Sunday, January 17, 2016

January 2016 Townsville Cruise

For some reason I have found it difficult to get crew to come cruising. A lot of people like the idea, but life and other commitments get in the way. For my part, as I get older I am acutely aware that the “Thanks for the invite, I will do it next time” option is risky. There may not be a next time, there is only now.
Last year I ran an advert for anyone who wanted to sail from Cairns, around the Whitsundays and back to Cairns. A six week trip, join whenever and wherever you want and jump off the same way. I had great fun and fully intend to do that again this year. However, a series of unrelated circumstances late last year conspired together to convince me that Cairns was getting stale for me, and a change of scene would do me good. The beauty of living on a boat means that moving location is not such a big deal and trading Cairns Yacht Club for the bigger and more socially active Townsville Yacht Club was an appealing option.
Another plan which was changed suddenly meant I had a couple of spare weeks after Christmas to explore the Islands around Townsville. An advert got me a number of inquiries from people who were interested in joining the trip and, after weeding out the dreamers, the” I would like to but”, and the” Yes, I am coming, I am coming, silence”, Angelo from Canberra and Jenny from Melbourne flew to Townsville and joined Dreamagic. This is that log.

Thursday 7th January.
View from Dreamagic at TCYC
Angelo flew in at 11.00 so I went to pick him up and bring him back to the boat. Angelo is 63, very Italian with little English and a chef. Married with grown up boys he appears to have escaped his Canberra life in search of another one. If only for a while. I located him eventually at the Airport, crammed him with Bob and his bags into my tiny Suzuki and we set off back to the marina to stash his bags and change into something more appropriate. Townsville is always hot, but right now it’s in the high 30’s low 40’s and jeans are probably a poor choice.
After moving into his cabin we went shopping for provisions, and the all important grog. Back to the boat I left Angelo packing groceries away while I went to collect Jenny.
Jenny has three teenage sons the youngest of whom has just turned 18. Realising that this means she is now free to do as she pleases, and recently free from the encumbrance of marriage, she is going to. How she got that much luggage on the plane is something I will never know, but by the time we had packed the Vitara, then gone via the bottle shop, the poor car was groaning under the weight. Fortunately Dreamagic tends to swallow luggage and all was eventually packed, we settled down to watch a sunset over the marina, enjoy a bottle or two of wine and get to know each other. Jenny works with mental health patients, which I think is going to be very handy in the ensuing days. I know right now this is going to be a fun trip.

Friday 8th January
We set off fairly early and took the boat around to Breakwater to refuel. The weather is still very hot and there is very little wind but we motored out to the bay and set a jib for the trip over to Horseshoe Bay. Slow going but finally we got there and picked up a mooring. The intention was to have Fish and Chips on the beach for dinner so after a swim in the bay we got ready to go ashore. Unfortunately in getting into the dinghy Jenny slipped and twisted her knee. I drove the boat to the beach but Jen couldn’t put weight on it and getting her out of the dinghy was difficult, and obviously very painful. Fortunately the Police were cruising past so I flagged them down and asked them to send an ambulance. The Paramedic was fantastic, gave her advice, got her on a stretcher and whisked her away. Angelo and I had Fish and Chips watched the sunset and then returned to Dreamagic for the evening.

Saturday 9th January
Spud in the background looking pitiful
We called Jenny to see how she was and what she wanted to do. Her knee was sprained and she was on crutches, but still keen to get on the boat and continue. However a trip across sand into a rubber ducky and then a climb onto Dreamagic was asking a lot so Angelo and I took the boat around to Nelly Bay Marina.
I know  Kerry, the Manager there very well, from our previous visits. I called him and asked for a berth with easy access because of our wounded crew. As always he was fantastic and when we got there he had shuffled boats about to give us the prime spot and was waiting with another chap to grab our lines.  I found Jenny in the bar, or course, so we joined her for lunch. I must say I have always had mixed feelings about Blue on Blue, the resort at nelly Bay but this time the restaurant staff were fantastic. They fussed over Jenny, and allowed Bob to sit in the corner of the balcony so that we could all lunch together. Well done guys. After lunch we got Jenny back on the boat, which while parked at the marina was relatively easy.
A lively character was parked a couple of boats away. He was forever walking past and speaking with us. He introduced himself as Pud, we offered him a beer which he said he would take us up on in a while. Unfortunately it seems his cheery disposition was the result of chemical ingestion and, like all druggies, we were to witness a change in attitude which was quite remarkable. He suddenly lost the plot, and threw his rubbish bin in the marina. The Manager, having witnessed this behaviour before asked him to leave the marina. Pud then decided that he didn’t own his Staffordshire Terrier so left that tied up on the dock, told us that it wasn’t his fault and just a drug deal that had gone wrong, tried to break into the marina office, and then exhausted took himself to bed. The Police arrived after the show was over and, I think quite rightly, decided to let sleeping dogs lie. Of course that left the problem of what to do with the staffy. We took him aboard Dreamagic where, after a lot of hurumphing from a jealous Bob initially he finally settled down. We named him Spud, fed him and looked after him until morning.

Sunday 10th January
As soon as the marina office was open I spoke with the marina management about the fate of Spud. They decided to give him back to Pud, who presumably had come down from his previous day’s high. I was against this. Spud was very undernourished, and clearly not well treated. I spoke with a friend of mine who is heavily involved in rescuing dogs and she suggested the RSPCA. However, eventually Spud went back to Pud, probably thinking he wished he had humans like Bob has. It’s a luck of the draw really and I explained to Bob he was very lucky to have someone like me. Bob wasn’t overly impressed and explained to me that actually it was the other way around and I was the lucky one. He gets like that sometimes.
We bought a few provisions from the shop, quit the marina and headed back to Horseshoe where we picked up a mooring again and spent the night. Because of Jenny’s knee we didn’t go ashore but had dinner on the boat.

