Image Field :
Adam Workman from Performance Boating Sales talks about the delivery of a new Integrity Motor Yachts 340 Sedan from Brisbane to Mackay – Mackay to Cairns. Then the delivery skippers share their log from Cairns to Madang in PNG.
Gold Coast to Cairns – Adam Workman
During the night, however, being northwest and out of the protection of Fraser Island, with the Great Sea Spit and open sea to our east, the swell increased to 2.5 m. It was coming at us right on the beam, the least comfortable for any boat. Still, with auto pilot, the plotter, AIS and radar, and closed up inside the cabin, we had a very dry and comfortable crossing. Even the occasional big wave didn’t upset our progress; in many ways the boat had a yacht type motion as though it had a 7 foot keel -- rock roll then flat-rock roll then flat -- no pitching or sliding.
Our biggest concern was keeping an eye out for ships crossing to Gladstone, although the AIS and radar would tell you their direction, speed and if you’re on a collision course. Gone are the days of trying to work out if that’s a ship? Which way is it going, etc.?
We arrived at dawn at the little island of Lady Elliot -- a great sight in a big open sea. After a refreshing swim and breakfast, we motored over to Lady Musgrave for an overnight tropical island stop. Lady Musgrave is just that kind of island, with its huge lagoon and small island. The advice to enter with the sun high was great as the entrance to the lagoon and the one plotted on the chart were about a boat-width out, requiring Dale to stand on the bow and direct our course through and around the corral bomies.
Once inside, we chose a space away from the other moored boats, watched the sun set over the island, the occasional visit by a curious turtle, and, of course, a swim in the bath temperature water. So another tick on the bucket list: anchor inside the reef of a tropical island.
The following morning we set off on a pretty direct passage to Great Keppel Island at the same time as a large cruising yacht, which paralleled us down to the Capricorn group. They motor sailed and we just sat on our now great cruise speed of 7.5 to 8 knots as we passed through Polmaise and Mast Head Reefs and on to a very busy anchorage on the northwest side of Great Keppel.
The next day with a following sea from the southeast and increasing to 2 to 3m, plus a strong breeze in the rear, we decided to head into Rosslyn Bay to again top up with fuel before motoring beside the coast to Pearl Bay for that night’s anchorage. In the trip so far we’d averaged 7.5 knots, used 7.9 litres of fuel per hour and covered nearly 420 odd miles, all without incident or drama.
Pearl Bay was truly beautiful, a lovely beach down to a protected bay with an offshore island covered in pines. This would be a great anchorage to come back to one day and get away from the world -- a new item to add to the bucket list.
With the distance from Pearl Bay to Mackay being 118 miles, and weather that seemed as though it wasn’t going to improve, we expected to spend a long day in following seas and swell to pass through the Percy Island Group and the Beverly Group, basically following a rum line to Mackay Harbour.
It was around Digby Island that we discovered we were in a very confused sea caused by the auto pilot over-steering as it tried to anticipate the direction. So we adjusted the sensitivity of the controls from “performance” to “cruise” mode, which meant the boat, rode up on waves and surfed down the waves, the biggest we’d experienced since leaving the Gold Coast.
We took turns watching the plotter and pilot for the maximum speed read out, 12 knots, 14 knots and then 15.2 knots, the fastest we’d seen. We felt so secure during all this that we could walk up the side of the cabin to the bow and ride down the waves and watch the islands go by. This was a test for a boat if there ever was one. I’d heard of power boats surfing down waves, turning sideways and becoming broached, but not this little 34 footer! Solid is the word that came to mind.
We navigated the moored bulk carriers southeast of Mackay just on dusk, losing count of them as we turned into Mackay Marina about 8pm, where we’d arranged a berth for a few weeks whilst we returned to Sydney for Christmas and New Year festivities.
Mackay to Cairns – Adam Workman
This is the second installment of a story of the delivery of an Integrity 340 Sedan, “Kariba” from the Gold Coast to Cairns. From there, it would be sailed across the Coral Sea to Madang, PNG, and its new owner who will use it in and around the Great Madang Lagoon.
