New Straits Times Article Monday October 31 2011

The following link will take you to a very nice double-page spread in the STREETS supplement of the NST last Monday. Many thanks to NST reporter R. Anbu who was at the “Cleaner Marina” event held on October 15.

http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/ramarina2/Article

Posted in Edu-Cat-Malaysia | Leave a comment

The Yum List

You have just gotta click on this blogspot regularly as my good friend Monica Tindall has a great knack for firstly finding really “in” eateries in and around Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia that not only serve very good food but food that is very good for you too, or they simply do not get onto her blog.

Posted in A Healthy Life-Style | Leave a comment

Gudrun’s article in The Star October 17 2011

Here is the link to Gudrun’s latest article in The Star newspaper where she was able to tell the story of our “Cleaner Marina Day” organized and managed by Edu-Cat-Malaysia in conjunction with The Rotary Club of Bandar Bukit Tinggi.

http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=%2F2011%2F10%2F17%2Fcentral%2F9710401&sec=central

See also

http://www.educatmalaysia.com

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Gudrun’s Star column September 19 2011

Here is the link to Gudrun’s latest monthly article in The Star.

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?sec=central&file=%2F2011%2F9%2F19%2Fcentral%2F9482500

 

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The Baby Sitter’s Race

THE BABY SITTERS RACE.  (Poet Lorikeet)

This brilliant poem, penned by my mate Bob Young, was read publicly at the Webb’s “Not the Moet lunch” held at their apartment on Hamilton Island on August 24 2011 .

It is all true!!

 THE CREW ALL SCRAMBLED ON THE DECK,

FIXED LINES AND SHEETS AND BRACE,

TODAY WOULD BE SO LONG AND HARD …

“THE BABY SITTERS RACE”

UNFORTUNATELY THE SITTER,

WOULD HAVE TO STAY BEHIND,

BUT HER MAMMARIES WILL LINGER,

IN THE WINDMILLS OF OUR MINDS.

TODAY A DEDICATION TO HER BEAUTY AND HER GRACE,

AND WE HOPE WE COME HOME VICTORS IN  …

“THE BABY SITTERS RACE”.

‘LOOK AT THIS’ THE SKIPPER SAID,

‘TWO LONG LEGS WE HAVE TO FACE’

IT’S LOOKING LIKE A CRACKER FOR …

“THE BABY SITTERS RACE!”

WE’LL HAVE TO WORK, NO TIME TO SHIRK,

ALL CREW TAKE THEIR PLACE,

NOW … NO MISTAKES, … TEAMWORK WILL WIN …

“THE BABY SITTERS RACE”.

WORK UP FIRST LEG TO STARBOARD,

THE NEXT LEG ROUND ON PORT,

KEEP A KEEN EYE OUT TO WEATHER AND,

MAKE SURE YOU DON’T GET CAUGHT.

BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU’RE LOOKING

AS YOU GO AROUND THE TOP,

BEWARE OF WISHFUL THINKING

AND FOR HER SPINNAKERS TO POP,

ELSE GROWN MEN’S EYES WILL WATER,

BUDS WILL LOSE THEIR TASTE,

IF ONE GETS CAUGHT ASUNDER IN …

“THE BABY SITTERS RACE”.

WE CROSSED THE START ‘BOUT MIDWAY,

AND SET A CRACKING PACE,

HERES’ A LIFT THAT SEPARATES IN …

“THE BABY SITTERS RACE”

THE WIND WAS UP TO TWENTY PLUS AND SUDDENLY A TACK,

A SUDDEN CALL OF STARBOARD …

A VERY QUICK TACK BACK.

A BLEAT FROM PETE,

‘RELEASE THE SHEET… NOW! …

THIS IS NO FUCKING JOKE’,

AND THAT IS WHEN, OF ITS OWN ACCORD,

THE BLOODY HALYARD BROKE!

THE SAIL DROPS LIKE KNICKERS

IN THE FRENZY OF LOVE AND LUST,

BUT WAS RAISED AGAIN IN SECONDS,

BEFORE YET ANOTHER GUST.

WELL DONE CREW, NO ONE WAS CAUGHT,

NO ONE’S YET LOST FACE,

THEY’RE PROUDLY THERE AND HOLDING UP …

“THE BABY SITTERS RACE”

TACKED AGAIN AND SCRAMBLED HIGH AS DB LOST HIS SEAT,

AND THERE HE IS PRONE LEEWARD …

HIS SCROTUM ON A CLEAT.

BOBBY GRINDS RELENTLESS, TALIA TAILS THE TRACE,

MAL’S EYES CARESS THE MAINSHEET IN …

“THE BABY SITTERS RACE.”

THE LAST MARK WAS MADE AND ROUNDED,

THE KITE HAD SHEET AND BRACE,

WE WERE FLYING HOME CLOSE WINNERS IN …

“THE BABY SITTERS RACE”

SUDDENLY … A BOUNCE OR TWO,

TOOK US BY SURPRISE,

THE KITE FLEW FREE … DAME AND DAVID’S’ POLE,

JUMPED UP TOWARD THE SKIES,

‘DON’T PANIC … WE CAN HANDLE IT’

‘BUT HERE’S ANOTHER TEST’

‘IF YOU LOOK A LITTLE SIDEWAYS,

SHE’S RUNNING … TWO A BREAST’.

SO LET’S KEEP IT ALL TOGETHER,

WE’LL MAKE TIME AND SAIL WITH GRACE,

AND APPRECIATE THE PLEASURES OF …

“THE BABY SITTERS RACE”.

SO, AS YOU SIT AROUND THE TABLE

AT THE … ‘NOT THE MOET LUNCH’

SALUTE THE BABY SITTER,

AND SALUTE HER AWESOME BUNCH,

DRINK DOWN YOUR GLASS WITH FERVOUR

DO NOT LEAVE A TRACE,

AND SALUTE THE ROARING THOUGHTIES OF …

“THE BABY SITTERS RACE”

Posted in Favorite poems | 1 Comment

DB at Hamilton Island Race Week

Hamilton Island Race Week August 19-27 2011

Friday August 19 2011

This morning we finished cleaning up inside “Mandala” and then went on a trial run with Peter H in the afternoon. Everything appears to be ship-shape so we adjourned to enjoy dinner with the family and Peter at the apartments. Very pleased to see Jan and meet Mal who arrived on schedule.

Saturday August 20 2011.

Today is the first race day of the Hamilton Island Race Week and Gerard, Peter and I attended the briefing put on by the race committee at 0830.

The crew for the first few races will be

L to R Gerard, Peter, Jan, Bob and Talia

Gerard Webb                    Skipper and Helm

Peter Haliday                     Tactician and Navigator

Damien Webb                   Foredeck and Spinnaker

Malcolm Ramsay              Mainsheet and winches

Jocelyn and Damien

Talia Webb                          Port winch hand

David Bradley                    Starboard winch hand

David Thompson              Spinnaker pole hand

David Thompson and Talia

Jocelyn Webb                    Winch hand

The course today is the Lindeman Island Course a distance of 23.3nm. For our first race together we did quite well achieving a 7th over the line and 16thoverall on handicap. “Mandala” being a performance yacht with a deeper keel, higher mast and more sail area than a normal Jeanneau 42 has quite a punitive handicap that we have to live with! Several gear failures cost us some time. The genoa halyard shackle broke and …..down came the genoa!

WTF was that!

A very quick recovery using a spare halyard overcame what could have been a much worse result. Great work Damien. Next the beak on the spinnaker pole let go the brace with the result that the spinnaker pole had a mind of its own for a short while and soon after the spinnaker pole clamp on the mast let go with the spinnaker pole shooting up the mast. In both cases Damien and David made quick recoveries. Well done indeed!

