Posted by: glenswatman | July 1, 2010

20100721-30 AUSTRALIA, QUEENSLAND sailing

MONDAY 21 JUNE – Having
arrived around 4.30am it takes some time to get back to sleep so we stay in bed
until 8.30am.  Although still very windy
it is a pleasant morning with blue skies. 
Jim takes us ashore in the dinghy where he leads us on the track up to
the lookout and then to the “main road” leading to the resort.  2-years ago the resort was sold and the new
owner put in planning permission for freeholds. 
He was knocked back so on principle closed the whole thing down.  Today it is all fenced off and going to rack
and ruin.  Next door is backpackers where
we stop for an ice cream and drink. 
Spend the afternoon back on the boat sunbathing.  A couple more remora fish as caught, and
thrown back.  Cutting through the tough
skin to get to the fillets is not worth the effort even though they tasted
OK. 

NICE N EASY 21, GREAT KEPPEL ISLAND 2, LEEKE’S BEACH

 

TUESDAY 22 JUNE – Jim
r locates around to Svendsens beach amongst all the other yachts.  A dinghy comes by and the people say they are
having a midsummer solstice fire on the beach and would we like to join them at
4pm.  Surprisingly only a small
proportion of the boats take up the offer. 
We get the chance to meet people of small basic wooden boats up to fancy
cruisers.  The lower ranks often referred
to as “grotty yachties”.  The fire is a
huge tall creation from palm fronds and makes a magnificent blaze once
lit.  We are surprised by how many
yachties are full timers just going up and down the coast of Queensland but for
us the more interesting ones are those that have ventured further to places
like Papa New Guinea.

NICE N EASY 22, GREAT KEPPEL ISLAND 3, SVENDSENS BEACH

 

WEDNESDAY 23 JUNE
Another rough night but tonight we will be on land so should get a
much better sleep.  It is a really rough
crossing to Keppel Bay marina, strong winds and waves.  Heading into the marina we nearly have a
problem with Jim shouting instructions for Steve to let go of the line to the
sail but omitting to tell him he also need to unwind it from the winch.  The moorings are very expensive for a
catamaran $53 (£33) night.  I know it is
cheap by English standards by here the washing machines and tumble dryer are
the most expensive we have come across in Australia at $4 (£2.40) a time and
worse still the dryers leave the clothes wet. 
The catamaran ends up looking like a Chinese laundry with stuff pegged
out around the rails.  In the afternoon
our friend Brett arrives to pick us up. 
He also has a boat and was out at Keppel Island over the weekend but we
arrived too late to meet him.  He drops
us at the supermarket where we do a big shop then meet Megan when the bank
closes.  They emigrated here from South
Africa 10 years ago and we visited Brett’s sister when we were there.  They are still very happy with their life
here in Australia with Brett running various little enterprises including pet
care when people are away on holiday.  Until
it gets chilly we sit out on the balcony then move inside to be warmed by some
local port.  It is only $5 (£3) a litre
from the local bottle shop and so good that Brett ends up driving me down there
to fill a 2 litre bottle.  After a tasty
meal we chat until 11pm then leave Steve up to watch the England v Slovenia
match.  I have a very comfortable bed to
myself but still feel the motion of the boat. 
Steve comes to bed around 2am very happy that England have won and got
through to the next round.

YEPPOON, BRETT & MEGANS

 

THURSDAY 24 JUNE –
Brett drops us back at the marina. 
Jim gets a phone call from his son Jeff to say he is at Brisbane airport
and Jenny has missed her flight and can’t get here until tomorrow.   Needless
to say Jim is not too happy about this.  An
hour or so later we hear that she has got on a Qantas flight due in at 12.30pm
but this still means we will have to stay overnight as check out time is mid
day.  Making use of the power Steve and I
watch a couple of movies whilst Jim’s friend takes him to the airport.  Jenny is in her 40’s but doesn’t look
it.  She is very excitable and it is
extremely hard to understand her English. 
She also seems a bit surprised that the boat is swaying a bit, and we
are tied up at the marina!  She eats well
when Jims serves up a corned beef roast dinner and even asks to eat all the fat
that I have trimmed off.  Maybe we are
doing something wrong here as she is extremely slim and whilst I try to eat no
fat thinking it will keep the weight off!

