Sorry folks. This e-mail got started a long time ago and I thought it had been posted. Ignore it if you'd like. Another will follow shortly.

15 May 2009

Townsville 19 14S 146 50E

A morning as an excentric hermit sailor: I must keep an average of 15 miles per day for 2 weeks towards Cairns in order to meet Jan when she flies from Canada on 29th, and I don't want to sail every day. Yesterday I made 55 miles with a fresh SE breeze behind me, and then tucked in behind Upstart Point to find a perfect mill-pond anchorage behind the hook of the point. So I took a quick walk ashore, ate, went to bed reading another chapter of "The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow", and fell asleep wondering whether to spend the next day wandering over the rocky headland's national park, or whether to press on.

The choice was made when, after a restless night, I was wakened by the piercing beep of the anchor drag alarm. Jump up; yes I should get a clean shirt but not now; water 7 metres deep & flat, boat 300 ft north of where I left it and still moving; water colour uniform - no rocks; wind - bullet gusts off the hills; & well a very quick scrambled egg & coffee while I check the engine & start it. What a rushed breakfast! No time to move the dinghy painter away from the propeller so I watch it like a hawk while single-handedly motoring up on the anchor, pulling that in, and finally pointing out away from the rocks. When I arrived, there had been 2 other boats anchored along 1/2 mile of rocky shore, but during the night another 6 had arrived, but as Harmonica rolled out of the bay, all but one other were already heading north or out of sight. Unfurled the headsail, turned off the engine finished the coffee, and watched the wind drop.

We rolled on in an uncomfortable side-swell for 3 hours, reading, and doodling about. Then I was hit by an urge for morning tea, and as I retrieved the cherished fruit cake that had been kept 2 weeks for just such an occasion I noticed that a tomatoe salsa was sitting in the frig and that was exactly what the tummy craved. On opening it I was greeted with the right zesty smell, but a thick halo of white furry mould. It did look nice underneath, and surely this was much more like penicillin than a culture of swine flu? I skimmed off the top while remembering that it really was 3 weeks since I started the jar in Gladstone. Obviously the jar needed finishing, so that is what I did.

Mid afternoon brought Harmonica to Cape Bowling Green, which sounded flat and manicured. On the contrary, it was a windswept, grey sandbar streatching for miles as far as I could see. As we rounded the end, I watched a large black fin poking out of the murky water a quarter of a mile away. I Have not swum in the sea all year. Behind the Cape, there were 2 miles to motor up to windward before the bottom shoaled out and the Delta Anchor went over the bow. That did not hold in the stiff breeze, so the Bruce went over too and we were set for the night in our grey solitude. Our Bruce is half the size of our Delta, but it holds better in soft mud.

Next morning it was "up anchor" and on along the course of Captain Cook as far as Townsville & Magnetic Island, where I didn't see magnetic north change by more than a degree or so. Townsville Marina was alovely spot, and I was quite happy when I was told that I could not enter since I carry no insurance, but could anchor just outside, and use all the facilities. I met a few old friends, and one new friend who insisted that he couldn't quite finish his flat of beer without a third person to help him - so I obligded.

Dave & Harmonica

Yes I really do talk to myself about "we & us"