We were ready to leave Airlie Beach and head north on Monday 15 July, but the anchor winch threw a tantrum part way through lifting the chain up – what a pain! Wade got as far as taking the bridle off then bang! Funny noise then nothing! You could hear the motor going, but the gypsy was not turning anymore.
We spent half a day diagnosing and fixing what was wrong. We pulled the whole winch apart and eventually found we had a broken shear pin between the electric motor and the gear box. The Maxwell manual did not even say it was there in its detailed drawings or trouble-shooting section, which made it a bit tricky. It was such a small thing that spoiled our day but saved our expensive gear as shear pins are designed to do! There is something really satisfying though when you deconstruct the whole winch, lining up every part in order, figure out what is wrong and happen to have spare pins in a small bag attached to the manual, then reconstruct the thing and it works! It won’t take half as long next time it happens again! As usual we learnt a lot in the process.
While all this was going on, we got a call from Tasmanian friends John and De on Storm Boy II who had made it to the Whitsundays and were keen to catch up. So the next day we headed to Cid Harbour where they were hiding from 30 knot winds! It was a great sail: double reefed main, a few twirls in the jib and off we went. In strong conditions like these, it is great fun to steer rather than let the autopilot do the job.
Cid Harbour and Dugong Inlet were beautiful, even if they now display lots of signs warning you it is dangerous to swim there. Sharks do inhabit those turbid waters! Nice walk ashore then great evening and tasty meal onboard Storm Boy. It would have been such a shame to miss out on seeing our friends! So our anchor winch trouble had a silver lining.
On Wednesday we finally headed off, but not before making a stop at Stonehaven Anchorage to make water to top up our freshwater tanks.
These last few days are a great demonstration that you have to stay flexible with your cruising plans and deal with whatever happens, good and bad. We are now bound for Townsville via Gloucester Island. New territory for all of us!