Saturday, 10 November 2012

Segment 45: Scawfell Island to Mackay ( after a false start to Island Head Creek)

Segment 45: Scawfell Island  to Mackay ( after a false start to Island Head Creek).
Monday 5th November 2012,  27 NM

LAST WORD was anchored in Refuge Bay , Scawfell Island and it was a pretty windy night , with bullets of wind between  18  to 22 kts   from the valley between the Island peaks.

Capt Barry was up at 5.30am and Phillip soon after. We had planned a long trip to Island Head Creek , about 110 NM, and  we wanted an early start to make the entrance to Island Head Creek  in the light and on a reasonable tide.

As we had no telephone or internet reception Capt Barry had to rely on the information downloaded late afternoon of  the day before, and he was expecting today and  the next day  to be windy , between 18 and 25  from the SE with  seas between 1.7 and 2.2 m, and a swell of 2m.

Capt Barry discussed the conditions with Phillip, who was rearing to go, so we decided that if it was too unpleasant we would just turn back and overnight at Scawfell Is.  and use one of our lay days relaxing at Scawfell ( even if it was somewhat rolly in the wind and swell that wrapped around the bay).

We started to raise the anchor and Capt Barry did a silly thing and lost the snubber extension when he let one end of the bridle go instead of bringing both ends onboard . Capt Barry was using a bridle with a sliding snubber mid piece ( instead of the more usual single piece snubber through the anchor cradle )  , to give Phil a quieter nights  sleep in the windy conditions.

Capt Barry did not even think of diving over board to retrieve the red snubber, which he watched slowly sink, pulled down by the stainless clip. Probably, subconsciously , Capt Barry was concerned by the number of killer turtles we had seen surfacing near LAST WORD.


We stowed the anchor in the windy conditions, and left  Refuge Bay just after at 6.00 am. LAST WORD rounded the north eastern claw of Scawfell Island and Capt Barry set a course for the Percy Islands, which we intended to pass on route to Island Head Creek.

As soon as we cleared Scawfell Island we hit 2 to 3 m seas, only 4 seconds  apart, from the E - SE and encountered  a 20 kt head wind. It was  tough going......... up and down,  crashing into the next wave before finishing going down the prior wave. In short not very comfortable.

Capt Barry told Phil ( who was looking a little anxious )  that the ride  should improve when we make the slight course change at the next way point , as we would then  take the waves at a slight angle which  would stretch out the waves, as it was the shortness of the period between the waves that was the issue, not the height of the waves.

After about twenty minutes we reached the next way point and made the course change. However, things did not get better they just changed. ie instead of crashing into the following wave LAST WORD  rolled. a little.

 In fact Capt Barry commented  to Phil that LAST WORD seemed to be rolling more than usual, but LAST WORD  and Capt barry had been in far worse , and the boat was not in any danger of rolling over..

We persisted for about 10 mins, and Capt Barry asked Phil if he would prefer to return to Refuge Bay at Scawfell Island for a day or so until the last reported winds and bigger seas settled somewhat.

 Capt Barry explained that even if we kept heading  for the Percy Islands with a view to staying there overnight ,  they offered little shelter in such conditions , and the night stop over would not be comfortable.

Phil left the decision to Capt Barry , so Capt Barry turned LAST WORD around,  in the big seas , and we returned to Scawfell Island,  and anchored in our recently vacated spot, about 7.30 am.

The return trip was much more pleasant , with the seas at an angle and from behind , but still more rolly than Capt Barry expected.

Capt Barry mentioned to crewman Phil, that he was not sure what the two other vessel skippers anchored in Refuge Bay would have made of our return ,but they did not leave that morning.

