That damn pick…
Before we left Airlie beach, a problem that I predicted would be an on going nuisance, was our anchor. We first dragged anchor when some muppet took our mooring in bad weather. Ever since then I have had the feeling that our anchor was not suitable. Before leaving I opted to purchase 50m of new galvanised 10mm anchor chain instead of the new pick. I figured, what’s the good of a new anchor if it’s at the bottom of the ocean attached to a broken rusty chain. With the large expense of replacing both at the same time, I chose the chain.
With 50m of new chain and our ‘manky’ plough anchor, I thought we would be able to manage most situations. “When in doubt, throw it all out” was the moto I rolled with. Drop the anchor and use 50m or more of scope basically wherever we decided to call home for the night. A good theory, that has treated us well on our journey so far. This option may not have made us the most popular people in any anchorage, due to our large swing room, but if you anchor closer than that I think you are intruding anyway. A bit of courtesy and space amongst an anchorage is a good thing. In saying that, we always try to anchor where no one else is. That is part of the enjoyment of sailing and living on a boat. Some choose to have neighbours, we try our hardest not to see humans.
Anyway, this theory has been working well until our last few stop offs. Our approach is coming unstuck due to the relatively small space inside creek anchorages. Currently the deep channel provides plenty of water under the hull at low tide, but the sand banks either side of the channel creep in very close during spring lows. The banks provide excellent protection from any swell and bad weather. Better for those vessels that don’t have the manky plough as their pick.
Yep we are protected from any swell so Nandji does not rock, but the bad weather, in particular strong wind, well that is a story in itself. When the anchorage is crowded, it makes it even more challenging as the necessity to use a shorter scope than normal becomes essential. No longer can I just throw over the glistening 50m of galvanised chain and know we are safe. We are now limited in the length of scope and have to put trust into the manky plough.
The plough type anchor used to be the ducks nuts. The theory of how it is heavily weighted and the heavier tip digs into the ground as the thing drags. It does do this, ask any farmer that has been ploughing his paddocks for the last twenty years. Ploughs are great, when they are meant to be a plough. Not so great when the plough is meant to be stopped in its tracks and hold something rather important, for example, Nandji.
This leads me to the scenario that occurred the other day. The anchorage was already rather packed when we crossed the bar on the high tide, late in the arvo. This forcing us to pick a spot between other already anchored vessels. Discussing with our new neighbour the amount of scope he had out, I dropped the plough next door and paid out a similar scope length, with a couple of extra metres for good luck. The bad weather was predicted to arrive during the night and sure enough it showed up at around midnight. The rain does not bother us so much in Nandji as she is proving to be reasonably water tight, however the wind that came with the rain, was being a menace. I woke as soon as the wind begun howling outside and not being able to rely on the bloody plough with little scope, upstairs I went to ensure Nandji didn’t go play with the neighbours. Sure enough Bonita was not far behind, knowing full well the situation that faced us.
Lucky the moon was full and the night was bright to assist us in managing Nandji’s space. By the time 6am rolled around we had repositioned Nandji twice. Not because the anchor had pulled out of the ground and we drifted, not at all. We had to reposition Nandji because the manky anchor was doing what plough’s do best. They plough. The heavy tip drags through the earth and leaves a wonderful groove that you plant crops in. If crops grew in salt water on the bottom of creek beds, then Nandji would have a lot of business digging up those creek beds.
After repositioning the third time, the sun had poked his head over the horizon. In the tender we got with a second anchor. Pulled out the same length of scope in rope this time and dragged it out at 15 degrees to the plough and dropped it over. Problem solved. No more dragging for the next 24 hours until the wind disappeared.
Long story short, think it is time for a new anchor.
The good and the bad.
The last few days we have spent entertaining some legends from back home who made the journey across the country for a visit. The couple only had a limited amount of time to spend with us, with the weather forecast looking quite gloomy and challenging we kept the adventure to coastal waters and set off to an anchorage up the coast. A light northerly wind was blowing and forecasted to pick up throughout the day. The 12nm sail north was going to get rougher as the day went on.