Many have commented that they wouldn’t expect a little trawler style boat, typically used in rivers, bays and canals, to take on such an adventure. Well I’m here with hand on heart to vouch that we kept saying “what a great little sea boat” it is.
As you know from the last report we’d (Dale an old sea dog and myself) left the boat safe a secure in Mackay Marina with the care of the live aboard marina residents, keeping an eye on her whilst we returned to Sydney for other commitments.
We’d chosen to return to Mackay in the end of January, then restock and prepare for the final part of our leg the 360 mile motor to Cairns, via the Whitsunday Passage inside the Great Barrier Reef to Cairns.
Whilst watching the weather patterns from Sydney, I booked tickets and flew up a day or so before Dale to speed up the departure. No sooner had the plane doors opened when the rain began. A stiff breeze was blowing, thanks to a low in the monsoon trough higher up the coast, about in line with Townsville.
I was greeted at the marina by locals and marina staff chanting: “You’re not going anywhere.” At this stage the low was still pushing east, so, of course, I replied: “I’m not a fool. And I never trust Mother Nature.” I checked the forecast constantly to try and get a good understanding of where and when would be best to go. It was always going to be safer to be in the marina than heading into a bad low, and even more so, a cyclone, remembering that it was that time of the year.
The weather information provided by BOM was invaluable, with updates at a minimum twice a day and, when the low did form into Cyclone Dylan, every couple of hours.
So now it was a matter of preparing the boat to be hit, possibly by a cyclone in the marina. We fastened extra lines, fenders, got the marina staff to tighten the bollards, etc. “Should we take the covers off?” we asked the locals and boat owners who had lived through bad cyclones. All had advice, which, I must say, was sometimes comforting and sometimes worrying. As this was my first cyclone, I found comments like: “The toilet block is a safe place. It’s built like a brick s*&t house.” comforting.
All the time the wind and seas were getting stronger as the cyclone changed course to head back to the coast, with a likely land crossing between Bowen (about 60 miles up the coast) and Cape Bowing Green, and due to cross the coast at high tide (6.92 m) early in the morning. The concern in the marina were the waves and logs coming over the sea wall as had been seen during high tides and the build-up of the seas.
Dylan was now a category 1 heading for a 2 when it was due to hit the coast. Nothing more could be done in preparation so off to bed. To be honest, I slept through its arrival, waking in the morning to a change in swell direction now coming in the marina entrance and surging the boat against the fenders. An inspection of line and boat found no damage at all.
Dylan was now a low and dissipating over land. A few of the marina arms were broken and punctured by logs being jammed between boats and the pontoon floats. I made a mental note that it’s important to look at where you’re berthed in a marina and ask for a safer space, if you’re going to be away when a storm hits. We realised that this certainly saved us from damage when we saw the berth we’d originally been given was full of logs and debris.
Although the cyclone had passed, the locals warned us against going to sea: “The debris will be bad for days!” Dale and I decided to check this out for ourselves so we hired a car and headed to the beach and coast for a better look. Although this was the afternoon after Dylan had crossed the coast, we decided that that we’d leave the next day after watching some local girls in bikinis jumping into the surf on the beach next to the marina.
The day of departure dawned and, full of fuel we headed out the marina entrance to be met by flat -- and I mean really flat – seas. And blue skies! Suddenly, I knew what the calm after the storm means. Yes, there were a few logs and debris near the river outlets and tide lines, so we took turns sitting on the bow, keeping a look out and adjusting the pilot to navigate away from the tide lines.
We passed through the Whitsunday Passage in the most beautiful weather which led us to decide to push on from our planned Nara Inlet anchorage to Nellie Bay for that night’s stop. Arriving at dusk, we found the anchorage too swelly from the southeast, so up came the anchor for a quick passage between the cloud-capped Gloucester Island to Jonah Bay, a much better overnight stop.
