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Scawfell Island, Cumberland Group (Whitsundays)
May 8, 2007

(wojo) Well ... that was good ... At least we're finally back out there doing it all over again.

We sailed from Keppel Island to Pearl Bay three days ago making a pretty fast 50 mile day hop. Pearl is a very pretty but extremely rolly layover on your way north. Theoretically one is not allowed to even go ashore since it's part of a huge military training grounds where the Australian gov't can play G.I. Joes with the real thing. The next morning at around 0900 we set off for another overnigher to Scawfell Island which is just at the start of the famous Whitsunday group. The passage was basically OK for the first 90%.

Double rainbow rounding Scawfell island

At 0400 when I was just about to hit the rack (only about three hours away) the fit hit the shan. The wind started climbing to well over thirty knots and the rollers out of the Capricorn channel built to nearly three meters. A groggy Steph helped me put a second reef in the main and we hung on as we blasted along at 7.5 knots (well, blasting along in a yacht with a 27-foot waterline). We had to jibe several times between an island and a flotilla of anchored freighters -- this is what sailors mean when they say they want sea room! The weather just got more miserable as we were nailed by squall after squall of cold drenching rain. We even noticed that, once again, I'd pushed the Genoa too hard and the foot had blown out (two sail rips in two days). We eventually managed to squeeze by a few outlying islands and made Scawfell around 0930. On the way around to the point to Refuge Bay we spotted the most vivid double rainbow we've ever seen. The picture to the left doesn't come close to doing it justice.

I spent the next two hours basically doing not much of anything as Stephanie put the boat away. On the way over the GPS started failing and I hoped it was just sunspots but it quickly degraded and was soon reading zero of anything. My friend Richard says bad boat things always come in threes -- I'm beginning to agree with him. Last three days tally: dead outboard, nearly dead blue-screening crazy laptop, dead main GPS (Steph: don't forget the rip in the foot of the Genny, so that makes it four). There are definitely some ups out here though. That night, our friends from sy Moose dropped off some of the best Wahoo we've ever had!

Today I was listening in on channel 81 on the VHF and heard conversations from charter boats back to the charter base at Sunsail. One guy with a German accent called up and stated that there were basically two major problems: one, the furling line for the headsail got wrapped up in the drum and they had to manually yank down the Genoa (that's a classic actually; always keep some tension one the furling line when you release the Jib or you'll get wraps on the drum), and two, (most importantly) they could not get the refrigeration working after two days of trying. Regarding the reefer the base asked the charter "...how many volts do you have currently?" The charterer responded "10.5" He should be glad the reefer wouldn't engage, and also be glad he could start the engine (12.2V is low and most devices will not run on much less that 11.8V). This was probably due to lack of knowledge of how to control the battery banks or a broken alternator. The end result was that even though the boat was at least twenty miles from base they were sending out an "engineer" who would probably be there in about two hours. I want one too!

The beach at Scawfell island

Later that day we mustered the courage to actually row the half mile upwind to the beach. Wow, until you have to row everywhere you never really appreciate the beauty of the internal combustion engine. The next day we lazed around as the wind howled and the catabatic winds from the hills swatted us down hard. At least there was a little swimming and showers in the mix.

Breezy times in the Refuge Bay Anchorage

It's never too late to find time for the stairmaster!



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