Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Segment 38 : Hamilton Island to Thomas Island

Segment 38 : Hamilton Island to Thomas Island
Wed . 17  Oct 2012 ,   17 NM.

Rear admiral Julie was up early and off to the store for some provisions, then to have her hair attended to. Apparently the hard water up the Whitsundays is not kind to rear admiral Julie's hair, and regular visits to the hair doctor are dreamed about.

Sometimes a visit to the hairdresser can be diverted by Capt Barry playing with the rear admiral's hair for an hour or so. Capt Barry gets through these sessions by thinking he is cleaning out the raw sea water strainers of fine seaweed, and adding up the brownie points.

The winds were still blowing 18 kts from the SE and the seas had a 1 + M swell , mainly from the S.

LAST WORD departed its berth mid afternoon and rear admiral took control and instructed Capt Barry to catch some fish, so we trolled at about 7 + kts to Thomas Island, which is south of Lindeman and Shaw Islands ( south of Hamilton Island).

We came across SILVER MINX , and anchored between Thomas Island and Young Tom's Island, in about 3 m of water, but still put out 25 M of chain as the tide was going to rise about 4 M during the night.

Capt Barry thought we had selected a good anchoring spot, but when the rollers started to come through from the NE he up anchored and moved LAST WORD 50 m closer into shore , but to no avail. The swell still swung around the Island and we knew we were in for a swelly time .

Never the less , Capt Geoff Player, managed to get himself  and Vicki Player , and their two guests, Peter and Kiki,  into their small tender , and over to LAST WORD,  where we enjoyed a chicken curry dinner , cooked by rear admiral Julie - because Capt Barry had not done so well with the fishing on route to Thomas Island .

After dinner , Capt Geoff  and Capt Barry tried their hand at squidding, but that was also a failure, so we all retired to our oats and  beds for a relatively early night.

Vicki, Kiki and Peter, on LAST WORD  enjoying a drink after dinner, while Capt Geoff ( in the background ) tries his luck at squidding.

TRIP  : 3 HRS,   96 L , av 6+ kts and 32 L/HR.

segment 37 : Stonehaven Anchorage to Hamilton Island

segment 37 : Stonehaven Anchorage to Hamilton Island
Monday 15 October 2011:   19 NM

After three days at Stonehaven Anchorage ( NW side of Hook Island ) it was time to move on,  with a brief stop over at Hamilton Island.

The wind was still blowing at 25 kts from the SE,  and it was now quite rolly at Stonehaven Anchorage, so a move was timely.

SILVER MINX  was also headed for Hamilton Island for some supplies and to collect two  guests. As  their water was low,  Capt Barry  suggested LAST WORD  take SILVER MINX'S bed linen and towels and put them through the washing machine and dryer on route to Hamilton Island, so they could be collected by Vicki Player when SILVER MINX arrived at Hamilton Island later that afternoon.

Capt Barry managed to put the large tender away , up on the rear of the fly bridge deck, with the assistance of rear admiral Julie.

Due to the wind and swell entering the anchorage, Capt Barry considered towing the tender back to Hamilton, instead of trying to stow it in the rolly conditions, but  as we were expecting a rough trip into the wind, and there is no place to tie up the tender in the marina and as the davit had a hydraulic slew function , Capt Barry  decided to see if we could stow it properly first.

There was no real problem until the tender was fully lifted and Capt Barry started to swing the tender over the fly bridge rail.  Just then , the Good Lord,  decided to send some bigger rollers through the anchorage and  turned  LAST WORD 90 degrees so it was side on to the swell ( the double wammy ), and LAST WORD developed quite a sideways  roll, with Capt Barry hanging onto the tender ( trying to lessen the tender swinging ) at the same time he was trying to position the tender over the cradle to lower it into its final resting place.One second the tender was over its cradle,  then the next it was swinging over the water outside the railing.
Capt Barry told rear admiral Julie not to stand underneath the tender ( in case the unthinkable happened ), and after about four rolls , managed to somewhat dampen the swinging tenders arc, enough to  lower the tender onto the cradle in roughly the right position, then when the rolling subdued , lifted and jiggled the tender into the correct final position. Thank heavens for a fully hydraulic davit  boom, as Capt Barry would not have even considered trying to stow the tender in such conditions if the swing function ( side ways movement ) was manual . ie not hydraulic.

