AWOL – Catch up by instalments 2nd September to 14th September 2021

Days 46 to 58

My apologies for such a long absence from the keyboard.  The issues surrounding this relate to lack of internet, lack of power to charge the laptop even to write drafts, and with such a lag in blog posts there is a touch of inertia about getting back to it once immersed in other busy-ness of boat life and even shore related activities.  So I will attempt to catch you up in some instalments – collating a few blogs into segments so that I don’t bore you with minutiae of daily life.

Back to the last episode…

We were already committed to sail to Mackay to collect our parcels but the need to replenish fresh water supplies made it imperative. We did however do as many cruisers are wont, which is a stopover enroute at the lovely Curlew Island.

Unfortunately, weather was prohibitive to the somewhat hazardous task of launching the dinghy from the davits – the hazardous part is getting the outboard onto the transom of Grum in lumpy swell whipped up by the 20-knot easterly. So, while we spent a couple of nights here, we stayed on board and maintained our very frugal water usage.  We do this by rinsing and washing dishes in salt water, washing ourselves in salt and using a fresh water dipped face cloth to wipe over.  I even boiled pasta in salt water for a meal.  We had the anchorage to ourselves and Geoff’s anxiety was gradually dissipated with some relaxing time on deck and reassured that our holding was good. 

When we weren’t lazing on deck with books – “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac was Geoff’s choice, and I was reading “Oscar and Lucinda” by Peter Carey (a find in the laundry at Rosslyn Bay), we did some odd jobs around the boat.  This includes inspecting the engine room and identifying the source of water that trickled over the cabin sole.   This proved to be a leaking saltwater foot pump – we resolved another repair job for Mackay, including replenishing freshwater coolant for the engine Grumble.

Mackay 04.09.21 to 14.09 ten days in port

Prior to departing Curlew at 7.00 am we had checked in with the weather report from Coast Guard and often record the audio on Geoff’s phone.  We were prepared for a 25 knot bluster, and so once we crossed the far eastern edge of the long Tinonee bank, we raised the mainsail to the second reef.  Passing under the lee of Hirst Island the genoa was let free for a lovely long downhill run in the NNW, with some ebb tide assistance.  Gybing after Reid Islet and an easing of winds, the reef was shaken loose by the ever-energetic sheethand.  Dodging the ships at anchor off Hay Point was not nearly as difficult as 12 years ago with a much-depleted fleet due to the pandemic, but it still meant a couple of more tacks before aligning to the entrance of the harbour.  Grumble performed well with no oil pressure issues, to get us safely to our berth closest to the entrance.   

Our time here has been the usual although water supply was the first in a list of priorities.  Of course, long hot showers came next!   We had an array of parcels sent to us here and very grateful to Mackay Marina for accepting them over the previous 4 or 5 weeks before we arrived. As mentioned in my excuse for delays in posting blogs, even in busy marinas the phone and internet signal is not always very good. Mackay is a favourite place, but it has no yachties’ lounge facilities like some others, and our signal is often dependent on the tide – at low tide I cannot even open an email and messages are often the limit. Posting blogs and images requires excellent service signal and is often impossible.

Laundry as usual is an effort especially with another long walk to amenities from this far-flung berth.  However, we like the space and distance between neighbours.  While the days are warm, the nights are still cool so home made pumpkin soup with dry pan toasted flat bread.

Our nearest neighbor “Wildfire” is a huge gold catamaran owned and sailed by Clint and Gaye. Gaye is a fellow member of Women Who Sail Australia, and I enjoyed a morning tea that she organised with other WWSA members. It was a great initiative and something I am very grateful that she organised as I am somewhat an introverted extravert – I like to meet people and not afraid of talking but I do otherwise live like a hermit and keep to myself. Geoff worked on the boat replacing filters, flushing the outboard for the dinghy ‘Grum’ and replaced the saltwater pump that was found at RTM when we did our provisioning the day before.

Despite the opportunity to hire the loan vehicle here, we took to the bus and Geoff added to the shed’s inventory a grease gun (to grease the outboard and keep Suzy in top notch condition) and replaced our broken shower head.  One of the parcels we collected was the portlight rain shields we had ordered from Seaworthy Goods in USA.  Paula was fantastic with communication and taking our order and getting it freighted even though the US was still in the grips of the pandemic.  Shipping did not take as long as some stuff from China, and our ‘eyebrows” as we call them, were an easy fit according to Geoff. 

I’ve become more aware of what I should pack for a cruising journey now.  There is less need for so many warm clothes even though we departed our home port in the coldest of weather.  I’ve had to package up a huge bag of excess clothing and shoes and courier them to my daughter’s house in Brisbane!

Another of my parcels collected here was my WWSA burgee which is now flying proudly with our Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club and Percy Island Yacht Club pennants. Thank you so much Shelley Wright!

We are often amazed at the wildlife that finds their way inside marinas and this seahorse was a complete surprise.  Given that many docks are collecting points for scummy surface substances such as detergents and oils we didn’t expect to find this little horse here.

After a lovely walk on the beach and bemoaning the amount of rubbish washed ashore, we enjoyed dinner and drinks at the Sports Bar and listened to live music.

Final preparations for leaving Mackay entailed topping up fuel.  Geoff has a dislike of the access to some fuel docks and while Mackay’s is fine, he has perfected and prefers to fill our jerry cans by going to the dock in the dinghy.  The last meal in port was Thai Chicken with Carambola (star fruit) and rice noodles.

More update instalments to follow!

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