Posted by: glenswatman | June 21, 2010

20100611-20 AUSTRALIA Queensland, sailing

FRIDAY 11 JUNE – 6am
start with a nice sunrise to send us off. 
There is a good wind so we fit in a lot of sailing; however the wind is
not in the right direction for our destination so Jim suggests another
anchorage further up the coast.  With a
fishing line behind us we strike lucky and catch a huge (around 2.5kg)
mackerel.  Within minutes Jim has it
ashore and cut up then Sandra and I set about storing some in the freezer and a
nice big fillet in the fridge for tonight. 
Sandra also takes a chunk to prepare for a raw fish dish in lemon and
coconut milk.  The next time I put the
kettle on for a brew we catch a bonito (a red meat fish a bit like tuna).  Jim & Sandra say it is not good for eating
but will make nice bait but Steve & I ask to try a piece to cook.  We think it is pretty tasty as it cooks up
much like tuna.  Early afternoon we keep
sailing but with the addition of the engines to speed us up a bit.  The catamaran is very stable and I am able to
use the stove to cook and do things whilst we are sailing.  Sandra & I have the afternoon sweet tooth
munchies so I make us some cornflake, sultana and chocolate slices. Our
destination is Pancake Creek, just north of Agnes Water.  When we pull in around 5pm there are already
many yachts in there but we are too late to venture into the creek as it is
getting dark so we anchor in the entrance. 
Jim cooks the mackerel dipped in flour then lightly fried in oil and it
is delicious.



After a cool night and early morning the sun breaks through and with
blue skies things soon warm up.  Jim
motors into the creek with about a dozen other yachts anchored up.  He takes us ashore in the dinghy where we
meet some of the beach camping fishermen and other yachties.  There’s a nice walk up to Bustard Head
lighthouse which Sandra joins us for.  It
is quite a walk, first across a tidal flat then between the bush and forest following
the telegraph lines.  We see many huge
spider webs with big spiders in residence. 
Next we cut through the forest then receive views of the ocean beach before
the track turns across the headland. 
There’s an old cemetery en route and most of the occupants died when
drowned.  The lighthouse area is quite a
surprise as it is situated in an open grassy area (neatly mowed) surrounded by
freshly painted white houses.  We talk to
the temporary custodian who tells us years ago it was all vandalised after the
lighthouse became automatic but people have now funded the restoration, turned one
building into a museum and it is now guarded. 
Further along is another lookout with superb views back over to the bay
where we are anchored.  The tide is now
much lower and we can see the challenging sand banks that yachts have to
navigate between.  It is really hot
sitting out sunbathing in the afternoon but the water is still a little too
chilly to tempt me to take a cooling dip. 
For happy hour we have invited our neighbours over, skipper Rick, his
girlfriend Christy and their “find a crew” member Lisa from Germany.  It is interesting to hear how many of the yachters
use the web site to find crew but not always successfully, another boat in our
anchorage is without crew as he put his off in Bundaberg as they were
permanently stoned on wacky backy!



decides we will stay another day here so motors further up the creek.  I cook up bread & butter pudding for
lunch and we all sit and relax.  Sam
finds she has phone signal and gets the sad news that her mother, in New
Zealand, is dying and she needs to get there quick.  At 1.30pm Jim has the boat under way heading
for Gladstone.    Whilst Steve & Jim are navigating us out
and setting up sails, Sam is packing and I am manning the radio to log on.  Each time you move position you are supposed
to log on with the local coastguard, giving details of your boat, passenger
numbers, destination etc, and then log off on arrival.   Luckily I have watched a few episodes of
“The Bill” so know the correct alphabet words such as foxtrot, sierra, and have
been listening to Jim to know the format of the transmissions.  We are really lucky to have Internet
connection and I help Sam book a bus to Brisbane leaving tonight and a flight
to New Zealand tomorrow.  Jim does a
brilliant job sailing and motoring along to do the predicted 8 hour journey in
5-hours meaning we arrive at Gladstone marina at 6.30pm.  It is difficult finding the berth in the dark
but fellow boaties step in to lend a hand. 
Sam is picked up by taxi, and then returns for the laptop she left



Today is a public holiday in Australia, to celebrate the Queen’s
birthday!  This means there is no public
transport and shops are closed so we cannot buy any fresh fruit and veg.  Make the most of the marina facilities for
showers and laundry.  Get a text from Sam
to say she the bus was early and she has made the 9.40am flight and her Mum is
OK.  It is a miserable day, cool, windy
and rainy.  Jim sees no need for us to
stay and pay another $40 and we agree so mid afternoon head off out into the
storm.  The sea is pretty rough and they
are the worst sailing conditions yet with poor visibility and strong winds but
the GPS does much of the work for us. 
About an hour later we are in a more sheltered spot up Graham Creek on
Curtis Island. 



TUESDAY 15 JUNE – Staying
here seems the best option according to the forecast.  Jim sets about baking us a loaf of bread
which turns out to be a big problem. 
Almost the minute it is out of the oven we are getting stuck into it,
guess you would call 11.30am a very early lunch.  Nothing else happens during the day so I will
talk a bit about the catamaran.  It is
40’ long and 20’ wide.  Within each of
the 2 hulls there is a single cabin at the back, a toilet at the front and a
double cabin immediately in front of that. 
On the port side there is a shower cubicle and sink and on the starboard
a storage area.  Over the top of the two
hulls like a very wide bridge is the galley and saloon, much more spacious than
in a motorhome.  Behind this lies the
cockpit with the navigation area then a seating area all around.  Running along the back of this is a platform
with steps either side leading to the water and between them hangs the tinny
(tin boat also used as a lifeboat).  The
only bit left is in front of the galley/salon where there is a narrow seating
area and in front of that two trampolines slung over the water.  The best place to be on a hot day to catch
the sea breeze and a few cooling waves. 



