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Old 13-10-2003, 21:16   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: back on Gold Coast after sailing north to Thailand then east to Pacific via Irian Jaya, PNG & Solomons
Boat: Tennant 47ft Catamaran
Posts: 306
Things I learnt from my grounding

There is a short cut in North Queensland Oz that when ot works saves you 50 miles and when it doesn't it leaves you high and dry in a crocodile and sand fly infected mangrove. Curits Island is a large triangular shaped island with the point poking towrds the coast. Gladstone the largest town is on one side of the point and 20 miles on the other is the town of Rockhapmton & the bottom of the Whitsundays. Unfortunatlely the creek was silted up. In the depression and the legiosn og unemployed were used to dig it out - FUN JOB.

Coastal steamers used the passage that flowed through the mangroves as a short cut rather than going down the long sides and base of the triangle. Unfortunately since the 30's it has silted up and in one section it dries 2.5 m at low tide. If you pick your tide right you can roller coaster through the passage at speed as the tide flows at about 5 kts through a narrow mangrove lined passage. If you don't you are stuck. We had a number of good runs but dried out once.

We put out the anchor - I set it myself in the mud & gravel bottom and tok the dogs for a walk. It was interesting to see the furrows drilled by other sailors who missed the sighting triangles. In 1979 when I first did the transit the sights were actually tins cans on sticks.

Unfortuantely when the tide returns it does so with a rush. The wind was howling through the mangroves from abeam at about 30 kts. The anchor chian was too long and the baot proceeded to grind its way side ways on the daggers across the gravel and looked like it would be pushed into a high bank on the other side of the narrow channel.

Lesson learnt in that situation with the wind abeam I would loop a line around a sturdy tree off the stern windward hull to make sure that we stayed where we were till the boat was well and truly afloat.
Paul & Kaspar de Wonda Dog
S/V "Pelican V"
"Trust not a living soul and step warily around the dead"
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Old 14-10-2003, 04:37   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC
Boat: Mariner 36 Sloop, Seidelman 24 racer
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Hi svstrider and all,

It was interesting reading about your "shot" through the mangrove canal "down under". Here in the States, I've motored through some of the many mangrove cuts in the Florida Keys, but there isn't nearly the amount of current going through them as what you guys have there. One of the cuts I remember most was called "Angelfish Creek." Myself and another boat traveled through it at 3am one morning by flashlight. The winding cut goes from the bay side, through one of the Keys, and then out to the ocean. The cut is fairly shallow,and the boat that was following me drew 5'6". I believe the cuts average depth was 6ft.My shoal draft boat only draws 3'2". I kept a close eye on my depth gauge and would report back to the other boat the depths I was seeing. Jim on the other boat was really concerned about grounding in the creek and reported to me via the VHF that he had "bumped" bottom several times. We slowly worked our way out through the creek,and some coral reefs on the outside to eventually get out into the deep. It was an exhilarating, but edgy trip.
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