Our Current Position

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Back in the Marina Again!

There is a pattern emerging here where we only blog when in the marina, but that is largely because we have had such poor signal once we are cruising the islands.

Since the last blog entry a week ago we have been offshore with our friends Anna and Paul having another relaxing week cruising the Whitsundays.

We spent our first night in Homestead Bay off Cid Island where Anna insisted that she could hear gibbons and could even see the bananas in the trees that they fed on. She was on one of Debi’s special G&T’s at the time.

The second night was in Saba Bay on the east side of Hook Island.  The fringing reef here is very hard to see and we ended up anchoring quite close. Sadly the snorkelling was poor with poor visibility and a lot of the coral damaged and dead. However, we did see the first dolphins of the trip as we left here.

On Wednesday we left with the idea of trying out the gennaker, but the wind was the wrong way and then started blowing too hard. So instead we went for a random sail with Paul tuning the sails and  flying along at 7.5 knots. Then we realised that we were heading to Bait Reef again and so decided to go and take a look. When we arrived it was deserted and we struggled to find the entrance to the moorings with no boats to guide us. We picked up a mooring and after checking the forecast decided that we would be safe enough to stay the night. It was a pretty unique experience spending the night moored on the outer reef!

The snorkelling was good again with a big hump head wrasse under the boat, coral trout, clown fish, and lots of other fish too numerous to mention. Again the coral was nice but not as colourful as we remember it on previous visits to the reef. We also had a couple of Crested Terns that thought X-Pat was a cool place to take a rest.

On Thursday we returned to the islands and had a very successful sail using “Harry” the Hydrovane to steer us to Border Island. We were lucky again and picked up a mooring in Cateran Bay and were the only boat for the night. The snorkelling here was also very good and the reef seems to have recovered from damag suffered a few years ago during storms. We went ashore here and did a short walk giving us a good perspective of how small our boat looks when you view the whole bay.

Friday night was spent in Macona Inlet where we again heard “gibbons”, again associated with G&T! We decided that what we were hearing was possibly a Pheasant Coucal, which is a type of cuckoo and the only one in Australia that builds it’s own nest. We also went ashore to a small beach here and did a quick beach clean up. The beach was pretty clean but there were still plastics there despite being a few miles up a south facing inlet.

Then on Saturday it was a motor back to Abell Point Marina in very light winds to drop off Anna and Paul, clean the boat, re-provision and prepare for Shona and Barry!

A view of the "Stepping Stones" at Bait Reef from the stern.

There is still lots of beautiful coral despite the recent bleaching event

Paul and Anna and the "fruit bowl" that they brought us
A short walk on Border Island

A clown fish in the reef at Border Island

An inquisitive wrasse

An inquisitive wrasse

This Crested Tern seemed to take a fancy to sitting on the bow when we were anchored at Bait Reef

X-Pat moored in Cateran Bay, Border Island

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Marina Time

Well we got lazy and just stayed in May's Bay until Friday, just chilling out and watching the turtles. Then we headed across to Abell Point Marina on Friday morning for the weekend. Time to fix stuff, re-provision, do the laundry and shower!

We had more fun with the furler when we came to furl the headsail. Yet again it wouldn't furl and so again the sail is lying on the deck. It wasn't much fun getting it down with the wind gusting 30 knots! We've had yet another look at it and hope it is fixed this time.

We also attempted to do an oil change on the engine as it was well overdue. This all went well until we tried to get the old oil filter off. It would not budge, despite going out and buying a filter wrench. We are now awaiting a mechanic to take a look on Monday.

Our friends Paul and Anna are joining us today and sailing with us for the next week. So this afternoon we will be provisioning and getting things ready for a hopeful departure tomorrow (mechanic permitting!).
Draining the engine oil, just before discovering that the old filter was stuck.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Great Barrier Reef

Monday (10th) was a bit of a full day! We dropped our mooring at Maureen’s Cove at 0600 and headed north for Bait reef. This is the closest part of the outer reef and the true barrier reef. Despite the forecast for light winds we ended upwith 20 knots gusting 25 knots and made great progress over the 17 miles. Things were busy when we got there, with all six moorings taken. After a little bit of lively discussion with one other boats over the radio, we managed to get a mooring for a couple of hours and did some great snorkelling. Then it was off back to Hook Island.

We had a an issue with our furling line when we got back and had to drop the head sail and replace the furling line which was badly chaffed. All part of living on a boat.

We finally settled down to sundowners in Stonehaven Bay at about 1730, which is late for us! 

Yesterday we thought we would have an easy day with about a 10 mile motor sail south. However, we made the mistake of unfurling the headsail which we thought was now fixed. No such luck! Furling line everywhere and so down came the head sail again.  And, just to finish it off ,the sheets started flogging and broke one of the sheaves on the starboard car. Grrrr!

So today we have sat still in the beautiful May’s Bay. The furler is fixed (we think) and the car has a temporary fix but the headsail is still lying on the deck!

We have swum and snorkelled and walked on the beach and also done our bit for marine conservation by catching absolutely no fish at all!

Bait Reef, Great Barrier Reef

Bait Reef, Great Barrier Reef
Bait Reef, Great Barrier Reef

X-Pat moored on the Great Barrier Reef
Unique creature found on Barrier Reef!

We seem to see turtles in most bays that we anchor in

Mangroves at low tide in May's Bay

Paddling in May's Bay

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Still Here!

Well it has to be said that the poor blog has been sadly neglected. This is partly down to the absolutely appalling level of mobile coverage in the Whitsunday Islands and partly down to what happens when you delegate the blogging to the crew!

Coincidentally the last time we blogged we were sitting in Homestead Bay on Cid Island, which is exactly where we are now. But we have moved! After a few days in the marina and a quick trip back to Sydney, we have been randomly sailing through these islands, basically heading wherever we feel like on the day and wherever the wind is blowing.

We've seen some great wildlife, with turtles in the bays, sea eagles, stone curlews and a lot of friendly swallows, who seem to enjoy flying through our boat! We have even managed to do some beach cleanups (see tideline.com.au).

We have had Gillian and Lewis onboard for a few days, when we managed to do a bit of sailing, snorkelling and a lot of eating! It has to be said that the chef and chief provisioner has been brilliant so far. However we are currently heading into the last week of a three week stretch without re-provisioning  so the tins and dried food are starting to appear! 

We have another week with just the two of us and then we have friends and family arriving for the following two weeks before we start heading south. The mobile coverage has been so bad that we have renewed the sat phone contract and so our tracking is back for all to see.

Here are a few pics from the last few weeks:

One of our friendly swallows

Another day, another remote beach

Challenging conditions!

The view from Mount Oldfield, Lindeman Island

Friendly Fiji

After a burst of activity early on, it has been a pretty chilled out week. We left Buca Bay on Sunday, motoring out through the reef into...