Blue Horizon 3
Monday 5/9/11 – Hank and Phillippa left early for Townshend Island but we planned to sail only to South Percy, a short 2 hour trip, so we delayed our departure. I went fishing in the dinghy for an hour then took the girls ashore to go beachcombing again. We left the anchorage at 9.30 but had another lesson coming our way, ‘Early bird sailing 901’. Within half an hour the wind went to 20+kts and stayed there. It was another bumpy ride to windward and took 3 hours rather than 2. It would have been a nice sail if we had left at 7.30 instead of dilly dallying around. It blew 20-25kts for the rest of the day with a couple of showers.
Tuesday 6/9/11 – After breakfast we went ashore for a walk. There weren’t many shells but we found a large school of hardy head sheltering in a small rocky bay with a metre long shovel nosed ray rounding them up. We had a chat with another group of yachties then went back to the boat and fished and lazed around for the rest of the day. I caught about 6 hardy head off the back of the boat with the net that night.
Wednesday 7/9/11 – The wind has dropped to 10-15kts so off we go heading south again. Unfortunately it has also swung from SE to S. I had hoped to be able to do one big long tack but our destination is now 30nm straight up wind. I decided to motor sail with one engine otherwise we would not make it before dark. I ended up being an 8 hour trip with another 2 whale sightings on the way. After 6 hours the wind picked up to 20kts but thankfully also shifted 25degrees in our favour and we had entered the more sheltered waters of Shoalwater Bay. We raced along at 8-9kts straight for our destination of ‘Big Buck Creek’ at Leicester Island. With another successful southward leg under our belt we set our fishing lines and waited for the tide to come in so I could set the grab pots. Shirley caught the first gummy shark which ended up as crab pot bait but after the next couple we got sick of catching them so we put the fishing lines away. We had a fairly calm night.
Thursday 8/9/11 – I picked up the pots after breakfast and got 4 large bucks and 2 large jennies. As soon as I got back to the boat we left and decided to go the inside of Townshend Island and through Strong Tide Passage as the tide was about right. I thought it would be a calm motor cruise but the wind, though only 10kts at first, was S then dropped to nothing as soon as I put sail up. It then picked up to 20kts and turned SE soon after we entered the passage creating gusts. We were an hour late coming out the mouth of the passage. At first there seamed to be a wall waves right across the mouth to meet us but on closer inspection there was a dogleg track through the mass of turmoil. I started my turn towards the clear water but misjudged the strength of the current sweeping us towards the turmoil and got slammed by 2 waved on the very edge of the turbulence. Looking back as we cleared the area I could see acres and acres of bad water. It was just over 2 hours after high tide when we went through and I would only go through that area again within half an hour of high tide. After an hour in the open water we sailed into the shelter of Island Head Creek about 12.00 and anchored in a quiet tributary. Shirley and Avon caught a feed of bream and I caught 1 crab overnight.
Friday 9/9/11 – We left on daylight to motor sail down the coast to Roslyn Bay Marina. It was a very pleasant day for a change with a light northerly breeze sill Cape Manifold then it went NW then SW off Corio Bay. The last hour was a brisk sail in sheltered water. It went ugly just before we entered the marina but we managed to berth ok thanks to some local help with the lines. We got a phone call from Phillippa to say they were aground at Port Clinton and that night we went out to dinner.
Saturday 10/9/11 – Restocked the boat then went to Rocky to visit all the rellies.
Sunday 11/9/11 – I helped Neville clean out under his beach house then had lots of visitors during the day. Dave dropped over in the morning. Neville, Tam & Gene came to say hello. Janet & Ernest also paid a visit. Phillippa phoned to say they had just blown a spinnaker near Keppel Island and it was a cold afternoon and evening.

Monday 12/9/11 – After a morning car trip to Rockhampton to visit Mum & Dad we were back at the marina at 12.00 and set sail soon after. It was blowing 10-15kts E and we sailed close-hauled to Hummocky Island for the night. As soon as we arrived we noticed an upturned boat on the shoreline of the bay so Avon & I went ashore to investigate. We found a 20ft power cat upside down on the beach and badly battered from several rocks it was pinned against. There was debrie washed up along the shore and Avon found the boat compass 100m away along the beach. A heavy tow rope was attached to the bow so it had obviously been under tow and the towing boat may have been forced to abandon it due to heavy weather.
