Day 17, Year 3: Day Trip to Townsville
Date: Monday, May 26, 2008
Weather: Another Lovely, Partly Cloudy Day
Location: Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia
What a wonderful day! We really enjoyed our trip to Townsville on the mainland. We were up early and on the bus to Nelly Bay by 7:20 am. Our bus driver asked us if we were taking the ferry to Townsville and we said we were. He then said, “Oh, you’re going to Australia. Then you’ll have to be ‘De-Magnetized.'” Obviously Magnetic Islanders think of themselves independently of the mainland.
Townsville is Queensland’s largest city in the tropics, but it definitely has a small town feel to it. Mark and I remembered it as a nice little town, and we were so pleasantly surprised to find that it is really much, much nicer than we remembered. It is the first place we have been that made us both think that we could actually live here. The people are so very, very friendly and helpful, the weather is great, and the town is really special. The old-style Australian buildings in the downtown
area have been kept in beautiful condition and The Strand is just fantastic. This is a park along the water’s edge that runs the entire length of the city waterfront. We are amazed that the town governments here have huge gas grills in every park so people can enjoy cook-outs in the park, and everything is so clean. We did read a sign today that said vandalism/graffiti would result in a seven year prison sentence. So maybe this is how they keep everything so nice. Whatever . . . we walked almost
the entire length of The Strand and we found the neighborhood where our daughter Heather lived while attending university here. Her street was one block from the ocean and the apartment building she lived in hasn’t changed one bit in the last twelve years. Our next goal was to take the bus out to James Cook University (JCU) to go to the bookstore and try to get some JCU bumper stickers for Heather. This was a little request of hers that we were only too glad to try and fulfill. The university
is way out of town and it was a forty minute bus ride from downtown, but we were so glad we went out there and revisited the campus. On the way back into town, we stopped at a huge shopping area called Stockland and picked up a computer video cable. We hope to put a flat screen monitor that our son Justin gave us in our cockpit and connect it with the cable we bought today to our computer down in the main cabin. That way we can take full advantage of our navigation software without having to put
our computer in the cockpit. We’ll let you know if this all works out.
It was almost two in the afternoon by the time we got back from our university/shopping trip, so we had to head immediately back to the ferry. The day went so quickly and we could have spent much more time just enjoying Townsville-but it is time to move on. So we headed back to Magnetic Island and Windbird and started getting ready for an early morning departure. Tomorrow’s sail is about forty miles to Orpheus Island.
I regress just a bit to our Skype call with our grandson Sam late last night. We had a great wireless connection on the boat that allowed us both to use video. So instead of talking with him in his late evening, we were able to call in our late evening and watch him getting wound up for another day of activity. He watched us and jabbered away excitedly. He now throws kisses to us and actually tries to kiss the computer screen. He is just too cute. By next weekend we will be in Cairns which
is the last outpost of civilization in northern Queensland. We’ll probably be able to make one more Skype call from there and then no more until we reach Darwin. We will definitely have Sam withdrawal symptoms from Cairns to Darwin, so that will give us the incentive to move north quickly.
Day 16, Year 3: Magnetic Island–Horseshoe Bay Lagoon Walk
Date: Sunday, May 25, 2008
Weather: Partly Cloudy
Location: Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia
It was a lazy Sunday on Windbird. We started our day by calling our son Justin and his wife Jo and we will end our day by calling our daughter Heather and her husband Jed-and of course, our grand baby Sam. Sam is really no longer a baby. He is a full-fledged toddler and just a delight to watch when we call using our Skype video web cam. We are hoping that the signal is strong enough her to make for a successful video Skype call. We are waiting until 10 pm to call which is 8 am Sunday morning
for Sam. We always call him late in the evening just before he goes to bed, so we are looking forward to seeing him early in the morning this time. We called Justin and Jo this morning at 9 am, which was 5 pm their time yesterday. While talking with Justin and Jo we found out that Jo is opening a gallery showcasing her art on June 7. That is exciting news and we wish her the best in this endeavor. We called Justin and Jo from in town this morning, but we will make the call to Heather, Jed, and
Sam later tonight from the boat. We do have wireless internet in the anchorage here through Marinanet which is fantastic. Unfortunately, Townsville is as far north as this service goes. Somehow I feel that we will find ways to get internet in even the most remote places as we travel further north although that is not what we are told. I guess we shall see about that soon.