Sunday August 21 2011

I attended the briefing at 0830 and listened to the guest speaker Adrianne Callaghan, author of the book “Around the Buoys” and holder of many world records in the world of sailing. Adrianne gave a most impressive talk and I will look out for her book which is sure to be a good read.

We sailed Course 2 today in winds of 15-25 knots and enjoyed very good sailing conditions.

Mandala at eleven knots under spinnaker. Awesome!

Big heavy cruising yachts like “Mandala” love these conditions. “Mandala” reached eleven knots today during a down-wind spinnaker run.

We achieved a very creditable 2nd over the line from a field of 39 contestants in the Cruising 2 division in spite of a few glitches concerning the beak on the spinnaker pole letting go of the “brace”. We need to find out the cause of this anomaly and fix it if we can. After today’s race we lay 6th overall. We would all be very pleased with a top ten result at the end of Race Week.

The amazing Roulettes put on a great show

We all were invited to dinner tonight courtesy of Jocelyn Webb (no relation to Gerard and Jan) who prepared an excellent meal that we enjoyed in her apartment quite close by. Jocelyn has a great job with the Australian Olympic Committee and will be in London with the team in July next year (2012).

Monday August 22 2011

Today was a very heavy day with the wind blowing to 30 knots gusting to 35 knots. It was hard on equipment and crew.

Loving it!

We raced on course 8 today, a distance of 17.5 nm and whereas we finished 3rd across the line, we were placed 20thoverall on handicap! At some stage toward the end of this race when we were tacking down Dent Passage to the finish line the radar mounting brackets on the mast must have broken as when we returned to our berth the radar dome was just hanging off the mast by its umbilical cord.

Damien bringing down the broken radar antenna

Damien went up the mast in the Bosun’s Chair, undid the electrical connections and brought the radar antenna down to the deck where we could see that the mounting brackets had snapped. Later Peter went up in the chair and removed the broken brackets from the mast.

Other boats suffered quite a bit of damage today as we saw broken masts, bent booms and ripped sails. Yacht racing can be a very expensive sport in high winds!

Tuesday August 23 2011

We spent the morning “tuning” the sails and rigging, tightening the headsail halyard, tightened the mainsail leech line and prepared a back-up for the slipping jammer on the 2ndreef line. Our race was scheduled to start at 1105 from the Dent Passage and we were out and getting ready for the start when the race officials ordered all boats to return to their berths and await a further announcement at 1130 hours.

A broken mast

The performance and maxi boats that started earlier had been taking a real hammering in the high winds gusting well over 35 knots with broken and damaged masts, booms and ripped sails. The weather was really bad further south and several fronts were heading our way. In the end cruising boat racing was cancelled for the day and we all sat on the boat and enjoyed a few drinks with the crew. Later David Thompson, Jocelyn and I went to the Yacht Club to watch the very exciting SBs and the very fast 32 footers racing ion the Dent Passage.

The very fast 32 footers in full flight

In the evening we all went to the Steak House for dinner and later we adjourned to the pub. It is a lay day tomorrow so tonight was to be our party night and plenty of other participants had the same idea!

Wednesday August 24 2011.

Today is a lay day when the crews can get some rest and make any necessary running repairs.

Jan Webb our gorgeous hostess for today's extravaganza

It is also the day for the Webb’s now famous “Not the Moet lunch” at the Webb’s apartment. Admission ticket is a bottle of French champagne!

Jocelyn and Katherine at the "Not the Moet luncheon"

This grand affair started fairly early on another very windy and overcast morning with the sun appearing and the winds moderating as the day matured. The Webb’s’ fabulous lunch with plenty of very good French champagne was really a gourmet feast with trout, prawns, chicken, terrine, salad and more.

Malcolm and Talia at the "Not the Moet lunch"

Talia even made a ginger-bread “Mandala” cake  which everyone loved and the kids (and Jan) ended up with blue tongues from the icing. I had a nice nap in the sun after lunch, nothing whatsoever to do with the several glasses of bubbly before during and after lunch!

Later in the day I posted Gudrun’s great interview on FM Radio 89.9 BFM (KL Malaysia) on to my Facebook  page and the Edu-Cat-Malaysia Facebook page. I did all of my clothes laundry and recharged MYPORT Wi-Fi Marina internet connection with another UAD25 as I ran out of computer time talking to my lovely wife. I also purchased a carton of VB for the boat from the bottle shop.

Another bird with "Verve" at the "Not the Moet lunch"

David Thompson and Jocelyn Webb returned to Sydney today and we were joined by Ben and Katharine Cook and their three delightful little daughters Indiana, Amanda and Eva. Ben will replace David Thompson on the crew for the last few races.

Thursday August 25 2011

Racing is on again today on Course 9, a distance of 21.6nm. We finished 7th across the line again today and 22nd on handicap. We are ranked at 11thoverall after 4 races still looking for a top ten finish!

Another tough day at the office!

It was a tough day today with plenty of tacks and gibes giving all of the crew an excellent work-out with the wind steady at 20-25t knots from the SSE and having to contend with the usual strong tidal streams. On the leg from the north of Pine Island to the north of Long Island “Mandala” suffered from a spectacular “Chinese Gybe” and over she went with the mast nearly touching the water. We all hung on and Gerard at the helm had water up to his knees as the mighty “Mandala” struggled to right herself. Everyone hung on tight and in what seemed to be a remarkably short period of time we were upright again and rapidly putting everything together again. Unfortunately I was to later learn that during this spectacular manoeuvre the outside port window in my cabin “popped” and took in quite a few gallons of the briny.

Wet stuff!

My computer, diary, telephone and other bits and pieces that had been sitting peacefully on top of the pantry cupboard for the past four weeks all got a thorough soaking.  My bed also copped a bucket-full so it was stripped and the sheets taken to the apartment for a wash and dry during dinner! Also during this race when we were putting the spinnaker away in its bag, Damien accidentally fell onto the dining table in the salon and it separated from its base. When we got back to our berth I put everything out to dry and turned a few of the fans in the salon on to assist.

The good old boys!

That night I enjoyed a very nice dinner at Talia and Mat’s apartment with Gerard and Jan and Damien and Fiona. I felt very happy and proud to be treated as one of their family. Gerard and Jan drove me back to the boat on their personally allotted golf-cart at about 1945 hours and I came back with clean dry sheets and tea towels.

Friday August 26 2011

Racing on in earnest today as we really want a top ten finish! Course 10 is the course today, a distance of 22nm. I awoke today to a wet boat as it had rained during the night. Added to the ingestion of water from the famous gybe I put on all the cabin fans to help dry things out. I repaired the salon dining table that was damaged yesterday and got the boat ready for the crew to arrive at around 0900 hours. Gerard decided to let Peter H take the helm today and that decision paid off as we managed a great run and a second place over the line and a very good fifth on handicap. The crew worked exceptionally well together today and with a few more races under our belt we will continue to make substantial improvements. “Mandala” now lies seventh (7th) in the series on handicap after today, a great result.

Saturday August 27 2011

Ben and Talia rarin' to go!

The Molles course today for the final race of the series. After several hours of waiting drifting around the start line in the sometimes drizzling rain the race was eventually cancelled because there was absolutely NO WIND! It is incredible to realise that in the last four days we have had a race cancelled for safety reasons as the wind was too strong and now we have another race cancelled because there is no wind at all!

Peter is less than enthusiastic with no wind while Gerard is talking to the boss to see if something could be arranged!

As it turned out with the racing cancelled today yesterday’s result stands for the Race Week and a top ten result with a very heavy handicap is a marvellous performance.