Tuesday 13/9/11 – We left after breakfast and tacked to windward in 10kts and crossed the bar of the creek into Yellow Patch, a large orange/yellow sandhill, with an extensive mangrove estuary running inland. Another yachty showed us the best place to anchor at it was difficult to tell at high tide and most of the area is dry at low tide. I went off exploring in the dinghy to find the best place to put the crab pots. We went ashore in the afternoon and I walked down to the creek mouth at low tide to check out the best route to cross the bar when leaving. I tried to check the pots just on dark but the tide was too low I so had to abandon the attempt. The wind is blowing about 20kts so we will stay in the creek till it settles down again. Shirley caught a dozen bait fish on dusk and we are having brilliant moonlit nights though quite cool and lots of dew.
Wednesday 14/9/11 – I went and got the pots about midmorning at high tide. Two pots had had the bait stripped by grabs that had managed to then get out when there was no more bait. The last pot I pulled up had 9 crabs in it but only one keeper. Even though the creek is fairly isolated and it looks good crabbing country it has still been over fished. We had a lazy afternoon reading books and the weather forecast is looking good for the next week.
Thursday 15/9/11 – We left the creek at 8.00 and headed for Masthead Island on the reef. The weather is near perfect and we are motor/sailing on a tight reach in 8kts. I finally caught our second fish on the trolling line, a sharky mackerel. We fished at the front of the reef for about 2 hours and caught 6 fish then anchored in the lee of the reef for the night. Shirley got a big hit on her line but was bitten off and I caught a large catfish. There is a lot of smoke haze and you can’t see the mainland but it was another nice moonlit night.
Friday 16/9/11 – The morning started with a problem with the gas stove as the pressure was down and kept going out when cooking. We have had this problem before so I decided to do a thorough investigation. Once again it was excessive moisture in the line. The gas locker is in the bow and its lid is not weather proof. It is always wet in there and moisture is getting into the regulator then into the gas pipe. I pulled the regulator apart to dry it, then needed 2 attempts to put it back together correctly but it fixed the problem so we have to now air the gas locker whenever possible and think of a more permanent fix.
After that we went ashore for a walk, a swim, a picnic lunch, and the girls looked for shells. Shirley caught a nice parrot off the back of the boat in the afternoon but I only caught a suckerfish. It was another calm moonlit night with about 10kts of breeze.
Saturday 17/9/11 – We headed off to the front of the reef after breakfast and caught another five fish then started off for the mainland about 9.30. It was a 4 ½ hour trip with less than 5kts so I didn’t bother putting the sails up. We arrived at Pancake creek about 14.00 and I set the pots of course using fish frames from the reef. Shirley’s line was bitten off again that night and no crabs live in Pancake creek. It is the start of the school holidays so there are lots of tinnies in the creek and camps along the shore. There was no wind during the night.
Sunday 18/9/11 – There is still a heavy smoke haze around it was a very eerie pee-soup morning with lots of dew. We motored out of the creek and were surprised to find Hank and Phillippa becalmed there at the mouth. We had both anchored in different parts of the creek overnight but didn’t know it or we would have visited. We drifter alongside for 20 minutes and exchanged news, fish and books then motored off and left them to it. Hank is a bit of a sailing purist and started cruising the coast many years ago in yachts with no motor and has a hell of a lot of patience.
We reached 1770 about 12.00 and anchored in Round Hill creek in front of the boat ramp and had tidy up. I started making phone calls to finalise arrangements for the planned fishing trip to the reef with friends and filled water tanks then we went ashore. I also had a visit from Ray who owns the East Cat ‘Ryder’ anchored next to us in the creek and we compared each other’s boats and he gave me some local info. The weather remains good the we wished we had stayed at least one more day at the reef before coming back to the mainland

Monday 19/9/11 – There is not a lot happening at the moment. The weather is fine and we are anchored in the creek at 1770. I am having a general tidy up and filling water and fuel tanks.
