I’m back

I flew back from Poland in early March 2020, full of anticipation about sailing back to Vanuatu in May.

The standing rigging (wires that hold the mast up) had reached it’s recommended 10 year life, so the mast needed to come down,

for the rigger to take the old wires off and attached the new ones

then it was time to put the mast back

While the mast was down, I replaced the radar, with the latest technology, and put wind instruments on the masthead. A new genoa and a fresh coat of antifouling. Logic was all set, to hit the high sea.

But……while all the was going on the news media was been overrun by the news of the pandemic hitting Australia. A lot of the other boats in the boat yard were moving forward their launch date, so as not the stuck on the hard, if the yard went into lockdown.

I got Logic back into the water, and then the lockdown started (remember “flatten the curve”). Suddenly my plans of sailing back to Vanuatu to visit all the friends I have been making there, then flying over to Eastern Europe to avoid the worst of the Brisbane summer, were no more.

I felt like I had been doing very well at school, then I was expected to go 4 grades lower, learning stuff I was already very competent at.

In 2016, I had done a shakedown cruise from Brisbane up past Cooktown to Lizard Island and back, to make sure I had all the systems in place, to go offshore cruising. Suddenly that was the only option available to me for 2020. I still did it, again, but it was rather depressing and my heart was not in it (after the amazing experiences I had enjoyed  2017-19), hence my lack of motivation to put up blog posts.

(yes I am aware that my life is BS, compared to the bulk of the population, but that is who I am).

I did contemplate giving up the cruising life and moving ashore. Going so far, as to drive up to Karanda, to see if I wanted to  move into a shack in the rainforest. The memories of spending 25 years living on acreage, with the associated, mowing, brush-cutting and spaying weeds where still too fresh, for there to be any attraction to signing up, to needing to do it again.

So I needed to give myself a kick in the pants, to face the reality, of  making the most of the world as it now is.

I left Brisbane in March 2021, with a determination to live in the moment and try to ignore what could have been.  Chose my crew more carefully and living in the moment.

It has been working, I have enjoyed the last 5 months sailing north.

A number of you have been lamenting my lack of blog posting, so after some consideration, I have re-acquainted myself with the photo editing software and now WordPress.

It would be a mammoth jobs to try to blog the last 18 months, so I will restart from when I arrived in the Townsville marina, 7 week’s ago.the marina has an ideal location, just off The Strand. A 10 minute walk from the center of town. The Strand runs beside the beach, for a very pleasant walk, and if I only wanted to go one way, there are plenty of hire scooters to get around. There was a big festival going on with a plethora of different artworks displayed along The Strand, including these giant inflated bunniesprobably the major reason I came into the marina, was a fast growing obvious BCC (basal cell carcinoma) on my face. The day after I docked it was off to the Skin Clinic to get it removed(now I just need another one on the opposite side of my face to complete the plastic surgery facial skin tightening).

Andy and Gemma, off Paws, who I first met at Loltong in Vanuatu in 2018, were also in the marina, so I invited them over to Logic, to share the last bag of sashimi grade Big Eye Tuna, that was in the freezer.

they babysat my herb gardenwhen I fled down to Brisbane for my grandson Louis’ first birthday party

Louis with my 2 daughters

The party had all of Louis’ living relatives in attendance. 4 great grandparents, 5 grandparents, his only aunt and uncle and his parents. I flew back to Townsville with Ellie. The 4 of us took Paws and Logic over to Cape Cleveland for a few days.

We SUPed ashore to walk up to the light house

I put up  post on Facebook, looking to see who was available to come sailing with me. Thomas and Gaylyn, were on a road trip in far north Queensland. I had met them on their boat Qu, in Opua, NZ, in 2017, and then Vunda in Fiji, and then again in 2018 in Noumea. Ideal crew, with years of experience living the cruising life.

after a trip to the fruit and veg stall, at the Sunday Market in the main street in Townsville, we were off After overnight behind Magnetic Island our next stop was Rattlesnake Island.

The Airforce uses it for live bombing practice, so prior to arriving, I checked that they were not bombing, while we were there. There were signed everywhere, telling us not to walk past the beach.

My father came here in 1954, and still has favorable memories of monster size oysters on the rocks, so I had to continue the family tradition. There were no monster oysters for me, but the ones that were there were still a good size and very yummy.

