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Published: July 30th 2013
Well we are still in Mackay waiting for parts for the toilet.
When I finished the story on the last entry we had just got to Middle Percy Island and hoping our dingy would magically materialise.
It was a lovely sunny day but the boat people were not happy. Uncomfortably rocking in anchorage I struggled to pull out the spare dingy (the one that Naomi said was a waste of space carrying) and set it up on deck, only to find I had lost the foot-pump for it. So had another frustrating half an hour hunting for the parts for that to fit, whilst I got thrown around, almost bailing and heading to a calmer anchorage on the north-east island. Eventually I had it together. Its a lot lighter than we are used to and was quite flighty in the waves, making it hard to control as we clambered into it. Then I had to paddle us (missing that little outboard so much already), but managed to get ashore without getting too wet from the waves breaking on the beach.
Calm sanity returned among the crew as we explored this special beach. Its known quite well for the
old A-frame and telephone huts which houses relics from passing cruising boats- usually a small plaque with the names of the boat and crew, but a variety of other objects too- Alex had fun playing with the blow-up sheep sex doll that one crew left! Apparently this is a popular meeting place for boaties but we were the only boat there apart from a bunch of guys fishing in the bay in a tinnie.
We hunted for the plaque for Neesea that Naomi's parents had left but couldn't find it - was hoping to leave our relic next to it- I chose my straw that's falling apart as our mascot.
We did plan to head for the better anchorage, but time had got away from us and the motion on the boat was a lot better when we returned, so we stayed put for the night. However the motion got bad again after a few hours, and with noise of the waves slapping the back of the boat where we sleep, we did not rest well. I was up frequently checking our anchor wasn't dragging.
Left early the next day, back into 20-30 knot winds
Naomi with Peter & Cheryl
and lumpy seas, heading for the Digby Island. Heard This Way Up talking to Stolen Kiss on the radio about the anchorage at Digby not being very good at high tide. Decided to change course for Curlew Island, although a little further we could sail straight there so quicker. The sea was pretty boisterous but we were comfortable on the whole and came around Curlew Island about four hours later. We joined three catamarans in the bay on the north of this scenic island still exposed to some wind but on fairly flat water. Peter and Cheryl from Stolen Kiss anchored next to us about half an hour later.
After a vigorous paddle against the wind and pushed sideways by the current, we met up with them on the beach in the afternoon for a stroll and learnt more about their extensive water travels. This included buying a boat in Mexico and sailing it to Bunderberg - we later learnt Cheryl had written an article in the July Cruising Helmsman about their Pacific crossing which I had already read.... had thought their boat name sounded familiar. After they left we climbed the sand dunes and Naomi got phone reception
but couldn't get through to top up her credit - annoying as we had a message to call our boat broker urgently.
26th July - in preparation for our invite to morning tea on Stolen Kiss Naomi cooked up her classic Chocolate Cherry cake. Just as we arrived the sun broke out and we warmed up in their cockpit with some coffee. Cheryl generously passed onto us lots of info on cruising the Philippines as we might go there. Had a snoop around their lovely 47 S&S boat and headed back to ours when Alex got cranky for his nap.
Back to the dunes, with credit topped up we had lots of news to hear. The broker had an offer for our old boat, still only just over half what we originally wanted but it was without any conditions of inspection so decided to take it! It settled the next day. Spoke to Don (Naomi's Dad) and he had sold my car !- again not quite for the price I hoped for but at least it was taken care of and just before I needed to pay rego for it. He was also celebrating his last
day before their business was sold ie the start of their retirement. All our ties to possessions in Australia had been severed. We went back to the boat happy, with a small sense of loss, but relieved.
Got hit by some heavy bursts of rain overnight, and then next morning (Saturday) was grey with rain clouds passing east of the island. Was tempted to put off leaving but didn't and weighed anchor before 7am, slowly motored through the narrow channel between rocks and the sand bank, and then downwind to Mackay. The wind was blowing up to 25 knots, pushing us along quiet comfortably with just the new gib up, and the rain never crossed our path. As we started to pass all the anchored ships outside Hay Point the gloom lifted and the sun came out. Naomi had a nap and later asked if we could stay two nights in Mackay so we could have a rest day !... rest from sitting on a boat and napping !? I don't know!
