Passage to Mackay

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.

Some big waves coming through

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.

Lively conditions, perfect for shearwaters
Wedgetail Shearwater skimming the surface

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
Pinetree 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!

Early morning departure
Rainy spell

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!

Anui at Mackay marina
Calmer day mid week

Waiting, waiting!

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.

Anui now facing north!

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…

22 thoughts on “Passage to Mackay

  1. Oh Chris. Our thoughts are with you. How frustrating that dog clutch is still giving you jip… I seem to remember that being an issue last year! We can sympathise with leaky toilets…we have just dealt with two of them! Sending positive thoughts. Cheers Trish

    • Hi Trish yes the dog clutch was an issue 18 months ago. Apparently they don’t last! We’ll deal with this once and for all at Boatworks at the end of the year with two new sail drives! For now we have to be hauled out… another frustration!

  2. So many beautiful photos while underway, wow! The rough seas would scare me. I hope your clutch problem will vanish for a long time this time on the hard, or dry dock as I call it. Be well, guys! 🇦🇺

    • Hi John, the sea was spectacular but it is hard to show it in photos as the wide angle lens flattens everything! The clutch troubles flatten us too we can assure you. So frustrating and costly!

      • The waves look huge on my Mac! My Nikon and lenses make the mountains here look as though they are 100 feet tall, the camera eye lies! Be safe. 😎

  3. Your pictures are gorgeous! I’m sorry that you still have to fix some problems. Take care, Chris. 🙂

    • Thanks HJ. Glad you enjoyed the pictures. Maintenance is endless. It’s disheartening especially when we thought we had the big ticket items sorted!

  4. Hello Wade did tell me what your saildrives were but I have forgotten please remind me?
    I think it may have been at Mackay where I met Wade. My boats name is “Oura”

  5. Like the rain pic amongst the other lovely ones. Glad it was a good time with Murray and Maree, I am sure they will never forget the adventure. I hope you get on the dry soo n and get the engine fixed. Take care.

    • The hard at Mackay gets further and further away. Today we were told the week after next! We are considering a move to Shute Harbour in the Whitsundays where they may be able to pull us out on a trolley some time next week. We’ll decide after the weekend.

  6. I’m interested in the photo of a (topsail schooner ?) hard up close to shore. Was it there for careening ? I suppose the big tidal range allowed it to take place.

    • It is the Josha C. It is there permanently as it belongs to the new leaseholders. The lagon dries out at low tide. Cats with mini keels can get in the lagoon at high and sit there with the midges. Not for Anui!

  7. Especially loved the Osprey pics and the storm front photo! Bonza sailing weather, but hard to imagine your ginormous cat pitching and rolling! Here’s hoping you can get on the hard soon ….. roasting here in Scotland, temps up to 15deg today!!!

    • You make us laugh, Elgar and we need a bit of a laugh right now as we sit and wait for someone at the shipyard to pull their finger out!

      The pitching and rolling was for real! We were walking around like drunken sailors and going up or down steps was a perilous exercise! Things were flying around too, since as you know we are not used to behaving like a mono and putting things away. No breakage but some good catches on the fly including our dinner sliding off the cooktop!
      Temp here: a bit chilly at 25deg 😂… had to put a jumper on!

      • Yeah, I was laughing as well ….. I couldn’t help but think of the Monty Python piece (the 4 Yorkshiremen skit, dubbed ‘luxury’), ‘There we were, in our tiny tupperware boat, pitchin’ and rollin’, getting tossed upside down, mast held on with chewing gum ….. luxury, we used to sail with dugout canoe, gum leaves for sails …..” (Do you remember the skit from the 70’s?) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue7wM0QC5LE
        It is hard to imagine your beamy floating palais de luxury behaving like a mono! Anyway, it’s another great story for the archives.
        Funny about the temperate thing, we get it, the relativity of it all. When we were living in Coffs, we lit the wood fire if the temp got below 17 deg! Yet here we are at 15 deg, walking round with t-shirts and shorts ….
        Happy sailing guys!

  8. Yikes, Chris. That first photo with the enormous waves looked downright scary–it looks like you were headed onto the slopes of the snow-covered Alps. Weather, I know, plays a huge role in your daily lives, forcing you to constantly adjust your plans. The rain, though, created the conditions for you to capture that beautiful, almost abstract image of the sky and waves. There are times when I think of the Anui as a big boat, but seeing it moored makes it seem almost small and fragile. Here’s hoping that you can get the necessary repairs done expeditiously–it is so hard to have to wait and wait until things happen over which you have no control.

    • The waves on that day were big. Some we surfed for a short time, some would just roll under our hulls, lift us up, overtake us, and break past us, like the one in the first photo. It was spectacular but not scary. It is funny you thought Anui was small because we thought that too! At Mackay they put us at the end of an arm reserved for large multihull, larger than us. We are 52ft, but are moored next to a 57ft trimaran called “Earthling” that would be insanely fast and a 59ft Outremer catamaran which would also be a speed demon. We thought we had a tall mast, but theirs are even higher. So yes we look diminutive next to them! Thanks for the good wishes. We feel helpless and dejected.

      • It has become a bit of a cliche, but the old adage, “You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails” comes to mind. I suspect that you will make the best of your waiting time, though you definitely are justified in feeling frustrated. This past year you have certainly overcome more than your share of obstacles, related among other things to the pandemic restrictions. Hang in there, Chris, and be sure to give Wade and Bengie a hug.

    • Hi Mick we had great sailing and an amazing time at the Southern Reef in unusually calm conditions. Three weeks of fun in company. But now it feels like they were just 3 weeks of fun in 6 months of pain and inactivity. We want to turn the ratio around!

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