Monday, July 13, 2009

Cape Upstart and up to Magnetic Island

We didn't stay long at Gloucester Island. The next morning we decided to move across the enormous bay and around a tip of land to Queen's Beach. Unfortunately, by the time we reached that tip of land north of Bowen the winds and seas were such that Queen's Beach appeared unpleasant. So we continued onward. The next possible anchorage also did not look appealing in the weather conditions, so we continued onward to Upstart Bay. What started out to be a 12 mile sail tuned into a 58 mile sail.

The guide book described the head of the bay as being the more comfortable and more interesting so we motored the additional 5 miles to the end of the bay. There are supposed to be several creeks and small rivers that empty into Upstart Bay in that area. I don't know what the author of this guide book thinks is appealing about this spot! The winds continued to build overnight and the first thing the next morning we motored back to the entry to Upstart Bay and anchored in Sharks Bay. This was a far more comfortable and pretty anchorage.

The volunteer coast guard started broadcasting inquiries about a small sailboat that was missing long before our arrival at Upstart Bay. Search and rescue helicopters flew over us several times to confirm that none of the 3 boats anchored in Upstart Bay was the missing boat. This small sailboat supposedly did not have a VHF radio and was reported missing by a relative when he did not reach the intended destination on time. After 2 days of searching for this boat it was finally spotted by a helicopter. It was underway and doing just fine. We cannot believe that rescue helicopters had to be dispatched simply because this guy did not have a VHF radio, or even a cell phone for that matter. He could have reported his whereabouts to his relative with a cell phone where he was sailing as this was a close coastal area. We think this sailor should be forced to pay for this search and rescue effort that he caused by being too cheap and/or inconsiderate to report in. If he wasn't going to report in then he shouldn't have told his relative that he would arrive at a specific location by a specific time. Jeeez!

Another American boat arrived at Cape Upstart late Saturday afternoon. This is the first American boat we have seen since arriving in Australia. In fact, this is the first non-Australian or non-New Zealand boat that we have seen since arriving in Australia. It was too rough to put the dinghy into the water in order to go over to say hello, but we talked via radio and learned that they are also headed north up the coast and that they have a 12-year-old boy aboard. They were leaving before sunrise on Sunday morning in hopes of reaching Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island in one day. They thought this was about 60 miles, but the charts indicated this was really 70 miles -- pretty ambitious for a one-day sail with daylight arrival. I woke up at 4:45 a.m. and noticed that their boat was not in the same place. Took me several minutes to realize that I was seeing not their anchor light but their stern light. They were already about 3 miles out of the anchorage. Neither Bill nor I felt like going back to sleep so decided to weigh anchor and follow them.

This was a great day of sailing. We poled out the jib and dropped in a fishing line while Zachary slept in the cockpit. When he was finally good and awake he played DS and was happy as a clam. He used both DS units and set them side-by-side to transfer characters between games.

Several times the reel spun out as if we had a bite but each time the fish managed to spit out the lure. Note that these lures have 3 treble hooks so I don't know how the fish manage to get these lures out of their mouths once hooked, but they do. Once Bill had a real fighter on the line and he said it felt like a big one. But less than half-way in the fish managed to get free of the hooks. Finally, though, we got a solid bite!

Zach got all excited as Bill reeled in the fish and gaffed it. Zach says he caught this fish because we wouldn't have had a line in the water if it wasn't for him. By this time I had furled in the jib and had the engine running. We do this every time we catch a fish so that the boat will slow down and make it less difficult for Bill to reel it in. I held the rod while Bill held the gaffed fish and Zachary got the squirt bottle of alcohol out of the tackle box. Zach was also able to use the autopilot to change course to make it less rolly and to adjust the throttle. Glad he is a fast learner.

Zach didn't know about the little alcohol trick. We squirted alcohol into the fish's mouth and gills and he instantly stopped fighting. I explained to Zach that the fish was not yet dead, but the alcohol stuns the fish for awhile and makes it quit moving so Bill could run a line through its mouth and gills to use to hold the fish. Bill tied the line to a halyard and raised the fish on the side of the boat. Made a good place to gut it and let the innards drop straight down into the water. Would have been perfect if this had been the leeward side instead of the windward side. I brought up the large wooden cutting board and Bill filleted the fish on the mizzen deck. Then he tossed the head and spine overboard. I thought this method worked better than any other place we have tried cleaning fish. Bill thought it was still messy so I dont' know if he will try it this way again.

First fish caught since our arrival in Australian waters, and it was a decent-sized Spanish mackerel -- about 15 pounds.

The other boat (S/V Espirit with Shea, Katie and son Jamie) was smaller than BeBe and sailed slightly slower. We passed them while dealing with bringing in the fish, and we talked via radio several times and learned they left San Diego 6 years ago. They decided to stop at Cape Cleveland but we pressed onward to Horseshoe Bay on the northern side of Magnetic Island. Ended up sailing just over 70 miles today and Zach tolerated it nicely. Catching the fish helped a lot to alleviate boredom.

This is a very nice anchorage, probably the best anchorage we have seen since arriving in Australia. Winds are predicted to change direction and be very light from the north to northwest and then back around north again and then back to southeast. This wind variation will take several days but never at high speeds. So being anchored on the northern side of this island during northly winds doesn't worry us since the winds aren't predicted to be any higher than 7 knots. S/V Espirit arrived in Horseshoe Bay around noon today. We have invited them over for a fish fry tonight and Zach will get to meet a new friend. We plan to stay here until Thursday morning so they should enjoy a few days playing together.

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