the old school.
After lunch, Michael spends more time on the TV cabling. This time he removes all the superfluous cables in the compartment where the booster and tuner are located. These were to connect the Sony Playstation into the TV (we removed this three years ago). He also discovers that the TV is a 12 volt one. We had always assumed it was 240 volt. It gets its power via 240 volts through an adapter that converts it to 12 volts. Why did they not just wire straight into 12 volt? He may later change this.
At 1530 we go back to the beach and have an hour long walk to the west. Veto loves this, she gets so little chance to run around on the shore while we are on the boat. Back on the boat we have sundowners and then spicy chilli pork rissoles and salad for dinner. Michael then watches South Sydney play Canterbury via his phone. Souths play great and win 28 to 14. Too bad they could not have played like this all year. The only way they can make the finals is to win all the remaining games and for a couple of other teams to lose all or most of their games. Not going to happen!
Today was again quite windy, with the wind going east again and causing a rolling in the bay. However it dropped right down about sunset and became calm. We go to bed at 2200.
Friday 11 August 2017 â Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island
Another very calm night and very overcast when we get up at 0820. After taking Veto to the beach, we have breakfast. By 0930 it is sunny again. At 1000 Steve and Kim from Cat Play come over to meet Veto. They then head off to do some shopping.
Michael writes up the blog and prepares photos while Kelly checks out on the internet how to service deck winches. We really need to do ours soon. She then washes some of the outside cushions which have got dirty.
|The furler pulley showing the ropes in the new position
|The left five nuts are for the pulley, hard to get at
Later we remove the double pulley for the screecher furling line as the way it was installed when we got the new rope means that the line for pulling in the screecher is on the bottom rather than the top as it used to be. This makes it very hard to do. We basically just swap the ropes on the pulley so it is now the top one. It is easy to do in theory, but the pully is bolted on and the nuts are in the upper port engine room. Michael has to get inside and hold the nuts while Kelly undoes the bolts.
Saturday 12 August 2017 â Horseshoe Bay to Townsville
Once more it was very calm overnight, but there was a tiny bit of rain at one time. We get up at 0545 and after making tea and coffee, we leave at 0605. On the way Kelly makes some toast for our breakfast. We have to motor all the way as the wind was on the nose the whole time. We even have to use two engines for a while to combat the 18 knot southerly and 1.5 knot current.
We tie up in the Breakwater Marina at Townsville at 0855. Geoff from Island Home saw us come in and catches our lines. Kelly goes and pays and gets the key to the courtesy car which luckily is available earlier than we planned. After showers, Michael drives Kelly to the airport and drops her off. She is flying to Sydney (now via Brisbane) and on Monday to Norfolk Island for a week of work.
On the way back to the marina, Michael goes to a boat shop and buys a new floating rope for the dinghyâs mooring line. Michael drops by Island Home for a cuppa. Geoff offers to take Michael to the airport later to collect Ian who is arriving to stay for a week. He also says we can have his two stroke mix and oil as he has replaced his outboard with a new four stroke.
Michael then fills our water tanks and untangles two halyards which somehow have become loose and got looped over a fitting. He also puts all our surplus books into the book exchange in the laundry and gets a few new ones to read. At 1315 Geoff takes Michael and Veto to the airport and we collect Ian. Ian was on board for the trip from Mooloolaba to 1770 when Kelly last went to Norfolk Island.
|Some of the amazing rocks on Magnetic Island
|Michael and Ian having beers at the Townsville Yacht Club
Michaelâs former workmate and also member of our dive club, Colette, then comes for a visit. She now lives in Townsville and two years ago we caught up with her. She then drops Michael and Ian at the Coles supermarket. We purchase some beer and food and as we go to walk back, Geoff and Marina came out and offer a lift back to the marina. Talk about luck!
Michael then goes over to Island Home to collect the two stroke. Turns out the fuel is not two stroke, but Opal (special non-sniffing fuel from Northern Territory) but Geoff did not want it so we filled up 16 litres into our containers. We will get more when we come back on Friday. Michael then washes the boat, especially the anchor and chain.
At 1730 we walk over to the Townsville Yacht Club where we have a few beers. When we get back at 1945 we heat up lasagne that we had left over from a few weeks back (it was previously frozen). A very full day!
