Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Clean beach award based on hard work

Clean beach award based on hard work
Our beautiful Whitehaven Beach, recognised recently at the National Clean Beach Challenge Keep Australia Beautiful awards, won the 'Resource recovery' award.
The beach received national recognition; however, it takes ongoing hard work and commitment by vessel staff, rangers and volunteers to manage our popular beach. Every day, efforts are made to reduce visitor impacts on the beach through education, regulation and improved awareness contributed to the successful nomination.
Special recognition must go to marine tourism operators and their pro-active crews who take ownership of all areas of the park.
Sponsor of the Resource Recovery award, Remondis Waste Solutions CEO Luke Agati says he was delighted by the commitment displayed by local communities.
"Volunteers across the country have dedicated thousands of hours to managing our beaches and their commitment is an outstanding contribution to protecting Australia's coastline.
"Whitehaven Beach has three camping grounds and a quarter of a million visitors each year, yet with strong community education, most litter is removed with each visit, leaving the beach pristine.
"It is wonderful that resource recovery has been embraced so wholeheartedly and the community sees natural resource management, waste reduction and recycling as a feel-good activity with clear benefits."
Sproutgate winds Royal Navy
News that a captain in Britain's Royal Navy has banned Brussels sprouts from his warship because he hates them has sparked considerable media wind around the world.
Commanding Officer of HMS Bulwark, Captain Wayne Keble OBE, said Brussels sprouts are banned from his ship.
"They are the devil's vegetable and it is the only thing I do not like, and the only thing I hate"
The Ministry of Defence quickly stepped forward to pour cold water on the story.
"It seems it was a light-hearted remark mentioned in the context of healthy eating," the MoD spokesman added, claiming the captain had been "misquoted."
Sulphur compounds, released when cooked, cause the unpleasant smell of sprouts.
A 2002 survey found Brussels sprouts are the most hated vegetable in Britain.
Islands burn
Park Rangers will be conducting hazard-reduction burning operations on the Whitsunday national park islands between July and October. These burns are undertaken for asset protection, weed control and conservation purposes. Roads, walking tracks, resorts, townships and anchorages may be affected by smoke at times.
No Butts
Cigarette debris and plastic refuse make up more than half of all marine garbage in some parts of the world, posing threats to sea birds and mammals, the United Nations Environment Program says.
About 40 percent of the litter in the Mediterranean Sea is smoking-related from butts and wrapping.
"Marine litter is a large problem that doesn't seem to be getting any better," Sue Kinsey, pollution program manager at the Marine Conservation Society
The litter is most severe in the East Asian seas region, which includes countries such as China with a population 1.3 billion people and where, according to UN figures, almost 60 percent of men smoke.
Plastic waste breaks up into smaller pieces that are then consumed by animals, polluting the food chain.
Shute Harbour lights restored
Mariners are advised that the lighted Port Lateral Mark No.2 Beacon QR, which is located at the northern end of Shute Island, has been restored to normal.
Also that the lighted Port Lateral Mark No.8 Buoy Fl.R.3s, which is located at the entrance channel into Shute Harbour has been restored to normal.
Additionally, that the lighted starboard lateral No.3 buoy Fl.G 2.5s, which is in the Shute Harbour Rooper Inlet south entrance channel, has been re-established in position. AUS charts 252, 253 and 824
Enjoy the sunshine
"If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you'll never enjoy the sunshine"
Author Morris West
Fair winds to Ye!
Cap'n Dan

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Beauty of Barrier Reef island bay

