Friday, May 20, 2011

Cook's Curse

View from Cook's lookout. Can you spot Anima?
Rene's new wiring for the windgen.
It certainly feels a little like we've experienced more bad luck than normal while stuck here in Cooktown. It started when Anima ran aground at low tide. Though this was not such a terrible thing as it seems like almost everyone runs aground here! It's a pretty terrible anchorage in terms of depth consistency. There are sand banks and shoals a-plenty. We moved Ani to a deeper spot but it means that we're the furthest boat from the town – this wouldn't be a problem if the winds weren't so strong (it creates short, steep waves which wet everything and everyone in the dinghy!). The strong wind warning was issued on Monday and doesn't look like lifting until at least Saturday. This strong wind is even stronger here in Cooktown than out in the sea because of the mountains which channel the wind into bullets of extreme force. I wish we had an anemometer so we could record how strong these bullets have been.
Gloomy days anchored here in Cooktown.
They're strong enough to push our 17+ tonne boat over on her side by about 30 degrees. They're strong enough to have blown up our wind generator, causing a small fire at the diode!!! We're incredibly lucky to have been home when this occurred as we could have lost everything if the fire had been alowed to run free. Scary.
Rene had to climb the mast, as the boat rocked about and the wind screamed past, to tie up the wind generator blades to stop them! He then spent hours and hours re-planning and rebuilding the wiring system so that there would be no chance of another fire. The new system worked great until another extreme bullet blew up the voltage regulator!!! Rene recorded a top of 38 amps going in through the wind gen with the clamp meter. That's INSANE!!! Before this we only ever recorded a top of 2 amps. Are you starting to appreciate just how strong this wind is?
This pipe is what held the fuel can onto the dinghy
We thought we knew how strong it was but then it got even stronger. The dinghy was pulled up on our portside, held above the water on a halyard and secured to the boat with three extra ropes. The wind bullets attacked with such force that the dinghy tipped up and our full fuel container ended up in the water – only held to the dinghy by its fuel line. It's lucky we didn't lose it like we lost one of our oars and one of my crocs (shoes).
It was pretty wild under the full moon as we pulled the dinghy up on deck and lashed it down. At one point I thought it might actually take off and fly away when it swung up in a gust and covered the winch I was using to haul it up. Rene was under it, holding on for dear life as I had to wrench the rope free. Somehow the bung (like a plug hole for dinghy's) broke during this crazy event so we were stranded on the boat until Rene figured out how to fix it. Some new friends from yacht Azzan (who are also going on the Indonesia Rally) dropped by on their way to do some crabbing and offered to take us over to the beach that our things would probably have ended up on. After a wet journey in their dinghy we pulled up on a deserted beach (but for some seemingly deserted derelict yachts along the shore and an empty campsite). Rene ran off down the beach and found my lost shoe but no oar. Dawn and I walked the windy beach until we convinced ourselves that the sinister-looking lump at the water's edge of a nearby sandbank was a croc. We were too far to know for sure, but it was definitely dark green and yellowish at one end... and it was huge. We planned a quick escape up some sand dunes and into the trees as we hastened back to the dinghy. Jamie was there cutting open a fresh coconut. Delicious! Rene eventually showed up just as we were getting worried for his safety.

30 and sitting at the top of a hill in far north QLD
It seems as though many yachties who shelter here experience more problems than usual too. One yacht got its chain caught around its keel and started dragging anchor, unable to use their motor to control their movement. Many get grounded on the sand banks. Most seem to get stranded here for at least a week, maybe more - waiting for the wind to drop. This place is one of the windy-est places on the eastern coast of Australia.

While stuck here in Cooktown, I turned 30. I was dreading this inevitable event as I had placed all sorts of expectations on myself for what I should have achieved by now. But, now that it has happened, I'm feeling fine again. I am lucky to have some wise friends who helped me see things in a different perspective (thanks Ili, Renee and Jez). We're doing something pretty amazing and I'm so grateful to be able to live this adventure (even if I do sound like I'm complaining about it sometimes).  

Local Cooktown car
Cooktown's main street
So, the strong wind warning has just been lifted and we are planning on leaving here tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to getting to Lizard Island - it's the only place from here until we reach Indonesia that we will be able to go swimming. Wish us luck! 


1 comment:

  1. You have no idea how lucky you are! 30 and out there cruising. WOW!