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Captains Log - Leg 4 - Mackay to Cairns

Date  Events
9 - 15 April '02 Well, here we are in Mackay, one of the prettiest towns in Queensland I think. Certainly one of the go ahead towns/cities with a civic council hell bent on making their streets a lush tropical paradise. The major industries appear to be sugar and cattle. While alongside in Mackay, we were visited by a group of international Charter vessel operators and agents from America and the Caribean. They were very impressed with everything, particularly the main purpose of the voyage itself.
Mackay proved very friendly to us and provided us with 4 more voyage crew for the trip to Townsville. The play proved very popular as well, both with schoolchildren and a group of elderly folk from a local nursing home. We sailed from Mackay on the 15th April bound for Bowen, Townsville and Cairns.

15 April '02 We slipped the wharf at 1315 after refuelling and spent 2 hours in Mackay Harbour doing fire drills and safety drills including getting the voyage crew aloft for the first time.
At 1600 we cleared Mackay Harbour and set a course for Scawfell Island some 25 miles away.and the second last island described by Flinders before he beat out through the reef to the open sea. We anchored for the night off Scawfell at 20deg 5.13 min x 149 deg 35.8 min. It's hard to believe we are only 35 miles from Mackay.

16 April '02 At 1015, we weighed and proceeded to Calder Island some 5 miles away and the site of Flinders last landing place before exiting the reef area. Calder Island lies a bare 5 miles from Scawfell Island and at 1300 we anchored adjacent to some uncharted coral beds at 20 deg 45.9 x 149 deg 36.9. We touched an uncharted coral mound rising from 10.6 metres of water. No damage was done and we soon anchored in safe water and after launching the boat, sent the voyage crew ashore to climb in Flinders' footsteps.
Three turtles were sighted by the masthead lookout and several more were sighted alongside during the day. It rained steadily during the day and at 1600 the shore party returned tired and wet but elated at the success of the day.

17 April '02 Today is the 201st anniversary of the wedding of Matthew Flinders and Anne Chappel.We therefore decided to celebrate with a "wedding" on board. The Ship's dressup box was raided by all and sundry and at 10.00, the ceremony took place with much humour injected by all, in remembrance of the joyful occasion so long ago. It was a fitting end to the visit of the last landing place of Matthew Flinders on the East Coast. We, as had Flinders, weighed anchor and set all plain sail, heading for Bowen.
Trim continues to amuse us all and continues to terrorise dragonflies and in spite of being rescued and released, they continue to return to tease her.
18 April '02 After an uneventful night and some mediocre sailing due to the fickle winds, we arrived alongside in Bowen at 1130. The reception was as warm as the climate and we were soon swept up by the people and made to feel very welcome. While in Bowen we presented the play to 200 children from local schools (and a number of members of the public). At a function put on by The Mayor and the local Council, we were made to feel doubly welcome. Everyone in Bowen is so proud of their community and its ongoing achievements.

19 April '02 The fresh NE wind made it extremely difficult to get off the wharf when the time came to sail. Once more we had cause to resort to some assistance from the Marine Rescue Service and we finally came clear almost 1 hour after casting off the lines. We hovered just off the wharf and set all sail with all 3 watches working in unison and racing each other to be set first. We must have made a fine sight as we slowly made way and then sped down the harbour away from the wharf. We used the calm waters of Edgecumbe Bay for some tacking and boxhauling and wearing ship practice. We then set sail for Hook Reef identified from Flinders charts as the last stop before clearing the reef and the point at which Flinders dispatched the Lady Nelson back to Port Jackson.

20 April '02
On course for Hook Reef, the last stop made by Flinders before leaving the reef area. Also the point at which Flinders sent back the Lady Nelson having decided she was a liability and a danger to the expedition. Flinders wrote "...but in the present state of the Brig, the probabilities are that The Ship (Investigator) will rather have to save the people of the Lady Nelson."
We arrived at Hook Reef channel to a welcome by a large pod of dolphins. The channel is amazing, with the reefs on either side drying at low tide but with 68 metres of water under our keel. We spent the morning swimming and snorkelling, talking to the employees of the Reef World underwater viewing platform, taking the Travel Buddies on an excursion to the viewing chamber, and once again, soaking up the atmosphere of Flinders' last reef stop.
Reluctantly, we cast off and headed back down the channel under sail, true to Flinders' way, and headed for Townsville. Unfortunately, the wind soon petered out forcing us once again to breakout the Iron Tops'l for the last 100 miles.

21 - 23 April '02 We arrived in Townsville to a rousing welcome by a flotilla of local craft and a pipe band. Poor Matthew didn't receive any of the attention we've been getting and he deserved it much more than us.
Following the lead vessel, we entered townsville Harbour and then Ross Creek securing alongside Reef HQ at 1100. We found ourselves berthed on the old Burns Philip wharf astern of another Tasmanian warhorse, the former Bass Strait trading ketch 'Defender', now working in Townsville.
We received the warmest of welcomes from the people of Townsville, an impressive city. Equally impressive is The Museum of Tropical Queensland and it's outstanding exhibits on the wreck of the 'Pandora', the ship sent by the British Admiralty to capture the 'Bounty' mutineers and bring them to justice. Pandora was wrecked while trying to enter the reef on her way back to England and was only the 2nd British ship at that time to enter those waters.The loss of the Pandora and the grounding of Endeavour were probably the reasons why Flinders gave that area a wide berth. We were pleased to be able to assist that fine museum by hosting a fundraising night organised by the Rotary club of Townsville.

24 April '02 The afternoon saw us marooned in Ross Creek, settled in the mud by an extremely low tide. Finally, we had enough water to float us off and to negotiate our way down the creek to the open sea. I personally felt a sadness at leaving this very hospitable place so soon, however we have an added purpose to the voyage, a purpose in keeping with the general principles of the voyage, Turtle research - or more correctly, landing along the way and making observations about nestings, predators and nest disturbances to assist the national database kept by National Parks and Wildlife and Coastcare co-ordinators.
We headed across to Palm Island and that evening. Anchored off the North West tip of Fantome Island, the site of a former leper colony and an Island of interest and the start of our turtle research. Tomorrow we visit Palm Island.

30 April '02 Reporter Richard Dinnen from the ABC's Far North Drive program (weekdays from 4:00pm) visited the Windeward Bound at Trinity Wharf in Cairns. To see details of the visit to Windeward Bound when she was welcomed to Cairns log onto the ABC website at
AND to hear the interview at the same time log onto
(you will need Real Player for this).

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