|Pittwater||Gosford||Hawkesbury River||Port Stephens||Newcastle|
|Foster||Crowdy Heads||Port Macquarie||Trial Bay||Coffs Harbour|
|Southport||Manly||Mooloolaba||Wide Bay||Mary River|
|Urangan||Bundaberg||1770||Gladstone Marina||Keppel Islands|
|Pan-Pan||Aisha Luka||Port Clinton||Percy's||Mackay|
|Brampton Island||Cid Harbour||Poole Island||Bowen||Magnetic Island|
|Palm Island||Hinchinbrook||Dunk Island||Innisfail||Fitzroy Island|
Three days after purchasing “Gently”
on the 15th March 1990 I sailed her through Sydney Heads at 0800
hrs having first motored after a very interesting day beforehand extracting
myself from the Sydney Harbour Spit Bridge area.
So from Spring Cove near Manly, Gently and I headed into what turned out to be a hard slog with a 15-knot N/E on the nose to start with.
Around 11 a.m. I reefed the main sail and reduced the jib as a storm approached from over Sydney City. The sky darkened and we had only made the Five Mile Reef by 1300 hrs, so I decided to return to Spring Cove, arriving at 1630 hrs.
Thus my journey up the East Coast of Australia had commenced. It was to continue till I reached Port Douglas in North Queensland on the 27th July 1991; this is a copy of Gently’s Log.
On the 16th March 1990 the radio advised a storm warning with South Easterly winds so while waiting I spent many hours testing the compass using the hand held compass Karl had so kindly donated, I found the main compass to be 11 degrees out.
I had shredded the skin off my hands during my first attempt to raise the main sail, having not twigged that the luff wasn’t correctly in the track, the hands were now giving quite considerable pain, and so the day resting didn’t go amiss.
Awoke at 2 a.m. and set sail by 5
a.m. on the 17th March with my second attempt to clear harbour. By
7.30 a.m. on yet my second attempt that morning, with the motor running flat
out, somehow we managed to beat the tide and away north we headed,
By 11.30 a.m. in very light airs, the main broached and thereafter required constant attention even after installing a preventer. The main sheet-block broke; the cleat part by the tiller had parted.
The Royal Australian Navy Ship 04
broke my boredom by cruising very close in at a great rate of knots, giving
out a few very large bow waves and a churned up sea to ride.
Her ships Skipper stood on his fly bridge as I made hand signs of wave motions and saluted on his approach.
All afternoon the wind increased, rising to around 20 knots off Pittwater, Three times I’d tacked out to sea to clear the headland, however Gently handed the seas very well. My hands were bleeding quite badly though.
In the morning (18th) I
motored across the bay and telephoned Clarence and Janet. Clarence came
straight down for the days sail around Brisbane Waters and up to Gosford.
The sailing went well with the wind rising to around thirty knots requiring a reefed main and also a small jib to be set.
On arrival at the marina we had quite a hard time docking as the wind had got right up. That night Janet cooked a wonderful dinner, which was my first real meal in two weeks.
22nd March I cleared Gosford at 1300 hrs and made Box Head by 5 p.m., however because of the weather I needed to return behind Little Box Head and anchored at 7.15 p.m. due to light airs, I’d been unable to clear 3rd and 1st Point and also I’d only just cleared Rip Bridge on the way out.
On the 23rd I cleared Box Head at about 7 a.m. with light airs all morning. Around 11 a.m. the spinnaker pole mast cleat broke off. All afternoon we had light easterlies, making station off Swansea bar according to New Zealand Radio time 12 p.m. / 10 p.m. Aust standard time I guessed.
The ABC forecast offered a storm
warning and as the tide still had over two hours to run out over the bar, I
decided to return to Pittwater arriving very tired at 4.10 a.m. on the 24th.
21 hours without sleep. I had of course really had it by then, I was feeling
quite upset and pissed off.
No doubt with a lot yet to learn about coastal passage making and single-handed sailing without self-steering.
I slept and refuelled quite early, scoffing two pies at the nearby store, before heading up the Hawkesbury_River. By 9 a.m. using the outboard, as there wasn’t any wind at all, never mind the storm that had been forecast, I visited Mullet Creek, Wiseman Ferry Crossing and Paradise Point.
29th April at 2 a.m. I
sailed from Spencer for fuel from Brooklyn Marina and by 10 a.m. I set sail
for Port_Stephens with very good sailing till 9
p.m. when 40 to 50 knots came along.
The mainsheet shackle broke. However I was able to fix it and while pulling in the jib sheet the jib ripped in at least six pieces.