Everyone admired Peter’s ability to fine tune the boat each day getting better and better. He is a very good tactician and an excellent helmsman with a lot of racing experience. It becomes obvious over time that Peter is very accomplished and very good at what he does.

It is a mill pond!

I must congratulate every single crew member individually. Without any practice together before Race Week we came together like a well-oiled machine and with remarkably little shouting and cursing did a damn good job! Well done everyone! I also want to give everyone a big thank you for making me feel a welcome and valuable crew member (most of the time anyway!).

We spent most of the afternoon getting everything ready on board for the long journey back to Sydney. We have our final dinner tonight at the Webb’s apartment and I enjoyed another lovely evening in their company. I bought chocolates for everyone and Peter bought along a bottle of Verve Cliquot, definitely the preferred champagne of team “Mandala”.

I was back at the boat before 2200 hours to start packing.

Sunday August 28 2011

A cool and overcast final day to a fabulous month of sailing

It is Jan Webb’s birthday today and she is now the same age as me!

My very gracious benefactors: Jan and Gerard Webb. Thank you!

It is an overcast rainy day and I am a bit concerned that I may not be able to fly to Brisbane as several flights have been cancelled recently due to the bad weather and poor visibility. Later however the skies cleared and the sun appeared for the first time in a few days. I am starting to look forward very much to seeing my little sister and her husband Jean-Louis in Brisbane where I will overnight at their home.

My little sister Mary and her husband Jean-Louis

I am also very much looking forward to going back home tomorrow…only one more sleep!

Peter Haliday is taking a Bavaria 55 named “Tonic” to Mackay today. He left very early at around 0330 and Gerard will pick him up from Mackay tomorrow. Gerard’s brother Anthony and another friend who happens to be Bill Robinson’s cousin, Mark Wilkins, will sail the good ship “Mandala” back to Sydney with Peter Haliday.

My flight on Jetstar left Hamilton Island and arrived in Brisbane on time. Janet Mary (Mary) and Jean-Louis met me and after a little sight-seeing around their suburb of Woody Point near Redcliff we went to their lovely home. Mary had prepared a delicious osso-bucco which was downed with relish then off to bed as a very early start tomorrow. During the evening Jean-Louis managed to copy a precious set of very old family photos that Mary had obtained from Dad and little brother, Andrew (now only 53 years old!) had digitalized. Good memories.

Monday August 29 2011

Up at 0330 today and after a quick shower and a nice cuppa JM drove me into Roma Street station in the centre of Brisbane City. From here I caught the Gold Coast express to the southern-most station on that line, Varsity Lakes. Here I got a bus to Coolangatta (Gold Coast) airport. The entire trip went without a hitch and apart from my heavy baggage without wheels was relatively painless!

The AirAsiaX flight left on time at 0840 hours and I got a nice seat in row 8A unfortunately next to a very fat man whose skinny wife sat in the aisle seat. After an otherwise uneventful flight Gudrun met me at KLIA–LCCT at 1535 hours.

We went straight to our local barber at Lucky Garden and I had my usual #1 haircut. Ah! Feels much better! A bit of shopping and we went home where we fitted our new lifejackets, harnesses and tethers ready for our sailing race tomorrow. The Merdeka Regatta from the Royal Selangor Yacht Club to Pulau Pangkor, but that is another story!

We had an early night. (……censored!)

Posted in Maritime Articles and Stories | Leave a comment

A fabulous voyage from Sydney to Hamilton Island

Part One

From Sydney to Hamilton Island, one thousand nautical miles in paradise.

Earlier in the year I heard, via Facebook of all places, that my old friends Gerard and Jan Webb were looking for crew to assist in relocating their magnificent Jeanneau 42i Performance sloop “Mandala” from their private jetty in Cremorne , Sydney NSW to Hamilton Island in the Whitsunday group of islands in North Queensland. The boat was required to be in Hamilton Island so that the “Mandala” racing team could participate in the Hamilton Island Race Week, an event that the Webbs have enjoyed many times before. I immediately put my hand up and was fortunate enough to grab a berth on what was to be a fabulous month of cruising, sight-seeing and racing. The best of the best!

My heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the Webbs and all of the other crew members who made the entire experience an absolute delight!

Below is a diary that outlines, sometimes very briefly, the chronological sequence of events in this amazing journey.

Cremorne, NSW to Bundaberg Queensland.

Crew for the first leg of the relocation.

Skipper                 Peter (Harry Day) Haliday

Peter (Harry Day) Haliday....the chief!

Navigator            Peter (Rabbit) Bruen

Peter "Rabbit" Bruen just off Sydney Heads

Crew                     Bill Pringle, and David (DB) Bradley

The skipper and Bill Pringle keeping watch

Monday July 11 2011

Gudrun and I arrived in Sydney and stayed with my #1 son, Tony at his home in Cammeray.

Wednesday July 13 2011

Gerard, Gudrun and I, together with my grand-daughter Sophie were driven to Balmain by Jan to pick up “Mandala” from a major service. We then motored “Mandala” from Balmain underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge, past “Pinchgut” or Fort Denison, on up the harbour in a northerly direction past the Wedding Cake channel markers, turning to port into Middle Harbour.  We followed Middle Harbour in a roughly westerly direction past Clontarf and Seaforth through the Spit Bridge which has to be raised to allow yachts to pass through and on to the berth in Cremorne.

Later we all enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron courtesy of our hosts.

Wednesday July 27 2011

Gudrun aboard Mandala at the Webb's jetty

Gudrun and I went to the Webbs where together with Gerard we gave “Mandala” a good scrub and loaded 5 x 20 litre containers of spare diesel on board ready for the trip north.

Thursday July 28 2011

Gudrun and I went to the Sydney Boat Show at Darling Harbour with my daughter Juliette. This is a fabulous show with all the latest and greatest boats and gadgets on display. I bought a Plastimo hand-held compass, some Gill waterproof trousers and a nice pair of HH boat shoes. I also found a nice pair of fishing rod holders that I will install on “Mandala” and donate as a most useful accessory.

We had a great day and met up with Peter Haliday and Peter Bruen for a beer at the new Hard Rock Café at Darling Harbour.

Friday July 29 2011

The big day finally arrived and I arrived at the Webbs at 0800 only to discover that I had left the fishing (trolling) rods at my son’s home in Cammeray, fortunately only a short distance away from Cremorne via the back streets. Returned with the gear in about 15 minutes!

Met the rest of the crew and proceeded to load our personal gear together with the victuals on board, put up the dodger and the bimini and prepared everything for our departure.

We departed Cremorne at 1045 in order to reach the Spit Bridge for its scheduled 1115 opening.

At 1230 we were out through the spectacular Sydney Heads and up the coast off Long Reef, a prominent headland and reef that stretches a mile or two out to sea and requires a wide berth.  A little later, just off Mona Vale, we spotted two hump back whales heading north. This time of the year is towards the end of the migration season for the whales heading from Antarctica to the north of Australia to mate and give birth to their young. We were to see many whales during our voyage and it is great to see the resurgence of the hump-back population since the ban on whaling has been enforced. The sun set at 1710 when we were just off The Entrance and we turned our navigation lights on about one and one half miles south of Nora Head.

On the way at last!

Peter “Rabbit” Bruen proved to be a very adept chef and prepared the first of many memorable meals, delicious meat pie with stir fried vegetables.

We started our night watch shift schedule of “three hours on, three hours off” at 1800 hours, by which time it was dark. The skipper and Bill took the first shift and “Rabbit” and I did the 2100 to 2400 stint. At the change of shift we were about 4nm south of Port Stevens. The only excitement on our shift was a deviation necessary to go around a tug-in-tow. One third headsail added around 0.4 knots and we were motor-sailing at 6.5 to 7 knots with the wind coming from the NNW at 10-12 knots. Seas smooth to slight.

