4 years ago, my good friend Barry and I were “bachelor” sailing around New Caledonia. An adventure I covered in 2 previous blog posts
then 2 and half years ago, Barry and Bruno flew into Port Villa, Vanuatu for the sail back to Australia
(One of the very few adventures I failed to find the time to blog, as I was focused on my next adventure with Lisa in Europe and having the appropriate clothing to go up to the top of Finland to see the Norther Lights.)
When I was putting feelers out for crew for this winter cruising season, Barry (post selling Twocan) jumped at the chance of joining Logic for a sail from Brisbane to Townsville.
Barry flew in from Melbourne at 2pm.
I spent the morning cooking up a big pot of pea and ham soup “passage food” Just as he arrived there was enough incoming tidal flow to cancel out the outgoing minor flooding in the Brisbane River, to enable me to get Logic out of her inner marina berth. So 5 minutes after he stepped onboard, he was casting off lines for our departure.
we did 26 miles to overnight at Tangalooma on Morton Island, where he got a chance to unpack his bag.
Next morning we where off a first light. Feeling very clever as a rain squall went through Tangaooma, 30mins after we left (little did we expect that rain squalls whee going to be consistent part of our journey for the next few days)
We had favorable (if you ignored the rain squalls) conditions for the 80 miles to the lagoon at Double Island Point, averaging 10.3kts
as we left at first light the next morning, the forecast was 20kts, gusting 25. so we started with the 3rd reef in the mainsail and the staysail, but quickly went up to the 2rd reef in the main(note the water pouring out of the boom bag, as I pulled the sail up)
then the rain squalls started appearing on the radar
depending on where we were in relation to the squall the wind was anywhere between 5kts and 30, with wind direction swinging from forward of the beam, to an unexpected gybe. The preventer on the boom, stopped the gybe doing any damage, but gybing in 30kts with pouring rain was challenging. (note the rain pouring down the windows).
The conditions stressed the autopilot, resulting in the belt breaking to get to the belt to replace it, the steering wheel had to come off. Barry steered with a pair of vice grips on the steering column
while I changed the belt going past Indian Head on Fraser Island
challenging sailing for the two of us. I should have taken more photos, but was distracted.
At 3 in the morning, on my watch, the conditions resulted in the planetary gears cogs in the autopilot striping teeth i
It does not work with missing teeth, so I was forced to hand steer, in pitch darkness, in a disturbed following sea. I lasted an hour before waking Barry, to put him on the vise grips for a second time, while I did another repair job on the autopilot.
The plan was to do an overnighter to North West Island, picking up the mooring buoy there.
With 3 hours to go, there was gray rain clouds ahead of us, behind us and to our east, but to our west there was blue shy, so we headed toward the blue sky, over Great Keppel Island,
I made a video of the conditions as Logic surfed the waves on the way to Great Keppel.
going past Barrier Island we anchored off Svendsens Beach
we ended up with a not too shabby 259.7 miles, in 31 hours, for an average of 8.3kts
In 4 days time there was a 20-30kt northerly forecast. The safest option was for us to spend those 4 days at Great Keppel, moving around to Long Beach on the southern side as the Northerly got closer.
But the first thing on the agenda was a feed and a reduction of our sleep debt
it was lovely to be out of the rain squalls, which the weather radar web-site showing them continuing to stream over North West Island.
The next day was boat jobs.
One of the reefing lines had unnoticed in the dark, gone over the wind generator pole, prior to an unscheduled jibethe wind generator needed to come down
one of the definitions of the cruising life, is “repairs and maintenance, in exotic locations”
The boom bag zip, needed some sewingThe outboard was running rough, so we took Albert ashore and cleaned out the carburetor (which did not fix the problem, so an outboard service went on the job list for Townsville)
Boat jobs done, it was time to enjoy Great Keppel’s beaches in perfect sunny weather
the northerly was forecast to arrive overnight so we took Logic around to Long Beach on the southern side of Great Keppel
going ashore for a walk to the pub
going past the remains of the resort that was severely damaged by a cyclone The clouds told us the northerly was getting close By the morning there was a lot of west in the northerly, ideal sailing conditions, s0 we where off at first light for a quick sail to Pearl Bay
there is at least an extra knot of speed with the new mainsail Compared to the old, stretched oneWe made good time getting to Pearl Bay in the early afternoon a lovely well protected anchorage with a sandy beach I had a much loved maternal Grandmother Pearl Alethea whenever I stop-off at Pearl Bay, it brings back found memories of her time to go ashore for a walk
as the sun was setting Off at first light the next morning, for the sun to rise behind one the small islands to seaward there was a bit of west still in the southerly, too exposed for West Bay on Middle Percy Island, so we continued to Digby Island Making good time. Averaging 8.9kts for the 78miles another well protected southerly anchoragesurrounded by picturesque Islands
time for our walkies ashore
Barry inspection the motor that came out of what is left, of a boat that was wrecked here in a cyclone a lovely sunsetoff at first light, again.
I am very much enojoying the cruising life, with small islands framed in the galley window as I make our breakfast
next blog post will be me showing Barry my favorite spots in the Whitsunday, as this amazingly good cruising weather continues
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