My advice to fellow boaties, is, don't even think about stowing a tender in such conditions unless you are sure the rope/cord is in good condition and the connection points and  the davit are  rated well above the tenders weight, and the davit has a hydraulic slew.

We let the mooring rope go at 10.00am , and headed south for Hamilton Island.
The sea, once outside the protection of the other islands, was about 1.5 to 2 M , into winds gusting 25 to 30 kts. Not to bad, in a vessel like LAST WORD. The stabilizers are fantastic in such conditions.

On route to Hamilton Island we received a radio heads up of a large turtle wallowing around on the surface from SILVER MINX (which was about 1 NM ahead of LAST WORD  ), and sure enough, the big fellow was still there when LAST WORD  reached to same spot, and Capt Barry altered course to let the exhausted turtle continue with his surface swim in the rough conditions.

On the trip back to Hamilton Island Capt Barry deviated through Cid Harbour , to check out the sea conditions ( which were fine ) in the stiff SE winds.

After arriving l at Hamilton Island , Capt Barry gave LAST WORD  a quick wash , spliced a new anchoring bridle , caught up with some of the skippers nearby, and returned the fresh laundry to SILVER MINX which used the fuel wharf to resupply and collect their guests.

Capt Barry decided on a NO alcohol policy that night and cooked two poached eggs on toast then retired early to be fresh for the next days challenges ( whatever they may be).

Trip : 1.9 hrs,   80 L,    av 9.2 kts and 41 L/HR

Monday, 29 October 2012

segment 36 : Hamilton Island to Stonehaven Anchorage

Segment 36 :  Hamilton Island to Stonehaven Anchorage ( North western side of Hook Island - just to south east of Hayman Island)
Sat 13 October 2012.

The winds were predicted to blow SE for another several days at approx. 20 to 25 kts, and the seas were to be between 1,2 and 1,7 M ,

Capt Barry rose at 7.00 am and blogged for several hours, to appease the baying fans who complained  they had  had nothing to read for some time.

Capt Barry was suffering from writers block.

After blogging,  Capt Barry again visited the chandlery to borrow some bolt cutters ( to shorten the large tenders anchor chain - which he shortened from 17 to 8 m ) and to acquire some rope to make a bridle for the anchor , as the traditional snubber that went through the anchor cradle , took the load off the windlass, but was  a little noisy in windy weather, when LAST WORD swung   on the anchor chain.

Rear admiral Julie did some last minute shopping for groceries and some stores for SILVER MINX , and we left the Hamilton Island berth mid morning , and headed for Stonehaven Anchorage on the north western side of Hook Island,  just to the south east of Hayman Island.

The seas were ok, with small white caps and winds about 20 kts, and we trolled someof the way.

We found SILVER MINX  on anchor about 80 m out from shore and picked up a 30 M mooring buoy. SILVER MINX  had decided not to use the mooring buoy as she got caught up on one several weeks ago, and Capt Geoff Player had to dive below to untangle the mooring rope from the keel.

Silver Minx anchored out of the swell, but still in some wind.

Capt Barry launched the larger tender ( JABN ) , and Capts Barry and Geoff loaded up JABN with several rods and fishing tackle and went off to fish the bombies, close to shore, a,couple of bays to the south.

Capts Barry and Geoff , off for some reef fishing

Capt Barry installed a trip rope on the anchor - in case it got snagged on the coral  , and we  managed to catch two tuskers and retrieve the anchor ( which did snag ) when it was time to return to the bigger boats.

The wind was building in intensity , and rear admiral Julie reported seeing the wind indicator at 35 kts during one of the gusts .

That evening we had a chicken pasta on board LAST WORD, and saw a large dolphin swimming around the back of LAST WORD , snorting for air every so often.

Capt Geoff and rear admiral Julie on dolphin watch

The wind dropped about 2.00 am, and we were enjoying a quiet nights sleep in GLASSOUT sea  conditions  , until  the mooring buoy started to bang , gently, against the hull of LAST WORD.

