Wednesday 6 January 2016

A litte too Up Close and Personal with Digby Island

November 25, 2015

With our new freezer full of frozen food, our old freezer managing to stay cool half full of food from the fridge, wine, beer and drinking water on ice and a modest sailing wind predicted we were three happy yachties getting underway again from Mackay Marina bound for an anchorage at Digby Island.

The obstacle course awaiting us off Mackay.
But first we had to negotiate our way through the fleet of big bulk carriers anchored off the Hay Point Coal Loading facility just south of Mackay. There were even more ships waiting for their turn to load up with the black stuff than when we came north. Yes they are anchored so you’d think picking your way through would be easy but we were pointing reasonably high going to windward  which restricted our manoeuvrability a bit. Just to make the game a little more entertaining, every so often we’d see smoke suddenly appear from a stack as a ship began upping anchor and moving.  We did cross very close to the bow of one of the monsters in the middle of the pack and hoped it wasn’t about to get its call up to go into the dock. Seeing the last of them slip behind our stern was a nice relief.

We never want to see one underway this close.
Sailing to windward with both headsails, mainsail and mizzen set.

Karen's take on our upwind sail trim on passage to Digby Island
Prudoe Island slipping by.
Karen keeping herself occupied while off watch.
We then had a fairly straight forward sail through the Prudoe Channel past a number of attractive islands. What we’d read about the anchorage at Digby Island in Alan Lucas’ Cruising the Coral Coast had been fairly unflattering so when we slipped between  Noel and Hendersen Islands and reached the bay at Digby we were very pleasantly surprised. Anchoring in nice, clear sand off the beach and closely surrounded by the other islands the place had the feel of a tropical lagoon. The water was dead flat and clear as crystal with very little current.
We found Digby Island an excellent anchorage in the easterly breeze that was blowing.

Mackay to Digby Island - 46.6 Nautical Miles - 9 Hours 21 Minutes
Average Speed 4.9 knots - Highest Speed 6.9 Knots.
All those green circles are swing anchorages for bulk carriers waiting to load at the Hay Point Coal Facility

Our Dreamtime anchored off Digby Island
The beach looked extremely inviting and we had the whole place to ourselves which is always a bonus. It wasn’t long before the dinghy was down off the davits and we made our way ashore. It really was delightful. The whole scene was very picturesque in the afternoon sun and Rob was busy taking photos - until the batteries in the camera went flat that is. Doh! Really should put them on charge more often probably.

Marc on the Beach at Digby Island with the fateful row of rocks behind.
Our Dreamtime’s other two crew were exploring the foreshore when Karen looked around instead of down and tripped on a rock. Marc described it as having been like a Coyote moment from the old Roadrunner cartoons as, just for an instant, it appeared she would regain her balance, before gravity won out and she face planted the stones. Ouch!!!

As any cruiser will tell you, bruises and abrasions go hand in hand with being at sea on a boat. In fact it was only days since Karen had told us about an internet friend of hers from the  Women Who Sail Australia Facebook Group who jokes about carrying a letter from her doctor to show any police that appear concerned about her welfare. Her letter supposedly states words to the effect ‘Please be advised that the constant injuries seen on this woman are not as a result of domestic violence. She simply lives on a yacht.

With blood splattered all over Karen's face and clothing from what we diagnosed was likely a slight break in her nose, along with bruises up her arms and legs, our Digby Island beach frolics not surprisingly came to an abrupt end. Fortunately once back on board, cleaned up and panadol administered, Karen’s spirits were fine as she joked about it beginning to appear she may need to get a REAL letter from our doctor before someone gets arrested. Marc simply suggested that even the Pope doesn't kiss the ground that enthusiastically while Rob lamented at having no battery power to get a gruesome photo for the blog. Naturally Karen was touched by all the compassion in the air.

By sundowner time she was much improved and joined in our traditional toast to the end of day – or two, well maybe three. We even still kept up our dedication to Project Eatathon ato create room in our replacement fridge. We knocked off a nice cheese platter with our sundowner drinks then had a great dinner that night courtesy of Karen. She had put together a very tasty Greek style lamb shanks dish in the Shuttle Chef before we left port. It then spent the day cooking itself while we were underway.  Best of all it was using no power at all while it was at it. Now it was just a case of serve and enjoy.(For Karen’s recipes and information about our Shuttle Chef see the Our Galley page of the blog)

 Greek style lamb shanks with feta thanks to Karen and our fantastic Shuttle Chef
We had a very calm and peaceful sleep that night and would have been more than happy to spend another day or two at Digby Island had we not wanted to push on southwards while we had a suitable weather window. Maybe next time.

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  1. Hi. We have just discovered your blog, and are loving it.... Its fantastic to read day to day details, no matter how small, and the pictures are amazing.
    We are sailing novices, but are planning on buying a boat & leaving Melbourne Aust early 2017. So 2016 is our year of learning, experience and tying up what seems like an endless list of things, before we leave.
    Can i ask a few questions, as my research is starting to get very daunting, and i figured it would be easier to ask someone who is doing it now.
    1. Roughly, how many nights a month do you stay in a Marina? and what would the average costs be? ( i understand thats a tough one, depending on where you are, but at the moment i can't work it out, so i have no idea if we need $500 or $5,000 a month - hopefully its more towards the $500.)
    2. Are pirates an issue ?
    3. Do you have international medical insurance ?

    I have more questions, but thought it would be rude to bombard you.
    Anyway, have a fantastic day, and happy sailing
    thanks Darren

  2. Hi Darren, We're so pleased you're enjoying our blog. It sounds like you guys are where we were in 2010. (Check out our early blogs) Your first question is the hardest. Budget depends on where you are cruising. Quite frankly Australia is the most expensive place we have sailed. Fuel, food and general cost of living are high here as are Marina fees so we try to anchor out quite a lot when cruising but a trip to the dock is often needed for repairs and maintenance and to hide from bad weather. When cruising we try to stretch our time between visits as much as possible but in Aus we often go into a marina for a night to top up with provisions and water. It's good news and bad news regarding how much money you need to allow. Good news - you'd need to live a very extravagant floating lifestyle to spend $5k a month cruising, even in Australia. The bad news - $500 is nowhere near enough here. When we head off to the Pacific islands and South East Asia we are hoping to get by on about $1k to $1.5k a month but time will tell. Question 2. If you don't go into the north western Indian Ocean pirates are not really a concern. We've never had a problem. Question 3. We did have travel insurance at first but it was expensive and didn't cover us sailing offshore anyway. Other than the insane costs in the USA, we also found health care far cheaper than Australia everywhere we have been. As a result, we no longer have travel insurance. We hope this info helps. Good luck with getting out there. It's well worth it. Cheers.

    1. Hi. Thanks for the reply. I wasn't expecting an answer for's really appreciated... I should of guessed Australia would be the most expensive !. We 're going to start off in Melbourne and head up the east coast (at this stage) but we're in no rush, so however long it takes, so i'm going to budget for $2k a month in Aust, until i get a better idea. I didn't think pirates was an issue, but funny when you tell people you're heading off, that seems to be the 1st thing they mention. And thanks for the info on insurance. Its great to be able to ask you directly, knowing that you are currently out there doing it ! good luck, cheers & happy sailing

    2. No reply Darren. Good luck with it all and let us know when you get out there. Our tracks may cross sometime. Cheers!


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