Friday, 28 September 2012



We finally finished provisioning ,  repairing and servicing LAST WORD at 12.30pm , and immediately got under way or so we thought.

The rear admiral let go the final rope and we sought permission from the marina controller to leave the marina, which was given (with their warm wishes for a comfortable trip and to see us again soon).
However, when we approached the marina entrance there were several other craft entering and leaving , which can only be seen when one is actually at the marina entrance, especially at low tide - as the rock breakwater is approx 7 m above water level and built in the shape of a reverse "S" to protect the inner marina, so we waited out turn, and eventually made it outside the entrance and were under way.

leaving Abel Point Marina., half way through the reverse "S" entrance rock wall

Buoyweather was predicting seas at 0.3m at 6 secs and winds ENE at 6-9 kts, and BOM was predicting 0.7 to 1.2 m seas and a swell of less than 1.5m with winds of 10 to 15 kts from the E.

In fact, so far, the seas were the usual "FLAT AS" and the wind a refreshing 9 kts from the NE and the temperature 27 degrees with clear skies.

it does not get much calmer than this, as we leave Pioneer Bay , Airlie Beach

  We decided to take the more direct route through the Gloucester Passage, between the mainland and Gloucester Island, so Capt Barry did some tide calculations to ensure LAST WORD had the water depth required. Low tide would be 0.54 m at 1313 hours and we calculated a speed to get us there at about 1430 hours which would give a tide of about 0.95 m , which when added to the charted  low spring tide would give LAST WORD  a safety margin of about 0.75 m at the known low points.

We passed many islands on route including , Gumbrell Island, Saddleback Island and of course Gloucester Island.

As we approached Gloucester Passage,  rear admiral Julie , who was at the helm, noticed a school of mackerel feeding on smaller fish and ordered the trolling rods into action. Capt Barry ( who had the rods at the ready ) set the lures in the water and the rear admiral switched the camera from observing the engine room to the cockpit and boarding platform , slowed the boat,  and did a few wide circles through the middle of the frenzy of feeding fish.

one rod in the rod holder on the boarding platform , and one being held by Capt Barry , who wanted to feel the strike.

The rear admiral's circles must have been somewhat amusing to the  large passing catamaran ( ie trying to guess on which side to pass LAST WORD ), as it certainly was to Capt Barry. The rear admiral's command of "one more time around" seemed to go on for quite a few rounds (which  is the secret to our long, healthy marriage ).

Capt Barry had no strikes on the lures, ( I guess the mackerel had no eyes for the lures , only eyes for whatever bait fish were churning the water surface ) and stowed the rods and reported  to  rear admiral Julie  that there was no need to clean fish tonight.

On hearing this news , rear admiral Julie straighten the rudders, and we continued on course for Gloucester Passage, which was only about 2 NM ahead,  with the big catamaran about half a mile in front of LAST WORD.

As we debated whether to speed up to be in front of the catamaran, before LAST WORD   entered the passage ( which is quite narrow if one wants to miss the shoals at low tide ) the answer became obvious , as the catamaran seemed to slow down, and LAST WORD slipped by well before the beginning of the passage . I guess the skipper of the cat decided he would rather see where LASTWORD  went and follow (or not follow) depending upon LAST WORD'S  success (or lack there of).

LAST WORD successfully negotiated the passage , with only one small correction ( when we saw 1.0 m under the props ).  This was about  half way along the passage  which has a reverse "S" ,  and was made a little more tricky  with the several  sailing yachts anchored  both sides of ( and some encroaching inside )  the channel,  just off Monte's Resort.

The passage is wide enough at approx. 360 m , but the marked channel is only about 20m wide between markers  in some places. The markers  can be , especially at a distance,    tricky to work out , particularly  in the afternoon when travelling up the coast, as one is travelling west , into the sun and reflection . Of course the narrowest markers are in the middle of the passage in the  reverse  "S" section  , right off the resort where boats anchor.

After negotiating the passage channel,

 LAST WORD rounded Passage Islet ( also known as Shag Islet ) and at 3.30 pm picked up one of the moorings off the Echo Resort ( $25 for No. 18, over night ,  which I was told takes 30 tons in a reasonable blow and was recently  serviced).

Passage Islet (also called Shag Islet - due to the cormorants ( shags ) that are constantly on the islet).

After mooring , and getting  rear admiral Julie off  the internet (where she spends a lot of her spare time, setting up the new web site for "BEAD THEM UP " ),   Capt Barry launched the smaller tender , which is now carried , fully inflated on its side on the fly bridge, between the davit and the larger tender.

Launching this tender consists of lifting it over the rail , by hand (which is easily done - as it weighs about 15 kgs ) , into the water all in one motion, and takes about 30 secs. Then adding the MIGHTY  3 hp motor ,which is also easily accessible in the lazz  and only  takes another 3 or 4 minutes to install.

Julie and Capt Barry ventured ashore ( and lifted the tender and motor well above the high water mark )  to pay our $25 mooring fee and look around the VERY BASIC - ALMOST BACK TO NATURE  echo resort.

I say ALMOST , as we discovered the  Oar Bar,  where  Julie ordered two margaritas for herself and two tap VBs for Capt Barry, and a hot bread bun with tomato butter , which was splendid.

Funny, I  thought it was a pleasant passage , not a two margarita passage.

after 9 weeks at sea and living on board , this looks straight

Capt Barry inspecting the menu at the Oar Bar and restaurant at the Echo resort ( next to Monte's Resort ) at Cape Gloucester.

We  enjoyed our drinks as the sun set, and  Capt Barry , in a rare romantic moment,  reminded rear admiral Julie, the love of his life, that he had  promised to take her to a remote island hideaway for drinks as the sun set AND THIS WAS IT.

Capt Barry  was feeling pretty chuffed that he had delivered on another important  marriage commitment, until ...........the rear admiral  smiled  with her eyes,  and replied.............we are on the mainland baby.... keep searching.....AND YOU HAVE YET TO DELIVER.

After that devastating failure,  Capt Barry enjoyed a swim in he salt water pool , but could not find a working fresh water shower.......strike two.

As we were contemplating dining at the restaurant , the mozzies appeared...... strike three... , so we  decided to return  to LAST WORD for dinner , and cooked the two grass sweetlips we had caught, which were superb.

The evening was pleasant with little swell and a 7 to 10 kt breeze, and a host of fish and squid,  in a constant frenzy, in the blue underwater lights off the boarding platform.

the white streaks are in fact fast moving fish. They are mainly garfish , and in a frenzy , with many jumping out of the water every few seconds. There are literally hundreds of them.

We watched another DVD ( nearly 5 % of the way through the DVD library by now ) and had another latish night.

TRIP : 24 NM , 3.34 Hrs (including the trolling ) , 112 L in total, av 7 plus kts and 30 L/hr total.

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