Sunday 13 August 2017 â Townsville to Horseshoe Bay
We get up at 0800 and after breakfast and getting rid of some last minute rubbish, we leave the marina berth at 0915. It is a beautiful sunny day, but little wind, so we have to motorsail all the way. We get a tiny bit of assistance from the wind at times, perhaps 0.25 of a knot. We go up the western side of Magnetic Island and at 1150 we anchor in Maud Bay off the second beach.
|A panoramic photograph from the beach at Maud Bay
We go ashore and have a swim, the water here is a bit cleaner than in Horseshoe Bay. We spend about 45 minutes on the beach and then go back to the boat for lunch. At 1405 we leave and motor around into Horseshoe Bay and anchor at 1445 a short distance from our previous spot.
At 1600 we take Veto to the beach and walk right to the western end. This takes about 35 minutes. We are back on the boat by 1720. We have a visit from Jarod and his daughter Lily from Brahminy. We first met them in 1770 and have not seen them since Pancake Creek. Jarod gives us a couple of pieces of mackerel from a fish he caught yesterday. Ian will have one tomorrow and Michael freezes the other piece for Kelly. They are heading to Cairns next week, so we will probably see a bit more of them.
After showers, we have sundowners and then we reheat a one of the food packages Kelly left for us. We thought it was butter chicken, but it turned out to be jambalaya. We go to bed a bit after 2100.
Monday 14 August 2017 â Horseshoe Bay to Little Pioneer Bay, Orpheus Island, Palm Islands
Yet another very calm night. Ian and Michael get up at 0635 and after Michael takes Veto to the beach for a run, we have breakfast. Kelly rings from Sydney Airport as she has booked in for her flight to Norfolk Island. After a quick chat, Michael makes some yoghurt and at 0730 we head off.
We motorsail the whole day, the wind is anywhere from 9 to 17 knots. We only sail for about an hour, as mostly the wind is under 10 knots. Closer to Palm Island the wind drops to 6 to 9 knots and goes south-east.
We had intended to stay overnight at Fantome Island, but when we get there the wind is blowing southerly or south-westerly and over 12 knots. We have a look around off the two beaches on the middle of the western side, but there are a few bommies that come up very shallow and the water in between seems to be a coral reef bottom.
|Approaching Great Palm Island
|The anchorage from the beach in Little Pioneer Bay
Due to the wind being from the direction and strength it was, we decide to go around to Orpheus Island which has a couple of anchorages more protected from these winds. When we get to Little Pioneer Bay at the northern end of the western side (past the very expensive resort), we find that the four moorings are already taken. We decide to anchor to the south of the yellow Special Mark which designates a very shallow coral bommie.
We anchor at 1555 in 9 metres near the southern mooring. Another three boats came in later and anchored near us. By now the wind has dropped back to under 6 knots. We go to the beach for a look and then back at Catlypso have a swim. The water here is the cleanest we have had at an anchorage for over two weeks.
We have showers and Michael makes some fried rice to go with dinner. We have sundowners, a great sunset, and then Ian cooks himself the piece of mackerel that we were given last night and Michael has a pie. A very nice day. We go to bed at 2130.
Tuesday 15 August 2017 â Orpheus Island, Palm Islands to Great Palm Island
It was very calm till about 0415 when a constant rolling started. We have no idea where it came from, as there was no wind at all. It continued till 0615 when it stopped. The high tide was at about 0300, so perhaps it was related to the run out tide. We get up at 0800 and have breakfast.
|The airport on Great Palm Island
|The township on Great Palm Island
It is another beautiful day, sunny and no wind (although there are some brief periods when the wind goes over 15 knots). Just after 1000 we take Thunderbird 2 and go to the southern point of the bay and anchor off here. We have a snorkel around the point and back into the bay. The coral is very good here, lots of very colourful stuff, heaps of small clams and some sponge life.
We see plenty of butterflyfish, parrotfish and a couple of groups of bream. We even see a unicornfish and hear humpback whales singing. A very nice snorkel.
After lunch we head off, pulling up anchor at 1320. We motor out and for the first half the wind is on the nose. Once we round the southern end of Orpheus Island we pull out the genoa and get a knot extra. The wind is now 8 to 9 knots and later drops to under 3 knots. We anchor off the airport in Casement Bay, Great Palm Island, at 1555.
