Townsville

After leaving Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island, we arrived at Breakwater Marina on Saturday afternoon and went directly to the fuel jetty to fill up. That way we didn’t have to do it when we were due to leave. Surprisingly we’d used much less fuel than we had thought as a result of our economic use of fuel. We’ve sailed whenever possible and generally run the engine only to charge everything up.

Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island

Tied up in berth E34, it wasn’t long before we had the dunny bags out and off for a shower! It’s been six weeks since we’ve been at a marina and a hot steamy shower was a treat. And how is Breakwater Marina I hear you ask? Fine thanks. The showers are excellent! Well, at least the second shower in the row of four in the women’s block. The one at the far end had a miserable dribble of water; whereas number two shower has pressure like a fire-hose and it’s hot and steamy! The laundry facilities are really good too. Front loaders for $4 and dryers for $3 for 45 minutes. The morning after we’d arrived I got up early and began washing – two loads of clothes; two loads of sheets and towels; two loads of seat covers; two of doonas; one of sleeping bags (which had got a little musty stored in the front cabin). It was over $60 for all the washing but since I generally wash clothes by hand it was well worth the outlay to get the boat (and us) smelling lovely and fresh.

Our friend ‘Spot’ lives in Townsville so it was good to catch up with him aboard Blue Heeler for dinner on Monday night. Over a couple of bottles of red, we caught up on old times, agreed that Gen-X are better than Gen-Y and sorted out some of the worlds problems too!

The Blue Heeler ‘to-do’ list was referred to once more and kept both of us busy. There was a problem with the solenoid on the gas bottles which Wayne fixed. While he did that I walked four kms to Bias Boating to pickup a sand anchor for the dinghy. I love a good walk! With plenty of water in Townsville, I was happy to wash the boat from top to bottom while Wayne gave the engine an oil change. I can only carry so much back to the boat from Woolies, so I decided to go online and let my fingers do the walking. Both Woolworths and Coles deliver to the marina so I went online and ordered a heap of supplies to replace the stocks we’ve used since Sydney and Brisbane – enough for the next couple of months. It was very easy and the driver delivered the goods, including nicely chilled meats, the following day, right to the boat. All I had to do was unpack!

View of Magnetic Island from Townsville foreshore

View of Magnetic Island from Townsville foreshore

The temperature in this part of the world is around 27 degrees each day – lovely blue skies and slight humidity. I took some time out to swim at the Tobruk Memorial Pool near the marina. It’s been a while since I’ve done laps!

We left yesterday morning, before 10am checkout, with a fine 10/15knot south easterly to push us up the coast.

Breakwater Marina with the Red Baron tourist plane

Breakwater Marina with the Red Baron tourist plane

Blue Heeler was prepared for departure – sheets and jackstays put in place; radar and chart plotter fitted. We had dinner with Spot the night before and will catch up with him again when we come back this way. With little wind initially, we motored and ran the watermaker – within an hour we’d replenished the water we’d used during the week which was minimal in the marina. We didn’t fill our tanks with town water to avoid adding any chlorine to the tanks. By the time we’d reached the western side of Magnetic Island, the engine was turned off and we sailed in the increasing wind heading north to Little Pioneer Bay at Orpheus Island, some 47nm from Townsville.

We had a great sail – just the large spinnaker only and reached speeds up to 9 knots, averaging six miles per hour for the whole trip. We arrived at Little Pioneer Bay, with a welcoming committee of three very large whales, at 1700. Half an hour later we’d laid the anchor and settled in for the evening. All of the four courtesy moorings were taken, plus there were a couple of other yachts anchored, so we took our place on the southern side of Little Pioneer Bay in 10m of water, letting out 40m of chain.

Up early today, we left at 0700 to reach the entrance to the Hinchinbrook Channel on high tide at 0905. The channel markers run north to south, that is heading north we keep the green markers to port and the red to starboard. We motored the 10nm distance to the channel entrance, over the shallow shoals then along the channel some 20nm until we reached Anchorage Point. We’ve anchored in a mangrove creek on the western side of the channel towered by the hills of Hinchinbrook Island.

At this stage we can see some of the remaining devastation brought on by Cyclone Yasi – much of the trees on the high hilltops are stripped; palm trees below are washed ashore and there is still debris in the water, albeit not too much.

Full moon over Hinchinbrook Island
Full moon over Hinchinbrook Island

There are less yachts up in this part of the world as there were at the Whitsundays. We’ll be leaving for the anchorage at Dunk Island tomorrow and by the end of the week we’ll be somewhere in the vicinity of Cairns. In around six to eight weeks we’ll be thinking about turning around and heading south befor the start of the cyclone season.

We’re starting to formalise our plans for next year’s season…

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Sailing the world aboard Blue Heeler
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