Safely tucked away behind Thomas Island, hiding from the relentless howling South East, it is time to discuss the journey in reaching this destination. We had originally planned to get further down the coast to hide for a few days, however old dear mother nature had a few words to say.
For 3 days we frantically scurried around town, organising our lives in preparation for departure from Airlie Beach. She was a good fun town to call base for a little while, but couldn’t wait to get out! The forecast of northerlies for Friday and Saturday looked promising and we couldn’t wait to utilise these winds to get south. The only major set back was waiting on the delivery of our new fridge/freezer. A rather important item we could not leave without. Slowly our ducks fell into place and the item was due to be delivered on the Friday.
With everything else all sorted, as far as we can tell… The last tasks were to collect the fridge and food shop. Hoping that the delivery driver would ring in the morning then we could hopefully make tracks in the afternoon on Friday.
Fridge collected, food shopping done it was time to set some sails. However once back on Nandji, the 10 to 15 knot northerly wind that had been blowing all day, decided it didn’t want to blow anymore. Since the wind had dropped and the moon was only 4% full for the night, the captain decided that we would leave at 3 in the morning with the change of the tide. We tucked in early and tried to rest.
Rest we did not have. When ever the wind blows from the north in Airlie beach, it is a dead on shore breeze and even the slightest breath of north turns the ocean into a choppy, rolling sea. Fine to sail in, but to sleep in, your not dreaming. We persisted in trying to rest and sticking to the plan. Through a broken sleep I contemplated a few times to just go as I could hear the wind beginning to blow again. Finally I dozed off and was woken by my alarm in what felt like ten minutes later.
Springing out of bed like a 85 year old grandpa, I did the last preparations of organising Nandji and kicked her into life. Rubbing my weary eyes, we slowly motored between all the other vessels swinging and bouncing on their moorings. The northerly was a nice ten knots and comfortable considering it was pitch black, only vision possible from the slight glow of the Airlie Beach street lights. As we got further away from town, the darker the sky became.
Yep, it started raining. Actual cats and dogs. It was pissing down. Not to worry as we were out of here. Giving the ole donk a few more revs as we passed the last few vessels at anchor, the fan belt started squeeling. Great. Setting the headsail and leaving Bonita and Allen the auto pilot up top, I headed below to inspect and tighten the loose belt. Upon further inspection it was discovered that one belt was loose and had tear in it. Close to breaking point. Digging out a spare and getting to work in rectifying the situation, I checked with Bonita that everything was all good, as the engine would be out of order for ten.
“Yep, all sweet”
Perfect response. I took off the old belt and was mid way replacing with the new when Bonita called out. I felt the boat turning as I clambered my way up to see what was going on. After spinning close to a full 360 in the dark, we quickly furled up the head sail. The wind had changed direction form the north and was coming from the south. All very hard to decifer in the dark, with out a permanent wind gauge in front of you. Since the black ribbon tied up on the bimini pole, was not much use in the situation, it took a few moments for us to get our bearings. Knowing we were clear of any obstructions, we drifted for a bit, as I went back down to install the new belt.
Motor purring away again, we continued on our way south. The sun slowly rose and the wind shifted direction again around to the east. Determined to make ground closer to Hamilton Island to get reception so we could post our next episode, we set full sail and cruised that way. In the middle of the passage the swirling wind made it hard for us to make any ground south but we got close to Hamilton Island. Dropped all sails and drifted around trying to post our episode.
After hours, nearly 5 of them, we had had enough. We didn’t get up early to only reach Hamilton Island. Setting sails again in the Easterly breeze, we started to head south at a good speed. Originally planning to reach Scawfell Island in the Northerly breeze (roughly 80nm from Airlie) plans changed to Goldsmith Island (roughly 40nm from Airlie) We were making good ground however the setting sun was rapidly approaching. Still 10nm from Goldsmith Island and under 3nm from Thomas Island, it was decided that we would head to Thomas. Knowing it would be dark upon arrival to either anchorage, it was decided I would rather go somewhere I had gone before in the dark. But there is always a dilemma. The Easterly breeze meant we would have to tack up wind to reach Thomas, but we were on a good heading to reach Goldsmith. The choices of being captain…
We headed to Thomas, arrived in the dark and that is still where we remain now.
So not quite as far south as we would have liked, but hey, we still frothing.