Saturday, 22 September 2012



We spent a few days on Hamilton Island to reaquaint ourselves with the facilities and restaurants (as it had been a few years since the rear admiral Julie and Capt Barry have  visited the Island ) , then received our first visitors, Gwen and Charles Rich,  (the rear admiral's mum and dad).

Even though Capt Barry booked a berth at Hamilton Island for three months back in January 2012, Capt Barry waited until they arrived to finalise  the berthing arrangements at Hamilton Island  Harbour, as the company Charlie and Gwen started (C.A.Rich P/L ) now run by their son, Stephen Rich , makes the special keels for Wild Oates XI (which was still at Hamilton Island when they arrived )  and  Stephen had called Sandy Oatley  (as the Oatleys own Hamilton Island ) who had asked the marina staff to  look after LAST WORD.

It is school holidays up here at present and everything is stretched to the limit, and there are no golf buggies left for hire. We prefer walking anyway, as exercise is at a premium when on a boat.

Charles and Gwen had to wait over an hour for the taxi ride from the airport to the boat, but we should  leave that topic and move on.

Not long after Charles and Gwen arrived we were contacted by Ron and Margaret Hinds from A arm at the St George Motor Boat Club, Kogarah Bay , Georges River (LAST WORD'S home marina arm ) to catch up for a drink. Ron and Margaret were about to arrive  and holiday at Hamo with friends, and  had  heard we were at Hamilton Island.

After a quick consultation, we put off our island getaway another day and caught up with Ron and Margaret Hinds and their friends, John and Colleen ( another absolutely delightful couple ), for lunch.

At lunch we made further  plans  to have drinks on board LAST WORD , perhaps do a short day cruise, and do lunch and the golf tour of the new Dent island golf club and course  just across from Hamilton Island.

The next day LAST WORD departed for a cruise and overnight stay at Nara Inlet, where we again enjoyed a lovely sunset drink and dinner.
sunset in Nara Inlet (BIG BUD a 60 FT Riv in the foreground).

I put Charlie to work, and before leaving Hamilton Harbour, we pulled out the clothes dryer and Capt Barry climbed up the back of the carpentry  and changed the charcoal activated black water filter.

Then , whilst at Nara Inlet we tightened up the starboard rudder post clamp. Always something to fix on a BOAT ( which stands for " Break Out Another Thousand ").
underneath the steering shelf, trying to tighten the rudder post from moving . I have added four extra bolts and added spring washers and lock nuts.

We returned to Hamilton Island after a cruise through Cid Harbour, where we spent another day in berth before  dropping  off Charles and Gwen at the airport .  John and Ron  loaned us their golf buggy, whilst they and Margaret ans Colleen  did a day trip to Whitehaven Beach,  so we could run Charles and Gwen to the airport, (otherwise we would have walked ).

Later that afternoon , Capt Barry met ( and returned the buggy to )   John , Ron,  Margaret and Colleen as they alighted from their afternoon tour, and we made plans to have a few drinks on LAST WORD later that evening.

Later that evening , after rear admiral Julie had baked some replacement quiches (to replace those  we lost at  Abel Point Marina when the power failed  ) our guests arrived and we had a few drinks and some food and enjoyed an excellent convivial evening.

evidence of a good evening

The next day, at 1.00pm,  the 6 of us met at the wharf and were ferried  across to Dent Island for lunch and a golf buggy tour of the golf course.

( left to right) Rear admiral Julie , Capt Barry, Margaret and Ron Hinds, Colleen and John.
 JOHN is on the right and has special boat shoes with added heel height to make him look taller.

The food was sensational,

After the golf course tour we decided to stay for the next ferry ride back to Hamilton Island.
I thought the hour delay  was a sensible decision ,  so we could sober up and soak in the wonderful atmosphere and views , but no.........Ron ordered more wine.....for the ladies....I think.

our table on the balcony of the resaurant

out there is LAST WORDS playground for the next several months

After arriving back , there was a surprise in stall for us , as Ron and John insisted we share in some reverse hospitality at their abode, so we all adjourned back to the roomy three bedroom apartment they were staying in , at Blue Water, of course....... for more drinks and fine conversation.

After a suitably lengthy time, and enjoying yet another superb sunset with fine wine and friends , not to mention intelligent conversation, ( during which we  solved the worlds problems - I think for the second time ) we said our good byes , and John ( who was remarkably sober) organised our transport back to the marina.

The rear admiral and Capt Barry decided on an early night , as we were expecting our next guests the following  day.

John and Vicki Barker arrived the next day and the rear admiral and Capt Barry decided to walk to the airport to greet  them and walk back to the boat. This was more reliable than the taxi ( after Charles and Gwen's disastrous experience ) and it was only 8 mins walk from the boarding platform of LAST WORD to the airport arrivals , and despite one steepish hill was a pleasant walk in mid twenties sunshine and not too humid.

So far, on the entire voyage , LAST WORD  has not turned on her air conditioners ( other than to run the units to keep the seals from drying out etc).

