Wednesday, 29 August 2012


FRIDAY 24 AUGUST 2012 : 27 NM

 Day three at Mackay Harbour Marina and Rear admiral Julie is in charge of our departure, and we agree fuel first , as it is likely to be considerably  cheaper than Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island, and we will not use much fuel getting there as the steps to get there are small,  and we intend just enjoying the slower speed and passing islands. 

We were at the fuel wharf at  8.30am  for a quick refuel ,....or so we thought. 
There is no service and one selects a bowser/pump  from the 14   available , then ties up , disembarks and presses a green button, then at amplified volume over a speaker system,  has a conversation ( that everyone in the Mackay Marina can easily hear)  about refuelling.
We had selected a bowser/pump that had both a small and large diameter hose  ( as the larger diameter hose usually  indicates hi flow fuel). However the pump only had one speed and it was so slow that Capt Barry calculated we would be there another 90 mins refuelling, 
So we contacted the marina office via the green button , and had another world at large conversation ,and asked for a high speed pump,  restarted the engines and moved to  the high flow  pump on the second fuel  arm. 
They  have ONE pump that is high flow.... and considering we were expecting to take 2000 L  (which they were aware of),   you think they would have directed us to the hi flow pump in the first place. 

During the refuelling Capt Barry realised ( on a pump other than the one we were using )  that the fuel price had again been increased ( twice in two days ).
Whilst the rear admiral was going to pay the fuel bill , Capt Barry said , " leave it to me, I want to discuss the state of their pumps and the fuel price".

Capt Barry was told that there were no bulk discounts unless one took over 5000L, Capt Barry did not stop there, but requested to see the manager , and  pointed out that he was quoted  a price the afternoon before , and that the price per L ( and number of L taken  ) could not be read on most of the pumps , as the LCD numbers were not functioning properly.  so one could not see the fuel price, and  therefore the quoted price was fine. 
Capt Barry also suggested all large diameter hoses be labelled as slow flow. The general manager  quickly saw the logic of the discussion , awarded the discount , and directed the staff to clearly label the flow rate on the pumps and to have the pump readouts replaced . Apparently they have the new read outs and the replacement was  on the to fix list for some time.

After tidying up that small administrative matter, we departed the fuel wharf , and the harbour marina for Scawfell Island.

leaving Mackay marina behind

We were under way with Julie in charge, as usual, when The VERY COMPETENT Rear Admiral noticed that the seas in our path looked to be a different  surface texture....meaning something different was happening under the water. So being on the ball she abandoned the book she was reading and moved to the Captains chair in case a quick manoeuvre was required. 
After consulting the Nav charts, the Rear Admiral discovered we were about to pass  over a shoal. All was fine, and the Rear Admiral was pleased with herself for noticing this sea condition, where the depth of  water  was rising from 30m to 18m to a very shallow 6m and that is exactly what happened. So a big tick to the chart plotters...or whoever.
approaching Scawfell Island

Refuge Bay / Scawfell Island with low cloud

We arrived at Scawfell Island at 2.30 in the afternoon and put the anchor down in Refuge Bay,  
We were the sole visitors to the bay, until later that afternoon when two other craft arrived, but anchored a distance off.

Scawfell  is not considered  part of the Whitsundays, being too far south, but as SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED has stated,  it is the best spot we have anchored,  so far. 

We saw turtles (too many to count)  dolphins and whales. We believe we saw a whale calf being born (with mum just lying on the surface for some considerable time, and another baby  whale  having a high old time jumping continuously out of the water.

There was a small  wind, which we welcomed after sweltering at MacKay, which died completely at sunset giving us a great night sleep. No noise, no wind. ,..nothing that concerns you!!!!.
another great sunset

We awoke the next morning to a PICTURE PERFECT   still water and a sunny beach.

We decided to explore the beach, and  launched the smaller tender , intending to lift it high onto the beach , and thus we could ignore the tide and the need to anchor.

The bay has amazing coral reefs bordering left and right sides of the bay which we found as we motored in the small tender for a walk.

We could not get good pictures, but were amazed at some of the  huge coral bombies that just mushroomed from the sandy bay bottom 6 M below to just below the surface . Sorry folks pictures, maybe, next time. 

Yesterday evening , we observed local fishing boats bee lining for the shore,  and discovered why..... they visit the beach for a quick comfort stop ....yes, there is a LOO constructed just behind the first layer of vegetation.

The best way to the beach is to go to the middle of the bay, line up the shed on shore,  and follow the line of sand NOT THE CORAL REEFS. 

