Tuesday, June 28, 2011

chatter boats!

Toketie has been 'relaxing', code for pinned down by strong winds and heavy rains!!  The sun is out today, the 8th day here and that is always a relief.  We do have NZ friends anchored nearby and we have made our way over for a visit and had them onboard for scrabble.  The nights are tiring though as the wind gets up and though we are in a safe and sheltered inlet, the gusts come barreling down between the hills and Toketie's bow slews off to leeward till the slack on the anchor chain pays out and then she slews off in the other direction, followed by a calm period where the tide turns her beam on to the bit of swell that has found its way to the head of the bay.

For entertainment, we have taken to listening to the morning and afternoon 'scheds' the charter boats hold.  There are three bareboat charter companies operating out of the area and as this is prime cruising season, they are all busy.  The charter boats are required to report back to the company by VHF radio with their location and their plans for the day.  Most boats are families with young kids on board.  In fact yesterday, Linda looked out the porthole during a lull in the rain and wind gusts to report a young fellow in a dinghy having trouble starting the outboard.  He could not have been more than five years old and had been having a great time entertaining himself racing around the inlet...but at the moment he was standing and tugging at the cord on the outboard.  He managed to put a small anchor down on the reef so he was not drifting away and he was wearing a lifejacket!  After watching for a while, we decided to put our dinghy in and go to the rescue.  We had lifted ours on a harness and it was hanging off the side of the boat so not much drama dropping it in the water.  The young fellow had been calling to his dad on the deck of their anchored charter boat behind us so I decided to head over there first to ask the dad if he wanted to ride over to his son.  He accepted gratefully and after correcting him on our Maple Leaf being a Canadian, not American flag, I took him over where he proceeded to start the outboard with one pull....seems the young fellow wasn't quite strong enough.  He thanked me, saying "that's twice he's done that now"....I'm sure when they get back to Melbourne they will have stories to tell.  Meanwhile we have been here so long now, some of the boats are starting to look familiar.  I guess for the thousands of dollars they are paying to charter, they feel they need to make an effort to get out during the day and see more of the islands in the area...I'm sure when they get around the corner from the inlet, they realize just how sheltered it was where they came from.  But many of them bravely make it out and undoubtedly find another little bay, probably with more swell, to snorkel or explore the trails off of sandy beaches.  And by late afternoon, most of them are crawling back into Nara Inlet or Cid Harbour to shelter for the night.  The VHF radio scheds are quite comical, often young kids coming on to reply when their boat name is called.  They report their location, sometimes with a long pause while they check with the parents, and haltingly as children do describe their plan of action for the day.  It might go something like, "after breakfast, we might try to get to Butterfly Bay and see what it's like there"....  One small catamaran, "Lulu", did not seem to be having such a good time....when their name came up on the rollcall, the husband came on to announce they were heading back to the marina and "getting off this boat"....they had two very young kids on board, I hope it didn't turn them off of sailing as it is an entirely different experience when the weather is calm....

Linda made sushi last night and there is lots left over for lunch today...and carrot cake the day before so we are not suffering....we have lots of books, some beer, no wine and some rum for when we really get restless....but the wind generator is humming and the batteries are happy...wish we had more movies that we haven't seen several times over....but the cockatoos still put on their show every evening and a pair of very large sea eagles have been circling in the updrafts.

Canada Day coming up!  Might have to break out the bigger flag!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nara Inlet, Hook Island

It was nice to get out of Airlie Beach! Though we were enjoying the town, we decided to explore some of the famous Whitsunday Islands area. After a night in Nara Inlet, the weather forecast is calling for 30 knot winds by the weekend so, as this is a reasonably sheltered inlet with good holding, we decided to sit tight here and ride it out....from two boats this morning, the inlet has filled with over a dozen by nightfall....a hike on a short steep trail takes you to a cave with aboriginal paintings on the walls....and at sunset hundreds of cockatoos squawk as they find their perch for the night.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Airlie Beach!

We were on our way North but a headwind came up and that was all it took to divert us into Airlie Beach.  It is a very touristy place, jumping off point for charter and dive boats to the Great Barrier Reef.  But it is a large sheltered bay and tomorrow we are going to shore to have a look around.

Whitsunday Passage!

