Mon 1 Oct. 2012: 45 NM.
Capt Barry woke early to do the usual weather and sea state checks.
Originally , Capt Barry had planned three options for David and Rhy. However, the threatened rising wind and seas had called for a reassessment, and Capt Barry had wasted a day of the alternate planned trips by spending a night at Horseshoe Bay , pending the weather picture clarifying itself.
BOM was predicting winds 10 to 20 kts and seas 1.2 to 1.7 m and swell under 1.5m , but rising to 25 to 30 kts Tuesday with seas 2.5 to 3 m.
Buoyweather had seas 0.8 m and winds 15 to 18 kts Mon with Tues. rising seas to 1.7 m at 6 secs and winds 20 to 25 kts.
Capt Barry called a conference meeting and explained that we could stay put for two days or today and then return to Nelly Bay early Tuesday or we could go to one of the Palm Island group Islands now ( and see Hinchinbrook Island about 5 NM away ) and spend the night and return tomorrow, but the return trip would be in 2 m seas and 25 kt winds , ie a bit uncomfortable for three hours or so , but tolerable AND SAFE.
The crew wanted adventure and were all in favour of the trip to the Palm Island group.
So, Capt Barry ordered the anchor up at 10.00 am , and the usual rpm of 1050 ( about 9 kts and 36 L/H/total).
Rear admiral Julie did most of the skippering while Capt Barry read the Fin Review, answered some emails and did some share trading, and we did our first speed run ( for about 15 mins ) to run up oil temperatures and clean out the exhausts after about 90 mins.
Rear admiral Julie spotted some rocks on the charts " Cordelia Rocks " about half way between Magnetic Island and the Palm Island group, and ordered the trolling lines in the water, as LAST WORD was going to circle the rocks , but wide of the 4m deep shoal that surrounded the rocks.
David and Capt Barry set the rods with lures in the water, David grabbed a beer , and rear admiral Julie set the speed to idle, about 7 plus kts , and around Cordelia Rocks we went.
About half way round the rock Capt Barry went forward to look at the charts and rear admiral Julie's course, to check we were not too close to the shoal. After all , one cannot be too care full at sea , and ........ there were two women at the helm, ....... and wedding details - for David's and Rhy's wedding next year - were being discussed ). One does not want to be spending the night on Cordelia Rock over what colour the flowers should be or whether the invitations should be by email ( Capt Barry's idea now he is retired ) or elegantly packaged, but ridiculously priced affairs.
After satisfying himself all was ok, Capt Barry returned to the boarding platform to scare up a fish.
About half way around the rock , which is about 50 m round and 30 m high ( and 10 NM from nowhere ) , we happened upon 4 fellows in a boat, not much bigger than a tinny, anchored on the shoal , fishing. Capt Barry waved to them as we idled past at 7 knots , about 60 m off, and commented to David that he better be alert, as they would not be there unless it was a favourite spot.
WELL, Capt Barry had just returned from the helm ( to find out what colour flowers we were having, this week, for the wedding ) , when he noticed David had the rod out of the rod holder and in his hand yelling ......I HAVE GOT A FISH.
Capt Barry thought David was joking, until he heard the ratchet going berserk and noticed the bend in the rod... (how it did not snap Capt Barry will never know ), and suggested immediately that David tighten the drag to slow the run somewhat or he would be quickly spooled at the rate the line was running out.
David explained that he had the drag on max, and it was then that Capt Barry noted that David may have snagged the shoal at the shallow spot, as it was well up on the lures swimming depth.
David was not sure and yelled out for the boat to be put in neutral , which the rear admiral did immediately. This had the desired effect and the spooling slowed dramatically, and even stopped and continued spasmodically , and David started to play in the fish.
Being convinced that David had a fish, and not the bottom, Capt Barry collected the gaff ( not the piddling, short one, rear admiral Julie purchased for the Capt Barry , BUT THE BIG MOTHER - so he could stay well away from whatever was on the other end of the line, and the pacifier (to pacify the fish on landing it on the boarding platform ) , and fitted the rod holder belt around David's waist.
Capt Barry then suggested David wedge himself into the corner of the boarding platform rails for support, and most important...... RELAX......BREATH EASY.... AND ENJOY THE MOMENT.
Capt Barry then summoned the official photographer, Rhy, who was already on the job, shooting action shots by the millisecond.
Rear admiral Julie even left the helm for a quick look at all the action then returned to the helm to ensure we stayed away from Cordelia Rock, about 60 m away.
Capt Barry offered great support and unparalleled technical guidance to David during the process of him slowly bringing in the fish, between runs , by pointing out that the four fellows in the tinny were only 70 m away and all pointing a watching, ( and probably hoping that the blokes on the big white boat would lose the fish).
After an epic battle, David worked the fish near the boat, until we could see the flashes of white and colour in the blue waters. David also had to instruct that the engines be put in neutral when the fish tied running under the boat.
