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Published: September 14th 2013
We left Townsville Breakwater Marina around midday Monday. But not before paying a visit to our friends Pippa & John (and kids Charlotte & Banjo) on their 44 ft Kelly-Peterson yacht which they had just bought only last week. They were berthed at the Yacht Club on Ross Creek - it was good to catch up and check out their new vessel.
I had bit the bullet and said goodbye to the old outboard - leaving it in the "for free" area by the bins. Its 19 years old, with oil leaking out of it, and some barnacle pieces still attached - I left the manual and a little note of what was wrong with it and when we got back to the marina it was gone. Dropped off the keys, topped up the water tanks, threw off the lines and glided out of our berth.
Came out from the marina walls to be met by 15 knots northeasterly winds almost on the nose, so we motored all the way around the east side of Magnetic Island reading about each bay and landmark as we went passed it. Not big waves but enough to send spray over the front
half of the boat - lucky I had noticed the front hatches were open before we were in the thick of it.
We were concerned with this more northerly wind, it would not be pleasant in Horseshoe Bay where we were heading, but were reassured as we came into the bay and saw the mass of boats there who didn't seem to be rocking about too much. We found a space amongst the boats not too far from the beach and anchored - for once not waking Alex in the process. Settled in the afternoon with a cocktail (we are now reading The Unexpected Circumnavigation Vol II - about a couple on a motorboat cruising from Australia to the Middle East) and later a couple from a nearby yacht came by to let us know they were heading to the beach hut to have a drink with other yachties. We gave it a miss, not too keen to row back in the dark and still socially repressed.
The next morning was clear and windless, and needing a break from Alex & Naomi I paddled myself out to the headland as we thought we had seen Dale
& Tam's boat anchored there (friends of Pippa & John's who we had met on our way from Airlie Beach). As I got close I realised it wasn't their boat. Took the scenic route back, taking a look at the beach there which had several "Keep off -Private" signs on it and also other notices saying "Asbestos" in case the first signs were not deterrent enough. There were some nasty oyster shell encrusted solid posts just below the water which could have caused some damage if my vigilance was not so aided by my slow speed.
Paddled around the boulder strewn coastline bordered the numerous hoop pines - this is apparently the characteristic Magnetic Island terrain. Looked in on some fenders for the oyster lease, and then headed down to the buoy that marked the sight of a shipwreck. The "Argonaut" must have been sizable as the boat was originally brought here to be a floating restaurant but I couldn't see it in the murky water, but at that point I did spot Dale & Tams boat nearer into the main beach. Went over for a chat, and then Dale gave me a tow back to our boat in
return for some nappies as they were running low.
Naomi told me the fridge was not working. We found a weak connection at the switchboard but repairing that didn't seem to make any difference. Tinkered around the wiring to the compressor, not really sure if we did anything but its been working fine since.
In the afternoon went for a stroll west along the long beach and came across a few tourists mounting horses for a little trek.... we think these are the first horses Alex has seen but he didn't seem to phased. This was supposed to be the lagoon walk but I think it was dried out as we just found a flat banked area. There was a fair bit of dark scum to wade through launching the dingy - it looked like there had been a huge oil spill.
Wednesday was a day touring the island with a day pass on the bus ($7.50 each) so Alex was happy. First stop was at Picnic Bay and we walked along the old pier until we reached the large fence blocking the end of it. Interestingly when this pier was to be closed in
Picnic Bay's green scum
Townsville in background
2001 as deemed unsafe and the ferry was now using the marina, the locals protested and the government agreed to keep it open. It cost $80,000 to build about 50 years ago.... the cost to keep it open, to foot traffic only, was now $500,000!
More disturbing was the bright green scum that was lining the beach.
I bought Naomi a birthday card at a gallery and the lady watching shop revealed that she had made the tapestry that was featured on the card. She was so pleased I chose one of her cards that she gave me a CD of music that she had made. So Naomi got an extra birthday present.
Next stop was the marina where we had fish and chips, and looked around the marina before the next bus took us to Arcadia. There is a beautiful little nook of a bay here called Alma Bay, and after some extensive playing in the kiddie playground took Alex into the water there which he loved too. The wind had picked up but it was still sheltered near the smooth rocks, with clear water over gently sloping sand which made it easy for Alex to
wade into the water by himself before I would catch him. It was a little chilly at first but I had the nicest swim in the sea I've had in a long time.... maybe ever.
We took the bus back to Horseshoe Bay at 4pm, too late to stop by The Forts walk, and Alex was already fast asleep anyway. Bought bread & milk, bumped into Tam and met some friends of hers, before we had to wake Alex so we could paddle back to Luna Ray.