The trade wind was up for the next three days ( 10 to 20 kt SE  ) , but we decided to do a trip to Whitehaven Beach anyway.
There was about a 1.5 m swell , but it was not to bad. We anchored off the beach and Capt Barry inflated the small tender and added the 5hp and all four ( at the one time ) safely made it ashore where we enjoyed a long walk.
LAST WORD off Whitehaven Beach

John , Capt Barry and Vicki , and the enormous tender

After the walk, the rear admiral and Capt Barry motor back to LAST WORD, and John and Vicki swam back, which was not a bad effort as LAST WORD was probably 150m offshore , and there was  a 1 to 2 kt current south to north  along the beach.

After a light lunch , we decided to up anchor and return to Hamilton Island , but there was a surprise in store for us.

The anchor was stuck fast,  and no amount of coaxing was successful in effecting its release.

We tried a direct over head pull with the windlass (a Muir 3500 ) , we tried  letting out more chain and turning   LAST WORD sideways and pulling the anchor sideways, then  we tried  pulling from 180 degrees ( facing the other way from the other  side of the anchor)  , but the wind and current combined were too strong to effectively turn the boat more than 90 degrees.

I know  we gave the anchor  a couple of big tugs at 90 degrees because I bent the stainless guide where the  anchor feeds through the bow, and it is not lightweight stainless.
note the bent stainless guide on the right hand side
  Capt Barry decided the next option was to dive on the anchor and dig it out, and was down to his swimmers when the rear admiral attracted a passing Park Ranger in a 18 foot rib and 90 hp motor. They came over and said the anchor was unlikely to be caught on coral or rock in that location , and agreed I should dive on the anchor and pass a rope through the release bar on the anchor head , which they would  tie to their RIB and pull the anchor free.

All fairly simple they said.

After some drama finding a suitable pair of diving goggles , Capt Barry updated his will , entered the shark infested waters , and dived on the anchor by pulling himself down the anchor chain.

Second attempt ( and after John's suggestion of shortening the anchor chain to make the dive shorter to allow more bottom time) Capt Barry appeared on the surface , with the rope and handed it to the two  newly seconded LAST WORD crew members in the RIB.

Capt Barry explained the anchor was in sand (and whatever was below the top cover) and that it was just well set, and he could dig it out, if they could not release the anchor by pulling at 90 degrees and 180 degrees with their tender.

The assistants were confident they would easily release the anchor , but soon reassessed their opinion after several failed attempts.

Capt Barry suggested they lengthen the rope to change the angle and try again and  at the same time he used the windlass. This method was employed and the anchor chain visibly jerked sideways and we knew we had been successful.

Capt Barry quickly retrieved the anchor to find about 40 kgs of clay on the anchor , which was also stubborn to remove.

Capt Barry yelled his thanks the the two assistants , as the rear admiral steered LAST WORD to deeper water and we departed for Hamilton Island.

That  little incident is just another example of what a good and experienced Captain will do to amuse  guests and give them a taste of boating just one problem and challenge after another.

Getting the anchor stuck shows that the new Ultra anchor ( 45kg/99pd ) polished stainless version, is as good as they say.

The good thing about an over sized,  well designed,  anchor is that you can sleep at night knowing you will not drag your anchor. I guess I just experienced the down side, ie it can be hard to retrieve if well set in the right conditions.
Oh well, I will take the former over the latter any day.

The next day we did the Dent  Island lunch and golf course tour again with John and Vicki, and it was just as relaxing and stunning as the first time.

the tour

Over the next couple of mornings Julie and Vicki went for long walks. However it was soon  time to say goodbye to John and Vicki. We enjoyed their company tremendously, and wondered why we have not got together motre often, which we promised to do. After 3 plus  days , they were gone ,  hopefully more relaxed after spending time on LAST WORD.

John and Vicki on board LAST WORD 

The rear admiral and Capt Barry were just getting ready for a few days alone when we bumped into Geoff and Vicki Player, another lovely couple holidaying in  the Whitsundays on their 50 feet long Benateau sailing yacht,  " SILVER MINX ", which has a lovely light silver coloured hull and a very comfortable and stately  FAT ARSE .

SILVER MINX, stern seats up ready to fish

As life is short , and not a rehearsal, we immediately decided to have some drinks on board LAST WORD,  that evening, and swap stories on where to visit and moor etc.

Geoff prepared some sashimi tuna he had caught , and after a bottle of Moet and three bottles of wine we adjourned to SILVER MINX where Geoff fired up the BBQ and cooked lamb chops and the girls whipped up a salad , all accompanied by another bottle of wine.

The next morning SILVER MINX departed for Turtle Bay and /or Chance Bay on the southern side of Whitsunday Island and we said we may visit that region as well, as the weather was superb, with light 5 to 8 kt E to NE breezes and almost no swell which is ideal for that side of the Island.

However. before LAST WORD  could depart , Whitsunday Electrics  contacted us and said they had a new replacement radar dome and wanted to fit it asap.

The radar was replaced ....and guess was a DUD ...and would not work at all.

After some calls to Raymarine (whose web site was down ) the techy pulled my old radar dome apart and raided it for spares to swap with the NEW  radar dome and  got it working.

