Monday 31 October 2016

South around Capes Cleveland and Bowling Green to Cape Upstart

18 October 2016

These blogs of our cruising life are packed with reports and photos of fantastic sailing passages in South East Asia, the Mediterranean, and Australia, great food and drinks accompanied by brilliantly colourful sunsets, exploring wonderful new anchorages, cities, towns, villages, deserted islands, coral cays and reef systems, making new friends from all over the world and generally living the dream.  

But it’s not all fun. Sometimes the weather is really crap and, more often than we like,  we find ourselves hot, filthy and stressed fixing something on the boat that shouldn’t need fixing but broke, failed or blocked up at the worst possible time and which is always located in the worst possible place on the boat to get at. At least when the wind blows up , a stormhits or the steering breaks it provides interesting content to blog about.

Unfortunately we also have passages that can only be described as boring deliveries.  We rise up in the morning, get underway under motor and drone along all day with little or no wind and little of consequence to see or do until we eventually deliver Our Dreamtime to another anchorage closer to where we want to be.

The 67 nautical miles from Magnetic Island to Cape Upstart turned out to be eleven hours of just such a tedium.

The moon and lights of Picnic Bay jetty on Magnetic Island in the pre-dawn.
With such a long way to go it was always going to be a long day so we were up before the sun. We were rewarded with a glorious still morning in Picnic Bay and had hopes of a nice sail with a modest north east wind predicted to develop through the day.

Cape Cleveland in the distance was the first of our three capes for the day.
The sea remained calm and the air still as we motored across Cleveland Bay and Townsville disappeared astern before rounding Cape Cleveland with its lighthouse high on the granite headland two hours after lifting the anchor.  The dangers of Samander Reef lurking just under the surface south of the cape are normally easy to identify by the white of water breaking waves but on this occasion they were invisible with the sea’s surface almost glassed out.

Castle Hill and the city of Townsville disappearing astern.

Windless conditions as we motor past Cape Cleveland lighthouse.
Having reached our waypoint set almost half a mile clear, we successfully avoided any bumping against coral. We then fed the new heading to Ben & Gerry (our B&G auto-pilot) and settled back in the cockpit for three and a half hours as the boat drove itself in straight line over the next 21 mile leg to the low sand spit of Cape Bowling Green. Thank goodness we carry plenty of books on board. To be fair there was a little wind by now but it was under five knots blowing from just forward of the beam. Under sail alone, we may have been able to manage two knots or so if we’d been happy to spend the next day and half to cover our 67 miles.

Just enough air over the decks to fill the tightly sheeted in sails as we motor-sail along.

Not even the fish co-operated to break our boredom as our lures failed to attract as much as seaweed.
By the time we motored into it at six knots the apparent wind speed was around ten knots at an angle of about 35 degrees which was enough to fill tightly sheeted in stay, main and mizzen sails so at least we looked good. Mind you we never saw another soul until we rounded Bowling Green.

The low sand spit of Cape Bowling stretches for miles and seems to take forever to round.
Unbelievably the north bound boat we then passed was a catamaran called The Great South East that we had been berthed a few spots down from at East Coast Marina in Manly for two years. It may be a big ocean but it’s still a small world. Five hours down, another auto-pilot adjustment now completed and we ONLY had thirty one miles (about another five hours) to go. OK, excitement over, back to our books.

After not seeing a soul all day the only boat we finally came across was our ex-neighbour. Small world!
Thankfully, the breeze built a little in the mid-afternoon.  We turned the motor off and trimmed the sails to suit the new wind strength and direction. Adding the genoa to the stay, main and mizzen sails already up, we found we could manage just on four knots. Fourteen miles to go. Two hours motoring or three and half sailing. No contest. Sail wins.

On approach to Cape Upstart under sail at last.  It's nice when we can have all four of our white sails up.

Karen coping well with a good book.
It was much more pleasant reading our paperbacks in near silence as the low lands of the Burdekin River delta slid past of too starboard.

Picnic Bay, Magnetic Island to Cape Upstart - 67.0 Nautical Miles - 11 Hours 01 Minutes
Average Speed 6.1 Knots - Max Speed 7.7 Knots

We enjoyed a very peaceful night in the lee of Cape Upstart.
Our Dreamtime was successfully delivered to her overnight anchorage close to the high cliffs in the lee of Cape Upstart a bit before 5.00 PM.  We would have liked to have been able to spend a day exploring the beaches of Cape Upstart but the weather gurus were tipping 12-15 knots of easterly for the next day to be followed by over a week of strong south easterlies. We would have to travel another fifty miles to Cape Cloucester in the morning or stay at Cape Upstart until they blew through.

Anchored off one of Cape Upstart's many beaches.
So it would be just a very short stay at Cape Upstart and then off to Cape Gloucester but hopefully not as another delivery.

Good night from Cape Upstart.

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