The calm weather we’d been enjoying for the past few days on the outer reef was forecast to end, so it was a good time to go and visit Cairns. The city has a beautiful waterfront, with many restaurants, bars and coffee shops, and several nearby attractions. It also is a good place to provision with several stores close to the marina. We came expecting to stay for four nights but had so much fun we weren’t able to tear ourselves away until ten.
Trip highlights from May 6th through May 15th follows. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps
We’d only consumed 200 gallons (750 liters) since fueling in Townsville and would have plenty to travel the roughly 1,200 miles to Darwin. But the fuel dock in Cairns was convenient, so we topped off our diesel tanks to allow us to run faster if we needed to.
Our bilge pump counter showed that we’d picked up a substantial water leak on the way into Cairns–the pump was cycling every 50 seconds. We have lots of bilge pump capacity, so this doesn’t represent a concern. When we investigated we found the packless shaft seal collar had backed off, relieving belows tension. This allowed water ingress underway, but it didn’t leak at rest. The small stainless shaft collar to the left of the packless shaft seal is a design feature addition we added for exactly this sort of possibility. If for any reason the packless shaft seal backs off, this extra collar prevents large uncontrolled water leaks. Once we’d investigated further, we found the shaft seal collar set screws had backed off. It turned out to be an installation issue where only a single set screw was used. Each hole should have two set screws, where the second is a locking set screw. We replaced the old set screws with new ones, and tightened up and installed the old set screws as locking sets screws.
We noticed a large battery retailer opposite the mall, AAA FNQ Battery Wholesalers, and picked up three type U1 batteries rated at 385 CCA (cold cranking amps). Two would replace our dinghy start and backup battery that were near end of life with 200 and 170 CCA respectively, and the third would be a spare.
The marina seemed a little empty when we arrived, and we assumed it was just the off-season. But around 5pm, all the day-tour boats began returning, and substantially filled the marina. Pictured heading to its slip is Passions of Paradise, that we’d seen at Michaelmas Cay yesterday.
Grocery shopping with our folding cart at Woolworths. Provisioning in Cairns is very convenient–we’re all stocked up now for our Kimberley trip and likely will only buy some produce in Darwin as we pass through to refuel.
We bought some delicious oysters and cooked shrimp for lunch on Dirona from Prawn Star moored at the head of our dock. In the evenings we often see patrons eating dinner on or beside the boat with a Prawn Star-supplied cold beer in hand.
Since we already had the rental car for the planned Daintree National Park trip, we took advantage of our increased mobility to drive up to the Copperlode Dam site. This is the view back to Cairns from partway up.
From the viewpoint along Lake Morris Road, we could see a cruise ship at the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal and stopped by on the way back to check it out. In port was the newly-renovated 592-ft Insignia. One of their more interesting cruises is a 180-day circumnavigation. Our trip is pretty much the other end of the spectrum for time taken.
We left Cairns before sunrise this morning on a 95-mile (154 km) drive to Cape Tribulation in Daintree National Park. This is the early morning view at Ellis Beach, about an hour north of Cairns. Read more …
On a dinghy tour up Trinity Inlet, we passed the HMAS Childers at the Cairns Navy base. The 186.35 ft (56.8 m) patrol boat can reach speeds of 25 knots and is one of 14 such ships used for fisheries protection, immigration, customs and drug law enforcement operations. An impressive boat–we bet it motivates compliance.
We worked up to the head of Black Fellow Creek before shallows turned us back. We were hoping we might see a crocodile, but as the water narrowed and we could almost step to shore from the dinghy, the prospect of finding a crocodile went from appealing to worth avoiding.
The Australia Customs and Border Protection Vessel (ACV) Roebuck Bay was one of three ACV Bay class vessels in the area. These 125 ft (38 m) ships have a range of 1000 miles at 20 knots and carry a 7.62mm general-purpose machine gun. The vessels are used to investigate possible or confirmed incursions into Australian maritime territory and to visit remote or otherwise inaccessible areas within Australia’s offshore territories.
Cairns is a popular superyacht destination. Paul Allen’s Octopus was here recently. We seem to be on a very similar course. We saw them in San Francisco, Honolulu and Sydney, and just missed them here.
After only two months, the hydraulics heat-exchanger zincs definitely needed changing. These are the only zincs on Dirona that don’t last for beyond 6 months to a year . We’ve never figured out why these are consumed more quickly. We’ve tried both grounding and isolating the heat-exchanger to no effect. It’s not a big hassle–they can be changed in under ten minutes–but its surprising how fast we go through them.
We spent much of the day unsuccessfully trying to get the rudder position from our secondary autopilot to feed into the NMEA 2000 bus. Spitfire spent much of that time crawling over James and into the locker he was working in, and eventually just lay down on his chest. We only need rudder position on the NMEA 2000 bus for display at the aft station–all other stations already show rudder position. One pilot works, one pilot doesn’t. We chased the problem back to the faulty pilot and it appears that it’s not sending the data.
Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.
On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps.