Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Northward Ho - Next stop Great Keppel Island

27 September 2015

Our next leg north was just a short hop of less than 20 nautical miles across to Great Keppel Island. Although there was no need for an early start, a small but uncomfortable swell began rolling around the point into our anchorage at Hummocky Island around dawn so we decided to up anchor and get underway.

Goodbye Hummocky Island. We would have loved to stay longer.
The easterly swell was considerably larger once we cleared the point and set sail for the bay on the Western side of Great Keppel Island. The 12-15 knot wind was also not too helpful coming from directly behind us if we attempted to steer the direct course. We sailed just enough degrees to the starboard side of the lay line keep our main and mizzen sails filled but it was much to fine to hold the genoa without poling it out. As it was didn’t have far to run we left it furled and still found we were rock and rolling along in the beamy swell at a respectable five and half to six knots.

We held that line for about five or six miles then gybed across to a corresponding angle on the port tack where the swell was more aft and far more comfortable. We were just starting to think this tacking downwind idea was working pretty well for us when the wind began to weaken. Soon our speed was down in the low to mid three knot zone but with our destination so close we were never tempted to start the engine. Even if you’re a bit slow, it’s always much nicer bobbing along under sail if you have time up your sleeve. Lazing back in the cockpit leaving the steering to Ben & Gerry, (our nickname for the new B&G autopilot), is not hard to take and you get a lot more of your latest book read.

We gybed again a couple of hours later and held on as long as we could before finally starting the engine as we approached Monkey Point on the island’s South West corner. The breeze was so weak as we made our way around the corner to Fisherman’s Bay off the resort area of the island that we dropped the sails running downwind.

Fisherman's Bay Great Keppel Island
It was almost low tide and Fisherman’s Bay is quite shallow at the best of times. We used a fair bit of care picking a spot to drop anchor putting it down in just 2.8 metres of crystal clear water. We see every shell on the bottom so it was very easy to be sure our anchor was well dug in.The following day’s low was going to be .3m lower which would leave a clear and comfortable metre of water under the keel.  That margin would increase by four metres on the high tide.

Hummocky Island to Great Keppel Island - 19.5 Nautical Miles – 5 Hours 03 Minutes
Average Speed 3.8 Knots – Highest Speed 6.8 knots
Our zig zag track shows where we gybed downwind to maintain a reasonable sailing angle.
Where we anchored on the first night in Fisherman's Bay on the Western side of Great Keppel Island.
All that was left to do was crack a post passage beer to end our the slowest passage so far five hours after departing Hummocky Island. We may not have been fast but we were certainly well relaxed.

A sloop sailing South in the setting sun west of Great Keppel Island 
Prawn, pineapple and chorizo kebabs on the BBQ capped a very laid back day.
Great Keppel looked great from the boat so we were really looking forward to spending a few days here to properly explore the island. You'll see what we discovered in the next blog.
Good night from Great Keppel Island!

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  1. Enjoy your blog. Are you enroute to Darwin?
    May all your bars be wooden and well-stocked
    SY Tientos

  2. Hi Lea, This time we are only going as far as we get up the Queensland coast before the northerlies set in then turning around and heading south again as a shakedown cruise for our new (to us) Whitby 42. We sailed Cairns to Darwin on a Benneteau 57 back in 2011. Cheers.


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