In the afternoon, we went for a walk on the beach with Patrick and Margaret of Aqua Magic and Donna and Gerry of Scot Free II. I had read that water birds and wallabies hang out at the lagoon. We did see a wallaby and maybe even a kangaroo (or a very large wallaby), but water birds were few and far between. On the way back from the lagoon we saw lots of Rainbow Lorikeets-so colorful and delightful to watch as they flit from tree to tree.
Early tomorrow morning Patrick and Margaret and Mark and I will hop on an early bus to Nelly Bay and there we will catch the fast ferry to Townsville. We go seeking information about places from here north, getting some needed supplies, and revisiting some of our favorite spots from when we were in Townsville twelve years ago. It will be interesting to see how things have changed.
On Tuesday morning, we leave here and head 40 miles north to Orpheus Island. By next weekend we will be in the town of Cairns. Slowly but surely we are making our way north. We are still on target to be in Darwin by July 7, and maybe even sooner. Sail Indonesia here we come!
Day 15, Year 3: Magnetic Island
Date: Saturday, May 24, 2008
Weather: Another Beautiful Day
Location: Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia
We received an email this morning from our friends Felix and Monika aboard Makani. They made it through the Red Sea and are now in Irakleion Harbor, Greece, where they began their circumnavigation seven years ago. We were so excited to hear from them as they are the first people that we have met on our circumnavigation who have made it “home.” Home for Felix and Monika is actually Germany but it sounds like they are staying in the Mediterranean for another year as they said they would see us there
in 2009. Of course, that depends upon whether or not we go around South Africa or through the Red Sea to the Med. We’re not ready to make that decision yet and we have many miles to go before then. We have only traveled some 20,000 to date, but Felix and Monika reported traveling 49,000 miles, visiting 52 countries. We first met Felix and Monika on way from the Galapagos Islands to the Marqueses. We had been sailing for days and had not seen another boat. One morning we saw a boat on the horizon
behind us. By noon that boat was beside us and called us on the VHF radio. It was Makani and they asked us if they could email us their position each day and have us relay that to the radio net as their SSB radio was not working. We said we would be glad to do that and then they were on their way, fading into the sunset in front of us by evening. Makani is a FAST boat and she has served Felix and Monika well in their travels around the world. So congratulations to Felix and Monika and to Makani.
We also reconnected with some good friends today that we first met in Panama. Patrick and Margaret of Aqua Magic sailed into Horseshoe Bay this morning. We went right over to say hello and then invited them over for sundowners this evening. It was great to catch up on news of family and friends. They are doing the Sail Indonesia Rally, as we are, so we will probably be crossing paths many times in the next few months. After greeting Patrick and Margaret this morning, we went to shore with Donna
and Gerry of Scot Free II and caught the bus heading across the island. We were only taking the bus for a short way to the start of something called the “Fort Walk.” We followed a ridge overlooking some of the beautiful bays of Magnetic Island to the ruins of the forts complex that was operated here during World War II. We were also on the lookout for koalas, but none were to be seen on the walk today. The views from the fort were spectacular on this very clear day. When we walked back down,
we caught the bus again and took it to Nelly Bay. This is where the ferries leave for Townsville and it is also the only place on the island with an IGA grocery store. We are planning to buy groceries in Townsville when we go over on the ferry on Monday, but one could skip the Townsville trip and stock up at this store. It had most everything you would want and the prices weren’t all that much more than in the larger towns. Donna and Gerry might do that, but we just have to revisit Townsville.
That is where is daughter went to college and where we visited her twelve years ago. So we will take a trip down memory lane on Monday in Townsville and do our shopping at the same time.
Our citing of the Woobegong two days ago generated a comment from a one of our faithful log readers that was quite informative to us. We saw signs in Airlie Beach for “flake and chips” and wondered if that was any different from “fish and chips.” Evidently shark meat is referred to as “flake” in Australia. So thanks, Rich, for sending along that information. There’s one other bit of information that cruisers visiting here might find helpful. In the latest edition of Lonely Planet’s “Australia”
it says that there are no internet cafes on the island other than in backpackers and hotels. That is no longer true. There is Marinanet wireless here in Horseshoe Bay, as well as internet availability in Noodies Bar and Cafe. We also saw a huge sign for an internet cafe in the little borough of Arcadia today, so the internet is alive and well here.
