Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Sailing to Queensland, Winter 2017 - Part 3
Latest update 24 May 2017
Click here for previous part of this trip.
Friday 12 May 2017 â Kingfisher Resort to Burnett Heads (Bundaberg)
It rained a little early in the morning and at 0530 when we get up it was quite overcast and the full moon not visible at all. Michael takes Veto to the beach while Ian makes tea and coffee. We head off at 0550 and motor out against the incoming tide. We have to use both engines to make any sort of speed (we need to average at least 5 knots) as there is sometimes two knots against us.
We are only doing 4.8 knots but once the tide changes (or we get into the open ocean) we should be better off. Michael logs on with VMR Hervey Bay for the trip. The wind is only five knots, so no point in raising any sails yet. At 0640 the wind increases to 10 knots and is almost behind us, so we pull out the screecher. We get no real gain.
By 0725 the wind increases to 15 to 17 knots so we turn off one engine and are doing 5 knots (still with a tide of 1 to 2 knots against us). Michael tries the watermaker again but it still only works for about 15 minutes before nothing comes out. He tries this many times during the day but the same thing happens. He will have to look at it some other time.
By 0940 we have 22 to 26 knots of wind and we are doing 5.5 to 6.5 knots without an engine. We log on with VMR Bundaberg and log off with Hervey Bay (unlike NSW nothing is passed on). We are now out of the Hervey Bay channels. We have about 0.5 metre sea behind us which closer to Bundaberg goes up to one metre.
|Sunrise leaving Kingfisher Resort||The marine parks buoy we ran over|
We continue to make good progress, sometimes we are doing over 7 knots for minutes at a time. At 1315 we have to pull in the screecher as the wind moves more south-east and is now on the wrong side. We pull out the genoa and put on one engine (the wind has dropped to 15 to 19 knots) and do around 6 knots.
As we approach the channel to the Burnett River, we hear a terrible noise from under the boat. Straight away Michael realises we have run over something (we saw a couple of buoys earlier). He pulls the engine into neutral and after a lot of noise, out the back pops a large marine parks buoy. What the fuck is a buoy doing way out here, designating a boundary? It is not on our chartplotter charts and Michael did not see it as it was hidden by the sail and the sun shining on the water.
|A panoramic photograph of the Burnett River at Burnett Heads showing where we anchored. |
We motor sail into the Burnett River and pull in the sail once inside. We motor over and anchor in the same spot where we stopped twice in 2015. This is just past the entrance to the small Burnett Heads harbour on the south side. We are in 3 metres, but the tide will rise 2.4 metres during the night. There are two other yachts further up the river (later three more come in).
Once we are anchored, Michael puts on the generator as he has forgotten to run the rice maker as we motored in. He puts the rice on and then takes Veto to the beach on the north side. Back on the boat, he makes a yellow curry beef for dinner.
Ian has a shower, Michael cannot be bothered! We have a couple of beers with some nibblies and then the curry and rice. We watch the rugby league, the first game is the Sharks v St George. Ian follows the Sharks and we watch it on his tablet. Then we watch Souths play the Tigers. We both have wins!
Tomorrow we are getting up early as we need to get to the town of 1770 by about 1230 or 1300 at the very latest to be able to cross the bar into the creek. Our plan is to get up at 0400 and leave a few minutes later. Our books show that the distance is 46 miles, but when we put it into our navigation software, we find it is more like 52 miles, so adding about one hour to the trip. We need to average 6 knots to make it safely. We go to bed after the football at 2130.
Saturday 13 May 2017 â Burnett Heads to 1770
We get up very early, before 0300, and leave at 0300. Michael decided the we needed a very early start to enable us to arrive at 1770 before 1230 if possible so that the tide was as good as possible (the bar into the creek is very shallow). We motor out following a small monohull. He keeps going straight ahead as we turned left and headed north.
Once outside the Burnett River channel we turn towards the north and head for 1770. We pull out the genoa. The wind is 15 knots at first but goes to 22 to 26 knots till about 0630. We have both engines running at first with the sail as we need to average over 6 knots. We are doing 6.5 knots or so.
At 0610 Michael listens to ABC Radio Sydney 702 (via the app on his phone) as Kelly is doing an interview with Simon Marnie about women and shipwreck diving. It goes for almost 15 minutes and Kelly does an excellent job. At 0635 we swap to the screecher and one engine. The wind is down to 15 to 20 knots and we are doing 6 to 6.5 knots into a one knot current.
Ahead of us is another catamaran, Jennifer Anne, which was behind us all day yesterday. When we went into Burnett Heads, she continued north. They must have anchored somewhere just north of the river in the open ocean, no idea why you would do this when you could go into the river and have absolute calm water.
