The past week saw us leaving the Keppels earlier than planned to sail north to the shipyard at Mackay and attend to our dog clutch problems.
Murray and Maree must have been enjoying themselves as they opted to stay on board till Mackay rather than get off at Yeppoon. So after more than two wonderful weeks at the Reef, the four of us had a few days of lively sailing. With 20-30 knot breeze from the southeast, the seas were choppy but the boat handled it well and we had fun in these more demanding conditions.
Keppels to Pinetree Point
We had reasonably strong and at times squally conditions, not only because of the weather, but also because of the stretch of coast we were sailing through: deep bays and inlets, large 7m tides creating strong currents and steep waves. We have often found that the Keppels to Mackay passage is a bit like a Bass Strait crossing: confused rough seas making the boat pitch and roll.
We were glad to arrive at Pinetree, a beautiful scenic spot which looked much calmer, but with the swell wrapping around the point, the bay was rolly… good training for the next anchorage!
Pinetree Point to Middle Percy Island
The next hop was to Middle Percy Island. We decided it would be fun to show Murray & Maree this iconic anchorage and spend a rest day there, even though it took us further away from Mackay than if we had chosen the more direct route via Curlew Island.
We had choppy seas again in 20 to 25 knots SE, but the wind being straight on our stern meant the apparent wind was around 15, suitable for the big screecher with caution. We enjoyed a fast run and were anchored at West Bay by early afternoon. We stayed an extra day there despite the unbelievably rolly conditions. And if we found it so on Anui, a very stable vessel, you can guess what it would have been like for most other crafts. We had one yacht for company for a few hours, but it moved on, probably finding the gunnel to gunnel roll a bit too much to take! At high tide cooking was a challenge. It is the first time we have wished we had pot holders around the stove to keep them in place!
But undeterred, we got ashore, checked out the lagoon, the Percy Hilton (the A frame with all the yachty memorabilia), went for a walk and celebrated Maree’s 60th birthday. We also had a spectacular storm and sunset! Here are a few photos of our time there. Click on the first image in the gallery to display each photo in turn in full screen.
Middle Percy to Mackay
Finally we took off at dawn last Monday for a good though slightly soggy final leg to Mackay, most of it under the jib alone. We should have had the reefed main up once on a westerly heading, but the thought of needing to turn into wind in the rough seas to raise it made us lazy. Plus speeding along at over 12 knots in lumpy conditions is hard on the boat and the crew!
By 3.30 pm we had reached the Mackay harbour entrance. We were apprehensive about coming into port with limited manoeuvrability and strong winds. It is always a bit daunting, and especially so when you can’t engage reverse on one engine to stop the boat and you can’t pivot! Nervous wee required before entering the harbour! Chris was at the wheel with Wade at the ready with the ropes and fenders. Fortunately the marina took pity on us and let us stay at the end of an arm. So we crept our way into the harbour, the strong SE slowed us down and we glided gently alongside the floating jetty where two fellow cruisers were waiting to catch our mooring lines. Phew!
A few busy days followed. Murray and Maree left us to fly back to Melbourne on Tuesday, we got on with cleaning and desalting our abode, doing a ton of laundry, reprovisioning the boat, and doing some minor maintenance like fixing the guests’ leaky toilet and changing the lazy jacks for the mainsail bag. We even managed to turn Anui around with ropes to face the right way to move.
It was also a frustrating time because we found Anui could not get hauled out as scheduled. At first it was just too windy to be moved and dangled in the air in the slings. But then when the wind calmed down we were told there was no space in the yard for us and we would have to wait for a big cat currently on the hard stand to be moved back in the water… When will that be exactly? Who knows! It is really annoying when the staff and yard manager don’t talk to one another as they take bookings!
To be lifted out of the water we first of all need a space in the shipyard for two to three weeks, then we want less than 10 knot breeze so it is calm enough to manoeuvre, a high tide so we fit in between the angled posts of the haulout space and a tug to nudge us in since we can’t reverse into it by ourselves. Then once out, the Mackay mechanic has to be available to pull out the saildrive and send it off to Brisbane for repairs! If it sounds a bit hard, that’s because it is.
As we post this we are keeping our fingers crossed that the stars will align soon! Meanwhile we wait and pay the daily marina fees that could have been avoided. Deep breath in, deep breath out!
Let’s end this post with something pleasant: beautiful Osprey, lunar eclipse…