Day 14, Year 3: Cape Upstart to Magnetic Island
Date: Friday, May 23, 2008
Weather: No Change–Sunny Skies and Fair Winds, SE 15-20
Temperature: Air 72 degrees F; Water 72 degrees F
Latitude: 19 degrees 06.666 minutes S
Longitude: 146 degrees 51.536 minutes E
Location: Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia
“The East point I named Cape Cleveland, and the West, Magnetical Head or Island, as it had much the appearance of an Island; and the Compass did not traverse well when near it.” (James Cook’s Journal, 6th June, 1770)
Evidently Captain Cook’s Endeavor was the only ship to ever record the strange magnetic occurrence, but the name stuck. And although Captain Cook named the island, he did not visit here. The first European visitors were probably the crew of the HMS Beagle some seventy years later in 1841. The traditional people of Yunbenun or Magnetic Island were the Wulgurukaba or canoe people who lived on the mainland and visited the island by canoe or walked over at low tide. The oldest aboriginal remains
found on this island date back some 12,000 years, but there is evidence that the Wulurukaba people lived on the low mainland for some 40,000 years before the first Europeans came here. Today much of Magnetic Island is national park mixed with a few seaside tourist communities. The wildlife on the island seems to have learned to coexist with the thousands of tourists who visit here. Just after we arrived today we headed to the island to the little community in Horseshoe Bay. There are a few small
cafes and restaurants, a tourist trinket store, a convenience food store, and a place that sells wireless internet time. Yea! Then there are the many little backpackers and a hotel or two hidden in the bush somewhere. We only walked on the main street that has a cul-de-sac at both ends, but on this street we saw the most beautiful blue headed parrots and some cheeky Laughing Kookaburras. I’d never seen a Kookaburra in the wild before, if you can call main street “wild”, but this one was definitely
an Aussie all the way. He flew from a tree on the beach to the open air bar and just sat there on the back of a chair. Only in Australia.
We did indeed leave Cape Upstart at 2 am this morning and had a lovely sixty-eight mile sail arriving here twelve and a half hours later. As always, the wind was more behind us than we had hoped. We first sailed with just a headsail, and then with a headsail and the main, then we poled out the headsail, and ended the day with just the main. The wind sure keeps us busy these days.
One of the main reasons for visiting Magnetic Island is so we can take advantage of the wonderful walking tracks here. When we were here twelve years ago, we saw koalas as we walked up to the remains of old World War II fortifications. Koalas are not native to the island but were introduced in the 1930’s. We are hoping for a repeat performance.
Day 13, Year 3: Greys Bay to Cape Upstart
Date: Thursday, May 22, 2008
Weather: Clear Skies and Fair Winds, SE 15-20
Temperature: Air 73 degrees F; Water 73 degrees F
Latitude: 19 degrees 42.726 minutes S
Longitude: 147 degrees 45.171 minutes E
Location: Cape Upstart, Queensland, Australia
The sailing day today was shorter than normal, with Windbird going about forty miles in about seven hours. The southeast winds were behind us, which seems to be the only case here on the coast of Australia, and they pushed us at a gentle but steady five knots and better to the northwest. We arrived in Sharks Bay tucked behind Cape Upstart before two o’clock and have just enjoyed the sunny afternoon aboard Windbird at anchor. From where we were anchored in Greys Bay this morning, we sailed across
Queens Bay, past the very long jetty at Abbot Point which is a coal loading facility, across Abbot Bay, and finally rounded Cape Upstart. There is a little rock just off the cape and it is known as “The Bun” to locals. Just as we were going around it, we saw a very different looking animal in the water beside us. It looked like a small ray with a very fat tail and it looked yellow with reddish-orangish-brownish spots. Before we could get a picture, it disappeared. As we have perused our guides
this afternoon we think it was actually a small shark called a Wobbegong. It might have been an Ornate Wobbegong or a Spotted. At least that’s our best guess. Whatever, it was an exciting find.
