23 29.074S 151 13.515E

Mike and Liz Downing
Sat 6 Jul 2013 09:35
Underway again, but just a short hop this time of 35 miles. The latitude position above is the significant factor and all you need for a title! Yes, we are finally back in the tropics, by all of 1 mile! We are anchored at Cape Capricorn, named by Captain Cook as it's virtually on the tropic of Capricorn (all but a mile that is). The aim had been to get to an island further north, and that was possible if we left Gladstone by the winding and shallow north channel. Having worked the depths at least 6 times and convinced myself that we could just make it (with about a foot to spare), we finally decided that it was a bit too risky so chose the eastern channel. No problem with depths there, but it's 10 miles longer. That, together with no wind at all for 7 hours meant we would have to continue motoring for another 7 hours and get in after dark (and there's no moon and it's very dark). So we stopped the motor and ghosted along at 3 to 4 kts with both genoas poled out to get into the anchorage here. Much stronger winds are predicted for the rest of the week, so why use diesel when we don't have to. Also we fully serviced the engine in Gladstone and we don't want to do that again for a long time - so we don't want to clock up more engine hours than we have to.

The anchorage here is very open and the swell comes in, but so far the light wind is keeping our bows into the swell and we're not rolling. Hope that's going to last the night. (Shouldn't have written that - the wind has dropped and the rolling started! It's a bit late to put out the stern anchor, which is the proper solution. If we were staying longer we would, but tomorrow, all being well, we hope to head further into the tropics!)

Have just found out from the local volunteer coastguard that the Australian army is playing war games along the coast a bit further up and a number of key anchorages (Port Clinton, Pearl Bay and Island Head Creek) are all out of bounds. Not wanting to be used for target practice, we'll now have to do an overnight trip the day after tomorrow to get past it all. The military exercises are continuing until the middle of August. Surprised they can afford to keep going that long! Interesting comment from one of the locals in the marina at Gladstone regarding sailing at night. He was saying he rarely sails at night as there are so many whales about at this time of year. That's the second time we've been told that, so we're reluctant to do it, especially with no moon. We haven't seen any whales since Coffs Harbour and we would like to see them again, but hopefully during the day and not too close!

As we're outside internet range, going to try and send this via the SSB, if I can remember how to - it's been 7 months since we last used it.

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