Monday, 12 December 2016

Mackay Marina – On the dock waiting for a weather window

16-23 November 2016

Normally we try to avoid set schedules but sometimes it can’t be avoided. We had to be in Mackay on Friday for a crew change with John flying home and our eight year old grandson, Kristian, flying in from Canberra  for the rest of the trip down the coast with us to Brisbane. We would have preferred to make the twenty nautical mile run south from Brampton Island on the Thursday but the forecast indicated 20 knot south-easterlies returning after a day of 15 knot nor-easterly turning easterly on Wednesday so Wednesday it was.  

We raised the anchor soon after first light hoping to take advantage of the more favourable morning nor-easterly but found ourselves sailing to windward from the time we rounded the western point of the island. What followed was a bumpy and uncomfortable beat for the next four hours with genoa, main and mizzen all sheeted in tight.

In a typical example of Murphey’s Law, we caught a good sized queenfish about an hour into the trip after failing to hook anything while sailing over smooth seas for the past couple of weeks . Being a fisherman’s daughter, Karen is the super-proficient one on board with a filleting knife and had the unenviable task of cleaning and filleting our catch on the heeling and heaving aft deck. As always she did and outstanding job of hanging on and hacking at the same time but with blood and guts going everywhere, John did suggest it all looked a scene from a Hollywood slasher movie.

Not the best conditions for Karen to be slicing and dicing a big Queenfish.

The boat was not only heeling pretty well but really bouncing over the swells.
Our Dreamtime sails quite well to windward at wind angles better than 45 degrees or so and we managed to make quite reasonable time against a contrary tidal current. Surfing through the breakwaters of Mackay Harbour into its flat water was a relief for all of us however. It was enough for John to say he really wouldn’t be keen to face days of similar conditions on a bluewater passage if he could ever avoid it. We pointed out that under normal circumstances we the wimpy type of cruisers who sit and wait for favourable winds rather than choose to sail to windward unless absolutely necessary.

Brampton Island to Mackay Marina - 20.4 Nautical Miles - 4 Hours 06 Minutes
Average Speed 5.0 Knots - Max Speed 8.4 Knots
The gardens and surrounds at Mackay Marina were our home for a week
John doing it tough on his final day on board Our Dreamtime.
After getting most of our boat jobs ticked off in the marina that afternoon, we spent a fairly quiet Thursday relaxing before enjoying a farewell with John at the very good Thai restaurant in the marina.  His 11 days on board were a ton of fun but had wizzed by as they often do when we have guest crew.

Rob and Karen about to enjoy some great Thai food at a restaurant in the marina.

Next morning we hired a car from the marina office and headed for the airport. As luck would have it, John was flying out on the very plane that Kristian was arriving on. Very convenient in deed. There was much excitement as young Master Kristian was escorted through the arrivals gate by a flight attendant to begin his month or so with Nanny and Poppy.

Eight year old grandson, Kristian, was very excited to be our new crew member.
We would have loved to have been able to sail away southwards the next morning but unfortunately we had to wait a full five days for the 25 knot south easterly wind to abate. In the meantime we hired the car again for a trip into the hinterland to visit the national park rain forests at Eungella. We also kept our small man occupied with walks out the long breakwater to see ships entering the harbour and a trip into the great swimming lagoon in Mackay to cool off.

Brilliant views down the Pioneer Valley from Eungella.

The rain forest walks at Eungella are fantastic.

Kristian with Poppy at Eungella.

And clowning around with Nanny.
Kristian on the breakwater with Our Dreamtime in her berth over his left shoulder.

Watching tugs assist the latest visitor into Mackay Harbour to take on a load of sugar.

Mackay's swimming lagoon was a hit with Kristian.
We also achieved a bit of a mile stone while we were in Mackay when our blog passed 150,000 page reads on the all time counter and topped 11,000 in a month for the first time. We're really pleased people are enjoying our scribblings and photos.

Finally with the winds abating and favourable weather forecast, Our Dreamtime all fuelled up,  water tanks full and loaded with fresh provisions we were ready to cast off the lines to begin our month or so passage south to Brisbane. Next stop Middle Percy Island.
Good night from Mackay Marina.
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