Sunday, March 9, 2014

destination Upstart Bay

We were well rested when we headed off (again). The winds were variable, seas 0.7 with a swell less than 1.5. Good stuff, but not enough breeze for Manatee to sail. We were abeam the infamous Abbot Point mid morning.

coal loading jetty at Abbot Point

Despite this massive coal loader (hardly utilised at this stage) we saw abundant marine life - whales, mahi mahi, a turtle and a shark.

Upstart Bay is about 40nm NW of Bowen and is a delta of creeks and rivers with holiday houses lining many shores. We arrived 1540 and tried many spots prior to finding our anchorage for the night. Manatee was clearly eager to continue her journey as she danced over her anchor chain all night.

following Bowen

After Marg had recovered from her bout of pneumonia we left the pond in Bowen to proceed further north. We dropped our mooring at slack tide 1045 on 13th September to head across to the public jetty to fill our water tanks. This meant navigating a very crowded harbour with dozens of boats tied to piles. As we reached the jetty we realised a fishing boat was tied up which didn't allow us enough space to either raft up or attach our lines to the jetty, so we commenced circling. Eventually some fishermen called out "he won't be back for hours, he's gone to Townsville". WTF. A yachty realising our predicament came to the rescue and moved the boat until we could fill out tanks. We didn't leave the harbour until after midday, so plan B was in place - up to Queens Beach to anchor and get an early start in the morning!

Despite the setback it was good to be on the move. We passed close to Stone Island to have a look at the discarded resort which had an "Indian" aura to it.

old resort on Stone Island

The forecast wind was correct - 5-10 kts from the north (of course since that was our destination) so we motored up to Queens Beach in very choppy seas which the forecast said were easing after some recent heavy weather. After anchoring at the beach and admiring the amazing rock formations we agreed that the short, sharp chop wouldn't allow a peaceful night so back we went to Stone Island!

resort at Queens Beach
At least we had a great sleep!


As I write this TC Hadi is south of us (we're in Townsville) somewhere off Hamilton Island. Manatee was already prepared as TC Dylan was hanging around about a month ago and he turned out to be what the locals termed "a fizzer." We didn't bother to remove extra lines and everything was tied down and packed away, our plan was in place so we have been fairly relaxed. The area really needs the rain a cyclone brings so locals almost seem to welcome them!

So before I recommence our cruising blog a 'where we are at' entry will be a good place to start.

We have been in Townsville since October's end where we felt it was important to get settled before cyclone season was upon us and AK was required to attend placement at Townsville Hospital. We are berthed in Breakwater Marina in Townsville as there is nowhere to anchor and the marina is cyclone rated. The 'pond', outside the marina was too shallow for us and the yacht anchored outside the breakwaters waiting for a weather window to travel to PNG pitched and rolled the marina it is. Our other option which is Ross Creek  has a bridge not far upstream from the yacht club which is very congested. Ross River was anchorage of choice but has a bridge which restricts yacht passage which did cause a bit of controversy at the time of construction.

Our sad news is the loss of our beloved Jacki on November 1st after a briefish illness. Her big heart finally gave out and the remaining three of Manatee's pack still mourn for her. Ruby was hit hard as she always looked to Jacki for protection and play, she was her perfect big sister. Ruby has picked up now and is showered with love and attention from both locals and marina residents. Many cruisers at the marina have chosen to voyage without their dogs so Ruby benefits! She was invited on a yacht the other night to have a Bowen massage treatment - lucky bitch! Us humans are still shocked at how quiet (and clean) the boat is! Jacki was certainly a character.

Jacki at the start of the journey

We are both working hard to fill the kitty to cruise again. At times we are yachts passing in the night and shift work keeps us tired and unable to do much socialising. We are both looking forward to having two days off together this week.

Townsville is so hot at times it hurts. Our location gives us a bit of a breeze but we are both working in the burbs which is noticeably hotter. Apart from our trusty van we have bought a scooter to zip around on, they are a very popular form of transport up here.

We are ambivalent about staying or going after cyclone season ends. Although we already have itchy feet, we have secure jobs and AK requires 12 months experience to enable her to gain remote contracts which will allow us to head offshore. So, in the interim Cairns jobs are being applied for!

Hi Chris and Ray, great to hear from you. Sorry to hear about Grom. Glad you enjoyed Thailand. Marg will email, you know what she is like!