Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Cairns (Yorkeys Knob) at last Lat. 16 degrees 48.1' S Long. 145 degrees 43.0' E

We arrived at the Half Moon Bay Marina, Yorkeys Knob this morning at 0730. We left Mission Bay with no regrets at 0500 in order to get to the marina with still enough water to get in. There is a dredged channel which is very narrow and of minimal depth. Still, we got in with no mishaps.
But to regress. Mourilyan Harbour was a very snug anchorage and absolutely still - an unusual situation on this coast. On our last night (Mon. night) a bulk sugar carrier came in and berthed alongside the sugar loader. An impressive act of seamanship given the extremely narrow entrance, especially in the dark.
We left on Tuesday morning -lumpy sea in the entrance but things settled down once we were underway. Very overcast with a light drizzle which eventually cleared as we approached the end of today's passage. We went head to wind to raise the single reefed mainsail and then carried on motorsailing again!! Less than 10 knots of wind from the SW and the forecast had been SE! 90 degrees different! Surprise surprise. We had the pole rigged for SE but as the wind increased a bit we set the genoa conventionally on port tack. Soon we were doing over 7 knots with the engine ticking over at about 800 rpm. Once again we would have preferred to stop the engine but had just over 50 miles to cover before dark so maintaining speed was the priority. And of course we filled the watertanks and generated power.
This is especially gratifying as we have been having showers most nights and using the internet etc so seeing the water overflowing when the tanks were full is very satisfying, given the previous experience with the Opua cowboys. It does also seem bizarre sitting in remote anchorages and reading the NZ Herald on-line! Especially having a say on current issues published in editorials and particularly on the subject of the economically treasonous asset sales. Enough said on that subject - for now!! "Tiare Taporo, Queensland" is our pseudonym.
Anyway, we made quick progress up the coast and were soon approaching Fitzroy Is. just south of Cape Grafton. As we carried on the wind came more from the south but never SE; however, we managed to pole the genoa out for a time. But then we had to alter course to port otherwise we would have T-boned Fitzroy! So got rid of the pole and furled the genoa until we came between the island and Cape Grafton on course for Mission Bay 12 miles short of Cairns. Mission Bay is an Aboriginal settlement and is a wide, shallow and very windswept bay. We crept in cautiously watching the depth sounder and anchored. However, there was a nasty swell coming across the bay causing an uncomfortable roll so we moved closer into the lee of Cape Grafton where the swell seemed less but still annoying. Some dinner and a good sleep were both indicated but we were both awake again at 0300 this morning all keyed up for our dark passage across to Yorkeys (12 miles). Porridge at 4 and Gina feeding Jim prunes as he lay back in bed psyching himself up for the trip in the dark!! Thank goodness for the chartplotter as it was as black as your hat when we left Mission Bay. We detoured slightly to pass outside the markers for the ship channel into Cairns and also to safely pass a bulk carrier at anchor waiting to come into the port. The weather was shocking with a persistent light drizzle which reduced visibility almost to zero at times. We were only half a mile off before we could see the channel markers for Yorkeys even though it was daylight by then. Once again the chartplotter was marvellous and lead us in unerringly. You can't make mistakes around here because the water depths are shallow - for instance all the way across from Mission Bay we never had more than 35' of water for 12 miles and all the way up the coast yesterday it was mainly around 50' - occasionally up to 70'. And coming into the marina we were down to 10'.
Berthing was easy this morning as there was no wind or current but unfortunately Gina fell badly when getting off the boat to attach our bow line and badly scraped the front of one leg. We couldn't do much about it at the time because had to finish tying up the mooring lines but as soon as that was done we got busy with bathing it and Gina using her nursing skills made a much better job of bandaging than Jim could ever have done. The injuries aren't serious but will take a while to heal and it did shake her up. We did the washing in the marina laundry but that was enough for Gina and she has been resting the rest of the day - as much as she ever does rest!! Jim has had to exert his authority as captain to ensure that some R&R was taken!!
It rained much of the day but has more or less cleared up now and much warmer than when we were at Townsville. There was a cruise ship anchored off and all the passengers came ashore at the marina which cluttered up the place something terrible with loud and mostly large Australians. Same as used to happen at Airlie Beach.
Heading into Cairns tomorrow to explore.......
Cheers and love from us