The breeze got a bit of north in it and gusted 20-25kts in the afternoon, not a comfortable overnight anchorage. So, we moved onto Palm Island the next day, an anchorage with better protection. With a stop at Havana Island along the way, for a walk ashore.

then a quick sail across to Palm  Island

The next day we sailed up to Orpheus Island, with a humpback whale encounter along the was

We were planning to stay a few days at Orpheus, but the weather was not conducive, with a very uncomfortable side swell, so we headed off in the morning, in amongst the rain squalls  for the Hinchinbrook Passage, between Hinchinbrook Island and the mainland. anchoring up behind Hancock Island

when I was here last year the sand flies and mosquitos were atrocious, luckily this time the breeze kept them away.

This is a glorious piece of the world, very special sundowners. The next morning we motored up to Cardwell. to anchor off the beach, and take Albert ashore, to go to the supermarket.

Last year I had a very special experience at Cardwell. One of the cutlass bearing (which the propeller shaft runs through) was a bit sloppy (less than 1mm), which resulted in the gearbox making yucky noises. when motoring in a swell. Trying to find a boat yard to lift Logic, to replace the cutlass bearing was proving impossible, and the tides were too small to beach Logic, to do it. This is crocodile country, so I did not want to be beaching Logic too close to the coast.

Through the friend of a friend network, I was given Dave Pike’s phone number, he was purported to have trailer capable of lifting Logic, via a public boat ramp, off a creek just north of Cardwell. I got to turn Logic into my “home amongst the gum trees” for 26 hours. Too great a set of photos to leave hidden away in the phone memory.

Back Logic goes with the cutlass bearing replaced

a surreal experience, I have a 75mm scar on the back of my right calf to remind me of it, where I underestimated how close I was to the guard dog’s running line (luckily it only broke the skin, and not into the muscle)

Back to 2021.

We headed over to Goold Island for the night. then Cape Richards on Hinchinbrook Island the next day. The wind was too strong to anchor off the northern beach, so we anchored on the western side of Cape Richard, took Albert ashore and walked across to the rather magnificent beach. 
Andy off Paws had given me the low down on how to get Logic close enough the the eastern beach from the western sidethere was a nice deep hole to anchor Logic in to then take Albert up a crocodile infected 1.7 mile estuary, to the jetty, where they drop off the hikers who walk Hinchinbrook Island, for a 200mt walk to the sandy beach. Gaylyn was taking no chances, that we were not going to become crocodile food. Quite an adventure

We had been waiting for the wind to abate enough to get out to offshore reefs. The forecast was still 10-15kts, gusting 20, but the sun was out, so we decided to have a quick sail out to Beaver Reef, catching a nice 5kg Spanish Mackerel along the way. Gaylyn and Thomas SUPed across to the cay, while I filleted the fish.

A rather magic spot, anchored in a patch of sand, off a coral cay in the middle of the ocean.

the morning sunrise had me feeling like I was back on passage (had to play, here comes the sun)

The next morning there was a very uncomfortable beam sea,

so we got in a quick snorkel on some rather good coral.

Beaver Reef is in a no fishing green zone, so the larger fish were in abundance.

Before heading over to Dunk Island, Dunk is a lovely Island, sandy beaches, with a walk through the rainforest, to the summit of Mount Kootaloo, and it’s spectacular views. Then a cooling swim in the pool in the stream, flowing across the beach with Logic anchored out past the coral the resort still has no been rebuilt after a couple of cyclones went through, over a  decade ago.

there is at least one dugong feeding on the sea grass, between Logic and the beach

My itinerary has become rather fluid.

Gaylyn and Thomas have gone down to Brisbane for Gaylyn’s grandson’s birthday. The other crew I had lined up are not allowed to enter Queensland due to coming from states with Covid outbreaks. I was hoping to get up to Thursday Island this year, but it is a long way to go by myself.

But…..I am not in lockdown (or needing to be wearing a mask)  and the current, climate here is goldilocks like (not to hot, not too cold).

From tomorrow the forecast is 10kts of wind for the next 5 days, passable to go back out to the reef. Then there are some interesting Island anchorages, to be enjoyed going north to Cairns.

So I’ll continue putting one foot in front of the next, making the most of life.

(while being very mindful, of people like my daugher Phoebe, living in Melbourne, which is 3 weeks into their 6th lockdown, since the pandemic started)

 

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