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Old 22-01-2011, 20:04   #1
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Cruising Queensland During Cyclone Season

Hi all

Im interested in whether it is feasible to cruise the Queensland coast during the cyclone season, all the way up to the Torres Strait?

If it is feasible, is it mainly a question of staying within reach of a safe anchorage?

Also, what are the implications for insurance?

Any comments or directions to good books or articles would be very much welcomed.

Regards, Mike.
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Old 22-01-2011, 21:02   #2
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Old 22-01-2011, 21:20   #3
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Last time I was on my boat moored at Townsville, the weather was so humid down below, sweat dripped off me when I was standing still. Going up to the shop to buy ice for my esky was like exercising in a sauna. I went through so many clothes simply because they got sweaty, which I can cope with, and smelly, which I prefer not to be when going shopping.

So, apart from cyclones, which I will leave someone more knowledgable than myself to answer, some folks find the humidity during cyclone season a bit too extreme for them. On the other hand, some people cope well with it.
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Old 23-01-2011, 05:31   #4
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Its not just the cyclones, trying to beat the heat swimming is a bit of a lottery with the stingers.
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Old 23-01-2011, 05:53   #5
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NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We were dusted up badly in Cyclone Hamish in 2009 when we tried to sneak into the Whitsundays a month early.

Its was a Catagory 5 Cyclone and if it had been a direct hit I would still be up some tree.
It missed us by 63nms.... but we weren't certain of that till it happened.

NO marinas would let us in.
NO mangrove inlets nearby.
NO good local knowledge on our part.

The ONLY place I would get to would be Cairns and then cruise the reef close by. Trinity inlet has good mangroves and lots of hidey holes.... mind you the locals will get all of them first.

Remember: Locals know stuff that you don't. And that local knowledge is gold. So if someone says "theres a safe anchorage at X" they know that but you won't have access to it/find it etc.


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Old 23-01-2011, 16:42   #6
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Just thinking of what MarkJ said, I read an article of someone who sailed into Airlie Beach (Whitsundays) ahead of the last cyclone they had up there and when they phoned the cyclone emergency numbers to ask advice on where to hide in the mangrove creeks, they were only given other phone numbers to try. After many calls they finally managed to get a location. They dashed over to it thinking that it would be full of boats as there aren't many places to hide. They found it practically empty. After the cyclone went over, they were ok but back at the harbour they found huge numbers of damaged boats. So, my point is that sometimes local knowledge about safe places to hide in can be hard to get. Also, even some locals may be complacent when it comes to safety so their advice might not be the best.

I am not wanting to sound depressive about sailing in cyclone season as I do think it is do-able, just ya level of risk management is so much higher. And one way of lowering the risk of cyclone trouble is not be in cyclone waters during cyclone season .

At the moment, we (Qld Australia) have Tropical Cyclone Anthony off the coast. It is so far out it is not affecting us on the coast but it may move in. If it does, they are so unpredictable, it could go anywhere and so it is hard to plan for. Go south? Go north? As you said, Mike, sound knowledge of safe hidey holes is part of the risk minimisation strategy.
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Old 23-01-2011, 17:20   #7
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The alternative to the cyclone season is winter when the wind is S/E day and night alternating between 15-30 knots?.
I am travelling up to Thursday island from Brisbane in March -April.
North of Cairns gets very strong S/E after April, I lived in that area for 20 years.
Weather reporting is very good these days but you must have the ability to motor out of the area as fast as possible, the period before a cyclone is very calm with NO wind.
Forecasting the direction of a cyclone is difficult but not impossible, they almost never go north.
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Old 23-01-2011, 17:47   #8
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We parked up in the Trinity Inslet Mangroves Cairns once.
Came back with an extra crew member in the form of a four meter Python!!!
None of us actually saw the beast - only its sheaded skin hanging from the shrouds back at Marlin Marina the following morning Dun Dun!!!
Hey you guys sound really Knowlegable about such things.
Which way would you go if you wanted to cruise say,
Cairns, Whitsundays, Sydney, BOIs(NZ) Auckland back to Cairns. Clockwise or anticlockwise??
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Old 23-01-2011, 17:58   #9
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Anticlockwise.
The most difficult will be from Cairns to Sydney, which must be done before April, picking the times when it is blowing Northerly or just calm and motor.
Sydney to Nz is Ok but can be rough, after that sail north to tonga/ samoa etc .
From there it is an S/E run back to Cairns etc.
I have had a friend leave Cairns enroute to New Caledonia and after 2 weeks gave up and went back to Cairns, the s/e trades were just too strong.
Many years ago a sailing vessal from England tried to head south from Cape york heading for Brisbane, after 3 months they gave up and sailed the other way, right around Australia to get to Brisbane. (true story)
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Old 23-01-2011, 18:45   #10
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Thanks all.

What about the insurance question? Do I assume correctly that no insurance company would pay out for damage caused by a cyclone?

Regards, Mike
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Old 23-01-2011, 19:59   #11
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We plan to leave our boat in this area next summer - not sail in it. Rosslyn Bay Marina are happy to have you at this time. Also Mackay. We contacted our insurance company last week about being there and they had no problems with it. Just ring yours and ask.
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Old 05-02-2011, 22:33   #12
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Well here we are in Feb 11 and Cyclone Yasi has barrelled through Innisfail (halfway between Cairns and Townsville) as a Cat 5 following on from Anthony a week or so earlier. 150 kt winds and carnage.
Check out the photos of the Port Hitchinbrook Marina to see what they did.
Although no expert (and one sailor did survive essentially unscathed by getting into the mangroves), I wouldn't go any further north than Rosslyn Bay (Yeppoon/Rockhampton) during the wet. I had my yacht there for just over 12 months and only had one nervous watch.
Although I'm really glad it didn't, it would have been interesting to see what Yasi would have done if it had made a direct hit on Cairns as it initially seemed it might.
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Old 05-02-2011, 23:12   #13
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I personally would prefer Gladstone. a little further south - better to get up a mangrove creek and Rosslyn Bay has had a nasty cyclone - those huge cement blocks were 'flicked' onto the boats on the pile moorings! [from what a local told us]
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Old 05-02-2011, 23:40   #14
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Gladstone's probably preferable as it is further south and probably better protected.
In any case, I think cruising up the Queensland coast past the Tropic of Capricorn in the cyclone season is not something to do unless you really HAVE to (and who would have to, anyway?).

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Old 06-02-2011, 00:35   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beau View Post
, the period before a cyclone is very calm with NO wind.
Sorry, but that simply is not true. A cyclone can come on the back of weeks of fresh to strong tradewinds.

USUALLY, there are periods of northerlies towards the end of summer, which is the opportunity to get south. Not so much of that in 2010 though.

If you're going to stay in north Qld during summer, you need to know the nearby places to hide if a cyclone threatens. Marinas are not those places.
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