Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Monday 6th August 2012,   ILUKA ( CLARENCE RIVER ) TO SOUTHPORT,  QLD. 97 NM

Again the tides are all wrong for our next leg north. Ideally, we should be crossing the bars after 3 hours after the ebb (ie low )  tide to allow for the over run effect (which is the time it takes some of the big rivers to continue to discharge water - as an undercurrent out to sea under the incoming tide ) which contributes to the turbulence , especially when compounded by the existence of a shoal ( ie shallower areas ) at the river /bar entrance.

Low tide ( 0.35M ) is at 4.55am at the Yamba /Iluka bar, and low is at 4.51pm at the Southport bar.

Depth s not really an issue for the Southport entrance and it can be crossed safely during an ebb tide in fair weather, which we should have, according to all the forecasts.

The night before Capt Barry telephoned the Southport VMR and received an update on crossing  the bar just before low that afternoon, According to thr VMR all looked  ok.

I sampled Buoyweather for several locations( as it is a 97NM trip ) and it predicted  seas less than 1  M, swell of 1+M from the SE at 8 to 9 secs, and winds initially from the SW at 11 to 14 kts swinging to the NE between 5 to 7 kts.
BOM ( the Govt ) predicted similar seas and swell, and winds in the morning, but showed winds swinging to the WNW between 15 to 20 kts in the afternoon (just in time to cross the bar at Southport).

Capt. Barry set the alarm for 5.45am, and after rising that morning , checked the seas / weather and telephoned the Iluka/Yamba VMR for an early bar crossing report. All looked ok.

Capt . Barry then went about final checks and when 6.15am arrived, went downstairs to shake the rear admiral out of her sweet dreams (of the handsome Capt. I assume).

We raised and cleaned the anchor ( and had to use the high pressure spray gun for the last three M) and Julie slowly threaded our way out of Iluka Harbour , between the sleeping boats, on Capt. Barry's plotted/recommended depth pathway ( as it was only a 0.35M tide), while Capt. Barry washed down the bow and stowed the anchor.

We saw clearances of less than 1 M in parts and cleared the bar ( which was flat as ) at 6.40am , and struck out for the first 2 and 1/2 hours at 1950 rpm ( 170 l/h total and 17.4 kts )  to shorten the trip a tad ( to an estimated 10 hours ).
approaching the Yamba/Iluka bar entrance at low tide as the sun rises. This s pretty calm.

We were off Evans Head at 8.30am and the wind was 15 to 20 kts from the west and seas between half and one M also from the west. So there was a bit of spray to contend with on the port side.

At 9.00am we dropped back to 1225 rpm and made between 8.7 and 10 kts.

At 11.30am we off Cape Byron, the most easterly part of Australia.
Cape Byron. Eastern most part of Australia

I discovered one thing which has always intrigued me, ie why do most helms only have one skippers chair? The answer is that during long passages , after a "way point" has be entered and the autopilot is engaged  to TRACK, the skippers chair is often  vacated and a casual eye only  kept out for other ships and clear seas.

We usually take it tuns to keep an eye out from the raised lounge behind the two skippers helm seats , mainly because it s out of the sun (when travelling north ) , cooler and despite the helm seats being very comfortable , one can stretch out, and position the the helm seats to maximise the view , and  partially block the sun glare /shimmer on the water,  and access the galley, computers and other accessories without moving.

The rear admiral usually  watches for dolphins and whales ( and there are lots ) , has a nap on the lounge in the saloon for an hour or so,  reads a book, makes a snack and spends time on the telephone talking to her business partner or employee, and Capt. Barry visits the engine room several times to shoot temperatures and check for loose items or new leaks etc, Etrades, writes the draft blog, reads up on the next possible leg / places to visit and marks up the paper charts.
Because there is so much room immediately accessible to the crew ( the Capt and rear admiral ) and LAST WORD  travels  relatively smoothly ( with the stabilizers on ) and quietly, walking about and normal life is not an issue, and there have been no instances ( YET ) where the Capt has felt squeamish , and the rear admiral is also travelling remarkably well.

In a nut shell, whilst 10 hours is a long passage, it does  not seem that long as one is constantly busy or snoozing etc.
Julie who never misses an opportunity to talk to the smiley dolphins that play along the bow as LAST WORD  slips through the seas.
Dolphins playing at LAST WORD'S  bow. some travel with us for 15 mins.