At 1630 we go to the beach to the south of us and have a swim. There seems to be some fishing huts here as they do not appear to be occupied. Since we got here, three planes have landed at the airport (actually the same plane going back and forth to Townsville).
|The beach south of our anchorage
|Sunset at Great Palm Island
Earlier we hear Adrenalin Dive call Coast Guard Townsville seeking assistance. Seems like they have broken down at Lodestone Reef which is east of Palm Island. It is a bit confusing as the skipper speaks too fast and does not know much (eg boat rego, boat phone number and more).
We later listen to the calls between the base and the two rescue boats. It looks like another boat broke down east of Cape Cleveland and the first boat sent out was towing it at only 2 knots maximum for most of the way till it seems the rescued boat got at least one engine going and increased speed to 6 knots. When they got around Cape Cleveland the tow was swapped over to the other boat. They had been under tow for over four hours.
The first boat then headed towards Lodestone reef where the Adrenalin boat was still anchored. At 2015 the first boat was three quarters of the way there when they were stood down! No idea why or who will now collect the dive boat. At least this keeps us entertained for the afternoon and evening.
We have showers, sundowners and watch another great sunset. We have butter chicken and rice for dinner.
Wednesday 16 August 2017 â Great Palm Island to Rattlesnake Island
It was extremely calm till 0630 when a slight roll started. No wind at all, sunny, so hard to see what caused the roll. We get up at 0710 and Michael takes Veto to the beach to the south for a quick run. We have breakfast and at 0820 we leave. We pull out the screecher and sail at 3.4 knots in 9 knots of wind.
Soon the wind increases to 10 to 12 knots and we increase to 4.5 to 4.7 knots. At 0935 we have to put an engine on as the wind has dropped to 5 knots and is now more on the nose. We swap to the genoa at 0950 and later have to pull this in as the wind is now right on the nose. We motor the rest of the way.
|Morning off Great Palm Island
|Approaching Rattlesnake Island
We anchor at 1245 off the beach on the northern side of Rattlesnake Island. It is a good depth here, only 4 to 5 metres and you can get close to the beach as the coral is only on the two sides. In 2015 we anchored on the south side. Rattlesnake is part of the RAAF bombing range, but from looking at it, either they are very bad shots or it has not been used for a long time, as there are no bomb craters at all.
We have lunch and after this Michael tops up the fuel (44 litres) and then, as it is so hot, we put up the shade over the foredeck. This is quite a nice spot to sit as the very light breeze gives a bit of cooling effect. We also have a swim to cool down, it is 31.3â°C and very humid. Later we go to the beach and have another swim (we figure the beach is safe).
|Anchored off Rattlesnake Island
|The warning sign on the beach, it was facing down when we found it
About 1600 the wind goes up to 10 to 12 knots from the north-east and stays this way for a few hours. However, the seas stay very calm even though we are open to the wind. We have showers and then sundowners. Dinner is creamy veal tortellini. By the time we go to bed at 2130 the wind has dropped to 8 knots.
Thursday 17 August 2017 â Rattlesnake Island to Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island
It was quite a good night, the seas got flatter as the night wore on. We get up at 0800 and the wind is now from the south-west and 6 knots. Another sunny day and it looks like it will be very hot and sticky again. Michael takes Veto to the beach and we then have breakfast.
At 1000 we go to the beach for a swim. The water seems much warmer than yesterday and is also a bit cleaner. We leave at 1055 and motor all the way to Horseshoe Bay as the wind is under 5 knots and almost on the nose. On the way Michael makes a chicken curry using the remaining roast chicken and then freezes it for later.
|A panoramic photograph from the beach on Rattlesnake Island.
We anchor at 1420 off the boat ramp. It is 30.8â°C and the slight northerly wind does little to cool us. We see a large turtle a number of times during the afternoon, amazing considering the dirty water. Later we go to the beach for a walk and have a swim at a spot where the water was a lot cleaner. Even Veto had a swim!
We have showers and at 1725 we go to the beach again so we can go to the hotel for dinner. Tonight is âParmy Nightâ and the chicken parmigianas are $15 which includes a âpotâ (middy) of beer. Michael orders the âring stingerâ which is supposed to be hot, but it is false advertising! A nice dinner. We also get jugs of beer for $12, so it ends up being a cheap evening. We are back on Catlypso by 1920. We go to bed at 2130.
Friday 18 August 2017 â Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, to Townsville
Another calm night, we get up at 0620 and have breakfast. We leave at 0730 and as we motor out of the bay we see Star Fish, another Lightwave 38, in fact the one built before ours. We saw it at The Boatworks in April. We have to motor the whole way as the wind is very light and on the nose.