The Beauty of Barrier Reef island bay
Manta Ray Bay, at the northeast of Hook Island, has a fascinating array of underwater coral valleys, caves, and swim-throughs leading to the seafloor 25 metres below. Considered one of the best dive and snorkel sites in the Whitsunday Barrier Reef islands, Manta Ray Bay has a good coverage of hard and soft corals and abundant marine life.
At these cooler times of the year, it is quite possible to see the sudden silver-white flash of large Manta Rays gliding across their namesake bay.
Often described as the best snorkelling and dive site in the Whitsundays and the worst overnight anchorage, changes to Manta Ray Bay anchoring in the Whitsunday Plan of Management by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority needs a mention.
The recently extended no anchoring zone now lines up with the easterly point of the bay to stop anchoring and reef damage to the coral near the point. The Whitsunday Local Marine Advisory Committee and local marine tourism supporters pursued this widely supported change.
Manta Ray Bay (and eastern Luncheon Bay) is a special management area (one of the first) because it provides for some of the best underwater coral scenery.
Manta Ray Bay is a popular daytime spot with access by public moorings only, so if the moorings are being used you will have to move on.
The bottom of most of the inner bay is reasonably shallow at low tide and blanketed with coral of all types and abounds with many fish types, some quite inquisitive as it has been a no fishing zone for many years.
Also a caution that some moorings are for dinghies only and are in shallow water.
That's a yacht!
Let's face it, when 'The Wall Street Journal' has an article about a yacht it's not going to be a little yacht.
Aptly named 'Eclipse' and easily eclipsing all other yachts at 557-feet (170-metres) she was just launched for Roman Abramovich, a Russian who is also owner of English Premier League Chelsea Football Club, and other yachts and boy's toys.
Not bad for a Jewish boy who got his start in black-market goods such as perfume, deodorants, tights and toothpaste in Moscow in the late 1980s, later launching his business career selling plastic ducks.
While business has been tough, he currently is worth 8.5 billion and employs a private security army of about forty and a veritable navy including four other yachts. Eclipse also boasts a mini submarine that doubles as an escape pod.
Eclipse easily tops the world's previous record holder, a 525-footer owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai.
The Pirate Party
I don't quite know what my Swedish grandmother would say, but news that Sweden's Pirate Party has swept possibly two pirates into the European parliament has surprised more than a few.
Part of the Pirate Party's platform is to increase people's privacy on the web, and to protect freedom of speech, says party leader Rickard Falkvinge. It also wants to reform the copyright laws and patent system, demand transparency of state administration and has chosen to be independent on the traditional, but irrational left-right scale.
These ideas could well attract support elsewhere when government appears to have little interest in protecting people's privacy.
The Swedish Pirate Party now has over 48,000 registered members. Young Pirate (Swedish: Ung Pirat), is now the largest political youth organization in Sweden.
Shute lights unlit
1/ Mariners are advised that the lighted port lateral mark No.2 Beacon QR that is located at the northern end of Shute Island has been reported unlit.
2/ Mariners are advised that the lighted port lateral mark No.8 Buoy Fl R 3s that is located at the entrance channel into Shute Harbour has been reported unlit. Mariners should use caution in the vicinity. AUS charts 252 and 253.
Boats are quite tricky
"There isn't no call to go talking of pushing and pulling. Boats are quite tricky enough for those that sit still without looking further for the cause of trouble." - Sam Gamgee, J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings.
Fair winds to Ye!
Cap'n Dan