Starting the 8 hp Johnson outboard, I motored for shelter in Port Newcastle in very rough seas which took 1½ hours, Arriving just on midnight, very tired yet however safe, having dodged amongst quite a lot of shipping I’d made it to the Customs Jetty. Back
While in Newcastle I berthed alongside a Japanese couple that had purchased a 25-foot yacht in Australia and were without clearance, heading for Japan. Later I heard news that they had made New Caledonia.
A really kind sail-maker Craig, swapped two of my three spinnakers for a new well-constructed jib off his own yacht, and I fitted a trailer-sailor-furler for the jib to insure I didn’t have to go forrard during future blows.
Sailed for Port Stephens on the 2nd May at 5.30 a.m. and arrived after really good sailing weather by 4 p.m.
The next morning 3rd May at 1.30 a.m. I departed for Foster / Tuncurry with good south/south-westerly winds and after enjoying a really good sail I arrived by 4 p.m. feeling really great about the new jib and furler, which had made it really good sailing all round, without the need to go on deck for anything.
The next day I managed to arrange a haul-out with the Fish Co-op Slipway and removed a ton of weed from the bottom of the keel.
Gently had been cleaned alongside a wharf before purchase. However the last couple of feet hadn’t seen a clean in many years. I painted two coats of copper anti-fouling and replaced the zinc anode. Her hull seemed perfect.
Slipping again back into the tide on the 5th I departed with Geoffrey Griffin on board for Crowdy_Heads, light airs so the motor chugged it’s heart out all day.
Spent three days in Crowdy Heads before heading for Camden Haven. A 20-knot N/E turned up around midday. Making the bar well before the flood tide had started, I managed to cross safely. Janelle & baby went out for a short sail.
On the 21st May I sailed for Port_Macquarie at 10.30 a.m. arriving after a good sail in 15 to 20 knot S/W, with large rolling waves topping off a good day surfing/ sailing and by 2.50 p.m. Tied-up in down town Port Macquarie.
With the dawn at 5.30 a.m. on the 26th May I departed for Trial_Bay arriving during a cloudy sunset at 4.30 p.m., having enjoyed good s/w 10 to 15 knots all day which only dropped off around Smoky Cape. I then had my first cup of coffee on what was a cold cloudy day otherwise. Back
At 5.15 a.m. on the 27th May I departed for Coffs_Harbour. As daylight came large black storm clouds showed all round, black as pitch. Soon heavy rain poured down and I reefed the main, sailing the remainder of the day reefed in this way. I lay close to the coast past Valla Beach waving to Tina White then on past Urunga, till clouds and heavy rain obscured all vision including sight of land. The weather remained that way for the remainder of the day. Using the compass only, I reached Coffs Harbour around 3.30 p.m. with the ABC radio advising a full gale warning.
I enjoyed lying alongside the marina
as the full gale raged all night and it was to be three days before the sun
Three unfortunate yachts had attempted to shelter in Trial Bay and were in great danger off Coffs, As well the tall ship Endeavour made port with some thirty young Lasses on board,
I dip my lid to her skipper who safely made port.
At 4 a.m. on the 3rd of
June I headed for Yamba some 57 miles north, on rounding
South Solitary Island I became stuck on two fish traps for a while.
I tried to fire a flare to attract the attention of nearby fishing boats, as I didn’t have a radio to call them. The flares wouldn’t however fire, as perhaps they had got damp or were too old! I managed to free myself and (bugger me) got caught on another trap straight away. Managed again to get free. However it was quite worrying laying beam-to in those seas.
For the remainder of the day I enjoyed good winds and anchored at 8.15 p.m. having motored for the last hour as the wind had dropped right off. Also I spotted close by two whales returning south while in passage.
On the 4th I attempted to cross out over the bar to head for Ballina, gave up, and on the 5th June crossed safely with s/w to s/e winds, Gently making good time with a reefed main in a big swell. Came across really big seas four miles to sea off Evans Head shoals; otherwise enjoyed a very quick passage.
The Ballina bar gave me a heck of a fright and I aborted and turned back to sea when the sea broke around me during entry.The sky offered a sad sight, so I attempted to make sea room thinking of Cape Baron. However that didn’t look like a good idea, so I committed boat and body in a second attempt to cross the bar.
We made it thankfully and a chap named “Les” at the RSL who had come from Upper Lansdowne in the past, kindly helped me to get quite drunk.
On the 6th June around midday I sailed from the Ballina RSL wharf for Lismore having arranged for the Pacific Highway Bridge at Wardell to be opened for my passage between 4 and 4.30 p.m. which happened, and then I motored for an anchorage off Pelican Island. However I didn’t get much sleep though the night because of strong wind and very heavy rain, been in a river was quite comforting compared to the ocean in that weather.
Around 7.45 a.m. on the 7th
June I started off up river under sail, managing to just clear Woodburn
I sailed off and on in SE winds, up to the new bridge at Coraki,
finding at that time that I was unable to pass underneath.