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Sunday, 24 June 2012

Tiare Taporo III still at Mourilyan Harbour

We are waiting out the strong wind warning still in force but it looks as though Tuesday will be the day to go to Mission Bay/Cairns. Today we tidied up the boat and Gina washed down the interior of the boat in the galley area with Rawleighs Pine O'Clean and it looks a million dollars. The Rawleighs is really good as are all their products. We purchased it along with 2 tins of Rawleighs Medicated Ointment in the Bungaberg farmers market some months ago and they are all great products - the ointment was particularly effective against the depredations of the Noseeums which otherwise made life somewhat miserable at Bundaberg.
We have the pole rigged on the port side in anticipation of a downwind sail to Cairns so here's hoping that Tuesday will produce the goods.
Mourilyan Harbour is very sheltered and so no rolling and it is very peaceful but we are reluctant to go ashore in our rubber dinghy because Alan Lucas in his cruising guide said he was followed by a crocodile when he was surveying the harbour in his dinghy some years ago!! Forewarned is forearmed!!! We are staying on board. The harbour is surrounded by mangroves so would be a crocodile habitat for sure. Still no mosquitos so that's a bonus.
More when we get to Yorkeys Knob just north of Cairns in a couple of day's time.
Love from us.........

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Friday, 22 June 2012

Tiare Taporo III at Mourilyan Harbour Lat. 17 degrees 36.4' S Long. 146 degrees 07.5' E

We left Missionary Bay on the northern end of Hinchinbrook Is. at 0800 in a light SW and 100% overcast with intermittent light drizzle. We motorsailed the whole way with just the main because no wind to speak of and we had to get there!! A miserable day but the forecast is for 25-30 knots from the SE in a day or so. Therefore necessary to get moving before that develops because it's bad enough having the wind dead astern but at that strength with the associated sea it's pretty much untenable. And there are very few bolt holes on this coast. As we've often said, on an ocean passage you would just adjust your course but doing a coastal passage with a daily ETA deadline, that is usually not an option. We'd originally thought we might spend a night at Dunk Is. (about halfway) but the resort was totally destroyed in January 2011 by Cyclone Yasi and the rebuilding has still not been completed. God knows what their insurance premiums will be. Of course all these things put costs and prices up and with the high Aussie dollar together with a depressed world economic situation at present it's no wonder that Queensland tourism is in the doldrums with many recent business failures.
Dunk is 20 miles north of Hinchinbrook and the anchorage is only ho-hum so we decided to press on for Mourilyan. Further north we passed the south and north Barnard Group outside as it's a bit shallow to go inside and then altered course to 320 T for the Mourilyan entrance 5 miles on. This is where one needs to have absolute faith in the chartplotter (and plotting positions on the paper chart) because the entrance was invisible from the south until almost abeam. The entrance is only 190 metres wide with a 90 metre wide dredged entrance channel - very like Tutukaka, although it felt narrower.
Mourilyan is a sugar port with a substantial wharf and huge storage shed on its northern side. No ship in here at present but one would need good nerves to bring a bulk carrier in here. Establishing the correct line of approach would be crucial because there would be no going back. We found it taxing enough coming in on our 38' yacht!! After transiting the entrance we turned hard to port to follow the channel through 2 lines of pile moorings watching the depth sounder all the while like a hawk. It was difficult to find a spot to anchor due to all the permanent moorings upstream but we eventually decided to drop the anchor; however, as the tide turned we swung with it and were getting perilously close to a mudbank with only 2' under our keel. So we weighed anchor and moved only about 20 metres further into the channel where we dropped it again. Now we've got 16-19' which is much better although we're closer to 2 moored fishing boats which isn't ideal. However, we think we'll be ok. Might have to get up during the night to check on things from time to time.
We're not sure what's happening tomorrow. It will all depend on the weather although it would be nice to finally get to Cairns. We've travelled 43 miles today (7 hrs) and Cairns is a further 62 miles. However, there is a good anchorage at Mission Bay 12 miles this side of Cairns. We don't want to stay here tomorrow because if we do we'll probably be weatherbound here for 3 days so we'll be up at dawn to assess the weather and if it looks anywhere near OK we'll go.
Lots of love from us and keep reading the blogs!!............

