Tuesday, 21 May 2013

After the Whitsundays

Our day of leaving Airlie Beach started with Jacki and I spending a couple of hours walking around the markets full of local produce, craft and some very interesting people. Watched a sand sculptor create an amazing dragon, hours and hours of work all to be washed away with a down pour of rain at lunchtime.
A good wind took us across towards Hayman Island, where we decided to take a mooring at nearby Langford Beach for the evening. Another rolly night, getting quite used to them by now.
Next morning we said goodbye to Tintin and we were heading west back towards the mainland to anchor at Bona Bay inside Gloucester Island. In through a fairly narrow passage to an idyllic spot. The mountains of the island were the backdrop to the little anchorage with a lovely stretch of beach - and it was so calm. We could sense a good nights sleep coming up.

Bona Bay on Gloucester Island

Next morning we felt great, sleeping soundly though the night. Decided to head off around lunchtime and do an overnight sail through to Townsville. Up past Cape Upstart, Abbott Point with the bulk carriers lying at anchor waiting for their turn to fill with coal,

past Cape Bowling Green, Cape Cleveland and arriving into Townsville just after sunrise. We had booked to take a berth at Breakwater Marina for a night, so into our spot then blissful sleep for a couple of hours.
Townsville waterfront is quite lovely with beautiful old colonial buildings overlooking the Gardens of Remembrance to those who served. The days are quite warm but the evenings are balmy. We will remember Townsville for very friendly people and wonderful gelati.

Off to Magnetic Island to meet up with Tintin again. This was my first visit to the island and I really enjoyed it. A shark netted pool on the beach for those who want to swim but that does not guarantee against stinger bite, so we didn't take the risk. A lovely long beach to walk along looking for shells, along with cafes, pub and small supermarket. Took a bus ride across the top to Nelly Beach on the other side, not much there but a lovely view from the top. Second night there we went ashore for an early bar-b-q on the foreshore and watched the sun go down. All in all a lovely few days there.

Next morning it was off again with Orpheus Island our destination for the day. The winds were benign so it was a motor/sail again. We had a line out trawling and had nothing biting all day, then just as we were about to bring it in and head in to anchor, it went off with a huge zzzzzzzz. Pete was put to the test, the old man and the sea. After about 30 mins of struggle, this one didn't get away and the proof is in the picture.

After filleting and washing down all the blood from the boat, we gave half a fillet to Tintin(about 2kgs) and joined them to supp on some very fresh sashimi, soy and wasabi. Our dinner that evening was tuna steaks done on the bar-b-q and they were delicious. The next evening was Thai Yellow Fish Curry, that was good also. Will look for a recipe for Thai Fish cakes next...seems when you catch a big one you will be eating it for days!
The anchorage at Orpheus Island was very pleasant, calm with no swell. Good coral could be seen at low tide off the beach and we went ashore fore a walk to the top of the mountain - what a view !

A short sail the following morning across to Lucinda and the entry to Hinchenbrook Channel. The island itself was shrouded in cloud as we approached, as it often is. It seemed as if we were entering Mordor from Lord of the Rings - ominous clouds and dark hills..

 By the time we passed the length of the sugar loading terminal. 5.8 ks long which dips 2 metres to follow the earth's curvature, the sun was breaking through the cloud and we were able to appreciate the area in it's full spectacular beauty. We are now anchored about 1/3 the way up, there is no sound, it is so quiet - just the odd noise of a fish jumping.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

After a couple of relaxing days in the Keppels, it was time to hit the high seas and head north in convoy with Tintin. The next stop was Port Clinton were we stayed for 2 nights, a wide expanse of waterways and good holding. Fairly strong winds kept us swinging a bit on our anchor, of for a sound nights sleep.
Tintin anchored in Port Clinton - a huge expanse of water.

From there we headed to the Percy Islands stopping off overnight at South Percy for another 'swell' evening. Is there nowhere to have a still nights sleep? Off bright and breezy the next morning to Digby Island.

 It was a gentle motor all the way with no wind to be had. How can it from gale force to nothing so quickly. Getting in there at lunch time, it was BLT's for lunch then ashore for a swim and walk along the beach. What a lovely spot with just our 2 boats the only ones there.

With strong winds yet again the next morning, it was up with the sails and north to Scawfell Island. 25knt winds gave us a great sail up there but that was just the start of the winds. They increased throughout the evening to 30knts and were coming through the bay in which we were anchored in bullets. Very little sleep that night, very rolly again but we are almost  getting used to that. Off early the following morning with no abating of the winds, it was a shorter but just as fast sail north anchoring in the shelter of Thomas Island for the evening. We had stayed there on a previous trip and had fond memories of the island, with turtles popping up around us and were keen to get back there again. It was just as lovely but not as calm as we had had previously. The winds were now constant 24/7 so it was just for the evening as we were keen to push through to Airlie Beach.
Thomas Island is the start of the Whitsundays so we headed off in the morning passing all the resorts - Daydream, Long Island, South Molle .
Coasting up through Whitsunday passage with strong current going with us, we made good time into Airlie Beach, though rain squalls were intermittent with sunshine, it was a real mix of weather.

Aaah Queensland..."perfect one day...Bucketing the next"

 We anchored in the bay amongst the moorings and decided to have dinner ashore at the yacht club. How good it felt to get 'dressed up' for a night on the town.
Back to civilisation with supermarkets, laundromats and cafes. A lovely day spent getting washing up to date, basic provisions bought and sharing a real latte - loved every minute of it. The afternoon was lazing around the public pool, swimming and reading books. Nice to have our feet on terra firma again. Tomorrow we will go into the marina to refuel and top up water tanks, last of the provisioning and then it's off again wherever the wind takes us.