Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Townsville, as seen from the water, quite the hill isn't it?

I was impressed by this former bank building, built around the turn of the century. A lot of the buildings in the down town area were off this vintage, a pleasure to the eyes.

From Townsville we sailed to Orpehus Island where we found this sign, not doubt torn down by cyclone Yasi that went through this area earlier this year. It apparently was the biggest cyclone to ever hit Australia.

Up in the bush we found this ruin. The fellow that built it apparently had to give up because he got a coral cut which became infected. I was impressed by the building and particularly liked all the windows he had planned to put in.

This is the sugar cane factory at the entry to the Hinchbrook Channel. The channel itself was quite dramatic with large hills on either side of it. It was tricky getting in the entrance being fairly shallow, a couple of times we saw 0.0 on the depth meter. We draw 1.8m and Barry has it offset by 2.0 meters so I never know when we hit zero whether or not we are going to go 0.2 below zero or not so we just sit and hope the boat doesn't stop. We entered on a rising tide so would have just had to wait awhile to float off but I am glad we didn't bottom out again. We are stopping at a spot called Dunk Island today and I hope to make it all the way to Cairns tomorrow. It is quite a ways and the winds are light so not sure we will make it.

The Hinchbrook Channel, living the dream!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I have started posting our position again, so those of you that are interested can go to the side of the blog and click on Our Position and the relevant page should show up. Let me know if it doesn't work. We stayed 2 nights at Magnetic Island just east of Townsville. It was a very nice spot. Yesterday we took the ferry into Townsville. The city has a very dramatic setting backed by a very steep high hill. We went to visit the Naritime Museum and then wanting to see more of the city hopped on a city bus. We got a little more than we bargained for, it was a 2 hour bus ride and we toured every shopping mall in that section of the city. We had a very nice dinner at a Mexican restaurant when we got back to the downtown area. After the ferry ride then the bus ride back to the boat we didn't get onboard until about 8:00 P.M. It was good to be away from the boat for that long, a nice break from the 8 or 9 hours sailing that we have been doing every day. We are heading towards Cairns, I will post some Townsville pics when I get there.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Looking west towards the mainland from Whitsunday Island

We have finished our cruise through the Whitsunday Islands. The scenery was gorgeous, the anchorages were very safe and plentiful but the weather was the pits. After the wind stopped howling the rain came. It sputtered off and on for about 3 days, so my memories of the Whitsundays will have grey skies and mist floating about the top of the peaks attached to it. We stopped by Whitehaven Beach, rated on of the top ten beaches in the world. The sand was definitley different, very fine and soft, wonderful to walk upon. We sailed around to the other side of Whitsunday Island and I climbed the Whitsunday peak at 430 m. to see the sites. Of course the peak was shrouded with mist so I could only occaisionly glimpse the water. I jumped in for a swim when I got back, it was very refreshing.

Whitehaven Beach in the rain

We headed off to Airlie Beach the next day. Someone told me there was a rum bar which stocked rums from all over the world and said it was a must do. Trish also worked there over 10 years ago and sent us a post card. We had always wanted to go, now here we are on our own boat, living the dream. Anyway I guess this bar had a fire last week and is closed for renovations, just missed it by about a week, oh well, what can you do, first the Man from Snowy River Museum was closed, now this, I wonder what else that I want to see will be closed, things always happen in threes. We went into the spot where Trish worked and took our $1.00 coin and hit the "Pokies" as the slot machines are called here. We always go in and spend a dollar, Barry seems to be the lucky one and at one spot won $64.00. Here we came away $6.00 ahead, not bad. the most we should ever loose is $2.00 between us, some harmless fun. Airle Beach is a real tourist town, lots of travel agents where you can get tours of the Whitsundays, diving cruises, etc. There are also lots of bars and hamburger joints, there were not very many ethnic restaurants to choose from, I wanted a Thai meal but there were no Thai restaurants in site.

At the moment we are about 40 miles north of Airlie headed to Bowen. We hope to make up some distance in the next couple of days, so we won't go into Bowen our next town will be Townsville. We have been told that Magnetic Island is an interesting spot to stop so may spend a couple of days there. Hope everyone in Canada had a great long weekend. The ice in Back Bay in Yellowknife must be getting pretty thin.

