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pete_winning 06-27-2012 02:28 AM

Whitsundays - Stay off the water, amature coming through!
I've just finished my last day of work before the water resistent Missus and I head up to the Whitsunday Islands to charter a yacht for the week. With only about 20 hours in sailing lessons they're letting me be responsible for the safe use of a Benetau 323. I'm both excited and fearful but there's only one way to learn and the deep end has always been my style. I'm going to try to write a daily 'What I've Learnt Today' post so you can all have a laugh at my lack of seamenship. We pick it up next Monday 27/6 so this is just a friendly public service announcement to all cruisers to avoid a 323 named 'Chloe' and expect it to act irrationally. I figure if we get back with most of a boat and 2 people we've done well.

redbopeep 06-27-2012 03:59 AM

Oh! have loads of fun and tell us all about your adventure :)

haiqu 06-30-2012 01:16 PM

[Grabs popcorn] This should be good.

gypsypirate 07-01-2012 06:01 AM

Take your time, I won't hit those waters till mid august,

pete_winning 07-02-2012 09:02 AM

Day 1
Day 1 (technically)

Loc. Ė Shute Harbour out the front of the Yacht rental joint.

What Iíve learnt todayÖ

The sail coach has more faith in me than I do. After hearing of my limited experience and my first mates zero experience he recommend that we stick about for a more thorough instruction tomorrow. After seeing us in action though he feels confident that weíll work it out. Iím still trying to work out whether thatís because he saw some outstanding performance underway or he had a lawn to mow tomorrow. Seeing as though heís a local (currently at least) live aboard I would doubt the lawn option but on second thoughts the first seems unlikely too. Yet here we are at a mooring just outside the rental joint (who shall remain anonymous for the sake of the website) bobbing away with a ticket to ride at daybreak.

Iím 31 and the last time I saw a chest type fridge freezer was when I was 7 at my grandparents place. It seems that the invention of the upright fridge sent these the way of the dinosaur. Not on boats. The need to conserve power far outweighs the need to efficiently find anything. So a thorough repacking is on the list for tomorrow. On that note, A week worth of food is a helluva lot when you include condiments and cleaning products and try jamming it into all the nooks and crannies on a boat just a smidgen under 10 metres. I hope we eat a lot, and quickly. We were also over supplied. Some how we ended up with 5 cases of beer for a week instead of 3 and yet we drink an unpopular variety so we couldnít even give it away to the sail coach. Not to mention 3 cases of water and a 10 litre bottle. Instead of 3 small bottles and a 10 litre bottle. Stowage Grr. Gilligan would run out of story lines before supplies if we ended up wrecked.

More from me tomorrow including a greater focus on the nautical - its holidays after all and Iím out of time with a full deck of cards and some cribbage to teach the missus.

Trim50 07-03-2012 06:54 AM

Keep an eye out for S/V Worral Wind, S/V Delos and S/V Northfork. Say hello from Trim if you see any of our fellow cruisers from the states while in Whitsundays.

Imagine packing food for 22 day crossing....

pete_winning 07-04-2012 09:18 PM

Still here with plenty of stories to tell but we're having power issues with the laptop. The inverter doesn't like it so I'll have to post more when we get to power.

Trim - will do.

mico 07-05-2012 10:31 PM

H Pete,

We sail the Whitsunday's every year either in Mico or if pressed for time, via a charter vessel. If you have a copy of 100 Magic Miles - that's all you'll need. Everything marked for the whole region. If you are going up to Butterfly Bay, get there very early in the morning as from midmorning on - all the moorings will be taken and once on, no one wants to leave them in a hurry.

Have a great time!

Fair winds,


pete_winning 07-11-2012 03:39 PM

Ok, I'm back in the relative civilisation of work in the bass straight so it's time to catch you up on my sailing adventure. I'll try to re-live it day to day from notes I've taken but I doubt I will be able to purvey it as well as I may have been whilst bobbing at anchor. Here goes.

Day 2 - Shute Harbour - Cid Harbour - Nara Inlet.