At 0820 the wind goes up to 20 to 22 knots. We turn off the engine and sail at 7 to 7.5 knots. At 1035 we are abeam of Round Hill Head and we go around it and then, once in its protection, pull in the screecher. We cross into the creek, the shallowest we have is 1.3 metres under the mini keels (that is about 2.4 metres total). This was between the green channel marker at the entrance and the first red channel marker and the tide at the time was 2.0 metres. If you are going into 1770, make sure you contact VMR Round Hill to get the latest details.
|Abeam of Round Hill Head before entering the creek at 1770||Catlypso at 1770|
We motor up and anchor a bit south of where we did in 2015. The channel is much the same, but the sand spit from the green marker to the south-west appears to have disappeared as a result of the rain from Cyclone Debbie in late March/early April. At 1105 we anchor in 3.0 metres with a fall of 1.5 metres to low tide. Michael takes Veto to the beach and we then have lunch.
During the afternoon we add fuel to the main tank (46 litres), flush the watermaker and then go to the beach and get 12 x 22 litre containers of water (there are taps behind beach near the pub). Ian and Michael also walk with Veto to the boat ramp and wharf and see the new changes to the âmarinaâ and the new Lady Musgrave Island boat which replaces the one that burnt and sank last year on the way back from the island. Nice boat, but about half the size of the old one. On the way back we book dinner at the pub for the three of us for 1900.
Back on Catlypso, Michael makes up a new anchor rope for Thunderbird 2 as the one we purchased two years ago has started to fall apart, crap quality obviously. He needs to make some loops and join two pieces of rope together. We then fix the screecher as it again did not fully furl coming into 1770. We also adjust the furler guides (these aim the rope into the wheel) using a hex key. Michael did this a few years ago, but it has obviously slipped. Hopefully this will limit the problems we have been having.
At 1745 Kelly arrives from Sydney. She has flown to the Sunshine Coast and picked up Ianâs car. It has been about a five hour drive from there to here. She has also purchased some food (bread, roast chicken etc). Michael and Veto collects her, Veto goes crazy! After Michael has a shower, we all head off to dinner in T2. The waitress at the pub gives us a table in the beer garden area where we can have Veto with us. We have a nice dinner and a few beers!
We head back to the boat and just after 2030 we go to bed, we are all exhausted.
Sunday 14 May 2017 â 1770 to Lady Musgrave Island
It was a very calm night and we all had a great sleep. We get up at 0725 and Michael takes Veto to the sand spit for a run. Back on the boat we have breakfast and then prepare the sails for departure. We up anchor at 0835 and motor out, today we have as a little as 0.8 metre under us as we go out.
Once outside, we pull up the main and then the genoa. We have 15 to 20 knots on the beam at first and we sail at 6.5 to 7.5 knots into a one knot current. There is a sloppy swell/sea of about one metre that later increases to 1.5 metres. Later the wind is mostly 17 to 22 knots.
|Approaching the bar at 1770||Sailing across to Lady Musgrave Island|
At 1230 the wind drops to 12 knots and the speed to 4.2 to 4.5 knots, so we put on one engine to get back towards 6 knots. We see Lady Musgrave Island from 9 nautical miles. We dump the holding tank and then as we near the entrance to the lagoon, pull in the genoa and down the main. Michael calls the Bundaberg charter boat Main Event (huge catamaran) that has left its mooring and is heading out and tells them we will wait outside till they have cleared the channel.
Michael motors in with Ian and Kelly on the bows. Despite an almost three knot outflow from the lagoon, he has no problems going in. We end up anchoring about half way from the entrance to the island and a bit to the east. It is 1425. There are five other yachts and a power boat and later another yacht, a large cruiser and four small âtinniesâ come in.
|Lady Musgrave Island||Entering the lagoon at Lady Musgrave Island|
We have lunch and then Michael prepares Thunderbird 2 for diving. He has to add some lines for our dive gear and a few other things. Ian and he set up their dive gear and then go off to dive a coral bommie about 400 metres away. They anchor on the sand and do a 45 minute dive, very shallow at 7.1 metres maximum but mostly about 5 metres. Some nice coral and small fish, plus a few larger ones like red bass. They even see an anemone and two clownfish.
|Sunset at Lady Musgrave Island||Ian relaxing in the cockpit|
When Michael and Ian return, Kelly and Veto go off for a run in T2. While they are away, we tidy up the dive gear on the boat and have showers. When Kelly gets back, we have sundowners and then Michael cooks a flat lamb on the barbecue and also potato and sweet potato.
After dinner Michael writes up the last few days of this blog and then hauls his mobile phone up the mast so we can get internet access to update the web site. We go to bed at 2130.
