Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Keppels to Shaggers or Gear Levers to Cabin lights

Too busy having fun to keep this up to date so a quick run through our trip from the Keppel Group through to Gloucestor Bay for the Shaggers rendezvous.

From Roslyn Bay (Keppel Bay Marina) we headed North into the Whitsunday Islands with Dallas and Erica on their 40' Benetau "Momentum"  Leaving the marina at dawn (sorry Terry) got quite interesting when the gear lever on the pedestal decided to fail.  Luckily we had backed out of the pen and I'd moved it into forward gear before the lever came off in my hand.  It's attached to a stainless steel shaft that disappears into the pedestal.  The shaft has a threaded hole through it and the lever is held onto the shaft by a screw.

Gear Lever on the Edson Pedestal.  I've replaced the original pan-head screws with hex heads

I've had some trouble with this before with both the gear lever and the throttle which is the same design but on the other side of the pedestal.  Even though we have a high end, US designed and built, "Edson" pedestal, the design is pretty poor IMHO.

There is no keyway, flat or splines on the shaft and lever which means that a screw through the top of the lever into the shaft has to cope with the shear forces when you try to rotate the shaft using the lever (if that makes sense).  So what happens is that the screw comes slightly loose and the lever starts to rotate slightly on the shaft, work hardening (weakening) the screw until it shears and you're totally screwed (scuse the pun).

I've replaced the original pan head screws on both sides with hex heads for now so I can get them a bit tighter but it's only a temporary fix really as they still come loose within days.  Splines on the rod and lever would have been a much safer and obviously better way to do this because when the screw shears, you lose control of the gearbox (or throttle) with potentially serious consequences.

I put the lever aside, grabbed a set of vice grips from my tool bag and clamped them down on the shaft as a temporary fix and refitted the lever with a new screw  later.  Getting the sheared piece of screw out of the shaft is tricky mind you!

We headed off under engine but the wind came up and we managed to turn the engine off a couple of hours later and had a broad reach North in South West winds around 10 to 15 knots right up to our first stop which was Pearl (my mind says Pearl but my fingers keep typing Perl for some reason) Bay.

We only stayed for one night unfortunately as it was a lovely bay with big wide sandy beaches and well protected from the South West winds we were having.  We did manage to try out our new camera (Nikon Coolpix P900) there for the first time though.  The zoom lens with image stabilization on this camera is pretty amazing!

First image is of the shore with a white dingy left of centre (14mm focal length)

This is zoomed right in on the dinghy (350mm focal length)

The rear of the dinghy cropped from the above photo

Admittedly, the first image is wide angle (14mm focal length) but the clarity of the second image at 350mm focal length hand-held from an unstable platform (Venture) is pretty astounding in my view.

Unfortunately, the camera failed a few days later as I'm sure Terry will tell you all about and we are currently waiting for it to be returned to us under warranty.

From Pearl Bay we headed up to a lovely anchorage on the North West side of Hexham Island.  We spent 3 nights there in the end and it was just lovely.  The anchorage was quite calm and the beach fantastic.  I got totally involved with a nesting pair of Kestrels there taking hundreds of photos which Terry is still sorting through to add to her blog entry.

We left Hexham on the 9th August and headed up to the Percy Island group.  The Percys have a real reputation in cruising circles and it was a "must visit" stop on our way North.  We anchored for a few hours on the North coast of South Percy for a while to let the swell die down a bit before we headed in to the main anchorage on Middle Percy which is not very well protected.

We spent a relatively quite night at Middle Percy along with about 12 other boats and left the next day.  Just before we left though, we had our most amazing whale encounter so far in this trip as a couple of Humpbacks were playing outside the bay for 10 minutes of so breaching and slapping their tails.  They were a long way off but not too far for the Nikon.  Watch this space for the update from Terry.

We moved on quickly to avoid some nasty weather heading our way.  There were some options for hiding from it in anchorages but we decided to head to Digby and Mackay instead.  We motor sailed most of the way and got in to Digby quite late in the day, stayed overnight and left early the next day for Mackay Marina.

