Arrived admist drama, pain and suffering!


We have arrived at Lady Musgrave Island and all, any of us can say is, WOW! It is a really beautiful island and we are enjoying every minute! That being said our final 24 hours north was not without DRAMA, PAIN and SUFFERING as we headed north.

DRAMA – As we travelled along Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, and still some twenty-four hours from our destination I was on watch when all of a sudden our main engine lost power and shuddered to a halt. Oh no is all I could think of, followed quickly by the idea of deploying the sea anchor followed by, get a grip of yourself, you can solve this. Within seconds I was down at the electrical panel checking the power in the main engine battery as I knew for a fact we had good fuel and plenty of it and I knew our air supply to the main engine, a Cummins N14, was just fine. As such, I went straight to the engine main battery to check its current. The total current was ZERO! Yikes, I asked Mark to go into the engine room to switch the batteries to parallel (i.e. join our battery house/engine power together) so that we could start our engine. I raced upstairs and the N14 sprung to life and we were back on our way. 

Once underway we discovered was that the M/E START battery 24v emergency shut off switch was in the off position. We figured that this meant that we were not charging our main engine battery via our alternators while underway. Once switched over to the on position as per its suggestion of ‘normally on’ we ran the remainder of the trip without incident with hourly checks on charge in battery showing that it was holding charge just fine. I can’t tell you the sheer horror of hearing your main engine shut down in uncomfortable conditions but I am pleased that the issue was identified and engine started within a scant 60 seconds, which just shows some of this may actually be starting to sink in.

PAIN – Overall, our slightly shorter than four day run to Lady Musgrave saw Pendana enjoying very comfortable sea conditions, however, 24 hours from our first destination things were to turn ugly with seas increasing in size from 2 metres to about 3-4meteres, wind increasing to a consistent 25-30kts and short period seas of just a few seconds to make the most seasoned traveller feel a little worse for wear. Claire and Abi ended up sleeping in the salon and I use the word “sleeping” rather loosely; Bianca and I were able to manage a few hours rest and Captain Mark, well, lets just say that he is looking a wee bit tired and as I send this has taken himself off to bed for a rest. 

Photo above of sunset the night before weather turned for the worse. What’s the expression, red sky at night, sailors delight? What rubbish!

SUFFERING – Yesterday afternoon while taking some fresh air on the Portuguese Bridge I caught my small toe in the scupper with great force due to sudden impact from larger than usual wave and effectively bent my small toe backwards until the skin under the toe ripped away. Thankfully Pendana carries two full medical kits I decided that all that was required was a daily dip in iodine solution, a solid bandage and a course of antibiotics being 500mg of amoxicillin. So all in all, I will recover and continue to fight another day but to say that it is bad timing would be an understatement. Photographic imagery of said toe has been withheld due to the seriously graphic nature.

So time for some good news, which is that we have arrived at Lady Musgrave Island which is an uninhabited coral cay in the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s greatest natural phenomenons and no less than a World Heritage Listed Marine Park. Lady Musgrave Lagoon’s amazing colours and beauty are unsurpassed anywhere in the world, boasting an abundance of coral, fish and turtles and I can attest that the lagoon water is very similar to that in the Bahamas and also Nice, in the South of France. Crystal clear and a deep turquoise blue – simply incredible.

Photo above snapped through our salon windows show contrast of water colour well.


Location of Lady Musgrave Island above.

For snorkelling enthusiasts Lady Musgrave Island is apparently one of the most rewarding destinations in the Great Barrier Reef, with a diverse variety of fish and coral species creating the perfect underwater setting and let’s not forget the sharks! A few weeks ago I was planning on buying a product called Shark Shield which is an electronic device meant to keep sharks away, that was until I read a research paper from the University of Adelaide who could find no correlation between baits set with and without Shark Shield. As such, I have decided that I will venture into the water and what will be, will be. Just remember as I step into the water the below image is what will be front and centre in my mind. With traces of blood still present on torn toe webbing, I may be asking for trouble!

I can hear Mr Shark say, like something from Monty Python, just one little bite!

After a light breakfast after our arrival, we took Pendana’s tender to Lady Musgrave Island to explore. Simply superb. Picture perfect tropical island to rival anything I have seen before and this, doesn’t require an international flight!

Photo above of Laday Musgrave Island as we walked around the island. Not a great idea for the old toe but well worth it!

Photo above of Abi and Bianca just hanging out enjoying the sun.

The entrance into Lady Musgrove was narrow but well-marked with two starboard makers, one port marker and an isolated danger marker.

Picture above of starboard marker as we entered Lady Musgrove.

Picture above: A poor old flying fish that sadly lost its life after jumping on our deck in heavy seas. After fishes last rights were read it was tossed back from where it came!

As I am just about to hit send on this I have looked up to see the exposed coral cay that surrounds this lagoon. Simply amazing to see that now the tide has gone out the coral is exposed for all to see. See below image, simply amazing. 

The plan now is to stay here for another day or two and then make the short 180nm mile trip further north to Middle Percy Islands.

That’s all for now – next blog update from Percy Islands but only if I have worthy material to blog about

Safe travels





5 thoughts on “Arrived admist drama, pain and suffering!”

  1. SUBJECT: Engine out

    First, want to tell you how much I enjoyed the book.

    Now a question about your recent engine out experience. And this will show my general ignorance of the mechanical structure of your boat. I’ve been told there are two big reasons why there are diesel engines in boats -one, diesel is less volatile than gas, two the only thing a diesel engine needs to run is fuel and air, both of which you indicated you had. Can you explain why the failure of a battery to have a charge would cause the engine shut off?

    Thanks, Really enjoy your blog. Please keep it up

    Sent from my iPad

  2. The answer to Jim’s question; according to my boyfriend who works for Cummins; the reason why the engine shut down is because of the lack of voltage supply to the engine, ECM,(electronic control module). As soon as the battery switch was in the proper setting, then the alternator was able to supply the engine battery with voltage, thus being able to restart and operate the engine.

  3. James (PENDANA)

    >>> REPLY

    In answer RC Leander – firstly thank you for your kind comments about the book, I am really pleased to hear that you enjoyed it.

    Now onto your question which was beautifully answered by AIMEE earlier and she and her boyfriend are spot on! Pendana has a Cummins N14 which is a powerhouse of a great engine the reason why the engine shut down is because of the lack of voltage supply to the engine, ECM,(electronic control module)as per Aimee msg. The N14 has an electronic control unit which requires charge to manage all the variable operating parameters etc.. no charge/current, no go… ! All sorted now and purring like a kitten

  4. HI James – thanks for previewing our cruising plans July 2014. Gray Matter is currently laying American Somoa – 2175 miles from Brisbane. Good luck with the toe – I jammed mine on the Mexico crossing – same porteguese bridge scupper – takes about 3 months to get back to “normal”.

    Best and hope to see you in Brisbane – we plan to arrive mid-Sept.

    Mark & Christine
    M/Y Gray Matter n6206


    Hey there Mark, I have been following your blog as well… too many sharks for my liking but appears you are having a ball. Just a word of warning on approach to Australian waters and the Coral Sea, do not underestimate it, I promise the worse seas you will face on your trip across the Pacific will be those in Australia. Look forward to catching up once you arrive – we will be in the Gold Coast from October/November so see you then. Take care.

    James (PENDANA)

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