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Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Tiare Taporo III at Missionary Bay (northern end of the Hinchinbrook Channel) Lat. 18 degrees 13.5' S Long. 146 degrees 12.6' E

Since our blog last night, between 11 and midnight an onshore wind (SW) set up and started blowing quite hard. The bottom at Orpheous Is. must have been foul because the anchor chain started making alarming grinding noises which transmitted through the hull and which raised the spectre of the chain becoming fouled to the point perhaps of not being able to be raised. So, in the dark with other anchored boats around and reefs behind and beside us we managed to get the anchor up which took a while as we had 50 metres out. Then with implicit trust in the chartplotter we moved about 200 metres further out before dropping the anchor again. The chain still made a noise from time to time but seemed to be generally on a cleaner bottom. However, with all the adrenalin and concern we didn't get much more sleep - Jim dozed on the saloon settee while Gina lay awake in the bridal suite forrard worrying the whole night. All the time checking the GPS to make sure we weren't moving and the boat was pitching uncomfortably in the short chop which had arisen. What fun - it's at times like this that one questions one's motives for doing these things!! We weren't in such a good space when dawn at last came.
We resolved to leave as soon as we were properly awake and had had the obligatory cup of tea. Therefore at 0730 we weighed again and set off for Hinchinbrook (340 T). At least the wind was behind us but as usual almost dead astern so it made serious sailing difficult and we motorsailed with the main single reefed and prevented on port tack. As we came out of the lee of Orpheous the usual SE swell hit us with a nasty quartering sea and causing us to roll abominably although at least we weren't rolling the scuppers under as we did several times further south when Dennis was aboard.
We passed the Lucinda sugar loading facility at the southern entrance to the Hinchinbrook Channel. We could have entered the Channel there but at that stage the tide was falling and at low tide the depths are down to half a metre. We draw 2 metres so it was a no brainer. We continued north outside Hinchinbrook Is. and around 1200 rounded Cape Sandwich inside Eva Is. There is a nasty little cluster of rocks inside Eva as well (Channel Rock) but about a half mile gap between there and the cape so no worries!!
We were very thankful to be around the cape and somewhat out of the aforesaid nasty swell. Also we came round to port and so the wind came further on the port quarter instead of dead astern so was much more comfortable. Across Shepherd Bay and then around Cape Richard where there is what appeared to be another abandoned resort. These capes are nothing like the NZ version - usually quite low lying and with water depths of no more than 30'. We anchored under the lee of Cape Richard and fed ravenously on bacon and creamy mushrooms which were wonderful but there was a steady swell coming round the cape and we rolled uncomfortably. So, we consulted the cruising guide again and moved about 2 miles further up into Missionary Bay religiously following the chartplotter to avoid the really shallow patches.
No rolling here and we went to sleep for about 3 hours this afternoon before a delicious dinner of Chicken Kiev and steamed fresh veges. So good to be domestic and peaceful at last!!
Missionary Bay is a large shallow bay open to the north but providing good, if windswept shelter from any southerly quarter winds. The bay is surrounded by low lying land with many mangrove creeks, no doubt a habitat for crocodiles. Still haven't seen any but we're not swimming!! Jim is writing this and has just been on deck (not to water the horses!) and there is absolute silence apart from the sound of the sea breaking on the outside coast where we had passed earlier. Total solitude and it seems so bizarre to be listening to the ABC on the radio and also having tenuous internet access. As regards the latter, it's a matter of holding the Wifi device outside at arms length so that it picks up whatever signal is going. But it seems to work. Apart from that, just remembering where the boat has been in the last few years - the Northland coast, New Caledonia, and now the Australian East Coast from Bundaberg north. Particularly when the boat is our home all these memories become so much more poignant. Places that stand out are Paroa Bay in the BOI (NZ) where Jim learnt about boats from a very early age, Baie du Prony and Koumac in New Cal, and Bundaberg, Townsville and Magnetic Is. here in Australia. So much have we seen and so many memories - sometimes they almost seem to blur into one. Hence these blogs which hopefully will ensure the memories stay alive because at our age the memory needs all the help it can get!
That's enough rambling for now - it'll probably get worse as we get older!!
Cheers and love from us........

