Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
From Maggie to Dunk Island - On the Move Again
With over two months in a marina it felt good to be under way again. After spending the first night at anchor in wonderful Horseshoe bay we were ready to keep going up north.
The weather forecast was showing SE 15 to 20 winds indefinitely so we left very early in the morning towards Palm Islands. What we got was SW 10 to 12 knots which was not bad for this trip except the seas were confused and uncomfortable.
Palm Islands - No giant clams - Oil leaks instead - 5 to 7 August 2015
The wind was good enough to try our reformed main sail. We were happy with the performance, Zenitude doing 7 kn in the second reef with the wind at 90 degrees.
Later on the wind diminished considerably and backed to the south, so we finished the trip motor sailing in very light winds, not exactly as forecasted, but we arrived at Little Pioneer Bay in Orpheus Island at around 3.00 PM.
Little Pioneer Bay in Orpheus Island (Palm Islands Group)
We spent two days in Orpheus with nice weather, a bit windy for the long dinghy ride to James Cook University research centre where the giant clams are located. The tide times didn’t help to motivate us either, the low tide that exposes the giant clams out of the water was quite early in the morning and it wasn’t as low as the Spring tides. We had this amazing experience last year (check this page: Orpheus Island - Giant clams and a full moon eclipse) and now we thought we better leave it for next time around, surely on our way back conditions should be better.
As we were happily thinking how good a time and place this was to relax after our hectic last days in Maggie, an alarm going off on the port engine that was running for a little while to charge batteries, ended with our ‘time to enjoy’ mood. It was time to work again. Quick assessment revealed that the new sea water pump installed in Maggie was leaking oil. So, there it was again, we hardly finished fixing the starboard engine for the port engine to get jealous and require Oscar’s full attention.
Initially the thinking was it would be an easy fix, just a matter of adjusting the bolts and maybe changing the ring. Of course, nothing comes easy when you are in a mooring, in a remote island with no access to shop for parts, obviously one of the bolts was damaged and required replacement, of course we didn’t have a spare of this particular bolt. At that point Oscar was concerned to remove the pump to check the ring, in case another bolt (there are four of them) could get damaged as well.
Instead of risking a complete not working pump Oscar designed a temporary ingenuous ‘oil re-cycling’ method to get us to a more suitable place where he could have work done. We always have several liters of spare oil on board but Oscar thought it would be better to collect the oil leaking from the pump and put it back if we needed to use the engine. (He had just changed the oil not so long ago).
Oscar’s oil recycling method worked well and we did good time arriving at Dunk Island early afternoon.
Being a Saturday, we found it a bit crowded but with a great atmosphere. As we approached the anchorage we saw another Lagoon, Seabreeze.
Later on we went to chat with them, David and Nerida were so nice and helpful. Their home base is Innisfail, not far from there, they assured us we would surely find anything we needed in Innisfail and kindly offer to help.
Towards Dunk Island - Underway recycling oil - 7 August 2015
With a forecast of 10-15 SE wind we decided to leave Orpheus and get going north to Dunk Island. Perfect, you would think but it wasn't. What we got was early morning katabatic winds (west), which was good for sailing while lasted but at around 10.00 AM the wind died and the forecasted wind never showed up so we had to resort to motoring the rest of the way.
Arriving at Dunk Island
Dunk Island - Sunset Bar, prawns and a water taxi drive - 7 to 17 August 2015
The island is beautiful and despite the roll and roll with the swell that enters the anchorage, usually at high tide, we decided to stay, try to fix the engine oil leak and wait for calm weather to go and visit a nearby reef. We got good references on Eddy Reef from the scuba dive operators and wanted to stop there on our way to Cairns.
Dunk Island is part of the Family Group of islands and is located about 2 miles east of Mission Beach in the continent.
A water taxi runs frequently and brings people for a day visit or a camping trip, but access is very easy by boat, and some people come on their own little boat or even by canoe.
Having dropped anchor on a Saturday afternoon we soon went ashore and enjoyed a beer while chatting with the bar owner. He was busy preparing what looked like yummy hamburgers and we promised we’ll come back for lunch on Sunday.
Next day was weather perfect and the beach bar was crowded. There was live music playing reggae nicely. We ordered the special of the day for lunch, a very well served portion for 2 of prawns with homemade sauce and 2 cold coronas. There might have been about 18 large tiger prawns and we ate them all, what a treat. After that we had a very relaxing time at the beach before heading back on board.
Next day was a work day for Oscar as he decided to go searching for a fix for our engine oil leak. It was easier than he anticipated.
On the way back there was time to visit Woolies for some needed fresh food items before taking the water taxi back to Dunk.
The tricky part of the fix was to redo the thread for the bolt that had been damaged, but with the right tool, parts and expert explanations he got right to work that same day and in half an hour the engine was running and no leaks!
We couldn’t thank David enough for the invaluable help and hope we’ll see Seabreeze around sometime soon!
After a short ride on the water taxi to Mission Beach, a nearby rental car company picked him up at the beach. On the rented car Oscar went on search of needed spare parts and tools.
In a country town called Tully he found what he was looking for. He also got from very friendly staff all the detailed explanations he needed.
Having finished early he decided to visit Innisfail, a lovely town where David from Seabreeze had recommended a professional mechanic that gave Oscar excellent advice.
Island Spirit - The water taxi that takes you across Dunk Island to Mission Beach. It actually drops you at the beach.
Tuesday came and weather was still perfect. We went around the island with the dinghy and found a nice spot for spearfishing. Oscar went looking for lobsters and I went snorkeling looking for nice and colorful fish, we found neither but the snorkeling was nice anyway in a quiet and amazing surrounding. The bottom was covered by a mix of small coral heads and lots of rocks, just the right bottom for lobsters, so Oscar was happy to stay in the area.
There are a couple of fishermen trawlers that come some days to spend the day at the anchorage setting sail again at 6.00 PM as they fish all night.
Thinking of tiger prawns, Oscar took the dinghy and went to have a chat with one of the fishermen, he came back with a bowl full of prawns, extremely fresh and at a very convenient price.
We kept watching the forecast, waiting for the right weather to leave, while enjoying the beautiful surroundings and the amazing sunsets.
We ate prawns for dinner three days in a row (chili prawns, Spanish rice with prawns and prawns with cocktail sauce), great dining!
The lonely fisherman - Sleeps during the day, works all night