The Great Keppel Is trip that was not.

The Great Keppel Is trip that was not.

Postby Troppo » Mon Jul 04, 2016 10:04 am

My plan was to cruise from Rockhampton to Great Keppel Island and hopefully north into Shoalwater Bay area. Previously I have explored the Fitroy River and across the river delta to Pacific Creek on Curtis Island. To go further required a serious change to how I normally cruise.

Usually I tow an 11 foot aluminium dinghy. Great for the river, not for open waters. Needing something to fold up and carry on deck, I bought a Mercury 250 Airdeck HP inflatable dinghy and Mercury 4-stroke 3.5 hp motor. When I set out on May 28, the dinghy was in its bag tied down on the cockpit roof. The motor inside the cabin laying on the floor with its powerhead raised slightly resting on the bilge cover which is a step up from the lower floor.

The morning I set out, I checked the weather forecasts and found they were changing. Gone the light easterly winds. Strong ones coming. Okay. I move to Plan B. Rather than go to Great Keppel Island where strong winds moving around the compass can make it difficult to find a calm anchorage, I decided to head to Yellow Patch on Curtis Island. Being a small estuary, I hoped it would be more protected. The problem is the entrance which is shallow.

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Sunset from Egg Island, Fitzroy River Qld.
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The first day I anchored overnight at the mouth of the Fitzroy River, beside Egg Island (23 nm). The next day I crossed the bay and headed around the top of Curtis Island past Pacific Creek. I was glad not to be going in there as I wanted to see new places and the landing at the jetty to access the shore has many sharp bits of shell and rock. Didn't want to puncture my new inflatable.

Hummocky Island is practically on my path so I detoured and eye-balled it. Wind is southerly but shifting towards the east. I motored as winds not good for sailing and I am mostly heading into the wind which picked up as the day passed. I enjoyed my quick view of Hummocky Island but was running out of hours.

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Approaching Hummocky Is. off Curtis Island Qld.
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Decided to anchor at Cape Capricorn as closer than Yellow Patch and I was not feeling well (total from previous anchorage 31 nm). My thought was I would have more time the next day to inspect the entrance to Yellow Patch and go in.

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Packed inflatable on cabin roof, Cape Capricorn ahead, Yellow Patch on R
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With swells coming around Cape Capricorn, I had a very rolly anchorage. Felt very sick but didn't need to hang over the side. When I noticed that my throat was becoming sorer and my sinuses congested, I realised some or most of my feeling sick was a head cold coming on.

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Cape Capricorn
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The next day, Monday, feeling even sicker, instead of going to Yellow Patch, I headed back around Curtis Island and entered Pacific Creek (20 nm). I went there because I know it is a safe anchorage and being only one day from Rockhampton, if I get too much sicker I can easily return home.

Thankfully, the head cold didn't get that bad but it did zap the energy out of me. I stayed on the boat, slept, ate when I could, sippped tea and contemplated my surroundings. Later in the week I did some light work on the boat.

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Sunrise Pacific Creek, Curtis Island Qld.
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Continued next post.
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Re: The Great Keppel Is trip that was not.

Postby Troppo » Mon Jul 04, 2016 10:12 am

Part II

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Pacific Ck, Curtis Is, view toward mouth with old jetty and fishing shack.
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By Friday, June 3, I felt well enough to inflate the dinghy and go to shore. It was the seventh day since I started the trip and since I had set foot on the ground. Friday night the rain bucketed down. Needed to bail out the dinghy in the morning but saved several buckets of fresh water for washing.

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Gee, it puffs up big!
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Saturday night a gale blew from the west. Right up the straight of Pacific Creek. Combined with a 5.6 metre tide, I end up dragging and needing to release more anchor rode. Stopped the dragging but at 2:30 am close to low tide and so less current flow, the wind swung me onto shallows and I get stuck. Bit of a drama but I am off several hours later.

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Warner Pt, Curtis Is, from Golden Shore. All extremely shallow.
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I didn't realise it at the time, but the weather system is an East Coast Low which caused serious damage all down the coast.

