Leaving Island Head Creek with a 20/25 knot south-easterly wind was testing. Maintaining a steady course along the northern side of the entrance close to two large rocky outcrops, Blue Heeler slowly bounced forwards battling the incoming 3m seas and swell. It’s times like these my stomach clenches into a ball and I hold my breath just hoping that Wayne yells “Hey look at this!” as he discovers a concealed second gear from somewhere and cranks the engine enough to fly at high-speed through the waves and beyond. But that wasn’t going to happen so I averted my gaze from the looming rocks and we plodded head-on through the swell until we reached the point where we could turn to port, take it on the beam for a short spell then head north with the wind blowing us along from behind. This 140nm leg of the journey had us travelling overnight to anchor at Hideaway Bay the following evening, before heading through the Gloucester Passage to arrive at Bowen to pickup some fresh supplies the next day.
Bowen is a pretty town and although the Woolworths was a half hour walk from the public jetty at the marina, I enjoyed the exercise. Prices here for groceries didn’t seem any different from Brisbane and it was a better option than buying groceries at the small shop at Airlie Beach.
We anchored just outside the very shallow harbour entrance rather than anchoring at Stone Island as we’d done previously and luckily the wind favoured our stay easing off for the night before building again to a steady 15/25 SE breeze the following day.
At times though when the wind drops to a light 10 knot breeze it’s hard to keep the main and spinny up without much flapping, so we furl the main and have taken to gull-winging the spinnaker with the genoa poled out. Seems to work a treat and keeps the boat fairly steady. One occasion we had all canvas out – main, spinny and genoa zipping along at a crazy 7-8 knots!
Our power situation is also much better now that we have new batteries. With our Air-X wind generator spinning, tow generator whirring and two 50W solar panels soaking up the sun, we generated enough power to top up the batteries while under sail with the auto-pilot on. In fact over the journey from Brisbane to Cairns, we have halved our engine hours from the previous trip – probably a result of improved sailing skills, but also the reduced need to constantly charge the batteries.
Over the following days, we opted to forego Hinchinbrook Channel (and the pesky sand flies) and sail to Little Pioneer Bay, onto Dunk island arriving at Fitzroy Island 17nm east of Cairns for the night. We arrived at the Trinity Passage anchorage at Cairns on the 9th May and as this is basically the last major stop until Darwin, will stay here a few days to replenish our stocks, washing, pickup some mail forwarded from my brother Mick and the usual other stuff we do.
Nearby to us is the largest privately owned yacht Octopus owned by billionaire Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft (I wonder if he uses an iPad?). Apparently worth over $200 million it has it’s own helipad, submarine and over 60 fulltime staff. Some people just can’t live without the mod cons! Motoring alongside this titanic 126m vessel by in our small 2.6m dinghy makes me feel very small indeed.
Also anchored nearby are many foreign sailing yachts, many of which we’ve noticed are entrants in the Sail Indonesia Rally. We are now paid up entrants and look forward to reaching Darwin and soaking in the vibe of the event with other yachties.
And for tomorrow Happy Mother’s Day to all mums out there, especially my mum.