After eight hours we rode the waves into Mackay Outer Harbour and motored down to the marina. Its an exposed marina so after I
missed our finger and had to do an about turn, the wind blew us down to our berth and had me worried about how much control I had. I was able to slow us with reverse, and luckily it was a blow on berth with plenty of space as the one next to us was unoccupied, but still had to give it some forward gear to stop the boat being blown back out of the berth while Naomi got the ropes on.
Set off for the marina office with our first big load of washing to be done, and later had a really good fish and chips at The Lighthouse chippy.
Sunday, we had some entertainment as boats battled the breeze to leave the marina. One long Catalina yacht spent 15 minutes dodging around the pontoons, throwing ropes and shouting, to get the nose around the wind enough before it could steer away. Later a motor-cruiser also reversed out from their dock, but as they gunned the engines to the left, the right side of the boat careened into the end of the jetty with a loud crunching sound. We thought it might have made a
hole but was just a large scrape on the side and a cancelled family day out.
After another 2 loads of washing, enquired at the office about getting some shopping done. With no shops nearby the guy suggested hiring a car for half a day as there were no buses on sunday but the girl there assured us the taxi would only be $10. We arrived at Canelands Shopping center with the meter reading $24 !... after our return journey it would have been cheaper to hire a car.
In the afternoon got the boat ready for leaving the next day - hose down, filling tanks, cleaning grime in the cockpit (more clumps of hair- where do they come from?), emptying rubbish, cleaning toilets, defrosting fridge. We took Alex with his skooter to the park and discussed that we had both noticed the toilet wasn't filling properly. That evening shared the unpleasant job of dismantling the hand-pump but couldn't fix it. Google told us the gasket part of the pump was probably the problem and needed replacing.
Monday morning we had a lot to do before we left, such as contacting the insurance broker to
cancel the old boat insurance and also make a claim for the dingy lost, and canceling my car insurance. Well we thought we had lots to do until we went to the chandlery to find they didn't have the parts we needed for the toilet but could have them by the next moning. The toilet was still usable if you threw a couple of bowls of water down it, but we decided to wait the extra day to repair it sooner rather than later.
Once we paid for an extra night we made contact with a nearby car hire company. They appologised that the only small car left was a convertable.... cool ! It was a Mitsubishi Colt with an electric roof, and they delivered it 45 minutes later.
Headed out along the marina wall first and watched a sail boat getting tossed around in the waves as it left the harbour, plumes of sea-spray flying over its deck. Then out to North Mackay, as this was Naomi's birthplace she had some sights to reminisce over and show me, such as her first home and school. After this we followed the Bruce Highway further north - with the
roof down naturally - to Cape Hillsborough National Park, passing fields swaying with sugar cane and jagged rocky hills pushing their way skyward.
Stopped off at the boardwalk Discovery trail, a 1.2 km walk through the mangroves and then up over the treetops to view the bay behind them.
Then onto the tip of cape and stopped at the cafe for sausage rolls, toasties and ice-creams. Wanted to do the Andrew's viewpoint circuit but the tide was too high closing off the beach section, so abandoned this and headed for the Hidden Valley walk. Nervously drove down a gravel road "not recommended for 2WD cars" to reach the trail and left the car by the roadside when it began to look too steep. There is an aboriginal fishtrap to see here but again as the tide was high it was under the water. Tip - if going to Cape Hillsborough try to go at low tide. The walk looping through the rainforest was still nice and Alex fell asleep along the way.
Drove back via Balls and Haliday beach and then the shopping centre again when we got back to Mackay.
Today we waited
around for the part to arrive, boat all ready to go, but then got told it wouldn't be here until 2pm so we have another night at Mackay. Not too worried as its another grey windy day with occasional drizzle.
When we leave tomorrow, will head north for Brampton Island and from there island hop the Whitsundays. Not sure if we'll have internet until we reach Hamilton in about a week - visiting crew/joyriders welcome?.
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