Friday, 21 July 2017

The Beginning of a Long Journey 19th - 21st July

Magnetic Island to Cape Upstart

Cape Upstart

Peter set his phone alarm at 2am, silly I know, but Cape upstart is 68nm from Horseshoe Bay and we are heading into the wind on this journey. In winter the SE Trades blow consistently, sometimes light and often strongly up this coast. We will have to pick the lighter winds to go south. We left our favourite Horseshoe Bay at 2.30am just as a bright crescent moon peeped over the eastern hills. He is a comfort our cheesy, yellow moon shining a soft light over the landscape. It is no longer pitch black.

We had a calm day of motor sailing the whole way to Cape Upstart with the wind no more than 5-6knts. We saw two groups of whales, one lot quite close slapping their flippers out of the water. Very exciting! As we motored into the anchorage at Cape Upstart we spotted a pretty little shark floating near the surface of the water. It must have been a Wobbygong of some sort.

Cape Upstart, rocky, barren and mountainous stands out from miles away and you feel like you are never going to get there. Along the north side where boats anchor for a night or two there are numerous small beaches that are populated by many beach houses. The people who own them must access their dwellings by boat as there are no roads here. We had a calm night, but by early morning bullets of wind were shooting through the area.

Cape Upstart to Gloucester Passage

A windswept Liz steers Olivia along the northern face of Cape Upstart

Sailing along the eastern side of the cape had us covered in spray as the bullets of wind slid along the side of the mountain. Then it would be calm for a while and soon we would notice the white horses increasing across the water and another bullet was on the way. I was glad to see the end of Cape Upstart. It lived up to it's name. We had a long day sail with variable winds from nothing to 27kts. A lumpy sea had us bouncing around uncomfortably on a starboard tack. This time Abbot Point coal loading terminal seemed to be with us forever.

On reaching Gloucester Passage we anchored off the Eco Resort on the northern beach and had a beautifully calm night with 8 other boats.

Gloucester Passage to Airlie Beach

Peter steers Olivia through Gloucester Passage

We were going to stay a day here, but thought better of it as the wind was light and we could see an opportunity to sail to Airlie Beach. Besides we have spent quite a bit of time here one way or another so we have seen what is on offer here. The wind did not reach more than 12 knts  so we sailed our zig zag way down to Airlie Beach. Of course the wind was coming from exactly the point we were wanting to go. It was very pleasant though and we are now anchored off the Whitsunday Sailing Club and tomorrow will do the laundry and stock up on some fresh provisions for the next leg of our trip.

From here we are going to slowly island hop down the coast to Yeppoon and Great Keppel Island. We have enough fuel and food for this extended trip and hope to visit the Percy Islands which we did not visit on our trip north four years ago. Four Years!! I can't believe it!

Shag Island or Passage Islet Gloucester Passage

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Goodbye Magnetic Island 18th July

Sundowners on Olivia in Horseshow Bay

We have packed away Lily and made ready to leave early in the morning to begin our journey south. We are hoping to get as far as Sydney by the beginning of October. We have a forecast for calm weather so it will probably mean motor sailing. I am looking forward to this new adventure and seeing some of the places we missed on the way north three years ago. we will miss Horseshoe Bay, Townsville and family and friends we have made here. We will be back.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Australian Ship Registration and Albany Friends Visit 9th - 18th June

Olivia's Registration

Olivia's New Name

In early April Peter emailed AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) to enquire about Australian Ship registration for our Olivia with them so that we could leave Australian waters and journey overseas at some stage in the future. In reply they informed us that before any further progress could be made they required a sum of $1550 to be lodged with them. The next step was to research our boat's history and find out who built her and who the previous owners were. After discussion with the previous owner, who had had Olivia for 16 years and emails to other people who may know, we came up against a blank. As we did not know the full history of the boat we had to advertise her details in the Government Gazette for two weeks (no charge) in case anyone objected to her being registered as our Australian Ship.

