Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Stiff winds greet Lady Skipper's and crews

The three-race Lady Skipper Series was held over the ANZAC weekend in blustery conditions. The popular annual event has drawn a good fleet for many years now with the girls enjoying their own camaraderie on the water and at the presentations.
Janner II skippered by Kathryn Borer, won the perpetual trophy on handicap. She was a bit unlucky in the first race when her main sail tore along the lower panel seam and had to take in a single reef to complete the race. She was lucky for the 20+ knot winds over the next two days, so the single tuck, with both Yankee and staysail helped Kathryn maintain good boat speed.
Heather Sievers with Tina, Nellie, Judy and Diane in Idyll Time, won the all ladies crew trophy. They jury-rigged the spinnaker halyard in Molle Passage on the second race when their jib halyard broke.
No one was quite sure what happened to Vicky Applegate in Triple Vision on the start of the last race but it became evident that they were 'sail testing" around Cid Island and fell into a hole just managing to get to the start line very late.
Deception helmed by Caroline Murray and Triple Vision had their own race at the front while the other four yachts traded positions around Pioneer Pt and Funnel Bay on the race home -- depending on whom the wind gusts favoured.
Shearwater steered by Roslyn Booth and skipper Linda Howells in Sky Trim made up the six-boat fleet.

Make no bones

Pirates of the Whitsundays have been playing up recently with a raid by Dog on the skull and crossbones of the Cap'n. Dog was salty wet an still laughin when he surfaced wit der Cap'n's flag in his clutches. The Cap'n owes 'im a rum.
Said around the islands, Yer don't have ter say yer a pirate, Ye just Aaarrgh one!

What'a yer reckon?

"If we had to overcome every possible objection before we got started, then nothing--absolutely nothing--would ever get accomplished."

Fair winds to Ye!
Cap'n Dan

Monday, April 26, 2004

Protecting our Whitsunday turtles and dugongs

It is an easy call to tell our tourist guests they will see turtles in some of the bays around the Whitsunday Islands. Indeed, Tongue Bay on Whitsunday Island always puts on a good display of turtles for guests.
Turtles are often sighted in many inshore areas of the Whitsunday region of the Great Barrier Reef but those shy Dugongs are much harder to spot.
Dugongs and turtles are threatened species and are protected in all waters of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is home to six of the world's seven species of marine turtles.
It is believed there are 90,000 dugongs in Australian waters with approximately 14,000 of these on the Great Barrier Reef, however dugong numbers are only 3% of what they were in the 1960s.
All people who use the Reef need to be aware of and follow best environmental and safety practices particularly when in an area that contains dugong or turtles.
We need to be aware that litter on the Reef, particularly plastics and fishing line, can harm dugongs and turtles. Turtles often mistake plastics for food and may choke on plastic bags and other rubbish.
There are a few simple practices you should follow when boating on the Great Barrier Reef to avoid harming or killing dugong or turtles. These are:
· Be alert and watch for dugongs and turtles at all times
· Make sure you give dugongs and turtles plenty of space in the water
· Reduce your vessel speed to minimise the risk of collision in areas where dugong or turtles have been sighted
· Be quiet when you are around a dugong or turtle in the water
· Take all rubbish home with you. Do not throw used fishing line or any other litter in the sea or allow it to be washed into the sea/stormwater drains.
· Do not get in the water if you see a dugong or turtle. If you are already in the water do not disturb, chase or block the path of a dugong or turtle and if possible, return to your vessel
· If there is a sudden change in dugong or turtle behaviour, move away immediately
· Report sick, injured, stranded or dead dugongs and turtles to the Marine Animal Hotline on 1300 360 898.

Top marks for region's fishers

Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP) field officers were kept busy during the Easter break but were impressed by the excellent level of compliance with fishing and boating regulations.
Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries patrols operating out of Mackay, Yeppoon and Gladstone all reported that the windy weather had restricted Central Queensland's recreational fishers and boats to the more sheltered estuarine waters.
Acting district officer Brenda Stevenson said that during the four days, the officers had spoken to dozens of fishers and inspected 42 recreational vessels.
"Our officers issued just two fisheries infringement notices and five infringement notices for boating offences all of which attracted on-the-spot fines," Ms Stevenson said.
Two QBFP teams at Mackay worked from Proserpine through to Cape Palmerston and issued just three infringement notices to boaties exceeding the 6-knot speed limit in gazetted areas. There were only three fisheries infringements for undersize mud crabs, undersize sweet lip and unmarked crab pots.
Gladstone field officers who carried out inspections from Port Alma to the Town of 1770 as well as patrolling Gladstone Harbour Festival aquatic activities, issued 15 boating regulation and three fisheries infringement notices.
Ms Stevenson said the bulk of the Central region's boating regulation offences were related to failure to display navigation lights, lack of mandatory safety equipment including insufficient lifejackets for the passengers on board and for the use of unregistered vessels.
"Our officers also issued a number of cautions for fisheries offences including failure to correctly mark crab pots.
"Most on-the-spot fisheries fines which ranged from $150 up to $375 related to undersize fish and failure to mark crab pots. Three unmarked pots were seized in the Capricorn region," Ms Stevenson said.

