Saturday, 29 September 2012


THURSDAY 27 SEPT. 2012.   70 NM

Capt Barry woke just after 6.00 am  and did the usual boat inspection and weather due diligence.

The good LORD had provided the usual bait garfish on the boarding platform , and Capt Barry dutifully collected and wrapped them in glad wrap so they would not smell out the fridge.

Both Buoyweather and BOM indicated  the swell was rising ,  to just less than 1.5 m from the SE , with seas between 0.8 and 1.2 m and winds 10 to 15 kts and rising to 20 kts in the afternoon , from the E.

 Capt Barry had originally planned  to head for Cape Bowling Green (about 40 NM, including several  NM  around the cape and into the bay for protection ) where we were to anchor, but was not sure of the quality of the cover in the swell and predicted rising  winds. So after a quick discussion with rear admiral Julie, we decided to bypass Bowling Green Bay and  head for either Townsville or Magnetic Island ( Nelly Bay ) , which would be about 70 NM , and have a couple of days at leisure, waiting for David and Rhyannon  to arrive for their adventures on LAST WORD ( going north to the Palm Group of Islands and the Hinchinbrook Channel, then back to Townsville ).

The consideration for  arrival at Townsville is the tide , as entrance to the new Breakwater Marina is only 0.5 m at dead low spring tide (and not the 1.5 m shown on the charts) , and we would arrive at about 3 pm  and low water was 0.6 m at 12.47 pm. This meant we would need to wait till approx. 4.00 pm for sufficient water, to safely navigate the entrance leads to the Townsville Breakwater  marina.

We lifted anchor at 7.45 am  and set revs at the usual 1050 rpm and noticed , as soon as we cleared Cape Upstart , that the seas were the sloppiest  we had had for several weeks, around 1 m with a 1.5 m swell from 4 oclock and a 15 kt wind from 2 to 3 oclock.

We had a good phone and internet signal all the way except for about 1 hour around Cape Bowling Green, where we had a weak signal.. This presented Capt Barry with the opportunity to turn off the power to the Ericsson internet router , and plug the band new ( third )  Quantel booster into the power circuit and reroute the antennae,  through the booster , to the Ericsson  to increase the signal strength on board LAST WORD.

Well you guessed it , we had NO signal at all( and no internet and boat phone ) , with the brand new booster plugged in, even though it was indicating power was activated.

Capt Barry immediately turned off the power, rerouted the antennae directly to the Ericsson , and disconnected the power cable to the booster, then switched on the power to the Ericsson , and you guessed it, again, we had the same signal, weak ,  which allowed the boat phone to work.

This little exercise proved what Capt Barry suspected for some time, ie the boosters (all three do not work , and in fact when plugged  in line with the Ericsson, they were  inhibiting the signal strength the Ericsson unit could drag in by itself ( with the antennae on the fly bridge roof).

Since this trip north  started , back in July, Capt Barry has had the booster replaced twice under warranty, thinking he ( or some nearby repeater )  had somehow blown the boosters. Each time Capt Barry contacted an electronics specialist to organise the warranty replacement he was told that these units were failing all over the place and they knew the warranty replacement drill off by heart. At least the importer was co-operating and just replacing them without argument.

Capt Barry does not think these units are failing, more likely they are a bad batch ( assuming they worked at all ) or never worked.

Cape Bowling Green

Cape Cleveland (just south of Townsville).

During the passage Capt Barry did several 15 minute speed runs ( every 70 to 90 mins or so)  to clean out the engines and exhausts and keep the average speed up  around 10 kts. There is nothing magical about this speed, other than it makes calculating arrival times at destinations easier.

travelling at 20 kts

We received FM stereo from radio Townsville for most of the trip and enjoyed listening to their music selection (when not on the phone).

Rear admiral Julie did a fair amount of the skippering , in between BEAD THEM UP work, the latter which made her feel a little funny , so Capt Barry ordered her to put the BEAD THEM UP work away and lie down for an hour or so, which worked a treat.

rear admiral Julie at the helm ( on track using waypoints ) and reading a book

Capt Barry telephoned both the Townsville Breakwater marina and Nelly Bay Marina on Magnetic Island , which is about 7 NM offshore from Townsville, to enquire about berthing arrangements, and after discussion with  rear admiral Julie, and considering our arrival time of about 2.45 pm and the tide , we opted for Nelly Bay.

We arrived at Magnetic Island about 2.40pm and cut straight across  the long leads that guide the big ships to Townsville ( as they go several miles out from Townsville just past Magnetic Island ).

We entered the Nelly Bay Marina leads and slopped around a fair bit in the 1.5 m cross swell and in the now 20 kt wind. However, the water settled down as we entered the marina breakwater walls and headed directly to our allocated 30 m berth at the end of A arm.

We had to bring LAST WORD  in sideways directly into the 20 kt wind that was blowing directly across the boat , a blow off wind at 20 kts.

This was easy enough ,with LAST WORD'S  big thrusters , bow and stern, however. Capt Barry had to hold her there , against the wind for some time and eventually , move LAST WORD  back several meters to get the cleats to work such that LAST WORD  was held securely.
The problem was that the berth allocated for LAST WORD ,  is for a 30 to 40 m commercial vessel, as the cleats are massive bollards and they were 11 and 16 m apart , making an effective tie off difficult until we moved LAST WORD  back to the more closely spaced bollards.

we needed long ropes for this berth. The bollards were far apart and few.

After tying up successfully, Capt Barry visited the marina office ( as the marina manager wanted to sign off for the day), and paid for three nights ($49 per night , not bad ) and returned to LAST WORD only to discover that the three phase power outlet did not work, and that they had run out of security gate keys. No wonder it was cheap.

Well, thank heavens Capt Barry carries all combinations  of electrical leads , and we could plug into the 15 amp outlets.

They assured me they would have the power working the next day, but it is now the day after the next day and LAST WORD  is  still happily on 15 amp power.

For those that have not been to Nelly Bay (or Magnetic Island for that matter) , it is an absolutely delightful place with good infrastructure and a fantastic holiday feel and we highly recommend staying here as the ferry service is on the hour, cheap and a short ride to Townsville.

There are four distinct communities on Magnetic Island, and the Peppers resort that is part of the Nelly Bay Marina is very stylish with a great restaurant and bar (indoor and outdoor)  , and surrounded by privately owned apartments. There is a IGA store  literally 200 m away from the marina with some other shops , and the ferry terminal is about ten berths down from where LAST WORD is berthed. It is a very busy and interesting marina.

WE plan to hire a car and , explore the Island when David and Rhyannon arrive tomorrow, as there is some windy weather coming Wednesday, and we may have to shorten their trip to just two or three days , and spend a day on Magnetic Island.

looking past LAST WORD down the marina with the peppers development along the right and some privately owned apartments on the left through LAST WORD'S bow rail.

outside the Peppers development looking across the road to the Ferry terminal and some of the Peppers development across the road from the marina 

Peppers reception (with the marina right through)

some of the Peppers rooms on the marina side 

looking down the marina outside Peppers along the boardwalk (with LAST WORD in the end berth ). The restaurant is the indoor and outdoor area just beyond the plant in the  big white pot , and the food is fabulous. 
looking out from the marina arm gate ( with the  bar outdoor area behind me ) . You can see  the Ferry terminal berth and beyond that the entrance to the Nelly Bay marina breakwalls,  and at the top left some of the peppers rooms 


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