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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Tiare Taporo III at Orpheous Is. Lat. 18 degrees 36.0' S Long. 146 degrees 29.3' E

More beautiful weather today, even if it was somewhat frustrating for sailing. We left Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Is. at 0900. The wing was SW (forecast SE!) but we have noticed this often happens and then often there's a wind shift to the SE in the early afternoon. SW would have suited us fine but it was very light and flukey. We tried polling out the genoa but gave that up as a bad job and just continued motorsailing with main alone. When sailing off the wing like this we always "prevent" the main to prevent an accidental crash gybe. The old Ford just trundled on at 700 revs (shaft speed 320 rpm) giving us over 5 knots. We filled the water tanks and recharged the batteries.
It was 25 miles to Steamer Passage at the southern end of Gt. Palm Is. and the whole way was characterised by incessant rolling as we had a small swell on the starboard quarter and in the light wind there wasn't enough pressure on the sails to ease the motion. However, once through the passage we came under the lee of Gt. Palm and the swell disappeared. At the same time the wind freshened a little and our speed picked up. We belatedly realised that the area south of Gt. Palm was another military exercise area where the airforce practice with live bombs and missiles! Fortunately there did not appear to have been any exercises scheduled for today and we are unscathed.
We had been strongly advised not to call at Gt. Palm although there's a reasonable anchorage because there is a sad history of rampant crime by the Aborigines who live there. It seems to have been another of many failed racially based Australian Government policies where there had been forced resettlements of Aborigines from their original homelands. We don't know the details surrounding Gt. Palm, but there was a very interesting programme on the ABC the other day and one of the issues highlighted was that often these resettlements were created out of complete ignorance of the peoples' customs and in particular rival tribes with enmities dating back hundreds of years were thrown together with no knowledge or thought for the consequences. This happened in the Torres Strait area in particular. It seems to us that the Australian Aborigines have very genuine grievances over the manner in which they were treated over many years and it makes the NZ Maori grievances pale by comparison.
We sailed past the southern end of Fantome Is. and then came round 20 degrees to the north on course for Orpheous. There is an exclusive resort here and boaties are not welcome so we gave that a big swerve and continued on to Pioneer Bay where we anchored at 1600. Good sheltered anchorage and fortunately no rolling!! We had a few weeks previously ordered some wine off a local website and one of them was Grove Mill Marlborough Pinot Gris - a most delicious drop! We made short work of a bottle of that and some cheese and crackers! On the way up here today we had frankfurters and hardboiled eggs with black pepper, Himalayan salt and butter so have hardly stinted ourselves. It was great to see that Jean's hip and back problems have more or less disappeared and also that she seems to have overcome any tendency to seasickness. Apart from the need to keep motoring, we both enjoyed the passage today and Jean is now completely back into the cruising mode!
As always watch this space.........
Love from us

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Sunday, 17 June 2012

Change of plans - again!!!

Jean's hips and back are much better this morning so it looks as though we will leave (from Magnetic Is.) tomorrow morning for Cairns. She actually fell quite heavily on her hip while on a walk the other day and we now think that was the major cause of the problem. Anyway, thankfully it now seems to be well on the mend so we'll go ashore one more time today to stock up with some more fresh fruit and veges and then in the morning we'll be off to Orpheous Is. in the Palm Group.
Had another of those amazing coincidences - Jean spied who she thought was Sasha, the daughter of someone she had worked for at a health retreat in the Tambourine Mountains on the Gold Coast some years ago. She made contact with Sasha who it turns out owns a cafe/art gallery here in Horseshoe Bay. She told Jean that her mother was in fact visiting on the island and so yesterday we met Jenni Edgely and her partner Andrew. Jenni's youngest son, Jake was also there playing the guitar for the cafe guests. Another daughter is Gigi Edgely, a well-known Australian actress. Needless to say there was a great deal of conversation and catching up to be done. It turns out that Jenni and Andrew own a cottage at Lake Coleridge in the South Is. and they spend quite a bit of their time there. Different for sure from Queensland.
There's one thing about this yachting and cruising life; it seems to result in unexpectedly meeting fascinating people including those who one might not have seen for years - and that was certainly the case yesterday.
The weather continues fine with 10-20 knot SE winds and the anchorage here is calm although a bit of a roll sometimes. Most nights are quite cold and definitely blankets on the bed are on the agenda.
More later..............
Cheers and love from us