Whilst making this passage Capt. Barry telephoned the Vetus agent in Brisbane and organised a replacement rudder sender / sensor to replace what he thinks is a faulty unit. Capt. Barry just happened to have the Vetus catalogue on board ).  The agent tracked the part number the Capt supplied and says it is covered under a 3 year warranty and organises a replacement ( which is in stock ) to be sent to the Graeme Barker who will  receive it next day and hopefully deliver it to LAST WORD in Surfers Paradise.

Capt. Barry noticed a coolant leak coming from where the engine heater element is screwed into the starboard engine  ,took pictures and emailed them to the WesTrac people, ( who is the agent for Catterpillar engines ), and rang to ask  them to organise an engineer to attend LAST WORD,  at Marina Mirage, to fix the leak under warranty.
Capt Barry also drew to their attention the less than satisfactory oil sample report for the same engine, and said that he would like further oil samples ( both engines ) taken at the same time,  as recommended in the last report ( on the off chance  the sampling - which is a warranty requirement -  is giving a misdiagnosis of what is really going on inside the starboard engine) .  Capt Barry explained there were plenty of oil sample kits on board.
In a nutshell , Capt Barry has now had both engines sampled twice and received unsatisfactory reports for the starboard engine, but for completely different reasons. Whilst there is little doubt that taking  oil samples can be beneficial ,if done consistently ( frequently and properly ),  Capt. Barry suspects that the oil samples are a bit of guess work, as well as a money spinner for Cat/Westrac.
whales on route to somewhere. Most are travelling north . However, we pass the odd whale that either started early and is on the way home or that left the gass on and is returning  to switch it off.

LAST WORD  makes good time (partly assisted by the faster rpm sections we do every 90 mins or so at between 1850 and 2250 rpm ),and at 3.00pm we are just north of Coolangatta, in calmer seas , but with a gusting 15 to 20 knt NW wind , and  only 12 NM south to Southport.

Whilst Capt Barry has booked into the Marina Mirage ( 0414 466 688 -  in receivership - like so many marinas these days ) with the manager ( whose real name is Rooster - and is a delightful character ),  he also telephoned for prices for Palazzo Versace marina ( next door 5509 8000 ). The Palazzo s considerably cheaper , but is not live aboard for more than a couple of nights, and not as much fun as Marina Mirage.
LAST WORD  arriving off Surfers Paradise

As we approached the Southport seaway Capt Barry radioed the Southport VMR for a report ( which was that the seaway was fair ) then proceed to organise ropes and buffers for our tie up at Marina Mirage.

Whilst  Capt Barry was organising the ropes and buffers ( and checking up on the rear admiral who was piloting LAST WORD  outside the seaway ) , rear admiral Julie decide ( that as the seaway was a little busy with boats coming and going ) not to loiter outside..........and took  LAST WORD  through the seaway.
Rear admiral Julie negotiating the  busy Southport seaway. Not a problem at 1100 rpm and plenty of power to spare.  

After crossing the seaway we turned left and headed for Marina Mirage, 2 NM south.

Rooster recommended we berth "bow in"  for the view up the river and privacy.
I told Rooster I had never berthed "bow in" , and the controls were at the aft end of the boat and the cord is only 7 M.
Rooster said he had heard about my parking abilities ( presumably from Graeme who knows LAST WORD  has thrusters both ends )   and had selected ( at no extra charge ) the premium A arm with a 23M long finger and 11 M of space between  the next boat, and had organised a blow on wind of only 5 to 8kts.
Berthing was easy, as I used the remote out the port side cockpit with a good view along the port side , and  received directions about the space remaining  up front from rear admiral Julie.
heading south down the broadwater towards Marina Mirage

Rooster ran his practiced eye over LAST WORD, and assessed her as a 60 footer for billing purposes (and wondered how we got the name wrong (  as a Pama 65 )) , and even though we were plugged into 32 amp power, said as we did not need air conditioning there would be no charge for electricity.
Cost on the weekly rate $500, not bad.

We tied up about 4.50pm , plugged in to  power , and Graeme , who filmed LAST WORDS  last half NM down to Marina Mirage, was on hand to greet us when we berthed , and to assist wash off the thick coating of sea salt.

We had a drink during the delightful sunset off the cockpit , finished the left over green chicken curry , which was just as good the second time around , watched some olympics , then retired for the evening, and slept very soundly.
sunset view from the boarding platform. it will be hard to take a week of this .
plenty off fish in the marina. A lot of boats leave their blue lights on 24/7

Passage from Iluka /Yamba to Southport,  97 NM , 10.2 hours, 680 L ( total engine hours 206 ) giving an average 9.7 kts at 66.8 l/h total.

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