Monday 15 May 2017 â Lady Musgrave Island
We get up at 0625 and Michael takes Veto to the beach. He talks to a bloke there who has been on island two weeks. He says there have been turtles hatching and fledgling muttonbirds. They go back to Catlypso for breakfast. Michael then sets up the dive compressor on the back port side and fills the two tanks from yesterday (well, not actually as he forgot to open one).
After this we get our dive gear ready and load Thunderbird 2. Ian drives and drops Kelly and Michael about 250 metres south-west of the entrance to the lagoon. As agreed, he stays there for 25 minutes and then attempts to follow us back into the lagoon, but he loses us. The tide turns a few hours early and we have to swim into it, so did we do not make it inside by the agreed surfacing time of 45 minutes. We come up near the first green channel marker and Ian collects us.
|Thunderbird 2 from the bottom||Kelly looking at clownfish in an anemone|
Visibility on the dive was amazing, at least 40 metres. We see all the usual tropical fish, Moorish idols, some anemones and clownfish. Back at the yacht we dive on the anchor chain to check the markings we put on to show how much chain we have out. This confirms that the markings have not come off like Kelly had thought and that we had put out far less chain than we intended. Kelly puts additional cable ties on the chain at the 10 and 20 metre spots. When we are back on the boat, we drop about another 10 metres of chain.
Michael then fills the three tanks and then he and Ian go out for a dive. This time they go about 600 metres further south and anchor in 16 metres. The current is quite strong here from the south, so they dive to the south. There are two clown triggerfish right near the anchor, these are Michaelâs favourite fish! There are some nice bommies and lots of small coral outcrops.
They see two white-tipped reef sharks, one small and the other medium. Unfortunately they also see a few crown of thorn starfish, but thankfully not too many. Visibility was again 40 metres.
|A very colourful nudibranch||A white-tipped reef shark|
They do a 45 minutes dive and then head back to the boat. Kelly makes some lunch on our way back in (we use the portable VHF to advise when we enter the water and get back on the dinghy). After lunch, Kelly decides to paddle to the island using a kayak. She heads over to the reef and then follows this to the island. She even goes partly around the eastern and southern sides. Meanwhile, Michael fills the dive tanks.
Kelly radios us to come over, so we take Thunderbird 2 and meet her off the island. We go ashore and here meet up with Malcolm and Di from Double Shot. We actually saw this boat two years ago when it had different owners. We have been seeing Double Shot off and on since Coomera. Kelly paddles back while we motor home.
|One of the two clown triggerfish||Another brilliant nudibranch|
We put all the dive gear away and then Michael runs the generator so we can cook rice and put some more power into the batteries. It is totally calm now (and has been most of the day) so we sit on the foredeck and watch the sunset as we have sundowners. It does not get much better than this!
Kelly cooks a yellow lamb curry using the leftover lamb from last night. Excellent! The stars tonight are brilliant, no moon yet and so far from the coast we have no ambient light to affect the view. We go to bed a bit later than the past few nights.
Tuesday 16 May 2017 â Lady Musgrave Island
Another brilliantly calm night! We get up and have breakfast and then Kelly and Ian set up their gear to go for a dive. Michael takes them out to the channel into the lagoon. The tide is not supposed to start running out till about 1100 or so, but at 0830 it has halted and may already be going out. Michael drops them at the inside green channel marker and they dive towards the open ocean.
|Sunrise this morning||The compressor set up and filling two tanks|
The depth here is about 10 metres and Michael can see them clearly all the dive. He follows them as they slowly go out the channel. They have an excellent dive. About half way through their dive, a yacht approaches to exit the lagoon. Michael goes over and tells them that it is okay as they are on the bottom and it is 10 metres deep. They yacht passes safely over them.
|Michael following Kelly and Ian while they are diving||Kelly and Ian can be clearly seen from the surface|
After the dive, we all go back to Veto on the boat. She gets very upset when we leave her, howling her head off. Michael fills the tanks and we have morning tea. At 1100 he and Kelly go for a dive, this time running outside and to the south past where we dived yesterday. We anchor in about 16 metres. There is little current here, so we have a very pleasant dive in the 40 metre visibility. We see some interesting nudibranchs and lots of butterflyfish.
After the dive Kelly makes lunch while Michael fills the tanks. After lunch Michael decides to again attack the watermaker problem. He had an idea the other day and Ian also had the same idea. This was that the hose clamp on the inlet of the water pump is not tight enough. When the watermaker is flushed, fresh water is leaking out of it. We have therefore assumed that when pumping the saltwater, it is sucking air in here. This is because when the watermaker has been running, air bubbles are in the glass tube that shows the amount of water being made.
|A panoramic photograph looking back towards the lagoon from the beach on Lady Musgrave Island|
He flushes the membrane, it does not leak. He then runs it to make water, it is working and there are no air bubbles at all. The flow of water out of the outlet is much higher than it has been and after 30 minutes it is still running perfectly. We end up letting it go for three hours and make about 70 litres (or more). Wow! So the problem back in 2015 was the filter or filters too clogged up, and then when Michael tried to fix it, not tightening the hose clamp properly.
