Thursday, June 21, 2012, Airlie Beach Anchorage
After dropping Garyn and Jess off at Hamilton Island for their flight home on Saturday, Russ and I spent one night at Hamilton Marina and two nights in Cid Harbor. We were finally able to catch up with our friends, Derek and Bele on SV Pandana whom we had met in Vanuatu.
We enjoyed a nice meet up with them on Sunday evening for dinner, and were all planning on a geocache hunt on Monday morning. There is a small island off of Cid where there is a geocache. When we awoke on Monday, the wind was howling and a one mile dinghy ride in the wind and waves looked unappealing. So we decided to give that activity a pass. Next time!
Bele and Derek left Monday afternoon for Airlie Beach, and after completing a few boat projects, we left Cid on Tuesday morning, June 19, arriving at Airlie Beach by lunch. We had a strong wind and tidal current moving us along at 7 knots with a double reef. The trip which usually takes three hours, only took us two. That's a record for us!
Airlie Beach is a large shallow bay that extends from shore outward for a mile or more. We dropped our anchor in 14 feet of water about a half mile off shore. We would have liked to have been closer but were afraid we would be sitting on the bottom when the tide went out. The anchor (our new one that we bought in Mackay) didn't set the first time in the muddy bottom. So we pulled it back up and dropped it again. This time it seemed to set.
Because the anchorage is a mix of mooring balls and boats at anchor, we did not lay down as much chain as we usually do because we were afraid that if we did our swing diameter would be too great and we would run into the moored boats. We stayed on the boat and set the anchor alarm. The wind was strong and we could hear the anchor pull, but we didn't move.
|Looking out on Anchorage|
|Lovely, Free, Saltwater Swimming Lagoon at Airlie Beach|
Gina and Paul Ray on SV Solace, whom we had met at Whitehaven Beach just a few days before, were anchored in front of us. We invited them over to play dominoes. Gina won the game. Instead of a grudge match, we made arrangements to meet up again the following evening on SV Solace to learn a new dice game called Zilch.
Thursday, June 21, we decided to explore a little further. Gina and Paul had already left their boat for some land exploration, by the time we left WW at 10:00 a.m. in the morning. Once again the wind was blowing like crazy, but we had not strayed from our anchor perimeter circle, so we felt confident enough to leave the boat. We dinghied ashore and took a bus inland a few kilometers to a shopping mall.
We stopped at a sport store and bought a full length wet suit for me and at a pharmacy for some over the counter meds, contact lens solution, etc. Then we had a nice lunch in a little restaurant and headed back to the bus stop.
We had purchased an all day ticket, and were planning to stop at a large super market on the way back to the boat and do some provisioning. While we were waiting for the bus (1:50) which was due in about 10 minutes, Russ checked the cell phone. We had received a voice message from Gina. She wanted to know if we were still planning to come over to their boat that evening as it looked like we had left. Our boat was no longer behind them. WHAT?!
Russ immediately returned Gina's call. They had returned to Solace and were busy watching another boat in front of them dragging anchor as the winds were gusting to 30 knots. It had hit another boat. She thought that while they were away, we had sought out a more protected spot out of the wind to re-anchor, as our boat was no longer anchored behind them.
UH? WHERE'S THE BOAT?! Uh? NO! We had not re-anchored. Oh S#@%! Where was Worrall Wind?
Gina and Paul got out their binoculars and scanned the horizon. They thought they spotted Worrall Wind about a half mile away as the wind blows, and here we were sitting at a frigging bus stop, miles from the beach while our boat was sailing away!
Fortunately, our new and now best friend Paul said he would go out to the boat in his dinghy and see if he could stop Worrall Wind's escape to the sea. Within minutes our nice leisurely day was turning into an unwelcome drama.
Russ and I looked around to no avail for a taxi. We jumped on the bus for the agonizingly slow ride back to the dinghy dock at the Whitsunday Sailing Club. Would Paul be able to stop Worrall Wind? Did the new anchor fail? Did she hit and damage any other boats or people in the anchorage? Was she damaged? How much insurance do we carry? And for goodness sake, lady, just pay the bus driver and take your seat!
We arrived at the dinghy dock about 45 minutes after the phone call with Gina. We hopped in the dinghy and headed for Solace. Sure enough there was a big open space behind Solace where we had left Worrall Wind.
We saw a ketch in the distance and headed in that direction. As we got closer, we could see Paul on the bow and his dinghy tied to WW's side. It is hard to believe that WW drug anchor as far as she did, through an anchorage of several other boats....and didn't hit one of them!
|Anchor Drag....half mile and no hits! Amazing!|
If the bay had not been so shallow so far out, we could have lost the boat because the anchor would have just dangled in the water as she blew north. Geez! We are so fortunate to have met Gina and Paul only a few days before and they were able to contact us and watch over WW. When we boarded Worrall Wind, we pulled up the anchor. The anchor shaft and chain shackle had a weird twist in them that Russ had to fix before we re-anchored. We motored back to the mooring field and set the anchor in a different position, farther out from the rest of the boats. If we broke loose again, we would have fewer worries with no or less boats behind us.
In a phone conversation later in the afternoon with other cruising friends, Dana and Mark, on Northfork, I joked that they were lucky Worrall Wind didn't smash into them as they were entering the Marina. Dana said they had seen Worrall Wind way out in the Bay as they were coming into the Marina and wondered why we had anchored out so far? I guess WW has a mind of her own.
Gina and Paul came over to our boat again this evening as we were reluctant to leave. We broke out a vintage bottle of wine as a thank you, and enjoyed a nice evening playing Zilch. Just as we think life is getting a little ordinary, we are reminded that life is never ordinary when you live on a boat, and cruising friends really look out for one another. We are so thankful!
We had some plans for more exploring tomorrow, but I think we'll stay put until the wind dies down. If were feeling really brave, we may venture into the Whitsunday Sailing Club for dinner tomorrow night.
Even though we are a little shaken,
All is Well With the 2 Sail R's on SV Worrall Wind