Sunday, December 30, 2012

2013 - lucky for some


2013 - lucky for some:

Fun in the sun revealed


Airlie Beach Race Week, Reef Festival and Fun Race 2013 were announced this week with the added bonus of funding from Events Queensland to promote our 'winter' destination to those poor sods in colder climates.


"We're thrilled to have received funding from Events Queensland for 2013, which will go towards increased marketing efforts," Rob Davis, Commodore of the Whitsunday Sailing Club said this week.


"Events Queensland funding not only promotes the event, but helps deliver tourism benefits to the region and to a wider audience. We have also had tremendous feedback from stakeholders from this year's event and we are now working to ensure 2013 is bigger and better."


The date for Airlie Beach Race Week 2013 is August 8-15, includes six days of racing, opening and closing parties and a lay day party on Monday August 12.


Building on the successful Whitsunday Reef Festival this year, in 2013 the weekend of August 15-18 will see the community celebrate all things Whitsunday.


The Great Whitsunday Fun Race will be sailed on Saturday 17 August.


"The Reef Festival will round off a week of fantastic sailing and provide additional events, fireworks and entertainment for the support crews, spectators and visitors and encourage them to stay a bit longer in Airlie Beach," the Commodore said.


Airlie Beach Race Week is a major regional Queensland event with support from the Whitsunday Council and Tourism Queensland through the Queensland's 'Season of Sailing' campaign.


The Whitsunday Sailing Club held the most successful regatta this year with over 120 yachts and over 40 sponsors supporting the event. "We're already talking to businesses regarding next year's event and we would be happy to hear from anyone who would like to come on board," Commodore Davis said.


It is time to tell your friends in cold places to get ready and book a berth for all the fun in the sun. Further info on accommodation and more or the sailing club.


Silly boat challenge


In Vancouver Canada the local community enjoys The Silly Boat Challenge, where they say "Gather your friends, family & co-workers, come up with an idea for a boat and then .... Build your boat on site out of recycled or recyclable materials. Then sail it around a simple course."

Sound familiar? During Reef Festival in Airlie we have had the Airlie Beach Hotel Recyclable Regatta for the last few years and what fun that is. So, start designing now aiming for Sunday August 18 at the Lagoon.


Girls adrift


Here is an idea that might be a good learning and fund raising activity.

In the UK, eight marine industry girls spent 24 hours in a leaky liferaft to raise money for the Sail4Cancer charity.

What would be more of a fun challenge than 24 hours of rationed food and water, lack of toilet facilities (Or 'no loo' as the girls delicately put it) cramped conditions, virtually no sleep in the cold and damp climate of November in the Solent. For the fashionistas the girls were dressed in bright orange immersion suits complete with "amazing multi-coloured life jackets" and have almost reached their target of £5000.

Was it worth it? Lesley Fitt from Sailing Networks described her feelings afterwards "It was a humbling experience to realise that my worst hours in the liferaft were nothing compared to the long term suffering of the people we are raising funds for."

Perhaps some local sailor gals (or guys) might like to give it a go?


Salty Ocean


The salinity of ocean water is approximately 3.5%, which equates to one cubic square mile of sea water containing 166 million tons of salt. If you could manage to extract all the salt from all the oceans on Earth, you'd have a layer of salt that would cover every continent, 500 feet deep.


Marine Notices


Chance Bay, Whitsunday Island - Mariners are advised that a 14.5 metre vessel has sunk in Chance Bay, Whitsunday Island. It is marked with a lighted yellow special mark.  Mariners, give the vessel a wide berth to seaward. AUS charts 252 & 253


Bowen Boat Harbour - Mariners are advised that the Port Lateral Mark No.6 with light Fl R 1.5s in position latitude 20° 01.1776' S, longitude 148° 15.4022' E  is reported as having diminished intensity. Navigate with caution. AUS chart 268.




"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity"


Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan


Crimson tides, coral spawn

Crimson tides, coral spawn;

Wonders of the natural world


"That's coral spawn," say the uninitiated when spotting a colourful blanket on Whitsunday waters. Others think it is an oil spill, probably as that is what they are used to where they come from.

Both groups of people are just wrong, and here's why.


Hot breezes and raised sun intensity this week brought the occurrence of noticeable algae blooms on the waters of Pioneer Bay and around the Whitsunday Islands.


So if it is not coral spawn or oil, what is that slick?


When good hot growth conditions exist, blooms of a simple floating algae called Trichodesmium are often confused with oil and coral spawn slicks.  Blooms can be easily identified by their rusty brown colour as they occur in wind rows along the surface of the water. 