Capt Barry got up to see what the buoy was doing , and it was apparent that in the calm conditions and turning tide , LAST WORD was being held stern first into the tide against the mooring buoy , with the very  long ( and extremely thick - 100 mm plus diameter ) mooring rope running down the side and under LAST WORD.

Whilst Capt Barry was not concerned with the gentle bagging of the mooring buoy against the hull, ( and knew this was unlikely to last for long) he was somewhat concerned that the mooring rope might  get caught under, and on the inside, of the starboard stabilizer fin ( ie between the fin and hull ) . If that occurred and the wind picked up,  it would be very difficult to get such a large rope back  under the fin , ( ie  back out the other side ) with the windage on LAST WORD  making it impossible to get the necessary slack in the mooring rope to untangle the fin.

So Capt Barry used the stern thruster to swing LAST WORD 180 degrees and let the tide take her away from the buoy which allowed the mooring rope to stretch out the front of LAST WORD , as usual.

The next day , Sunday, the girls went for a LOONNNGGGG  paddle in the Players' peddle canoes , whilst Geoff Player and Capt Barry cleaned and  prepared some fishing tackle. Capt Barry was able to clean the larger tender and clean out his rope locker ( long description for "dicking around" ).

Capt Barry went over to SILVER MINX for a quick breaky of toast and coffee, then Capts Geoff and Barry went in search of the girls in the large tender.

After finding the girls a couple of bays away, they asked for a tow back to the larger boats as the wind had picked up and they wanted the easy ride. So Capt Barry tied them in line astern and towed them back at about 10 kts.

After returning to the larger boats, we decided to visit   Langford Island , in the larger tender, for a walk. Langford Island was   about three NM to our west, so not far to go, even in the choppy , windy conditions.

We managed a speed of about 15 kts without getting too wet,  and Geoff volunteered to wade out  shoulder depth from the beach to plant the  tenders anchor, about  10 m off shore, and was rewarded with a large turtle swimming his way.

The large tender  bobbed into the 15 to 20 kt wind as we walked along the beach and back (with Capt Barry checking on its location every 5 mins or so - and expecting to swim for it ). Thankfully the anchor did not drag.

Whilst away at Langford Island , we observed  a 70 foot motor vessel, named "HILLSY", join the several vessels anchored off the beach near where LAST WORD and  SILVER MINX were stationed.

 After returning to the larger boats, the four of us polished off rear admiral Julie's chicken pasta, for lunch, then we repaired to our own vessels for some quiet time.

Capt Barry was repairing a tear  in the track that locates the top of the  small clear on the fly bridge ( that allows the top hatch to be left open in all weather conditions) and noticed that one of the vessels , HILLSY ", anchored nearby, seemed to be dragging its anchor.

Capt Barry asked rear admiral Julie , who was not sure, and yelled out to check with Capt Geoff on nearby SILVER MINX. Not being sure whether it was dragging Capt Barry decided to finish the repair at hand, and keep an eye on HILLSY.

Sure enough , HILLSY was dragging its anchor , and at a growing pace.

After completing the repair rear admiral Julie ordered Capt Barry to launch the tender and go secure HILLSY.

Capt Barry took off and approached the stern of HILLSY ( then in 24 m of water - as opposed to the 12 m it anchored  ) ,  and yelled a loud "AHOY THERE " . This  resulted in two  crew appearing ( with there uniforms on ) from the fly bridge , followed by some guests / owners .

Capt Barry suggested they may want to check their location , and informed them they had dragged their anchor about HALF A NAUTICAL MILE, and would be on the shoals just south of Hayman Island in about another ten minutes at their present rate of progress.

A rather embarrassed crew member waved his thanks and they retrieved some anchor chain and went back to their original anchor location and anchored again, I WOULD SUGGEST WITH A LOT MORE ANCHOR CHAIN OUT THIS TIME.