KEPPEL BAY MARINA, $53 (£33)

 

FRIDAY 25 JUNE – Jim
wants to be away at first light so at ¼ to 6 Steve and I head off to the
showers, we share a shower room and when we emerge Jim hops into ours whilst
Jenny is already in the one next door. 
We are back at 7.15am but by 7.30 there is still no sign of the others.  They appear just before ¼ to 8; Jim has had a
quick learning lesson that Jenny has no concept of time!  After filling up with fuel we head out into
the open waters.  There is a good wind
from the E and NE and we get speeds up to 8 knots.  Unfortunately the sea swells up to 3m and
with winds gusting up to 25km it is a rough ride.  Jenny quickly goes pale, starts being sick
and spends most of the journey curled up on deck.  We fell very sorry for her but due to the
language difficulties it is hard to make her understand any help we offer.  Luckily we make the 50 miles journey in good
time and arrive around 3pm.  Jenny soon
perks up and has a bite to eat.  Pearl
Bay is a lovely sweep of a beach with small wooded islands off shore.  We go ashore and whilst the lads go hunting
for oysters on the rocks Jenny & I take a walk along the beach.  She is so happy when I point out things like
the jelly fish, different shells, crab holes and bird noises.  The last just get a couple of reasonable
sized oysters and save them for Jenny, who doesn’t much like them as they are
too salty.  Jenny doesn’t seem used to
doing any housework so we have to teach her how to wipe up after Steve has
washed the dishes.  She also has a bit of
an accident when she keeps meddling with the cafetiere.  I explain how it works and that she must wait
then for it to brew but she says she has one at home so grabs it and quickly
pushes the plunger thus spilling hot coffee onto her hand.  Now we have the problem explaining that she
cannot hold her hand under a running cold tap but must immerse it in a bucket
of sea water!  Hope to goodness we don’t
have a serious incident on board where we need to make her understand something
quickly.

NICE N EASY 23, PEARL BAY

 

SATURDAY 26 JUNE –
For the first time we leave under sail. 
Not a bad start either at 7.30am. 
Although it is very calm within minutes Jenny has disappeared to her
cabin.  Really hope she gets her sea legs
soon as she has planned to be on board for 2 months.  Although we had planned a big sail today it is
still quite rough so we suggest Jim takes an early anchorage in Island Head
Creek.  Entering the area we sail over
holes 25m deep then straight after into shallow waters.  This area was used by the military for a huge
operation in 2001.  27,000 Australian and
American troops were involved using 78 million litres of diesel over the
weekend.   The minute we pull up Jenny is
fine.  It is a lovely sunny day so we sit
around the decks.  The full moon rising
over the mountains is quite a site.  It
really is extremely calm and through the night feels like we are on land.

NICE N EASY 24, ISLAND HEAD CREEK

 

SUNDAY 27 JUNE – it
is a beautiful misty morning when we set off. 
Jim has already spotted turtles and dolphin but Jenny is still
asleep.  Unfortunately today there are
almost no winds, at one point we are going backwards with the tide.  Jim tries with the spinnaker (front sail) but
with the wind constantly changing direction it keeps dropping into the water
and driving him crazy.  By early
afternoon he gives up and starts to motor. 
Even then we are being overtaken by butterflies!  Arriving at Hexham Island we anchor near a
small beach.  Jim, Jenny & Steve go
off in the tinny to do a bit of fishing and return with a reasonable catch. Jim
& Steve return for a later fish and haul in a few more.  Whilst they are out Jenny tries to teach me
some belly dancing and yoga but balancing on a moving yacht is not easy – well
that’s my excuse.   After Jim has
filleted the fish and thrown the scraps overboard he is on the steps washing
out the buckets when a shark swims right past him.  He makes a few choice comments and retreats
onto the boat.  We all look overboard and
see a couple of sharks over 1m long circling us.  Although Jim throws in a line they don’t bite
so we have to “make do” with cod, parrot fish and the small fish which Jim
cooks up in beer batter. 

NICE N EASY 25, HEXAM ISLAND

 

MONDAY 28 JUNE – Heading
off early we soon find ourselves with little wind but at least what there is
pushes us in the right direction.  This
is all part of our learning curve and we now understand that 5 miles an hour is
an average speed for Nice N Easy.  We
arrive at Middle Percy Island just on mid day high tide, meaning we can sail
into the lagoon.  With 6 ½ metre tides
the lagoon empties at low tide and the catamaran will be grounded.  It is a really interesting spot amidst
mangroves.  Anchoring up Jim asks Steve
to sit on the bottom step then tie us to a tree, unfortunately at this point
the boat begins to move forward and Steve tumbles into the water, luckily the
propellers are well forward and he just gets a bit of a shock.  Jim, Jenny & I hop in the tinny to motor
out to the main beach.  It is a lovely
sweep of soft white squeaky sand.  Behind
the beach is a new “A” frame hut inside which there is lots of memorabilia.  Plaques show different boats, dates and crew
and others are poems.  Nearby is the
original hut with signs going back as far as 1959.   Behind this is a tree house that can be
rented.  This island is leased by a
family who live on the hill top but welcome visitors.  On returning to the boat the water has
dropped to about 1m so you can climb down the back of the boat then wade
around.  Jenny has recently learnt to
swim so this is the perfect place for her to “test the waters”.  She appears with a life jacket, full  snorkel and goggles and swimming hat and has
us cracking up laughing.  For good
measure she also grabs a “noodle” floatation tube.  There are many stingrays in the water but
luckily they take off once we get close. 
There is another catamaran in the lagoon plus a mono hull supported with
a long rope into the trees.  At low tide
the lagoon just has a small stream in the middle and looks completely
different.   Jim gets a good feed of oysters off the rocks
(plus a bad cut on one of his toes) and cooks them up in garlic for happy hour
snacks.  On the boat you are supposed to
share in the chores but as Jim “drives” and often cooks we have relieved him of
other duties.  Jenny is having
difficulties grasping the idea of sharing chores as she has a maid at
home.  The dishes got left after I cooked
lunch so after supper there is quite a pile. 
Steve tells Jenny it is time to do the dishes and she can wash whilst he
dries.  She says she doesn’t like to do
this and asks him to do it but we explain that if you cook dinner you don’t
have to do dishes so she says from now on she will cook everything – we will
wait and see!