Saturday July 30 2011

Today is my 68th birthday. No time to waste!

0300 back on deck just past Broughton Island heading for Seal Rocks. Wind still NNW at 12 knots and we are making about 7 knots SOG. At 0620 we were off Charlotte Head in 63.5 metres of water making about 7 knots SOG on a bearing of 010⁰True.

At 0800 we saw some whales breaching and soon after I put out two lures on the trolling rods near Diamond Reef on a course for the Manning River Entrance and Crowdy Head.

Suddenly at about 0930 just off Manning Point one of the reels screamed and we soon had a nice little bonito on board.  Bonito are known as the chicken of the sea and are delicious eating.

Rabbit is making sure our dinner doesn't escape!

We all enjoyed some sashimi with soy sauce and wasabi as an entrée for breakfast. “Rabbit” prepared some delicious bacon and eggs washed down with an ice-cold VB as we remembered that it was my birthday today! To top off a great morning we made several more whale sightings.

At about midday we added 40 litres of diesel just north of Diamond Head.

The Chart Plotter says it all!

At 1500 hours we were just off Port Macquarie with the wind coming from the NE at an apparent speed of 20 knots and we were making 6 knots SOG. I made a fresh fish curry with the rest of the bonito using a Malaysian curry mix potatoes, canned tomatoes zucchini and coconut milk. Very tasty and enjoyed by all.

A whale “blow” very close by got our attention and at 1700 it was lines in for the night. At this stage we were at Green Point just south of Little Nobby and Big Nobby also known as Crescent Head. Wind from the north at 8 knots and we were making a SOG of 6.1 knots.

Sunday July 31 2011

Did the midnight to 0300 watch with Peter Haliday AKA “Harry Day”. Peter’s daughter started a clothing business in Japan with the label “Haliday” which the locals called “Harry Day” and I guess the nickname stuck. It is a good yarn anyway!

Just after I came on shift Peter H, who knew I was doing sea-miles and getting experience for my RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore certification asked me the question:

‘David, you have just come on shift and a quick head-count reveals one crew member is missing. What should you do?’ Out of the blue….just like that! And it is a great question. Took a minute or two to clear the sleep-fog from my brain and attempt a sensible answer but what came out eventually (and edited just a bit) was :

  1. Press the MOB button and call all hands on deck
  2. Check course and direction to establish an accurate reciprocal course.
  3. Slow down
  4. Search all quarters on the boat to make sure that the crew member is indeed missing.
  5. Call PANPAN and give details over Channel 16
  6. Turn the boat around and as quietly as possible retrace steps.
  7. Determine the maximum time the crewmember could have been missing bearing in mind that there is no point in continuing past the most likely MOB position. For example if it is determined that someone saw the missing crewmember and can give an accurate time of this sighting, calculate how far the boat could have travelled in the time since and only retrace steps that distance or a little more allowing for set and drift.
  8. Set off a red flare if anyone is in near proximity to your boat.
  9. Summon help from the nearest Coast Guard and commence your search quietly keeping a keen eye and ear out for the missing person.

Other than this thought provoking question and quite a bit of discussion about an ideal response the remainder of the watch was quiet and uneventful!

Bliss

Back on again at 0600 and in ideal conditions set the headsail and later the mainsail in a 10-12 knot breeze from the South-East. We then enjoyed a few hours of pleasant sailing without the motor at over 7 knots SOG. Fishing lures out at 0700 and changed lures a few times but no luck yet. Weetbix and peaches for breakfast. Topped off by elevenses, a shower and a change of clothes…at last! Feels great! “Rabbit” has a lasagne in the oven for lunch and all is well.

At noon the wind dropped altogether and the seas are a glassy swell so we furled the headsail. At 1330 we enjoyed a delicious lasagne and fresh salad lunch during which we sighted another whale broaching nearby and a large pod of dolphins paid us a visit.

During the afternoon a 10 knot north-easterly  sea breeze developed and we enjoyed a magical day sailing for three or four hours without the motor at up to 8 knots. At 1600 hours we were just off Ballina and soon after rounded the Eastern-most part of the Australian mainland, Cape Byron. We had various lures out all day but no luck. I reminded the crew about the superstition that having bananas on board was bad luck for fishing and that could be the reason for no fish!

“Rabbit” cooked a magnificent spaghetti bolognaise for dinner washed down with very good red wine from our bag-in-a-box.

Monday August 1 2011

At midnight observed the following stats:

Wind 8.5 knots from the West

Boat speed 6.4 knots

Position 28.043S 15.331E

Course 325⁰ True

We passed Cook Island on the outside and Inner Danger Reef on the inside – a wide passage with a minimum 20m depth. We finally arrived at the fuel wharf at Southport Marina at 0230.

Mandala at the fuel wharf - Southport Marina

The entrance to Southport is a tricky bar crossing with shallow water and breaking waves even in a relatively calm sea. We only had  1.7 metres under the keel at one point. This marina is not suitable for bigger yachts and the super-maxis that arrived later in the morning had to wait ‘outside’ with their crews being ferried into the marina.

Wild Oats crew being ferried in to the marina

The SYDNEY-SOUTHPORT CLASSIC yacht race started at 1300 hours on Saturday July 30 and although there were only very light winds the super-maxi yacht ‘Wild Oats’ took line honours and  arrived at 0800 today taking a day less than we did to cover the distance….without motor assistance!’ Investec Loyal’ was second over the line followed by ‘Loki’ which arrived just as we were leaving.

At 1400 hours we departed Southport Marina after lunch at the Marina restaurant and a walk up Tedder Avenue for some supplies. Later “Rabbit” and I went back to Tooleys, a famous Tedder Avenue hang-out, for a coffee. Fair-dinkum! The weather is again just sensational. Peter H said he has never had a better delivery! Must be my beginners luck!

I took the helm out of the Southport seaway and we then raised the headsail and mainsail and set course for Point Lookout on the northern end of Stradbroke Island. We experienced a beautiful afternoon of sailing without the motor for around six hours at speeds between 5.5 and 7.5 knots. At 1740 “Rabbit” took over the helm still sailing in a northerly direction with the wind now from the East at around 11 knots. Boat speed 6.7 knots, SOG 7.3 knots. Position 27.254S 153.309E. Course 015⁰ True. We are about 10nm south of Point Lookout. We sighted a whale and some more dolphins this afternoon. Bill and I went down for a nap at around 1800 and we were awakened at about 2000 hours with a delicious Thai chicken curry with rice and a glass of Cabernet-Sauvignon from the Stanley cask we bought today at Southport. Bill and I back on watch until 2200 but as the wind dropped during our scrumptious meal we are now under motor. We will do two hours on, four off, for the rest of the day. At 2115 we are motor-sailing along the east coast of Moreton Island pretty much opposite Tangalooma.

2215 hours: Boat speed 5.7 knots SOG 6.1 knots Course 351⁰ True Depth 74.6 metres Wind SE ≤5 knots. Position 27.07.6S 153.30.4E. Peter H is on deck so off to get a few hours of sleep.