We submitted Peter's choice of preferred name (there can only be one boat with the name) and he imaginatively came up with Olivia, I, II, III. We got Olivia III. Now came to the part where we had to get our registration number engraved on plastic and a sign writer to make us the correct name and port of origin which had to be displayed in certain places on the hull (another $363). There are regulations about what size this signage must be, but of course it is a requirement for ships so the signs are huge. Ours are as big as can be managed to comply with the regulations.

Peter's brother, Clive, helped us with this whole process as he has done this several times before and his help was invaluable. Thank you very much Clive.

The Forts Visit Us In Horseshoe Bay

Graeme, Jane and Liz enjoying perfect weather at Maud Bay

One evening while we were relaxing on board in Horseshoe Bay the phone rang and Graeme Fort, from Albany, was on the line. He and Jane were in Townsville for three days and they thought they would like to catch up with us. It was arranged that they ferry over from the mainland and meet us here for the day. We had a lovely time motoring around to Maud Bay for a bit of snorkelling and lunch and afterwards motored to Radical Bay for a look there. Magnetic Island turned on a beautiful day for us. Very enjoyable.

The perfect Koala Pose

We found this fellow almost within touching distance at Arthur Bay Magnetic Island

Sunday, 11 June 2017

At Home In Horseshoe Bay 1st - 8th June

Sunrise in Horseshoe Bay
I think I have said this before. This is a wonderful place to spend a lazy week or two. We have participated in all our usual activities such as reacquainting ourselves with all the walking tracks, coffees at our favourite cafes and catching up with new and old friends in the bay. By default one morning we discovered one of our new favourite coffee venues. We had walked over the range to Arcadia and decided to stop by a café for morning coffee. It was shut. Disappointment!! Upon looking around we noticed an advertising board next door but one and while we debated wether it was worth a visit some locals came by and talked us into going around the back for a try. Wow! What a revelation! We had just discovered our new morning coffee stop.

Wandering in the gardens at the Tamarind Tea House

The Tamarind Tea House has a gorgeous, colourful deck out the back under massive, gnarly old, shady, Tamarind trees. We were so impressed that we invited Amanda (Peter's sister) and Andrew (his dad) to come over from Townsville on Sunday and meet us for lunch there. They thought that was a good idea so on Sunday we settled in for a delightful light lunch which we managed to linger over for an hour and a half. An interesting aside to the tea house is a Gem Gallery which has been set up for patrons to have a great deal of fun choosing a small bag of semi-precious stones from several large boxes full of gems. We did not look into the cost of this activity, but discussed it with the owners and they set it up to keep the 5 - 12 year olds happy while their parents had refreshments. What a good idea! They told us that they had had 70 year olds sorting through the gem boxes with as much enthusiasm as the kids. I wish we had found this place before Greg, Leisha and the girls came to stay with us. The coffee and cakes are very nice too.

In the Tamarind Tea House garden

The Social Scene

We have had Barbara and Paul, who we met at Lizard Island last year, Barbara and Ron, Olivia's previous owners and a regular in the bay, Graeme, on board for drinks and boaty chit chat. Barbara and Paul live on their Hitchhiker catamaran and have sailed the world on 9 different boats for over 30 years. They have some wonderful and interesting stories about their cruising life. Ron and Barbara regaled us with Olivia stories. Graeme, Peter and I chimed in with our own anecdotes on sailing life. What better way to spend a few hours in the evening. Everyone left well after dark to dinghy back to their adventurous, cosy homes at sea. We are privileged to be able to enjoy such a wonderful sailing life.

Milton and Jenny from Magnetic Attraction sailed into the bay a couple of nights ago and we managed to catch up with them again. Milton is a Structural Engineer and has been contracted by an insurance company to help work out how much damage has been sustained to various buildings at Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach after Cyclone Debbie. He has now completed that job and he and Jenny are enjoying a trip up to Dunk Island and all the places in between.

The Forts Walk

Peter inspects one of the old gun emplacements

The Dog With The Velcro Paws

Peter and I have witnessed an unusual phenomenon occurring in the animals that accompany cruising families. Some dogs, and even a cat or two, seem to have evolved paws that are covered with Velcro. They stand up on the prow of their dinghies like a sentinel and balance perfectly whilst their owners speed across the bay to the shore or another boat. They never fall in, lean into the corners and are obviously thoroughly enjoying the experience.