Tuesday 20/9/11 – We explored the sandbank and went for a swim in the morning and had a lazy afternoon. I also contacted Carl to postpone the fishing trip for a day due to bad weather.
Wednesday 21/9/11 – I fished and set crab pots and filled in the day with odd jobs. Avon decided to air a bunk mattress on the front deck and five minutes later there was a hell of a ruckus with Avon charging out to the cockpit to stare at the mattress floating off down the creek. She jumped in and rescued it but I then had to soak it in fresh water to dissolve all the salt out of it and it took a week to dry out properly.
Thursday 22/9/11 – We have a crew change over today. Carl, Mal and Jim are driving up from Tweed area NSW for a week fishing on the reef and Avon and Shirley are heading home. It is a windy day so I walked to the headland to check the bar at the mouth of the creek. Half way back the girls rang to say the anchor was dragging and to hurry home. We had a strong wind against tide situation with the boat sailing 360 degrees around its anchor and constantly pulling it out and resetting itself but gradually dragging towards another boat in the process. We re-anchored further away and the wind and tide settled down soon after.
Carl, Mal & Jim arrived about 1430 and we spent about an hour shuffling gear on and from the boat. The girls set off for Brisbane then the boys went grocery shopping then off to the local pub for dinner. We got back to the boat early and had a briefing on how to use various things on the boat.
Friday 23/9/11 – The wind has dropped to about 15kts SE and it is a nice day. We headed off about 7 after breakfast and headed for Fitzroy Reef 36nm away on a tight reach. We arrived about 1230 and fished the south west side of the reef but only caught small fish. The wind had worked its way round to the NE in the afternoon and after a couple of hours fishing we motored around to the channel and entered the lagoon and anchored for the night. It was a calm night in a good anchorage but no decent fish were caught that night. Carl offered to be the chef and no one was silly enough to complain so we had a good dinned along with a couple of bottles of wine.
Saturday 24/9/11 – It was a calm day with hardly any wind. We went to the seaward side and fished close in to the reef and caught a couple of fish but the action was pretty slow. We then moved further from the reef and did better but still not great. We were observing other boats further out and decided to give that a try. We pulled up about three good fish and Jim caught a 52cm red emperor. I think he also got a coral trout then I had my fish taken by a tiger shark which then hung around waiting for his next meal. We shifted the boat and tried several stops catching a few fish here and there but for some reason we dropped quite a few good fish after hooking them. It was a good day but rather hot and we returned to the lagoon about 1600 for the night. After dinner I checked our water supply and was alarmed to discover we had used half our fresh water in just 2 days so we all agreed to have salt water showers and do as much washing up in sea water as possible to save water.
Sunday 25/9/11 – We went back to the spots that fished the best the day before expecting to improve on our previous day but there was about 12kts of wind and quite a bit of current and the drifts were different from the previous day. It was still a good day and we added to our tally. Carl caught a Spanish mackerel on the trolling line but it was too small. The wind started to pick up and there were about 10 boats anchored in the lagoon when we came back. I have been having trouble with my VHF radio and have been missing weather reports and not been able to transmit. It blew 25kts/30kts all night and the boat bounced around a bit but it was still quite comfortable so we had a good night.
Monday 26/9/11 –The wind was still blowing in the morning so we stayed put in the lagoon for the day. We fished off the back of the boat and caught trevally, happy moments & iodine bream and got busted up every now and again but no quality fish. It was good to stay out of the sun for most of the day.
Tuesday 27/9/11- Despite my worries the wind dropped when the sun came up and by the time we had finished breakfast it was pleasant conditions so we pulled up the anchor tried new spots around the reef. We added to the tally but nothing marvellous. Everyone still seemed to be having a good time but we were out in the sun a lot the last few days and needed to drink more water and try to stay in the shade. We had a short sail back to the lagoon as the wind was coming from a good direction then that afternoon Jim & his wife from a nearby boat came to visit and stayed for drinks. We talked fish stories, weather reports, and boats it general to pass the rest of the day.