At 0910 we have been on the same course for almost an hour when the car ferry Fantasea Arcadia starts heading straight towards us, cutting across our path. At 0925 it becomes obvious that we are on a collision course (from the AIS which is showing we will pass within 30 feet of each other) and that the ferry has no intention of changing course, even though it is supposed to give way under the rules of the sea.
|Orchard Rocks near Radical Bay
As we are going so slow and it is going fast (something like 12 or more knots), it is even more important that they change course rather than us. Michael calls them on the radio and asks if they are going to change course. Instead, the skipper says we have to give way, which is neither legally or practically an option. He accuses yachts of being bullies! Michael then changes course to port as to go starboard would have not changed anything.
He advises him of this and then, despite our change of course being very obvious visually and on AIS, he turns to his starboard which puts us back on a collision course. Rather than change back to his original course, he stays on his course, abusing us over the radio.
Michael advises him that his actions are neither professional or legal. Even if he legally had right of way, the easiest and most sensible thing would have been for him to slight alter course once he came out of the main shipping channel and spotted us on the AIS. Dickhead of the highest nature! We really should have lodged a complaint with the company and Marine Services Queensland.
We end up mooring at 1020 and Scott and Alex from Island Home catch our mooring lines at the berth. Michael goes to the office to book in and Ian finishes packing his bags and prepares to leave.
At 1210 we get the courtesy car and Michael drives Ian to the airport. It has been great having him back on board again. If he had not come up, Michael would have had to stay anchored at Magnetic Island or in the marina for the whole week. After dropping him off, Michael goes to Bunnings to get a soldering iron so he can fix the NMEA connections to the new chart plotter.
He then goes to Dan Murphyâs to get beer and wine, Supa Cheap Auto to get some polish. He is back by 1345. Michael then puts two loads of washing on and sits with Veto on the grass reading his book, this is the coolest place to be. While here, Geoff from Island Home drops by for a chat and also the owner of Heatwave (not sure of his name) who was involved in the Mayday rescue with us off Gloucester Passage a few weeks ago. I learn that they were the first boat to reply to the Mayday.
While waiting for the washing to dry, Michael has a visit from an old NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service comrade, Ian Brown. Ian also retied three years ago like Michael and is now working 200 days a year in his role as a Navy Reserve officer specialising in environmental management. He is back up here as he is going on a US Navy ship tomorrow to oversight the environmental factors for the recovery of the US Osprey plane/helicopter that crashed off Shoalwater Bay Defence Area a few weeks back. Three marines lost their lives and are presumed to be still inside it.
Anyway, Ian and Michael have a beer and discuss the appalling state of NSW NPWS now, devastated by the current Liberal Government, even more outrageous considering NPWS is 50 years old in only six weeks time (and nothing has been done at all to celebrate this so far). It was good to catch up again.
After this, the washing is dry, so Michael has a shower and takes Veto for a walk. He then watches the first half and a bit of the South Sydney versus NZ Warriors match on his phone. At 1900 Colette, another ex-NPWS comrade, comes and collects Michael and takes him to her place. Here he watches the rest of the match and Coletteâs husband, Mark, makes us all pizzas. Excellent!
Kelly calls from Sydney where she is having dinner with Michaelâs mother, two brothers and sister. We then watch the second match before Colette takes Michael back to the marina. A very late night, 2330!
Saturday 19 August 2017 â Townsville
Michael gets up at 0745 and has breakfast and then takes Veto for a walk. At 0900 Geoff takes Michael to the chandlery at the port. This is a fair way from the marina and too far to walk to. Michael purchases some parts so he can connect the starboard hot water system to the shower. At the moment, the shower can only use hot water from the port hot water system.
He purchases seven metres of hose, two T-connectors and two on/off valves. On the way back they get some fuel (ULP for Geoff and diesel for us). Back on board, Michael starts the installation. The plan is to make it so we can let the hot water from the starboard heater to go over to the port side and then into the shower. We need to also make sure that turning the tap on does not let cold water come out of the port heater. Michael has figured out how to do this, or at least he thinks he has.
One reason we need to do this is because the 240 volt heater in the port heater no longer works so that if we do not move for a few days, we cannot use the portable generator to heat up water for a shower. Michael tries first to push the new hose from the starboard side (from the food pantry) but once it gets near the port steps into the hull, he cannot get it through the narrow tunnel.