We were bright and early away in the morning after our first radio scheds back to base. I was feeling a little trepidation as this is my first unassisted moment on the water - our fate was in my hands. I had some confidence in my short amount of training but I knew I'd be tested. My confidence was soon to be shattered.

We left under motor to get to the safety of open water under 15 to 20 kn from the SE. The direction was to stay fairly constant for the duration of the trip but as we didn't know this we made no plans and played it day to day. The destination was Nara Inlet over night via Cid harbour for lunch. A survey of the charts put us headed just about due east under South Molle Island and across the channel on a fairly stable turn of tide. Out in the open with a reef in and a most of the jib we were doing ok. Off goes the engine and we're on our own. With the Misses at the helm and me trimming I had a lot to think about. None of this was automatic for me I had to think about every move. I had never used self tailing winches, roller furling jib or for that matter a steering wheel. I was experienced in Tiller alone. So with one eye on the Misses and my hands fumbling with lines we're making 6kn with a beam on swell and I was feeling pretty happy about it. That's when we lost steering. The wheel was hard to starboard and not responding in that direction unless the wind puffed a bit. It took me a while to realise it was sails trimmed in too hard. The tell tales on the Jib which I'd used happily on the J24 I'd trained in were all rolled up and the main didn't have any either. By the time I'd worked it out we'd made a lot of leeway to the North and we were heading closer than we should have to the southern end of S Molle. This was quite a blow. Without hands on the wheel I had no feel for her and I was disappointed it took me so long to work out the problem. We were headed towards a channel that I hadn't surveyed on the charts and we hadn't rehearsed any tacks like I was planning. Even though we were on the water it all felt like it was happening a bit quick. Nothing for it but to fire up the engine so we could head dead to wind. So that's the way we point to drop sails and it's at this point that I really appreciate the roller furling jib. Moving to the main we start running into problems, the thing just won't come down. I'm sure its the right halyard I've released but it just wouldn't drop more than the initial 100mm or so. None of the battens are caught on the sail bag but it won't move of its own accord. I carefully head up to the mast to give it a pull down but it won't budge. I head back to the winches to check again while scratching my head. This wasn't going how I'd planned it at all. I follow the slack halyard from the winch past the cams back up to the mast where I find a sneaky little cleat behind the sail bag that its jammed itself in. Problem solved - but it won't budge until I get some tension off it so back to the winches it is and then back to the mast. Now she drops like normal but my nerves are bit shot so we motor the rest of the way to Cid harbour for lunch. I'm disappointed in myself for not realising my problems earlier but it was a sunny day and only 10.30 or so. I didn't realise how much I relied on tell tales and how much more there was to think about when I was the only one on board who knew anything at all about sailing or navigation. I was starting to feel like I'd bit off more than I could chew. My comforting thought was that the engine was firing up first go every time so if need be it'd get a work out. But the sails weren't going up again until we had some open space and some lunch.

Cid harbour would have seemed fairly empty to any ordinary person in control of their yacht but to me it seemed crowded. I'd worked out the scope of chain needed and the swing room for lunch and we thread our way past a couple of boats and head to wind. The helm still seemed like the easy job for the Misses so I head forward to sort the anchor out. Again its the first time either of us had anchored and again my attention was divided between what I was doing and what was happening at the wheel. Our forward motion stops and by checking against the land I see that we're starting to drift backwards so I release the windlass with no finesse and out the anchor chain runs at full speed. I'm picturing the chain piled up and fouling the anchor so I tell the Misses to give it a bit in reverse while I'm trying to let out the next 20 odd metres gracefully. While this is happening I'm glancing behind me and to shore to check our rate of speed while I still have very little control over the windlass and I'm not sure wether I've missed a ten metre indicator or not. Seeing 3 cable ties on a link tells me I've got what I need out and although she's stopped giving it revs we're not holding. Ok take 2 but I've forgot to turn on the anchor windlass switch at the control panel. By this stage the anchored yacht behind us is paying attention as we've drifted far further than we'd planned which don't think the helms-person had noticed. This was doing nothing to help my turrets :) .