The new engine performed quite well up the passage....of course there was a bit of tide running!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Finally....6 years and the whole Pacific Ocean and we are in the bl*^&%dy Whitsundays....well...at least we are out of Mackay!  New engine running great, new shaft bearing hit 70C first day but ran a bit cooler second day, of course we sailed some of it....breaking in the engine...running high revs etc etc....now in postcard picture anchorage of Cid Harbour (almost as good as Desolation Sound).....beautiful rosy sky, barB goin....no swell (thank Odin)...and quiet...you can almost hear the bats chewing the mossies....plan is to plod our way N to Cairns and see how much season we have left!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Persimmon Tree

The problem with reading Bryce Courtenay is that it makes you want to give up even attempting to write anything meaningful.....I started with 'Power of One' (thanx Y) followed by the sequel, Tandia and have now just finished The Persimmon Tree....it's criminal how this guy strings words together...well, ideas actually, and teaches you so much in the process while entertaining the heck out of you.....but then...recommending anything to anyone is always a dangerous passtime....so this is just about what we are up to...at the moment....and if anyone is interested, the shaft bearing was fitted today and we ran the engine under load at the dock....still warm but the walrus has spoken and it's time to 'blow this popcorn joint'....so as soon as the 30 kt winds and heavy rains ease...we are moving North again....who knows how far....


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

And they're off....almost...

We did cash our shower keys in and head out the breakwater....only to turn back an hour or so later with an overheating shaft support bearing.....so we have been back at the marina for four days now and think we have identified the problem and expect a newer, heavy duty, shaft support bearing to arrive today!!! Hopefully not too big a job to put it in and it should solve the problem!! Stay tuned!

Friday, June 03, 2011

New Engine - Day 10 and Done!

Morning dragged by with still no shaft....it had been sited in Mackay just down the road but the delivery company would not guarantee when it would be at the marina so by 11AM, one of the mechanics drove to town and picked it up!  A couple of hours of final fitting and it was all over but the crying....that would be paying the bill part...which was way more than they said it would be but gave us no choice but to pay it or find ourselves in the yard till we did!!  The good news is that no corners were cut in doing the job.  The best of materials were used and everything was done to a high standard.  I am very happy with the result!

Mark, the master mechanic came along for a sea trial.  We motored out of the harbour and after tightening a hose clamp on the muffler to stop a small trickle of raw water, he asked my to give it full throttle!  That took us up over 7 knots which we had never been able to do before under power.  Settling back down to 2000 RPM, we moved comfortably over the water at more than 6 knots so the engine is putting out more power and maybe the new pitch on the prop is more efficient as well.  On the return, Mark noted a slight wobble to the shaft so will drop by in the morning to adjust the coupling.

It was a sad day for the old Nissan that served us well for so many years!

Its off to the yacht club for dinner and hope to head to an island about 20 miles from here tomorrow, relax for the weekend and return to have Mark check everything after running it in.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

New Engine - Day 9

Getting down to the short strokes here....well except for the new shaft which seemed to have gone missing while being shipped from Brisbane!  A lot of details depend on having that shaft in place...like levelling the engine and hooking up the exhaust....but by late afternoon we managed to locate it at least and it is apparently physically in Mackay.  Unfortunately they would not deliver it to the marina so we expect to have it first thing in the mid-morning...this being Australia after all!  But Mark is doing a phenomenal job getting the details sorted and with a bit of the luck of the Irish, we could be in the water by mid-day tomorrow!  We did start her up today and what a treat that was....not for long as no cooling water...but enought to hear her purr.....very exciting!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

New Engine - Day 8

Well, I'm sure all you faithfull blog followers (who put up with the technical detail and secretly want more adventure and lots of pictures)...ah the vicarious life is a hard one!  If you guessed we are in a good mood, you are right!  The new engine was crane lifted in today and lowered onto the mounting beds in the newly painted bilge.  After a minimum amount of wood butchery (no challenges there), we are sitting on the settee with a new Yanmar beneath!!  I can't tell you how great that feels!  We are not quite out of the woods but definitely over the hump (as opposed to over the hill)...as this kind of experience will either make you younger or return you from whence you came....

The shaft and prop have apparently arrived in the town of Mackay and will make their way to the marina tomorrow morning....shaft is critical now to align the engine, then lots of details to complete the install.