HILLSY back at anchor

 That evening we enjoyed a lovely sunset followed by  calamari and poached salmon on board SILVER MINX, and an early night. By the way, our dolphin returned to swim around the stern of LAST WORD.

trip  : 1.8 hours and 70 L, av 10 kts and 33 L/HR

segment 35: Crayfish Bay to Hamilton Island

segment  35: Crayfish Bay to Hamilton Island and down time at Hamilton Island
Thursday 11 and Friday  12 October 2012, 6 NM

It was predicted to blow from the SE for the next several days , and we needed to go to Hamilton Island to drop off Graeme for him to catch the plane back to Surfers Paradise, so we made the most of the morning.

 Graeme took the girls to the beach for a walk, whilst Geoff Player launched his tender, and came across to LAST WORD  for a cup of coffee and a chat.

Graeme and the girls joined us for tea and toast ( breaky ) , and we handed over our supplies of bait ( for NEP ) and some other items , took a list of food items required by SILVER MINX , and  made arrangements to meet up again in a couple of days.

LAST WORD took  SILVER MINX'S rubbish, and as the wind had come up ( as predicted) and Geoff and Vicki had to row back , Graeme and Capt Barry grabbed the leader rope of their tender and gave them a speedy start by running up the side of LAST WORD and launching their tender at about 5 knots into the wind, towards SILVER MINX.

SILVER MINX lifted anchor and headed to Nara Inlet to wait out the predicted winds and LAST WORD lifted anchor and headed back to Hamilton Island.

Berthing LAST WORD  was a little exciting , as Capt Barry accidentally  put the starboaRd motor in forward gear ( after getting into the berth and the rear port rope on the cleat ) and nearly swung LAST WORD'S aft starboard corner  into the neighbouring berthed vessel, in slow motion.

Capt Barry realised what was happening, in time, and took the motor out of gear before they touched, and all was ok. It emphasised the value of having a buffer on the other side ( which Capt Barry had put on LAST WORD before the berthing ) just in case one muffs a berthing , which happens to honest Capt's from time to time.

Whilst Capt Barry gave LAST WORD  a bath. rear admiral Julie worked on the Bead Them UP website AGAIN.

Later that evening we walked around the other side of Hamilton Island for dinner, then returned for a DVD ( Men in Black 3 ) , and Graeme tuned the TV antenna.

The next morning Graeme checked into his flight and printed his boarding pass, and then Graeme and Capt Barry stretched their legs by walking  around to the new yacht club building , and Capt Barry visited the chandlery shop for some odds and ends.

To fill in the morning Capt Barry polished some stainless steel , did a small bit of polishing the gelcoat and some share trading, then Graeme and Capt Barry walked to the airport for Graeme's flight.

Rear admiral Julie worked all day on her Bead Them Up business and Capt Barry visited some other boaties for a catch up.

Later that evening Capt Barry blogged , and rear admiral Julie cooked mackerel fish cakes for dinner.

Capt Barry surfed the web and discovered that Brisbane and Sydney were copping filthy  weather, and that it had snowed in the southern highlands, just south of Sydney and the ACT.

TRIP 6 nm , 0.8 HRS AND 30 l

Saturday, 20 October 2012

segment 34: Mackerel Bay to Whitehaven Beach to Crayfish Bay

WED. 11 OCTOBER 2012 

Rear admiral Julie was first up at 6.15 am and Capt Barry surfaced at 7.00am  and Graeme shortly thereafter. It promised to be another sunny day.

We started the day with the genset on for an hour or so to process a load of washing and drying, and then Capt Barry visited SILVER MINX to discuss plans for the day.


The plan was  to up-anchor and make our way to Whitehaven Beach ( as Graeme had not been there) , and when the tied came up,  Capt Barry was to launch the large tender so we could all venture up Hill Inlet and sink the crab pots.

The passage to Whitehaven was lovely. The seas were calm ,  the sun was out , and the wind was about 10 kts.


Capt Barry and Graeme  in relaxed mode.

a plug in the top of Whitsunday Island

LAST WORD  arrived first and selected a anchor point about 400 m off shore , in about 5 m of water , about half way down Whitehaven Beach, just as the wind kicked up to about 18 to 20 kts from the NE.