Slicks of real coral spawn generally do not last more than two days after coral spawning on the inner and outer reefs, probably occurring on only a few night per years – and interestingly on Tuesday and Wednesday night this week.


Some years ago while sailing a dive charter ship to the outer reef, we spied an algae bloom. One passenger said it was an oil spill and even though we discussed it, at the end of the day wrote on the guest comments form that "the captain ignored an oil spill."

So now when I have passengers onboard I tell them about the difference between algae and oil. We stop and take onboard a bucket of the (sometimes smelly!) algae and do a finger test. If it is oil, it will stick to your finger. If algae is will not. Of course if it is oil a sample should be taken, the position logged, size estimated and reported to authorities.


Red tide closes beaches


Ten Sydney beaches were closed this week due to an outbreak of a thick algal bloom known as noctiluca scintillans - commonly called "red tide" or "fire in the sea" - capable of causing skin rashes and eye irritations, that began washing up.


Turn on the lights


While the silly season looms with lights glowing along our streets, on houses, fences and trees an idea has arrived from – where else? – but California in the good old U.S.of A.

New for our thinking, not for theirs. Announcing the 36th Annual Lighted Yacht Parade on the Oakland/Alameda Bay. Presented by Oakland Yacht Club and Marina Village Yacht Harbor. This year's theme is 'Lights, Camera, Action'.

So what is a Lighted Yacht you ask? Well, in typical American form they put as many Christmas lights on their boats as they do on their houses and sail around in the mid winter weather. Here is their take on it.

"The lighted yacht parades are a great way to kick off the holiday season in style and so much fun to participate in, as well as watch. So whether you're on a boat or watching from shore, suit up in your best foul weather gear, pack some Thermoses full of spicy hot beverages and invite your hardiest friends for a holiday parade they'll never forget (depending on what's in the Thermoses)!"

And they have these parades all over the bay to show off enough Christmas lights to be seen from space, powered by generators big enough to keep a small country well lit up. Only in America.


Mariner Notices


Unsafe Passage between North Molle and Mid Molle Islands - Mariners are advised that the rear leading lights F Bu (F Day) on Daydream Island that mark Unsafe Passage are unlit (again!). Mariners should use caution. AUS charts 252 & 253


Port Newry, Victor Creek and Seaforth Creek - Mariners are advised that work will be undertaken on the navigation beacons in the Port Newry, Victor Creek and Seaforth Creek area north of Mackay. The work will be undertaken from the barge 'Slade Point' until Wednesday, December 12. Operations be restricted to daylight hours only, a listening watch will be maintained on VHF 16 at all times. AUS chart 251


Make sense?


"There are people who think that everything one does with a serious face is sensible"



Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan


Cap'n Dan is a regular broadcaster on ABC Radio Tropical North and 4MK

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Turtles under threat

Turtles under threat


While it may be hard for the average person to regard sea turtles as cute, they remain a source of near endless fascination for anyone on or in the sea.

Sitting aboard watching their feeding behaviour, on the ocean surface for some breaths of air, then they are gone to the sea floor for a nice feed of seagrass.

Or, spying a coupled mating pair drifting with the tide for a mile or so along Whitehaven Beach; intent on bringing new life to their endangered world.

The joy of spotting a darting creature while snorkelling or scuba diving along the reef edge. The spooky-ness of a night scuba dive; keeping your light away from the sleeping turtle aware that if awakened they may get flustered and drown while disorientated.


Of the six marine turtle species found along the Queensland coast, all are listed as either endangered or vulnerable, the most common around the Whitsunday coast is the Green turtle.


Marine turtles are unique in spending most of their life at sea but making use of land to lay eggs and reproduce. The sea turtle is vulnerable to changes in both their ocean and terrestrial habitats, threats which have caused a gradual decline in the population numbers.


In 2003, the Commonwealth government developed a Marine Turtle Recovery Plan designed to identify threats and develop strategies to reduce population impacts.


Marine turtle fatalities are recorded along the Queensland coast. In 2011-12 about 1800 marine turtle strandings were recorded. In June 2012, 76 turtles were recorded as dead or partially alive between Ayr and Bowen. Most of the strandings can be linked to one or more of the known threats.


The Whitsunday Region Marine Turtle Management Plan documents the current knowledge of marine turtles in our region, identifies local threats and seeks to develop measures aimed at reducing these impacts. It is hoped that the actions listed in the Plan when implemented will lead to improvements in marine turtle habitats and reduced impacts on individual creatures.