After re anchoring, Capt Barry went below to do the usual laz and engine room checks and noticed a small sea water and oil leak from the starboard engine raw water pump that head been replaced or re built a week earlier.  Capt Barry discussed this issue with Phil , and explained that without telephone reception he could not discuss the issue with his mechanics, to assess the seriousness of the leaks, and as we were headed south for about 350 nm without mechanical and /or parts  services  , the issue should be canvassed  first. Accordingly Capt Barry recommended setting course for Mackay ( about 23 NM WSW, and in the wrong direction ,  and after getting a telephone signal and talking to the mechanics , we would either continue to head into Mackay for the necessary repairs ( and take on fuel ), or if it was not a serious issue, turn around and go back to Scawfell Island for the remainder of the day and overnight to reduce the distance to Island Head Creek , the next day.



So, once again that morning we up anchored ( keeping the snubber this time ) and about 6 NM out off Scawfell Island, on route for Mackay, Capt Barry acquired a telephone signal and phoned his  mechanic ( resident at Airlie Beach )  who recommended continuing to Mackay where they would look at the water and oil leak and further advise.

LAST WORD travelled reasonably comfortably in the 2 to  3 m seas , which were coming from 9 o'clock port side on to  us , but still rolled more than Capt Barry expected , which again he commented on to crewman Phil.

We arrived at Mackay Harbour Marina about 10.00am , and proceeded directly to the fuel wharf and filled up then proceeded to berth Z25, the same berth LAST WORD was allocated three months earlier on the way north.


We berthed in a 15 kt,  blow off wind , and spent about 30 mins giving LAST WORD a quick wash , as we thought we might be there for a day or two.

After washing LAST WORD Capt Barry did some share trading, paper work and we had a sandwich lunch, and crewman Phil fell asleep in a chair on the back deck . Capt Barry woke crewman Phil and sent him to the VIP cabin for a decent sleep before he did his neck in sleeping in the chair.

Whilst Phil slept , Capt Barry spent time with the mechanics from Hastings Deering , discussing the water pump alternatives. Capt Barry also explained that  both the sea water and oil leak did not occur on the last leg from Scawfell Island to Mackay, ( which is always the way, ie leaks when no one is there , and does not leak when the mechanic turns up to look at and asses the leak.

The mechanics explained that the leaks were not a big issue, and were more cosmetic than anything else, but should be fixed ( and they were happy to do so the following day). However, they also said they had a spare , second hand ( 400 hours ) water pump, that they had rebuilt , and  would give  to  Capt Barry  as a spare, if Capt Barry was prepared to do the change, at sea, if required.

Capt Barry went through what was involved with the water pump change and decided that was the best option ( as having a spare appealed to him ).

The mechanics said that  if the leak persisted ( as the ceramic seal may have taken up or the leak may have been the result of some of the oily vaseline used to do the refit, coming out of the seal under heat ) , that Capt Barry should just get it rebuilt or swapped out under warranty at Surfers Paradise ( and keep the spare as a spare). The mechanics also explained that the water pump may not leak further if  the ceramic seal had  taken up or the leak may have been the result of some of the oily vaseline used in  the refit, coming out of the seal under heat.

Capt Barry decided to take the spare option, and bargained a few extra bits and pieces to be delivered the next day.

After the meeting about the water pump, one of the Hastings Deering fellows asked how LAST WORD went at sea , and Capt Barry explained that the vessel was stabilized with WESMAR fins and they were excellent so far as reducing sideways roll. The mechanic asked what they looked like, so Capt Barry took him up the starboard side of LAST WORD  to show him the fin.

Capt Barry could not find the fin despite the water being a clear greeney blue colour.

Of course Capt Barry knew where to look for the fin , as he had shown them to others many times before, but LOW AND BEHOLD.....NO FIN COULD BE FOUND 

Capt Barry was in some state of disbelief and shock , and being a persistent fellow , grabbed his rope hook , extended it to the maximum  11 feet and stuck it under  LAST WORD  and walked the side where the fin should have been . Alas, there was NO FIN , just a small bump where it SHOULD HAVE BEEN.

Capt Barry even checked the port side,  to convince himself LAST WORD  did in fact ( or should have had ) fins.


Capt Barry said goodbye to his mechanics as  he needed  to find his fin.

Capt Barry went inside LAST WORD and made some phone calls to some fin experts , including Walter King , the Sydney  WESMAR agent to  discuss the missing fin and whether LAST WORD needed to be lifted out of the water immediately to ensure water did not enter through the fin hull hole.