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Friday, 15 June 2012

Still at Magnetic Island

It really is just as well that we decided not to continue north as it became apparent today that, if anything Gina's back/pelvis problems are getting worse. Not sure what has caused this but recent emotional and physical efforts in NZ rescuing her sister and bringing her to Australia for further treatment have definitely taken their toll. Fortunately these efforts have borne fruit and Heather is in a totally different space from only 6-7 weeks ago so it was all worth while and definitely no regrets.
However, due to the back issue we have decided to return briefly to Townsville in the middle of next week so Gina can receive further treatment. We thought this was preferable to being halfway to Cairns (in the Hinchinbrook Channel with the crocs and mossies for instance) and having it deteriorate. And at this stage we are not in any particular hurry.
Maggie Is. remains a very pleasant place to be. During the week it has been very quiet but tonight there are more boats at anchor in the bay again. We will miss this place when we leave. Every day we go ashore in the dinghy and land on the beach. Then a walk along the extensive beach or inland. The last couple of days we found young children inadequately supervised by their parents had thrown sand into the dinghy which was very irritating. Quite difficult to clean out and these parents have no idea of the consequences and neither do they care. The same the world over it seems.
We're looking forward to re-acquainting ourselves with Townsville again.............
Love from us..........

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Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Still at Magnetic Is.

We've been enjoying the R & R here - probably the most we've had since leaving NZ. Horseshoe Bay is quite shallow so we're anchored a fair way out but it only takes about 10 minutes in the dinghy to get ashore. The weather has been beautiful with light winds and clear skies with crystal clear visibility. The nights and early mornings are cool and blankets on the bed are definitely the order of the day. And we're supposed to be in the tropics!!
Yesterday we walked up to "The Forts" which are WWII gun emplacements put there to guard against a Japanese invasion. We hadn't realised but, apart from Darwin, Townsville was actually bombed 3 times by long range Japanese flying boats from New Guinea. However, no damage was done. But that along with the decisive Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942 meant that the war was very close to this part of Australia.
The views from the gun emplacements were magnificent and from that altitude the guns crews would have had early warning of any enemy ships approaching. On the walk up there (about three quarters of an hour) we saw a Koala up a tree. He is a permanent resident and likes posing for photographs. His name is Winston. We were told that there could be Death Adders and Pythons also but we didn't see any thank goodness. Nevertheless we walked in the centre of the track to stay away as much as possible from the Death Adders' normal habitat which is loose sandy soil and/or leaf mulch in which they coil themselves half buried. Almost impossible to see and if you step on one they strike with lightning speed.
Close in to the beach there is a shark net for swimming within so all in all not really a place for carefree swimming. No crocodiles yet but they aren't unknown out here on the islands and once we get into the Hinchinbrook Channel though we'll see quite a few. Must take care not to fall overboard!!
However, we are really enjoying the total relaxation before heading north again - probably on Saturday. The Palm Is. group will be our 1st stop (Orpheous Is.) - only about 25 miles away and then the Hinchinbrook. We are looking forward to this because it is supposed to be very scenic but probably spoilt in a way because there is apparently nowhere to land throughout its 28 mile length, it being all thick mangrove forest down to the water's edge. And the prospect of being in our 2.2 metre rubber dinghy with all those crocs around definitely doesn't appeal either!!
Anyway, it's now 2230 so time for bed.
Love from us as always and watch this space........

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Monday, 11 June 2012

Magnetic Island

We went ashore today and landed on the beach in the dinghy. Tide was coming in so it was a matter of hauling the dinghy above high tide mark. Apart from the fact that the beach was a brown/gold sand, it reminded us very much of Russell as the beach was similarly steep with a grass verge at the top and a row of shops and cafes across the road. We found a pub and Jean had fig and goat cheese salad and Jim a healthy dose of roast pork belly!! Then tp have a quick look at the island we hopped on a bus which took us to the other (Townsville) side where the ferry terminal is. The island is rocky but very pretty having much tropical vegetation with great sea views. Like Waiheke and Auckland, Magnetic has become a suburb of Townsville with the advent of fast ferries. It has a permanent population of 2,500 many of whom commute to Townsville for work.
We eventually returned to the Tiare where we had a green chicken curry which had been prepared by Jean before she went to NZ. It's now 2200 and time for bed. Beautifully calm tonight unlike last night when it blew quite hard for half the night.
Keep watching this space!!..............
Lots of love from us
J & J (G)

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Sunday, 10 June 2012

Tiare Taporo III at Magnetic Is. (again) Lat. 19 degrees 07' S Long. 146 degrees 52' E