Our lazy heads rose from bed at 7am, but by the time we had finished talking about everything and nothing, we didn’t set sail until 9:30am. A little silly knowing the wind was picking up but we were enjoying the well over due catch up. Setting sails we headed out to sea on our first tack. These land loving dwellers begun to feel a little nauseous and soon we had our first victim, releasing what was left of breakfast into the choppy sea. The wind continued to rise and we tacked back towards land, trying to hug the coast a bit closer hoping for calmer waters. Mean while, Bonita being the little trooper was down stairs cooking Vegemite on toast for everyone, trying to un green the gills of our guests.
Five hours into the sail and just shy of our destination, I heard something banging and slapping into fibreglass. A quick look around Nandji and I discovered that one of the bottom starboard stays that connect to the mast below the first spreader had decided to now be two pieces instead of one. At first I did not realise it was the lower stay and thought a shroud holding the mast in place had broken, this giving me that initial feeling of “Oh O.” After closer inspection I realised we were not in imminent danger of losing our mast, but we turned into wind and Bonita dropped the main sail any ways. Playing it all cool as we had guests on board, this being a new experience for them. Neither had sailed and they were trusting us to look after them. Not worrying too much about this minor mishap, we turned the engine on and with the headsail flying we motored across the choppy sea for the last mile to our anchorage.
Once safely inside the creek anchorage and out of the wind, we all settled into the joys of nature and continued our over due shit dribbling session. Waking up the following morning a bit dusty from the previous nights escapades, the wind had swung to the south and the sun was trying to peek through the cloudy morning sky. We were keen to get busy and do some activities. After letting Marley run around on the opposite sand bar for a while, we loaded up ‘la diva’ the tender with everything needed to go diving. We all piled in and set off to the mouth of the creek to hopefully teach these south Aussies how to spear a fish.
Three hours later after enduring Murky water, no sunshine, a cool breeze and no fish. We shivered our way back to Nandji in high spirits to cook up the biggest hottest spaghetti bolognaise. After regaining the feeling in our finger tips, it was discovered that the new salt water pump that I had installed a couple of days earlier had decided not to play. All warm and cozy again, we settled into a few rums and the boys got to work rectifying this pump situation. The boat divided into the most typical stereotype of men and women. The lads pulling apart the pump and pretending to know what they were talking about whilst attempting to fix it and the girls painting each other’s nails. After a few hours the pump had somehow been put back together with no missing parts and was running as good as new and the girls were looking extremely dolled up considering we were at anchor in a creek.
The next day we had to head back to our anchorage in 1770 so our guests could continue on their journey, also to hide away from the predicted stormy onslaught of 25 knot winds and rain. This front was forecasted to hit around 9pm, but as for the weather at this current time it was hard to believe this storm was coming. Hardly a ripple on the ocean surface and the sun was beaming and burning our pasty white skinned south Australian friends. We planned to head out from the creek and anchor around the headland for the morning and do some more diving in deeper water and on some outer reef.
Lying in bed with only a gentle breeze at 10pm we both struggled to keep our eyes open. Bonita slowly begun to let out her little snores as I listened to the wind generator gaining momentum. I set the drag anchor alarm and a alarm to wake me in an hours time and drifted off to sleep as well. Waking in a fright to the most annoying noise of the alarm buzzing loudly I poked my head outside to see what was going on. Sure enough, the wind was howling and Nandji had dragged anchor. Nothing bad but we had definitely dragged in the wind and the strong current. The difficult bit about anchoring in 1770 is the tightness of the channel to anchor in and how busy the anchorage is, forcing to you to use minimal scope. Deciding we had to move into deeper water, as the tide dropped around us the sand bar gets closer and closer.
Heaving the anchor up by hand as our windlass has been threatening to die, we raised anchor and dropped again towards the middle of the channel between two other vessels. The strong current and breeze meant we drifted quickly. Paying out 35m of scope in the 4m deep water was still not enough for the anchor to grab and we had to try again before we drifted into the half million dollar catamaran vessel close by. Successfully getting the anchor to hold the second time round, I set the anchor alarm once more, this time with a shorter swing radius as we were closer to other vessels.
Thanks for having a read and following along in our little adventure. Life is a little more challenging and exciting these days, providing me with plenty of stories to tell. If you haven't checked out our video blogs then be sure to do so, whilst your there make sure you subscribe to our channel! Check out the Vids
After our eventful sail down the coast and making it safely into Pancake creek, many attempts at getting the anchor to hold and waking up in the middle of the night at low tide realising that the shallow water is around 5 metres off the stern. It is time not to reflect on these events, but discuss the next obstacle that laid ahead. 12nm South East was our destination. A nice gentle northerly breeze blowing, we would arrive in just a couple of hours of cruisy dreamy sailing. Getting to this destination I speak of was not the obstacle I previously mentioned however.