We seem to get it on the 3rd try so engines of and out comes some lunch. I'm still very much on edge but we don't seem to be dragging. Or are we. I pick a couple of land based indicators but something isn't right. It's almost imperceptible and I wonder if I'm being paranoid. It's at this point I remember the part of the briefing where they mentioned briefly that they've had some reports of anchors dragging at Cid. A quick blue and a sandwich later and we're back underway with barely a break and certainly no relaxing. Now I was really starting to think I'd bitten off more than I could chew so on goes the noise maker destination - Nara Inlet.

With everything going on I didn't get a lot of time to appreciate the beauty of the place yet but Nara was about to change all that. With the wind behind us and an outgoing tide we made good time but it was all under motor. We navigated the steep sided narrow inlet and set up for anchor which this time went well enough. But I couldn't get the thought out of my head that we were a bit close to our neighbours. I sat on it for a while and made the afternoon scheds but couldn't relax. My better half thought I was being paranoid but after an hour of procrastinating and worrying about more anchoring issues similar to Cid I decided I wouldn't be able to sleep if I didn't shift us over a bit. With the sun dropping it was now or never. That was the right choice as again we hit it first go. Ok maybe we were working it out. Time for a beer, a feed and some full moon appreciation in this beautiful inlet.

That made me feel substantially better and the beers weren't hurting the cause either. Just when I thought I Nara couldn't get any prettier I was giving the dinner plates a bit of a pre rinse in the drink when I noticed the phosphorescence. Tiny balls of green light emanating from the wash. Its hard to describe how much of a shock or how truly beautiful this was after the day I'd had. I rinsed those plates to within an inch of their life just appreciating what a great experience this was. I was finally at peace. Not even losing at Crib changed the great mood I was in and we were uncharacteristically early to bed, completely exhausted.


Day 3 shortly. They won't all be this long it was just an eventful day.

redbopeep 07-11-2012 05:04 PM

yup, we've had a few of those "lost steering by sail trim" moments when our boat was new to us. LOL

Sounds like you're quick on the uptake and taking it all in.

We'll look forward to your next installment :)

pete_winning 07-12-2012 03:25 PM

Day 3 Nara Inlet - Blue Pearl Bay

It was a broken nights sleep. I was up a quite a few times checking out all the new noises that I wasn't yet tuned too. This was to be a common them over the next few nights particularly at the turn of tide. So I was looking forward to a coffee with the kettle boiled and the cup poured I was digging around in the previously mentioned chest type fridge / freezer for the milk when a bit of swell rolled us just enough that my first cup of steaming hot coffee slid into it. Not what you need before your first cup. The result was coffee all through the fridge and immediately frozen to the freezer plate. All items removed for a wipe down and repacked. This set the mood for what was to be another challenging day that was driven not by the weather or sailing but by the need for power of the electrical variety.

To give some background the misses needed to get about an hour of work done which we'd known about before we left so we packed the laptop and broadband modem and knew we were close enough to shore for all this to connect to the internet. I made sure I got an inverter with the vessel but I didn't know it was for mobile phone use only. So when we couldn't get the on board CD player to work on the first night we ran down the battery listening to music. Damn Jason Marz! Result - a mission for power. The only option was the nearest resort, Hayman Island. With no berthing experience I wasn't keen to book into the Marina but there was a nice little bay around the back called Blue Pearl bay. There was a walking track over to the resort as indicated in 100 Magic Miles, the local guidebook so that was our aim. Pick up a mooring in Blue pearl and walk to Hayman pay the day visitor rate and get a bit of lunch there. However with deadlines looming we were time poor so no consideration was given to tides. A quick pack up and we're out the inlet under motor heading west towards the whitsunday passage. The weather was on the increase today forecast at 20 - 25 kts and the tide was flooding to the SE as we left. That put the tide against us and the wind so the conditions were rough and with bugger all around but empty islands and water I was fairly surprised to see a 3 double sea kayaks paddling south. I thought I was bordering on crazy until I saw them so with a renewed sense of adventure we come around to north on the passage. With following seas the helm was quite a battle, even under motor, and and getting worse. The misses was getting prepped for the work she had to do down below and battling her first bout of sea sickness. She's committed though. She kept at it and in between losing her breakfast she achieved all that she could without power. Now it was up to me to get us there. No time to put the sails up. We navigate through the numerous hazards south of Hayman, whip around the north and get a bit of luck with a spare 10m mooring sitting empty seemingly waiting for us. Its at about this time that I realise that this plan was devised from a guidebook that didn't have any topographical indicators so Its a bit more than the 2K hike than I was expecting. Nothing for it but to get underway. We pile the computer bits in the dinghy and shoot for the beach. Half way there I realise I didn't check the tides and with this mammoth walk in front err on the side of caution and drag the dinghy right up the beach to the high water line. Those paying attention will realise my mistake, more on that to come. We ignore the sign to contact security on some 4 digit HF radio channel as I'm pretty sure we only have VHF and 2 digit options.