Michael then tops up the diesel from the last container, adding 12 litres of fuel to the dinghy. He also refuels the compressor and generator, tops up the small fuel containers from the large one and puts the compressor away. Michael also drills holes for the clips to hold the side curtains (there were four holes that had no clips) and then puts three of them in place. He also wires up the charger for the other portable VHF and drills holes to screw it in place.
Kelly decides to go for another paddle to the island. Michael puts the generator on as we want to keep the watermaker going and the sun is now getting low. After all this hot work, he has a swim and then he and Ian head off in T2 to the island. We get there at the same time as Kelly and walk half way around the island and then come back via the middle. We see evidence of a couple of turtle hatchlings making their way across the sand to the water.
|Veto watching Kelly as she heads off for a paddle||Another brilliant sunset at LMI|
We get back in time to turn off the watermaker and generator (before the water overflows). We put most of our dive gear away and then have sundowners on the foredeck. Kelly makes lasagne for dinner. We finally get some good internet coverage so Michael updates the web site and Facebook.
Wednesday 17 May 2017 â 1770
The weather will go bad this evening or later in the night, so we do not want to be out here where there is no protection at all. We get up early and leave at 0645. There is little wind so we motor at 3200 rpm doing 5.2 knots. We dump the holding tank once off shore and then Michael puts on the watermaker again. The aim is to fill up the remaining two containers which hold (we think) about 23 or so litres each.
We need to make at least 5.5 knots to get to 1770 so that we can cross into the creek as near as possible to high tide which is 1250. We pull out the screecher at 0720 as the wind has now come up to 7 to 10 knots. This gives us an additional half a knot.
Michael fills a 750 ml container to try to evaluate the output of the watermaker. It takes 110 seconds to fill, so this equals 24.5 litres per hour. The Spectra Ventura 150 that we have has a specification of 24 litres per hour, so it is working perfectly now. We are very happy.
|The pressure and flow gauges for the watermaker. Note |
the flow is about 25 litres and there are no bubbles.
|Very flat seas at the start of the passage|
The wind increases to 10 to 13 knots and then goes south-east (rather than east as before) and to 15 to 20 knots. The seas are now quite sloppy. We are making well over 6 knots. Kelly puts out the fishing rod for a few hours, but as normal, we do not get a bite. The watermaker takes two hours to fill the two containers.
Closer to Round Hill Head the three small boats that have been out at Lady Musgrave Island since Sunday pass us heading back into shore. It gets a bit calmer as we approach the mainland as the wind drops a bit. We come into the protection of the headland and pull in the screecher, no problems, it appears our changes to the furler might have worked. We cross the bar into the creek (0.9 metre minimum under our keels, that is 2.0 metres deep) just before the high of 2.0 metres.
We anchor in the same spot as last weekend at 1250. Ian takes Veto to the beach while Kelly makes lunch and Michael tidies a few things up. After lunch we go to shore with all our fuel containers and food bags. Michael drops Ian and Kelly at the beach near the pub where Ian's car is parked. He then goes around to the wharf and ties T2 up there. We go in Ian's car to Agnes Waters which is about five kilometres away (we walked this last time).
Kelly heads off to the supermarket and Michael and Ian fill up all the fuel containers. Once The containers are full, we head back to 1770 and Michael takes all the fuel out to the boat and transfers one container of diesel to the main tank. He brings it back to the wharf and Ian and he head back to the petrol station again to refill it. By this time Kelly has finished the shopping so we all head back.
We have used 132 litres of diesel since leaving Coomera three weeks ago. We have run the engines for 75.4 hours, so we have a fuel economy of about 1.81 l/h. We have also used 33 litres of ULP in the compressor, dinghy and generator.
When we are back on board, a juvenile booby lands on the boat and when Michael tries to shoo it away, it bites his toe and draws blood. Bastard! We get rid of it but it comes back later at least three times.
|The juvenile booby on the boat||Ian and Michael in their Catlypso shirts having a beer at the pub|
We take Veto to the sandspit after a cuppa and then have showers, fantastic after four days without one. We then go to the pub for a couple of beers, very relaxing. We head back to Catlypso just before it gets totally dark and Kelly cooks rissoles for dinner which we have with salad. We go to bed at 2100.
Thursday 18 May 2017 â 1770
It was calm during the night but about 0400 ir started raining and also got very windy, at least 20 knots. We get up about 0730 at which time it goes calm and the rain stops. Michael takes Ian to the beach and Ian heads off home. It has been great to have him up here and especially his help in bringing Catlypso from Mooloolaba to 1770 while Kelly was away.