After a very enjoyable stay in Townsville we came back out to Magnetic Is. this morning in conditions of stark contrast to the gale we had when going into Townsville the other day. There was hardly any wind - 3 knots max. - so we motored the whole way. Very peaceful here in the anchorage and we are so relaxed with having abandoned the plans for Darwin this year that we went to sleep!! All part of the unwinding. It's Queens Birthday Weekend here now so when we go ashore tomorrow it's likely to be crowded. There are around 25 yachts and launches in the anchorage.
Yesterday we had an early start. We said goodbye to our neighbours, Rob and Kim who are taking off on a ship cruise out of Brisbane to Noumea and Port Vila and at 0730 walked into town to catch a bus out to the suburbs (Fulham Rd.) to our osteopath appointments at 0945. That all went well and Jim has some exercises to do for his knees. Gina's pelvis has been straightened up although she is feeling somewhat sore. They said that would take one or two days to dissipate. Then back into town and a very pleasant lunch at an upstairs restaurant in Flinders St. on their balcony overlooking the street.
Townsville is really a lovely city with many very well preserved and attractive old buildings. Lots of history here. The old Burns Philp (BP) building (a 3 story building on an apex corner) is for sale. Very tempting at first glance but the scale of work required would almost certainly send one bankrupt!! This puts Jim in mind of a trading deal which was stitched up - apparently - between BP and his great grandfather whereby they carved up trading rights in the south Pacific in the late 1800's. Donald's got the eastern Pacific (the Cook, Society, Tuamotu and Marquesas Islands) and BP had the rest (Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and PNG plus a few other smaller places). BP definitely had the best of the bargain which was in all likelihood not one negotiated from equal strengths!!
All along the waterfront is an extensive park (Anzac Park) which is leafy and cool. A great buffer between the foreshore and the CBD and then the marina is right there as well. There is also an olympic sized swimming pool and gym which would no doubt be good for exercise when we return. There is an impressive and detailed memorial to the Battle of the Coral Sea in the park and it's sobering to realise that the battle took place about 400 miles NE of Townsville in 1942. The Allies actually lost more ships than the Japanese but such was the scale of the Japanese losses that it effectively stopped any further advance southwards by them.
There is a biplane on floats which operates out of the marina called the "Red Baron" and we thought that when we come back to Townsville in November we might go for a jaunt in her. The pilot sits in the rear cockpit and 2 passengers sit in front.
We'll let you know our impressions of Magnetic Is. tomorrow.
Cheers and love from us.............
Jim and Jean (Gina)

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Friday, 8 June 2012

Change of plans

Well. after weeks of examining all angles and trying to decide whether to go on to Darwin or not we have finally come to a decision. For a variety of reasons we have decided to abandon plans for Darwin/Indonesia this year and will instead cruise this immediate area up to Cairns with a view to joining the Louisiade Rally to SE PNG from Yorkey's Knob (just north of Cairns) in September. It is unlikely that we will then carry on north but will instead return to Australia for the wet season - probably Townsville again because we are so impressed by the city. The downside of course is the risk of cyclones during the summer but we have a tentative strategy for dealing with that.
We feel mightily relieved at having made the decision and the release of pressure that has resulted. It was getting more and more daunting getting to Cape York and Darwin on time (16-1700 miles from here in tight reef bound channels in around 40 days). If there's one thing we have learnt, it's that sailing and tight schedules do not mix well and in fact can become dangerous. With regard to sailing this coast, many mariners have felt the difficulty including the Great Navigator himself, James Cook, who very nearly lost his ship on Endeavour Reef north of present day Cairns. Mind you, he didn't have GPS!! Nevertheless, it is difficult for a number of reasons not least of which is the possibility of being weatherbound for some days (if one could find a suitable anchorage) and then being committed to carrying on even though one might be late because it would be a mission to return south against the strong SE trades. For most of our voyaging so far there has been little true relaxation so we feel we owe it to ourselves to become true "cruisers" and when Gina returned from NZ after looking after her sister she was more drained than we realised at the time. So, all in all we definitely feel we have made the correct decision. The last 600 miles from Bundaberg has taught us that this isn't a coast to be trifled with.
Still, we've done a lot of homework including where we could get fuel from a mobile fuel barge because otherwise the opportunities are few and far between north of Cairns. So, we're well prepared for next year or we might go back to the Louisiades in 2013 and then carry on north. This would depend on a number of factors including the ability to get visas and a cruising permit for Indonesia. There is an Indonesian Consulate in Vanimo on the north coast of PNG where this may be possible. More homework needed!! So, lots to consider.
In the meantime we are still in the Breakwater Marina at Townsville and in the morning (Sat.) we both have an appointment to see an osteopath - Jim for his knees and Gina for her hips resulting from when some years ago a cow jumped on top of her!! Age is catching up with us but we will become fitter and rested for the challenges ahead by taking it easier in the meantime.
So, as always watch this space...............
Love from us.

