Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cairns, Yorkeys Knob and Rally Preperation (6th - 17th September)

Super Yachts @ Marlin Marina
After checking out the range of super yachts tied up at the Marlin Marina we headed off to Yorkeys Knob on the 6th September.  The trip is only a couple of hours so we were tied up by early afternoon.  On the way we had a go at making another version of bread which turned out to be a real winner and looks like the option that we will be making out on our trip to the Louisiades.

Our Second Loaf
For our first night at Yorkeys we were lucky enough to catch up with John & Cathy (good friends of Mark's folks) that now spend there winters up north.  We were very lucky to catch them as they were heading off to Singapore on the 7th.  We had a great night and very much thank them for their hospitality.

We weren't at Yorkeys for long and we met Guy Chester - the rally organiser - and started getting into the swing of getting ready for the Louisiades Rally which is scheduled to leave Yorkeys on the 17th.

Bruce at the BBQ
Guy soon roped us in and we were helping to sort out donation goods on the dock which were going to be distributed between the 15 yachts partaking in the rally. At this point we were trying to identify how much we were going be given to take on Sally as storage is going to be at a bit of a premium on the boat but figure we will be able to squeeze most of it into our stall shower so looks like bathing is off for a while!

Saturday arvo and our new crew Bruce and Gina flew in and before we knew it are off to the bar for a catch up drink and meal.  We thought Sunday would be a good opportunity to take a day off before the chaos started so we headed into Cairns for a day of rest and relaxation.  The rest of the week was a bit of a blur with provisioning, last minute boat preparations, rally and safety briefings as well as a number of social events which was lots of fun as we have pretty much met all the other crews on the rest of the rally by now.  Today (Friday) we are doing our final briefing and customs clearance and all being well with the weather we will be departing on our 520NM voyage to Louisiades tomorrow morning.  We  will be out on the rally for 5 weeks and expecting to make landfall in Australia again till around the 24th October so will be out of communications for a while.
Sorting Trade Goods for the Rally
There maybe some updates on the Rally Website on or you will have to wait until we get back in October. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dunk Island to Cairns (30th August to 5th September)

The Rebuilding of Dunk Is.
Well we did try to do the walk around the other side of Dunk Island but didn't get very far due to the destruction of Yasi.  The nice thing is that Parks are doing a lot of work on the island and we have been told that the walking tracks will be completed in the next month or two and the camping area is also being fixed up so even if the resort doesn't get back to life there will still be lots of other reasons to go to the island.  Despite all the devastation of Yasi there are plenty of signs of the vegetation fighting back and in this climate it does grow back fast.  Apart from all the other re-vegetation that we saw there were also plenty of coconuts starting to sprout along the beach front.

We ended up spending another day at Dunk as it is a very nice anchorage.  On Thursday (1st September) we decided to up anchor and move on to Mourilyan Harbour.  The trip to Mourilyan was pretty quick as we had a stiff breeze behind us and were doing 6.5knts with only a heady flying.  Along the way we were lucky enough to see quite a few whales again including a juvenile whale that must have been suffering with ADHD as it was breaching all the way past us and only around 100mts from the boat.  There is not a lot at Mourilyan Harbour apart from the sugar wharf, some fore-aft piles and some fishing boats but it is a good spot to stop for a night. 

The original plan was to go to Fitzroy Island for a few nights.  Fitzroy is one of the few holiday island resorts that is still doing well so we were hoping to go and enjoy a few days hanging out drinking cocktails around the pool and stuff but Hughie decided not to co-operate and the forecast was to blow for about 5days.  Plan B which involved a night in at Cape Grafton was put into action but also proved not to be such a good idea as when we went and had a look we were not able to get in close enough to get out of the swell.  So after a few quick calls we managed to get a berth in at Marlin Marina a night early which was excellent news and made us both very happy.  The trip up the channel into Marlin Marina at 4.30pm on a Friday was exciting in itself.  During our travel up the channel we had to deal with 2 ships, 1 dredge, about 12 charter vessels as well as a 30knot cross wind trying to blow us out of the deep water.  We both needed a stiff drink once we had tied up and had a well deserved shower. 
The Marlin Marina has excellent facilities.  Think we have rated the shower roses as the best up he coast plus it is located bang in the middle of town which means everything (including the pool and plenty of bars) are very accessible.

Freshwater Station
As we are staying at Marlin Marina till Tuesday before we head up to Yorkeys Knob we decide it would be a good idea to book a tour up to Kuranda  on Sunday (this was highly recommended to us by Rick aka Jacques Cousteau).  We were picked up bright and early on Sunday morning and the first stop was at the Freshwater Station where we caught the train up to Kuranda.  I don't remember all the facts but it is an amazing bit of engineering as the tracks go through a huge number of tunnels and cuttings as well as passing over lots of bridges.  Kuranda is a bit more commercial than my last visit in the 80's but in essence it is still an old hippie town with lots of stalls in the markets etc.  Mark has even got a bit hippie and is now sporting a very nice leather bracelet!!
Kuranda Rail
Barron Falls

After a wander around the township we decided to go to the butterfly house which is just amazing and very much worth a visit if you are up this way.  We were lucky enough to join up the escorted tour which was very informative about the secret lives of butterflies.  After a great time in Kuranda it is over to the SkyRail Station for the trip back down through the rain forest canopy - what a neat way to travel through the rain forest.

Ulysses Butterfly

Bird Wing Butterfly
Today (Monday) and we have a few things to buy and a few jobs to do so it will be a day hanging around the marina (and maybe a trip to the pool if the sun comes out a for a bit) and all going well we will be out of here tomorrow and up to the Half Moon Marina at Yorkeys Knob for the final preparations before heading out to the Louisiades.  As we have been moving north we have been meeting up with more of the rally folk which has been lots of fun.  So far the group seem really friendly and also there is quite a diverse range of boats and personalities so it should make for an interesting 5 weeks out and around the Louisiades.