Marine Notice: Laguna Quays

Dredging operations are being carried out in the entrance to Laguna Quays (20 36'.0 S 148 41'.4 E).
Works will be carried out by a cutter suction dredge daily from 0600 to 1800 hours. The dredge will be secured to three anchors at a radius of 100 metres from the dredge. A dumb barge will be in attendance during the works.
Mariners should contact Laguna Quays Port Control on VHF Ch16 prior to transiting the entrance. Mariners are advised to navigate with caution in the area.

Think about it

'Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is?'

Fair winds to Ye!
Cap'n Dan

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Avast, me hearties, our day is coming

Every now and then, some visionary comes along with a concept so original and revolutionary that your immediate reaction is: "Why didn't I think of that?"
What about 'Talk Like a Pirate Day'. As the name suggests, everybody would talk like a pirate for the day. Is that a great idea, or what? There are so many practical benefits I can't even begin to list them all.
Recently I watched the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean" and wished to be aboard for the fun. Rum and hard tack with weevils and walking the plank. Aargh!
So lets throw our support behind Talk Like a Pirate Day, to be observed in September.
Talking like a pirate will infuse your everyday conversations with romance and danger. Join the crew on September 18. Don't answer the phone with "hello", try "Ahoy, me hearty!"
I truly think this idea could bring us, as a nation, closer together. But not TOO much closer. Some of us will have swords.
Of course, your Waterfront writer has always answered the phone with "Ahoy!" and Mrs Cap'n Dan claims there are many interpretations of 'aaargh'.

Pommy piranha

A piranha, native to South America was found in the River Thames at London. Boat crew said a seagull dropped the 10-cm piranha onto the boat's deck.
"We imagine it was probably released by someone and then floated to the surface, where it was picked up by one of the very hungry seagulls," London Aquarium curator Paul Hale said.
A passing seagull dropped the red-bellied piranha onto the deck of a boat built to oxygenate the river. The Thames was declared "dead" in the 1960s but is now home to over a hundred types of fish.
"It was very fresh and had obviously only just died. You could see the marks made by the seagull's beak on its back," fisheries officer Tom Cousins said.
Experts were quick to reassure Londoners they need not fear marauding shoals of meat-eating fish. The reputation of the piranha is worse than its bite and despite global warming; the Thames remains too cold to support such warm-water fish.

Native fish compared

Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries are educating people of all ages about native fish and their use in ornamental ponds and aquariums with new information brochures.
Most fish used in aquariums and ornamental ponds are exotic and have the potential to cause serious environmental damage if released into local creeks or streams.
The new information brochures include the Native Fish Activity Book for primary school children; the Native Fish for Aquariums brochure aimed at aquarists and pet shops; and the first brochure in a series of regional guides to selecting native fish for ornamental ponds.
Queensland Fisheries Service fisheries biologist Aimee Burton said many native fish have spectacular fins, beautiful colours and interesting behaviours and are comparable to many exotic fish.
"Many people may not consider using native fish. These new information brochures will help people select the right type of native fish for their aquarium or ornamental pond," she said.
"People who are interested in the new educational material can call the DPI.
"Teachers and parents are encouraged to call for copies of the Native Fish Activity Book, which has activities for primary school children about looking after waterways and the fish that inhabit them."

Ham radio saved the day

An amateur 'Ham' radio operator was talking to a friend and heard a weak signal from a radio operator aboard a Ukrainian registered schooner sailing from Wellington NZ to Sydney. The ship had trouble as sails had blown out and they were making slow progress of just on four knots.
At that speed, they had calculated that they would run out of fuel before reaching port, the shore-side Ham operator ascertained there were 6 people on board, but no EPIRB! (Emergency Position Indication Radio Beacon) All information was relayed to Sea Safety Canberra.
With the schooner's satellite communication system also out of action, the Ham aboard operating with a low power of 5 watts was the only contact.
Sea Safety Canberra was unable to make contact as their Transmitter was in Charleville, SW Queensland.
At a later sked, things were a lot better, radio and safety wise, the schooner expected in Sydney ahead of previously estimated time.
Sydney Water Police stayed in contact with the Ham, keeping abreast of the situation, as they had no HF facilities!
As the radio operator said...
" I hadn't realised you can now call MAYDAY on the various DISTRESS frequencies but nobody is listening any more. Since the advent of GMDSS, a computer scans the frequencies looking for encoded tones.
"If it finds one it attracts human intervention."

