We chatted with a couple of other boats about the 30-hour or so hop to Mackay.Â The consensus of local knowledge sealed the deal on our plan – leave before sunrise to ride a following current out of Keppel Bay.Â As a general rule, we try avoid approaching or departing without adequate sunlight – it’s just our cruising philosophy and, frankly, common sense – but sometimes it can’t be helped.Â Â Of the mini-flotilla waiting for a weather window to head north, we were the only ones headed directly to Mackay instead of stopping at Middle Pearcy Island or Pearl Bay.Â I might have considered dropping the hook in Pearl Bay, but without a working stovetop, dinner at anchor is not a lot of fun.Â
The alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. and I hit the snooze.Â Andy got up to connect to the Internet and check the weather forecast one last time.Â We heard movement outside (voices, engines firing up, etc.) so it was obvious our buddy boats were a go.Â Andy went to assist our neighbor to shove off out of their slip, and I started the final preparations and the last-minute stowage.Â Shallow water at night is freaky and a bit disconcerting, but the channel is well-marked so no panic attacks or tense moments or anything like that.
And wow, they were so right about that favorable current!Â We were zooming right along at a great clip even with very light wind.Â Andy slept most of the afternoon in preparation for some slightly tricky navigation through the night.Â Around 2:00 a.m., it became clear that the following current was so favorable and helpful, that we may arrive before sun-up.Â That’s when he noticed some strange lights in the distance that looked like land.Â He checked the navigation, and realized it couldn’t be land.Â He turned on the radar and quickly realized what it was – a huge anchorage for container ships outside of the industrial port of Mackay. Â And when I say huge, I mean at least 50 container ships – a bigger array than at the entrance to the Panama Canal.
We entered the outer harbor at about 7:00 a.m.Â A guy walking his dog on the dock motioned to us to pull in to a slip.Â He caught our lines and loaned us the gate key so we could go have some breakfast before the marina office opened at 8:30 a.m.
We headed over to the only place open that early for breakfast.Â An eleven-year-old girl (with multiple facial piercings) took our order, and then a 12-year-old girl made our coffees, and then a 13-year-old girl delivered our plates.Â I don’t remember the name of this cafÃ©, but to us, it will forever be called the “Children of the Corn CafÃ©.”Â Are there no child labor laws in Mackay?Â Sheesh.
Evidently, the World ARC is expected any day, so the marina made us move out to Siberia … out by the crazy trimaran that nobody ever takes care of (it’s the same in every marina)!Â In a gigantic marina with 500 berths, we are literally the farthest possible location from the main gate (and presumably, the wifi signal).Â Argh.Â At first glance, though, there seems to be lots to do in the marina complex.