NICE N EASY 26, MIDDLE PERCY ISLAND, INSIDE THE LAGOON

 

TUESDAY 29 JUNE – Jim
is up first as usual and has been over to get more oysters but unfortunately
got badly bitten by the sand flies. 
Taking Jenny at her word we sit at the table for her to prepare
breakfast.  She seems happy with this and
makes the hot drinks but doesn’t realise we also want to eat.  Around mid day the tide is high enough for us
to head out into West Bay.  After dinner
Jim takes Steve & I ashore.  There
Steve learns from fellow yachties that England have lost to Germany and are now
out of the world cup, at least he now feels better about us not being in South
Africa.  We set off on the gentle hike up
to “The Homestead”, it is around 2 ½ miles on a sand track through the
forest.  We’ve only gone about 100 yards
when we get to our first sight of interest, a long thing olive coloured snake
slithering through the grass.  I nip back
to the A frame and confirm with the other people there that there are no
venomous snakes on the island and this one is just a tree snake.  There are many more interesting things en
route, thousands of blue and brown butterflies, interesting trees and
vegetation.  .  Half way along the track we reach a view
point and from then onwards lots of poetry signs on the trees add more
interest.  Reaching the homestead we see
a bunker that the owners recently built when a cyclone was heading their
way.  On return we take the steeper but
shorter goat track and get more nice views over a different part of the
island.  At the bottom of the hill we
have to walk through a dry lagoon and lots of mangrove where we see a wrecked boat.  We arrive back after about 2-hours and both
think it a really worthwhile walk.  In
the evening Jenny serves the Malaysian curry that she has cooked. 

NICE N EASY 27, MIDDLE PERCY ISLAND, WEST BAY

 

WEDNESDAY 30 JUNE
By midnight neither of us have slept. 
We cannot figure out what the clanking noise is in the rigging, condensation
is dripping outside our window and finally the fridge and freezer seem to be
playing up and going on and off almost continuously.  I get up and sit in the cockpit reading.  Jim comes up and I mention the problem with
the fridge freezer as I know it will be using a lot of battery power.  Many times Jim has talked about doing a
moonlight sail and as it is just past full moon he decides tonight is the
night.  We set off under motor but soon
begin sailing.  Jim defrosts the freezer
whilst Steve keeps an eye on things from the cockpit.  Jenny seems to be oblivious to all this and
does not put in an appearance.  With
nothing more for Steve to do he returns to bed. 
I stay up with Jim and sit out enjoying the beautiful experience of calm
seas and clear skies with hundreds of stars. 
The sailing only last for a couple of hours, lack of wind and low
battery power mean Jim must run the motor again.  We pull up at Double Island at 8am, and throw
in a couple of lines.  Jim settles in for
a sleep whilst Steve sets catches a couple of decent fish, a “sweetlip” and a
“Barred-face Spinecheek” which is really attractive with blue and yellow
stripes.  Jim gets up at 9.30am and says
we should move on as this is not a sheltered anchorage.  A little later Jenny pops up, has a bit of
yoghurt and drink and then retires to her cabin feeling sick.  Don’t think she even realises we have sailed
through the night, stopped at an island and moved on.  By lunchtime we are passing Prudhoe Island but
this is still not sheltered from the wind direction we are getting.  Next we hit sea mist making visibility poor,
one guy reports on the radio only 50m, not good news as we have to go through a
shipping channel.  .  Jenny appears at 4pm but quickly feels sick
again so lies out on deck.  Jim is
heading for Mackay, adjoining the huge coal port of Hay.  Off shore we must weave our way through the
huge ships, we count 46.  It is just
after sunset and we laugh when one of them puts his lights on to make sure we
can see him (as If we could miss his 300 metre bulk), Jim reciprocates!  Anchor off Flat Top Island and quickly
organise a meal.  Steve throws in a line
and pulls out a “hairy backed crab” a nice looking one with lots of blue
markings.  Jim checks it out and shows us
a flap on the underside which shows it is a female and must be thrown
back.  We all retire to bed at
7.30pm.  Thankfully we have a calm quiet
night.

NICE N EASY 28, MACKAY, FLAT TOP ISLAND 

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