One can anchor larger boats quite close in , as there is a very wide track of sand almost all the way to the beach in front of the sign board.

We took a pleasant walk along the shore and saw stingrays and lats of butterflies. after a long walk we headed back to  LAST WORD   for the journey to Goldsmith  Island.

i am glad we have the 3 hp motor. That is LAST WORD  way out there;

We decided to put the 3 hp motor on its storage bracket in the laz. and to partially deflate the smaller tender and stow it in the laz. rather than completely stow it as usual. This would make it  more efficient to use next time we needed it. We stored it through the rear boarding platform door and it was easy to handle and stow, and still left room for Capt Barry  to get by to the engine room etc.

a view (threw the cockpit second access hatch )  of the small tender and 3 hp motor, stowed with the tender partially inflated 

Another day in paradise, another FAB island to visit.

TRIP; Mackay to Scawfell Island, 3.5 HRS at 9 kts , using 142 L

Downtime at Mackay

Downtime at Mackay;

Mackay Harbour Marina is enormous , protected by a very substantial sea wall that accommodates two lanes of traffic right out to the point.

pic across the marina showing one of the ramps to the arms. This is about half tide , and when the tide is a low/low the ramp is very steep, hence the extra long ramps. Notice the sea wall in the background which completely encases the marina. 

view across the marina from LAST WORDS bow. 

Mackay Harbour is a large marina with 5 m tides. LAST WORD is berthed where the number 22 appears . There is a very substantial sea wall that runs along he top of the marina , not shown on this plan.

The morning after arriving at Mackay, Rear Admiral Julie decided to stock the boat again, so off we went shopping , with nanna trolley and back packs. If i had thongs , i would have slipped right in.

Capts Ray and Barry assisting with the restocking of LAST WORD.There

We said goodbye to our travelling companions and returned to the Marina. Julie beaded and capt Barry checked the drivers and fuses for the underwater blue LEDs to see whether a quick fix was on the cards. Alas, the issue with the outside port underwater light was not that simple and it will need replacing next time LAST WORD  is lifted out of the water. I certainly am not going to risk a lift out just to change one LED.

That night a thick fog rolled into the marina , and stayed all day. We were planning to fuel up and  depart for Scawfell Island the next day, but would be stuck in the marina if it does not lift, as Capt Barry decided not to trust the Raymarine Radar.

compare this pic (taken at 3.30pm ) with the pic above , as they  are similar shots.

the fog rolled in the second night we were in the marina and stayed all day

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Test blog

Hi Guys.

Admin here, just testing the new email notifications via a test blog.

Now back to what you were doing........ENGAGE!

Thursday, 23 August 2012


Segment 16 : Island Head Creek to Mackay;
120 NM , Tuesday 21st August 2012.

Today is a long run (120 NM ) , so we want to get under way early so we can make Mackay before dark. However, it is low tide at 5.25am, so we decide to wait at least 1 hour before lifting the anchor to get another 0.3 m or so under the props, as we know there will be some shallow spots which we monitored on the way up the creek.

We are 3 NM up stream and at idle it takes us 45 mins to make the entrance to the creek, and we see 0.3m under the props, so the extra hour sleep in was well worth the delayed start.

we passed about 15 m off this rock even though the Creek is 100m wide at this point. We follow Capt Ray's secret passage, ( and cross our fingers ) and see 0.3 m on the depth sounder ( ie under the props). Note the water breaking just behind the rock.
LAST WORD leaves Island Head Creek behind
Capt Ray plots a route on the electronic chart plotter, and gives the way points to Capt Barry who plots them on the paper charts to check for rocks , shoals and other possible dangers along the route. There is a short discussion about how close we are to pass off Double Island (250m ) , but we decide the route is ok and leave it as plotted.
Capt Barry plots the route to check for shoals, Islets, rocks and how much we miss the bigger Islands
We inserted Steep Island as the first way point.

Steep Island

At 10.30am , Capt Ray makes good on his promise to make scrambled eggs on route , and Capt Barry , who is not thrilled about Capt Ray wanting to use the induction cook tops while at sea (and would prefer the electric fry pan be used ) allows the chef to proceed on the agreement Capt Ray  will keep hold of and not abandon the saucepan ( for even 1sec ) until the eggs are cooked and served onto plates
Like most chefs, Capt ray says he needs what he wants, ie  the cook top and that the electric fry pan will not do the job.