It would be safe to say that the Misses wasn't all that happy at this stage. She thought we should have got a berth but the cap'n won that argument so we start our trek up over Hayman. A couple of hundred metres in I dry off my sandy feet and put socks on under my boat shoes. I thought it was pretty clever of me to bring socks and with this thought we proceed under foot with the Misses potty mouth penetrating the pristine beauty of the usually glorious Hayman walking trails. About a half hour in with dead lines looming she inquires about our progress where I make the mistake of telling her it's unlikely we're even half way as we're still going up. This didn't help the serenity either but we get there in the end after passing a couple of stern 'No Trespassing' signs but I figure that's talking to people who aren't prepared to pay the day rate for a visit and we keep on. We finally get to the back end of the resort and spot an outdoor power point near some basketball courts which is where I leave her to get cracking while I try and find the security office to check in. This proves to be a bit of a mission so I head to the Marina for some friendly directions from other sea faring folk. No luck there. Hayman doesn't do day visitors and I'm directed quite sternly to leave the resort immediately or be charged as the signs suggested. Bugger. Luckily by the time I get back to my first mate she's finished what she had to do so without the leisurely lunch and beer we were picturing we're back on the track. By this stage I knew I had some decent blisters from my new shoes and was in a bit of discomfort so i wrap my sun protective head scarf around my right foot which appeared to be the worst and keep on with the misses strolling behind. It wasn't a great day for her and the last thing she wanted to be doing after the bout of sea sickness that morning. A bit over an hour later we're coming to the end of the track and happily our yacht is still at its mooring. Unhappily the tide is at its lowest and the dinghy is high and dry. It seems the mission isn't over yet and food and drink will have to wait a bit longer. The tide has now exposed a fairly substantial reef in front of where we put in so not only do we have top drag it down 50 meters but laterally another 100 to pick up a more sandy reef free bit. With the outboard attached the weight of the dinghy is pretty substantial and it takes the 2 of us to get it moving. Now I have a decent blister on my hand to match my heels, lucky me. Foot by foot we get it in the water and use the oars to paddle out over the shallow and occasionally reefy bits. With enough water under us and no further obstructions it's time to fire up the outboard. i should have known that the bloody thing wouldn't start after the day we'd had. Now it's my turn to use some creative language as the reef starts approaching on the drift. We squiggle our way back towards the yacht under oar and when we get there tie up so I can see if i can get the dinghy started as the Misses gets some food. It turns out there's nothing wrong with the dinghy. In the stress of the moment I wasn't giving it any choke or throttle wile pulling the starter cord. What a dope. Nothing a beer won't fix… Whats that tapping sound… Hmmm that's a funny place for the mooring buoy to be.. Where's that rope going and why are we beam on to the wind and current? Bugger, the day isn't over yet. It seems while we were gone the 40 odd mm mooring rope has wrapped itself around our keel. That can't be good. I don't want to risk starting the engines and getting the prop spinning to free it up so I sit back to work out the problem. I figure there's too much pressure on it to free it up by hand and within a half a beer I come up with the solution to use the dinghy to dive it round from the stern. This works a treat and I free it up in no time. This process was repeated a couple of more times that evening. What a day.

