Sunday, May 8, 2011

South Percy Island to Mackay via Brampton Island

Friday 29th April

0610 breakfast dishes done and the plan is to depart North West Bay for Scawfell Is. 67 miles to the north. The weather is lingering overcast following last nights storm. I expected the storm would clear some of the worst of the weather away and allow me a weather window to get off the anchor and get to the next safe anchorage in daylight. The storm started around 10:00pm the previous night with lots of lightning around the edges of clouds, quite an entertaining light show. Unlike the storms at home where the anvil like cloud rises to massive heights during the late afternoon and the north easterlies rush in under them before the lightning begins followed by the precipitation the heavens here were a dark mass of cumulus hiding all the stars. The edges of the clouds only visible when the lightning discharged. The rest of the time it was blacker than a black dogs coat. The wind a steady 25 knots slowly increased in strength until by 11:00pm it wound itself up into a tizzy and let a gust at 39 knots go. The rain pelted down at about 45 degrees fortunately no hail and then as Murphy's law dictates (the worst possible thing will happen at the worst possible time)  the AIS anchor alarm sounded. Too dark to see the beach or any other worthwhile reference I watched the graph pattern on the AIS to determine the scale of the drift. I had the alarm range ring set at 50m and the storm managed to stretch the anchor rode components to max  and that combined with my reckoning that the GPS position accuracy may have been diluted due to the storm activity and the rolling surge I reset the range ring to 55m and heard no more from the alarm. The wind remained in the low 30 knot range for the next three hours and then dropped back to low twenties and drop I did into a nice little sleep after that. I reckon Huey and Truansea got an even points decision from the umpire from our first proper storm.

The anchor watch graph
With Pine Islet light flashing to show me the way past Middle Percy Is we set off with double reefed mainsail and about one third of the jib unfurled. The anchor came away from her hold on the sand without any difficulty   which is a good omen and some small ragged edged patches of blue sky appeared through the cloud. The swell between the islands was only around a metre but clearly through the binoculars it was well developed in the Capricorn Channel towards the Cumberland Islands.

Wind + water = lumpy stuff. This one taken through the galley window.  10 or 12 feet high.

Clear of the Percy Islands and making for Scawfell Is we fell in with the swell and got used to the motion. My log shows Sphinx Islets abeam at 0800 and it was just prior to then that we experienced a gust of 36.6 knots and a combined sea and swell that jacked up into the 4-5m range and sent us rushing forward to record our highest speed to date of 17.6 knots. Truansea took it in her stride lifting her bows as we surfed down the front of the swell and some spray lifted from each bow as she went. I'm sure a front on view would have revealed a huge smile. Averaging 8 knots plus and no reason to indicate we wouldn't maintain that I amended our destination to Brampton Is. and advised VMR Mackay accordingly. It was during the conversation with VMR Mackay that Bob Kennedy sailing with his lovely wife Margaret on As Time Goes By called to let me know they were anchored at Curlew Is and would be making their way into Mackay marina in the next couple of days. Advising I would see them there soon after I made the course alteration for Brampton Is.  Skirting the Hay Point ship anchorage where 22 cargo vessels were at anchor awaiting their turn to take on a load of coal for distant ports I only had to make one alteration to my course to avoid the Suma coming in through the reef via the Hydrographers Passage. I spoke with the Captain on VHF and he comes from Kawasaki in Japan the same city our Japanese daughter Miwa lives in. This was to be his last trip as he was retiring on return home.  At 1730 I anchored at Brampton Is about 300m off the fringing reef in 3m of beautiful aquamarine water in sight of the resort. 90.32 nautical miles for the day anchor to anchor. 5-10 knots of Southeasterly breeze flat sea and looking good.

Anchored off Brampton Island

I spent the week end anchored off Brampton Island and went ashore to climb to the top of the Island for the view and take a photo or two. The walk is 8.4 km round trip and the track is moderately steep for the 1.8km climb to the top. A nice running creek along the way sated my thirst as I cracked it on all the way. I had left the tender lashed to the public jetty near high tide and didn't want to risk returning back to find it hanging by the neck as the tide went out. A 4m range in tide can do that if not allowed for. The view from the top of Brampton at Carlisle lookout is as good as any from atop the islands in the Whitsundays and despite it being a bit overcast was worth the walk.

Brampton Is resort looking north towards the Whitsundays

Brampton Is looking South towards Mackay from Carlisle lookout

Monday 2nd May

I made arrangements with Mackay marina to take a berth there for a couple of days and sailed the 20 odd miles over in a nice breeze and secured alongside at 11:30am. Catching up with Bob and Margaret whose sistership Seawind 1000XL As Time Goes By was the next one built after Truansea we went on up to the friendly Mackay Yacht club for lunch and a drink. Discussion centred around the experiences to date we had both had with sailing and Seawind Catamarans. The latter was not as rewarding for Seawind Catamarans as we are both a bit disgusted with their lack of after sales support/customer care. Seawind has a very good boat design but the staff have no idea with regard to after sales support or customer loyalty, particularly in Bob's case which is to their detriment as dissatisfied customers spread the word very quickly. Whilst I am happy to recommend the boat to anyone I find it difficult to recommend the company in it's present circumstances and have no intention of doing so until customer consideration consistent with the product and price is demonstrated by Seawind Catamarans. A poor show from an Australian company that advertises virtues consistent with quality. It is not much wonder that they are developing offshore in SE Asia. Gripe complete.