Wednesday 28/9/11- After breakfast we motor sailed down to Boult Reef and fished for 3 to 4 hours where we caught a coral trout and some hussar then on to Lady Musgrave reef. We fished the northwest corner of the reef and had one of our best fishing sessions. We caught 2 more coral trout and half a dozen other good fish but by now we were having to throw back all venus tusk fish as we had reached our limit on them. We entered the lagoon about 1630 but we had to crawl our way in as I had left it too late and the sun was too low in the sky to see the coral heads under the water. We managed ok anyway and anchored among the other yachts. We would have liked to have gone ashore but had run out of time so maybe next time. After dark the wind came up and blew 20kts N/NW all night.
Thursday 29/9/11 – The wind is still 20kts NW and expect to increase to 25kts. As we are heading back to the mainland we decide the sooner we go the better. Several other yachts have also left so after breakfast we stowed everything for a rough ride and set out. After about an hour the wind increased to about 25kts NW as expected and stayed there but the seas weren’t that bad considering. We were all glad to reach the mainland after about 6 hours but it was now half runout tide and conditions at the bar were probably the worst for the day but there was nowhere else to go and I knew the water was deep enough as long as I kept a straight line through the 100 metres of the rough section.
We crossed safely and anchored in my old spot expecting to just drop the pick and relax but this was not to be. After a successful reef trip where virtually nothing went wrong except the VHF radio it was now time for catch up. I stupidly decided to set a second anchor as I knew the boat would dance around with tide verses current but the cure ended up being worst than the disease. After lots of ginning around I got the second anchor set but let go the loose end after tying it off. This end went straight for the nearest propeller to wrap itself around the shaft and stall the motor. No amount of pulling would un-jam it so I had to go for a swim under the bridge-deck to free it. The floating nylon rope then proceeded to wrap itself around the rudder and cause havoc. I gave up in the end and decided to sort it out later as we wanted to go ashore and transfer gear and clean up. I jumped into the dinghy only to discover that the throttle shaft on the outboard motor had ceased up and we could not use the motor. It seemed like a comedy of errors had beset me and I got quite frustrated for a while but as usual these things get sorted eventually. Mal and Jim got the shaft free enough so I could put-put ashore where Mal could pull a few things off the O/B to get at and lubricate the shaft. We got it freed after half an hour but meanwhile back at the boat the second anchor was still causing havoc and Carl had been for two swims trying to free it. When I returned to the boat we finally untangled it. Though it did help the boat during a certain part of the tide I would not use that technique again. Things then settled down to normal. We cleaned up, had a shower, then went to the pub for dinner. It ended up being an early night as everyone was tired.
Friday 30/9/11 – We had a leasurely breakfast then ferried the gear and fish ashore. It seemed the week had gone so fast and another adventure was over and time to say goodbye to Carl, Mal, & Jim and wish them a safe trip home.
Friday 30/9/11 – After saying goodbye to Carl and crew I set about reprovision the boat, cleaning & airing lockers, and washing clothes etc. I finally got the mattress dried and most things done by sundown when my next crew was expected. Greg, Deb, and Brian were coming from Brisbane via tilt train and shuttle bus and I got a call to say they had arrived at the boat ramp. We shuttled the gear and people across and set everyone up in their cabins then got dressed and caught the shuttle bus to the pub for dinner. Brian’s wife Elaine arrived soon after and her friends dropped us back at the boat ramp after dinner.
Saturday 1/10/11 – We spent the morning doing some cleaning jobs and rearranging things to suit 5 people on board the boat. After we left Deb to guard the boat and the rest of us went on a sight-seeing walk around 1770 and out to the headland. Late afternoon Greg, Deb and I then planned to go to town to shop for provisions and go to the pub for dinner. Unfortunately things didn’t go to plan. The courtesy buss was too busy to come and get us and the local taxi would not answer their phone so we were left stranded and had to go back to the boat and work on plan ‘B’.