Wally asked if LAST WORD had impacted any thing on route , and Capt Barry assured him NO IMPACTS ( even small ones - unless it was something unnoticeable ).

Wally then assured Capt Barry that  fins do not just fall off and described how tough they are and how some fins  , after suffering major  impact just bend back and continue operating. In short Wally assured Capt Barry that  the fin would not be missing and was probably turned towards the keel, otherwise water would be pouring into the boat.

Wally suggested Capt Barry look inside the engine room and tell him if the shaft was still visible , which Capt Barry did and reported it was .

Wally then said , the fin is there go underwater and find it and ring back.

Capt Barry assured Wally that the fin WAS NOT THERE , but agreed to have a swim and a look and report back.

Capt Barry woke crewman Phil, explained the dilemma, and asked Phil to keep watch as Capt Barry slipped into the water , between LAST WORD  and the marina finger to photograph the fin or what was not there.

Before entering the water, Capt Barry  tied the stern of LAST WORD out from the berth finger (to ensure he did  not to get crushed between the finger and LAST WORD  ). Then Capt Barry  slipped on the goggles ,  grabbed the underwater camera and tied some grab ropes off the starboard  rail to assist him climb back out of the water without being scratched on the marina finger marine growth , and entered the water for a look see.


Capt Barry then swam under LAST WORD  to the  other side to check the port fin really existed, and low and behold , it was there, right where it was supposed to be.

Well that solved the dilemma of whether to be lifted out of the water immediately, as LAST WORD was not about to sink.

Capt Barry snapped some pics of the stabilizer shaft then exited the water.

the starboard stabilizer shaft (minus the fin which is supposed to be welded to the shaft )

Capt Barry then rang Wally , the  WESMAR agent , told him that the unlikely had happened , ie the fin was gone, but the shaft was there , and looked in unstressed condition , and  there were no marks on the hull or antifoul, the keel or the props or rudders  to suggest any impact, which supported Capt Barry's position , that there had been no discernible  impact to  the fin.

Capt Barry emailed Wally the pics of the missing fin ,  and Wally said he would send them to WESMAR, in the US  and talk to them overnight about a replacement fin being sent to Surfers Paradise ,ASAP.

After the last discussion with the WESMAR agent, Capt Barry and crewman Phil checked the weather forecasts and decided to go for a walk around the huge marina , to discuss options for the next couple of passages , and in Capt Barry's case re the missing fin, to unwind,  and check out the restaurants for dinner.

Whilst walking along the marina , crewman Phil pointed out the signs near the marina slipway that he could not quite read.

We went closer and read the signs which said , NO SWIMMING ......, BEWARE OF CROCODILES IN THE MARINA AND  SHARKS.

Oh well, probably lucky Capt Barry did not see the sign , other wise no pics of the impossible.

On returning to LAST WORD Capt Barry and crewman Phil spruced up  and went out to a STEAKHOUSE for dinner. Phil bought the food, and Capt Barry the drinks and wine.

During dinner Capt Barry burst out laughing , and when crewman Phil enquired what was so funny, Capt Barry just explained that he could not believe that the fin was missing, and that Capt Barry   nearly convinced himself that LAST WORD   had no fins , and that Capt barry's thinking LAST WORD had fins was   just a SENIOR MOMENT, ie it was better to have lost the fin ( despite the cost and headache that the replacement will involve )  than to have thought LAST WORD  had fins and find out that Capt Barry was delusional.

After returning from dinner. Capt Barry and crewman Phil checked the weather again, and decided that we would stay in the marina tomorrow, and let the wind blow out and the seas die down somewhat.

As we had started the day early we decided to retire for the  evening.

PS.       Capt Barry confesses to waking  up two hours later , about 11.00pm and checking to see if the fin really was missing or it was just a bad dream.

 Alas , no fin was not bad dream, and ..... no .... the fin had not grown back.

TRIP 2.60 hours,   260 L, estimated 37 NM 

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