Sunday, April 28, 2013

of course it's perfect-it's Pearl Bay

It took two hours to reach Pearl Bay with winds SE10-15kts (a little better).

coastline north of Port Clinton
looking into Pearl Bay
Pearl Bay is an open, 9 km wide, north-east facing bay. It is virtually enclosed by islands to its south. Its shoreline is dominated by sandy beaches, separated by small, rocky heads. It is surrounded by massive, vegetated sand dunes. It is glorious! Secluded, crystal clear water, pristine beaches, no mobile coverage (which made AK a bit nervy as weather forecasts could not be obtained).
enjoying the solitude

razor clam

Marg enjoying the tranquil waters

We cooked our crabs on our first night at anchor and our chanting as we ended their lives probably freaked the inhabitants of the two other yachts anchored in the bay! It was a difficult thing to do and we both cried a bit. We ate crab cooked 100 different ways over the next few days.

On our second day, a pod of dolphins entered the bay and we were treated to a tail hop by one.
We had a picnic and camp fire on the beach on the second night which was great. The anchorage seemed very rolly on our way back to Manatee so luckily we raised the tender on the davits and secured her because the next morning the weather turned.

let 'em eat crab!

We left Rosslyn Bay on the 30th March at 0815 with near perfect weather. Winds SE 5-10kts and seas of 1.5m-oh well no wind! The journey up the coast was fantastic, with lots to see.

coast with fishing boat

5 rocks at Byfield National park
We planned to stop for a few days at Port Clinton which is on the border of the Shoalwater Defence Training Area. We knew we had until April 8th in this area before it was closed for military exercises.

Port Clinton is a deepwater natural harbour and in 1980 Lang Hancock, the West Australian mining magnate, wanted to build a coal port, the proposal of course, was blessed by the Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen. It was vigorously resisted by conservationists, many of them local residents in the Byfield area, and vetoed by the Commonwealth Government.

Again in 2008 a group of developers wanted to build a coal port at Port Clinton (which is also the water catchment area for the Capricorn Coast) where they expected to move 50 million tons of coal for export.  

The Minister for the Environment Peter Garrett announced his rejection of the proposal on the grounds that the impact of the proposed development would have significant and adverse impact on matters of national environment significance. God bless you Labor.

yep, lets build a coal port here!

We anchored in a lovely spot, passing dolphins, turtles and three other boats. Fabulous.

our anchorage

We spent four days here, relaxing, reading, fishing and working on the bloody generator which started to billow smoke.

BOM issued a securite for thunderstorms with wind gusts to 45kts, so with the closure in mind (the area is known as a cyclone hole) we decided we should head further north.

Just before we left, some fishermen knocked on our hull and gave us some ENORMOUS mud crabs along with cooking tips. They must have known we caught no fish!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

shakedown cruises aka fixing the boat in beautiful locations

We planned (will we never learn) to leave Rosslyn at the end of February to continue our cruising. Of course we then experienced a spell of nasty weather which slightly delayed us.

We did our first shakedown cruise early in March in reasonably poor weather to test Manatee and regain our sea legs. We decided (by unanimous vote) to head to Great Keppel and surrounds, so anchored off Svendson's Beach as a change from Fisherman's Beach which was our favourite spot.

Svendson's Beach
We all jumped in the dinghy to head to the beach to stretch our legs and the blasted outboard would not start. We took turns working on it for what seemed like forever before rowing to the beach (not an easy feat in an inflatable). We spent most of the next day working on it as well. What fun we had!
The anchorage was rolly and uncomfortable, the weather miserable and Ruby refused to find her sea legs. We finally got the outboard going and made the most of our first shakedown. Oh we also managed to kill a battery! The generator was also being very temperamental, which combined with iffy weather (little sun for our solar panels) meant we had to keep our power consumption low.
We headed back to the marina.
Our second shakedown was also Marg's birthday so we again headed for Svendson's. This time we only broke the inverter. Our genoa was looking very tatty but we decided to put it into our large "later" basket. The weather was perfect, we had fabulous long walks and we had big smiles on our faces (even Ruby).
much better weather!

a windswept Marg 
a chilled AK
                                                                    happy Jack
On the day of Marg's birthday we picnicked on the beach, ate oysters straight from the rocks and celebrated our fortunate lives with champers.
milky oysters straight from the rocks
We trissed around the island in the inflatable and the outboard was serviceable if a bit rough. We came across the grandmother of all turtles near the reef who calmly watched us motor past. Below is some coral from the reef that will be dredged to make way for the new marina on the island. Too sad for words.

