I must admit to being somewhat confronted over the last ten days or so by the relentless winds in this part of the world being consistent winds of 20-25kts from the SSE. Not sure I remember that in the guide book. Nonetheless the air temperature was beautiful and while the skies could have been a little bluer during the last week or so, what was there to complain about? With Phase One complete everything had gone perfectly to plan.
The plan is there will be five phases to our trip north being the following:
Phase One – Arriving at Abel Point Marina/Explore Whitsunday area (June-Aug)
Phase Two – Continue exploring area and most of the islands and Reefs (Aug – Oct).
Phase Three – Move Pendana back to the Gold Coast where she will have some work completed at the great, Gold Coast City Marina (Oct/Nov)
Phase Four – Move Pendana to Gold Coast for Christmas/New Year (Dec-Jan)
Phase Five – Return Pendana to Sydney and her home Marina (Jan 2014)
There will be occasions where we will be back in Sydney during this trip as there is school for the children and things that both Claire and I need to be in Sydney for. That being said, we will spend a lot of our time on Pendana during this period.
Before I start just wanted to let you know that I have uploaded a video that Mark James took while at Lady Musgrave Island. Mark is a bit of a champion Free-diver who unlike us loves sharks (and there I was thinking he was a top bloke!) anyway the video features turtles, coral, the girls and Claire and of course Pendana simply go to http://youtu.be/5AJgmMhvEj0
During our four weeks away, Pendana and her crew have seen countless whales, dolphins, flying fish and wait for it.. SHARKS, (I have the photo to prove it!). We have been treated to what nature has on offer and I must say that while whales are incredible animals, dolphins are our favourite.
One thing I never knew was that there are Killer Whales in Australian waters. Not sure why I thought these animals stayed well south but I did. A news report had come in saying that six of these magnificent animals were stranded on a beach near Fraser Island and while authorities did what they could, I was shocked to find out that these creatures were in fact migrating northwards with the Humpback Whales. After a little research and asking a few silly questions we soon realised why. As it turns out Killer Whales migrate north at the same time as the larger Humpback Whales as they know that the Humpbacks will give berth which for them, means free food! Ouch, I know, horrifying. We have all seen the YouTube video of Killer Whales working together in a pack to dislodge a seal stranded on a bit of ice, if not its worth watching – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3xmqbNsRSk. Anyway, I digress; it would appear that Killer Whales are very, very clever animals indeed with some reports suggesting that they are only second on the animal kingdom intelligence scale to the Chimpanzee.
Now onto the SHARK sighting! We have plenty of mad friends that love swimming with sharks but we are not the same and while our fear is totally irrational, it is what it is, and really if anyone is to blame for our irrationality it should be Steven Spielberg when in 1975 released JAWS, a film that would change many a person’s life and relationship with the water. That being said, there I was on the back deck relaxing with Bianca when all of a sudden a large (huge really) fin broke the surface of the water. Shocked, horrified and panicked I reached for the camera only metres away. This was a goliath of the ocean, was it a Great White? A Bull Shark? A Tiger Shark? We would never find out and although this particular area we were in was known for having Reef Sharks and White Tip Sharks both Claire and I later decided it was a Great White waiting for us in some strange game of cat and mouse, or should that be Human and Shark?
Big shark clearly visible in image above and below!
After our Shark encounter we were once again treated to another beautiful sunset – I think I have more sunset photos than a person reasonably should. It is just a shame that these images never quite capture the beauty as seen by the naked eye.
Perfect sunsets everytime!
And with all good sunsets one has to relax, relax and relax….
Claire and James releaxing. Claire is the pretty one!
After plenty of relaxing at anchor we decided to head to a place called Nara Inlet. Nara Inlet is described as being like the Fiords in Norway and while I see some resemblance we were missing the snow-capped mountains. Nara Inlet on Hook Island in the Whitsundays boasts some very old Aboriginal cave paintings. The area was commonly used by the Ngaro Aboriginal group prior to European settlement.