He then tries from the port bilge, up under the chart table, under the steps, past the freezers and through the tunnel to the pantry. This works. He then cuts the hot water line in the pantry and puts in the T-connector and the on/off valve. On the port side, he needs to change a lot of things to make space for the changes. This involves remove an existing T-connector and right-angle elbow. He then puts the on-off valve where the T-connector was (coming out of the heater) and then the T-connector after this. One side goes to the hand basin and the other to the shower.
|The new connections in the food pantry
|The red hose is new, the top T-connector and the
on/off valve are new. Note the lines are identified to make things easier later.
He then puts the new T-connector in between this and the existing line to the shower and connects the new line from the starboard side. He earlier turned on the starboard heater so he could test if it all works as planned. When he tests, there is a slight leak. He tightens the pantry T-connector, tests again, another small leak on the port side. This is also so fixed. When he runs the water in the shower and basin, he gets hot water as planned. When he changes the settings, he gets cold from the port heater. Perfect!
Michael and Veto go for a walk and Michael gets some lunch. They sit overlooking the beach and have lunch. On the way here, Michael finds a letter and a form for someone to pick up a parcel from the post office. After eating, he walks back via the address and drops them off in the personâs mailbox. Wonder if they were stolen or just lost?
When he gets back, he washes the anchor chain and fills the water tank that is empty. He then pulls apart the NMEA connections from the new chart plotter for the AIS and autopilot. These are soldered and covered in liquid electrical tape and real tape. Both are now working again. After a shower, he has dinner and watches some TV, the first for almost four months. He goes to bed at 2200.
Sunday 20 August 2017 â Townsville
Michael got up at 0730 and put some more washing on and then walks Veto along the park adjacent to The Strand. Back on the boat they have breakfast and he then puts the washing in the dryer. After this he walks to Woolworths which is a bit furtherer than Coles but he wants to buy some specific brands that Coles do not stock (muesli, powdered milk). He uses the âgranny trolleyâ that we bought two years ago.
As well as the above things, he gets as much as he can carry back. After this Veto gets another walk and at 1200 he goes to get the marina courtesy car. He then goes to Coles and does some more shopping, this time getting the heavier items. As he is finishing, Kelly rings and says she has landed. This is about 15 minutes early, so he has to set off right away.
Michael collects Kelly from the airport and we stop off at the northern end of The Strand to eat the lunch he purchased. We then head back to the marina and Veto goes crazy when she sees Kelly. We put the food away and then we pull out the things Kelly has brought back from Sydney. This includes new screecher sheets, a new mainsail sheet and a new furling line for the genoa.
|The new anchor chain guard
|The new port side screecher sheet
Michael also installs the plastic guard that Kellyâs Dad, Tomas, has made for us. This is to protect the channel that the anchor chain runs in as it has worn down quite considerably. He drills holes in it and the channel, puts some Sikaflex in the holes and screws it in place.
We then install the new screecher sheets and mainsail sheet. We look at the genoa furler but realise we need to investigate this further before we attempt to put the new rope on. We then take Veto for another walk and stop off at Island Home to say goodbye since they are heading off to The Louisades in Papua New Guinea in the next few days. We have a beer and then have to leave as we are going out to dinner.
Michael has a shower and we then walk to an Indian restaurant called Aalishan up The Strand a bit. We are having dinner with Colette, Mark and Eloise. This is a great restaurant, BYO, so makes it even better. We have five dishes and are very full. Cost was under $30 each! Brilliant dinner with great friends. We walk back to the marina by 2045. We watch some TV and go to bed at 2215.
Monday 21 August 2017 â Townsville to Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island
We get up at 0800. It is sunny with a slight easterly wind. Kelly puts another load of washing on and we then have breakfast. After this Michael takes Veto for a walk and Kelly moves the washing to the dryer and heads to Coles to do some last minute shopping.
After the walk, Michael flushes the watermaker and then fills the water tank again. When Kelly gets back, she puts the food away and at 1025 we leave. We motor out and then for a while use the genoa to get a little extra speed. The wind is under five knots and eventually it is on the nose, so we get nothing out of it. At least the tide is in our favour.
|A panoramic photograph of Radical Bay
We head out to Magnetic Island and at 1235 we anchor in Radical Bay, just off the beach. This is one of the two bays to the east of Horseshoe Bay. We have lunch and at 1355 we pull up the anchor and motor around into Horseshoe Bay. We anchor here at 1425. Two other Lightwaves are here, Star Fish which was here last Friday and also Spy Panda who we first met in 2015 at Great Keppel Island.