A full gale warning was still current at sea, so I wasn’t at all unhappy. At 5 p.m. the river dropped enough and I managed to pass under the bridge going backwards carefully. Back
At 8 a.m. on the 8th I set sail from Coraki for Lismore proper, motoring nearly all the way. The wind raged to such an extent that I was unable to use the sails so I motored all the way to Lismore arriving on the last drop of fuel.
Friends Karma, Carol and Karchung Phuntsok joined Gently and after withdrawing my last $8 from the bank we headed back down river for Coraki from where my guests departed to hitch back to their car.
I ran aground near Woodburn and the Ballina Police launch kindly towed me clear, I had sailed onto an old ballast dumping ground made by old sugar ships, a buoy marked the dump. (Unimportant according to Gently’s skipper at the time)
As I had to meet with a bench full of liars in South Australia, I left Gently at anchor in a creek near Ballina Marina and headed south on foot.
When I returned on the 19th of September 1990, a chap called Tony had tied Gently up and charged me $75 for his trouble, I found four pulleys had been stolen as well and it was evident the rudder had taken a knock or two. The anchor had let go according to Tony.
None the less by 6.30 a.m. on the 20th
Sept I headed for Brunswick_Heads with no wind
showing till after 10 a.m. It took a bit to manage as I became quite sea sick
with all the flopping about.
The remainder of the day saw winds on the bow, however I made Brunswick Heads by late afternoon. On entry I got spun around as I was driven by a wave while entering over the bar. Thought Gently was going over before she broached.
On the 22nd September at
8 a.m., I sailed for the Tweed bar, motoring for the first hour or so before a
good wind came along, if even still on the bow,
That meant lots of tacking to make way north and indeed the trusted outboard had to churn away for hours before arriving off Tweed Heads at 7 p.m.,
I’d passed in close under the lighthouse through the dangerous reef just before Tweed. For the first time I crossed an unknown bar in the dark, to enter Tweed River proper.
At 7.30 a.m. on the 23rd of September I fuelled and headed for the bar. On approach I hailed a passing Coast Guard launch to inquire as to the state of the bar. The crew offered to escort me over, which they did. However on rounding the last corner I found the bar to be as flat as a pancake.
I enjoyed a good to very good sail
all the way to Southport, reefing the main and
lowering the Genoa just before reaching the bar, which I then had to cross
during an out-going tide.
There were boats and parasailing everywhere and it must rank as part of Disneyland, Back
The day’s sailing was my first really good sail since Sydney just perfect.
On the 24th I headed for
Brisbane’s Bay, through the Southport Water Ways, which necessitated
constant use of the Johnson. Arrived at 4 p.m. on the 25th in the Manly
Marina, to be slugged $15 and a good dose of food poisoning thrown in.
While there I managed to buy a chart at an inflated rate for my cruise north west, and headed the next day for Redcliffe under a strong wind that saw Gently get up and plane for the first and last time.
At 5 a.m. on the 29th September I headed for Mooloolaba in good but light winds from the s/e, enjoyed quite good sailing, arriving Mooloolaba by 4 p.m.
And on the 30th I sailed for Double Island Point just after 7 a.m. in a good 15 to 20 knot wind coming on the stern, arriving at the anchorage at 8 p.m.
A nearby yacht had lost his anchor
during the night, so while assisting the recovery in the morning, I had my
first swim retrieving the anchor and lost chain, the owner and I had coffee
together before parting and I headed the 8½
miles towards the Wide_Bay bar.
Big three-meter seas made an awesome sight trailing your transom, yet I passed safely across the bar in a very narrow passage that didn’t break.
An American yacht coming up my stern needed directions to find the bar as he had light in his eyes by then or something.
While sailing through the Sandy
Straits I found the bottom at 5.30 p.m., gave half
the hull a good clean before getting free, then on the 2nd Sept
sailed into a head wind of 20 to 30 knots across to the entrance of the Mary_River,
arriving around 1 p.m. My anchor became entangled in Barry Rufus’s
It took a lot to recover my anchor, which was quite bent in the process, so we had more than a few beers to get over the trauma of nearly scratching his brand new boat.
3rd October I headed up
the Mary to purchase a new anchor with a 6 a.m. start, arriving at Maryborough
by midday. My purchase was to cost $95 and Barry had spoken to the chap of my
I had to wait for money to arrive but an order had set things in motion. I awaited the next day’s tide to fall so I could stand on the wharf and trim and wrap tape around my shrouds. I received news from Barry via a passing yacht.
On the 4th I motored back down to River Heads arriving around 1 p.m. and, meeting up with Barry and Lyn, we shared a good drink or two.