Foiled again

Lawyers are appealing a court case in which a US basketball player was caught trying to sneak marijuana wrapped in Alfoil through airport metal detectors. Duh!


This old traditional greeting for hailing other vessels was originally a Viking battle cry.

Fair winds to Ye!
Cap'n Dan

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Boat safety with difference launched in Whitsunday

'Look closely before you agree to get onboard'

Maritime Safety Queensland and local charter boat operators launched an education campaign this week in Airlie Beach concerning backpackers targeted by unlicensed charter boat operators. Unlicensed, illegal operators have generated a series of complaints about sexual harassment and unsafe and unsavoury boating practises for some time.
"The education campaign has been well received" Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) Education Officer Caitlin Bryant told On the Waterfront this week.
"The response has been positive, particularly with travel agents and local pubs. The feedback is interesting as everyone has their own story to tell about incidents" Miss Bryant said.
"There have been a handful of convictions, but it has been hard to get offenders into court due often to the transient nature of the offences." She added.
Legitimate operators are concerned that these 'rogue' operators tarnish the image of charter boat operators and unfairly compete for potential customers.
The Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association will assist Maritime Safety Queensland in disseminating the information and promoting the key message.
The issue has been prevalent for a number of years. In 1998, the Education Unit successfully launched a campaign called "At Sea ...No One Can Hear You Scream". The campaign was developed to educate backpackers, in particular young women, of the existence of illegal charters operating in the Cairns and Whitsunday areas and why they should avoid these 'cheap charters'.
Research undertaken to assess the effectiveness of the first campaign has indicated that while the incidence of sexual harassment has dramatically reduced, there are still illegal charters operating in the region.
'Look Closely Before You Get Onboard". If you are unsure, check with the local Maritime Safety Queensland office or travel agents before you agree to get onboard.
The Whitsundays Charter Boat Association has developed the 'Tick of Approval'. Vessels that display a Tick Sticker are Certified Members of the WCBIA. MSQ and the WCBIA both recommend that travellers look for the tick of approval before agreeing to get onboard.

Mid-week sailing

"The last race was a 'smashing time' with Spud Gun loosing it's carbon fibre mast half way up the first beat, and 007 having to withdraw because of a large T-bone to it's port side during a port - starboard altercation with Out of Africa" say Bob and Kathryn on the sailing club start boat.
Here are the final Scores for the Queensland Yacht Charters series.
Div 1. Multihulls: 1/ ADIOS, STEVE HALTER 9pts: 2/ SKATE, ROBERT MOHLE 12pts: 3/ SPUD GUN, PETER MILLAR 13pts.

Hayman & Langford lights restored

Mariners are advised that the following lighted beacons located at Hayman Island have been restored to normal:
No 3 Hayman Reef in approximate position Latitude 20°04.3248'S Longitude 148°53.7631'E. Starboard Lateral Mark beacon Fl.G.2.5s
No 4 Cockatoo Point in approximate position Latitude 20°04.7109'S Longitude 148°54.0523'E. Port Lateral Mark beacon Fl.R.2.5s
Langford Reef - Mariners are advised that the lighted South Cardinal Mark beacon Q (6) + LF1. 15s in approximate position Latitude 20°05.7865'S Longitude 148°52.5938'E on Langford Reef has been restored to normal.
Charts affected: AUS 252, 254, 825.

President Bush on national security . . .

"You can't see what you think is a threat and hope it goes away. You used to could when the oceans protected us . . ."

Fair winds to Ye!
Cap'n Dan

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Olympic flame lit as games loom on horizon

With the lighting of the Olympic flame in ancient Olympia last week the Athens games are looming large on the horizon.

' As in the daytime there is no star in the sky warmer and brighter than the sun, likewise there is no competition greater than the Olympic Games' Pindar, Greek poet, 5th century BC'

Stalin's 'Red Army' invades Europe

Hordes of giant Pacific crabs, whose ancestors were brought to Europe by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s, are marching south along Norway's coast, devouring everything in their path.