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dent to Dunk Rally

Yachts bound for glory cruise the coast
Abel Point Yacht Club Inc, invite entries from suitably found yachts & motor vessels, not less than 7.5m overall, to take part in the DENT TO DUNK RALLY, a distance of approximately 240 nautical miles, from Airlie Beach to Port Hinchinbrook, Cardwell, starting on Saturday June 13 at 1030.
The spirit of this Rally is to foster fun, good fellowship and enjoyment of sailing and to introduce sailors, who have not cruised these parts before, to this beautiful region. They will become familiar with the islands and anchorages, in company with other cruisers who know the area.
The proposed format for the Dent to Dunk Rally is Saturday 13th, start at 1030 and cruise in company, through Gloucester Passage, for an overnight stop at the Gloucester Eco Resort and a Pirates or Blues Bros theme night & BBQ at the resort.
Sunday 14th cruise to Cape Upstart. Next day, a cruise to Cape Bowling Green, or anchor behind Cape Cleveland if the weather is unfavourable. Then Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, cruise on again in company to anchor at Orpheus Is. for a quiet night if you wish and rest up for the fun at Port Hinchinbrook.
Friday 19th a short leg to anchor behind Cape Richards off Port Hinchinbrook Eco Resort, maybe visiting Zoë Bay & the waterfalls enroute if the weather allows. 
Saturday 20th an 18-mile leg to Dunk Island & a Hawaii theme night. Sunday 21st is the final 22-nautical mile leg to Port Hinchinbrook. Tuesday 23rd is the presentation of prizes about midday.
The programme may be subject to variation as required due to unexpected happenings. Details - www.apyc.yachting.org.au        
Liferaft launch
Launched during the Oceanic Whitsunday Boat and Leisure Show at the weekend, a ten-person RFD liferaft supplied by Whitsunday Ocean Services took 34 seconds to inflate.
Free navigation book
Nathaniel Bowditch (died 1838) was an early American mathematician remembered for his work on ocean navigation. Often credited as the founder of modern maritime navigation; his book The New American Practical Navigator, first published in 1802, is a shipping industry standard that is still carried onboard every commissioned U.S. Naval vessel.
Bowditch is the definitive work on navigation. Prepared by the United States National Imagery and Mapping Agency, Bowditch Includes the latest advances in electronic navigation and digital charting technology. It also covers traditional navigation such as celestial, plotting and dead reckoning. Bowditch is carried on the bridge of every U.S. Navy ship and should be the mainstay of any serious navigator's library. Armchair navigators will love this and you can get a complete and free copy online at http://www.irbs.com/bowditch
Spies remembered
The U.S. government has arrested a 70-something couple for spying on US Naval secrets for the island nation of Cuba. At their age, keeping secrets wasn't a problem but remembering them was.
In the Pink?
Pop punk Pink suffers from seasickness - and was once so ill she tried to kill herself by jumping off a yacht in the middle of an ocean.
The 'So What' singer currently touring in Australia, hoped the vessel's captain would dock the boat at night - but when he refused, she considered throwing herself overboard.
However, as she teetered on deck with a bottle of wine in her hand, husband Carey Hart talked her out of a suicide bid.
Pink says, "I once chartered a yacht through the Mediterranean. In the end, I tried to jump off the boat and kill myself because I wasn't getting along with the captain.
"The idea was we'd go to port every night so we wouldn't be rocking like The Perfect Storm, but he had other ideas. We were out in the ocean riding the waves. I got sick and couldn't take it.
"I got my favourite dress in one hand, a bottle of wine in the other hand and I was ready to jump in the ocean and die. Luckily Carey talked me down."
Tourism acclimatises
Whitsunday reef tourism operators can learn how to tackle climate change head on with a two-day workshop to be held this week in Airlie Beach.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority General Manager Andrew Skeat said the workshop would answer some vital questions for tourism businesses about climate change and just what it means for businesses in the future.
"This workshop provides a timely opportunity for tourism operators to learn about the impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef and what it means for their business.
"Topics will include how operators can become Climate Action Certified, how to calculate their carbon footprint and reduce their emissions, and important information about carbon offsetting." Mr Skeat added.
The workshops will be delivered by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in partnership with the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators and will include a presentation by Ecotourism Australia on their recently released Climate Change Action Certification program.
"It is important that we all act now and work together to ensure a sustainable Reef and a sustainable tourism industry." Mr Skeat concluded.
Follow the sun
"There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun"    -- Pablo Picasso
Fair winds to Ye!
Cap'n Dan

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Oceanic Whitsunday Boat & Leisure Show