As LAST WORD was rolling about a fair bit,  Capt Barry decided not to launch the large tender. So we tossed over the small tender and added the 3 hp motor. Graeme insisted we fill the integral fuel tank, as he did not want to run out of fuel and have to row back in the  strong wind.

Rear admiral Julie , Graeme and Capt Barry piled aboard the small tender , and we made it ashore without getting too wet.

Graeme and Capt Barry lifted the tender well up the beach and employed the cork screw anchor ( as the  tide was on the rise ( about 3 m ) , and we intended  to be  ashore for some time as we planned a long walk to the northern end of the beach .

Capt Barry getting the cork screw anchor ready to bury

Julie collecting shells


We went right up the beach to Hill Inlet ( which at low tide is only accessible to small craft ) and took pics of the sand and creatures at work on the beach.

We waded out into the water ( which at high tide would be up to 4 m under water, and at one point , Capt Barry expressed the idea that wading through the shallows was not a bright idea, as we may step on a stingray. At that point we all stopped, and Capt Barry pointed out a strange formation in the sand about 2 feet in front of Graeme. While we were all standing still examining what it might be, it suddenly revealed itself as a medium size stingray and scooted  away from us.

Capt Barry's comment must have been some sort of  divine intervention , as one more step and Graeme would have had a very sore foot. A stingray barb inflicts a very painful injury.


save me from the BIG BAD ray , my HANDSOME  CAPYTAN

After that close encounter we  took a closely examined shortcut out of the shallows and onto dry land.

By the time we arrived back at the tender SILVER MINX had anchored next to LAST WORD and the wind was blowing 20+ kts.

LAST WORD  and  SILVER MINX rolling  at anchor off Whitehaven Beach

We telephoned Geoff and Vicki ( on SILVER MINX ) and decided to up anchor and proceed through Solway Passage to the southern side of Whitsunday Island in search of a more protected anchorage at either Chance Bay , Crayfish Bay or Turtle Bay.

Just before up anchoring, Capt Barry dived over the back of the boat to check out the blue underwater lights, and clean the middle one which had a slight clear crusty growth over it.

After Capt Barry's quick swim,  we managed to retrieve our anchor , which took a bit of manoeuvring due to the strong wind,  and get under way.

leaving Whitehaven  and the turbulence behind

For those not familiar with Solway Passage , it is very turbulent patch water, due to the sudden changes in depth.
One minute you are in 60 m then 6 m then 129 m then back to 15 m, and on top of that the passage between Whitsunday Island and Hasle Wood Island is very narrow , and funnels the water into a narrow passage ( for a potentially huge , ie 4 m , tide variation to pass through )  and immediately to the south end  of the passage lies Teague Island and Frith Rock.
As LAST WORD  negotiated the passage and surrounding waters our speed went from 8 kts to 12.5 knots to 10 knots  , without any change in engine revs, and one could feel the boat being pulled sideways at various points , in the turbulent waters.

the bottom is all over the place and rises and drops sharly

After negotiating the passage LAST WORD  anchored in Crayfish Bay, and Capt Barry whipped out a rod and caught a grassy emperor, whilst waiting for SILVER MINX.

We were invited on board SILVER MINX  for a twilight sail and troll , a not to be missed experience, and so we once again launched the small tender with 3 hp motor (which travels up on the boarding platform when making small passages), and headed over to SILVER MINX.

How LAST WORD carries the small tender for short trips. Easy to launch and retrieve , and the soft bottom is not likely to get punctured  being dragged behind

leaving LAST WORD  on anchor at Crayfish Bay as we set off for a twilight sail and troll on board SILVER MINX
 We enjoyed some music and a drink or two and trolled to , around and back from Surprise Rock. We even had a good strike, but alas, the fish escaped being properly snared and lived to bite another day.

Capts Barry and Geoff on SILVER MINX . A drink is essential in the warmer climate

The twilight sails are very relaxing .

round we go and .......

watch the rocks change colour in the setting sun

Pentecost Island to the right of centre  

the sun,...........going 



After returning to Crayfish Bay , Capt Geoff ( aka NEP ) anchored close to LAST WORD , and we settled into a fab meal of calamari, red emperor and salad .... with more fine wine ....of course. The fish were all caught by NEP , prepared and cooked by NEP , and of course,  sensational.