We headed back to the marina to provision and pick up a new inverter.
Onward ho!

Our time in Dharumbal country

We all had an interesting time in Dharumbal country, AK and Marg being very productive and Jacki and Ruby taking ownership of the dog friendly marina.
AK and Marg worked to fund the next cruising season, which was made much easier by the drive along beaches fringed with coconut palms! Breathtaking most mornings.
We also used the time on shore power to revamp the v-berth, creating a beautiful new space, whilst checking the hull for signs of rust. Rust never sleeps on a steel boat, fortunately Manatee's hull remains virtually clear. 
As working was our priority, socialising took a back seat during this time. Any spare time was taken up by exploring and swimming.
Jacki and Ruby made lots of doggie friends, enjoying the "dog paddock" which is land earmarked for a resort, but in the meantime used by dogs to socialise and stretch.

                                    threadfin salmon at the marina

The marine life which we all never tired of watching included huge barramundi, threadfin salmon in their hundreds and the odd seahorse pottering about the hulls.

The gardens at the marina were beautiful, very tropical, which were a joy to come home to. Although in an isolated area, it was only a few kms to Yeppoon. Yeppoon is a seaside town, reminiscent of The Entrance(NSW), perhaps because it remains the holiday location for some Longreach locals.

Rosslyn beach(our local) was glorious, we went walking and swimming there most days. During the summer months the water felt like a soothing bath and box jellyfish were only a concern if the wind was blowing from the north (or so we were told and chose to believe).

                                       Keppel Island in the distance. Rosslyn Beach  

We spent as much time as possible exploring the Keppel Islands, with Great Keppel remaining our favourite. There was much controversy in the area regarding the proposed redevelopment of the closed resort. Many locals wanted the return to the era of thousands of tourists flocking to the area to visit the island. Conservationists were horrified that large portions of the seabed were to be dredged for a marina. We felt very privileged to experience the virtually unspoilt island and to see our first dugong in her natural habitat.

                                       view to Rosslyn from Great Keppel       

                                    track walking on Great Keppel                    

                                         shack on Great Keppel (rejuvenated for the XXXX beer commercial!)

We also toured the "inland", enjoying Byfield and Rockhampton. It was a weird experience transiting fantastic beaches and the beef capitol of Australia! Cowgirls/boys are plentiful in this region and one of the local pubs had a rodeo for entertainment. 

Nicknamed “Rocky,” Rockhampton has a population of almost 78,000, is situated around the banks of the Fitzroy River. Rockhampton was established in 1853 as a river trading port. It shot to prosperity with several nearby gold and copper discoveries in 1858 and 1882 which can be seen in the town’s many Victorian-era buildings.

AK particularly loved the numerous bull statues that littered the streets and we both developed a fondness for country music, enjoying a Kasey Chambers concert during "beef week"(now that was something else!).

The Fitzroy River flooded twice during our stay in the area, causing heartache for the residents and the boaties moored in the river.

Crocodiles were seen paddling around the streets so Police warned residents not to wade through the water.

We certainly felt the effects of the second flood early in 2013 when "ex- tropical cyclone" Oswald roared through the area. The sound of the wind was the most frightening aspect. Parts of the marina broke away and AK could touch the top of the piles. For the days following there was no phone coverage and the supermarkets were virtually empty of goods. Some boats in the marina lost biminis and windows, one plastic fantastic was washed onto the rocks and a small yacht anchored outside the breakwater was also washed onto the rocks . Manatee was not damaged. Satellite images of the area showed the sediment from the river spreading for miles from its mouth.  It was close to time to leave the area!