 Sunset at Digby Island taken from Momentum during sundowners

Sunrise at Mackay Marina

We enjoyed our time in Mackay but headed North again when the weather cleared again with Dallas and Erica on Momentum.  Well we headed off together but they had to turn back before we left the marina due to an unfortunate encounter with the rock wall.

Dallas was steering and trying to investigate a problem with the auto-pilot and lost situational awareness for a few seconds while the boat turned slowly (he was only doing about 2 knots at the time) towards the rock wall.

It happens to us all.  My latest similar story (and I've got a few buried forever in my head) occurred only two days ago when we were heading through the Gloucester passage.  I very nearly went the wrong side of a cardinal mark (very, very bad idea) in the tight channel when I was distracted for a few seconds by an eagles nest on a channel marker.

To get back to the story, I was about 50 meters behind them and shouting at him to take care but he didn't hear me above the engine noise and hit the rock wall head on.  Luckily, the damage was confined to a dent in the bow (boats are very strong there) just under the waterline but it needed repair so they headed back into the marina to arrange a haul out. 

It just goes to show that even moving at our slow speeds, you really need to concentrate or things can go wrong really quickly.

From Mackay, we headed to Brampton Island which is really the first of the Whitsunday Islands.  Fantastic sailing weather heading North in 10 to 15 knot SE winds and we had the engine off most of the day.  It was a bit rolly due to the left over swell from recent bad weather but on the whole, gorgeous :-)

Brampton is a beautiful spot with an abandoned and run down resort.  Again, I'm sure Terry will fill you in later but it was quite eerie to walk around. Unfortunately, the Nikon failed during one of our walks on the island refusing to turn on so we we needed to get somewhere with a post office to post it off for repair under warranty.

Venture in the anchorage at Brampton Island

We stayed there a couple of days and left in the afternoon on the 15th August for Goldsmith Island. It was a very lumpy ride through to Goldsmith as there we were motor sailing NW in stuff-all knots of SE winds.  Not very pleasant.  We went south of Ingot Island while Momentum (who had joined us in Brampton the day before) went North of Goldsmith and we both arrived at the anchorage at the same time.

Sunset at Goldsmith Island

Goldsmith anchorage was bit rolly as we were anchored quite a way out from the beach.  Anchoring in the Whitsundays is quite tricky but I think I'll leave the details for another post.

From Goldsmith we had a pleasant sail up to Lindeman Island where we anchored for another couple of nights pleasant nights.  The anchorage here (Plantation Bay) was special for the night time displays put on by the garfish!  Whole schools of fish were jumping out of the water all around us for hours.  I suspect there were predators about but it seemed like they were just happy to see us there :-).

From Goldsmith we headed up to Airlie Beach which known as the gateway to the Whitsundays.  It was an awesome sail all the way with the wind behind us but just strong enough to keep us from rolling and pushing us along at 6 knots most of the day.  We saw some whales about 1/2 mile away and Terry was pretty sure one of them had a white back but it was tricky to be sure due to the white caps in the 15 knot breeze.  It would be pretty awesome to see Migaloo!

We anchored off the beach in a mooring field close to the Whitsunday Yacht Club and paid the club for the use of their dinghy dock and facilities.  We took a taxi into Cannonvale to post of the camera and re-stock for the Shaggers rendezvous.

From Airlie, we headed out again aiming to be at Cape Gloucester for the Shaggers rendezvous on the 25th.  We had a really nice sail over to the Stonehaven anchorage on Hook Island.  The anchorage has some public mooring buoys but the were all taken so we had to anchor in 13 meters of water.  I'm not keen on anchoring in deep water but we had no choice this time.  The first time round, we couldn't get the anchor to set (I could hear it dragging over a rock shelf believe it or not) but it did set ok a bit further around the bay.  I put 75 meters of chain out and set the anchor alarm.  In the end, we had a quiet night and the anchor was fine. The following morning we picked up a mooring and stayed another night.

Misty morning in Stonehaven anchorage, Hook Island

The weather was changing again with Easterlies coming along and Gloucester Bay is almost directly West from Hook Island so we decided to head over to Double Bay East on the mainland in the SE winds and then head North to Gloucester Bay in the Easterlies to come.

