Thursday, August 8, 2013

Is that a monkey chattering in my ear?

A blow from the north was forecast for the next morning so we headed around the Island to White's Bay to seek shelter for the day. It was very pitchy and rolly so we had a day of relaxing (and doing a little maintenance/planning) on Manatee before enjoying sun downers with other cruisers. The blow was set to intensify so most yachts were planning on heading over to Curlew Island for shelter. Not so Manatee! We had a few slight problems so needed to head directly for Mackay-the first being our new generator (a Honda purchased from Mackay)-which refused to start! Our main issue however was fuel.....we had a lot less than we should. Margot being, at times, an impetuous Aries did not want another delay to re-fuel prior to departing Mackay, assuring AK we had "plenty of diesel". AK at times being "too cautious", and reminded often by Margot of this, did not insist on a re-fueling stop. Hmmm, not good. We also couldn't agree on how much we had exactly, but we did agree on the fact that we needed "some" wind assistance to make it!

The next day, after having enough of the rolly conditions at White's Bay, we up anchored and headed over to North East Island. The forecast was for WSW 10-15kts by the afternoon and SW 15-20 the next day. The anchorage at North East was uncomfortable so we prepared Manatee for a 0400hr departure to make the most of the current and wind.

We both were awake at 0230 with Manatee on a lee shore. Winds were 30kts (N) and the swell was 2-3M. We departed the Island at 0300 into rough seas, unable to raise the sails due to conditions. We were abeam Digby Island by 1030hrs-a leg that should have taken 4hrs! Thirsty Sound VMR was still giving weather of SW 10-15kts with seas 1.2-1.7 and a swell less than 1.5. The reality was SW 25-30kts with seas/swell 3-4M. It was a very unpleasant trip. Marg was very heroic at the helm while AK continued to woman the deck, attempting to raise sails. We were both getting very bruised and battered while the girls were safe down below deck.

We were abeam Purdhoe Island around 1500hrs with very low fuel and a tattered headsail. We discussed anchoring here and re-grouping but decided to keep going.Just outside Mackay Harbour (at 1730), a tanker radioed asking for a clear passage into the departure channel as they had limited manoeuvrability causing further stress- would we make it inside the harbour prior to the fuel running out?

Of course in our attempt to tie up at the fuel wharf we had the current against us and with this and a combination of very little sleep and a 16hr rough trip, we were both very short tempered and uncoordinated. We scraped Manatee into the fuel berth at 1900hrs with an impressive scratch down her starboard hull. AK kissed the ground and vowed to not continue until agreements were made about safety. We had 2.5 litres of fuel in Manatee's tanks.....goddess bless her.

We remained at Mackay marina for 2 weeks-negotiating, waiting for the generator to be repaired (7 days-it was a 1 in a million fault!) and due to strong wind warnings. Marg painted Manatee while AK made a dinghy cover.

We left Mackay with several lessons learnt, new resolves and a monkey chattering about the Percy Islands.

strong wind warning at Mackay- that's why the palm tree trunks have a bend!