Just when Ric and I have rearranged ourselves after the Great Keppel Rodeo there is a knock on the hull by 3 guys who have just docked in the berth beside us.
We invite them in as they would like to ‘have a look at the boat’ only to have them make 5 mins of small talk and conveniently disappear when Ric (who has been standing there the whole time in nothing but a towel) puts a shirt on. Hello I don’t remember signing up for a screening of Priscilla, Queen of the Marina. Way too much Gay!
Anyway after our little visit from Oxford Street we then bump in to Jezz and Sheree for the first time. If anyone wins the award for most outstanding stories of boating it is these two lovely people. They had never owned a boat of any kind before (not even a tinny) but Jezz decided he would buy a 45ft Hanse which is basically the Ferrari of the cruising boat world and sail it around Australia starting from Perth. Their first ocean going yachting experience was the day they left Perth for their round Australia trip!
In their tumultuous adventure they have had the heads (bathrooms) break away from the hull, caught a mooring around their keel and nearly have Jezz drown trying to get it off, have their anchor chain snap, get chased by crocs in the top end and the reason they were in Yeppoon Marina with us was that Hurricane Great Keppel unleashed on them also and they lost their autopilot and got a knock down on the way in. They are absolutely hilarious people and bring a smile to our face every time we see them.
We also discover the reason why our entry into the marina berth was a little less polished than usual due to a leak in the gearbox which is dripping oil into the bilge. This means that we are outstanding at reversing but going forward at anything more than 2 knots is a bit of a struggle. (2 knots = 5km/hour = I can walk faster.) So Ric and Jezz who is also a Diesel mechanic (yay!) get to fixing the problem.
After a couple of days with a fixed gearbox and the all important weather window we decide to leg it to Port Clinton and Island Head Creek which are in the middle of nowhere. There is no phone reception, no internet, no houses or buildings to be seen on the land and the area is used for military training so the most human interaction you will have is seeing little green men running around in the hills. It is also some of the prettiest and dramatic parts of the coast we have seen and spotting a couple more whales make the journey even better. We spend the first night in Port Clinton and then the next day sail 2 hours further to Island Head Creek.
Upon entry into picturesque Island Head Creek we consult the ‘Cruising the Coral Coast ‘bible which recommends anchoring up the first ‘arm’ of the creek to get out of the forecast South Easterly’s. We putter up there only to not be very confident in the depth and space we have to swing around our anchor should the wind and tide turn. We make the joint decision to get out of there and anchor just in front of the main beach. Best decision ever as the next day friends in the arm said they hit the bottom numerous times and due to the cyclone a few months earlier the bottom is covered with tree trunks and branches which were fouling people’s anchors. We were very snug in our little hole we had found 5m from the beach with turtles and sea life everywhere. Woo hoo, a boating win!!!
Well as usual with ‘The Days of Our Yachting’ the win turns into crap when we get the VHF Radio forecast which is 25 – 30 knot SE for the next 5 days straight. No way we are going to sit in Island Head creek for 5 days with small people in yucky weather. Especially when the suggested anchorage in wind that strong is further up the creek in croc land. The next day is only supposed to be 15 knots before the wind kicks up so we decide to leg it to Hunter Island which is supposed to be one of the better (read less rocky) anchorages off an island. Five hours sailing later and yep you guessed it the anchorage is metronome land so we do laps of the island to find somewhere a little more comfortable. After finding somewhere relatively calm off we go for some land exploring in this pretty little spot.
Back on board we realise that perhaps this isn’t going to be the most comfortable night as the incoming tide is pushing the swell around the point and into the bay. It gets progressively worse until it even wakes Ric up at midnight as he can’t sleep (I of course have had my eyes open like a Barn Owl all night). Ric radio’s Jezz and he is also awake as are the 3 other boats in the bay as they are nattering to each other also. The next minute there is a mass exodus as everyone is getting rocked out of their tree!
I manage to get 30 mins of sleep before daybreak when we delightfully find out we are in the worst seas we have been in thus far. It’s messy as hell, stacking up 2-3m swell behind us with wind against tide, blowing 30-35 knots and we even have a couple of waves break over the stern. We were originally going to another island but this is not the dreamy island hopping that was envisioned so we decide to keep going to Mackay …… a 13 hour sail. By far the longest and of course in the worse conditions!
Annie the Nanny again looks after her family and although we are exhausted and had to pinball our way through the massive ships moored outside Mackay Harbour, we make it safely into the berth despite the gearbox not playing fair again at the last minute. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the munchkins as they were angels and just played Lego most of the time down below while I helped Ric. Love you both !!!