New 'Kids Cove' boat show fun for kids
Award winning youth environmental group EcoKids Reef Guardian Club is joining forces with Rotary Club of Airlie Beach to have a new 'Kids Cove' full of  fun and educational activities for kids at the family friendly Oceanic Whitsunday Boat & Leisure Show this weekend.
Parents can bring their camera and picture the kids enjoying the 'Under the Sea" mural or aboard a fully rigged kid sized Optimist sailing boat. Kids under 12 years are free to attend the show.
EcoKids are part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) Reef Guardian program developed in schools throughout Queensland.
A fun game for kids to try is the brand new GBRMPA Climate Change Game that guarantees plenty of action.
There will be marine animal facemasks, colourful bandanas to make, and badges to design in a cool safe environment with parents relaxing nearby.
Kids can join EcoKids at the show and you could win a great prize.
Highlighting our environment, 'Kids Cove' will feature displays and activities from Whitsunday Catchment Landcare, Eco Barge, Marine Parks Rangers from Department of Environment and Resource Management, Optimist sailing and more.
Aargh! Might even have some Pirates aboard.
Champions sail
The Queensland State Sabot Championships will sail at the Kepple Bay Sailing Club Yeppoon this weekend.
The North Queensland team including a good number of local sailors from the Whitsunday Sailing Club will attend and receive coaching from Ben Callard.
A feature of the Championships is the South Queensland V North Queensland Team Challenge.
North Queensland organiser Jeremy Cooper reports that, "So far, the NQ team comprises one 2-up boat from Townsville, three 2-ups boats and four or five 1-ups from Whitsunday, and, hopefully, some boats from Mackay."
"This may turn out to be the best NQ showing for some time. It is always a great regatta, and I am sure all the kids will get a lot out of it. For parents, the bar provides great viewing!"
"We look forward to catching up with all the NQ Sabot sailors, to keep the team shield for 2-ups, and maybe gain the 1-up team shield." Mr Cooper added.
Survivor dies
Millvina Dean, the last remaining survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, died in England on Sunday May 31, the 98th anniversary of the Titanic's launch. She was 97.
Born on February 2, 1912, when the RMS Titanic sank on April 15, Millvina was the youngest passenger on board at nine weeks of age.
Dean's parents decided to leave England and emigrate to America to start a new life.
The Deans were not supposed to be aboard the Titanic, but owing to a coal strike, they were transferred to the ship and boarded as third-class passengers at Southampton, England.
Her father felt the ship's collision with the iceberg on the night of 14 April 1912, and after investigating, returned to his cabin telling his wife to dress the children and go up on deck.
Dean, her mother, and brother were placed in Lifeboat 10 and were among the first steerage passengers to escape the sinking liner.
Dean's brother, Bertram, died, aged 81, on 15 April 1992; 80 years to the day after the Titanic struck the iceberg.
Anchor Lights
Volunteer Marine Rescue has activated several times recently for tows and including two medivacs.
 "Vessel owners are once again reminded of their obligations to display anchor lights after dusk if their vessel is at anchor," reports VMR member Mal Priday.
"VMR1 goes out in all conditions and it is disappointing that so many vessels are unlit at night. In a worst case scenario, the owner of an unlit vessel may be held liable in the event of a collision."
Please show approved anchor lights!
Light on sunken vessel
Mariners are advised that the sunken vessel, which is approximately 400 metres in a north-westerly direction from Abel Point Marina entrance, has been marked with a lighted special mark buoy. Mariners should use caution in the vicinity.
AUS charts affected 252, 253, 268 & 824
Buoy off station
Mariners are advised that the lighted port lateral No. 8 buoy Fl.R.2.5s in the Shute Harbour South Channel, be off station. Mariners should use caution in the vicinity. AUS charts affected 252, 253 & 824
Short shortcomings
"Whenever I dwell for any length of time on my own shortcomings, they gradually begin to seem mild, harmless, rather engaging little things, not at all like the staring defects in other people's characters"   -- Margaret Halsey
Fair winds to Ye!
Cap'n Dan

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Blessing of the Fleet celebrates twenty years