After giving Veto a run on the sandspit, we have breakfast. Michael then puts on the generator as we will not get too much sun today and the batteries are low. He then takes Kelly to the beach near the caravan park as she is going to do two loads of washing (especially our sheets and towels). Veto gets another run on the sand.
When back on the boat, Michael checks oil and water for the engines, tops up the water tanks from the containers and looks at the wind generator. Despite it being fixed, it is not putting out any power as far as he can see. As you need wind to check this, he can do it a few times when the wind increases enough. The generator is putting out power, but it is not getting past the regulator. Looks like he will need to email Paul back in Sydney to see why his invention is not working.
Two of the LARCs (Lighter, Amphibious Resupply, Cargo - Army ducks) come out with loads of pensioners and proceed to run up onto the sandspit and then splash back into the water. The passengers are having a great time and cheer each time the hit the water.
|One of the LARCs motoring along||The LARC splashes into the water from the sandspit|
As mentioned above, Michael works out that the fuel consumption since we left Coomera is 132 litres. We have done a total of 75.4 engine hours which means we have been averaging 1.81 litres per hour. We have so far covered 385 nautical miles, so that is 2.91 miles per litre.
Michael gets an email back from Paul. It looks like the cable from the regulator is not actually connecting to the battery bank. Michael then tracks down where it is and rewires it directly onto one of the battery banks. Now there is power back at the regulator, so hopefully when it blows strong enough again (we need at least 15 knots to make any power) we can see if it is working properly.
|The modified wind generator regulator||Veto rolling in the sand|
We take Veto to the beach again for a run. This time she rolls and rolls on the wet sand, getting covered all over. A couple more yachts come in this afternoon, there are now five catamarans anchored here.
We have sundowners and Kelly puts on a roast pork and vegies. We have this about 1915, a great meal.
This afternoon Kelly worked on our itinerary for the next few weeks. The tides will dictate our movements as we need high tides to exit 1770 and enter and exit Pancake Creek as well as to travel into the Gladstone area and traverse The Narrows north of Gladstone. For this to all work okay, without travelling in the dark, we will stay in 1770 for tomorrow night and then move to Pancake Creek for a few nights and then head to Gladstone. This should get us to Great Keppel Island about Wednesday next week.
Friday 19 May 2017 â 1770
It rained most of the night and is still raining when we awake this morning. It is not heavy, but certainly consistent. We get up at 0820 when it stops and we take Veto to the sand spit for a run. We stay quite a while as we are not sure how long the rain will stay away.
Once back on Catlypso, we have breakfast and listen as VMR Round Hill talks to their boat out at Lady Musgrave Island. It seems they are retrieving a child from a boat out there. We later see them when they come back in, not sure what the problem was, but it does not appear to be too bad as they are not in a hurry as they come up the creek.
Kelly decides to clean the bathroom while Michael cleans the saloon doors and back windows. He then cleans the glass door and surrounds in the bathroom. Wow, they really are transparent (have not properly cleaned them after all the work done on the boat).
There has been no sun the past two and a bit days, so our power is going down. We put the generator on again to boost our batteries. Michael also uploads to his web site Kelly's interview with Simon Marnie from ABC Radio Sydney about wreck diving and women wreck divers. He links it to his page (Click here to listen) and Kelly then posts a link on her Facebook page.
|Veto on the SUP with 25 other dogs - she is in the middle||Veto does not look really happy does she!|
At 1500 we go to the beach intending to have a walk and find that as part of the Captain Cook Festival on this weekend, they are having another attempt at the world record for dogs on a stand-up paddle board. There is a big crowd watching and a television reporter here as well.
Veto gets roped into being part of the attempt. She is not that happy, but goes along with it. They end up with 26 dogs on the SUP as they paddle around. Veto is one of the first to abandon ship by leaping to the water and swimming back to shore! Our little world record holder.
We then walk to the marina and back and then have a beer at the pub. We go back to the boat, start up the port engine so we can heat water for a shower. We have sundowners, showers and then Kelly cooks Chinese stir fry beef and noodles.
We read and listen to the radio before going to bed. We propose to leave tomorrow after lunch for Pancake Creek. Two boats left this afternoon for there and another one left for somewhere else (too late to get to Pancake, so must have been going to sail overnight).
Saturday 20 May 2017 â 1770 to Pancake Creek
It was calm most of the night but windy around 0140 for an hour. No real rain. Michael wakes up about 0630 but we do not get up till 0755 when he takes Veto to the sand spit for a run. When he gets back he dries the various rear covers as they are still wet. We have breakfast and then once the covers are dry, we put them away.