Finally, LAST WORD departed for another island getaway and we headed for Chance Bay.

it just does not get better than this

The seas were FLAT AS  and there was the fainest whisper of a breeze , and the weather was to improve ( if it could ) over the next couple of days.

We came across another whale giving birth and stayed and watched for 30 mins or so, then moved onto Chance Bay where we anchored not far from SILVER MINX.

There are two lovely beaches at Chance bay.

the smaller of the two beaches at Chance bay

The next two days we spent paddling and rowing around the bay , fishing off the boats, and visiting   the beach for a walk and swim ,  and visiting each others boats for lunch/coffee and dinner.

the rear admiral Julie , on board SILVER MINX , wondering if it can get any better than when the internet goes down , and she needs to relax without beading.

lunch on board LAST WORD with  Geoff and Vicki  Player

Capt Barry feeding the food procurer whilst he is  at work

Geoff , wading ashore 

Vicki and Julie enjoying  a walk along the beach (and in search of a DONGER)

SILVER MINX'S and  LAST WORD'S stock of wine was seriously depleted, but food was never threatened, thanks to Geoff ( Neptune, " Nep" for short ) Player, who could catch fish anywhere, even with his bare hands.

Each evening we would board SILVER MINX and go for a sail , approx. 2.5 NM due south towards Pentecost Island to "Surprise Rock"  which is about 2 m under water at high tide and 1.5m above water at low tide.

Geoff gave the rear admiral a sailing lesson .

Rear admiral Julie at the helm of SILVER MINX

leaving Chance Bay and LAST WORD on anchor  for a sail and fish

going around Surprise Rock off Pentecost Island

We would circle Surprise Rock and almost without  fail get a strike from Mackerel. The first time round we hooked up two,  at the same time, BANG BANG,  and managed to bring in both. Then Vicki had the same luck and landed another beauty.

BANG, BANG, two hook ups at once 

this requires team work with Vicki on the wheel and engine

that is  one

what a mouth and what big sharp teeth you have

don't step back Geoff

Hang on there Julie. Tuck your legs through the seat in case you get  a big strike.

Wine was a plentiful, as the secret ingredient to trolling. Every time we picked up our glasses, the fish struck. Can you think of a better place to be and leisure event than sailing and fishing with friends, food and wine in some of the world's best waters in fantastic seas..... I think not.

Sportmanship was tested when Vicki insisted on a measure of all booty, and I thought I saw a long lost ancient Druids technique being used by Vicki ....for stretching fish .....when Vicki measured her Mackerel.

It was declared a draw with all Mackerel over 820mm.

notice the consistent size. These are school Mackerel and obviously all in the same class.
Note the donger in one of the rod holders. This is used  to end any suffering on the part of the fish.
Mackerel were jumping out of the water at one stage, as high as 3 m ( I kid you not ), and one just missed out landing in SILVER MINX.

We returned to Chance Bay as the sun set , where we had several more strikes on the lures along the way, but unfortunately did not hook up.

Geoff skinned and filleted the three fish, and caught a couple of others ( eg lovely Sweet lips ) while doing the preparation work, and then we hung one of the Mackerel carcasses on a fishing line for the fish to feed on in the blue lights off the stern of SILVER MINX during the  night.
During  dinner ( of you guessed it ) fresh Mackerel, there was a sudden and furious commotion at the back of SILVER MINX   caused by  several strikes on the Mackerel carcass by sharks ( about 4 footers ) which just circled the back of the boats blue lights ( three attacks and the entire carcass was gone ).

the rear admiral bagging an endless supply of Mackerel

the Sweet lips cooking up nicely in the large electric 380mm  fry pan

In the mornings we would paddle to the smaller of the two beache, for a swim and stretch, and whilst  standing knee deep in the water for a serious discussion on life and people we knew  ( for about 45 mins ) we witnessed the local life swim by only  a couple of feet away (several times in fact ) , including  a large sting ray, a 4 foot shark, whiting, garfish crabs etc.

On the Friday , Geof and Vicki were due to pick up their next boatload of lucky guests, and LAST WORD  needed to up anchor and motor  to CID  Harbour for internet/phone access ( while  SILVER MINX used LAST WORDS  berth at Hamilton Island to replenish stores and  collect their guests).

 Whilst at Cid Harbour ( where surprisingly we could not receive any telephone /internet signal) , Capt Barry investigated and  replaced the blown fuse for the Ericson W-35 internet router ( and it worked again ) , however, we decided to return to Hamilton Island to restock , spend a night and venture out again the next day.

Capt Barry promised rear admiral Julie he would catch up on the blog, which took all the next day.

On the Saturday 9 22 nd Sept ) plans were made to leave Hamilton Island, Sunday 23rd Sept for another night on anchor in the Whitsundays and entry to Abel Point Marina , Airlie Beach for fuel and provisions Monday the 24th , as LAST WORD is heading north to Townsville to collect David and Rhy then onto the Palm Group of Islands and  Hinchinbrook Island before dropping them back at Townsville, where we hope to collect Graeme Barker, who is planning to join LAST WORD for  the passage back to Airlie Beach by the 7th Oct.

By for now.


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