We picked up our new crew Andrew Poynter and girlfriend Emma from Hammo on the last day then a brisk sail back to Airlie to drop off the Hardman's and to pick up Mac and Tillie.
Alan and Carol have now resumed their caravan holiday and are working their way South.
After another reprovisioning and a nights stay at Abel Point we did a 3 day run to Townsville with 2 nights at Bona beach on Gloucester Island, where Andy did a quick bush bash to the top of the Island: (there are no tracks!) and us less hardy souls enjoyed the lovely beach and caught up with some other cruisers. Emma wasn't feeling very well and as the days wore on she did not improve.
The third night was behind Cape Upstart and then onto Townsville where Andy and Emma were forced to cut short their holiday to seek some medical attention in Melbourne. However I am sure we will enjoy their company again on some later cruise.
A strong high pressure system was developing over the mainland at this time and the trade winds picked up to a strong wind level (25 to 33 Knots) and stayed with us for the next week.
After Townsville we sailed the short distance to Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island and spent 4 nights in the shelter of the bay. Our good friends Alan and Lynnie McLean have a property here and also keep "Svanica" in the bay for much of the year when they aren't cruising the reef areas or travelling further afield. It was great catching up with them and sharing a few stories and meals.
As we had to be at Yorky's Knob by Saturday to start the Louisiades Rally preparations we decided to cover the 160 mile run up to Cairns in a 3 day run .
The first day felt like we were running the gauntlet as our course took us past Rattlesnake island which the air force was using for target practice that day, and a 5 mile exclusion zone was in force. Another small island close by had a shooting party ashore exterminating vermin and had a 1 mile small arms fire exclusion zone around it! safely past, we sailed up through the Palm Island Group which has an Aboriginal settlement on the main Island, Great Palm Island. The other islands in the Palm Group include Curacos, Fantome (once a leper colony) and Orpheus which now has a very exclusive resort and a research Station.
We chose to spend the night in Little Pioneer Bay at the northern end of Orpheus as we were experiencing some strong squalls and heavy rain showers.
A roley, windy night followed and the poor dogs missed out on their night time beach walk as it was too windy to launch the dingy.
Thursday the 5th was a bit lighter in the wind department as we set off and the waves were more comfortable. We left the third reef in for comfort and we were still trucking along at 8 to 9 knots with a choice of the lee side of Dunk Island for the nights anchorage or the small sugar port of Mourilyan Harbour. We chose Mourilyan in the end as it was 20 miles closer to Cairns and the shelter of the river sounded more inviting than the Dunk Island alternative.
This proved to be a good choice and we found two other Louisiades cruisers (Yantara and Symphony 2) holed up here as well.
Another boat we kept in sight on the AIS on the way up during these two days was the very attractive J160 Avante who is also a rally entrant from the US.
Friday saw a further improvement in the weather and we stopped at Fitzroy Island for lunch and a swim before heading into the Marina at Yorky's Knob.
Saturday was busy picking up our rally freight which has filled the generator room and half the port quarter berth cabin and starting on the big food stock-up. The majority of the 20 rally entrants are monohulls with 5 sailing cats and One power cat.
We have caught up with Andy Duffield and Kelly Saron on Quintessa who spent most of last summer at Beauty Point.
Rodney and Christine Smart on Smart Choice are also entered and I was intrigued to refresh an old school boy friendship with Steve Everett on another J160 called Salacia
The last 3 days have flown past as we start thinking about all of the last minute jobs we should do, including an engine service, fitting fans to the cabins and galley, sail repairs (minor) and shopping, shopping, shopping. How much do we take to feed and nourish the crew of 4 for 6 weeks. Is there enough room for all the drinks we might need? Do we need anymore trade goods?
today we had the first 6 hour briefing with another to follow tomorrow.
Ken and Wendy arrive tomorrow night and the final stock up of fresh fruit, vegies and meats will be done on Friday.
We will have a new phone number for the Sat phone tomorrow and SMS will be the best and cheapest way for everyone to keep in touch. I will email the number to the club and we hope to hear from some of you. We won't be able to update the blog again until we are back in acceptable internet range.