The Whitsunday Region Marine Turtle Management Plan has been coordinated by the Whitsunday Regional Council and includes input from a broad range of people and organisations.

The plan and further information is available from Scott Hardy or Monica Stoinescu at Whitsunday Regional Council.


Eco occasion


Tonight (Wednesday Nov 21) Community education night at Eco Barge Clean Seas Environment Centre, Jubilee Pocket. Info 4946 5198


Cocaine, corpse; coroner


The corpse in the cockpit of a 42-foot yacht JeReVe containing 200 kilos of Cocaine worth $120 million answered a mystery for authorities baffled by the disappearance of the vessel they had tracked since leaving South America bound for Australia.


Revelations that two people were aboard the yacht when it departed the Cook Islands have added to the story of seagoing secret smuggling of coke across the Pacific. A report is going to the coroner when cause of death is established.


Actually the smuggler and his plot would have been doomed even if he hadn't navigated so poorly. The Australian Federal Police have confirmed that the yacht, a 1991 Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 44 originally named Jonathan, was under surveillance all along by relevant authorities including those of the usually sedate Kingdom of Tonga where the yacht was found high and dry.


Indeed, coke smugglers have had a rough time as this is the fourth yacht found in the last couple of years, with a combined coke cargo weighing in at over a tonne


Mariner Notices


Surprise Rock east of Hamilton Island - Mariners are advised that the temporary isolated danger mark buoy Fl (2) 6s established to replace the destroyed beacon on Surprise Rock in approximate position latitude 20° 21.277' S, longitude 149° 01.572' E has been restored to normal.


Platypus Rock, off southern end of Shaw Island - Mariners are advised that the temporary west cardinal mark buoy VQ (9) 10s, that was installed to replace the destroyed beacon on Platypus Rock, has been re-established in approximate position latitude 20° 31.192' S, longitude 149° 02.283' E and the light restored to normal. AUS charts 252, 253 & 824


Dear All,


"Dear optimists, pessimists, and realists, while you were all arguing over the fullness or otherwise of the glass of water... I drank it," Sincerely, An Opportunist.


Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan


A regular broadcaster on ABC Radio Tropical North and 4MK, Cap'n Dan is celebrating ten years online @


Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Loss of HMS Bounty

Loss of HMS Bounty
Hurricane Sandy claimed a well-known victim, the loss of historic tall ship HMS Bounty southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
In 1789, the original HMS Bounty played a role in one of the most famous stories in maritime history. Bounty was roiled by tension between its crew and Captain William Bligh. After landing in Tahiti the Bounty set sail for the West Indies. It never reached that destination. Instead, mate Fletcher Christian led the men in a mutiny; Bligh and his loyalists were allowed to sail off in a longboat.
The ship that sank Monday was a replica of the original Bounty, built for the 1962 "Mutiny on the Bounty" movie, which starred Marlon Brando as Christian. It was constructed from original Royal Navy plans in Lunenburg Nova Scotia, but was made one-third larger to accommodate cameras and other filming equipment.
Over the years the ship starred in a number of sailing movies, including the "Pirates of the Caribbean" film series, in which it was the pirate ship 'Black Pearl'. In 1990 Bounty played the 'Hispanola' in Treasure Island starring Charlton Heston and later featured in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest'.
Crew described the chaos as they abandoned the storm ravaged ship when the Bounty was slammed by a huge wave. "It was [like a] washing machine in an earthquake, while going down a giant slide," crewmember Laura Groves told reporters.
The 14 survivors are chiefly concerned with honouring those who didn't make it, their captain, Robin Wallbridge, and deckhand Claudine Christian, "The great-great-great-great-great granddaughter of Fletcher Christian, the master's mate who took command of the original Bounty from William Bligh in the mutiny of 1789". Ms Christian talked about her deep pride in the ship and relished her family's connection to the story of Bounty.
"I was at the helm the first week and said, "Captain, are you sure you're comfortable having a Christian at the helm?
Hours after being hurled into the water and struggling into life rafts, the crew heard the rotor beat of helicopters. Still far from safe, weather rough, uncertain, treacherous; one of the most daring Coast Guard rescues in memory underway.
The reader may remember a Bounty replica visiting Whitsunday in 1988 and sailing for many years on Sydney Harbour. That ship was built in 1977/78 for the movie 'The Bounty' starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins. She is now a tourist destination in Hong Kong, China.
Falling Overboard
American poet and sailor Robin Beth Schaer who served as a deckhand aboard the HMS Bounty has written, 'Falling Overboard', a beautifully evocative essay which she describes as "My love letter and my farewell for my ship Bounty and her captain, lost in the storm." 
Published in the Paris Review Daily. The first paragraph: "At first, I couldn't sleep on the ship. At night, bunked beneath the waterline, I put my hand against the wooden hull and imagined dark water on the other side pressing back. I lay awake holding my breath, picturing the route I would swim through a maze of cabins and hatches if the ship went down. In port, Bounty had looked tremendous: one hundred and eighty feet long, three masts stretching a hundred feet into the sky, and a thousand square yards of canvas sails. But underway, with ocean spreading toward horizon in every direction, she was small, and inside her I was even smaller."
Beer Island
Beer consumers are invited to submit suggestions as to what fantasia could be built on the 15-acre island, on the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Winners may win an island stay for themselves and three beer drinking friends.
A spokesperson for the brand said: "Men are not getting away from it all and spending enough time with their mates. This is a chance for them to do that. Responsibly, of course." However, Women are eligible to enter the competition as well.
The island is leased and is actually called Pumpkin Island. Described as "One of Australia's hidden gems and best-kept island secrets, nestled in the Keppel Islands, seven and a half nautical miles off the coast from Yeppoon.
Mariner Notices
Bird Island, east of Hook Island - Mariners are advised that the light on the West Cardinal Mark beacon on Bird Island east of Hook Island has been restored to normal. AUS charts 252, 254 & 825
Ability in demand
"Ability will never catch up with the demand for it" concluded Malcolm Forbes
Fair winds to Ye!
Cap'n Dan
Celebrating ten years online @

