Thirsty Sound to Mackay

Tuesday saw the swell easing to around 1 meter and the seas similar.
8 knot south easterlies were a bit light but we were ready to head north once again and so anticipated a bit of motor sailing.
The ocean wasn’t calm but was smooth, yet rippled just as you see it in day dreams and that made sailing very pleasant if a little bit slow.
We rounded Pier Head national park on the north end of Quail Island then passed Double Rocks and entered Pearl Passage between South Barren Island and Black Swan Rock.

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We had the lures out since Pier Head but had no luck however the enjoyment the perfect weather was giving us and the freezer full of mulloway made up for that.
We only had until Park Shoal until we needed to stow the rods as we would be passing thru a marine park for several hours and that was just up ahead.
Once into the marine park we passed the North Point Island group and the Bedwell group of islands
By lunch time the winds had dropped below 5 knots and were swinging all round the compass.
The sails had become just ornamental by this point.

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When we reached the Lower Rock, which was a tiny outcrop in the middle of nowhere, we knew we were out of the marine park and our lures were wet once again.
About 1pm we passed Connor Island which was surrounded by a number of shoals all of which we hoped would hold some fish but we were not in luck.
At around 1.45pm we reached Edwards Shoal and that signified yet another marine park so rods were once again stowed.
We passed quickly over Yaralla Shoal which was the middle of the park and reached the other side an hour later.
We passed Cape Palmerston to the east and wove between Phillips Reef and Irving Island where finally Scott’s reel let off a brief scream.

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A brief but spirited fight ensued and Scott caught a school mackerel of around 1.5kg, filleted it and put it to one side to eat later that night as a tasty variation from mulloway.
2 miles off Grasstree Beach, several hours later and just before the evening started I saw my 15kg trolling rod buckle and the drag began to scream.
I had been towing a lure I once thought to be great hundreds of miles without so much as a sniff from anything with fins and was feeling like I needed to change to something else to entice a strike.
It can be hard to decide whether the lure is at fault or maybe there are just no fish in that area at that time.
The fact that something had grabbed it made me feel like I had not wasted the last few weeks.

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A sustained run of several hundred meters was followed by half an hour of pumping and winding to bring a huge barracuda to the side of the cat.
It took both Scott’s and my combined effort to lift it onto the boat.
Posing for the photo I was barely able to lift it and it wasn’t worth putting on the lie detector as it was clearly more than the detectors 25kg maximum.
A rough estimation is 5 foot 6 and at the very least 35kg.
We released it alive as we had as much fish as we could manage and barracuda is not any good for eating.

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We had lost close to an hour between Scott’s and my fish and the sun was getting very close to the horizon when we sailed into sight of Hay Point on the mainland just near the town of Hector.
Hay Point was 10 miles south of the Mackay marina and so there was still an hours sailing ahead of us.
We had begun sailing once more when the wind picked up to a steady 15 knots and with the motors running we achieved 10 knots boat speed, hence the one hour from port.
Half an hour later the starboard engine spluttered to a halt.

It was pitch black and we were in the shipping lanes of Mackay port, really not a good place to have problems.
The port engine was still running well and so it was presumed that the starboard engine had a blocked fuel filter.

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It took several more hours to reach the marina as we were only doing a couple of knots running cautiously on the port engine.
The wind was still a steady 15 knots making maneuvering on one engine tricky and it took 20 minutes of sweating to get us moored in the commercial section of the marina and preparing a dinner of mackerel.

We chose the commercial section of the marina as it was the moorings closest to the marina entry because with the reduced maneuverability we were worried we might collide with other boats or pylons.
As soon as we had eaten Scott checked the engine for blockages or any signs of damage that might have caused the engine to die.
Sadly (or maybe gladly?) none were found.
It had been a very eventful day.

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Text and by Fingers photos by Scott and fingers 2015

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