Sailed at 7 a.m. on the 5th for Moon Point, a good sail and managed to write my log while hard and dry. Also I was able to clean the other side of the hull, completed by 3 p.m. I was hoping to sail for Bundaberg, however a weather change arrived so I headed for Urangan using the outboard, arriving at 11 p.m.
On the 7th October at 7
a.m. I sailed for Burnet Heads, entrance to Port Bundaberg
River, having good wind behind all the way. I arrived at 6 p.m. after firstly
having a problem pin-pointing the river mouth from out at sea. I used one
finger to gauge the distance from a mountaintop to the entrance but
sadly lost my precious and valued jungle hat overboard on the approach. Back
11.45 p.m. On 8th October
1990 I sailed for Round Hill Creek 1770. Winds were
south-easterly to north easterly and from time to time calm with pouring rain.
During the night I heard a loud cracking sound. On tacking out to sea from
laying in a lee shore around 10 a.m. the next morning, I found the inner
shroud had broken.
I had been up all night, however I quickly dropped all sails in case I lost my mast and burnt a flare, which was noticed by an approaching launch which took me in tow. During the tow Gently filled with water above the bunks and it soon became apparent the keel bolts were loose. Launch “A S Rasque” of Melbourne called up the 1770 Coast Guard who met us outside the bar and undertook the tow into the anchorage.
Gently laid against the wharf and the keel tightened using a truck brace. The hull was cleaned and painted.
I attempted repair of the broken shroud with the assistance of a French sailor soon after I had anchored.
His help was much appreciated as was the support given by the people living alongside the wharf who amongst other things, arranged for paint to be brought from Bundaberg.
The 13th October was an
amazing day, I sailed at 5.15 a.m. for Gladstone and arrived at the Gladstone_Marina
by 3 p.m. having wind on my stern and a making tide all the way up the south
To save fees I quickly had a feed and made for Graham Creek 8 miles on towards the Narrows. At the anchorage I found the yacht “Jay Dee” with whom I’d shared the wharf at Crowdy Heads.
We caught up with the past and enjoyed a very good dinner and most of the night together.
1.30 p.m. on the 14th I sailed for the Cattle Crossing in the Narrows, timing my passage start time through for 4 p.m. I sailed with main, jib and outboard through to an anchorage just on the other side arriving right on sun set without any problems.
At 6 a.m. I departed for the Keppel_Islands at which, after a bit of a slog to start with, I managed to arrive 3 p.m. after a good sail and spent a few bob that night enjoying myself.
As a strong wind warning was given on the 16th I sailed across to Yeppoon taking a stand alongside a wharf. This meant sitting on the mud at low tide in the creek there and requiring careful attention during the rise and fall.
On the 18th I motored across to Roslyn Bay for fuel and to get away from the mud. While in Roslyn Bay I purchased a hand held 27 Meg radio for $70, from the skipper of “Snow Goose”. It was my first time owning such a thing. Rain was forecast and on that day I decided to return south to avoid the cyclone season.
So at 4 a.m. on the 20th
with very dark clouds in the sky and a 15-knot N/E I headed south, At 8 am
just off Peak Island the shroud broke again. I motored to Pacific Creek and
again made repairs.
(Noted in log, a total of 26 days sailing days from Taree area) Back
At 7 a.m. on the 21st I
headed for the Cattle Crossing however for the third time the shroud again let
go so I returned to Pacific Creek to make repairs.
A NZ boat gave two clamps and new galvanized a Dutch designed yacht “Luata” donated cable and gratefully I received assistance to tightly crimp the clamps.
6.45 a.m. on the 22nd
October I sailed for Gladstone in light winds after passing through the Cattle
Crossing and having caught the tide correctly. Chris on “Jay Dee” upon
finding me quite sick from exposure to the sun for too long did most of the
work, again repairing the rigging in the Gladstone River.
While there I ran into Jim and Sonny on “Keppel Islands” who I had first met at Port Macquarie, it was good to catch up with them. Sonny mended a jacket for me.
1.45 a.m. on the 24th I sailed for Round Head. Motored for the first 1½ hour, then the wind was very good throughout my passage up the south channel. After the wind turned east getting up around 25 knots, I lost the halyard off the roller at the top of the mast and anchored in Pancake Creek at 11 a.m. Nick off “Mud Skipper” assisted repair with the halyard by bravely climbing the mast.
At 6.45 on the 26th I sailed for Round Hill Creek in a bumpy sea, particularly bad while passing through the rocks off Bustard Head in the 15-knot S/E. I tacked in close to the shore and enjoyed a long reach to within 2 miles of the bar, and then I used the motor for the last mile arriving at 12 p.m.