After a cup of tea, we take Thunderbird 2 and head to Star Fish (which was the boat built before ours). Greg greets us. He is from Darwin and has owned it since early 2014. We head over to Island Home which has come in for the night. We drop off our old ropes as they are going to give them away in PNG.
We then go over to Spy Panda and talk to Geoff and Naomi. They are on five weeks leave and have just returned from Cairns (they live on the boat at the Breakwater Marina in Townsville). Wow, have the kids grown since we saw them last in 2015.
We then go to the beach for a walk. After this we head back to Catlypso. We have showers, using the new cross-over waterline Michael installed two days ago. It works! We have hot water from the starboard hot water heater in the shower, fantastic. We then have sundowners and Kelly cooks beef fajitas for dinner.
The weather forecast for the next few days is excellent, so we plan to head out to the Great Barrier Reef tomorrow for at least two and maybe three nights. We go to bed at 2130.
Tuesday 22 August 2017 â Horseshoe Bay to Back Numbers Reef
It was another very calm night. Michael gets up at 0545 and takes Veto to the beach for a run. Meanwhile Kelly prepares the sails for today. After making tea and coffee, we leave at 0620 and motorsail using the main sail and screecher. The wind is very light, 5 to 8 knots or so. We make about 5.2 to 5.7 knots with a slight current behind us.
|Sunrise as we leave Magnetic Island
|Catlypso anchored at Back Numbers Reef
The seas are very flat. We see three sea snakes, a few dolphins and in the distance, a couple of whales, the first we have seen for weeks. At 1220 we round the western end of John Brewer Reef where a fishing trawler is anchored. We speed up a bit as the wind is more on the beam.
We pull the sails in and motor into the anchorage at Back Numbers Reef. There is a bommie out wide that needs to be avoided as it comes up from 27 metres to almost the surface. It is almost low tide so the reef and bommies are very obvious. At 1425 we anchor in 11 metres near where we anchored in 2015. The water is so blue and clear!
|The sand cay at Back Numbers Reef
|Veto watches Kelly have a swim at Back Numbers Reef
After tidying up the sails etc, we go to the sand cay to the north of us which is just visible. It looks like it is much smaller than in 2015 (looking at old photos confirms this). Veto has a run around and we have a swim.
Back on the boat we have another swim and read and sunbake on the foredeck. Later a charter fishing boat with four tinnies comes in and anchors further out. We have showers and then sundowners. Kelly makes a salad and Michael cooks rosemary lamb rissoles on the barbecue.
|Sunset at Back Numbers Reef
|Kelly and Veto relaxing
The wind increases to 13 to 15 knots, later dropping to 10 and then going back to 12 to 15 knots. It is a bit rolly. We go to bed at 2045.
Wednesday 23 August 2017 â Back Numbers Reef to Kelso Reef
It got quite rolly during the night as the wind did not decrease. However, at 0130 it started to ease as the wind dropped to 12 and then 10 knots and the tide went down (low 0424). By 0700 it is much calmer. There is another fishing charter boat near us now, it came in around midnight it seems.
We get up at 0710 and have breakfast. It is another glorious day. We watch the fishers go off in the tinnies, one per boat, how boring a day that would be. After breakfast we leave at 0820. Once again we have to motor sail as the wind is so light, 8 to 10 knots at the most. We do about 4.5 to 4.9 knots.
|The view from the bow at Kelso Reef
|A selfie from the water at Kelso Reef
We are heading to Fore and Aft Reef. We round the southern end and go up the west side. We head into what appears to be the anchorage (there is a fishing charter boat here), but the depth is far more than the charts show (35 metres compared to 10 on the chart). We motor way to the east and the shallowest we get is 17+ metres. We also think that it is not that protected as the reef looks not that wide.
We head back out and decide to go to Kelso Reef. This is not far away. We go between Little Kelso and Kelso and then up the western side of Kelso. There seems to be two moorings, huge things, behind one bommie. We go into the main anchorage and once again the charts are wrong on the depths. It is shown as being less than 10 metres but it is over 20.