Our destination was a little seaside town called 1770. This picturesque little place was where old mate Captain Cook first landed on Australia soil all those years ago. The quite holiday town is positioned on a headland that heads out sea and overlooks a sheltered waterway called Roundhill creek. The creek is accessed via a notoriously shallow bar crossing, however once inside provides good holding and even at high tide the bar protects from any swell and wind that may be present. So here lies our obstacle.
After mentioning our plans of visiting 1770 on our Facebook page, the response of “be careful” from more than one source who know the area well, only made me more nervous as I had been reading about this crossing for months. Without the boost of confidence I was hoping to receive, I spent the entire couple of hours researching, reading and talking to people on the phone about this obstacle. Knowing we would have to enter at the end of the high tide, still utilising the inward flow of water, we arrived at the mouth of Roundhill and dropped the pick off to the side in the bay waiting for more water. High tide was forecasted at 8:30pm that evening, last light is around 6:15pm. With nothing else to do but hurry up and wait, that is what we did. Wait.
The wind was on the rise and predicted to be 15knots from the north through out the night and the following day. As the bay is directly open to the northerly winds, the anchorage became very uncomfortable very quickly. Rocking and rolling, we sat there patiently waiting for the tide to rise. The more and more we rocked I decided that this was where we were going to stay for the night. The idea of crossing the bar for the first time, in a fading light, with the tide still not as high as I wanted, did not appeal to me at all. I would rather bob around and get 2 hours sleep for the night than do a whoopsy.
Now being able to semi relax as the choice was made to stay, I sat in the cockpit, sipping my ale and studying all the approaching vessels going through the channel. All the boats were run about fishing boats, with shallow draphts, nothing that would run a ground. But watching these vessels entering the creek gave me a decent idea of the path to take. Then with an hour of light left, another sailing cruiser approached the entrance. This was time to study. Obviously a local as there was no communication between such vessel and VMR (Volunteer Marine Rescue, kind of like the coast guard. Set up to advise and help boaters) that they were attempting the crossing.
Climbing up to the first spreader for a more birds eye view, I sat with anticipation in discovering how to tackle this bar. Unfortunately, I learned from old mate how ‘not to’ cross the bar. This poor fella had misjudged the channel marker and from where I sat, looked as if he was inside of the port marker. This being shallower water and yep, he had run aground. The keel obviously buried in the sand good, the vessel spun side on to the wind and the waves. Leaning over on the keel, at one stage the vessel was on a 60-70 degree lean. Watching on in disbelief, I thought that he was going over. The wind swell pounding onto his beam, the vessel spun back and forth and righted her self. As the sun disappeared his navigation lights turned on and was still stuck as the darkness took over.
Next morning the vessel was gone and must have floated out of his predicament with the high tide. The wind had backed off and was now a calm sunny morning. With the high tide at 9:15am, we pulled the anchor and motored to the entrance waiting for 9am to begin our attempt. Witnessing what not to do, I begun the approach.
Passing the first starboard buoy the water remained around the 5 metre mark and I continued on happily. Heading towards the next port mark I decided to hug the outer bar as this was where all the fishing vessels were flying through without a care in the world. The depth jumped to only 3m and all the alarms begun to highten my senses. Giving the next port mark a widish berth, a small tinny who was entering behind came up to our starboard side and advised to hang even wider. Good knowledge to know for future crossings. After rounding the port mark, there is a deep channel the rest of the way in. Safe and sound we anchored up in deep water. A sand bar on one side of Nandji, for Marley to run around and go nuts on. The town pub directly opposite the other. Couldn’t have planned it better if we tried.
To help support our adventure, become a Patron and check out all the rewards on offer, head over to our patreon page. What is a patreon page you ask?
We are playing catch up with our videos the next couple weeks as we have taken so much footage and done so little editing. However we just sailed into 1770 now and plan to stay here for a little bit. This should give us plenty of time to get up to speed! For now, here is a little story about our sailing yesterday.