I had put a screwdriver deep in my
hand during passage. However I enjoyed 1770 and soon had smokes and a
hamburger and chips, made by Bianca.
During my stay at 1770 I had again sanded Gently’s bottom and anti-fouled.
On the 2nd November 1990
at 5 a.m. I sailed from Round Hill 1770 in company of another boat for the
first time. Nick the owner of “Mud Skipper” a wooden H28 and I set sail
We enjoyed a very good sail with north to north west winds all the way, Gently arriving at 4.30 p.m. and Nick some ¾ hours later. I left Gently for yet another trip to South Australia on the piles in Bundaberg proper.
On the 28th December at
midnight I attempted to sail for the Sandy Straits however the wind blew from
the east so I turned around at 2 a.m. and returned to Burnet Heads.
Again at 9 a.m. on the 28th I headed out to sea and found the wind had moved a few points to the north, a pretty good 15 knots. There was a very cloudy sky however with a little rain. I arrived off Moon Point in the dark having sneaked in behind the sand bank north of the point proper.
By 2 a.m. the mosquitoes woke me, so
I had a feed of muesli and sailed at 3.30 a.m. for the Wide Bay bar arriving
at 2.40 p.m. having sailed with the tide all the way in very light airs.
I anchored just as the rain came down short of the bar. Around dusk I attempted to cross the bar but found it got too dark and returned to anchorage.
At 6 a.m. on the 30th
December I motored all the way across the dead flat bar and more than half way
towards Double Island Point in rolling seas without wind. At one stage I lost
my temper and tossed my tobacco over board. Some thing about giving up!
At 7 p.m. from the Double Island Point anchorage I sailed the 45 miles for Mooloolaba as about a 8 knot breeze came up from the east which remained all night till just on dawn when it dropped off all together.
I was by then off Noosa with some 20 miles still to go so I used the motor. However I was very low on fuel (I had purchased a 5 Litres from a chap at Double Island Point).
I drifted along the coast and around
10 a.m. a bloody great cloudbank built up dumping 70-knot winds upon Gently
and me. I quickly dropped all sails and tossed the anchor and what warp I had
overboard. We drifted within 200 yards of the surf break off Marcoola beach,
before the anchor took hold.
I used my hand held radio calling Pan-Pan all ships, but I soon managed to get up some sail and made out to sea quick as lick. Marcoola Surf Life Saving Club, who had a rubber ducky on stand-by, kindly, brought petrol out to me as I again found myself without wind.
An account of this drama appeared in the Sunshine Coast Daily January 1st 1991. The log records I felt very depressed expressing a feeling of being totally out of life on this New Year’s Eve, which I spent along side the Wharf Marina at Mooloolaba watching fireworks alone.
During a three month lay-over in
Mooloolaba, I managed to completely re-rig Gently and was joined by Aisha_Luka
who had appeared in the company of two Tibetan Lamas, At 9.45 a.m. in a 15 to
20 knot southerly to south east wind I managed on the 5th of April
1991, to sail for Double Island Point.
We had a good reach with the Genoa poled most of the way, reaching anchorage at 8 p.m. After having a good sail, Aisha steering most of the way as she was having trouble finding her sea legs and I felt it would help her by been busy. Back
7 a.m. on the 6th of April we sailed for the Wide Bay bar in quite rough seas. Still the bar wasn’t breaking and we safely anchored at Garry’s Anchorage at 1.45 p.m. after a good sail. Gently had broached, nearly tossing me overboard during approach to the bar, quite surprised Aisha as she was steering at the time!
On the 9th we sailed for White Cliffs in 25 knots. For the first time we met the yacht “Rattle and Hum” soon after rescuing Aisha who got caught in a strong rip while bathing behind Gently.
On the 10th we headed for the Mary River and again I had trouble with the anchor holding just off the boat ramp. We visited Maryborough and on the 12th headed for Moon Point. Aisha met two Swedish girls, Anna and Anka who had got them-selves lost on Fraser Island. So as a storm raged on the southern end of Fraser I decided to take our passengers to the safely of Urangan. We arrived at 2 a.m. on the 16th.
17th April 1991 at 6 a.m. we sailed for Bundaberg with very good SE winds on our tail all the way, arriving at Burnet Heads at 6 p.m.
11.15 a.m. on the 27th, after having taking Aisha up too Bundaberg around 4 a.m. sailed from Burnet Heads for 1770 once again on my own. It started out as a good sail but the wind went right away before turning onto the bow and back then to the western quarter, blowing just 5 knots. I got very tired and also suffered quite badly burnt eyes from the glare off the sea. I anchored off a beach at around 11 p.m. and slept till 4 a.m. before continuing on with motor sailing, arriving 1770 at 8 a.m. I had to then remain a day below decks because of my eyes. I enjoyed myself at 1770 very much.