It is now sunny for the first time for many days. At 0915 we motor over in the dinghy to the wharf. The Captain Cook Festival parade is starting from here, so we go and watch it. There are lots of people involved, the rural fire service, police, ambulance, fire service, community groups, local business etc. Lots of the "floats" are related to the marine environment, many clownfish (Nemos), including a horse!
|One of the floats with a scuba diver||A Nemo horse, part of the local riding club group|
After the parade leaves here, we go to walk back towards the pub but stop outside the VMR base. We talk to Josie (who we have spoken to on the radio before) and a couple of the blokes from the boat crew. We ask her to pass onto Ruth our regards as she is the one we have dealt with over the radio mostly.
We walk back to the wharf and go back to Catlypso. On the way back we stop at Brahminy who were out at Lady Musgrave when we were there. Jarod and Vanessa and their two kids are living on board and will be going to Pancake Creek tomorrow. We have a cuppa and prepare for departure. Kelly later makes lunch as we decide to go a bit later than we thought. At 1330 we should have a tide of 1.5 metres which means a minimum of 0.6 metres under our keels.
Michael attempts to start the starboard engine but nothing happens. He opens the engine room, hits the first solenoid once and it starts. This sticks if not used for a while. As we pull up the anchor, a Police boat comes by and Kelly hears them say something like "the owner is McFadyen". They must have a link into the NSW database. At 1320 we are on our way and we motor out behind another catamaran and pass a cat and a stinkboat that come in.
|Bustard Head Lighthouse||Looking back at the anchorage from the beach|
We have a minimum of 0.9 metres, more than we expected, as we go out towards the exit from the creek. There are a few waves building up on the bar and out further, but only one out the back which gets quite high and almost breaking causes any concerns. We make it over them easily.
Once outside we pull out the screecher and with one engine on, we motor sail at 5.5 knots in about 10 to 13 knots of south-easterly wind (right behind us). Later the wind picks up to 20 knots and we are doing 6.6 knots. We pull the screecher in near Bustard Head and pull out the genoa for the short run across to Pancake Creek. We go between the first rocks off the land and the next set of rocks, heaps of room.
It is an easy entry into Pancake Creek, we follow the channel markers and leads, minimum depth was about 3.5 metres under our keels. We motor up to the same spot we anchored at in 2015 and at 1610 we are anchored. We take Veto to the beach, lots of mozzies and midges. There are plenty of boats here, 5 cats, 6 monos, 2 stink boats and a couple more come in later.
On the way here we had the watermaker running and we made about 72 litres of water. We have showers, sundowners and a green pork curry and rice. On the way in we cooked rice for this and enough for fried rice tomorrow. Michael watches some TV on his phone as we have lots of unused data that expires in a few days. We are in bed by 2100.
Sunday 21 May 2017 â Pancake Creek
It was calm till about 0140 when the tide changed and we ended up with a bit of rocking and rolling from the swell coming in. It was calm again after 0500 when the tide changed. We get up at 0710 and Michael takes Veto to the beach. It is another sunny day! We have breakfast and then Michael takes the tape off the silicon repair we did two days ago. He also puts some more on the base of the port bow stanchion as well as around the new navigation lights.
We then take Veto to the now dry sand spit for a long walk. On the way back we stop off and talk to Double Shot, de le mer (Michael and Barbara) and Chang Yin (who Ian and I saw in the Great Sandy Straits). Soon after Brahminy comes in from 1770. We have a cuppa, read some more while sunbaking on the foredeck.
|Thousands of soldier crabs||Michael on the sand spit|
Kelly makes potato and zucchini fritters for lunch, yummy. Michael then looks again at the wind generator. He rewires it so the cables to the batteries go direct to the batteries rather than through the ammeter. This still does not get it working. He phones Paul who repaired it but he only gets his voice mail. When Paul later phones up, they still cannot get it running. It seems the brake is going on all the time. Looks like we will again not have it working.
While Michael does this, he notices that one cable near the batteries is not connected and has electrical tape around it. It seems that when the fuel lines were replaced and the batteries removed to facilitate this, the two batteries in the centre underseat compartment were not connected back up. No wonder we have been a bit short of power with one third of our system not connected. He fixes it up.
|A panoramic photograph of the sand spit and anchorage|
He also changes one other thing, the connection from one solar panel seems to have been causing one engine battery to be linked to the house batteries. Hopefully this is now fixed as well.
At 1430 we take Veto to the beach again and speak to the couple off the yacht nearest to us. They are delivering it to Airlie Beach. We also have a swim as Michael was especially sweaty after his work on the batteries and wind generator. We try to go to the beaches nearer the ocean, but the wind has come up and it is a bit choppy. We head back.