Breakfast is served and enjoyed on the run , and it is as good as promised ( even with pepper, which Capt Barry added,  to Capt Rays mild displeasure).
scrambled eggs at the breakfast bar

We sat on 1250 rpm making 10+ kts , and all ventured up to the fly bridge , as it was a spectacular day , the clouds were clearing,  and there was very little wind.

Capt Barry had a snooze on the bikini sun bed , and Capt Ray went to the forward sun bed , and tried a new technique for steering the boat.

Capt Barry deep in thought on the fly bridge bikini sun bed whilst the ladies watch the  passage ahead

this is how we turn the boat to the right 
and this is how we turn the boat to port/the left
Capt Ray practicing his steps (it looks like the Macarena to me????)

During Capt Barry's snooze , he decided ( and actioned ) one of those pivitol decisions that change the course of history, ie he gave an order ( after consulting Capt Ray ) that the route be changed to divert to Percy Island ( only an extra 3 NM and maybe an, additional 30 mins time, due to the time we would lose slowing down to look at the Island). So LAST WORD  diverted a little further north east , and squeezed between Pine Islet and Middle Percy Island so we could see what all the fuss was about ie people say that  West Bay is  a must to visit (whilst being a very average  anchorage , in any sort of weather).

through that gap Capt........Pine Islats are on the left , and Middle Percy Island is on the right.

Last Word passes a fellow traveller, with Middle Island in the background
West Bay
Pine Islets

After our detour and viewing of West Bay we decided on a speed run for about 1 and 3/4 hours ( 1850 rpm 17 kts,  162 l/h ) to ensure we arrived a Mackay Harbour before 5.00pm.

At Double Island  we backed the revs back to 1250 rpm and the ladies served quiche and a salad. Another excellent meal on the go.
all this food. Maggie and Capt Ray could not believe the shopping and provisions rear admiral Julie  brings on board

Whilst enjoying lunch,  LAST WORD  was overflown by a very low flying aircraft.
Capt Barry remarked that it had swooped on LAST WORD , and then as we watched it continue past LAST WORD   ( and gain altitude ) the plane turned abruptly to the right for a 180 degree turn, and Capt Barry wondered aloud whether we were to be contacted about some emergency at sea.
All was revealed when we were hailed by VHF by the pilot , using  part of our boat name "LAST".
We were asked to identify ourselves, ie vessel name,  and give details of the vessels home port , where  we had come from and where we were headed .Capt Ray asked who wanted to know , and they identified themselves  as Australian Customs. We gave the info, and then continued to hear the pilot radio other vessels for contact responses ( some which did not comply ).

Past Prudhoe Island we came very close to two large whales. Capt Barry remarked that he thought they may have even changed course for LAST WORD as they seemed to be on a collision course coming across our route from the port side, then were  almost parallel with us as they slipped past only 40 m of our port side ,then they crossed our wake, continuing on their original course (or so it seemed to Capt Barry).

Prudhoe Island ( I think )

Capt Barry looked up the Mackay Harbour Marina on the web ( when we eventually received a signal about 30 miles out from mainland)  and booked a berth and organised for a key to be left out .

We arrived at the Mackay outer Harbour ar 4.45pm and made our way to our designated berth (after following three sets of lead lights) and roped in by 5.10pm.

We were greeted by Peter Barbour , a professional skipper who lives on his boat at Mackay Harbour Marina. Peter skippered Capt Ray's boat (Braemar ) back to Sydney from Hamilton , and Capt Ray had telephoned him to catch up.

LAST WORD  in her berth at Mackay. I think Capt ray will be able to sleep here as there does not seem to be any  big waves to slap against the hull.

Peter stayed for a cup of tea and organised to take us to the shops the next morning to replenish supplies.

Capt Barry asked for Peters details in case we decide to get a skipper to bring LAST WORD  home , assuming he is available.

Whilst Capt Barry hosed down LAST WORD  , the ladies prepared another sumptuous meal , BBQ honey and soy chicken skewers and a salad.

Trip:  10.3 hours, 800 L, averaging 11.65 kts and 78 L/hr total.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


MONDAY 20 AUGUST  2012;  51 nm

As Capt Ray and Maggie did not have the best of nights sleep, Capt Ray was itching to get under way ( short for, ...."let's get  out of this bloody swell"was quite prepared to break  his promise of cooking the world’s best scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Flexible Capt Barry is happy to accommodate this request and whizzed down stairs to tell ( the sleepy ) rear admiral Julie not to get up, but to  stay in bed and we would be under way in 15 mins.