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Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Townsville Lat. 19 degrees 15' S 146 degrees 49' E

This morning we arrived into the Breakwater Marina in Townsville. We've decided to make this our refuelling and provisioning stop rather than Cairns. We came across from Magnetic Is. with a 25-30 knot SW right on the nose. So, we just used brute force and increased the revs - water everywhere! We had to get in by 1230 at the latest otherwise would have had to wait for the next tide as the entrance is shallow. The approach was relatively easy apart from concerns about the depth and we were given a warm welcome. No problem berthing and then we went for a walk through the CBD which is right adjacent to the marina. We are very impressed with Townsville; it's an attractive city with some very interesting old buildings. Had a Thai lunch and bought 2 more empty fuel containers to augment our fuel capacity and will be food shopping tomorrow. We met our fellow cruisers, John (whose 70th. birthday it was today) and Chris on the English boat "Sara II" again today. They are leaving tomorrow for Cairns and we may catch up with them again further north.
The anchorage at Magnetic was pleasant in Horseshoe Bay just off a resort but we didn't go ashore as not enough time and the dinghy ride would have been somewhat wet in the small offshore chop set up by the wind which was gusting 25 knots in the anchorage. It would be nice to get some more benign conditions further north. We've been lent a cruising guide by our neighbour here in the marina called "Around the Top" and it is full of useful information. But this coast is far from easy, borne out by a comment from an English yacht quoted in the guide - their comment was "challenging" and they'd sailed halfway around the world. Right now we are about halfway from Bundaberg to Cape York - and there are plenty of challenges ahead. Let's hope we are up to them.
More impressions of Townsville tomorrow.
Cheers and love from us......

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Monday, 4 June 2012

Tiare Taporo III at Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Is. Lat. 19 degrees 07' S Long. 146 degrees 52' E

Well, today has been a long day, and no mistake!! We were up at 0200 - had some breakfast which at that hour one really doesn't feel like but Gina insisted on feeding the Captain and crew!! At 0300 we weighed anchor which was encrusted in the usual mud but the deck hose, foredeck light and torch took care of that. Leaving the anchorage was easy - nothing to run into and the course was 340 T to clear Cape Bowling Green 30 miles NW. We hoisted the single reefed main in the dark and set off under power to make water and power - as usual!! The watermaker is working well and long may it do so. So different from the aftermath of the Opua cowboys.
The wind was WSW - light at first but then increasing to 25 knots in spite of an easterly having been forecast. The wind increased in strength just south of Cape Bowling Green (a nondescript low lying peninsula jutting out very inconveniently into our course north!!). We reefed the main down to its 2nd. reef during the gale - exciting being on the foredeck in those conditions - and reefed the genoa down to 30%. Then, with the staysail as well we sailed just as fast but more quietly onwards. Then we were awakened by the alarm on the AIS alerting us to a ship heading north on a converging course with us. Jim waited until he had finished his spaghetti and ham before calling them on the VHF to ask whether they had seen us - they hadn't, surprise surprise. However, they were very good and altered course 5 degrees to starboard to give us a reassuringly wide berth.
By then we were in a full gale and hard on the wind on port tack. As usual the old girl ("Tiare" that is!!) revelled in it and plowed on throwing water all over the place. We had turned off the iron sail and were doing at least 6 knots when annoyingly the wind started dropping so on with the iron sail once more. On an ocean passage one wouldn't do that but we had a deadline to get to Magnetic Is. in daylight. The wind came and went - we had some good sailing. It was 77 miles from the anchorage under Cape Upstart to Magnetic Island and we arrived into a lovely calm anchorage in Horseshoe Bay around 1600 so took 13 hours for the passage. We took turns sleeping so that we didn't both fall totally asleep. The other thing which you might find surprising is that it was cold for most of the trip. We had our wet weather gear on to ward off the spray as well as to stay warm. Once the sun came up (beautiful dawn to see) things warmed up a bit but not to the same extent as NZ in the summer. The other thing we should mention is the moon - the moon took on the same orange hue as the rising sun as it set which was very spectacular. It was a full moon too.
All in all a very satisfying day - although wearying, especially at our time of life. Not a few glasses of wine later and something to eat and we are thinking about going into Townsville instead of Cairns for our final provisioning before setting off for Cape York and Darwin but will let you all know.
Lots of love from us.............
Jim and Gina (Jean)