Tuesday August 2 2011

Back on watch at 0200 hours. We are now off the entrance to Moreton Bay and there are 9 or 10 ships waiting in the pilot pick-up area off-shore. We monitored their movement on Channel 12. For the past few hours we have motored on a course of 333⁰ heading towards Noosa. The previous watch saw the boat pass the northern end of Moreton Island and inside Flinders Reef marked with a North Cardinal marker. A nice WNW shore breeze has developed over the past two hours and I will recommend using the headsail for some assistance. It is now 0400 and we are just south of Point Perry. Wind WNW 12 knots, Depth 54.8 metres, Boat speed 5.9 knots: SOG 6.1 knots, Position 26.35.5S 153.17.8E. At 0805 we are 13nm south of Double Island point. On deck again in shorts and a T-shirt! The weather continues to exhibit exemplary behaviour! Due to the unfavourable wind direction, right up our clacker, and following seas we furled the headsail and changed course to 004⁰ now heading directly for Double Island Point (D.I.P). At 0930 hours we are passing the wreck of the Cherry Venture on the beach and we are about twenty minutes away from D.I.P.

Double Island Point Lighthouse

Around D.I.P we went inside Wolf Rock which was visible with plenty of white water obvious. This is a good SCUBA dive site as many hammerhead sharks tend to congregate in this area. When we passed this rock there was a dive boat anchored there no doubt with divers looking for these beautiful sharks.

We now started to prepare for the crossing of the Wide Bay Bar by checking the waypoint co-ordinates with DMR as follow:

WP1 25.47.6718S 153.08.3782E

WP2 25.47.3648S 153.06.6306E

WP3 25.48.2057S 153.04.8066E

These waypoints took us on a slightly zig-zag course through this treacherous bar safely at midday.

The ferry from the mainland to Fraser Island

The minimum depth encountered coming through the Wide Bay Bar was 3.5 metres and we must have been taking a good path because we were followed over the bar by a large trawler.

We arrived at Fig Tree Creek off Fraser Island at 1430 (25.39.781S 152.58.632E) and anchored awaiting the ebbing tide to turn so we could continue to cross the Great Sandy Straits with tide assistance and plenty of water under the keel.

Anchored off Fraser Island

Weather remains fine and sunny but with a very cool breeze.

Wednesday August 3 2011.

0100 hours arrived at Kingfisher Resort Fraser Island and dropped anchor for the night. Posn 25,23,6795S 153.01.294E.

Glorious sunrise off Kingfisher Bay Resort Fraser Island

At 0545 I was awake and put the billy on for a cuppa. We found that we were close to the shore with the ebb tide but with better than 5m of water under the keel. After a refreshing cuppa (cup of tea) we raised the anchor and headed for the next port channel marker located at Boon Boon just south of a yellow light located at Boon Boon rocks. We then picked up the lead running at 330⁰ west of Little Woody Island, past Big Woody and the town of Ungara with its lovely yacht club. Incredibly the weather continues to be fine and mild with a light SE breeze.  We had an uneventful crossing of Hervey Bay and arrived at the Bundaberg Marina at 1430 hours and we were safely berthed in berth B10 by 1530.

Bundy Marina

We washed down the decks and will clean up more tomorrow. Enjoyed a nice meal together at the Marina Restaurant and had a fairly early night.

Thursday August 4 2011

Bundaberg Rest Day (Thursday).

Peter Haliday, Peter Bruen and Bill Pringle left today to return home. Because of exceptionally expensive flight costs from Bundaberg the boys decided to hire a car and drive to Brisbane where “Rabbit” will get a flight back home to Sydney and Bill will continue on with Harry Day to his home at Ocean Shores. I am staying on the boat doing some detailing and keeping watch. I Purchased internet access from an excellent service that covers all marinas up the QLD coast for AUD35 per month and caught up with a lot of the back-log of emails and other pressing matters. I purchased some black gaffer tape and recovered part of the bow navigation lights to reduce severe glare at night.

Friday August 5 2011

Bundaberg Rest Day (Friday)

I spent the day cleaning and detailing the boat and catching up with emails etc. During the day I bought two new lures and a tide book. It is my opinion that lure manufacturers are far more successful catching fisher-fold than their lures are at catching fish!

Gerard Webb, owner of ”Mandala”,  arrived from Sydney today later than expected at around 1830 after a delay at Brisbane airport. We enjoyed a quiet dinner together at the marina restaurant and he caught up with the details of our voyage so far. In a nut-shell……. it could not have been better!

Saturday August 6 2011

Final rest day in Bundaberg.

Our other crew members for the leg from Bundaberg to Hamilton Island are due to arrive today. They are Bill Robinson, an old acquaintance of mine from Balgowlah in Sydney and Bob Young from Soldiers Point in the beautiful Port Stevens area north of Newcastle NSW.

(Bill Robinson and his wife Sue together with Gerard and Jan were customers of my 4WD Tour Company “Platinum Adventures” in conjunction with Great Divide Tours. Back in 2002 the Webbs and the Robinsons joined some other mutual friends, the Cottons and a few other hardy souls on an annual  4WD tour led by yours truly that took us from Townsville through Cooktown and the Daintree  all the way up to the old telegraph track and on to the northern-most tip of the Australian continent, Cape York.)

Bill Robinson arrived at 1000 hours and Bob Young flew in from Newcastle at around 1800 hours. Gerard, Bill and I went shopping for supplies using Gerard’s extensive and exhaustive lists. I managed to buy two pairs of navy-blue shorts to complete the “Mandala” uniform for the crew.Geard and Bill outside the Bundaberg Distillery We also visited the famous Bundaberg Rum distillery and made the mandatory purchase of a bottle of Bundy! Gerard also got a bottle of Bundaberg Liqueur for Jan. Later in the afternoon  I wrote and emailed the second article about our RSYC Cleaner Marina Day scheduled for October 15 2011 for The Expat magazine September issue.  Also had a nice long Skype chat with Gudrun who has been very busy helping to get the Clean Up campaign organized back in KL whilst I am just having fun!

After another very pleasant meal together at the Marina restaurant we all decided on a relatively early night as we planned to leave at first light in the morning.

Reference books recommended for this section of the Queensland Coast

v  Noel Patrick’s CURTIS COAST

Bundaberg to Mackay 285 nm of tropical paradise

v  COASTWATCH Beacon to Beacon directory Bundaberg to Tweed River

v  100 magical miles of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Whitsunday Islands David Colfelt and Carolyn

Part 2.

Bundaberg to Hamilton Island, Queensland.

Crew for the second leg of the journey.

The Admiral!

Skipper                                                 Gerard Webb

Radio Officer and Navigator             Bob Young

Bob Young on the VHF radio

Crew                                                     Bill Robinson, and David Bradley

DB on the helm and Bill making sure I am steering straight!

Sunday August 7 2011

We awoke to yet another beautiful fine morning with no wind at all. We left the marina at 0630 and headed north towards Pancake Creek in behind Bustard Head.. At around 1100 the admiral consulted the crew and advised of a change in plans. Due to the very favourable weather conditions and forecasts it was unanimously decided to head out to Lady Musgrave Island  55nm away, with an ETA of around 1600 hours. DMR Round Hill and Bundaberg both confirmed that the navigation hazard warning received earlier from VHF Bundaberg was that the port lateral marker at the entrance to the lagoon was damaged and whereas the pole is still standing, the top was missing. So at 1100 ours just north of Baffle creek we changed course heading for Lady Musgrave Island on a bearing of 018⁰ True.

Approaching Lady Musgrave Island

We arrived at Lady Musgrave Island on schedule and entered the narrow channel into the lagoon.

Bob looking out for "bommies" on the way in to LMI lagoon

The entrance is clearly marked with port and starboard posts as markers. The average depth of the lagoon is 6 to 7 metres and the tidal variance only about 1 metre.