In September 1912 two Brisbane yachtsmen chartered the yacht Gulnare, owned by F.C. Lumley-Hill of Bowen, for a two-week cruise of the Whitsundays. One of the charterers was Hugh Macintosh, chief draftsman with the survey office of the Lands Department, Brisbane. He was a member of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron and together with a Captain Kent owned the ten metre yacht Nara after which the inlet was named. The same people gave the names Macona Inlet, Hill Inlet and Gulnare Inlet to the area. In the steep wooded hills around the inlet there are a number of ‘caves’, really rock overhangs, which show signs of Aboriginal habitation going back some eight thousand years and in one of these at the northern end of the inlet there are Aboriginal paintings. While there are locals who say these were painted as a hoax by early tourist operators, experts from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Office of Heritage and the Arts are satisfied they are genuine, though it is possible some touching-up has been done. In 1987 the National Parks and Wildlife Service erected a fence and boardwalk to protect this particular cave and the paintings as much from the local goat population as well as human interference.
Once anchored safely in Nara Inlet and with the wind still whistling by, we decided that it was time to tender to the site where these cave painting were. We were all very excited by the prospect of seeing eight thousand year old art as in a country only a few hundred years old, finding anything old is always a challenge. That being said, our excitement soon turned to frustration as upon arrival we were confronted by two tourist operators and probably some 60 people wanting to see the very same art. As it was high tide and very little beach to successfully land Pendana’s tender on, we decided to come back a little later in the day.
Tourists blocking access to Pendana’s tender!
After dropping Claire back to Pendana the girls wanted to go for a ride on the tender. As the tide had turned and there was enough wind against current the waters had lovely ½ metres rollers on them which allowed for a bit of fun on the tender and everyone aboard getting completely drenched.
Having fun on the tender, although not sure I enjoy getting wet like the girls do.
After a few hours had passed we decided to once again go back to see the caves we had read so much about, and this time with a little more success. With everyone safely aboard Pendana’s tender it was time to head off.
As we motored towards the small beach which led to the caves we were in awe of the scenery we saw along the way, truly beautiful.
Truly magnificent rock formations in images above and below.
Once at the beach we secured our tender and headed up towards the steps which led to the cave. Once we had climbed the 44 million steps (well, that is what it felt like!) the art was very impressive and made the journey well worth it. With story boards and audio telling the story of the Ngaro people from long ago, we all felt as if we had stepped back in time.
Truly amazed at how well preserved the art was.
While at anchor I leave our PC running Nobeltec so that I can monitor our anchor swing and movement. Usually you will see the boat with tracking line (in red) move around a bit but with the winds from the SSE at 25kts and the tide flows Pendana moved more than I had ever seen before. Photo below shows how much she swung on her anchor during our stay at Nara Inlet with this photo being taken only twelve hours after arrival.
The red line, now just a total block of colour shows how much we moved.
Interestingly in the photo above you can see the approach to anchor, the 180 degree turn into wind and even when I pulled on the anchor to ensure it was set. I am a huge fan of Nobeltec software and version 9, and while not the latest and greatest I am just not that into touch screens and 3D although with Nobeltec no longer supporting version 9, I guess one day I will have to upgrade.
With winds still blowing 25kts consistently and time approaching for us to return to Abel Point Marina so the girls could return to school I would be lying if I said that I was not a little apprehensive regarding the approach and manoeuvring required, to-bring Pendana in safely. What was it, a turn to the left then 180 degree turn then another to the left and left again before reaching our berth! Claire and I decided after some discussion that we would leave Nara Inlet and go to Cid Harbour so that we could depart around 4:00am as to arrive at Abel Point Marina outer markers at low tide and before all the tourist ferries started there day. The plan was to arrive at 6:35am.
On our run from Nara Inlet to Cid Harbour I noticed a rather nasty looking oil leak coming from the turbo on my main engine. Oil in my engine room is something not tolerated, unless it is where it should be. Pendana’s engine room is spotless and you can eat your lunch from its floor. The reason I keep it so clean is that when there is a leak or something not right it can be easily found. That being said, a blind man could have seen this one!
Argh! My pristine engine room with oil visible ontop of my Twindisc transmission.