On 6th May at 10.30 a.m., I set sail for Pancake Creek, arriving after a good sail around 2.30 p.m., ahead of large black clouds. During my stay at Pancake the wind gusted to 30 knots but all six yachts held anchorage Ok, and I spent time with a chap called Neville on a large Cat.
4.45 a.m. on 7th at I sailed for Gladstone arriving 12.30 p.m. having had very good sailing in 15 knots with 2 meter seas following the stern. Gently handled very well under a reefed main and jib.
11.30 a.m. 9th May at I sailed for the Narrows, with Aisha again on board, in very light airs, timing our crossing for 4.30 p.m. and reaching anchorage around sunset only to be attacked by swarms of midges and mosquitoes.
7 a.m. on the 10th we sailed for the Keppel Islands, Aisha got Gently on her way by herself for the first time; she did a very good job of it. For the first time I hoisted a spinnaker in very light westerly airs. Gently sailed very well and both Aisha and I really enjoyed the sail. We arrived off Keppel around 4 p.m.
At 3.30 a.m. on the 13 May 1991, we sailed for Port_Clinton. However around North Keppel the seas raised to around four meters and the wind picked up to around thirty knots, Aisha took up station below with her head in a bucket, I closed the hatch and made for Roslyn Bay. We arrived around 10 a.m. and Aisha jumped ship. While I caught up with Bob and Ann who I’d last met in Gosford. Aisha went to Yeppoon and back changing her mind rejoined ship’s company.
On the 18th at 8 a.m.,
Aisha and I had a real good sort out, with Aisha attempting to jump overboard
unless I returned to port, I turned around and just as we were to enter
harbour she changed her mind, so together we headed for Port Clinton. Of
course, I’d worked out the extent and time of current flow by then, (Ebb
flows North) which I hadn’t on the 13th.
We made anchored, after our two hour delay leaving Roslyn Bay, just on dark in Port Clinton at 6.30 p.m. having put 41 miles behind us. It was a good sail up.
6 a.m. on the 19th we awoke to find the anchor had let go during the night. We sailed for Pearl Bay under reefed main in 20 knots. Just off Entrance Island we touched bottom where we shouldn’t have in very large following seas and a low tide. No damage was done, thankfully, and we arrived safely in beautiful Pearl Bay.
At 8.30 the next morning we set sail
the 6 miles for Island Head in 20 knot ESE with mostly sheltered seas becoming
rather bumpy of Brown Rock and on entering. We met up with Steve on “Rattle
and Hum” with much surprise. They had been waiting for better weather for
three days. Back
Aisha was inputting many more good feelings than at Pearl bay, where the sight of the sea outside the entrance, boiling like boiling water in a pot, didn’t increase her love of sailing and there was another battle going on.
At 8.30 a.m. 22nd May we sailed for High Peak Island with winds from the ENE to 25 knots, it was a very bumpy trip with Gently being picked up and dumped very often. Rattle and Hum had long left our sight and we found a lot of contrary current before arriving around 3.30 p.m.
At 4.45 a.m. on the 23rd we sailed for the Percys with very good sailing down wind all the way, though I was having trouble with dehydration. As we rounded into the anchorage Aisha met the sight of the Palm-trees with great joy. She has entered into an agreement with Andy that I witnessed. However she also arranged and gained consent for the free use of the tree house on the beach. Aisha stepped ashore for the last time off Gently p.m. 23rd May 1991.
2.45 a.m. on the 25th I sailed for Digby Island, having a good sail with a little rain on arrival, around 9 a.m. It is a pretty place. Rattle and Hum soon followed and her crew and I climbed to the highest point on the Island.
At 5.30 a.m. on the 26th I sailed in company to Mackay. I found very strong currents in route through the Islands that meant a few choppy spots in the 15-knot winds on the stern. Arriving Mackay around 3.30 p.m. having had a good sail over the 40 miles travelled. “Rattled and Hum,” reported very sallow water in route on his depth sounder during our passage.
On the 29th May at 10 a.m. I sailed for St Bees and Keswick Islands in a strong 25 knot SE and quite rough seas arriving at 1330 hrs and anchoring between both Islands alongside Rattle and Hum. My anchor dragged in the windy conditions nearly causing paintwork to shutter on both boats. But we didn’t touch.
6.30 a.m. on the 30th I sailed for Brampton_Island arriving at 10.30 a.m. after very good sailing in strong winds and a strong wind warning in force. I enjoyed Brampton resort and a walk around the Island as well as a dive with Steve over the reef, just off the resort swimming pool. Back
10.30 a.m. on the 2nd of
June 1991, I sailed for Thomas Island arriving at 2.45 p.m. after quite good
sailing. However I narrowly missed rocks en route. This caused me a lot of
On arriving I rafted up to John and Mary’s Catamaran and enjoyed a good dinner with them before riding-to my own anchor at 11 p.m. in the quite large swells.