After talking to Paul (see earlier), Michael makes fried rice to go with the barbecue pork ribs Kelly is cooking in the oven. It is now a bit sloppy, with the combination of the wind, a runout tide and a bit of swell causing small waves to come into the anchorage. It ceases once the tide turns. Another trip to the beach with Veto, showers, sundowners and then dinner before Michael watches Souths play Melbourne. He has to watch on his phone as it is not on free to air TV (and anyway, we cannot get TV here).
We read, write up the blog and then go to bed about 2130. It is a lot windier than forecast, blowing at least 15 knots consistently. We notice before we go that the boat nearest to us, Cheshire Cat, is a lot closer and more to the west than before. We watch it but it does not move.
Monday 22 May 2017 â Pancake Creek
It was calm again last night, apart from 0315 to 0415 when we had a lot of sloppy chop. It is partly sunny at 0710 when we get up. Michael goes to the beach and speaks to the owner of Cheshire Cat and he confirms that after he went to bed at 2000, his boat dragged as when he checked at 2200 he saw it had moved. This is why you need an anchor alarm, they had moved at least 50 or 60 metres.
After breakfast Michael transfers water we made yesterday to the port tank and it is now full. We then remove the lower sail track for the rear shades and clean it up and reinstall with new silicon. This is because water was leaking under it when it rained. After this we go to the sand spit and take Veto for a long 45 minute walk as far as we could go. She seems to enjoy it, romping through the shallow water between dry spots.
Back on the boat we are making over 20 amps in full sunshine. Michael watches some TV on ABC iView (using up the last of this monthâs mobile data) while Kelly does some Norfolk Island work. Michael again looks at the wind generator and controller, but no success at all. He also looks at the batteries as somehow the power is still leaking from the port engine battery to the house bank. Again, no luck.
|Michael at the western side of the sand spit||Catlypso from the sand spit|
Michael then takes out two of the three filters for the watermaker and cleans them using the deck wash. Despite not looking that dirty, the water that comes out is filthy. He then looks at the hot water system on the port side. Two years ago the thermostat failed and an electrician disconnected the power. The system can be heated by water from the engine or 240 volt. We want to get the 240 volt part working again so we can have hot showers when we do not move (using the generator to heat).
He thinks he bypasses the thermostat (we do not need it as we will only ever use when the generator is running, we will never use on shore power). He puts the generator on and turns on the heater. However, we end up with no hot water. Later he realises he may have turned on the wrong hot water heater as we do have hot water in the galley which comes from the starboard hot water heater. He will try again in a few days.
He is hot and sweaty by this time, so we go to the beach for a swim. After this he moves Brahminyâs dinghy closer to shore as they have walked to the lighthouse and it is now in 1.5 metres of water and will soon be over 2 metres. Later when they return and pass by back to their boat, we call them over and let them know that we moved it.
There are now seven catamarans, three monohulls and one stinkboat here and three more boats near the entrance. We have sundowners and Kelly cooks a flat chicken which we have with the remaining fried rice from last night.
Tuesday 23 May 2017 â Pancake Creek to Graham Creek
We at up at 0710 and after breakfast, we prepare the boat for departure. Before we go, Double Shot, Cheshire Cat, Spooky and Sea Drive leave and later Capricorn Magic. All are headed to Gladstone or further north.
Before we leave Michael starts the watermaker as we need about 95 litres to fill everything up. We leave at 0830 and motor out of the creek. There is little wind and no swell. We dump the holding tank and then head off on our course to Gladstone. We have the screecher out and one engine on at 3000 rpm but are only making 4.5 to 5.0 knots due to a 2 knot current against us. It is a beautiful day, sunny and about 30â°C.
|An empty bauxite ship heading back to Weipa||One of the huge LNG tankers that come in and out every day|
As we near the main shipping channel (Gladstone is one of the busiest ports in Australia, coal, LNG and bauxite the main things shipped in and out) we are passed by a ship heading to Weipa to get another load of bauxite for the refinery here. We travel this section south of the channel as it is quite deep enough. Once we turn into Golding Cutting we enter the main channel and stay in it for the rest of the day.
We end up pulling in the screecher and the genoa which we had out for a few minutes as the wind totally changes direction and the drops to nothing. We motor now with the tide (two knots) behind us and we get back on our timetable. The tides here are almost four metres, so it is important to get the tides right when entering or leaving.
|The liquid natural gas facilities on Curtis Island||Graham Creek from the beach |
Further along we are passed by a huge LNG (liquid natural gas) tanker which is headed overseas. We pass the processing facility on Curtis Island (newly opened in 2015 when we were last here). We motor into Graham Creek which is just north of the facility. We anchor in about 7 metres (it will drop 3.5 metres from high), the same spot we did two years ago.