Sunday, December 02, 2012

What floats a boat in Canberra may struggle on our waters

What floats a boat in Canberra
may struggle on our waters
2013 is an election year federally and the government wants at least some of its policies to take effect.
There is less than two months until 1 January 2013, an important date in the Government's transport plan, according to The Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.
"That is the date when Australia finally gets three national transport regulators; one for rail, one for heavy vehicles and one for the maritime industry. This will see the number of transport regulators operating across Australia reduced from 23 to 3."
While workable reforms are to be applauded, especially the overhaul of century-old maritime laws. But, will the establishment of a national system for commercial domestic vessel safety, replacing eight existing sets of regulations affecting all commercial vessels in Australian waters be ready on 1 January? Some think not.
Over fifty local marine industry people attended the Airlie Beach meeting last Thursday evening. The meeting, one of the first nationwide, heard that while the legislation may be in place, regulations and on water solutions are not according to several in attendance.
The meeting organised by the maritime regulator, Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is taking the opportunity to meet Australians who work in the maritime sector and advise of changes that will be taking place in 2013.
AMSA is the national regulator responsible for shipping safety and management, protection of the marine environment and land and sea search and rescue.
For the maritime industry, this means that for the first time in its history, Australia will have a single national regulator for commercial vessel safety.
"This will ease the burden of red tape, increase regulatory confidence, remove inconsistency in the law applying to Australian commercial vessels and streamline new maritime safety plans," the Minster says.
"We will have one maritime safety regulator—and one law—Commonwealth law—applying to all commercial vessels in Australian waters.
In terms of sheer numbers alone, this increases AMSA's responsibilities from around 6,000 to 30,000 vessels.
See what happens in the New Year.
GBR Ports say
The Newman Government's approach to future port development and planning in the Great Barrier Reef region is outlined in the draft Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy now released for public consultation.
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, and Planning Jeff Seeney said the Strategy presents the principles that will guide the Government's approach to future port development over the next decade.
"Port development is essential for growth of the State's economy, but so too is protection of our greatest environmental asset – the Great Barrier Reef," Mr Seeney said.
"Through this Strategy the Government will balance environmental protection and economic prosperity.
 "We will confine future development to the existing major ports where there is considerable scope for future development at Abbot Point, at Dudgeon Point in the Port of Hay Point.
Mr Seeney said the draft Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy supports the strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef Coastal Zone being undertaken jointly by the State and Federal Governments.
It also responds in part to the UNESCO report of June 2011 expressing concern at the rate of proposed port development within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Mr Seeney said the draft strategy was out for public consultation until mid-December
"I encourage all interested parties to make a submission and have their say on this strategy."
Noah's Ark in Japan
Japan's Ministry of Land has announced that it will develop an enclosed lifeboat in which it says coastal residents could ride out a massive tsunami.
According to the ministry's Shikoku bureau, the vessel will accommodate 25 people and measure about 6.5 metres in length with a beam of 2.3 metres and weighing 2.5 tonnes. Say, what is the coastal population of Japan?
The craft will feature a structure to protect the passengers from expected severe swaying. Sea trials at sea are planned for 2013.
Hazard to navigation
South West of Shaw Island - Mariners are advised that a semi-submerged steel post has been reported in approximate position latitude 20° 32.615' S; longitude 149°03.460' E and poses a hazard to navigation. Mariners are advised to navigate with caution in the area and report further sightings to VTS Hay Point via channel 14. AUS charts 252 & 825
Question of balance
"My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income"  
    Errol Flynn (1909 - 1959)
Fair winds to Ye!
Cap'n Dan