Sally, a Kelpie/Moung, who belongs to Lachie and his partner, is a case in point. She perches on the prow of the tinny like a carved figurehead, and with wet nose aloft, vacuuming up all the lovely scents in the bay, as dogs do, she does not miss a chance to go for a ride. Lachie never slows down to accommodate her as he roars across the bay as fast as the dinghy will go with it's 15hp motor. Even the half donut when approaching the back of the trimaran, where they live, does not dislodge this pooch. I am in awe of this dog. Me, I would have been tipped off on the first turn and I wonder how many times she has taken a tumble into the briny before perfecting this skill. Does she ever fly over the front if he stops suddenly? I can't imagine she hasn't. What I do know is that these pets seem to revel in their unusual lifestyle.

Sally, the figurehead, in her preferred place


Monday, 29 May 2017

A Chance Meeting With Old Friends and Back to Horseshoe Bay 26th - 30th May

Dunk Island is such a gorgeous island and on discovering we had another perfect day on our hands we decided to walk the Island Circuit Walk, a 9km track which climbs almost to the top of Mt Kootaloo and then heads off towards the eastern end of the island and returns via the southern beaches. This track was not as well maintained as the Kootaloo part of the track, but it was OK. The worst problem was that in several places the 'Wait-a-While' vine had slumped down over the track and getting past that without it attaching it's sharp little hooky spurs into the tee-shirt or skin required the moves of a contortionist. We came across a fresh water tortoise on the track near Coconut Beach, a little way from the creek. It appeared healthy so we thought it might be on it's way to find a place to lay eggs. Maybe??

Fresh water tortoise Coconut Bay Dunk Island

We decided to have lunch at the beach café before going back to Olivia for a well earned rest. A large catamaran steamed into Brammo Bay late in the afternoon and I watched it anchor close by as Peter checked Olivia's engine and did one or two small maintenance jobs below. The 'cat' people waved and I waved back - friendly types. After a while they came over in their dinghy to say hello. We recognised each other as they came alongside. It was Brian and Marie on Urchin from our days in the Mandurah Marina. Their boat was docked on the same pontoon as ours and we developed quite a friendship, discussing plans for the Aussie trips we all dreamed about. They left around the same time us, but spent 18 months in Port Lincoln, Marie working at nursing. We knew they had moved on, but did not expect to catch up with them at Dunk. We all went ashore and had a celebratory drink at the beach café. They are going over the top and back to WA this year and we are heading south, but it was great to catch up with them.

We found a 'washing machine' in the back locker, unfortunately hand operated, but it works quite well.
 Peter had a go too.

Peter checked out the weather forecast and we still had several light wind days before stronger winds were predicted. It seemed best to take advantage of the calm weather to make our way south again with relative ease before I needed to check in with the doctor and physio about the progress of my injuries from the bike accident. My shoulder is going well, but my fingers on both hands are still very sore and I have to be careful not to knock them. Some tasks like unscrewing lids, turning on taps etc I leave to Peter. Too hard!

We motor sailed to the northern end of the Hinchinbrook Channel after an early lunch and anchored for the night at Scraggy Point, almost opposite the Hinchinbrook Marina, just south of Cardwell. The night was absolutely still and the next morning we enjoyed a pleasant motor down the channel admiring the mountains which were almost clear of clouds. From the southern channel exit we sailed over to Orpheous Island, but instead of stopping there thought we might take advantage of the mild weather to anchor at Havana Island for the night as we had not been there yet. Havana Island is at the southern end of the Palm Island group. We anchored for the night with another 'cat', but they were not very friendly so we both kept to ourselves.

Hinchinbrook Channel, early morning


Sugar Sheds at Lucinda
A favourable day was forecast for a slow trip to Magnetic Island so we pulled the anchor just after 6am and motored out of the anchorage around the northern side of the island, just as the sun rose over Albino Rock, on the eastern end of Great Palm Island. What a sight! Albino Rock sat right in the middle of the rising blood orange sun providing it with a bright corona. I didn't look for long, just briefly enough to catch the dazzling sight.