Entering Mackay Outer Harbour. Cargo vessel was loading rocks??

Whilst I had Truansea up on the sand at Island Head Ck  I noticed that the external antifoul layer was thinning prematurely in a few places. The shipyard here at Mackay marina is well equipped to haul  Truansea out of the water and place her on the hard stand with their 90 tonne straddle crane. The managers there Mark and Kate are very accommodating, happy and helpful so I arranged to haul Truansea out and have her hulls below the waterline water blasted and placed on blocks so that I could sand her bottom and and give her a fresh nappie of antifoul, Altex No. 5 to prevent Barry Barnacle and his cousins making their home there. My brother, Alan, arrived down from Proserpine in time to help me with the job and most importantly drive me to the various places in Mackay to get the supplies I needed and provide some company. We completed the job in two days with a very professional finish that surprised the marina proprietors and a couple of fellow yachties. Back in the water and over to Bob's berth in the marina which he had very graciously offered while he and Margaret spent some time anchored at Brampton.

After sanding
After antifouling

Alan knows the Mackay district very well from his 30 or 40 odd years living at Prosepine and flying over the environs in those single engined teeny weeny winged Cessna things that he seems to like so he offered to drive me around a few of the sights for a look. We had a great day visiting Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay coal loading facility in the morning before catching up with his son Matthew as he was returning from the mines at the end of his shift at Eton where the bus sets the crews down and they continue on their way in their private cars. My mate Bevan advised me that he started his school life in Eton, I wonder how many other school teachers that school produced.

The valley view from Eungella, overcast and wet but still nice.

After our brief stop at Eton we continued on up to Eungella via the very picturesque valley through which the Pioneer River flows and floods. It is a very steep 12% climb for the last 6.4 km to the top of the range and from there we had a short drive to a couple of lookouts that provide a good view of the valley and the Platypus viewing area (we only saw turtles but it is quite famous for spotting the monotremes). The Chalet at the top of the range has recently been renovated as a result of last years cyclone that caused a fair bit of damage in the area so we settled on there for a steak sandwich and a beer for lunch. The view from the Chalet is magnificent or would be on a clear day. Back down the range we passed through Mingela(?) and then Marian, surprisingly for me at least, cane grows everywhere here and in some areas is irrigated. There is a delightful perched dam, Kretchan Dam I think, that supplies the water and provides a great recreational area for the locals on those hot summer days with provision for swimming, water skiing and fishing. Marian is also the town where Dame Nellie Melba grew up and the house she was raised in has been moved from the sugar mill grounds and put on display on the banks of the river on the edge of town. I am particularly interested in this style of house and took some photos and was allowed a look inside. My next project after this little trip around the big island is to build one very similar.

Melba House. A similar one Midgley House to be built.
Saturday 7th May

Grocery shopping at Canelands shopping centre Mackay put my scant few observations of Lyn shopping to the test but I managed to get all the things I needed or at least those on the list without having to compromise and on checking in with the Rear Admiral later the prices were identical to those in Noosa. Alan dropped me back at the marina and he headed back to Proserpine. Many thanks for his help and the opportunity to catch up. Food packed away and then the visit to the Laundromat which was very efficient and a painless experience saw me back on board updating the blog before dinner and a couple of phone calls.

Mothers Day and it's a lovely day here at Mackay marina. I've contacted the important mothers I know and wished them all happy mothers day. I hope all mothers are appreciated and respected on this special day for them.

Which brings me to the end of this post. Tomorrow a friend arrives around midday and we will vacate the marina and head for either Brampton or Goldsmith Island for the night before venturing on through the Whitsundays and then to Daydream Is on Friday where my niece Mel works and has kindly arranged a mooring for me. On Saturday Alan and his family will travel to Daydream Is and we will meet them there for a lovely dinner. After that Truansea will head for Bowen and then on to Townsville and Cairns. Blogging will continue as time and signal permit.

Fair winds


  1. Hi Brian. I have made a few failed attempts at sending you a post. Denise showed me where I was going wrong so hopefully you will receive this one. We love your Blog. Just read your latest update. Next time your Mum is over we will show her again. She has read the previous posts. We love reading them. Your email to Denise just came through. I had just finished reading your update. Where I have been going wrong & possibly others also, instead of clicking on 'comments' I have been clicking on my own 'friends' link. Probably sending messages to myself. Not sure. Will sea how this goes. Regards, Dave.

  2. Dad! Beautiful photos!
    Enjoyed reading blog.
    Hope everything is going good.
    Love Miwa