Next morning, found Pippa and John had anchored in front of us, after their first passage in their new boat which was straightforward motoring on windless flat water. Paddled over and caught up with them for a couple of hours. Retreated for lunch and Alex's nap time, before meeting again on our boat - Naomi baked some delicious apple muffins for afternoon tea, and a chance for them to have their first look around Luna Ray. We all then headed to the scum lined beach for the kids to have a play - Alex and Charlotte are getting on well. There was some chop heading into the bay so
in the new Peterson
L>R Naomi; Banjo; John; Pippa & Charlotte (camera shy)
we got a tow back to our boat, which was slow with just 2 hp pushing both dinghies along but better than rowing.
September Friday the 13th - Alex and Naomi's joint birthday - Alex is two and Naomi is vague about it. She woke me early, and we headed out of the bay around 6:30 passing the well-wishing calls from Pippa & John. Hugged the island closely as we came around Magnetic to make good time - we had to get to the marina before the tide dropped too low. It was a beautiful windless morning again, so we coasted along the glassy water, with the early sun giving the granite boulders a warm orange glow, made breakfast and opened up Naomi and Alex's presents. Slowed down as we entered the shallow channel before the marina, eyes fixed on the depth sounder which at that point decided to stop working... flashing and occasionally spitting out readings that were hard to trust. In theory we should have had half a metre under the keel and we didn't touch the bottom.
Went straight to our berth - we had a lot to do this morning before Naomi's
Heading back to Townsville
parents came to meet us. Collected our recently arrived new dinghy and outboard from the storage container next to the marina office. Took the Parson 9.8hp outboard to the boat by trolley and blew the dinghy up near the fuel jetty. Naomi was relieved it didn't fall to pieces as we took it out of the box - we have read some horror stories from internet bought dinghies. However once in the water we found the bung for the self bailer was missing, which allowed a trickle of water into the dinghy, otherwise it was looking good. After throwing away a car sized collection of packaging, we paddled around to Luna Ray and came across Cheryl and Don at the end of the finger.
Had a day of getting the dinghy and outboard in order, morning tea, cleaning the old dinghy, cleaning the boat, then out to a good lunch at The Longboard which overlooks the water on The Strand. Alex got cranky, so after we put him to bed, went to every chandlery in Townsville hunting for dinghy wheels. Only found one set but they were not wide enough. Much to my annoyance we did find that BCF
Joined by Cheryl & Don
in our cockpit at the marina
sold our outboard for the same price we paid, except we had to pay for freight!
Met up with Aunt/Uncle Debbie & Ralf, and their two sons Matthew and Jonathon for fish & chips on the walkway on The Strand. There was scruffy looking aboriginal guy in his 50's nearby who wasn't making much sense, and sent Alex running scared to the safety of hugging my legs when he got close. He later approached our group while we were eating, now without his shirt, and two "security" guys on push-bikes promptly turned up out of the blue. They reminded us that drinking beer was not allowed there and pulled him away when his language got a bit too colourful. Later he returned and sat down next to us, but since we had just finished eating the birthday cake after a couple of verses of "Happy Birthday", we left him to his own devises and went home. An unusual birthday party.
This morning we had lots to do again. Final boat cleaning (including some bird poo on the new dinghy!), filling water tanks, washing, shopping, and then cast off and docked at the fuel jetty. Topped up
the tanks, met Cheryl & Don, re-faxed an insurance letter, dropped off keys and cast off again all by 9:15 so that we could leave before the tide dropped too low in the shallow entrance. The depth sounder must not like shallow mud as again it didn't work just along this stretch. We were taking Naomi's parents for a day trip to Magnetic.
We had a nice passage, clear skies with light northerly winds so just a small waves to cut into, and the cheerful tunes of Naomi's new CD. We pulled into pretty Florence Bay and all went for a lovely swim off the beach - even Naomi braved the "cold water". Took the dinghy for a hoon out of the bay, and though slow to get on the plane once she was she flew - scarily fast, banging through the waves. After a tasty lunch we headed to Horseshoe Bay with the cheerful light music of Naomi's new CD in the background, detouring into Radical and Balding Bays, led by Don to look at a boulder that was precariously balancing on the hill.
Anchored in the exact same spot we had been in before, had afternoon
the balancing rock
Balding Bay behind
tea and then took Cheryl & Don through the thick scum that still collected by the shore, and they caught the bus to the ferry terminal to make their way back to Townsville. After we waved them off, we had an icy pole each, rinsed a bucket of washing, I had a shower, then made our way back through the scum, had a hoon around the flat water of the bay and back to the boat.
We are now under a schedule to get to Cairns to see Naomi's brother and girlfriend before they leave for a long overseas trip on the 22nd. They say you shouldn't sail to a schedule, and with only light winds predicted for the next few days it looks like we'll be motoring a lot. Hopefully catch up with the other 2 kiddie boats at our next stop, the Palm Island Group.
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