Friday, August 22, 2014

Back in Cruising Mode

We're back in the cruising mode.  Now that we have reached the Whitsunday Islands, there is alot, (or 'heaps' as the Aussies say) more time to meet people and stay around when the fun is to be had.  The Mackay Marina sponsored a Parking Lot Barbeque for all the guests that could make it.. 

We met up with our South African friends, Rowland and Miki, that we haven't seen since GCCM.  We met quite a few new cruisers that were waiting out the weather also.  Tim and Karen on the Hunter 45, DA LUKE.  John and Soraya on the Hylas 45, MERLIN.  Anne and Alan on SAGITAIRE, Evan, Diane, and Maia on CEILYDH.  Mike and Heather on GEORGIA, and John and Chris on UKELELE.  We crossed paths a few times over the next few days as we island hopped north.  An island will have good and bad anchorages depending on the wind and swell so we ended up at the most logical anchorages together.

We first went to Brampton Island.  We went ashore and explored the deserted Brampton Island Resort.  It looked as if it was operating one day and then everyone just disappeared.  Pool tables with balls and cues, beach furniture stacked for the night.  Jetskis and Hobies were waiting for the next days guests who never came.  The place has been abandoned for probably 3-4 years.  Kind of creepy.

Brampton Island Resort

Ready to play pool

Just needs a little landscaping

Still in pretty good shape

Even a deserted runway

Everyone in the anchorage got together for sundowners and we used their nice dock as our party patio.  It was nice to reunite with the Mackay folks and meet new people.
The Sundowner Crew

At least we're back to barefeet

The anchorage seemed great but turned rolley as the night wore on.  One of those wind, current, swell switching around nights.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tides, Current, and Anchoring.

Mackay is within easy striking range of the Whitsundays.  There are islands as far as you can see.  We have even been referring to this area as the AVI's (Australian Virgin Islands) because they are so similar to the British Virgin Islands, only so many more islands covering so much more area.  Whale sightings are now almost as common as dolphins and we are still 30 miles inside the Great Barrier Reef.

Even though the Barrier Reef is blocking much of the Pacific Ocean swell, in many of the anchorages the boats get rolling and uncomfortable at times.  The real issue however are the tides.  They are huge at 23ft in Mackay and 18 ft in the Whitsundays.  The hydrodynamics of this area are similar to the Chesapeake Bay with the Barrier Reef being similar to the Eastern Shore with similar depths.  However, the Chesapeake has 2 ft tides and still has some pretty good current.  Imagine what a 23 ft tide would do with the volume of water in the Chesapeake.

So even when anchoring at an isolated island, there is current as if you are in a coastal river and the boat will swing 4 times daily according to the tide and not according to the wind.  Since you are not pointing in to the wind but covering 180 degrees of swing, there are times when the ocean swell, wind chop, or current counter wind will be hitting the side of the boat and there you go, rocking and rolling.

Normally we put out an anchor chain length of about 4-5 times the depth of the water.  This is called 'scope' and make a low angle at the shank of the anchor which keeps the anchor from pulling out.  With these big tides, you have to check your depth and tide when picking a spot to anchor to make sure that you won't be sitting on the bottom when the tide goes out.  You also need to add the tide to your depth so you have scope to keep from pulling your anchor out when the tide goes high. 

Anyone for a Vegemite Sandwich

'Up Island'

Small Boat 'Dry' Marina in Manly

In the Caribbean you travel 'Down Island' to get to warmer latitudes.   Since we're Down Under, we're going the other way, 'Up Island'

It took us one month to travel from the Gold Coast City Marina to Whitsunday Islands.  Three of those weeks were spent in marinas.  When we left, the temperatures at night were in the 40's so being able to plug in to shore power is a real plus.  There were fronts and weather to avoid and the marinas were snug along a coast that exposed to the full force of the Pacific Ocean.

Australian marinas are expensive ($79-$80 per night) and they charge 50% more if you have a catamaran.  The weekly rates, however, were the same as 5-6 nights so as long as we were waiting out 4 days of weather, well, you might as well stay for the week.

Our marina stays were as follows:
    Manly - 2 nights (Thunderstorms)
    Mooloolaba - 7 nights (4 days of high wind)
    Hervey Bay - 1 night (positioning for early 3AM departure)
    Bundaberg - 7 nights (5 days of high wind)
    Mackay - 7 nights (5 days of high wind and rain)

The beach at Mooloolaba

We anchored only 3 times:
    Garrys in Sandy Straits - 1 night - calm
    Pancake Creek - 1 night - well protected
    Great Keppel Island - 1 night - couple hours of rolling

We covered about 500 nautical miles, the weather warmed up as we came north and now anchoring is the method of choice and you can't beat the economics, free.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Mooloolaba By Crakey - Steve Irwin

After leaving the Gold Coast City Marina we made it to the Manly Boat Harbor.  The temps are still cold at night so it is nice to have some place to plug in our $14 heater.  We stayed 1 night and then motor sailed to Mooloolaba in light winds.  Mooloolaba is one of the towns on the Sunshine Coast, an area of beach towns on the coast north of Brisbane.   

New $50 Helmet to avoid $100 fine

We stayed a week which involved 1 full day of bike riding during which we had to buy helmets after being warned by the police that that was the law and carried a $100 fine. 

Dave did 4 days of electrical work which was deferred from the boatyard days as to not delay our departure, and then, the highlight of Mooloolaba, The Australia Zoo.
Our transport to the Zoo

This place is a half hour Greyhound bus ride from town and is what Steve Irwin's Crocodile Park developed in to.  We saw lots of croc stuff, plenty of Koalas, Kangaroos, Wombats.  There is even an animal hospital.

There was a croc show which was big fun.  Probably not as good as having Steve Irwin doing it.

Another one of those sleepy Koalas
The roos were so well fed that they were bored with my food.
Koalas sleep 20 hours a day.  I hope Booker didn't wake this one up.

Booker trying to feed a piece of grass to a kangaroo.  It had no interest in eating it.