Thursday, 18 October 2012

segment 33: Cape Gloucester to Airlie Beach

Segment 33 : Cape Gloucester to Airlie Beach  25 NM,  then 
Airlie Beach to Mackerel Bay ( North Eastern part of Hook  Island)  22 NM
Tuesday 9 October 2012

Everyone was up early as the night was VERY ROLLY with the swell of about 1/2 to 1 M from the west.

We let the mooring go at 7.30 am , and headed around Passage Islet ( Shag Islet ) and into Gloucester Passage , which was as still as a mill pond. Amazing what difference it is to be anchored in the lee of an island or bay.

passing through Gloucester Passage where the anchoring was perfect, being protected from the swell.

We would have anchored there if the swell was present when we picked up the mooring or if we had not arrived back at the boat after dark, but we were not prepared to move to the better anchorage after dark and try to negotiate the shallow , twisty passage in the dark and at low tide.

We trolled part way back to Airlie Beach, but without a strike, and arrived at Abel Point Marina at 10.00am.

we trolled around the rocks

the seas were kind once again

Capt Barry had booked a time at the fuel birth for  10.00 am,  and after a short wait for another boat to clear  No 1 bowser,  we entered the leads and went straight to the fuel wharf, where  LAST WORD took on 1700 L (at a 10c discount of $1.66 / L.).

1700 L was what LAST WORD used for the entire 2 week trip from Airlie Beach to Huinchinbrook / Palm Island Group and back to Airlie Beach. Approx. 400 NM , and 38+ L/HR  (for both engines combined and the generator ) at an average of 9 KTS.   Not bad actually.

After fuelling Capt Barry slid LAST WORD back 50 m into berth M00,  and all we did was swap the fenders from starboard to port tie up.

Capt Barry was not expecting to be in Abel Point Marina long (ie a couple of hours only ) , but was hoping to have the starboard engine sea water pump leak looked at / or fixed, and the master suite toilet solenoid valve fixed.

Service people had  been prearranged by Capt Barry, and we were hoping to get away about 3.00pm to join SILVER MINX ( Geoff and Vicki Player) at Mackeral Bay , on the north eastern side of Hook  Island for dinner and some squiding. We needed to be there, as we had 2 kgs of prawns , dips and the wine for dinner.

The resident Cat engine service fellow, David Warby ,  ( from Hastings Deering ) arrived and inspected the starboard impeller, but had to chop out the plastic cam ( which necessitated him driving to Proserpine for a replacement ), and after inspecting the water pump seal behind the impeller, decided to order a replacement water pump under warranty, explaining that a changeover was more efficient than servicing the existing pump seal.

 David then took live oil samples from both engines ( which came back as "A"s for both engines -  see earlier blogs for an explanation of that issue ) and left.
 David explained he would  swap over the sea water pump the next time LAST WORD would be in Airlie beach , in about 2 weeks time, and that there was no issue using the leaking sea water pump in the meanwhile.

While the sea water leak was being inspected, we had organised to have lunch with the marina manager, Richard Barrett , but Capt Barry had to delay his lunch ( and the others went on ahead ) as a marine electrician , Jon, arrived to look at the Tecma toilet solenoid /valve issue.

Despite Capt Barry explaining that this was a repeat problem ( as the valves have been replaced before) and that Capt Barry had done some basic tests to determine that the solenoid was functioning  , and that it appeared that the valve was jammed closed, Jon repeated and did additional  tests , and took the valve assembly back to his work place to look at it more closely.

the culprit solenoid and valve assembly, There is a fine gauze filter in the angled offshoot of brass.

Capt Barry accessing the troublesome solenoid and valve, under the floor , under the master cabin floor.

there's the bugger, . the blue bit is the solenoid, and the brass valve is under that. No wonder Capt Barry needed an neck massage later that evening.
Capt Barry took this oppotunity to join the others for a quick lunch break , and Jon arrived back about 45 mins later saying the valve  was jammed closed on the spring and he had released and cleaned it and it should work fine.

