As I write this newsletter I am back in the office for the first time in a fortnight after 2 weeks in glorious north Queensland. Our annual offshore experience trip to Airlie Beach was a festival of glorious weather, great sailing and whales, whales and more whales! My god there were a lot of them. Despite what Sea Shepherd and the rest of them claim, the Southern Right whale would appear to be as about as endangered as the mosquito. At least mosquitos make noise as they approach you. We saw literally hundreds of the buggers (whales I mean), and they were big. One of the crew was determined to get a photo of one breeching, so every time we saw one the cry went out and Ingvar rushed on deck with his camera. After taking about a hundred photos of splashes he was rewarded with a beautiful tail in the air shot! We will get it on our photo gallery.
The crew member with the camera was a blacksmith by trade and he was keen to stop at Blacksmith Island (about 40 miles south of the Whitsundays) to collect some sand for, well, blacksmithing! So this became our mission. After a 200 mile passage from Gladstone we dropped hook at Brampton Island at 2am and after a few hours sleep sailed the short journey to Blacksmith. Unfortunately the anchorage at Blacksmith was a lee shore and our efforts to land in the dinghy were aborted after several attempts by the surf crashing on the beach. Still it was a great excuse to stop at the Smith group – I have sailed past these islands many times but never stopped before. It is definitely on the agenda for next trip.
Named in honour of Sir James Smith (I hope I have spelt that correctly) this archipelago highlights one of the great hardships the earliest explorers had to cope with. Hostile natives? Starvation? Scurvy maybe? Nope, the hardship I speak of is coming up with names for all the islands they discovered. I can imagine Jim Cook and the lads, sitting around the dinner table, picking the weevils from their hardtack and coming up with new names. The main priority in naming things appears to be sucking up to your superiors, as was the case with old Sir James Smith. Cooky struck a rich vein of names with the Smith reference with this group of islands. Goldsmith, Silversmith, Tinsmith, Coppersmith, Ladysmith, Anchorsmith (really?) and of course Blacksmith Islands. Surrounding Blacksmith Island are none less than Hammer Island, Bellows Islet, Anvil Island, Ingot Islets and Farrier Island. Now as you are all aware, a Farrier is actually the person who fits shoes to horses, not a Blacksmith. Well I now know this anyway!
See what you can learn from sailing with Southern Cross Yachting – that tidbit may be useless for sailing but it will go down a treat at your next dinner party!
I can imagine Cooky and the lads were quite chuffed with themselves after naming this large group, before pulling out the telescope and seeing that they had about a hundred new islands in sight – all that needed naming.
Little wonder they drank so much rum back then!
For your own voyage of discovery we have plenty of places available for both 5 day and weekend practical courses. With the weather so pleasant at this time of the year now is the time to complete that RYA Comp Crew or Day Skipper practical course. We may not discover any new island but there are no shortage of sandbanks in Moreton Bay that still need naming. So give us a call, book in and before you know it you could have a sandbank named after you. Of course to claim the sandbank you do need to land and plant a flag. Just running into it won’t qualify!
That’s all for this edition, until next time Fair winds and whale free seas
Cheers Mike Job.