Blessing of the Fleet celebrates twenty years
All boating people and landlubbers are invited this Sunday to attend the twenty-year celebration of our Blessing of the Fleet.
A Blessing of the Fleet is part of the activities of many seaside and fishing communities around the world. Here in Whitsunday, we also celebrate Whitsun Day and the naming of our area by James Cook in 1770.
Whitsun or Pentecost Sunday is on different dates each year as is Easter. Cook and his crew sailed through the magnificent passage he named Whitsunday on his voyage of adventure and discovery. In addition, Cook named Pentecost Island for the religious occasion.
For the twenty-year celebration the Anglican Bishop of North Queensland, Bishop Bill Ray will conduct the blessing from the rock wall at the Whitsunday Sailing Club from 11 am Sunday.
A colourful flag parade will take place from the Airlie Lagoon to the sailing club from about 10.30 followed by the service from 10.45.
Special thanks, recognition and prayers are given to those who serve on the sea, those of the Navy, merchant service, Water Police and rescue services who do a dangerous job to benefit all.
Now retired, Father Keith Felgate was inspired to conduct an annual blessing of the fleet here at Whitsunday in 1989.
"As we conduct the Blessing of the Fleet on Whitsun Day my thoughts turn to Father Keith who in his retirement is no doubt also thinking of us" says co-founder Cap'n Dan Van Blarcom
Rev John Williams also contributed as an organiser and a sailor. In 2003, Rev Father Don Fernance of the Mission to Seafarers in Townsville conducted our service when Whitsun coincided with the Airlie Beach Rotary Boat Show.
In recent years, Terry Ayling, minister of the Uniting Church, has conducted the Blessing.
The Blessing of the Fleet on Whit Sunday is for those who go down to the sea in ships as, 'sailors are atheists, except when in a storm at sea.'
Community groups and musicians are invited to participate in the Blessing on the seafront lawn at the Whitsunday Sailing Club.
Live firing feral control
Mariners are advised that a control program requiring the use of live firing of weapons will take place on St Bees Island, Wild Duck Island, South Percy Island, High Peak Island and Turn Island in the Mackay/Capricorn National Parks Management Area of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
These control operations will continue until approximately 1800 hours Thursday May 28.
Exclusion zones have been placed around St Bee's Island, South Percy Island, High Peak Island, Wild Duck Island and Turn Island between these dates. These exclusion zones extend seaward of the High Water mark by 500 metres.
All vessels are to remain clear of exclusion zones during the above detailed times. Marine VHF security calls will be made at 0800, 1200 and 1600 hours on channel 16 by Queensland Parks & Wildlife vessel 'Tamoya'.
AUS charts affected 251, 426 & 823
Who's your pilot
"You learn to know a pilot in a storm" - Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Fair winds to Ye!
Cap'n Dan

Crewless Kiwi yacht drifts to Qld Coast

Crewless Kiwi yacht drifts to Qld Coast
A 7.9m yacht abandoned last year near the north coast of New Zealand was towed into Bowen this week by local fisherman.
The yacht, 'Air Apparent', was abandoned when its inexperienced crew defied the yachtmaster/owner and called New Zealand rescue services despite assurances by the yachtmaster that the yacht would not sink.
Air Apparent had a leisurely drift across the Tasman while being tracked by air patrols. Halfway across the ditch, the yacht was discovered south of Norfolk Island by French Navy patrol ship La Moqueuse, whose captain, Lieutenant Laurent Saunois, said the yacht was like a 'ghost ship'.
Yacht owner Bill Heritage told his insurer "It is remarkable that she is still afloat after more than 13 months adrift,"
On March 25 last year, Air Apparent was travelling from Auckland to Nelson, when it encountered 3-metre waves and 25 to 30-knot winds. The captain, Bill Heritage, did not consider these conditions life threatening but his three crew disagreed and set off the emergency locator beacon.
"I was sleeping when they woke me up and told me they were going to set off the beacon. I didn't know what they were talking about,' Mr Heritage said.
A helicopter responded to the beacon and Mr Heritage said he had no option but to abandon the boat with the three crewmen.
The insurer is discussing salvage costs with the fishermen. Coincidentally the yacht shares the name with a well-known racing yacht based in Bowen.
Cruise in safety
The Louisiades Yacht Rally will sail again in September. After a very successful inaugural Rally last year both the yachties and locals are getting ready for this years event.
The rally departs Cairns in September, taking four or five days to make the crossing to these remote islands at the tail of New Guinea.
Cruise in safety with accompanying yachts, meet welcoming local people and learn about their island lifestyle and culture.
The Louisiades are close to Australia and are a real jewel of the Pacific. The people are very friendly, the Melanesian and Pacific Island culture is abundant and the landscape both above and below the water are fertile with flora, fauna and sea life.
The rally takes in an exciting program of events including sailing canoe racing, feasts, sing sings, skull cave visit, traditional dancing, a remote river trip, school and hospital visits and much more. The program also allows plenty of time for independent exploration to the islands and their friendly communities.
The Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority and the Yorkeys Knob Boating Club support the Rally. Yachts muster at Yorkeys by September 6 and depart 12 September, yachts return to Australia mid October to mid November. Power and sail boats are welcome! Visit www.louisiadesrally.com
So what are you waiting for? Life isn't a dress rehearsal. You can make it happen, watch it happen or wonder what happened….
Barrier Reef Parks News
The construction of new amenities at South Whitehaven Beach will be underway for approximately twelve weeks. Access to the Southern toilet block, day-use area and group campsite will be restricted.
Commercial operators are advised to use the sheltered picnic area during this time, and remind visitors of the location of alternative toilets at the northern end of the day-use area. New camping nodes at the southern end of the beach will remain open. Please follow on-site signs and direction and not enter the construction area.
New Great Walk construction is underway on Whitsunday Island. Visitors to Dugong and Sawmill Beach in coming months can expect minor disruption during the operation of plant and equipment used in the construction of the Whitsunday Peak walking track, part of the new Ngaro Sea Trail walking track.
Good News
"I am not an economist, and we all know economists were created to make weather forecasters look good," Rupert Murdock said last week, "But it is increasingly clear that the worst is over."
Fair winds to Ye!
Cap'n Dan