We proceed cautiously to the east and end up anchoring at 1205 in almost 17 metres. At least this place is a lot more protected than Fore and Aft. We watch the Border Force plane flying all over the place, but they do not call anyone on the VHF or come near us. We have lunch and then go for a snorkel on the coral reef to the east of us.
|Kelly snorkelling at Kelso Reef
|Some of the great coral at Kelso Reef
This is an excellent reef, with lots of hard corals, the best we have seen on this trip. The fishlife is also very good. There are surgeonfish, parrotfish, butterflyfish and some clownfish. We see a nice small batfish and some Moorish idols. A nice snorkel.
Back on the boat we relax on the foredeck and read. We hear on the VHF that a boat called Priorities has decided to go into Fore and Aft Reef and we see on the AIS that they anchored right where we looked at earlier today.
We have showers and sundowners and watch a great sunset. It is fantastic out here, there are no other boats at this reef and the water is so blue and clear. Dinner is chicken leak and pasta. We read some more and go to bed at 2100.
Thursday 24 August 2017 â Kelso Reef to Trunk Reef
It was a little bit rolly during the night but much better than the previous night. When we get up at 0710 it is sunny with wind under 4 knots. We have breakfast and then Michael has a swim, nice.
We leave at 0855 and follow our chart plotter track back out to open water. Soon after Veto starts panting a lot sitting on Michaelâs lap at the helm and when she is put down on the deck, she finally went to the toilet and did a huge wee. This is 30 hours after she last went. She still needs to go number twos!
|Glassy conditions while crossing the main shipping channel
The water is glassy as we motor across the main shipping channel. We have no wind so today will be a total motoring day. We are making about 5 knots using one engine at 2800 rpm. Later the wind drops to under 2 knots and the water is even flatter.
Michael makes some scones for morning tea. He serves them as a Devonshire tea, with strawberry jam and cream and a cup of tea. They come out very good.
|Catlypso at Trunk Reef
|A photograph from the water showing Catlypso and the coral
As we go around the southern end of Trunk Reef we have a bit of a fright when Kelly spots a bommie. It comes out of 30 metres to 7 metres and then back again. We go right over the top, we had time to turn but judged that it was safe enough. The charts are actually showing water deeper than 20 metres.
Originally we planned to try to anchor in the northern section of the reef, but as we come up the western side we notice on the chart plotter a notation that there is a sandy anchoring spot off a section off the reef. We go in to investigate and sure enough, there is a large area of sand bottom under 15 metres deep.
|A panoramic photograph showing the coral reef and Catlypso at Trunk Reef
We end up anchoring about 120 metres off the reef in 11 metres. There are a few bommies around and later when we go for a snorkel we see that we could have anchored in a lot closer safely.
After lunch we go for a snorkel, the reef here is as good as Kelso Reef. We see starfish, a few clownfish and anemones, parrotfish and more. A nice spot. After this we come back and read and sunbake on the foredeck, with a swim in between. The wind has been as low as 0.0 knots since lunch and the water is so glassy it cannot be believed.
|Some of the excellent hard and soft corals
|A tomato clownfish
Today while motoring Michael ran the watermaker and made 92 litres which has filled our containers and tanks. We have showers and then sundowners. At 1810 a large stinkboat comes in and anchors to the north of us. For dinner, we have roast lamb and vegies.
Today has been probably the best weather we have had on the trip so far. Even though it was sunny and there was no wind, it was not too hot. There is a southerly change forecast for tomorrow about 1000 so we have to be up early to get back towards Orpheus Island before the winds get up too much.
Friday 25 August 2017 â Trunk Reef to Orpheus Island
It was a calm night with the anchor alarm only going off once about 2330 when the tide changed and we turned to face the opposite direction. The wind is about 9 knots from the south-west when we get up at 0545. This was not supposed to happen till a bit later, but at least it is not strong yet. We have to leave early as we will be heading straight into the wind the whole way today.
At 0610 after making tea and coffee, we pull up anchor and motor out following our track on the chart plotter. We head off between Bramble and Walker Reefs and then down the western side of Bramble towards Pelorus Island. Once on this side of the reef it becomes quite rough, with the wind now well over 15 knots and an opposing current causing the waves to stand right up.
As we go, we use our AIS on the laptop to track a yacht that is deep inside Britomart Reef. This way we will see how they got in there in case we want to visit one day. We end up with a nice track showing their route out.
|Approaching Pelorus Island
|Sunset from Orpheus Island
We have to run the engine at 3200 rpm to make 4.7 knots and as we round the northern side of Pelorus the wind increases to over 20 knots. We reach Orpheus Island and enter Little Pioneer Bay. It is a lot calmer here, but still windy. We check out the moorings and end up taking the one closest to the beach as it is a bit more protected. We are moored by 1125.