Food and drink relaxes us quickly and under another beautiful sunset we see a tall ship with a traditional rig packed with tourists coming in to moor overnight. They're quite close by and there's a few of them up the mast packing up the sails. What a breath taking sight. The camera was out and we got a great shot of her with the silhouette of a bloke hand over hand climbing the 20 odd metres up the forestay (probably incorrect term). I know what kind of strength that takes and I'm impressed. In spite of todays troubles I realise it's all been worth it. Not many people get to experience what we have over the last couple of days. There's been stress but not the type usually associated with a city life. On reflection I'm proud of us and what we achieved that day. When push came to shove we found the solutions to our days problems and although I still felt like I may have bitten off more than I can chew I now feel like we'll be able to work it out together. It's all been worth it…

redbopeep 08-08-2012 05:41 AM

And--the rest of the story?

Auzzee 08-08-2012 06:56 AM

All this takes me back! I experienced the Whitsunday Islands back in the late 60s when there was a pub at Shute (with a scuba compressor) and a pub at Airlie. There was petrol station, and a shop that sold bait, and you could rent a 14' wooden half cabin with a putt-putt in it, and that was about it. It is still a wonderful and very sophisticated cruising ground and I am loving reading of your trip.

pete_winning 08-09-2012 02:04 AM

Day 4 - Blue Pearl Bay to Butterfly Bay.

Ok. Life, it getís a bit busy. Also I thought I was writing a bit tl;dr (too long; didnít read) to use a blog term from less friendly sites. Seeing as though I have an interested party or two and a bit of time here we go.

We knew we wanted an easy day after yesterdayís epic adventure so we just planned to head around the corner to the North end of Hook island to Butterfly Bay. We werenít planning a direct route as the weather reports were telling us this would be our last day of friendly 15 Ė 20 Kt winds before weíd be getting 25 Ė 30 Kt for basically the rest of the trip. So a bit of sailing was now in order, as I knew my skills werenít up to sailing much under those conditions. The other concern was fuel. We used up way more than Iíd planned to get to this northern extremity of the Whitsunday charter area. Weíd used under half a tank but weíd be heading back into the wind and I had absolutely no idea how much this would affect us. The noisy thing at the back was still the only thing I knew would get us out if trouble if need be so the thought of losing that was cause for concern. The missus thought I was paranoid but I couldnít convince her to get further south after yesterday so we opted for a few hours sailing around figuring we be at a mooring abit after lunch and relax for the day.

So we set off, kill the engine, and weíre close hauled with a double reef in the main and a bit of jib furled heading roughly east with our SSE winds. The Missus at the helm had become normal practice so I could keep an eye on charts and play with trim, which seemed to be our main problem while under sail. The result was I had no feel for the helm and wasnít sure if each trim move was improving us or hindering us. We were making good speed according to my hand held marine GPS. That device proved very handy. Iíd picked it up last year to keep track of my kayaking trips and had the presence of mind to bring along. So weíre heeling fairly hard but the rail isnít in the water as Iím explaining a bit of sailing theory and talking the missus through what I expected to be the next move which would be a tack to starboard. Keeping some formalities but in an odd reverse order I organize my jib sheets and then call to the helm Ďready about?í Itís at this moment that we hear an alarm from the cabin control panel. Theyíre never good. On investigation thereís green oily fluid leaking out of the engine compartment onto the galley floor. I figure that and the alarm are somehow related. The alarm stops whenever we level out so I figure itís something to do with the bilges but Iím not sure where that fluid is meant to be. Iím pretty sure that the galley floor isnít right though. I wonder if it will affect the engine and if the heeling is exacerbating the problem or exposing it. Bugger time to pack up the sails and get the Charter on the radio to sort it out. Not being far from our overnight destination we motor in and grab a mooring in the very pretty Butterfly Bay.

Itís a shame because the sailing was gong relatively well today. I wis we had of had more time out there but as Iíve read of most cruiser you canít take a trip without sticking your head in the engine compartment now and then. A few hours later the charter gets back to us and it seems to be a problem with the auto bilge pump in the engine compartment. Unfortunately I canít throw it into manual (yeah that means on as I found out over the radio) as this is a no discharge area. So it canít be solved today. Nothing for it but to crack a beer and enjoy the beautiful setting with a book while getting a few afternoon rays. There sure is a lot to learn out hereÖ

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