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Don't mind rain.
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Sunday the wind blew strongly up the creek again and wind against tide conditions caused me much frustration. Sunday night I carefully watched the GPS for dragging as another big tide. I am shocked out of my sleep after midnight when an unexpected bullet of wind shunts Windchaser from behind and almost rammed her into the bank. I wondered why the exciting things always seemed to happen at night.

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Warm sunny day, nice if no adverse wind.
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Took days for the weather to settle.

Continued next post.
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Re: The Great Keppel Is trip that was not.

Postby Troppo » Mon Jul 04, 2016 10:19 am

Part III

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Looking up Pacific Creek, jetty behind me, Windchaser anchored up around corner.
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Over the next few days the weather improved and the tides reduced. I went walking, fished (nothing) and avoided snakes on the grass-covered tracks (several). Took ages to get my energy back from having the virus but I enjoyed my time.

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Anchored Pacifc Creek, Curtis Island, Qld.
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By the end of two weeks, I headed across to the mouth of the Fitzroy River (12 nm), stayed a night then motored up to Rockhampton (23 nm). The inflatable dinghy and motor were great. Bit cumbersome and heavy to handle but managable. Didn't puncture the dinghy so was happy about that.

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Beach other side of Warner Point.
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Windchaser was very comfortable and the time went quickly. Well, when I had the cold real bad and not sleeping properly at night the time did not go quickly but apart from that it did. Being on the boat, even if I was stuck in Pacific Creek and not out on the wide blue yonder, was fantastic.

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Anchored off mangrove island called Egg Island, Fitzroy River, Qld
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Very relaxing. Always seemed to be something to interest me in the creek. And it was great having access to the shore with walks along beaches and around salt flats and rocky points. Despite not actually sailing far, I consider the trip a good one.

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Exploring around the various mangrove islands, Fitzroy River, Qld.
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I have written up my diary which makes for a lot of words and posted it and other pictures in my blog.
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Re: The Great Keppel Is trip that was not.

Postby Miker » Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:49 pm

Great pics Troppo, and well done for staying put and getting rid of the cold. Probably being out in the fresh air helped immensely!

Nice write up..... making me want to go soon. Alas, have to wait until the home extensions are completed.
Michael
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Re: The Great Keppel Is trip that was not.

Postby Phillip » Mon Jul 04, 2016 4:54 pm

Dammit Troppo,

That story wants me to go back again. I too have spent days sheltering from weather there ;)

Have to get back, maybe 2018 or 19 I think. I want to go south first.
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Re: The Great Keppel Is trip that was not.

Postby Shaun » Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:29 pm

Top Photos Louis.

I could have posted a thread with exactly the same title name, was hoping to get to Great Keppel this year but....maybe next year. Borrowed the books and literature from Phillip. Your story & photos have really got me even more interested in that part of the coast .
cheers
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Re: The Great Keppel Is trip that was not.

Postby Troppo » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:06 am

Phillip wrote:Dammit Troppo,

That story wants me to go back again. I too have spent days sheltering from weather there ;)

Have to get back, maybe 2018 or 19 I think. I want to go south first.


Phillip, I recall when you were up here. We had unseasonal weather with lots of wind from the wrong direction. And I remember you didn't end up getting in to Yellow Patch.

Despite the weather not helping, you managed to cover a lot of miles in your cruise up and down the coast.

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Re: The Great Keppel Is trip that was not.

Postby Troppo » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:10 am

Shaun wrote:Top Photos Louis.

I could have posted a thread with exactly the same title name, was hoping to get to Great Keppel this year but....maybe next year. Borrowed the books and literature from Phillip. Your story & photos have really got me even more interested in that part of the coast .
cheers


If I see a junk rig, I'll know it's you Shaun.

I don't know what the sandflies are like in your part of the world, up here I can't stay in the mangrove areas unless I have mossie coils and repellent. However, the landscapes are at times jaw-dropping beautiful.

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