Cruising Log - Whitsundays to Bundaberg (5th to 15th December 2006)

Tuesday 5th December 2006 Airlie to Shaw Island

We depart in a light SE breeze and motorsail down to Shaw Island with the current assisting us. We anchor near a large motor vessel, which is lit up like a Christmas Tree at night. We don't have that much power to waste, but then, we don't have expensive fuel bills either.

Wednesday 6th December 2006 Shaw Island to Mackay

We wake up to hear the elusive turtles nearby, but alas, as usual none will oblige for the photo shoot. Once again we have a SE wind blowing. We set sail mid-morning in 15/20 knots of breeze. There are rain squalls with winds reaching 25 knots, each time we get ready to reef but the wind calms down and we continue.

Warren & Glenda from "Catamaran Imagine" meet us at Mackay.

Sundowners is on "Keshi", a Lightwave 35. Leanne said they bought the cat as a stage 1 and she and her husband have been finishing it off themselves. They liveaboard with their son, Jack, who is a 1 year old. Onboard we met Margaret & Bill from a mono "Boyne Lady", Wendy (not her real name but everyone knows her as Wendy) & Ken from a mono, a couple from a trimaran, Donna and another Margaret & both their husbands from I think a mono and a cat.

The weather forecast is still bad for the next few days so we decide to take the boat out for a new antifoul and engine service. Blue Magic is lifted on Friday morning and returned with two fresh coats of Altex AF3000. This is a great product as it lasted 2 3/4 years although we have needed to scrape her regularly for the last 6 months. The staff at the marina were great and the hardstand was pretty clean compared to most we have seen. This is important as otherwise you will be tramping dirt onto your boat, particularly if you are living onboard as you work.

Warren & Glenda (Catamaran Imagine) are leaving their cat at Mackay while they return to Melbourne for the holiday season. During the afternoon we meet up with Paul & Maree from "A Vos Sante", a Perry 43 catamaran. We had met them briefly at Airlie shops early on our trip. "A Vos Sante" means "good health". We discuss our departure the next morning as a weather window appears to be forming. A little later I talk to Bill & Margaret from "Boyne Lady" and they too are considering leaving early morning. We arrange to have drinks later in the evening onboard Blue Magic and check the weather. The 3 boats decide to depart at 05:00 providing the weather forecast is acceptable and we say our goodbyes to Warren & Glenda before retiring for the evening.

Tuesday 12th December 2006 Mackay to Hunter Island

A quick check of the weather indicates a slight break from the fresh SE winds is here and off we all go. "Boyne Lady" is a much slower mono and soon we say our goodbyes over the radio as we head off with "A Vos Sante". As the day progresses the winds freshen from the SE and gradually shift to the E. As the winds shifted further into the E we ended up tacking back to the north to our anchorage at Hunter Island. At the end of the day we were making about 9 knots in 18-20 knots.

On the trip we had to watch the green zones to ensure we didn't fish in them. On our cruise for the day we covered 96 Miles (a nautical mile is nearly 2 kms).

Wednesday 13th December 2006 Hunter Island to Pearl Bay

Again we set sail in 15-20 knot SE winds, accompanied by Paul & Maree on "A Vos Sante". Paul caught a Spanish Mackerel (look at the fish on the lower step).

We have previously discovered our boat actually gets more speed if you reef early, so as the winds were consistently 20-24 knots I decided to reef. However, before I had time to reef the shackle holding the mainsail outhall (outer boom end) collapsed with a bang. Fortunately, the topping lift and reefing lines prevented the boom hitting the bimini. We put the first reef in and all was fine. Later we found the shackle and discovered it had fractured on the twist, with the shackle pin intact. Fortunately we carry spare shackles, although not a twist version. I replaced it once we anchored.

A few days earlier the Armed Services had been conducting training excercises in the Shoalwater Bay area and there was a securite warning of an unexploded ordinance that we had to keep clear of, requiring us to tack earlier than we otherwise would have, to avoid the area.

Early afternoon, together with "A Vos Sante", we anchored in Pearl Bay. This is a delightfull sandy beach which is protected at the southern end by a point and islands. Here we dinghied ashore and walked up and down the beach. With Maree's help, Liz began her shell collection. Close to the shore we saw Stingrays, some with fine wire-like tails and others with big broad tails. Also there were shovelnosed sharks, and other large fish.

Thursday 14th December 2006 Pearl Bay to Yellow Patch

Today we set sail with a lighter ESE breeze at 8-12 knots blowing and smaller seas, so it was more comfortable. Early in the trip I caught a large Albacore fish (a type of Tuna but moister flesh). After about an hour of fighting, I had it at the back steps but alas, no prize as it shook loose just before landing it. Luckily, our keen photographer, Liz, (with a little pushing from me) managed to snap off a few photos before it got away.

Our path took us along the Eastern side of Great Keppel Island. We passed some nice islands and rocks along the way.

On our arrival off Cape Capricorn we were looking for the channel into Yellow Patch. We switched to VHF 72 (off scan) to talk with "A Vos Sante" and missed the boats which were already anchored there calling us to tell us where the channel was. Anyway we finally found it - it was marked with white containers marking the port side of the channel leading in. The Yellow (or should I say orange) sandblow was spectacular. We could have stayed here for days. However, we need to get to Brisbane before Christmas, so we will be off again in the morning.

Friday 15th December 2006 Yellow Patch to Bundaberg

Another long day is in store for both boats and again we set off early - 05:00. We negotiated the narrow channel near high tide. The wind was a light NNE at 5 knots. About 07:30 we were rewarded for trolling with an 82cm Spotted Mackerel.

I haven't been mentioning, but we log on to the local VMR (Volunteer Marine Rescue) or CG (Coast Guard) by VHF when we depart and get passed on to the next station along the way. When we anchor we log off. Sometimes, the VMR/CG does not start before we leave, so as soon as they sign on for the watch we log on, and likewise, sometimes we log off before we arrive if they are closing down for the evening. The further south we travel, the better organised they seem to be. I must say that while we were in the Whitsundays, the local VMR only operates on weekends and isn't much use, so no-one seems to bother logging on/off with them. Of course, I'm not referring to the charter boats which have to contact their bases on regular schedules.

To give you an insight into the log, following is todays events.
05:05 ?? Log on with VMR Gladston on VHF 82
12:05 -- Log on with VMR Round Hill on VHF 82 and log off with VMR Gladston on VHF 82 (off Bustard Head)
16:30 -- Log on with VMR Bundaberg on VHF 81 and log off with VMR Round Hill on VHF 81 (off Baffle Creek)
17:45 ?? Go onto overnight board with VMR Bundaberg (as they close for the evening, we will report in again about 07:05)

We arrived at 20:00 and dropped anchor near the Port Bundaberg Marina. It was a long day and we all (Paul & Maree from "A Vos Sante" and us) decided not to have sundowners and just retire early. Bad weather is forecast for tomorrow afternoon/evening.