Monday 11th January
Herald island
I had heard a lot about Herald Island and wanted to see it. The Townsville Yacht Club use it for overnight cruises and it I possible to have fires on the beach, which I always think makes a party. We anchored quite close to the beach, and a large sign saying Danger, Unexploded Armament. Keep Clear. Obviously the place to make a party go with a bang. Angelo, Bob and I went ashore so he could have a pee. (Bob, not Angelo) and then we had dinner aboard. Herald is nice, but the mosquitos are vicious, and happy to come over and visit too.

Tuesday 12th January
Orpheus to Port, Fantome to Starboard
We motor sailed to Fantome Island which is a beautiful spot. The water here is always very clear but the fringing reef makes a landing difficult at low tide. We settled our anchor and prepared afternoon refreshments.  The only other boat here was Sea Otter, a Jeanneau 37 . Their skipper came over to say hi on his way to run his two dogs. We invited him back for Sundowners and at about 6.00pm he came over with some smoked squid he had caught and made. We extended the invitation to dinner so Mick, made the trip over to his boat and brought back his charming Korean wife JiHee. What a great couple these guys are. In their 30’s living the dream Mick is an Aircraft Engineer who has taken 14 months off work to do this, JiHee was a graphic designer at the Cairns Post before embarking on this adventure. Mick is a bit of a “the guy you most want to be on a desert island with”. He shoots goats, spear fishes coral trout, that sort of thing. They brought us a couple of coral trout he had caught as their contribution, and after dinner he taught us how to catch, and clean squid. I had caught the before but his technique was very effective and we quickly had 8 cleaned and ready. Cleaning is a messy affair but eventually I think I got it, With Angelo on board I am looking forward to tomorrow night’s dinner, and Fantome has just become my favourite island. I am sailing here in April with a couple of very long standing friends and this will be a must visit.
Cleaning Squid

Wednesday 13th January
Last night didn’t finish until 1.00am so it was with a sore head this morning that I picked up our anchor. The plan was to go to Orpheus Island and we made the short trip around the headland picking up a public mooring in Little Pioneer Bay. Unfortunately the bay was full of jellyfish making it impossible to swim there. After a brief discussion we decided to head back to Fantome for the day. We lazed around the boat reading and listening to music in the afternoon before enjoying the calamari for dinner. We also ate half of the Coral Trout fillets we were given. That fish did not die in vain. Angelo retired early but Jenny and I sat up talking, drinking wine and I was finally convinced to play guitar until my repertoire was exhausted. That took about 10 minutes.

Thursday 14th January
Palm Island

Angelo and I took Bob ashore for his early morning constitutional before we put the dinghy in the davits and sailed to Palm Island. Palm Island is an Aboriginal community and one needs permission to go ashore. The wind had picked up to about 15 knts for the first time on this trip and it was good to be sailing again. We anchored off the beach where two other yachts were. This is actually a beautiful anchorage and we whiled the afternoon away before enjoying a penne bolognaise washed down with a very nice bottle of wine Jenny had brought just for this occasion. That was of course followed by a large quantity of cheap red I had brought for any occasion, and then I retired.

Friday 15th January
We made an early start and in favourable winds sailed back to Magnetic Island. Jenny is still not sure about her knee, or gun shy about trying to get back in the dinghy so rather than Horseshoe Bay we elected to go to Nelly Bay Marina where getting on and off the yacht is easier. It was a pleasant motor sail back, Angelo doing most of the driving. We arrived about lunchtime and Kerry as always looked after us allocating us a berth you could fit the QE11 into. Jenny and Angelo spent a long time in the showers, (first one for a week) while I pottered about the boat and then went to the Post Office to attend to some stuff. It is so hot still that walking anywhere is uncomfortable.
Unfortunately Jenny’s knee, whilst improving is still hampering her. Getting into the dinghy is out of the question so going ashore on islands isn’t possible. I wanted to go to the Pub at Lucinda for a meal but it means climbing a ladder to the wharf from the dinghy. That can’t be done now. Even fish and chips at Horseshoe Bay is impossible. We discussed alternatives but the obvious one is to return to Townsville and terra firma so that she can continue her holiday ashore.

Saturday 16th January.
Jenny and Angelo caught the first ferry out of Magnetic Island to the mainland .I had a leisurely breakfast before bring Dreamagic home alone. Well alone except for Bob. I don’t sail Dreamagic alone much, especially at the moment while the Self Steering is being repaired. However, it can be done, the weather was fine so about 9.00am I pushed off. Outside the leads Bob suddenly started barking at me, pressing against my legs and then barking again. Initially I wondered if he had forgotten to attend to his ablutions before leaving but I think he was just concerned that we were a little light on crew.
The trip back was an uneventful 90 minutes, I had called and arranged for Carolyn Deacon, a club member at TYC to meet the boat and catch the line, which she did admirably, and the bribe to get her to do that was a delightful lunch in an very old Hotel beer garden not far away.


Thanks to both Angelo and Jenny for coming along on this trip. Angelo’s skills as a chef meant we had some great meals. The weather was kind but not great for sailing, and unfortunately whilst Jenny urged us to go ashore without her, the injury precluded her joining us and we are a crew, and we do things together.

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