We tucked in to bed early, anchored on the south eastern corner of Great Keppel Island. The wind was blowing strongly from the north and made our choice in anchorage very rolly. Also hanging Nandji on a lee to shore, which makes sleeping a little hard. The wind however was meant to shift to the west through the night, so I was confident this little cove would provide us safety and we could make a speedy exit in the morning. If only I could get to sleep…
Springing out of bed with my alarm set at 4:30am, it what felt like 5 minutes after lying down. I poked my head outside and Nandji was hanging out sea. Perfect, the wind had swung west. It was time to rumble. Quickly preparing Nandji and putting the kettle on, I poked the bear (Bonita) and woke her to help me get the anchor up. With Nandji free we headed east, quickly hoisting the main and setting a course. A northerly swell was present but the wind was coming from the west, making it difficult to read at first. After gybing once, the main was set and we were on our way. Unfurling the headsail and heading in a south easterly direction, steadily rolling with the swell. Not exactly on the course I wanted, so we changed the sail set up. After succeeding in poling out the head sail the other day, this is now my favourite way to sail. So pointing Nandji directly downwind, this was the technique we went to. Scooting along at 7 knots, heading where we wanted to go, finally the day was looking good.
After a couple of hours cruising at this speed, deep into my book I noticed the wind turbine facing off to the starboard side. A good indication, I have come to realise, a shift in the wind direction. Just as the headsail gave a little flap, it was quickly furled up. Dropping the spinnaker pole off the clew and flying again out the port side all in a matter of minutes. Sitting back and relishing in my own quick thinking and adapting, we didn’t lose any speed and were now going quicker.
A few more hours passed as we flew down the coast. I continued to remind Bonita how good I picked up the change in wind earlier, fishing for a compliment. Receiving no such words, we decided on weather to try to reach the outer reefs in this wind or head for the safety of a creek anchorage on the main land. Choosing wisely, Bonita nominated the creek. I have been determined to reach these outer reefs since forever, so didn’t give in easily. Thankfully I listened as we reached the creek on dusk.
Approaching the shipping lanes into Gladstone, we kept a good distance off shore as to not deal with these mammoth obstacles. Heading directly down wind again, we poled out the headsail once more. Surfing down the faces of the waves and digging the bow in, we were setting a terrific speed. Enjoying hand steering and keeping her straight, I was having a wow of a time. Some of the most exciting sailing we have done with Nandji. Reaching over 8.5 knots at times, we were proper flying. For us anyways.
The wind started to eased and my arms were tired from wrestling the wheel, Allen the almighty autopilot, took charge and showed me how much better at it he was then I. Kicking back and enjoying the ride, both Bonita and I were feeling quite comfortable with this new sailing technique and speed. Bonita doze off and I went down stairs to re apply some zinc.
A buzzer sounded off on the auto pilot, I didn’t think much of it as it sounded like the off course alarm. Allen usually sorted that sort of thing out pretty quick, so continued to lather my nose in the mirror. Then I felt Nandjis bow digging in and us turning sharply.
Oh shit, Bonita yelling "Yosh!", I jumped up stairs to take the wheel. The auto pilot had overloaded and released. With Nandji completing a chinese gybe (I think that’s what it is called) We quickly released the headsail and let it fly, furling it up as quick as Bonita's little guns would allow. The headsail furled up, but Nandji facing into the wind, we started going backwards. The main sail had a preventer rigged, stopping the boom from flying over if we accidentally gybed. It was doing its job all to well. The sail now capturing wind front on. Just before we released the preventer, I stopped and waited to see what Nandji was doing. Pushed backwards we reversed back into the oncoming swell and the bow righted itself pointing down wind again. The main filled with wind from behind us this time, pushing us forward again.
Well that was exciting we said to each other! If that had happened two months ago, we would have been shaking and feeling all tingly, absolutely shitting ourselves! However, we didn’t poo our pants and solved the issue quickly and confidently. With chuckles and laughter we decided that we would monitor things a bit closer from now on.
A great days sailing was had. A little problem that shouldn’t have happened occurred, but we enjoyed the problem and found it exhilarating and confidence building instead of scary and crushing. We learn from our misfortunes and hopefully don’t do them again. Becoming comfortable with your surroundings
is a good thing, but maybe not being so complacent is the key!
Help support our adventure and become a patron. Heaps of rewards on offer for you to win to! Check them out at
Check out our BLOG on www.sailuniverse.com
Gain access to the treasure chest by becoming a Patron!