There is only one other boat here, on the southern mooring that is much more protected. The wind is only 13 knots in here and it is relatively calm now. We have lunch and Kelly goes to bed as she has had the flu since returning from Sydney.
After lunch a Queensland water police boat comes into the bay. It is the tender to a much larger vessel which was anchored last night at Rib Reef (we could see it on AIS). They ask for some information about the boat and Michaelâs details and whether we have the relevant safety equipment. To be honest, they should really concentrate on smaller fishing vessels as in our experience it is those people who are not prepared or equipped.
By 1400 the wind has dropped to 2 knots and it is very calm. The wind later goes easterly and up to 13 knots, but it is still calm here. Another boat comes in, Priorities which spent the last two nights at Fore and Aft Reef.
We have showers, sundowners and then Michael heats up a left over lasagne. Kelly is still sick and tonight she sleeps in the other cabin so as to not infect Michael.
Saturday 26 August 2017 â Orpheus Island
We have a calm night but it rained heavily for a few minutes about 0100. Around 0700 there is some side rolling. It seems that here on the change of the tide you can get some small waves come into the anchorage. This does not seem to be wind induced. We get up at 0800 and the wind is from the south-east at 17 to 20 knots. It is also very overcast. Kelly is still sick, so we are not going to leave here today. We have breakfast and then relax.
At 1015 we notice that the yacht on the mooring to the south has left, so we move over there. It is much more protected there, even though the wind hits 24 knots. The sun is out a bit now, so Michael runs the watermaker again (he also ran yesterday) and makes enough water to fill our containers and tanks again.
He also adds 66 litres of diesel to the tank and puts 6 litres of fuel in the dinghyâs tank. After lunch the wind is still blowing 17 to 20 knots but at least it is now sunny. We even have full battery banks despite the lack of sun this morning. Later Michael runs the generator for 30 minutes to heat water in the starboard hot water tank so we can have showers. The new system worked perfectly and the showers are great.
We have sundowners (well Kelly is not drinking since she is sick) and then Michael heats up left over jambalaya. Michael watches Souths play Melbourne but gives up at half time. They get killed 64 to 6. He then listens to the rugby, Australia versus the New Zealand All Blacks. Despite leading for most of the match, Australia gets beaten in the last two minutes.
Sunday 27 August 2017 â Orpheus Island to Haycock Island, Hinchinbrook Channel
The wind drops off overnight and it was very calm. We get up at 0800, it is sunny with only 6 knots of easterly wind. We have breakfast and then Kelly, who is still sick but a little better, goes with Michael to the beach as she has not been off the boat for quite a few days. On the beach we see what we think are wallaby tracks and the tracks of an echnida.
|Echidna tracks on the beach
|Heading away from Orpheus Island with Pelorus Island on left
We leave at 1000 and motorsail across to the entrance to Hinchinbrook Channel at Lucinda. We have wind starting at 5 knots but it ends up about 12 knots. We make about 4.7 knots with the engine doing 2400 rpm. The seas are quite calm.
|The huge Lucinda sugar wharf
|Hinchinbrook Island as you approach from the south-east
We pass the Lucinda sugar wharf which is over five kilometres long as it stretches from the land out to where the water is deep enough for a large ship to berth. The main channel starts north of here. We then sail down the first part of the channel as we have the wind on the beam and we can do 4.5 knots without an engine. The first section of this is very shallow, we see 1.6 metres under our keels.
|Another shot of Hinchinbrook Island, this time from near Lucinda
|Heading up Hinchinbrook Channel
The trip up the channel is quite amazing, Hinchinbrook Island is spectacular. It has peaks of over 1000 metres and a few of 900 plus. The channel is quite deep apart from the entrance, although some of the channel markers on our charts are not there. This whole area is full of mangroves and is known crocodile country, so we will not be venturing into the water (or on the shore).
|A panoramic photograph of Haycock Island and the anchorage
Janelle, Michaelâs sister messages him that his Mum is in hospital. Looks like she has got the flu too, so they took her there as a precaution. X-rays show her lungs are clear, so that is a good thing. Michael later rings her. We have showers and sundowners and more jambalaya.
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