Nearing the entrance to Lady Musgrave Island lagoon

What a magical experience it is coming into a magnificent lagoon of considerable size completely surrounded by a substantial reef that provides wonderful protection for the calm clear waters of the lagoon. We will spend tomorrow exploring this tropical paradise. We had a delicious BBQ dinner consisting of chicken, sausages and Bob’s soon to be famous roasted potato and capsicum slices. ”Mandela” has a Galleymate stainless steel BBQ similar to the one we used so much on our Bayliner. Bill and I tried our hand at fishing for a while but no luck today. After a wonderful day we checked the anchoring and all off to bed at the very respectable hour of 2100.

Monday August 8 2011

An awesome day anchored in Lady Musgrave lagoon.

Some of the thousands of terns that nest in the Pisonia trees on LMI

Bill caught a nice leather jacket and a wrasse before breakfast. I cooked bacon and eggs on the BBQ and Bob made tea and coffee. An excellent start to the day!

On checking our anchorage this morning we found that during the night the anchor chain had moved around a rock so we unhooked and re-anchored. The water is very clear and the anchor and chain were clearly visible. We then launched the dinghy (rubber-ducky) and Bill, Bob and I went over to Lady Musgrave Island (LMI) which was much further away than it looked.

Bill walking across LMI

We walked across and around LMI and came across thousands of black noddy terns perched in the Pisonia trees prevalent on the island. These birds and trees have a symbiotic relationship as the birds provide natural fertiliser for the trees (guano)and the trees manage to trap or ensnare quite a number of birds in their sticky flower stems.

Poor black noddy terns!

The birds cannot escape and die, eventually falling to the ground to form humus for the survival of the trees. A most interesting phenomenon! The birds were not at all afraid or disturbed by our presence allowing us to get very close to them.

Coral sand on the beach at LMI

LMI with its accessible lagoon really has it all. Excellent coral pools are situated near the island to its north-west and we saw small reef sharks (4’ to 5’ long) swimming in the shallow water close to shore. Snorkelling, coral walking, swimming and fishing are all that could be desired. Camping is permitted with fresh water having to be brought in from the mainland and a camping permit obtained from the Department of Environment and Heritage.

Mandala at anchor in the lagoon at LMI

The lagoon is well protected against all but the wildest weather, however due to its large size (it is 1.5nm wide and 2.5nm long), quite a chop can build up if there is a breeze, especially at high water. Before dark we put the outboard motor back on the transom mount on “Mandala”.

Tuesday August 9 2011

Gerard and Bill in the "rubber ducky" at LMI

We were awake early today as a southerly change of about  20 knots came through just after 0200. Interestingly there was no prior indication of a pending change, no clouds, no noticeable change in barometric pressure. It just blew, but the wind is expected to abate and back to the NNW at around 10-15 knots.  Later we lifted the dinghy on the foredeck and lashed it down securely and then had Weetbix and fruit for breakfast. Today we plan to head for Fitzroy Reef lagoon only 22nm away.

Bob keeping lookout at the entrance to Fitzroy Reef Lagoon.

The CURTIS COAST reference book had this to say about Fitzroy Reef. Fitzroy Reef is an important overnight well sheltered anchorage much used by charter and fishing vessels. There is no island. This reef is somewhat larger than LMI but has a more restricted lagoon. The entrance although deep and wide enough requires care. The surrounding waters offer very good catches from deep reefs easily found by echo-sounder. We can’t wait to get there. Gerard has tried numerous times before to spend some time at Fitzroy Reef but had often been thwarted by unfavourable weather so this visit is very much anticipated.

Our pilotage and route takes us through the Bunker Group of islands from LMI to Fairfax then Boult passing Hoskyn and on to Fitzroy reef passing Llewelyn .

{Note: prevailing NW winds are not favourable for safe anchorages on this part of the Great Barrier Reef as there are very few anchorages protected from these winds.}

Just before the entrance to the reef we sighted an enormous turtle at least two metres across basking in the sun. This magnificent creature took off when we passed chased by its accompanying quite large sucker fish. We also sighted some dolphins and schooling tuna chasing bait fish. This area is renowned for good fishing reefs.

DB swimming at Fitzroy Reef. This is a lagoon 44nm from the mainland!

We duly arrived at Fitzroy Reef and anchored at 1330. The entrance to this “oasis” in the middle of the ocean 44nm offshore from Gladstone is narrow and a bit of a zig-zag but with good depth even at low tide. This place is absolutely amazing…..here we are anchored in water as calm as a mountain lake completely surrounded by a large reef that is only visible at low water when breaking waves mark the reef’s location. We all had an invigorating swim in the crystal clear water and then Bill decided to do some fishing using the ox heart bait we bought in Bundaberg. This bait is relatively cheap, keeps well, does not stink like squid or prawns and is highly effective. Within a few minutes Bill had a beautiful yellow sweetlip (aka sand snapper or spangled emperor) on board and a few minutes later he had another one! These pan –sized fish are excellent eating so Bob also decided to try his luck and soon added another sweetlip to our catch. He then hooked a large green and orange “green finned parrot fish” which managed to straighten a sturdy hook and fall off when I tried to lift it on-board without using the landing net. DOH!

Another delicious sweet-lip for dinner!

I also caught a couple of the beautiful sweetlip and then had the job of cleaning and fileting them for dinner. Needless to say our gastronomic chef, Bob, made a sensational meal of delicately fried fish filets served with seasoned baked potatoes and onions. We all thoroughly enjoyed this treat and were replete before all the fish was consumed! Cleaning the fish and throwing the scales, guts and frames over the side attracted some quite large reef sharks which were clearly visible. Another swim was not on the cards for anyone! After a lovely peaceful evening listening to Leonard Cohen and having a few monster Bundy and Cokes courtesy of Bill we all turned in tired but happy!

Wednesday August 10 2011

I was up at first light today and put the billy on. We prepared to leave the paradise found at Fitzroy Reef and navigated the narrow entry/exit channel at 0630 hours with only 1.2 metres under the keel at one stage. We then set a course For Cape Capricorn at the northern end of Curtis Island passing south of Lamont Reef, Heron Island, Wistari Reef, Erskine Island, Masthead Island and Polmaise Reef, the site of several historic ship wrecks. Once clear of Polmaise reef to the south we will head in a straight line for Double Head Point just south of Yepoon, and our destination of Keppel Bay Marina, a distance of 84nm. We passed north of Humocky Island and west of Wedge Island and Pelican Island. Keppel Bay Marina is in Roslyn Bay.

Srike!

At about 1230 hours Bob saw a fish jump behind the boat and a second later the trolling rod bounced, and the reel screamed – a strike! No bananas on board! By the time we slowed the boat down the fish had taken more than 50m of 25kg breaking strain braid line against a heavy drag. When I picked up the rod the fish made another strong run taking another fifty or sixty metres of braid.

Bill expertly wielding the gaff soon had the fish on board

With steady drag and a pumping action the fish slowly came in making one final desperate deep dive before being cranked to the surface. An expertly wielded gaff and Bill pulled a lovely 10+kg Striped Tuna on board. Gerard and Bob took some great photographs of this exciting event. Striped Tuna are very hard fighting fish and great fun to catch on relatively light gear. They make sensational bait but being so bloody they are unfortunately not a very good eating fish. Nevertheless we decided that perhaps if we marinated the tuna in Teryaki sauce for a day or two in the refrigerator it may be OK so that we did!

The evidence! A nice 11kg striped tuna

After cleaning the catch and washing away all the blood we were all ready for a cleansing-ale or two and a delicious mortadella, cheese, tomato and Spanish onion wrap prepared by Bill. Later Bob made radio contact with Keppel Bay Marina on Channel 21 and we were allocated blue 54 berth on the eastern arm of the marina….no keys needed.

Thursday August 11 2011

A day at the beautiful well-equipped Keppel Bay Marina.