The monster crabs, which can weigh up to 25lbs and have a claw-span of more than three feet, are proving so resilient that scientists fear they could end up as far south as Gibraltar.

Energised by a mysterious population explosion a decade ago, whole armies of the crustaceans - known as the Kamchatka or Red King Crabs - have already advanced about 400 miles along the roof of Europe, overwhelming the ports of northern Norway.

They now number more than 10 million and have reached the Lofoten Islands off north-west Scandinavia, leaving in their wake what one expert described as "an underwater desert".

In a graphic display of the extent of the crab's submarine domination, some photographs of the ocean floor in Kirkenes in northern Norway show a writhing mass of the ugly, spiny animals.

Northern clams and other shellfish, once so numerous that divers could scoop up handfuls, have almost been eliminated.

Lars Petter Oie, a Norwegian diver who lives nearby, has seen the fjord outside his front door taken over by the crabs.

Plunging through a hole in the ice, another diver surfaced within two minutes with a huge specimen. A snap of its claw is enough to remove a man's finger.

Mr Oie said: "I have been to conferences on the crab and one thing the experts agree on is that they have rarely come across a species that is so adaptable.

"It can survive on almost anything: kelp, dead fish, seaweed and fish eggs. It even eats crushed shells to get the calcium it needs for its shell."

The relentless advance of the crabs has led to calls from some Norwegian marine experts for a government-subsidised "blitz" to try to halt their relentless march south.

At present, some Norwegian fishermen have been granted seasonal licences to catch the Kamchatka crab but stiff regulations on the size of the boat used and other criteria mean they are few in number.

Aasmund Bjordal, of the Department of Marine Resources in the western Norwegian town of Bergen, said: "We're between two policies. One is to get rid of the crabs. The other is to manage it as a fishing resource.

"In the meantime, it's already become an important source of income for some fishermen in the north. The problem is that it may be destroying the fishing stock."

Transporting the monster crabs to the Barents Sea was originally part of a Stalinist era scheme to provide food for populations in the north-western Soviet Union.

Norwegian officials dismiss suggestions that the crabs might sometime be slicing off the toes of swimmers as far south as Portugal after conquering beaches in Sweden and Spain, with side trips to Britain, Ireland and the Baltic Sea.
Yuri Orlov, a Russian who helped transport crabs by plane and train from the Pacific, reckons the species could reach the mouth of the Mediterranean. "It will keep going as far as Gibraltar," he told the Norwegian daily Aftenposten.
Orlov led a project to bring 2,000 female crabs, 1,000 males and 10,000 young from the Pacific in the 1960s. No one knows what caused the population to rocket in the 1990s.

The crab plan was launched under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in the 1930s. Most died on early trips until Orlov hit on a survival of the fittest test - meaning the new crab stock may be even tougher than their Pacific cousins.

"I put the crabs on their backs and if they managed to turn over quickly, they were strong enough to make the trip," he said.

Fisherman Bye shrugged off the disputes. "The crabs can be a pest, but they're easy to catch," he said.

Huts Galore

A sailor was marooned on a deserted island for 20 years. He was finally rescued by a merchant marine ship.
As the sailor was packing his meager belongings the captain of the ship asked, "I noticed you have built four huts. You are the only person on the island. What are they for?"
Well, said the sailor, "This one is my residence, the second is my church and that third is my microbrewery where I make coconut beer."
"That's very interesting", said the captain, " but, what about the fourth hut?" Oh", said the sailor, "That was the church I belonged to before I started drinking Coconut Beer."

Sailing on Wednesday

Whitsunday Sailing Club QUEENSLAND YACHT CHARTERS Wednesday Twilight Series
RACE 3 [24/03/04]

Code @ Morse

Recently a new character has been added to morse code for the 'at' symbol as used in email address. This new sign, known as the "commat," consists of the signals for "A" (dot-dash) and "C" (dash-dot-dash-dot), with no space between them.
It seems this new sign is the first in at least several decades, possibly much longer. Among Morse code aficionados, no one could remember any other addition.
Some operators wouldn't mind more changes to spice up the language. Although Morse code has a period, a question mark and even a semicolon, it offers no simple way to articulate excitement.
Now the 'push' is on to add a character for the exclamation point, to express an emotion that's difficult to get across any other way.

Boat Show Art

Entry forms for the Oceanic Whitsunday Boat and Leisure Show 2004 Art Competition and Exhibition are available from El Dorado Galleries in Proserpine.

Them's the facts

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. --Aldous Huxley

Fair winds to Ye!
Cap'n Dan