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Captains Log - Leg 3 - Bundaberg to Mackay

Date  Events
1 April '02 Today we embarked a new voyage crew for the trip to Mackay. Due to the strong wind warning and persistent gales over the Easter weekend, we remained alongside in the hope of sailing the next day. That afternoon, while scrubbing the decks, one of the new voyage crew slipped and fell awkwardly breaking his femur in the process. This necessitated a trip to the Bundaberg Hospital and a minor operation which, unfortunately meant the end of the voyage for him. The rest of the day was spent drilling the new crew and initiating them into shipboard life and generally preparing them for departure. The hospitality continued and we were all treated to a departure breakfast of muffins and coffee with the compliments of Brad, the owner of the Marina Cafe.

3 April '02 We finally slipped at 0700 and sailed into a 30 knot gale which sent us scudding northwards. We reduced sail at 1100 as the wind increased and ran on. At 1600, we braced and ran into Bustard Bay and real Matthew Flinders territory. This area inside the bay was also visited by Cook in 1770, the name the town bears today. We ran down Bustard Bay, wore ship and set a course to clear Outer Rocks and bore up running north for Gladstone in the area named Port Curtis by Flinders.

4 April '02 We arrived outside Gladstone approaches at 0400 and proceeded up the channel under sail arriving off the breakwater at Auckland Inlet at 0930 to find some doubt water depths. At 1000 we anchored outside, lowered the boat and proceeded to inspect the berth. We sounded the berth and all the approaches in the time honoured way with a hand leadline - Matthew Flinders style - and also sounded the channel in Auckland inlet itself.
weighed and proceeded alongside at 1300. Again, welcomed warmly by the populace and the representatives of Gladstone Council. It was family catchup time for me as one of my many cousins and her family live in Gladstone.

5th April '02 During the forenoon, I was delighted to be able to inspect the Flinders section of the Gladstone Maritime Museum. I was accompanied by one of the voyage crew, Meg Caruana, a direct descendant of Matthew Flinders' sister Suzanne. I was very impressed with the whole museum, including the Flinders information. A very poignant exhibit was a cannonball from the wreck of the 'Porpoise', wrecked in 1803 with Matthew Flinders as a passenger on his way back to England. The Gladstonians are very proud of their position in the world and have much public information available on Flinders work in their area and their place in the world as a major shipping port. They also have the largest aluminium smelter in the southern hemisphere. A piece of industry Flinders could not even imagine.
Reluctantly we departed at 1400 and headed downstream into a 30 knot South Easterly gale. Given the length of the passage out of Port Curtis and then north again, I decided to try the narrow Eastern Passage below Facing Island. The only real obstacle was the bar at the mouth of the passage, guarded by two very shallow shoals with only 1.5 metres of water over them. The major advantage was the fact that it would save us 8 to 10 hours. We successfully negotiated the narrow gap between them with no channel markers. We sounded with the electronic lead line and plotted our way through. The exercise was made even more anxious by the photos in the Maritime Museum of the big American schooner 'Discover' that grounded here in 1940 and became a total loss. However, thanks to the Hydrographic Office and their charts, we found our way through and Trim, to show her relief and approval, promptly fell asleep on the chart table.
The rest of the day was uneventful, with the course being set for Great Keppel Island.

6th April '02 On passage to Mackay, it is regrettable that this magnificent South Easterly wind, so valuable for driving us north, has prevented us from visiting many anchorages visited by Flinders, most notably, Port Bowen (now Port Clinton), Quail Island and Stannage Bay - all open anchorages open to the SE. However, we did anchor off Pine Islet at the base of Mount Westall and although there was no opportunity to go ashore because of the wind and tide, it was quite something to soak up the atmosphere of 200 years ago. Flinders would not have found it any different than we did, so unchanged. A remarkable comparison to Gladstone, with it's smelters and 30,000 ton ships not only entering and leaving daily, but at anchor outside, waiting.
At 0735 we anchored on the North side of Great Keppel Island within 1 NM of the beach where we started immediately sending the Voyage Crew ashore, Needless to say, no-one wanted to walk over to the resort. We had our first reminder of the strength and fall of the tides while at this anchorage with the Ship swinging so rapidly on her cable, and against the wind, that we were swung in to water's that were deep when we anchored but at this time caused us to bump our keel on the bottom. Needless to say we weighed and move with some haste, re-anchoring in a safer depth. I am continually amazed at the skill and dexterity of Flinders and his people navigating blind and engineless in these waters.
Trim continues to take an interest, confirming her conditional faith in me when on watch by curling up asleep nearby occasionally opening one eye to check on progress.

7th April '02 On passage to Mackay. Under sail all day, averaging 8.6 knots in ideal downwind sailing conditions. There is something about walking the decks in comfort on 120 tons of timber ship at that speed, with all canvas set, that a yachtie on a high powered machine could never experience. No sitting on the weather rail or in wet clothes, but when ready to go below, don comfortable gear and relax, absorbed in Flinders or similar. At 2000, the good wind petered away to 5 knots and shifted direction, forcing us to start the engine and motor the last hour and a half to the anchorage at Middle Percy Island. The island described by Flinders as "one of the prettiest places imaginable". All hands were glad of an early night, anchor watches excepted.

8th April '02 At Middle Percy Island
Middle Percy Island is truly one of the loveliest places on earth. The log 'A-frame' houses a true museum of memorabilia of past visiting ships and yachts which would take days to read. While the voyage crew went ashore, Dirk & I spent the morning making our own little bit of the same utilising some old manilla and plywood, a laminated Flinders map and was signed by everyone on board, even Trim's paw print made it. The current residents on the island, Mick & Kate, showed real hospitality to us all and Kate wrote and sang her own tribute to Middle Percy and Matthew Flinders and wrote a special song for The Windeward bound as well. A CD is on it's way.
While ashore, we played the inaugural game of 'Cannonball'. This game, a little like Boche, pits each watch against each other and all against the jack, known as the 'Isle De France'. The inaugural winners were white watch, persistently improving on the performance of the other watches and winning the Flinders Trophy, a new trophy cleverly designed by voyage crew member Terry Jones. A very tired, but very happy voyage crew were ferried back on board, the last returning after dark.
We reluctantly weighed anchor at 2000 bound for Mackay. We were visited in the night by our first flying fish, something that made Trim instantly suspicious, "A fish that flies?" something wrong here. The poor little thing was far too small to eat, although Jason the engineer had a gleam in his eye for a while. At 0900 we secured alongside the new International Marina in Mackay, our host for the next 5 days.

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