Capt Barry asked if there was a different brand of valve that he could install , but it seemed not that was readily available.

Jon installed the valve, AND IT WORKED FINE..........ONCE.

Capt Barry asked Jon to swap over the two valves and after this was done the toilet seemed to work just fine for several flushes - which fill before emptying ( and still is to this day).

Capt Barry ordered a new solenoid and valve,  as a spare , knowing that it was unlikely to play up again if a spare was on board.

Enquires of ( I should say a complaint to)  AMI the Tecma toilet agent , concerning the apparently faulty valves resulted in the AMI fellow denying there was an issue with the valves, and blaming the water pressure on board LAST WORD as being to high, causing the valves to jam. Capt Barry explained that the pump was a standard issue Flowjet that was rated at 2.8 bar pressure and that the solenoid and valve were rated at 7 bar pressure, but to no avail. Capt Barry will fit a pressure gauge in line to the supply side at some time to get to the bottom of this issue, but not now.

We managed to say good by to Jon and depart the berth later than planned,  at 4.30 pm, knowing that we would arrive, and have to anchor  in the dark, which is always a little tricky when trying to avoid bommies.

We had a great passage east across Whitsunday Passage ( in slightly lumpy seas and a 10 kt winds - all going with the tide, port to starboard )  and enjoyed another spectacular sunset from behind.

Rear admiral Julie did some speed runs , as she was hungry and looking forward  to seeing  the Players again, and we needed to get in front of several sailing yachts that would otherwise  make life difficult if we all approached the narrow passage between Hook and Whitsunday Islands at the same time.

We then made our way through Hook Passage ( between Hook and Whitsunday Islands ) and rounded Hook Island , north towards Mackerel Bay.

We came across SILVER MINX in south Mackerel Bay and anchored about 70 m off  shore,  in 22 m of water, putting out about 58 m of chain.

It was a bit rolly , but  Geoff and Vicki Player came across to LAST WORD by tender,  and we polished off the prawns, dips  and some wine,  then set about the serious business of squiding, from the boarding platform of LAST WORD.

The squiding was quite remarkable that evening. The  water was particularly clear in LAST WORD'S  purplish, blue, underwater LEDs.

There were several hundred small school fish , called  hardy heads, just swimming around lazily in the lights , whilst several schools of squid, with about 50 to 80 squid per school , and each squid being about 250 to 300 mm long, just zipping through the hardy heads,  presumably feeding upon them.

Several of the squid would  flash bluey / white ( ie luminess ??? ) every so often as they passed through the middle of the hardy heads , and we assumed ( as the hardy heads were becoming noticeably less in number as time passed ) that the squid  flashed like this when  they grabbed a fish.

The whole show was absolutely spell binding , like an orchestra of fish and squid, and had us all out the back watching for about an hour.

Geoff (NEP ) Player, armed himself with one of Capt Barry's squid jigs, and caught several good sized squid, but at a price.

As the squid were caught,  and brought out of the water, they - to a squid - squirted their black ink ( quite well directed actually ) at various targets.

Geoff's  NEW WHITE T shirt was the prime target, but Graeme and Capt Barry managed to suffer  hits as well.

Capt Barry, ( reacting to Vicky's observation that NEP was in one of his good T shirts ),  immediately ordered Geoff out of his good T shirt and into one of Capt Barry's older T shirts ( squid ink in colour), but a little to late.

Rear admiral Julie soaked Geoff's T shirt for 2 days then washed it, but there are still  faint black marks. Capt Barry suspects that this T shirt is now part of  NEP's squid tackle / attire .

We retired after catching a feed of squid , and the next morning,  Graeme discovered black ink sprayed over the starboard corner of LAST WORD'S gelcoat where the steps go up from the boarding platform. It washed off  relatively easily, thank heavens.

TRIP: Cape Gloucester to Airlie Beach, 25 NM, 3 HRS, 128 L/total,  av 8.2 kts and av 42 L/HR total.

TRIP: Airlie Beach to Mackerel Bay/Hook Island. 22 NM, 2.25 HRS, 123 L, Av 10KTS, 58 L/HR/TL.