7 a.m. on the 3rd I sailed for Cid_Harbour, which is a very pretty place. It was quite calm on arrival at 1 p.m. after a good sail in 10 to 15 knots under main and jib, in spite of catching a few bullets amongst the Islands from the high hills. (Boat Flattening Winds)
On the 4th I sailed for Airlie Beach at 7 a.m. in good weather as far as NT Mole Island and then motored the rest of the way arriving 10.30 a.m. without suffering any more bullets en route.
A Peter and Katherine from W.A. joined for a cruise to Cid harbour. However the wind was really light so we went into Nara inlet and returned the next morning to Airlie Beach.
10.30 a.m. on the 15th June set sail for Monties through the Gloucester Passage in light airs. It required the outboard from Grassy Island on to the anchorage just past Monties Restaurant, which was reached just after dark. I enjoyed a $13 beer and meal and sought directions for safe passage to Poole_Island.
At 5.45 a.m. on the 16th
I sailed for Poole Island to the home of Markus, Sandra and Dominic. Mark had
offered to assist in fixing the rudderstock that had developed visual cracks
while sailing out to High Peak Island on 22nd May.
I arrived at 8.30 after a good sail. Mark and Dominic came out in a dinghy to greet and ferry me to shore.
The rudderstock required totally rebuilding. I appreciated very much Mark and his family’s company, also support for one whole week their, (including testing Mark’s home brew). Mark’s parents also stayed for a couple of days.
In light airs on the 21st June I headed for Bowen arriving at 2.30 p.m. having used the motor for the first hour after leaving Poole Island and good people.
At 6 a.m. on the 22nd I headed for Cape Upstart in good SE/NE all the way with the genoa poled, jib and main all set. I arrived very hungry and feeling the heat at 4 p.m. The anchor let go during the night and I was forced to change anchorages.
Leaving for Cape Bowlingreen at 6.15
a.m. on the 24th, another yacht sailed in company for almost the
entire voyage without speaking to each other.
Cape Bowlinggreen is set very low and cannot be seen till you’re nearly on top of it. I sailed with a poled genoa all the way, arriving at 3 p.m.
At 3 a.m. on the 25th
June I sailed for Horseshoe bay, Magnetic_Island,
with the wind dying off near Magnetic Island. It was as well I’d made an
early start as I was feeling the sun and generally quite down in the dumps.
After reading notes from Alan Lucas’s an essential guide to all Queensland ports and anchorages. 348 pages, fully illustrated on Fitzroy_Island I’m inspired to go on. Back
While at Horseshoe bay I received
assistance from Col Cossey of Nelly Bay and with much help from Ian with
assistance to build a self-steering set up. Sitting on the tiller for so many
hours at a time was causing a lot of health problems.
It took a full week to put the self-steering together; I spent in total $60 on material.
I left Horseshoe bay at 9 a.m. on the 12th July 1991, and headed for Havannah Island. After quite a good start the wind died by lunch time and accordingly I didn’t get to try out the self-steering very much, It did however free my hands for coffee and such, so it was worth having it attached to the transom with cords leading to the tiller, driven by a flopping board. I arrived at 6 p.m.
At 7 a.m. on the 13th July after a poor sleep due to a lot of roll and wind which came up around midnight I sailed for Palm_Island arriving at 9.30 a.m. under jib and a little motoring used to get us out of the very choppy seas quicker. I went ashore for one beer and rum only I didn’t stay as I felt concern for the safety of my rubber ducky.
10 a.m. 14th I sailed for Pioneer bay, Orpheus Island having a very nice sail with 15 knots for the first part of the seven mile passage. I went for a dive after a nearby English cruising yacht advised we were sitting near a Clam Farm. So I went for a dive in very clear water to see the wonder of very large Clams; some were as big as an adult’s torso.
At 2.30 a.m. on the 15th I headed for Lucinda some 12 miles away because by 1 a.m. the anchorage at Pioneer Bay become extremely choppy and I was quite unable to sleep. There was a clear passage so I left. Soon however I found myself dodging fishing boats, which were everywhere. I reached the end of the long Lucinda Wharf but couldn’t find the fairway buoy and, around first light, I ended up taking the longer north passage in,
At Lucinda I purchased petrol, cigarettes a pie and posted mail before proceeding up the Hinchinbrook Channel using the motor most of the way.