Once anchored safely in Cid Harbour I shot off a few emails to Matt, from On The Water Sydney who is my Cummins expert as well as one to Captain Mark James. Both said, don’t worry it’s a small leak and you will be fine. Small leak? I would love to see what a big leak looks like!
Pretty sure oil is coming from this joint but will converese with Matt to make sure.
Trying to put the engine exhaust oil leak out of my mind, I set about planning my route so that we would arrive bang on 6:35am. Once satisfied all was done I announced to Claire that it would require upping anchor at 4:40am for the two hour run to Abel Point Marina. Claire, groaned but as always agreed.
I am pleased to say that we arrived at the marina outer markers at precisely 6:34am which was pretty cool to say the least. That being said, if not for the last of the current and the increased speed over ground which I hadn’t calculated for, we would have arrived later. It would seem luck was on my side.
As we approached the Marina a nasty squall came through with winds bouncing around 25-30kts and rain pelting down but as if an act of god, the moment I went onto the Portuguese Bridge to take control of Pendana from her wing driving station the rain stopped and the wind dropped to 15kts. 15kts I could live with and prayed it would stay that way as once inside the marina I would be afforded more protection and reduced winds – so I thought.
Photo below, taken about ten days earlier shows Pendana entering on a beautiful day. There was no time this time around to take happy snaps, so imagine clouds, wind and wet on top of this photo.
Approaching Marina on a beautiful day.
As it was low tide it was imperative to remain in the centre of the channel and Claire provided all the words of encouragement needed as I talked the approach and direction changes out-load. All going perfectly to plan, wind inside the marina was 12kts and life was good as we made our way around the 180 degree turn back onto ourselves.
Again photo below taken 10 days earlier so same applies as per above.
Once cleared entrance a 180 degree turn is required to come back on oneself.
As we made our turn into the fairway leading down to Pendana’s berth, Abi shouted out wind speed increasing, 16kts, 21kts, 27kts at which point I thanked her and went with the flow. We passed Murray and Marilyn’s Nordhavn, Commander N57 and as we passed them my mind refocused on the task at hand which was berthing Pendana.
Commander a Nordhavn 57 with one very large engine room!
Thankfully the wind was now head onto to our bow and providing little challenge until, of course, our change in direction which was due in seconds as we turned Pendana to Port (left) to line up with our berth. 32kts was the last call Abi made as Pendana turned into her berth I was able to correct for wind in what seemed like seconds. With Pendana alongside Claire hopped off and took the bow line which had been beautifully throw to her from Abi who was looking as proud as punch – and so she should be as the lines are very heavy! Then came the forward spring line, then stern line and backward spring. With shore power connected and Pendana shutdown, it was now time for a morning coffee and a few hundred cigarettes to calm the nerves. Going into a new marina is always challenging but Pendana has always been sure footed and met every challenge so perhaps it’s time to relax just a little bit more?
Bianca and I decided we would take a video of the entrance to the marina and to our berth in the tender. The video can be found at the following link. http://youtu.be/4nEY4cLC3kE
The girls left the following day for their flight back to Sydney with Claire while I remained for a few days to clean Pendana inside and out. I can’t stand the idea of leaving Pendana in a mess and simply refuse to do it.
During my two days I also, with the help of Murray N57 Commander, installed our sexy new four step telescopic ladders for our tender as the idea of me trying to reboard the tender is more horrifying than coming face-to-face with a Great White! I will bring you more on the Armstrong ladder and installation shortly but for now the adhesive needs a good seven days to set before I put it to the test in a few short weeks, – Did I say I, I meant to say Murray!
Armstrong ladders provide a way for the less than agile to reboard a tender and while the photo below is a file shot from their website this product does look to provide a very real solution to a long running problem of reboarding with some dignity. I will update the blog on performance in a few weeks once the adhesive is dry and Murray is ready to act as chief guinea pig! Not sure Murray knew that but……. I guess he does now!
Photo below of Pendana all tied up and put to sleep for the next few weeks.
That’s all for now other than to say I have just uploaded 99 photos to the blog under Photos/Whitsundays or if you like simply goto the follwoing address: http://www.pendanablog.com/aspx/m/Whitsunday-Islands-2013-pendana