A nice clean "Mandala" at Keppel Bay marina

Today we gave the boat a good scrub. I refilled the 4.5kg gas bottle and did quite a bit of washing and drying clothes in the professional washing and drying machines available here. Good to have plenty of clean clothes again! I bought a very nice bright yellow long sleeved polo-shirt made of sunscreen material (UVP 40+) branded with the Keppel Bay Marina logo. I had time today to download a lot of photos into my computer, catch up on emails and chat to my darling Gudrun on Skype. What a great invention Skype is to be sure. Later in the day I prepared some waypoints for the navigation of our voyage tomorrow when we will head for Pearl Bay. To my delight Gerard has appointed me as Skipper for the next leg. Gerard has also graciously spent quite a bit of time teaching me how to use the Raymarine Chart Plotter and use other navigation aids such as Google Earth, various weather sites and of course keeping an ear out for the weather reports made on the radio at regular intervals. We enjoyed breakfast and lunch at the marina restaurant and just had snacks for our evening meal.

Tranquil well appointed Keppel Bay marina

In summary Keppel Bay Marina is a very pleasant and convenient port of call on the way up the Curtis Coast.

Friday August 12 2011

Keppel Bay Marina to Pearl Bay a distance of 47nm. I am skipper and navigator today under the watchful eye of Gerard (the Admiral) and Bob (Chief Navigator).

DB on the helm heading North to Pearl Bay today

We motored out of our marina berth (B54) and headed almost due north on a bearing of 005⁰ aiming for Corio Bay our first waypoint. We are experiencing good set (current) assistance and at only 1600rpm we are cruising at 7.2 knots. We arrived at our first WPT at 0950 hours and maintained our course for the next WPT at Cape Manifold 14nm to the north, ETA noon. Due to variable light SW to SE winds backing to the SE and coming directly from behind we put a preventer on the boom in order to avoid accidental gybes.

We arrived as scheduled at Cape Manifold and negotiated the narrow channel between Cape Manifold and the island just offshore, then setting a course for the next WPT near Double Rock. We decided to go outside Quorn Island and abeam of Double Rock. With the wind picking up we turned off the engine and were soon sailing at better than 6 knots. Later the wind picked up to 20 knots, perfect conditions for “Mandala” and we sailed all the way to Pearl Bay, making several deliberate but controlled gybes on the way. Close to the entrance to Pearl Bay we dropped the mainsail and motored to our anchorage a few hundred metres into the bay. We chose and anchorage next to a Lagoon 380 sailing catamaran and a small sailing sloop. Two other catamarans are anchored here, one a power cat the other a sailing cat.

Safely anchored at Pearl Bay...Bundy and Coke was the order of the day!

Once safely anchored at 1530 Bill poured some fantastic Bundys and Coke which became the order of the day. Later the wind turned around to the NE and was surprisingly cold. Pearl Bay is a well-kept secret. It is a safe and protected anchorage with lovely sandy beaches and beautiful surrounding islands and coastline. We were most fortunate to sight a dugong (manatee)or sea-cow this afternoon but it was successful at remaining anonymous as we could not get close enough for long enough to get a good photograph. We had BBQ’d Tuna Teriyaki for dinner and we all agreed that it tasted much better than we expected! But then again maybe we were just very hungry!

Relaxing at anchor in Pearl Bay, a lovely refuge!

Pearl Bay is altogether a lovely place to spend a quiet day or two.

Saturday August 13 2011.

Today we are heading for the Percy Islands approximately 55nm away. I am privileged to be the skipper again today so clearly I didn’t frighten anyone too much yesterday (except perhaps Bill who was sure I was going to run aground on one or two of the islands we passed en route!). We had the anchor up at 0640 and were soon under way heading up the coast inside the Clara Group of islands on a bearing of 336⁰True.

Gerard and Bob at ease on route to the Clara Group of islands

We are motoring at 1800 rpm with a boat speed of 6.9 knots and a SOG of 7.9 knots. We had a following set of 1.2 knots. I had Weetbix with a banana for breakfast and a nice cup of Bob’s coffee later. We noted the weather schedule from Rockymet would be radioed at 0720, 101, and 1615. The forecast for the next three days is wind from the SE at 10 to 15 knots gusting to 20 knots. Seas slight with a swell of 1.2 to 1.7 metres. The tides at the Percy Islands high 6.2 metres at 2250 and low 0.8 metres at 1630.

At 0840 we spotted a whale blowing just off the starboard bow. It surfaced a few times and then sounded.

On course for Steep Island

We are on course for Steep Island WPT on a bearing of 319⁰ at 1800 rpm and a SOG of 8.1 knots. We had wonderful current assisting at 1.4 knots. We arrived at Steep Island WPT at 1030 hours and maintained the same course for WPT at South Percy Island about 2.5 hours away. We broke out apples for morning tea at 1100 hours and sighted a large green turtle sun-baking nearby. We enjoyed a corned beef and salad sandwich for lunch washed down with an ice-cold VB .Yum! At Hixson Island near South Percy Island we decided to spend the night anchored at Blunt Bay on North East Isle instead of West Bay on Middle Percy Island where we will move early tomorrow.

Gerard and Bill exploring the rocky coastline at Blunt Bay

Rationale was that we would get better shelter from the fresh SE breeze and from the southerly swell (roll). At 1300 hours we spotted another hump-back whale heading south. We arrived at Blunt Bay at 1445 and after slowly cruising around the bay we anchored off a small rocky beach at 1500 hours in6 metresof water. The tide will make a difference of around4 metres. Bob and Gerard launched the dinghy, mounted the outboard and Gerard and Bill headed for the shore and a bit of exploration. They returned about 45 minutes later reporting that the shore line was quite rocky and uninviting. We had BBQ lamb for dinner, another excellent meal. It has to be said that the victualing and menu selection on this entire trip has been exceptionally good thanks no doubt to thorough preparation and planning by Gerard and in particular Jan. It is also obvious to me that such excellent catering comes from years of practice!

Note: Lesson learned today. When going about close to shore (within a few hundred metres) also turn out to sea NOT in towards the shore.

Some notes on the Percy Group of Islands.

Middle Percy Short History

With many delightful anchorages opposite appealing beaches these islands have a lot to offer cruising yachtsmen. The mecca of all cruising vessels, the Percys combine glorious beaches with spectacular scenery. The West Bay anchorage at Middle Percy Island must have hosted every vessel that has cruised in the area.

The "Mandala" crew in front of the "A" frame "museum" at West Bay Middle Percy Island

On the beach at West Bay stand two buildings, the larger an impressive “A” frame type. Tradition demands that suitable name plaques and other memorabilia from visiting yachts be displayed here. The islands of the Percy group consist of (from south to north) South Percy Island and just to the west of this island lies Hixson Island. Almost due north of South Percy Island is North East Isle where Blunt Bay is located on the north side and just to the north is Walter Island. To the West of North East Isle is the largest island of the group, Middle Percy Island with the famous West Bay on its western side. Just to the west of Middle Percy lies Pine Island. Strong tidal streams are experienced running north and west of the northern tip of Middle Percy Island. To the north of Middle Percy lies Pine Peak Island and Hotspur Island is a little further north.

Sunday August 14 2011

After a very rock n roll night at Blunt Bay we were all ready and happy to move around to West Bay on Middle Percy Island only about 5nm away. I navigated and helmed the route manually as there are very strong tidal streams at the northernmost cape of Middle Percy. At times “Mandala” got close to 10 knots SOG with only 6+ knots boat speed! We anchored safely at West Bay at around 0800 hours and I made bacon and eggs on the BBQ. We prepared the dinghy and went ashore to look at all the paraphernalia in the “A” frame “museum” from the visits of many hundreds of yachts. Later we got a ride in the back of a 4WD “Ute” up to the homestead on the highest point in the centre of the island about 3 or 4 kilometres from West Bay.