At first light we set course for Cape Upstart. With a favoured tide we were making good time, helped by the sea that was now building from the stern thanks to a fresh southeaster. Our “great little sea boat” was handling so well as we surfed down waves in complete auto pilot control as we sat in the cock pit keeping an eye out by looking up the side walkways for any possible debris at the same time as enjoying a few movies on the TV DVD.
Time just flew and by sunset we had navigated into Nelly Bay Marina. Our average speed for the day was just under 9 knots and we used about 12 litres of fuel per hour. While docking in the greatest downpour, which drenched both Dale and myself, we observed that this was the only rain we’d seen despite weather reports claiming heavy rain up and down the coast. Friends in Mackay called and were surprised to find that we’d made Magnetic Island considering the very strong winds and rain they had experienced. Mother nature had certainly looked after us!
Now the forecast was for a new category 1 cyclone, Edina, forming in the Coral Sea and heading southwest towards Bowen, which was now south of us. We planned to leave at first light and get as far north as we could of Edina’s preferred side. That meant passing through the Air force bombing area north west of Magnetic Island, this is a funny story in itself!
When I contacted the Air Force in Canberra to try and find out if the area was open as per the book Cruising the Coral Coast, I was transferred to Captain, I think, Darwin, who, said “You can’t enter this area under any circumstances!” However, by the end of our conversation he gave us permission but only to pass through to make sure we didn’t put even a toe on any of their islands. Of course I agreed. We were, however, already in the area but realised we ought to do the right thing, especially since we thought the Air Force might be holding “war games” and with a cyclone in the area to boot!
Again another easy passage up the east side of Hinchinbrook Island, a massive high sided cloud-capped island also being rained upon. Note that we were now in sunlight, with the occasional shower looking westward: “Could this be any easier?” asked Dale.
The sun set whilst we entered the very secure harbour of Mourilyan to find that this is where all the people on board boats had hidden from the cyclones.
Edina had now fizzled out leaving big seas of 3 to 4 metres for us to run with on our last day of motoring on Kariba. up past Mission Beach where Dale recalled a time many years ago when his father took the family Holden for a fast drive up the beach with him in the back.
Passing very inviting islands and reefs that knocked the seas down, we motored into Half Moon Bay marina, also called Yorkeys Knob Boat Club. A berth was arranged and the boat filled with fuel to work out our speed and fuel consumption. These figures were to be passed on to the PNG delivery team:
- Total distance from Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast to Cairns: 932 nm
- Fuel use: 1,561 litres
- Engine running time: 123.1 hours.
Sometimes running the engine harder to bed it in gave a consumption of about 12 litres per hour at an average speed of 7.5 knots in, nevertheless, some of the biggest tides to occur in Queensland.
My personal conclusions from this very eye-opening experience were
- Do not take Mother Nature for granted
- Communication whether by phone or internet is vital for up-to-date information
- Make your own informed decisions based upon the prevailing conditions and your knowledge that the vessel you are in is capable of handling those conditions and;
- Be prepared for anything.
I must add that “Kariba”, the great little sea boat, did perform and had no surprises in any way. She just kept chugging along, dry and stable, not trying to be something she’s not. It’s a credit to the years of design, from the trawler hull to the cabin ergonomics, that made this trip a once in a lifetime dream-come-true.
I must also thank the owner Lynton Richards for letting me experience the boat he’s purchased, and remind him that, if he ever needs someone to bring her back to Australia one day, I’ll be the first to put my hand up.
One final piece of advice: If you own a boat capable of doing a trip like this,
Don’t just sit in a marina. Do it before you can’t!
Kariba Delivery Skippers - Morrie & Peta Morgan
“Adam, Well the mighty 340 integrity sedan made it to Madang waters coming in some two weeks ago. Morrie (delivery Skipper from Cairns) has nothing but praise for the boat, his description of the conditions in the Coral sea were a little concern but the boat came through in style as she should.