Another gorgeous day! We tacked out to the east under sail, so it was slow at 4-5kts. The wind did not reach more that about 8kts all day, so in the end we motor sailed into Horseshoe Bay just after lunch. Now we will stay here for a couple of weeks until I fly back to WA for three weeks and Peter's friend Bob comes to keep him company. After that we intend to venture south eventually ending up at Lake Macquarie or Sydney, with Olivia settled there for the summer.

Relaxing on the way to Magnetic Island

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

A Fast Trip To Dunk Island 24th - 25th May

This boat eats miles!

We dropped the National Park courtesy mooring in Little Pioneer Bay at 7.30 am in calm conditions with the idea that we may anchor in Zoe Bay on the eastern side of Hinchinbrook Island for lunch, go ashore and explore the creek and waterfall in the southern end of the bay. This bay is open to the prevailing trade winds so calm weather is necessary to contemplate such a move. By the time we reached there the wind had piped up to about 15 - 18kts and a lumpy swell was rolling into the bay. I decided that I wouldn't be even trying to get off in those conditions so we sailed straight past. The waterfall in the southern end of the bay was tumbling over the rocks and we had a great view of that through the binoculars. Would have been nice to see it close up as it was flowing over the cliff face in several different places.

This was one of the best sails we have had on the east coast, with a glorious breeze on the starboard quarter until we jibed outside the northern end of the Brook Islands at midday to take the inside path between the Family Group of islands and the coast. We had thought to anchor for the night behind Goold Island, but the going was too good for that. Olivia has a big powerful feel as she slices through the waves on the jib alone, so we continued on and were anchored at Dunk Island at 3.25pm. The tide was with us most of the way and on the jib we were clocking between 6.5 and 7 knots continuously. Lily tethered on her painter to Olivia's stern revelled in the conditions, gleefully surfing down the faces of the waves, resting momentarily at the bottom, self satisfied, before being jerked into action for the next ride. 48nm under our belts in less than 8 hours. Wonderful!

Olivia anchored at Dunk Island with beautiful little Purdaboi Island in the background

Dunk Island

The resort here is still in the same condition as last year when we were here. The buildings along the front are still derelict apart form a couple in the eastern corner. We came across a worker who told us that the café was open for business on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from about 10am until 5pm. They have an inviting looking menu attached to the front of the café so we might indulge ourselves while we are here.

Last day of sling. Six weeks tomorrow. Summit of Mt Kootaloo

This morning Peter and I decided to walk to the summit of Mt Kootaloo. It is a good walk and the path is well maintained. The rainforest canopy makes for a cool walk free from the blazing sun and the undergrowth is lush and green from having enough rainfall this year. We chose the alternative path for the descent.  This path is more overgrown and animals have dug and scratched in the compost and leaf litter on the path and as such more concentration is required so as not to trip on the uneven surface. In places the path follows the edge of a precipitous drop that is camouflaged by rainforest growth. Tomorrow we intend to take the trail that circumnavigates the island, about 10kms


Monday, 22 May 2017

Peter and Liz's Maiden Voyage on Olivia 20th -23rd May 2017

A Night in Maud's Bay, Magnetic Island

After a leisurely breakfast with Clive, Andrew and Wayne at an outdoorsy little café on The Strand, Peter and I visited Coles for our last minute fresh food stores. We should now have enough food on board for about three weeks. Water, fuel, Lily fuel, gas and food - time to depart the Breakwater Marina for a while.

We motored out of the channel in calm conditions and continued to motor all the way to Maud's Bay on the northern side of Magnetic Island, next to Horseshoe Bay. This secluded little bay was comfortable enough during the calm weather we were experiencing, but during the south easterly trades a swell rolls along these northern bays which sends most people back into Horseshoe Bay. Maud's Bay is surrounded by the steep, rocky hills prevalent on Magnetic Island, with a golden sand beach and several shacks obviously used by locals as weekenders. Care is needed when entering the bay as there is reef and coral bombies close in throughout the bay. Nightfall came and we enjoyed a peaceful night by ourselves. Amazing that there is such a large city just around the corner.