DB in the kitchen of the old farmhouse high up on Middle Percy Island

There is some interesting history here about the current and earlier occupants. Bill purchased a two litre milk bottle full of locally harvested honey. We all walked back down to the beach via another “house” occupied by a very “Rambo-like” character who had no less than four or five knives and machetes on his belt!

Gerard and some cute wild-life

There is a lot of wild-life on Middle Island Island as early explorers used to leave goats, pigs rabbits and so on to provide sustenance in the event of a shipwreck. Middle Percy is also home to quite a number of extremely timid and cautious Hart deer which are rarely seen. Gerard was intrigued with a baby wallaby seen on the path to the beach.

Walking back down to the beach with our friendly "Rambo" tour guide and a few of his pet goats!

We viewed the Captain Matthew Flinders plaque on the northern end of the beach near the entrance to the lagoon. Back to the boat where we had BBQ sausage sandwiches finished off with a slice of bread and the just acquired honey. All of us then had a leisurely shower and scrub at the back of the boat. An easy afternoon enjoyed by all in this wonderful Great Barrier Reef tropical paradise.

West Bay from the track back down from the homestead

Monday August 15 2011

We weighed anchor and departed at a civilised hour and set a course of 325⁰ heading for Refuge Bay located on Scawfell Island, an estimated distance of 63nm. Gerard is spoiling me rotten and once again I am thrilled to be the skipper for the day. Soon we passed Sphinx Islet at 0815 with a small course deviation. Expect to arrive at Scawfell Island at about 1615 hours. Wind from the S-SE at 10-15 knots seas slight on a low swell. When we were only about thirty minutes out of West Bay we saw two whales blowing and showing their tails.

We are sailing!

Later the wind increased to 15-20 knots from the SE which was directly on our stern. We tried to gull-wing the main and the head-sails and this worked fine but was very difficult to maintain so we changed course heading for Derwent Island on a bearing of 330⁰ to give us a better sailing angle with the mainsail only. We duly arrived at the Scawfell Island anchorage and were anchored in Refuge Bay with a Bundy and Coke in hand at 1650 hours. We had BBQ steak for dinner tonight and Bob again prepared his fabulous baked potatoes and onions. This is a lovely sheltered and scenic anchorage. Our resident fishing expert, Bill Robinson, soon had four pan-sized fish on board.

Bill with his "catch of the day"!

One superb juvenile red emperor but still well over legal size and three other good sized fish we thought looked like some kind of whiting. They turned out to be Wolf Herring and they are really bad to eat tasting awful and full of bones as we discovered the next day.

Tuesday August 16 2011

Gerard continues to spoil me and I am once again skipper for the day for which I am most grateful as my log is rapidly becoming quite respectable in my quest for my RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore certification. I will have enough miles and experience to be able to do the 8 hour practical examination for this qualification later in the year. Fantastic!

I was up at 0600 this morning and put on the billy for a nice cup of early morning tea. I started the engine to let it warm up for a while and planned our route to go to Shaw Island just south of Lindeman Island for our final anchorage before reaching our destination of Hamilton Island. The distance for today will be about 41nm. We weighed anchor and were on our way at 0630, a great start. Once underway, Bill prepared Weetbix fruit and honey for all of us. A bit later, just after 0700 when Robert was preparing his usual nice cup of plunger coffee there was a minor mishap. The boat rocked unexpectedly on a wave and the coffee and cups with milk ready for the coffee ended up on the floor! We are so lucky with the weather with today being no exception.

Doesn't get much better than this!

It is another glorious day with continuing prevailing SE winds at 10-15 knots. Our course today takes us west of Cockermouth Island and north of Carlisle Island that lies just to the north of Brampton Island. From there we headed for the Sir James Smith group of islands all named after the various trade-smiths. We set our course for Tinsmith Island to the west on a bearing of 310⁰ True. Other islands in this group are named, Goldsmith, Ladysmith, Blacksmith, Hammer, Anchor, Locksmith and Linnie. A bit further to the north is Coppersmith Rock marked with an isolated hazard light (two flashes every ten seconds) and Silversmith Island. From our GO TO CURSOR mark east of Tinsmith Island we will head for another mark west of Silversmith Island and then on the western lower peninsular of Shaw Island, our destination for the day.

Sunset over Lindeman Island

The Club Med Lindeman Island Resort is just to the north of our anchorage at Shaw Island in Burnt Bay across the channel between Shaw and Lindeman Islands. We navigated successfully to our anchorage and were securely anchored at 1300 hours after watching out for the mostly submerged Platypus Rock which is marked with a west cardinal buoy. I cooked bacon, eggs and tomatoes for lunch washed down with a nice cold VB and Bill washed up afterwards. We had the fish Bill caught yesterday afternoon for dinner and whereas the Red Emperor was superb the Wolf Herring were simply awful so we all shared the delicious Red Emperor as there was enough to go around. Well done Bill! I was fortunate to share another great night with by now very good friends at a really good place to spend our last night at sea before we reach Hamilton Island.

Wednesday August 17 2011

We were ready to go at 0800 and we motored up the Kennedy Sound east of Brush Island and Yellow and Chrome Rocks. On the way to Hamilton Island we tested the current strengths near Plantation bay on Lindeman Island then passed to the NE of Little Lindeman Island, SW of Pentecost Island, E of Dungurra Island (aka Young Island), N of Perseverance Island then up the Fitzalan Passage and through the narrow and shallow channel to the S of Fitzalan Island.

The Dent Passage into Hamilton Island

We then rounded the North end of Hamilton Island where the “qualia resort” is located. This is deliberately spelt without capital letters and is a very exclusive up-market resort  beautifully blending in with the landscape in a picture perfect spot. Next we motored S down the Dent Passage directly to the Hamilton Island Marina where there was lots of activity going on.

Safe and sound. Berthed at Hamilton Island Marina ready for Race Week!

We were securely berthed in Berth G13 at precisely 1100 hours having covered only 18nm from our anchorage of the night before. Peter Haliday turned up right on schedule and decided he would stay with his mate Greville who owned a massive power boat and was from Melbourne.

Pizzas and Red Wine at Manta Ray Restaurant

Later we all enjoyed dinner at the Manta Ray restaurant together with Greville who dominated the wine selection and pouring! Just let’s say that we all enjoyed lots of red and white wine and very good pizzas.

Thursday August 18 2011

Today we spent our time cleaning the boat and sorting out all of the gear.

Good-bye Bill and Hello Peter! Lunch at the Yacht Club

I enjoyed lunch at the beautiful Hamilton Island (HI) Yacht Club together with Gerard, Bob, Bill and Peter H. Soon after lunch Gerard took Bill to the airport to return home to Sydney and Bob and I went to Gerard and Jan’s beautiful ground floor rented apartment. The Webbs had booked two adjoining apartments on the ground floor opening out onto a well-manicured lawn overlooking a beautiful sea and island view. This is a perfect spot for a family to stay, especially a couple with two married children, their spouses and three small grandchildren to accommodate. We learned that one of Jan’s close friends had passed away and that Jan would not now be arriving until tomorrow as she was attending the funeral. Damian (Dame) and Fiona (Fi) arrived in the afternoon with their young son Joshua and I met Talia, Gerard and Jan’s daughter and eldest child, and her children Owen and Lucas. Malcolm (Mal), Talia’s husband is also scheduled to arrive tomorrow.

See the final exciting part of this trilogy in the next post 
Hamilton Island Race Week
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