Eventually Capt Barry opened the gate in the middle of the boarding platform rails and , on first attempt - which amazed Capt Barry considering his last failed attempts with the shark - Capt Barry gaffed the fish under the gills, and ( as instructed by the fellow who sold Capt Barry the gaff ) in one fluid motion , lifted it through the gate and onto the boarding platform
It was a good thing that the laz door was closed or the fish would have ended up in the laz or the engine room.
David closed the gate , to assist keep the fish , a 1.2 m plus SPANISH MACKEREL , from thrashing its way back into the sea, while Capt Barry administered the pacifier.
Capt Barry had some difficulty with this bit ( one tough fish ) and rather than go into chapter and verse , David finished the job whilst Capt Barry held the mackerel.
When the mackerel was pacified Capt Barry tied a string around its tail , put the fish in the fish tank built into the boarding platform and tied the other end to the tank box lid lock for safe keeping.
We then stowed the gear, washed down the boarding platform and got back on course and under way for the Palm Islands.
Of course, there was great celebration on board, and recounting of the catch, during which the fish grew to enormous lengths. David explained that he had just knocked off the top of his first mornings beer when the fish struck, and .....after a suitable pause.........went off to find his beer.
Capt Barry pointed out how the fellows in the tinny must have felt, ie ... they had probably woken early that morning, braved the seas to get to their favourite , secret location, miles from anywhere, and been patiently waiting for hours for some action, when ......from out of nowhere ... this bloody big white plastic boat arrives, drops its lures in the water, does half a circuit of their patch, hooks a big fish right in front of them , lands it, then disappears , all in less than fifteen minutes.
The mood in the boat soon came back to normal and we did a couple of speed runs to get back on track , and soon reached and motored past Great Palm Island for a look.
Great Palm Island , is now inhabited by aborigines , and unfortunately , locals and the guide books advise tourists not to land there as crime is rife.
We also motored past Fantome Island , and consider anchoring at Juno Bay, but kept on going north to Orpheus Island and looked at both Hazard Bay and Pioneer Bay which offer better protection , to get out of the rising wind.
When approaching Pioneer Bay , in 24 m of water, the bottom suddenly rose to 6 m , well out from shore and where there are no charted shoals, and we became a little anxious at this sudden and dramatic rise in the sea floor. Capt Barry handed the helm to David , with instructions to proceed slowly, and went out to the bow to check the water colour and for bombies etc, but saw nothing. Suddenly , but after about another 100m the bottom fell away again, to 24 plus m, and whilst we felt somewhat better , Capt Barry decided to return to Hazard Bay, which is not as deep as Pioneer Bay, to anchor.
Of course we went back over the same shallow patch ,which made us just as anxious.
We could see Hinchinbrook Island about 7 NM distant, but decided not to go there without looking at the weather and seas in the morning.
At 3.30 pm , we dropped anchor in Hazard Bay , a couple of miles south of the Orpheus Island resort , in about 10 m of water , and not far from a large anchored catamaran.
The anchor chain made a rasping sound as it set, and we hoped it was just moving over itself as it set and not scraping on fringing coral , which is close by. Oh well , we will find out when we want to leave, but Capt Barry will NOT be diving on the anchor in these waters.
After checking the boat, and washing down the fishing gear , Capt Barry , with David's assistance, cleaned the mackerel and cut it into steaks and delivered the several large platters of steaks to rear admiral Julie. Julie cut them into even smaller steaks, packaged them into small parcels in snap lock freezer bags and packed them in the freezer.
Food for a month, and then some.
This process took Capt Barry about 40 mins, and Julie another 20 mins. The hardest part was skinning the fish, which is difficult to do on the boarding platform. I think a fish cleaning preparation board will be high on the LAST WORD christmas list.
At 5.00 pm, rear admiral Julie decided it was time for her to do some fishing, so Capt Barry broke out all the fishing gear which included three deck chairs on the boarding platform, as every one joined in, and several bottles of wine and a couple of beers.
Another lovely, calm sunset was enjoyed, drinks in hand, then the serious fun began with fish biting and being caught left, right and centre.
Several different species were brought to the surface , unhooked and returned , but the unlucky good looking bigger ones we kept. Rear admiral Julie caught a large bream , and even Rhy , who at first was not hands on, had a turn and landed two fish in quick succession, one also a good size bream.
Most of the action was had by David who operated out of the starboard corner rail. David hooked what must have been a big fish or a sting ray as there was plenty of action on the rod (and it was not a light rod ) , and one fish he brought to the surface for all to see, just before it broke the line and lived to fight another day.
We retired from fishing , and the girls prepared dinner whilst Capt Barry cleaned more fish, then we watched a movie and went to bed.
The expected wind blew up, 15 to 20 kts during the night and we received light rain.
Capt Barry and David were up at various times during the night checking the anchor , but all was ok.
TRIP. 45 nm, 5.6 hrs, 234 L total, av speed 8 kts per hr , av fuel burn 41 L/H total.