Through the mist from the top of the Whitsunday Peak.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The weather is still lousy. There is a huge high hanging over the east coast of Australia and it is giving us 25-30 knots of wind every day and showers. We are keeping our head down and hunkering down. Yesterday we put up the storm staysail and with that little hankerchief of a sail we went flying off across a sound to a more secure anchorage about 15 nm away. We are now at Shaw Island, one of the Whitsunday group, 20 degrees 30 min S and 142 degrees 03 min E. There is a Club Med about 4 miles across the bay on a different island. Here we don't have to put out the flopper stopper, the piece of gear that dampens the rolling in the boat, it is calmer, the swell does not seem to come into this spot.

We haven't been off the boat since we left MacKay, 4 days ago, and I am getting a big antsy. I was going to launch the dinghy earlier but it is so windy that getting it on and off the front deck would not be much fun and then as soon as I think of doing it the weather socks in, it starts raining or a huge gust comes up and the thought of managing the dinghy myself on the beach is off putting, Barry says he won't come ashore with me.

We have been spending our time doing boat chores, I polished the stainless steel the other day, today Barry did some sewing on the dodger, the thread is rotting from the UV. I made brownies a couple of days ago and then slowly ate them while I was working on my cross word puzzle book. I am getting close to finishing a cross stitch picture I am doing for Leeland, I am on the outlining part and it always seem to take longer. We changed the position of the receiving box for our wireless wind indicator and we finally have it working. There were way more dials than normal to look at when we sailed over the other day. Barry also seems to have solved the problem with no water coming out of the engine when it starts. He removed the end of the raw water strainer and noticed a crack in the metal end cover. He had a spare, he put it on and we have not had a problem since, he has ordered more spares. He must have been tightening them too much because we have 2 other cracked covers, unless of course there is another problem.

I am sure we have internet coverage because of the Club Med resort across the way. I have been trying to get the winlink to work on our new computer (e-mail through our Ham radio) but have not had much luck. The other day I hooked up the old computer and it worked just fine, I guess there is more than one way to skin a cat. Well I guess that is enough blabbing for one day, all I wanted to say is that we are alive and well.

Friday, May 13, 2011

We are currently in MacKay, pronounced Mac Kai, we stopped here because we had run out of fresh fruit and veggies. I erroneously made the assumption when we left Bundaberg that there would be towns at most places we stopped along the coast, I was wrong. We left Bundy over a week ago and although we went shopping with Trish and filled here car with stores I had bought very little fresh food. The fridge is now stuffed with yummy fruits, veggies, yogurt and cheeses.

We have had a great time since setting off. The weather has been steadily from a southerly direction so we have had some terrific sails, wind on the quarter, the boat flying along at 7 knots at times. The other day our boat speed was reading steadily over 8 and I was loving it, Barry deemed we did not need to go that fast and pulled in some genoa, spoil sport!!!

We left the same day as our friends on Toketie, David and Linda. We have been keeping in touch with them on HF radio and we have arranged to be in the same anchorages a few times. It is nice to have someone that knows where you are. We stopped at the spot the other night and I took Linda ashored and we went for an hour and a half walk. Along the way we figured we have been walking companions in 6 countries across the Pacific. It was great to do it again with her in Australia. When we got back to their boat she cooked a yummy pizza and good times were shared.

We stopped in at Middle Percy Island, a spot where cruisers have been leaving signs for over fifty years. The island is leased by a family and they along with the cruisers have built an A frame building where you can eat and a wonderful tree house. The tree house had a kitchen and a bed in it, you could comfortably live in there for a week or two. I found an old board up by the treehouse and took it back to the boat. I painted a polar bear on it and put our boat name, our names and the date, as the sign said and screwed it into the one of the posts in the A frame. At another anchorage we were invited ashore for appetizers as soon as we had dropped the hook. There were 6 boats in attendance and there were representatives from 5 different continents, N. America, S. America, Africa, Europe and Australia. It was a lovely evening with the bonfire glowing on the beach.

We are meeting lots of cruisers that are going on the Indonesian rally, this journey has the same feeling as crossing French Polynesia. Everyone is heading in the same direction and you meet people, they leave and then 3 or 4 days later you see them again in another anchorage further north. We are enjoying being out in the islands away from civilization again. There is something rather magical about sitting in your cockpit watching the sun go down and the sky turning gorgeous shades of orange and red, with no one else within sight.
From MacKay we head up in to the Whitsunday Islands where I hope to spend over a week. We plan to stop in at Airlie Beach on the way and then amble on up to Townsville. We have a new computer and I have been having trouble getting our e-mail on it to work so have not been able to send any reports in that way. I will have to work on it, or just use the old computer to keep in touch a little more regularly.