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17 July 2017 - Thursday Island, Northern Queensland, Australia

We anchored at Horn Island, adjacent to Thursday Island on 15 July, just as many of the Sail2Indonesia Rally participants were leaving. As I look around the anchorage, about 75% of the boats have already left, many too soon in my opinion! Oh well. We really hate to be on a schedule.

As we made our way North along the windy, extremely windy coast, just inside the Great Barrier Reef, we anchored at Double Island, Low Islets, Cape Bedford and then Lizard Island. Lizard Island is described as the best anchorage North of Cairns, and it was. There is a private resort there, as well as some nice parkland and facilities.  The Marlin bar, open to non-resort guests, is open three nights per week, Monday/Wednesday and Fridays. We frequented the Marlin Bar on four separate nights and sampled much of the menu - enjoying the respite.

After three days, we tried to leave Lizard Island, but it was not to be. While hauling up the chain, we noticed that there was insufficient water coming out our exhaust (which can lead to engine overheating), so we aborted. I took about an hour to remove the raw water pump and installed a reconditioned one in its place. By reconditioned, I mean it had a new impeller, new seals and new bearings. This is always better than just replacing the impeller. However, after installing the reconditioned pump, the Volvo refused to start. It cranked, it turned over, but it would not achieve compression and start. This is very strange for a diesel engine. Over the next 5 days, we were consumed with this problem, drawing in other cruisers that were anchored nearby as well as the Volvo Penta dealer in Cairns (by email). The battery was full. We had two separate tanks of more than 800L of clean diesel. I changed both the primary and secondary fuel filters. I even borrowed a can of ether / quick-start from the Resort and demonstrated that the engine “wanted” to run. It achieved compression and ran for 2 seconds. I removed the 12V stop solenoid three times, checking its operation and interface with the fuel injection pump. When bleeding the injectors, it was apparent that the diesel was not spraying out in high pressure though, making me suspect that it was the fuel injection pump. I had even changed the fuel lift pump. Like, who carries a spare fuel lift pump? I did. But, what the hell was wrong?

A fellow Aussie cruiser, former diesel engine mechanic, former helicopter pilot and helicopter engine mechanic successfully diagnosed and solved the problem in about 20 minutes! He asked me to REMOVE the reconditioned sea water pump. After this was done (two minutes), the Volvo started up like a CHARM. It would appear that when reconditioning this pump, I had left the shaft “proud” about 1/4”. When installed, this additional 1/4” was pushing on the “backside” of the shaft that drives the fuel injection pump. This apparently pushed the rack “back” and shut off the fuel. Who would have guessed? I pulled out of my spares locker a brand new sea water pump, installed it, together with the hoses - and the Volvo crisis was solved. We were then back in a holding pattern waiting for the winds to die down a bit before heading North again. Since we were sailing downwind, heading out in 20-25 knots, is of little concern to us, but when the forecast and actual winds were 35-40 - we had to wait it out a few days before leaving Lizard Island.

We met two of the most wonderful people while “stranded” at Lizard Island: Paul and Marlene on MV Thirsty Dog. This couple lives year long on their motor yacht, plying up and down the NE coast of Australia, basing themselves out of Port Douglas. I wish I had a photo of them, as we’ll always remember them and our conversations by the beach.

We’ve been ashore on both Horn and Thursday Island and the area has sort of a Caribbean flair to it. The houses and stores remind me of what you might find in the Caribbean. You can keep hunting around in the shops until you might find what you’re looking for, or nearly. There is obviously Government money being spent on coastal surveillance and a new hospital too. There are salt water crocodiles here, and a few big ones. We’ve been told by many locals, that there is a big one, 5m or over 15 feet long that suns himself in the afternoons when the tide is low. 

I have to say that this talk of crocodiles is all a bit concerning to me. The other night we went into the resort for a Chinese food buffet and came back by dinghy at about 2030, in the dark. Several locals were on the dock and saw the “big one” swim by just a few minutes ago. 15 feet is 50% longer than our dinghy. I don’t want to bump into this prehistoric beast, night or day!

Here are two photos of the Raytheon GPS cable, just rotting away in the sun. This GPS, one of four that we have - is non functioning - and we discovered this a few days ago. 

This is a challenging environment, but often manufacturers, in a rush to save money - don’t use the right materials. Granted, this cable has been in the environment for 16 years, but its still pathetic in my opinion. I have a good mind to write Raytheon - now Raymarine, but they’ll never respond. Everything we buy has become highly scrutinized since we left Canada eight years ago, to avoid just this kind of thing. It will be a bitch to repair, if it can be repaired - and I won’t even look at it until December, when we’re due to arrive in Malaysia.

We’ve cleared Customs and plan to head out to Debut Indonesia, in a day or so, weather, and diesel fuel permitting. The local fuel operator won’t sell you diesel at the dock unless you need a thousand litres or more. I only needed 10 jerry cans (I only own 4 jerry cans) so it required several trips carrying diesel cans to the service station. Its also a messy affair, and there is always spillage. In fact, now that I think of it, only 1 of the 50 or so rally boats that were here, got fuel from the dock. When we do leave, we’ve got just under 700nm to go, and this might be done in about 5 or 6 days, dependent on wind strength and direction.

To see previous log entries, just use the tabs at the top of this page. 

Countries Visited So Far with our boat, and detailed on these pages:         

(Departed Canada: May 2009) (31 countries by boat so far)

Antigua: May 2011
Australia: November 2016 - July 2017

Bermuda: June - August 2009
Bonaire: February - April 2014

Bahamas: December 2009 - March 2010, December 2010 - February 2011

Barbados: March 2012
British Virgin Islands: May 2011
Colombia: October 2014 - December 2014

Cuba: March - May 2010
Curaçao: May 2014 - September 2014

Dominica: May 2011, April 2013

Dominican Republic: March - April 2011
Fiji: September/October 2015
French Polynesia (Marquesas, Tuamotos, Tahiti and the Society Islands): April-July 2015
Galapagos: March 2015
Grenada: June-November 2011
Guadeloupe: March 2013
Martinique: March 2012, March 2013
New Zealand: November 2015 - November 2016
Niue: July/August 2015
Panama: December 2014 (San Blas Islands), (Portobello and Canal) January/February 2015

Puerto Rico: April 2011

St Lucia: May-June 2011, December 2011 - February 2012, December 2012 - February 2013

St Martin /Netherlands Antilles: May 2011

St Vincent and the Grenadines: June 2011, February 2012, December 2012, April-May 2013

Tobago: March-May 2012
Tonga: August 2015
Trinidad: May - December 2012, June - November 2013
USA: August - November 2009, June - November 2010
US Virgin Islands: May 2011
Venezuela: November 2013 - February 2014

Before we went cruising, we also "had a life" and did our fair share of visiting (or living in) other countries.
We've also been to a few other countries, but just not with our boat.  (36 countries so far)

Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia Herzogevinia, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Gibraltar, 
Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway,

Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland), Vatican City.


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