Saturday, December 01, 2012


Wild weekend on Reef
Wild weekend for Great Barrier Reef; Linked to the phases of the moon. The most common timing is 3-5 days after the full moon in late spring/early summer. There are many factors involved including relatively little tidal movement, water temperature and lighting. Although there are no guarantees of the exact night, experts have predicted the 2012 coral spawning for the nights of 03-04 November.
So, what is coral spawning? Essentially, it is the sexual reproduction of a coral reef. It usually occurs as a mass event, lasting up to a week, and it happens once a year on the Great Barrier Reef. As it's a natural phenomenon, predicting timing for the Great Barrier Reef's annual coral spawning is difficult and depends on a few factors.
Water Temperature. To trigger coral spawning the water temperature needs to be around 27 degrees Celsius, which is achieved during spring in Tropical North Queensland (September - December).
Moon Cycle. Interestingly, the Great Barrier Reef times its sexual reproduction around the cycle of the moon: nothing to do with romance, everything to do with the tides. To ensure maximum fertilisation there needs to be minimal tidal movement. Therefore, coral spawning generally occurs three to five days after the full moon in October or November, sometimes even December. The 2012 Full Moon dates are 30 October and 29 November.
At Night. The coral spawning always occurs at night.
First witnessed by researchers in 1981, the Great Barrier Reef coral spawning event attracts hundreds of scientists, researchers and recreational snorkelers and scuba divers each year.
Why do they come? Other than to enjoy the warm waters of the Coral Sea, they come hoping to be in the water when the over 400 different types of coral on the Great Barrier Reef release their eggs and sperm in a mass reproductive event.
Marine Biologist Stuart Ireland said the coral spawning helped the Great Barrier Reef to evolve.
"Coral spawning allows for cross-breeding and hybridisation, which helps the Great Barrier Reef corals evolve and become stronger," Mr Ireland said. "By having a mass spawning event, there is a greater chance of successful reproduction and survival from the predators in the water (fish etc), that like to eat the corals' eggs and sperm," he said.
Free boat book
The BoatSafe Workbook contains all the information you need to prepare for the BoatSafe course to get your recreational licence, check you knowledge or have a handy reference. The workbook has exercises (test) at the end of each chapter to test your knowledge. Download the BoatSafe Workbook from the Maritime Safety Queensland web site.
No wait for tide
Planning for 2013 is easy now that Queensland Tide Tables 2013 is available.  The Queensland Tide Tables is a complete package of boating safety information and practical tips to make your time on Queensland's waterways safe and enjoyable. The tide tables include a lot of  information.
Agency contact details for Maritime Safety Queensland, Queensland Water Police, Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol, and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.
Tidal predictions for Queensland standard ports as well as instructions for calculating tides at many other intermediate locations, plus the sun and moon rise and set tables, moon phases and locations of standard ports (PDF, 631 KB).
Public ramp, jetty and pontoon listing that is separated into coastal (tidal) and freshwater impoundment facilities.
Boating safety information on licensing and registration, safety equipment table, water limit maps, marine radio communications and volunteer rescue stations listing, ship navigation areas guide, and sewage discharge requirements.
Fish and crab guide outlining rules and regulations, fishing permits and size/take/possession limits.
Mariner Notices
Holbourne Island- Mariners are advised that the Holbourne Island light in approximate position latitude 19° 43.45' S, longitude 148° 21.52' E is reported to be operating at reduced power and displaying irregular characteristics.
Queens Bay, Bowen - Mariners are advised that North Rock light in approximate position latitude 19° 58.32' S, longitude 148° 15.66' E is reported to be operating at reduced power and displaying irregular characteristics. Mariners are advised to navigate with caution in this area. AUS charts affected: 268, 825 & 826
Two ways
"There are only two mantras, yum and yuck, mine is yum."
— Tom Robbins
Fair winds to Ye!
Cap'n Dan