During the day the girls had done a stock-take of all food in the boat and over a couple of drinks it was decided that there was already had enough provisions on board to last 5 people for a week if we bought bread, bacon, eggs, milk and various items from the shop at the caravan park first thing in the morning, at great expense. We also had several bottles of wine, half a bottle of rum and 2 cans of beer on board. What more could you want? If we wasted another day shopping then, with the following day expected to be windy we would have lost 2 days off the trip.
Sunday 2/10/11 – After breakfast we motored down the creek to the caravan park for a short stop to send a scavenger party ashore for whatever provisions could be obtained then set sail for Lady Musgrave Island. We arrived off the Island after about 6 hours and Brian, Elaine, & Greg jumped overboard to snorkel along the reef while Deb and I went for a fish. After 1 ½ hours I returned to pick up the snorkelers and after some confusion found them on the pontoon inside the lagoon. During their swim they had come across 2 grayfish but I had mistakenly told them they were in a green zone so no crayfish for dinner. I then anchored the boat for the night inside the lagoon. It was a pleasant setting with yachts in the lagoon and Fairfax and Hoskyn Islands visible on the horizon.
Monday 3/10/11 – It was blowing about 20kts SE and a bit uncomfortable to go fishing to we took a picnic ashore a walked around the island, followed by a swim and snorkel and a laze under a tree and talked to the caretaker and other campers on the island. Back on the boat that afternoon Deb caught a cod for entrée on the now famous pink line. Elaine was doing a good job in the galley creating tasty meals from whatever food was found in the cupboards and everybody was settling into shipboard life and lending a hand when needed.
Tuesday 4/10/11 – It is still blowing 15/20kts and I am humming and haring whether to go fishing outside but have decided it would be uncomfortable while most are happy to go snorkelling again. We soon discovered there are two coral trout amongst fish swimming around the coral bommie 5 metres behind the back of the boat so the hunt was on. Despite sending down tantalising baits and 3 attempts to spear them the fish remained elusive.
Wednesday 5/10/11 – It is a fine day and excellent weather for sailing south to Burnett Heads. Early on a decision was made so do some sailing south when the weather was suitable instead of just reef fishing and that is why they came by train instead of a car. Unfortunately very little reef fishing got done in the end but I don’t think anybody was that disappointed as we still had a good time. We sailed close hauled all day with the wind varying in strength from a brisk sail to nonexistent wind when we were forces to start the engine. It ended up an eleven hour trip in calm seas and we dropped anchor just on dark near the old sugar wharf. Despite being in almost the exact same stop I had caught the 14 mudcrabs on the way north there were no crabs to be caught this time.
Thursday 6/10/11 – We motored out of the river after breakfast and set sail at the mouth on another southward leg to Burrum Heads, a laid back coastal village on the Hervey Bay coast. It was mainly 5/10kts NE and a slow sail but pleasant all the same. We ended up flying the small spinnaker again to try to speed the boat but only managed an extra .2 of a knot. I must ask Santa for a bigger one next Christmas.
We were all invited by Elaine’s friends Graham and Twila to their house for dinner and I had first considered trying to navigate the creek into Toogoom where they lived but ended up taking the safer option of Burrum Heads. As soon as we dropped anchor we went ashore to buy provisions as there as we were still short on fresh foods and alcohol was almost nonexistent. Graham & Twila were kind enough to pick us up and drive us to their house for an excellent Indian Dinner and some even better company and everyone had a great time. Brian stayed to “party on” while the rest of us returned back to the boat.
Friday 7/10/11 - Greg and I had set crab pots but with no success and after Brfian returned next morning we explored the town and walked the beach to a park where we had a picnic. There was more not so pleasant weather on the way so we decided to stay at Burrum Heads till it passed over. Brian and Elaine also organised to catch a train from Howard as it was easier for Graham and Twila to drop them off there instead of having to organize something in Urangan. Twila came to pick up Brian and Elaine from the boat and after Twila had a quick inspection of the boat it was time for Brian and Elaine to leave. The time seemed to go so fast and yet another week had flicked by.