The "Captain" steers Olivia out of Townsville for our maiden voyage

The Palms

Juno Bay Fantome Island

Last night I slept in my own bed for the first time. Jessica slept there while we had the younger Scott's on board. I will have to get used to the feel and sounds of this yacht with it's all chain anchor warp, stainless steel water tanks which 'gloop' quietly as the boat moves at anchor and all the other creaks and slapping sounds that are different from Rene.

An early start had us motoring across The Paddock towards the Palm Islands. The weather was still calm so we decided to try North East Bay which has a long, lovely beach to walk on, but is usually too rolly to stay in. We anchored as close in as we dared and settled in for lunch. Although calm there was still a rolly slop making it's way right into the bay. I didn't like the idea of trying to lower the dinghy motor, with the hoist Peter has set up on the stern, into it's place on the dinghy. Getting myself into the dinghy was another matter as I didn't want to risk causing myself an injury to an almost mended broken shoulder and three broken fingers. Reluctantly we made a decision to motor around to Juno Bay on Fantome Island via the Calliope Channel between Great Palm Island and Curacoa Island. This narrow channel had my eyes glued to the chart plotter as we motored through with the tide. At one stage we were doing 8.5kts.

Great Palm Island 

Once out into Coolgaree Bay we were able to appreciate the view across to Great Palm Island sleeping in the sun with her patchwork quilt of light and shadow playing across the landscape. A crest of cotton wool clouds adorned the high hills completing this lovely view. Locals fishing from runabouts waved as we passed and the Aboriginal settlement at Palm Island glistened in the sun.

We anchored well out in Juno Bay avoiding the extensive reef offshore and the many isolated coral bombies lying in wait for the unwary sailor. After we settled into our anchorage we readied the dinghy for a trip ashore. This time we explored the beach not the derelict ruins of the old Leper Colony. Then it was time to go back to Olivia for dinner. I suppose we motored about 20 meters from the shore when the dinghy motor stalled and coughed to a stop. Nothing would get it going and we drifted for 5 minutes while Peter worked on it to no avail. Luckily we were drifting vaguely in the right direction.

Finally we thought that the current was catching us so we'd better start rowing. Audrey will appreciate how far we had to row. The shallow water extends a long way from the shore in this bay. My shoulder got a workout, but I took it slowly and with no pain, kept going with Peter until we eventually arrived at Olivia just in time for well deserved sundowners in the cockpit.

Next morning Peter discovered that there was water in the fuel, probably from the 160mm that had fallen in Townsville a few days before. He cleaned out the carby float bowl, which was full of water, and so far it has worked like a dream.  We explored the beaches on the south shore of Juno Bay and glimpsed a shark feeding in the shallows.

Golden sands in Juno Bay

The first night in Juno Bay was absolutely still, but the second was lively and bouncy due to a south west breeze blowing a sharp slop into the bay. We could hear the anchor chain scraping across a coral bottom all night long - a bit disconcerting. By morning we had had enough so made preparations for a short trip to Little Pioneer Bay and hopefully a quieter anchorage. It is still bouncy here, but not unbearably so. We have managed to take up the courtesy mooring in the most sheltered part of the bay behind the headland closest to the Research Station. A large Beneteau has tried to anchor near us, but couldn't find a good spot so has adjourned to the other end of the bay. The wind is dropping, so hopefully, so will these sloppy little waves by this evening.

Approaching Calliope Channel
Happy Birthday

Thank you for all the good wishes for my 64th birthday from family and friends. We were out of mobile range on the 22nd in Juno Bay, but could just access mobile coverage in Little Pioneer Bay on 23rd. You all made my birthday special. I hope I acknowledged everyone, but I think I may have cut a few messages short (Sorry Chris if I did). Had a lovely time scratching the scratchies Mum and ended up $5 better off. It was nice dreaming though. Your card did not catch up with me Judy, but it will give me a nice surprise later.