Double Bay was another nice anchorage.  It's quite shallow but with good holding and provides good shelter from the SE and East winds.  It's supposed to be good fishing and we did have some luck but we couldn't identify the fish (very small) that we were catching so we let them all go.

Dinghy on the beach at Double Bay

We stayed two nights in Double Bay and then headed North up the coastline through the Gloucester Passage to the resort.  The expected Easterlies didn't really arrive and the seas were mirror smooth so we had to motor all the way.  Gloucester passage was a bit tricky as there was a 2 or 3 knot current pushing us through.  The channel makes a hard left hand turn at the narrow and shallow spot to round a South cardinal mark so you turn left, but the current still pushes you straight on..  So we arrived at Shaggers :-)

We picked up our mooring on the Tuesday and I then spent all of Wednesday trying to fix one of the cabin lights.  Which brings me to the odd title of this post..

Cruising is often defined as "Fixing boats in exotic locations" and it really is true!  The list of things needing to be fixed never seems to get any shorter and so we do tend to spend a lot of time at anchor in glorious surroundings getting something or other working again.

The problem with the cabin light was an odd one. The light began to flicker a few days ago and then failed completely.  Measuring the voltage at the light showed 10 volts which was a bit odd but as soon as you put any load on it, (like an led globe) it dropped to 4 volts which is probably less than the working voltage of the led.  Further testing with a fly lead showed that it was the positive wire that had the fault (not the negative wire).

The light is fed from a circuit breaker but all the lights on the port side are fed from the same breaker.  They are bundled together (9 wires) and crimped into one fitting screwed to the breaker making it impossible to identify which wire goes to which light fitting without pulling it all apart.  In any case, the wires lead from the breaker panel down into the bilge and under the fridge so it's impossible to trace the cable to replace it as well.

At the light end, there was only about 5mm of movement in the wire which disappears into a 8 inch teak disk glued to the roof above the head lining making it essentially impossible to tug on the wire to watch which one moves at the other end without pulling off the head lining which was never going to happen!
 So, I ended up threading a new wire from the light fitting on the starboard side inside the head lining over to the broken one on the port side and terminating the original positive lead.

The strange thing is I'm enjoying every minute of this!  Weird eh..

Location: Rosslyn QLD 4703, Australia
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  1. Great reading, great photos! Looking forward to the whale and kestrel pics!

    Currently reading Moby Dick so I feel compelled to warn you away from any Migaloos -- and Terry, watch out for any signs he is becoming a tyrant, if he starts yelling at those screw heads to obey seek assistance immediately.

  2. I've found tyranting the hell out of screws is counter productive so I tend to speak in quiet, soft tones to them through gritted teeth now :-)

    1. You catch more screws with honey, eh!

      More from Melville on why whales might be great but the additional property of whiteness raises dread:

      I know that, to the common apprehension, this phenomenon of whiteness is not confessed to be the prime agent in exaggerating the terror of objects otherwise terrible...[but consider:] The mariner, when drawing nigh the coasts of foreign lands, if by night he hear the roar of breakers, starts to vigilance, and feels just enough of trepidation to sharpen all his faculties; but under precisely similar circumstances, let him be called from his hammock to view his ship sailing through a midnight sea of milky whiteness - as if from encircling headlands shoals of combed white bears were swimming round him, then he feels a silent, superstitious dread; the shrouded phantom of the whitened waters is horrible to him as a real ghost; in vain the lead assures him he is still off soundings; heart and helm they both go down; he never rests till blue water is under him again. Yet where is the mariner who will tell thee, 'Sir, it was not so much the fear of striking hidden rocks, as the fear of that hideous whiteness that so stirred me?'

      I tell you this for your own good as you are notoriously headbound. Listen to your soul! And watch out for those cardinal markers! (perhaps if Melville were writing today it would be the yellow and black whale we felt an essential terror of.)

    2. Black and yellow are definitely the new white and if I see a black and yellow whale, I'll keep an eye out for the hive believe me!