Monday, July 20, 2009

Coonanglebah (a/k/a Dunk Island)

On Sunday Bill taught Zachary how to change the oil in the generator. The two of them climbed down into the engine room and Bill talked Zach through all the steps. Having that full cast on his arm is not really slowing the kid down. When they were finished Zachary dictated the steps to me and I wrote them in the diary he is keeping for this vacation. He is right-handed and that is the broken arm, so it isn't possible for him to write this entire summer. Now the kid knows how to change the oil in a diesel engine. His dad will have to give him a quiz on this when he gets home.

The insects finally showed up Sunday evening where we were anchored beside Haycock Island in the southern half of the Hitchinbrook Channel. It had been a relaxing few days, but mosquitoes instantly made our decision for us -- we were moving at first light. Thank goodness it was cool enough to be comfortable inside the boat with all the ports and hatches closed up. We checked the tides and determined that rising high tide would peak at 0730 the next morning. By leaving on the rising high tide we would be able to ride the north-setting current all the way out of the long channel. Bill had rigged up a high capacity saltwater pump to wash the anchor chain as we rolled it into the anchor locker. S/V BeBe has the normal saltwater anchor wash on the bow (which I activate from the helm control), but we fully expected the chain to be coated with thick mud after having laid on the bottom of this mangrove river for 5 days. Don't want to get stinky mud down inside the anchor locker. So Bill had prepared the additional heavy-duty pump. This worked perfectly. We let Zachary sleep since this would be a perfectly calm 2+ hours motoring out of the long channel.

Shortly after we set off the linear drive on the autopilot failed again. This is the drive that we just had repaired a few weeks ago. Supposedly they had replaced the clutch; but they were supposed to return the old defective clutch to us and didn't. So we had our doubts as to whether the clutch had been replaced. The "drive stopped" problem was intermittent, so it would require using the drive several days to determine whether it was indeed repaired or not. This long calm channel was the perfect place for Bill to diagnose the problem, so I guess it was providence that it failed again in this perfect place. Bill spent the next 2 hours systematically eliminating one component at a time to diagnose the defective part. First he was thought it was the main course computer; nope, it tested fine. Plus, the rotary chain drive is driven by the same course computer and it always works perfectly. It was a relief to confirm that the course computer is okay because that is a most expensive item to replace. Then he thought it might be the A/B switch that allows us to instantly switch from the linear drive to the rotary chain drive; nope, it tested fine also.

I don't know all the things he tested to diagnose the problem, but he re-wired the linear drive connected to a volt meter and set the volt meter at the helm for me to watch. Sure enough, every time he switched to the linear drive it would first register 12.9 volts and then quickly drop to .01 volts or zero. Eventually Bill figured out that the clutch in the linear drive was drawing too many amps; the course computer would sense the abnormally high amps and then shut off the drive. And now the "new" clutch was burned up because of the excessive amps it had drawn. Bill phoned the Raymarine repair center and talked to the same technician he had been dealing with last month about this drive. The technician admitted they were at fault for not returning the original defective clutch to us and that they would replace the "new" clutch under warranty. In fact, he would try to locate a Raymarine dealer in Cairns and arrange to send them a new clutch and have them replace it for us in Cairns. Wow! That would be great! We aren't counting on that, but it sure would be nice. If it isn't possible for this to be arranged then we will have to ship the entire linear drive back to the service center and wait for its return. Since we will be in the Cairns area for 3 weeks there should be ample time to accomplish this. Since the Raymarine service center for all of Asia is located here in Australia, it is very important that we get this repaired before we leave Australia.

Zachary woke up a few minutes before we exited the Hitchinbrook Channel at 0900. He ate breakfast in the cockpit and immediately developed an active imagination. We have been watching History Channel DVD documentaries about Pearl Harbor and also the HBO DVD series "Band of Brothers" so Zach is into army fights at the moment. He declared war on Australia as a mercenary for some unknown benefactor. The more he killed, the more he would get paid. The cockpit pillows became grenade launchers and machine guns. His bed pillows became tank cannons and bazookas. He used the sport-a-seats as cover from under which he could shoot the enemy. All the stuff he had seen on "Band of Brothers." He asked me if the boat had torpedoes. Obviously that came from Pearl Harbor. He sunk every boat that came into sight and riddled the coast of mainland Australia with all kinds of weaponry. He tried to recruit his grandfather by offering vast sums of money, but Bill said he wouldn't fight with a mercenary. Zach said that I was useless in the battle because I didn't know how to operate any weapons except my hairbrush, which had been turned into a Luger. So I was put in charge of picking off any Australians who made their way within 25 feet of our boat, which wasn't many since Zach did such a thorough job with his heavier weapons. This battle lasted 3 hours. At least it gave him as much exercise as is possible in the cockpit of a boat, as he was constantly jumping from one side of the cockpit to the other to ward off the enemy from both sides.

After a fine beam-reach sail in 15kts of wind, we arrived at Dunk Island at 1245 and anchored in the ultra-shallow, rather exposed anchorage. The charts also indicate the name of this island to be Coonanglebah, but Dunk Island is a lot easier to say so it is better known as Dunk. The anchorage is off a small spit of the island on the western end of the northern side. There are lots of palm trees and a nice resort with its own small flight strip where small airplanes land several times daily. Motor-cats ferry guests to and from the resort all day long. The resort grounds are not open to anyone other than resort guests, but there are separate facilities down the beach for "day guests." Yachties like us are considered day guests. Supposedly, there is a bar, a dive shop and several shops and fast-food establishments at the day guest facilities. We haven't been ashore yet and are not sure if we will visit the island since we don't really need anything. But it is a pretty setting. The boat was rolling pretty badly all night, although all 3 of us tolerated it just fine. The anchorages from here north do not get any better. I don't know how Aaron, Lynn and BeBe are going to handle all this motion at anchor. Hopefully, they will read this and get prepared and be sure to bring the anti-seasickness medication sent by Uncle John.

All three of us spent most of our time at Dunk Island reading our respective books. Zachary is enjoying the Aragon book "Dragon Rider." I have read enough of the chapters to understand the plot and can discuss the book with Zach. It is good that he understands what he is reading enough to form strong opinions about the characters and situations. Hopefully, this will improve his reading comprehension skills over the summer.

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