Mishap at Mackay

After nearly a month spent exploring the islands offshore of Shoalwater Bay, we came back to civilisation and spent a few days at the Mackay Marina. We had a lovely time until Wade climbed up the mast.

Mackay is a large port and the approach was interesting to say the least. We wove our way through dozens of ships waiting their turn to load coal! We had never seen anything like this. We counted 40 ships. Look at our chart plotter, and it is only half of them!

Mackay -9400Mackay -9417

It was a little surreal meandering through all the anchored ships, with Humpback Whales milling around and Brown Boobies flying above the boat, eyeing our trolling lure – a case of nature meets industry!

Brown Booby in flight

Brown Booby eyeing our trolling lure

Brown Booby in flight

We ended up staying for five days at the marina, longer than expected. We did tons of laundry, reprovisioned the boat, luxuriated in the warm showers, enjoyed a few restaurant meals and caught up with friends and other yachties. On the less positive side, the Marina is a fair way out of town and other than restaurants, they are no shops there which is not very convenient. And disappointingly there is no shuttle between the marina and the Mackay town centre, so we had to hire a car with other yachties for half a day to get all our shopping done!

Mackay -9440

Can you spot TIE?

Mackay -9429

Steep walkway to get in and out at low tide!


And then we moved on to boat maintenance which explains the long stay … As usual there is always something to fix on a boat despite the fact we are pedantic with the maintenance of Take It Easy.

Wade climbed up the mast to instal a VHF aerial we had ordered to replace our defunct one. This he did successfully, but while he was up there he noticed a tear in the aluminium extrusion on the genoa furler. There had always been a small slit ever since we had the boat, but now it was much bigger and nastier!

We got a local rigger to take a look at the offending part. “Oh shit” he said – never a good sign, followed by “that’s knackered, and the staysail’s furler is on its way too!” There had never been bearings top and bottom on the furlers ever since we have owned Take It Easy and eventually the aluminium extrusion rubbed against the top of the stainless steel stay and started tearing. We initially thought we would be up for two brand new furlers, but luckily the rigger contacted ReeFurl, the manufacturers of our existing gear who told him they would provide replacement parts under warranty if we came to Airlie Beach where they are based. All we would be up for would be the installation time. They have a 20 year warranty on their furlers, and the boat is 15 years old! So all is well that ends well – we hope anyway!


We have now left Mackay and are sailing to Airlie Beach via Goldsmith Island some 65 nautical miles further north. We don’t want to lose any sail or drop a stay underway so no mucking about, we are getting this sorted straight away. We will do the sight seeing island hopping thing in the Whitsundays later.

14 thoughts on “Mishap at Mackay

  1. Wow, I’m glad Wade found the metal fatigued parts! Failure at sea would be terrible. The photos from the top are gorgeous, as are the others. 😎

  2. When I first read “Mishap” I worried that something terrible happened. Thank G-d you two are well. It’s going to hurt your wallet a little bit but you’ll be fine! Great photos Chris! Take care… 🙂

  3. Wow – Great that the furler issue was picked up – What I can’t believe is the 20 year warranty…what a bonus!

    • Yes 20 years is phenomenal… they trust their gear. Let’s hope the furlers are actually ReeFurl’s and not a knock off… we’ll soon find out.

  4. I feared the worst. I expected to see pictures of Wade in bandages and plaster casts. As it is, you get new stuff for nothing. How good is that. Ann says Hi from Morocco.

    • Hiya Greg, we will get new gear one way or another, whether it is actually just for the time cost of the installation is yet to be confirmed. We’ll see how things develop. If the gear we have is not ReeFurl’s we are up for a few thousands!

  5. If the furler gave way would the mast hit the deck? That could be very expensive. Had Wade not gone up the mast you would have been unaware of the danger

    • Hi Clive ! Wade goes up regularly and last time he was up the mast there was no problem! If the Furler had given way only the Genoa would have come down, not the stay, so no problem with the mast but it would be scary! We are seeing the ReeFurl people first thing tomorrow morning. Have taken the sails down in preparation! Big job and it is never calm when you do these tasks!

  6. Onya Wadie for doing a thorough job as usual, well spotted. Love the brown boobie, Wadie’s favourite bird. All those coal ships. Exporting our wealth and global warming too.

    • The coal ships were something else! In Airlie Beach now. Have just finished removing the two front sails ready for the ReeFurl inspection tomorrow morning.

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