About seven weeks ago I bought a boat. It’s a nice boat, an old boat but a nice boat. It’s a 43’ (13m) centre cockpit sloop that is now almost 25 years old. I know it will need some attention over time and modifications to suit my needs but it is a solid foundation for a wonderful ‘Sea-tirement’.
Now, about three weeks ago with a one-way hired ute loaded with all the needs for a delivery trip home we, Michelle and I, set off on the 10 hour drive north to settle aboard and sail it home over 10 days. A nice easy trip south through the lower portion of the Great Barrier Reef stopping at island anchorages along the way. A dream of a trip. On our arrival in Airlie Beach we moved our stuff aboard and settled in. Next day the previous owner (we’ll call him Mr C because he was the third owner) came down and went over the boat with us. He showed us the in’s and out’s, what to do here and there, where the spares were and what they were for. Then we ended the day with a lovely lunch with Mr and Mrs C.
Day 1; Sunday; full of excitement and eagerness we woke early, looked at each other and said – “lets’ do this”. Cast off the lines and motored to the fuel dock to fill up and then well before 0800 we were off out of the shelter of the harbour at Airlie Beach with big grins and full of happy thoughts. Sailing was easy but for the genoa catching on the inner forestay at each tack. Heading south through the Whitsunday Passage we easily cruised over 8 knots.
A good day’s sail was had eventually dropping anchor in the shelter of Thomas Island. A sheltered anchorage all to ourselves in a little cove with another small island for further protection.
Day 2; another early start and heading off to the east of the island to continue south. An early start followed by, again, easy sailing but as we were coming off the anchor I noticed there was very little water pumping out with the exhaust – our engine cooling wasn’t working properly. Fair winds made smooth sailing but again at every course change the genoa caught on the forestay and around lunch time the headsail tore. Minor panic erupted as it was hurriedly furled away and we began sailing on the main only until we put up the only other sail suitable – a storm jib, to assist us along. The winds eased and our progress slowed eventually sailing onto anchor at Carlisle Island.
A brief inspection of the engine and there was nothing I could do at anchor. The situation now was – a torn headsail, no engine for recharging batteries and the old solar panel wasn’t working to capacity either. Limited battery power of course meant reduced refrigeration. The decision was made to head in to Mackay the next day.
Day 3; another early start on a glorious morning. Sailed off the anchor in a light breeze and began a slow sail towards Mackay. The winds eased further during the day until we were totally becalmed and the only headway we were making was with the 1 – 2 knot drift south on the tide. With the tide expected to change in the mid-afternoon a radio call went out to VMR (volunteer marine rescue) about an hour before the change when we would be pushed back towards where we came from. VMR responded promptly arrived and towed us the last 6 nautical miles to Mackay Marina where we berthed and connected to shore power to recharge batteries and cool down the fridge and freezer. Dinner and well-earned cold beer at the pub was had to drown our sorrows whilst we made plans for repairs and beyond.
To be continued………….