Mum&Babe in Whitsundays

Dick and Irene Craig
Fri 13 Aug 2010 21:56
Back on the boat, still on the hard, Dick has so many jobs to do he doesnt
know where to start.
Provisions are piled on the floor in my cabin, having been removed from one
of the two storage boxes which usually live under the floor next to my
heads. The empty box is standing on its side in the shower room. It is
unlikely that we will get more than one of the boxes back but this is not
likely to cause any problems because I doubt that we will need to stock up
to the level we had done when we left Spain last August. At that time, we
were taking advantage of cheaper Spanish prices as well as trying to ensure
we would have sufficient of those "cant live without" items.
The cockpit is stacked with the contents from the locker where the engineer
is servicing the generator. It also contains lots of empty packaging which
Dick is loath to throw away until he has checked that the contents have all
been removed in their entirety.
On the decking, in front of the entrance to the starboard engine room,
plastic fuel cans cover the newly de-rusted and cleaned surfaces. I really
need to check that all the rust spots have been eradicated but cant complete
the job until we can clear the decks following completion of the engine
I stick my head down a hole and try to pull through some cables while Dick
is pushing from the other end. The gap is not wide enough and I suggest we
move the operation 18 inches further from the bow. This makes the job more
plausible until eventually we manage to get the cables through to the other
side. My arms and hands are punctured with fiberglass splinters.
There are just not enough hours in the day.
I need to get under the bed in the bow cabin to remove a sleeping bag or a
duvet. It is cold here at night and we need more than a sheet and an empty
duvet cover. We got by last night by using some towels on top of our bed
coverings but I still felt cold so didn't sleep too well. During the day,
out of the wind it is quite pleasant in the sunshine. Yesterday afternoon,
Tuesday, the barometer alarm went off twice, presumably heralding the strong
winds moving further south. Today, during the morning, from the deck of the
boat, I can see lots of white horses on the water beyond the breakwater.
Moe and Bev returned Wednesday afternoon and brought the boat a gift of a
pepper mill. We already had two on board but they do not work very well and
have now been pensioned off. Thursday morning we were told that one of the
suppliers wouldn't be finished on time so we have had to delay going back
into the water until Saturday. Although this is a little irritating, we are
used to living on the boat now and it does take a lot of pressure off Dick
to complete his outstanding jobs.
Friday we found out that the work for which we had delayed going back into
the water, wouldn't be ready this side of the weekend, leaving us no time to
get the work done elsewhere. Hopefully it can be sorted in Darwin. I spent
all day repairing the cover before it was put back on a freshly cleaned rib.
We have spent a small fortune here. The cost of the normal average
maintenance such as servicing engines, checking rigging, polishing boat etc,
as well as having the parasailors repaired has cost four times what we would
have paid elsewhere. The reduced value of the pound and the euro hasn't
helped of course.
We finally went back into the water around lunchtime on Saturday and
immediately set sail for Goldsmith island where we spent the night anchored
in a bay with 4 other catamarans. Only one was not a sail boat.
Next morning, we prepared the boat and raised the mainsail before leaving
the anchorage at 8.30, to make passage to Whitsunday island and the three
mile long, white silica Whitehaven beach in time for lunch. En-route, I
spotted a huge whale on its way back into the water so only half its body
and its tail were still visible. Although I remained on deck for a while,
there were no more sightings.
The beach, backed by heavily wooded hills, is beautiful. The sea pale blue.
About twenty boats were at anchor when we arrived. People were sunbathing
and some were paddling and swimming close to the edge of the beach. Bev,
paddling in very shallow water, was startled as a manta ray appeared close
by. As you walk over the sand it crunches just like thick snow.
When we woke on Tuesday morning the sky was cloudy and dark and the wind had
moved from south to north.
Instead of moving on to Hook island and chilling for the day we decided that
we would make passage for Hinchinbrook rather than loll around on the boat
in what was not very enticing weather. We had wind on the nose, a close
reach, a beam reach and a broadreach over the next 24 hours but eventually,
when we reached Palm island, occupied by aborigines and from whence we had
been advised to stay away, it became necessary to motorsail if we were to
reach our anchorage during the hours of daylight. The sun had shone from mid
morning until sunset, during the passage on the first day but it was cloudy
with moderate visibility on the second day.
With a wonderful sunny day and slight seas, we were able to see the blow
from the whales easily, as we left the Whitsundays. The first sighting of a
whale was when we had a magnificent view of the bottom half of its body and
its flukes. The next sighting was only of the back of the whale's body, as
it made its way through the water. Sighting number three was quite
interesting. At first I thought I could see a boat in the distance but it
turned out to be the entire body of the whale out of the water. The final
sighting was late afternoon when two whales, quite close together, were
swimming quite close to the boat and their backs and flukes were in evidence
for around ten minutes.
We reached Hinchinbrook channel soon after 3pm but managed to get stuck on
sandbanks twice as we made our way through the delta. At least we were on a
rising tide. Eventually, we gave up any chance of finding our way through.
The charts were inaccurate which is to be expected in a delta environment.
The light was failing fast even though it wasn't much after 4.30 but the
cloud and mist didn't help.
Suddenly we spotted a small motor boat racing along the channel. We flagged
it down and with the very welcome local knowledge, followed the other boat
through the delta into the passage. They waved farewell and we motored up
the Hinchinbrook passage, finally dropping the anchor behind Haycock island,
just before 6pm.The scenery, despite the poor visibility was stunning, stark
and swathed in boiling mist and cloud. We passed a couple of small
dinghy-like fishing boats as we approached the anchorage where two large odd
looking motor boats were already at anchor with a number of dinghy-type
boats attached to them.The two boats appeared to be together and housed at
least twenty men who seemed to be on a fishing trip.
Being at anchor so close to mangroves we were visited by mosquitoes and were
grateful for the insect blinds, not to mention the insect repellent, for
those critters which flew in when the door was open and temporarily not
protected by a blind. We didn't see any crocodiles although the environment
was ideal for them.
During the night it poured with rain but there were still a lot of clouds in
the sky during the morning. The visibility was better and we admired the
heavily wooded islands and the mountainous, wooded slopes of Queensland. We
found out later that Chessie had been sailing through the night, battling
with the tropical downpour and 40knot winds for around 12 hours, resulting
in a damaged mizzen.
We left the anchorage soon after breakfast and made way along the passage,
in the direction we had been traveling when we arrived yesterday. We had to
motor-sail as there was insufficient wind for us to sail.Once out of the
passage the wind blew strongly from between 5knots and 7 knots.
We arrived at Port Douglas after a pretty hectic sail, just before 9am and
tied up, stern to the pontoon, with lines to finger pontoons both port and
starboard. Port Douglas is a popular, tourist town with trendy shops, bars
and restaurants. Later that day, while at Mossman Gorge we saw a platypus, a
bush turkey, huge, colourful unicorn butterflies and jungle perch. Later,
picnicking at a beach we also saw a kookaburra.

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