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Sunday, 3 June 2012

Tiare Taporo III at anchor at Cape Upstart Lat. 19 degrees 43' S Long. 147 degrees 45' E

Today was a long day. We left the anchorage at Little Jonah Bay this morning at 0500 in the dark and followed the chartplotter out of the anchorage. However, soon the dawn came up to herald a lovely sunny day. First sun we've seen for over a week!! Very little wind though so we motorsailed (as usual!!) until a respectable breeze came up from the WSW - the forecast was for easterlies. Anyway, it was sailable and we were hard on the wind on port tack doing about 4.5 knots. We had around a knot of tide against us but we were doing ok. Full main, genoa and staysail. However, the wind dropped away to almost zero later so we started the iron sail once more. We sailed past the Abbot Point coal loading conveyor with one ship alongside and 3 waiting at anchor. The wind came back but was dead on the nose so was not much help. We approached Cape Upstart at last and sailed the 5 miles or so to round the cape. Quite spectacular with large rock outcrops but not as spectacular as Whangarei Heads!! And quite shallow of the end of the cape (30-40') - again most unlike Cape Brett or Whangarei Heads. All in all it was a pleasant day but a long one - 55 nautical miles in all.
We had some concerns that with the strange and unforecasted wind we were getting that the anchorage might be somewhat uncomfortable but when we came around the point it was delightfully calm. There are beach baches all along the coast stretching back to the mainland and it is a delightful away from it all spot. Although again we can't help comparing with NZ and here in the summer you have the marine stingers (one of which is lethal and almost certainly would kill you). Even going ashore in the dinghy and stepping out into the shallows is dangerous unless you are suitably clad. Then there are the crocodiles and although we haven't seen one yet, they are around. Mostly in tidal creeks where there are mangroves but they have even been seen out on the islands on the Barrier Reef so you can't guarantee anywhere is safe. So, the bottom line is no swimming!!
Early to bed tonight as tomorrow is an even longer day - 70 miles to Magnetic Is. just off Townsville. We are hoping for better winds. We'll be leaving around midnight tonight - 30 miles to Cape Bowling Green and then another 40 to Magnetic. We are looking forward to seeing John and Chris off "Sara II" when we get there.
Dinner's ready at 1700 (right now) so we can get some sleep before starting off again.
Watch this space..........
Love from us,
Jim and Gina (Jean)

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Saturday, 2 June 2012

Tiare Taporo III at Little Jonah Bay Lat. 20 degrees 05' S Long. 148 degrees 32' E

Well, we're finally on our way. We left Airlie at 0730 and motorsailed most of the way north towards Bowen. At one stage we had the genoa poled out but the wind died again. Such a contrast to the weather we have been having - over 30 knots some of the time and today 13 was the maximum and then only briefly. Our intention was to go through the Gloucester Passage for an overnight anchorage on the Bowen side of the passage but towards the far end of the passage we went aground on a falling tide (!) so the cruising guide is incorrect when it says deep draught vessels will have no problem. Fortunately with the engine at full ahead we managed to get off the sandbank but it was a hairy 30 seconds or so. There's not much time on a falling tide. So we backtracked through the passage and anchored on the southern side of the bay formed by Gloucester Is. and George Point. Only a very short passage today to get back into the swing of things but we will be heading for Upstart Bay tomorrow - about 55 miles. We'll be leaving here at 5. Then probably direct for Magnetic Is. - another 70 miles where we should arrive on Mon/Tues.
At some point we're going to have to do some overnight sailing but that'll be north of Magnetic. We're feeling a bit optimistic again that we can make Darwin in time and really we need to because the prospect of a summer up here in cyclone country doesn't appeal and neither does an 1800 mile nonstop passage from northern PNG to Borneo. So, we're pressing on. Looking forward to remaking the acquaintance of boats we met further south as we go north.
Cheers and love to everyone
Jim and Gina

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