Fast Tracking To Townsville

By | August 15, 2016

There’s something comforting about visiting familiar places, but there’s such anticipation and even excitement when we visit new places.  Our most northern stop last year was the Gloucester Passage, just north of Airlie Beach.  This year we planned on sailing further north.  And we have, arriving in Townsville yesterday afternoon.

We spent a lovely few days at one of our favourite spots, the Gloucester Passage.  Two low key resorts where enjoying a cuppa or a wine, or even a meal, in bare feet is the norm.

We met up with Moor R & R ashore for coffee and then again for a few wines watching the sunset.  The sunsets here are beautiful and we were even lucky enough to see Mercury, Venus and Jupiter all aligned.  How lucky was that (even luckier that we met James who knew his planets).

We also met up with friends Terry and Barb from home on a Seawind they are delivering to Victoria called Last Resort. (Unbeknown to us until later, it is owned by the son of a friend of mum’s).  And talk about good timing, Gerry on Aquilibrium also from home, arrived at the same time.  Drinks on The Bossa, followed by a meal ashore at the Gloucester Resort.

The next day we departed early for Townsville with stops at Cape Upstart and Cape Bowling Green planned.  Aqualibrium decided to join us.  We had a 48 nm sail to Cape Upstart ahead of us, then 36 nm to Cape Bowling Green and another 36 nm to Townsville.  Our plan was to sail to Cape Upstart for the night, then do a long day to Townsville skipping Cape Bowling Green (also known as Cape Rolling Green).

What do they say when there’s two boats sailing … yes … there’s a race!

Aqualibrium very kindly gave us a 30 minute headstart (either that or they slept in?).  We needed it as Aqualibrium is a longer and faster cat.  Gerry was building his 14m Schionning (the bossa is 12m) at the same time as us so there’s very much a shared journey between us.

We had a good 15 knot breeze so main and jib were up.  A lovely sunrise over Gloucester Island with the local fishing boats returning with their night’s catch made for a great start.  A rather strange marker or rock in the distance caught my eye as we were getting our sails set.  Then some time later I looked at it again through the binoculars and checked the charts.  No marker and no rock.  It was a whale’s tail, standing upright.  Must have been asleep for at least the hour I watched it. (See the photo below.  A long way away but I’m sure you get the drift.)

The wind dropped, Aqualibrium were in sight, so our new spinnaker was hoisted.  We had the best sail so far and we flew!  We hit a maximum of 13.1 knots (we normally sail around 6-8 knots).  We were flying!   So were Aqualibrium.  Realising Cape Upstart was fast approaching, it was decided to continue on and brave the Cape Bowling Green anchorage.  We agreed we could make it before dark.

We sailed 80.8 nm, all in daylight.  We left Gloucester Passage at 6.30 am and arrived at CBG at 5.15 pm.  Aqualibrium beat us by 45 minutes.  Not bad over an 11 hour sail.  No fish caught (don’t think they can swim that fast), but whales were seen and I even spotted a colourful sea snake off our transom.  A great day’s sailing!  As for Cape Bowling Green, we now know why it’s called Cape Rolling Green.  The next morning we were left with an easy 36 nm to Townsville.  As the wind was further round on the beam we chose to use our screecher.  Again, we flew!  We hit a maximum speed of 14.2 knots.

A quick trip to Townsville before the next blow.  Unfortunately we don’t have any photos of each of us as we took a different course.  Next time.

PS. Did anyone not think of telling us about that annoying Census??!! Only found out by chance it was happening.  Not one other boat has mentioned it (nor friends and family).  $180 a day fine if not completed by the due date.  What a pain it has been trying to get a Census Form.  Helpline constantly engaged.  Website useless.  No forms available anywhere.  Finally got through on the phone today (although I’m sure I’ve been directed to the wrong form but too bad, it’s done now).  Phew!