Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Beating south

The plan had been that we would cruise downwind northwards in May, with the steady South-easterlies. That happened.

Then in August we would meander from Hinchinbrook Island to Mackay, through the Whitsundays. Not a particularly ambitious project, partly because the area is interesting, partly because we aimed to have guests aboard, and partly because we knew that the winds would still be from the south-east. It all happened as planned.

But the next trip, from Mackay to Southport, from mid-October to mid-November, was supposed to coincide with the arrival of the North-easterlies, thus making it a down-hill run.

That is what happened exactly nine years ago, when George and I did a cruise in Sahula from Mackay to Tin Can Bay in the first fortnight of October 2001 (three weeks after 9/11) at the very beginning of our relationship.

But this time the northeasterlies are nowhere to be seen. Its steady on the nose all the time.

The good news is that Nimrod handles it very well. We have the small self-tacking jib on (which lets us point higher than the genoa) and when it gets choppy enough to slow the boat down, we put on one engine at 2000 - 2200 rpm and motor-sail along at 8 knots. That has the added benefit of topping up the batteries, and giving us hot water for showers at the end of the day. One engine uses one litre of diesel an hour, so its very economical.

The first week of this trip we were joined by our friends Greg and Jan, from Sydney. They are about to get a share of a Lightwave 45, and took the opportunity to help us from Mackay to Yeppoon.

Greg & Jan

We went from Mackay to Scawfell Island, and then down to Curlew Island, before stopping at Middle Percy Island, with its remarkable yachties shrine.

Middle Percy Island

George went exploring in the new inflatable kayak.

Pearl Bay

We dropped Greg and Jan off at Rosslyn Bay marina near Yeppoon, and are now cruising gently south via Great Keppel Island, Yellow Patch, and Facing Island, outside Gladstone.

We have had some good luck fishing, with several tuna and also plenty of crabs.