Sunday, 11 November 2012

Segment 46 : Mackay Harbour to Island Head Creek

Segment 46 : Mackay Harbour to Island Head Creek
Wed 7th Nov 2012

Capt Barry and crewman Phil had spent Monday and Tuesday at Mackay Marina , waiting for the engine spares  to be delivered and for the winds and seas  to abate, and   were itching to get under way.

The wind , which had blown about 20 to 25 kts for the last two sand a half  days started to abate during the night , so Capt Barry decided to make an early start and see what conditions were like .

As this passage was about 120 NM , and would take about 11 hours , we woke at 5.30 am to get an early start  and Capt Barry checked the seas and weather on BOM and Buoyweather.  Buoyweather predicting lesser seas and wind than BOM (as usual ) , then Capt Barry checked the tide at Island Head Creek , which was indicating a high of 3.5 m at 1600 hours and a low of 1.2 m at 2246 hours and a high the next morning ( to leave ) of 3.1 m at 5.03 am . ALL GOOD.

After a small breaky we were under way at 6.15am.

Phillip took LAST WORD out of the berth while Capt Barry stowed the ropes and fenders , then  Capt Barry took LAST WORD out of the marina entrance, and set the way points , explaining to Phil how to do so.

Phil at the helm

Capt Barry then logged on with the fill in cover service for VMR Mackay,  which does not commence operations till 8.00am.

LAST WORD sat on 1225 rpm for the first hour and a half, burning 60 L/HR and making about 10.4 kts, then Capt Barry did the first speed run for the day ( 2030 rpm , 18 + kts and 205 L/HR).

VMR Mackay signed on at just after 8.00 am and Capt Barry started a tracking sheet with them , and then asked for clearance to anchor overnight at Island Head Creek.

Island Head Creek is in an area where the army carries out live ammunition firing  exercises , so one needs to ensure it is not closed to  the public before  entering the restricted area.

The VMR fellow was not very informative regarding this issue, so Capt Barry requested the phone number for the Range Control office ( 07 ) 493 55 000, and using the boat phone , made his own enquiries.

The range control officer explained that the army were carrying out exercises involving the firing of live ammunition, from the 4th to the 12th November, but said it would be okay to anchor where LAST WORD  intended to anchor. The officer also explained that a helicopter overflies the area they intend to target for live firing , before each  live fire session commences,   to check there are no vessels  in the area, so if we saw a helicopter, do not be concerned, unless it contacts you .

LAST WORD then received a relayed message from a sailing ship, "MUFFIN" ( via the VMR Mackay ) about a way point to avoid just outside Island Head Creek entrance,  (but no explanation ). So,  Capt Barry plotted the way point,  and marked it on the paper chart and on the Raymarine as an unidentified , isolated danger.

The seas for the first two hours were about 1.2 m  at 4 seconds apart, with a wind around 11 kts, so it was a little up and down , but ok , and Capt Barry promised Phil  it would improve as we passed the Percy Islands.

Phil had a Qwell tablet and used an earplug in one ear supplied by Capt Barry )  , which he said stopped him feeling queasy. Still, Phil visited the flying bridge for some fresh air, every hour or so.

I guess, Phil being a sailor and owning his own sailing yacht , needs to feel the fresh air in his face.

While Phil was on the flying bridge, Capt Barry made some phone calls ( while the Ericsson antenna and router were supplying a signal to the computer and  boat phone , and arranged a replacement switch for the master suite Tecma toilet ( which was playing up ),  checked on progress about a replacement fin for the missing stabilizer fin on the starboard side, downloaded and scanned the financial review, made notes for the next blog , and when the market opened , did some share trading.

During the trip,  Capt Barry did 4 speed runs , which ups the average fuel consumption, and average speed,  but also drops the trip time by about 10 %.

The speed runs are to keep the engines in good order.

As a general rule pleasure boat engines should be  run at 80 % load for 80 % of the time. But, as  Capt Barry utilises them at a much lesser load most of the time ( but above the recommended minimum load of 30% ) the speed runs are done every one to two hours , at a wide open throttle ie 100 % load, for short bursts of 5 minutes or so followed by about 10 to 15 mins at 80 to 85  % load. The speed runs are supposed to clean out the injectors and exhausts and burn up most of the impurities collected  in the engine oil.

There was a rough sea patch around Middle Percy Island, then the seas improved to about 0.7 m at 6 secs at Steep Island , with 2 and a half hours to go.

During the passage we saw two dolphins, and Capt Barry slowed the boat , and  enticed crewman Phil out to the bow to observe one of the dolphins playing in LAST WORD's bow wave. Phil had not experienced this sight before, and  stayed for several minutes,  enjoying a silent communication with one of natures truly fantastic , smiley creatures.

Phil, looking over the bow at the friendly dolphin below.

Phillip's reflection in the water , looking over the starboard  bow of LAST WORD 

dolphins just love to play in the bow wave, and even scratch their back on the bottom of the bow itself.

We made the entrance to Island Head Creek about 5.15 pm and proceeded past, and very close to ,  the three rocks on the western bank that offers the best known channel , for  that 20 mins up the creek and anchored in 6 m with a 2.8m tide.

LAST WORD passing close to the inner most rocks on the western side just inside the wide entrance (where we know reasonably deep water to be ).

up the Creek , on anchor

After such a lengthy passage we quickly rinsed the sea salt off  the back of the boat with  fresh water, then knocked the top off a beer or two , and later that evening we  enjoyed a wine with a pasta dinner, after which Phil watched a DVD and Capt Barry went to bed early.

TRIP : 116 nm, 11.5 HOURS, 875 L, av 10.1 KTS, at 76 L/HR TOTAL.

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