Now is your chance to get into sailing

Now is your chance to get into sailing
Many sailors swear that the only way to learn to sail is in a small boat.
It's not that hard either, just turn up at nine on Sunday mornings at the Whitsunday Sailing Club and 'Get into small boat sailing'
'Get into small boat sailing'
is the descriptive name of the practical course taught by qualified instructors and endorsed by Yachting Australia.
You don't have to desire to sail around the world or go to the Olympics, but if you wanted too this would be the best starting point.
However, first things first and learning the safe way to sail around the bay taught by qualified coaches and with the support of a safety boat is a good start.
Basic Sailing Skills 101 provides a safe and enjoyable introduction to 'learn the ropes" of small boat sailing for novices. The course includes an introduction to fundamental boat handling skills and essential safety knowledge that will allow participants the freedom of sailing small boats with guidance from the instructor or coach.
Lead by chief instructor Roger Stewart, you can learn with several types of boats including the sporty new X3 training dinghies.
Roger says novices of all ages, "from 8 to 80 years old" are regularly on the water training and you can fulfil your dream too. Call Roger Stewart on 0433 370752 or araldite@iprimus.com.au
It is the best way to learn to sail, so see you at the Whitsunday Sailing Club on Sunday mornings from this weekend.
Petrol danger
A suspected petrol explosion on a people smuggling boat has put the explosive danger of this common fuel on front pages across the country.
Many of us have some petrol around to operate lawnmowers, outboards and so on. However, if stored improperly, a fire and/or explosion could result, destroying the house or boat and causing injury or death.
Petrol is a highly volatile liquid, and a spark, flame or other hot object can ignite its vapours easily. When mixed with air in the right proportions, the vapour of one cup of petrol has the explosive power of a couple of kilos dynamite, enough destructive force to destroy any house or car or boat.
In spite of the routine use of petrol, many people are unaware of or unappreciative of the dangers of gasoline.
Petrol burns at close to room temperature when near a spark, flame, or even static electricity. It can float on water and may spread long distances, making ignition and flash back possible. Petrol vapour is highly explosive and may ignite as a "fireball" with a temperature of 8,000 degrees C.
Blessing reaches 20
The annual Blessing of the Fleet turns 20 this year on Sunday May 21. The Whitsunday celebration will be at the sailing club marking James Cook's naming the Whitsunday Passage on Pentecost Sunday in 1770. All the blessed news at blessingofthefleet.blogspot.com/
Modern pirate facts
In 2008, there were 293 incidents of piracy against ships worldwide, up 11 per cent up on the year before. Attacks off Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden almost trebled. Nearly 20,000 ships pass through the Gulf of Aden each year, heading to and from the Suez Canal.
Square Reef pontoon
Mariners are advised that the helicopter pontoon located on Square Reef has been re-established in its original position following its disappearance during cyclone Hamish. AUS chart 821
Storm or sunshine?
"If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you'll never enjoy the sunshine" Author Morris West
Fair winds to Ye!
Cap'n Dan