Once we are sure we are holding, Michael takes Veto to the beach. Back on Catlypso, Kelly has a shower and washes her hair for the first time in a week, luxury! Michael then has a shower and we have sundowners on the foredeck as the sun sets.
|The LNG facility is behind the bushes on Curtis Island||Beers on the foredeck|
We work out our plan for tomorrow as we have to time it right to get the tide behind us for the first section of The Narrows and then with us from there for the next bit. The tide meets about half way along and if you get it wrong, you can have four or six knots difference in your speed (let alone the high chance of running aground).
Kelly later cooks creamy chicken pasta for dinner and we end up having to go inside as there are too many midges around (they are dead everywhere from the lights). Kelly does some more work, Michael updates the blog and we end up in bed at 2130.
Wednesday 24 May 2017 â Graham Creek to Great Keppel Island
It was extremely calm last night. We get up at 0620 and Michael takes Veto to the beach. Kelly has tea and coffee ready when they return and at 0645 we pull up anchor and head out of Graham Creek into The Narrows. A nice cruiser called Lumberjack leaves at the same time and leads the way north. We notice on AIS that two other yachts are also heading this way, Rhythm and Amica (which Ian and Michael saw a couple of times earlier).
Once in the main channel we find that after a short distance we are running into the current. According to our book (Lucas) we should have it behind us till about 0815, 30 minutes after the Gladstone high tide. High is 0747 of 3.9 metres which apparently means it should be 4.7 metres at the Cattle Crossing (3.9 x 120%). The shallowest we end up seeing is 1.5 metres under our keels, so 2.6 metres. Considering that this section is shown as being +2.1 metres at low tide, then this calculataion of the high tide was accurate.
|Sunrise at Graham Creek||Some of the thousands of dead midges in the morning|
We have to run two engines for a while as we are only making 3.8 knots on one into the tide. The tidal flow ends up changing just after the Cattle Crossing (where at low tide cattle cross from Curtis Island to the mainland). All along here we have mangroves and bush just metres away at times. This is a really interesting passage, worth doing to avoid the open ocean, but also attractive enough in its own right.
We pass Badger Creek where we overnighted in 2015 on the way south. By now we have picked up speed from the now outgoing tide and we are doing 7.8 knots or more as we approach Sea Hill at the northern end of The Narrows. Here Kelly logs off with VMR Gladstone and logs on with Coast Guard Keppel Sands.
|Rhythm and Amica behind us in The Narrows||Another section of The Narrows|
Once outside in the approaches to the Fitzroy River and The Narrows (1025), we pull out the screecher in about 4 knots of south-westerly wind. It gives us an extra 0.5 knot, doing 7.5 knots with one engine on. Within 40 minutes the sail is back in as the wind is all over the place and also drops to less than 4 knots. We motor the rest of the way, only making about 5 knots as there is 0.5 to 1 knot against us.
We avoid the shallower sand shoals and head straight for Great Keppel Island. The water finally clears up about 6 miles south so Michael turns on the watermaker to fill out last remaining container. The seas are flat as, although there is the occasional small wave from the east. It is sunny, 27ÂșC, a perfect day, apart from the extreme lack of wind for sailing.
|Amica and Rhythm now ahead of us as we pass Sea Hill||Approaching Great Keppel Island|
We arrive at Great Keppel Island and decide to anchor off Fishermens Beach on the western side as we could not go there in 2015 due to the poor conditions. There are lots of yachts here, 11 by sunset and a couple of power boats. At 1350 we anchor in 1.0 metre, about 0.1 metre before low. It will go up to about 4.6 metres so we need to put out a fair bit of chain.
Once we get the boat in order, we go ashore for a walk. We head south along the beach to the old Keppel Island Resort. This is abandoned, closed in 2008 when the company that bought it two years before decided to try to expand it to about 100 times its existing size. They have not been able to get approval for this thank heavens, although it would be good for the resort to reopen as it was before. The pool is full of coconuts and palm fronds, the doors on the accommodation rooms are mostly open, God only knows why as this cannot be good for the interiors.
|Catlypso from the abandoned resort||The swimming pool of the resort|
Anyway we walk down a track off the beach but it comes to a dead end. We go back to the middle and then enter the other smaller resort areas. This is very nice, with some private accommodation, a pizza restaurant and a small eco type resort with bar and restaurant and camping area. We meet the owners of Charm a cat that Ian and Michael saw earlier in the trip.
Back on the beach we all have a swim, including Veto. We head back to Catlypso and Kelly has a shower. At 1630 Michael takes Veto to the beach for a last run. After this he has a shower and we have sundowners. Michael then cooks a barbecue, T-bone steaks with salad.
|A panoramic photograph of Fishermens Beach from Catlypso|
We relax after dinner as usual, reading, updating our blog and listening to the radio. We go to bed at 2130.
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