We’ve been seeing a ferry coming out to the island and dropping off
equipment, porta toilets, vehicles and workers. 
Jim runs us ashore to investigate. 
There is a really long track, part way along Jim turns back, which
eventually takes us to signs saying hard hats, fluorescent clothing, working
shoes must be worn beyond here.  We
double back and then get passed by a couple of vehicles.  They are very surprised to see walkers on the
track and explain to us that they are excavating for gas.  We’ve only been back on board a few minute
when rain sets in.  As soon as it stops
we set off, backtracking to Gladstone then into the North Channel between
Curtis and Facing Island.  Jim anchors at
the far end so we can make an early getaway in the morning.



After a bit of a rough night with winds up to 24 knots, we wake to a
calm morning.  Jim waits for the morning
weather forecast before making a decision. 
It is now almost low tide and we have lots of rocks to negotiate to get
out to sea.  Heading off towards Fitzroy
Reef it is really rough; we are sailing into the wind and the waves with an
estimated crossing time of 8-hours.  I
notice water dripping into our cabin and although we can’t stop it we can put
newspaper down to soak it up.  After 10am
we have made little progress so Jim switches course towards Masthead Island
with an expected 1 ½ hours to go.  Things
are much smoother as we are now travelling across the waves.  Masthead is out on the Barrier Reef and
surrounded by reef so careful navigation is required until we find a deep
enough anchorage.  Within minutes the
rods are out and Jim is hauling in his first catch of a Square (a juvenile
snapper).  Steve calls out with an
expletive so we ask if he needs help.  He
has just knocked one of the solar lights into the water.  He quickly strips off and swims out to retrieve
it.  Unfortunately he had not accounted
for the coldness of the water, the waves and the tide and he has a bit of a
battle getting back to us.  After
dropping the light he grabs a line to be hauled in.  Throughout the afternoon the lads catch 3 cod,
2 squires a parrot fish and 1 smaller fish. 
By tea time I have the fillets coated in breadcrumbs in the fridge.  When it’s time to shower I look for the solar
bag then realise that along with a forward solar light they have been washed
overboard.  The fish is really delicious
and we eat it simply with creamed mushrooms. 
An early night for us all, in fact we are all in bed just after 7pm!



crack of dawn start is rewarded by a beautiful sky just before sunrise.  With a pleasant wind we manage a good few
hours of sailing.  Trolling a line we
pick up another bonito.  This time I
experiment by cooking it then preserving it in different ways.  Four lots, black pepper and lemon, vinegar,
garlic oil and a tomato based pasta sauce that is leftover.   Testing them out on water biscuits at lunch
time Steve likes the vinegar best, Jim the garlic and lemon and me the lemon
and tomato so guess nothing will be going to waste.  Approaching Cape Capricorn we see the remote
lighthouse on a cliff top.  Access and
supplies have to be sent up there via a tramway from the beach.  Around the corner Jim skilfully navigates the
narrow channel to take us in to Yellow Patch. 
Here there are some small beaches but the main features are a huge
orange sand blow, like a dune.  There are
quite a few other boats in, often the case when people come out for the
weekend.  Steve sets about fishing but no
takers.  We get a lovely sunset and sit
out into the evening.



I wake in the night with a wet face, it has begun raining and our roof
vent is open.  When we get up it has
stopped raining but is cool and cloudy.  It
is low tide and the place looks completely different with the sand bars
showing, it seems like we are sitting in a narrow river rather than the
sea.  Jim makes another loaf of bread and
I have a go doing some scones.  I keep
peering into the oven but there is no sign of them rising.  Then I twig, I used plain instead of self
raising flour.  No matter they are still
edible but more like biscuits.  We see a
few kids ashore climbing up the high part of the dune then playing on the
top.  Jim takes us ashore and we make the
climb up the lower end of the dune, even that is pretty hard going.  Walking around we get some fine views around
the bay and even across to the ocean on the other side.  Next we motor up to the camping area but
although there are numerous tents set up no one is home.



need to wait for the rising tide to get out so happily sit out sunbathing
during the morning.   We leave around 1pm for what should be a
5-hour journey.  Steve and I stand up
front trying to spot the sand banks to warn Jim.  There is little wind so even after sailing
for over 2-hours we are still 5-hours from our destination so Jim starts the
engines.  What we failed to understand
before starting out on this trip was how much the weather dictates when and
where you can go, even in a power boat it is hard going into the wind and waves
and you still have the tides to consider. 
Just after dark we pass Humpy Island where we camped a number of years
ago.  Our final stop is Great Keppel
Island where Steve and I stand up front to try to see the buoys to guide Jim in
to anchorage off Fishermans Beach with the main resort.  With a line in Jim soon catches a remora
fish, a mongrel of a thing with a sucker on its back instead of a dorsal
fin.  It attaches itself to sharks; turtles
etc and are very difficult to remove. 
The fishing book does say the fillets make reasonable eating so in
defence to us stupid poms Jim carves it up for later.  By 3am we are having a really bad night with
the wind coming from a different direction to that forecast.  Jim starts up the motors and using the
navigation system takes us past rocks and island and round to the more
protected Leeke’s Beach.






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