Welcome to Zenitude’s blog where you can follow us while we travel slow in our Lagoon catamaran. We update this blog frequently when we are cruising to let family and friends know where we are. Check the complete story of our adventures that started in 2006 when Zenitude became our home and cruising our way of life. Graciela and Oscar

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

From Bundaberg to Mackay

14/10/2017 to 26/10/2017

Bundaberg to Great Keppel Island

We found ourselves once more in a marina, this time in Bundaberg Port Marina, waiting for a very busy mechanic, who finally made it at the last hour on Friday. He confirmed our suspicion, port engine was quite healthy, just receiving a wrong signal, it was not a heating problem. He gave us the blessing needed for the Volvo warranty to stay valid. We could keep going rather than waiting in Bundaberg, nobody knew how long could take to find the problem.

Next day we were underway again thinking to look back into the problem in Mackay but even with the assurance that all was good, Oscar could be seen more than once with the little gauge he uses to measure engine  temperature while the engine was happily running. 

The two engines did run all day on that Saturday while making our way towards Great Keppel in stormy weather, lots of rain but no wind. It took us just under 18 hours to get there, at an average speed of 7.5 knots with just 2,000 reps, we could never do that well under engine before the upgrade.

We arrived at night, with a starry sky and no moon. We could see lots of lights from the boats at anchor and decided to drop ours far away from them, in case there were some with no lights. There is no problem whatsoever arriving in this bay, Svendsen Beach, at night, it is big and the holding is great. A squall came just after we finished anchoring, what a good feeling to have arrived, all was very quiet soon and we went to sleep.

In the morning, in between squalls, we moved closer to the beach.

Squally weather in Svendsen beach, Great Keppel

The weather kept deteriorating day after day, what left us pinned on board, only boats with dogs where visiting the shore, on a wet dinghy, twice a day, riding a happy dog. This anchorage can get very rolly and boats started to move around the corner, to Fisherman Beach, in the hope that was better there. Which it was, we found out when we finally moved, still roll and roll, but less wind. This is also a nice anchorage, just across from the resort.

Fisherman Beach, Great Keppel

Rolling at anchor for a week

We needed to keep going and after 6 days of misery the weather finally improved a little bit, so we headed to Rosslyn Bay to get fuel and provisions. We like the marina there, Keppel Bay Marina, but this time we just stayed for one day. They offer a courtesy car, which we had booked in advance to go shopping in Yeppoon. Very handy.

Great Keppel to Pearl Bay

Next stop was Pearl Bay, this is a very pretty, very protected anchorage and having left Rosslyn Bay just before sunrise we arrived in good time to have a quiet lunch at anchor. A different kind of seagull came to visit, for sure suspecting it was a good time to get some lunch. Captain Oscar, who is not very much impressed by seagulls, sent a clear message but it took a while to convince this one that there was no welcome committee and definitely no lunch, snack or anything of the kind.

Pearl Bay to Hunter Island

Another early start and we arrived to Hunter in about six hours. When we left Pearl Bay the tide was at its very low, which is not a good thing as there are several shallow areas with rocky bottom. In our way out we almost run out of water in one place, panic setting in, looking at the depth sounder a quick glimpse showed a sudden drop from 3 meters to almost no meters (90 cm) and then up again. Zenitude considers there is not enough water for her if depth sounder shows less than 70 cm. This was close. A little later, going really slow we were out with no further panic events. It keeps you thinking how quickly your day can go all wrong. Pearl Bay is protected, which makes it a good anchorage but it's isolated. There is no VHF signal to call for help and neither there is phone or internet coverage.

Hunter is part of the Duke Group, a very pretty set of islands, most with fringing reef and very clear waters. Navigating between the islands in the group is spectacular but requires extreme care. This is a nice stop in settled weather but not as popular as nearby Percy Group and we spent a peaceful day, nobody else was there. Surprisingly a group of  young deer came for a walk on the beach just before sunset, the last thing we were expecting to see in an island near the  Queensland coast was baby deer wondering in a pristine beach surrounded by turquoise water.

Hunter Island

The Duke Group
It was a perfect day weather wise but when I woke up next morning and stepped out in the cockpit I had a weary feeling, it was very calm in a heavy atmosphere, it didn't feel right. Soon after breakfast we heard thunders far away, the horizon to the south west was very black, scary black. Surely that is not coming this way,  was Oscar's reassurance with really no base, just a wishful thought. VHF was on and an official warning was issued for this storm cell traveling in a northeasterly direction. Just to confirm, thunders could now be heard much closer. We were in the storm path. Another VHF message, this time a boat at anchor in the south was reporting the storm had just passed with 50 kn winds, heavy rain, luckily short lived.

So now we knew what to expect. An emergency meeting was held in Zenitude, it was time for a quick decision, raise anchor and go to deeper waters to wait for the storm to pass or stay put and trust our anchor would not drag. The wind was going to push us against shore and the fringing reef was not that far, we had gone to the process of raising anchor while dragging in a squall and for sure we were not looking forward to this scenario in this place. Let's go, we both agreed, turning instruments and engines on in a hurry,  But we were too late, just then the front hit, Oscar remained on the helm, ready in case we started dragging. We had sustained wind at 30 knots gusting 40, and a curtain of rain coming sideways, lightning all around to complete the picture. It was all over in 10 minutes. It was our time now to report on the VHF as the storm passed heading towards the Percy islands. We knew there were several boats there, they had time to raise anchor and were underway when the storm reached them.

At 8:00 am it was all over and we left for the 40 miles towards Digby Island.           

Hunter Island to Mackay

Finally good weather and we had three beautiful days, sailing short legs and stopping at Digby, Scawfell and lovely Brampton islands before making our way into Mackay Marina.  It was time to go back to marina life and get ready for sailing around Whitsundays.


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