Capt Barry did the usual engine room and oil checks , had two multi grain wheet bix  ( for added strength ) , then  started engines , lifted the anchor and LAST WORD  was  under way at 7.40am, just as the rear admiral made an appearance.

Capt Ray had laid in a track,  to Island Head Creek, and checked in with VMR Yeppoon for permission to go into Island Head Creek (as sometimes it is a no go zone when the army is holding exercises).

There is no internet or phone reception at Island Head Creek so Capt Barry bashes out another blog , down loads the Fin Review and and gets some Etrading out of the way, asap, while Capt Ray and Rear Admiral Julie catch up on some reading.

We passed one solitary motor cruiser going the opposite way.
The Islands and formations passed along the way look pretty desolate , but some are spectacular.

As the trip is only 51 NM we sit LAST WORD  on 1150 RPM , managing between 9 and 10 kts,  using only 50 l/h total, and whip in a couple of speed runs every two hours to clean out the engines and exhausts.

We arrived at the entrance to Island Head Creek 2 hours after high tide , as the extra depth is preferable  in parts, as the Creek depths vary dramatically between 25 and 2 m. 
The creek looks very wide , but is deceptive, as large areas dry and become exposed  at low tide. 

Capt ray and Capt Barry check the depths carefully , noting the shallow areas, and we lay in a track to ensure we go the same route the next morning when leaving , as it will be at low tide, and LAST WORD will go close to touching he bottom.

Upon arrival we have a light lunch and while the ladies bead once more , Capt Ray blows some ZZZZZZs and Capt Barry does some fishing.

Capt Barry’s score after an hour or so was two dugongs and  two turtle sightings ( all within 10 m of LAST WORD )  , caught one toad fish and let one good sized mud crab hop off the hook ( he was holding on for a swim ) about a foot below the surface.

Capt ray tries his luck and the result is some funny sea slug ( two actually ) with spikes that Ray manages to get in his hand.

Tonights meal will be roast chicken and vegies  with a surplus of wine and the obligatory DVD, followed by an early night and ( hopefully no wind and wave action on LAST WORD ) as we have a longer leg tomorrow of 120 NM to Mackay, where Capt Ray and the delightful Maggie will leave LAST WORD  for their return to Sydney.

Sunday, 19 August 2012


SUNDAY  19  AUGUST 2012 ;  67 NM

Our planned early start did not quite eventuate, as Capt Ray and Maggie emerged from the front VIP cabin hungry , with a desire for bacon and eggs with tomatoes.

Capt Barry, being a flexible chap, allowed this small delay and a hearty meal was had by all on board.

At 8.30 am , ie after breakfast, we lifted anchor ( which was set through the sand and bedded in clay - so LAST WORD  was going now where no matter how fast the current or windy it may have been ).
a sad goodbye to Pancake Creek

Whilst Capt Ray took the helm Capt Barry and Maggie resorted the paper charts and by 10.30 am we were off Gladstone Port and passing several tankers, some being nearly 240 m in length and with 44 m  beam and  12 m draft.
tankers and bulk carriers on the horizon
We passed Cape Capricorn and Fairway Rock on route.

Cape Capricorn

Faraway Rock

The ladies beaded and watched a DVD to pass the time.

We arrived at Great Keppel Island at 3.30pm and the ladies abandoned their beading and put a few fishing rods in , and caught three fish in about 20 minutes (all throw backs , even though the flathead was a reasonable borderline keeper).

We launched the larger tender and dropped the ladies on the beach for a walk and to collect some shells whilst Capts Ray and Barry set off in the tender to explore part of the Island and locate the resort .

The beaches are sandy (no pebbles/rocks ) and the water crystal clear.
After returning to the boat we had a drink or two, cooked lasagna for dinner, watched another movie and the crew retired for the evening while Capt Barry blogged on whilst a gentle rain fell ( first in for weeks ).

During the night the wind rose to about 12 kts and held LAST WORD  side onto the small swell. This made for another rolly night and the noise was too much for gentle Capt Ray, who emerged to sleep on the saloon couch. Followed later by Maggie who selected he breakfast couch between the pilothouse helm and galley.

Capt Barry checked the wind and anchor a couple of times during the night , and spotted Capt Ray on the saloon lounge , but did not spot  Maggie on the helm lounge. Lucky Capt Barry did not sit on Maggie (after all he did walk all over Capt Ray only a couple of nights earlier).

If we had expected the wind to hold LAST WORD  side on to the swell , we would have deployed a stern anchor.