At 2 p.m. I anchored in Gayundah Creek in very calm waters and enjoyed the lovely rainforest, mountains and the CALM WATERS. Also I enjoyed the company of Owen and Freda “Mariki”, John and Eve “Miss Conduct” as well as Jeffrey on his yacht “Sprit”. Together all of us ventured up creeks amongst unseen crocodiles and explored up into lovely fresh water creeks for a bath.
6.30 a.m. on the 18th July I sailed for Scraggy Point arriving at 10 am in next to no wind, having used the spinnaker during passage.
7 a.m. on the 19th I
sailed for Cardwell and Dunk_Island. I arrived at
Cardwell and anchored further out to sea than I had need to. I tied my dinghy
alongside a lovely ChoHoe Yacht (which had cost the owner some $55,000) and
headed for the shops, purchasing lotto, chow-mien, groceries and fuel before
heading for Dunk Island. During passage I saw very large sea snake swimming. I
found the self-steering worked quite well. After motoring a bit, I arrived in
the dark at 7.30 p.m.
Dunk Island is the most beautiful of places, I re-met Bianca out of the blue from 1770, which was quite a surprise. I was interested to see a dairy farm on the Island; all round I enjoyed my stay there very much.
At 6 a.m. on the 22nd
July I sailed for Innisfail under spinnaker and main for quite some time until
abeam of Clump Point when the wind died. In an hour it came back on the bow.
So I motored to Stephen Island, lunched and rested, having a short swim to try
and cool down. The barometer dropped and a north wind increased to 10 to 15
knots. I motored across to the North Barnard Islands and raised sail in the
lee of the
I tacked about a bit before motor sailing having to refuel from a spare can.
The sun was telling on my ability to
reason and, without knowing it, I sailed right along and on top of the bar
leading to the Innisfail entrance. As I couldn’t
find the fairway buoy I had trouble finding the channel. Also I rounded
Crocodile Rock on the wrong side (even though it was lit).
All of which I worked out the next morning and promptly decided to sell Gently.
Around ten a.m. I motor-sailed in a light breeze for Innisfail proper, grounding briefly en route. Anchorage was charged at $3 per week but not collected. I met with everyone from Gayundah Creek; Owen shouted lunch and a beer, and we enjoyed a very good afternoon together wandering around town.
On the 25th July after a
last shopping I readied to leave when Michael visited. We talked a short while
and I motored for the heads, which I cleared around 10 a.m. under full sail
but without wind.
I wrote my log up while sailing with the self-steering working well. I motored to Russell Island 18 miles south of Fitzroy Island in very light NE with genoa and main which was very pleasant arriving at 2.45 p.m.
That didn’t last long as the wind faded away to nothing leaving the sea as flat as a milk pond. I arrived very tired at 7.30 p.m. I enjoyed my stay at Fitzroy which is a very laid back place. After a very good couple of days shared with Michael, who had arrived in very strong winds, and, even though I had a lot of problems with the anchorage there, it was time to go on.
7.15 a.m. on the 27th July I headed for Port Douglas. It was quite a rough ride down wind, however I arrived without problem around 4.45 p.m. Having put some 40 miles behind me under reefed main sail only all day. The weather proved too bumpy for the self-steering gear to work properly.
On the 2nd August at 11.30 am, in very light airs I headed for the Daintree River motoring most of the way and ended up grounded on a sandbank till 10 p.m. For a couple of hours I tried bumping my way around looking for Channel Lights that weren’t working.
In the morning I found the leads to
be in the wrong place and it wasn’t till 7.45 a.m., working against the
tide, that on the 3rd I made the entrance proper. My head is full
of Bianca and rejection (another carrot from Lama I believe)
At 12 p.m. I arrived at the Daintree ferry crossing and decide to return to Port Douglas.
5.45 a.m. on the 4th July
1991 I awoke well rested and headed for Port Douglas having a trouble-free
passage down the river. However the bar crossing was really bumpy and in a
very choppy sea with 15 knots on the bow, I headed for my final sail on
Gently. Under just a jib, due to the weather, and a rough sea I broke a
halyard so ran-on motor only for port; a rough ride!
I arrived with about one cup of fuel left in the fuel tank and lying alongside the Public Wharf fixed the halyard with the assistance of a chap off a H28.
Gently was sold and I became a
landlubber. Only two days later I again met Lama Zopa, who had delayed his
journey and just happened to be waiting by chance at Chenrezig Institute.
Aisha Luka also just happened to also be there. On meeting Lama Zopa nearby the Gompa, and Aisha, Lama looked at me then walked three steps away, turned and said everything would then be all right, and was gone.
Gently is a fine ship, a really good and trusted sea boat, perhaps lacking in protection from the weather. But a great little ship. “HA”
copy of Her Log was typed up on the 19/08/97 by her grateful skipper,
Robert F Plumtree
May all those that sail upon her do so safely, I hope so!
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