There are two more capes before we reach our destination of Magnetic Island, Cape Bowling Green and Cape Cleveland. Our destination for tomorrow was to be Cape Bowling Green, but we have decided to get up at 2 am and head directly for Magnetic Island. We should be there no later than 4 pm tomorrow afternoon and we will avoid another night out in a somewhat dicey anchorage. Cape Bowling Green is shallow and has shifting sand banks that you have to watch. The bottom is also covered in grass that
makes it hard to anchor securely. None of that sounded like much fun and with such good winds predicted, we have chosen for the early start arriving at Magnetic Island a day early. Magnetic is about three and half miles from Townsville on the mainland and it has wonderful walking tracks as well as a ferry to the mainland. We should have no trouble spending three days there before heading further north.
Mark’s continued project ended successfully this morning with a water maker that is now happily making fresh water for us. I spent my day reading cruising guides, and reading cruising guides, and then reading cruising guides and planning. The major thing I discovered is that we are still sailing in the path of Captain James Cook’s Endeavor. He sailed past here on June 5th, 1770 and chose the name Cape Upstart as the headland rises prominently above the surrounding low lands. He named Cape Bowling
Green, Cape Cleveland, Magnetic Island, and almost every point of land from here north. He was one busy guy! I was also able to semi-finalize our sailing plan from here to the tip of Cape York. At that point, we turn to the west and head almost directly to Darwin. I have to run my plan by the captain and share it with Scot Free II to see what they think, but if all goes as planned, we will be at the northern tip of Cape York by the middle of June.
Day 12, Year 3: Back to the Mainland-Greys Bay
Date: Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Weather: Sunny Day; Winds SE 8-10
Temperature: Air 72 degrees F; Water 73 degrees F
Latitude: 19 degrees 58.550 minutes S
Longitude: 148 degrees 15.222 minutes E
Location: Greys Bay, Queensland, Australia
There’s not a lot to report today. We left the Whitsunday Islands early this morning and headed 40 miles to the northwest to Greys Bay. This is a little bay in the larger Queens Bay tucked in under the protection of Cape Edgecumbe. This is on the north side of a peninsula and the little port of Bowen is on the south side. Many cruisers headed north go into Bowen to provision, but we are going to do that just a little further north in Townsville and Cairns. So since we didn’t need to provision,
we just pulled into this little bay and we can quickly be on our way in the morning. Our trip here was uneventful and unfortunately we had to motor sail all the way. Those strong winds we had the first couple of days out have disappeared. There is a huge high pressure system sitting over Australia and until it moves, the southeast trades will not get a change to build up speed. So it was a calm, relaxing day, but we are using up that precious diesel duel that will cost us a pretty penny to replace
here in Australia. Once we are in Indonesia, the price of fuel goes way down, but for now the cost is high.
We talked to our friends Margaret and Patrick of Aqua Magic on the radio this morning. They will arrive in the Whitsundays today and spend a few days playing there. I’m not sure when we will meet up, but we will probably see them somewhere along the line before reaching Darwin. I’m going to take time here to explain the trip to Darwin in a little more detail. Darwin is on the north side of Australia and about 1500 miles from here. Since we are traveling inside the Great Barrier Reef, this is
not prime territory for passage sailing, so most people go from point to point. At our current rate, we will reach Darwin sometime before mid-July. The Sail Indonesia Rally that we are joining there leaves on July 26 and there are two weeks of meetings and activities once we get there that will better prepare us for our trip through Indonesia to Singapore. Right now there are 113 boats signed up for the rally, so we are going to have plenty of company. But for now, we head north one day at a
time. We have two more days before we reach Magnetic Island, just off the Townsville. Townsville is the second largest city on the Queensland Coast, Brisbane being the largest. We will take the ferry from Magnetic Island into Townsville and we will spend a couple of days walking the trails on Magnetic. From there we make a few stops on our way to Cairns. That is the last “city” stop. From then on, we are in upcountry Queensland, home of crocodiles! Once we get all the way to the top of Cape
York, we will then do two major passages that will take us most of the way to Darwin. So, yes, our final destination is Darwin, but we intend to enjoy the trip.
Mark’s project today has been the continued work on the watermaker. He is cleaning the membrane with an alkaline solution and it is a long process. You do one cleaning and then wait five to ten hours and do it again. Then you wait overnight. So we won’t know the results until tomorrow morning. A new membrane costs somewhere between $800 and $1,000 dollars, so I sure hope that is not what we need.