Almost to Whitsundays and Karen Returning Soon

After Lady Musgrave Island we did a long 110 nautical mile passage to Great Keppel Island. We couldn’t leave until after light, because it’s a narrow passage out of the lagoon. So, we knew we would be arriving at night to Great Keppel. We had a good sail the whole way and arrived at about 11:30 PM. There were about 10 boats in the anchorage there, but we easily found a spot at the back of the pack.

When we were leaving Lady Musgrave in the morning, we had a problem I was hoping was solved by a new part. Our anchor chain started jumping again out of the brand new gypsy. This confirmed my fear that the anchor chain had somehow become warped. As a result, when we arrived at Keppel, I had us use the secondary anchor system. The next morning, we worked to reverse the chain end-for-end on the primary. We first brought the anchor up on deck, along with about 15 feet of chain, and secured it. Then we let the remaining chain into the water. I briefly thought about moving the boat around to lay the chain in a zig-zag. I should have listened to my thoughts. We attached a rope to the end of the chain and pulled it through the chain tube so we could pull the other end back through. All went well until we started lifting the chain back up. The recent galvanizing left little chunks of galvanizing metal on the chain and it was sticking. We ended up with several clumps of rats-nested chain. I had to take the dinghy down and get to the clumps and untangle them. I was quite worried at times that I would get a finger cut off, or my leg caught in a loop when the clump suddenly fell into the water. But, we finally got it all done and the chain flipped.

In the process, I discovered that the bow roller for the anchor and chain is worn through. This may be the cause to the hole problem. So, I need to get a new one. Oh goodie, another boat part!

That evening, we left to do an over night passage to Middle Percy Island. This is the island that is home to a boater’s “shrine”. An A-frame structure has been built and is filled to the brim with memorabilia from boaters all over the world and from Australia. I’ll be sharing pictures of this later. We had a good overnight passage (barring a few rain showers) and arrived at 7AM into the bay. The sun came out some later and we went ashore with the dinghy. I wasn’t very creative and merely tacked a boat card on one of the walls. Many people had hand-carved their own signs, or had t-shirts, bras, underwear, and all kinds of other junk with their names on them. Pictures coming later. They call this place the “Percy Hilton”. It’s a nice place on a beautiful bay with a beautiful beach lined with coconut trees, and rocky points on either side. There’s also a mangrove-lined lagoon nearby. I wish we could have stayed longer!

Our next big concern was the weather. A fast-moving front was going to move off the coast out to sea on Friday afternoon. We had been keeping an eye on the weather for days – so we knew about it. But, the latest reports had it arriving possibly earlier. So, we decided to leave just past dinner from Percy.

The first part of the sail went great (during Marius’ watch). Winds were a stead 15-17 knots at a good broad reach and we made 7-8 knots most of the way. Then at 1AM, on my watch, the winds shifted and dropped. I tried numerous sail changes and just had the hardest time keeping our speed above 6 knots. We needed the speed because of the approaching weather. So, I finally ended up motor sailing. About 8 AM the winds died and we could see the approaching front coming from offshore. We got the sails down and everything tied down. A few minutes later the winds struck at about 25-30 knots. No problem though. We were only 2 miles from the island we had picked (Thomas Island) and soon had the anchor set in a protected bay. We got one big shower and that was it. It fortunately pretty much stopped by the time we anchored.

We can get Internet here with the antenna up the mast, so I’m blogging this with that.

Also, I found out Karen’s sister got a good report from her doctor and she is recovering well. So, Karen has booked a flight to come back to the boat by early next week. Just in time for our friends who are coming for a visit on the boat. Everything is coming together nicely – albeit at the last moment! Whew!

Marius will return home tomorrow. He was good crew – although I suspect I should have allowed him to do more of the sailing. We did have a good trip, and he was good company. We have a lot in common – both having run businesses, being computer geeks, Internet junkies, and loving to sail. Thanks Marius!

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