Friday, 31 July 2015
As expected it's a bumpy ride, wind from the southeast, in our face, and we're motoring. It could always be worse so there's no complaining.
The calmness of the Port Clinton anchorage is a welcome relief this afternoon. I've made an easy lunch of fried rice which we enjoy sitting in the sun in the cockpit. We can hear the turtles breathing on the surface close by.
Tonight we watch the blue moon rise over the mangroves in a calm, peaceful anchorage. A blue moon happens when two full moons occur in one month. It's positively blissful.
Thursday, 30 July 2015
Thursday arrives and it's not a good day to sail. Gusty winds, rain, chop; it's a good day to polish some stainless steel fittings in the main cabin. Satisfied I've achieved something we accept an invitation to a get together on the beach.
|We're all getting cabin fever.|
Our new acquaintenances tell us they are members of the "Shaggers Club". Mercifully, before I embarrass myself by asking if the club is inspired by Austin Powers, it's explained that the club is supporting the Prostrate Cancer Foundation. The proper name is Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club. They are all headed up to Gloucester Island for the club's annual rendezvous. Warwick tells us we are heading in the wrong direction and should be sailing north with them. Yes we know, but we've had our fun early in the cruising season and need to get back home and pay for our sins. I'm thinking about how tall the weeds will be by the time we get there!
Wednesday, 29 July 2015
|Island Head Creek|
Overnight we registered 32 knots here in the creek where it's protected. We felt it! Just have to wonder about the conditions out on the ocean. The forward berth was too uncomfortable with the hobby horse, sometimes bucking horse, action as waves rolled up the arm of the creek, current in the opposite direction, putting us broadside to the waves. We each took up a seaberth in the main cabin and slept quite well, waking occasionally to check on how we were holding. It's sand and mud here. All good!
I'm grateful for small mercies. With the wind in the high 20's all day the bouncing has been nothing compared to what it would be outside. We will wait and see how things look tomorrow morning before deciding when we leave for Rosslyn Bay. Hopefully we can get a weather update from someone as boats continue to come into the creek. Once the wind dies it will be another couple of tides before the sea calms down.
Tuesday, 28 July 2015
Monday, 27 July 2015
We have no connection by phone and also no weather updates by radio but we've learned from another boat the Bureau of Meteorology has this morning issued a strong wind warning, winds expected to reach 35 knots. The winds have picked up from nothing to 19 knots since this morning. We will be here another 4 days, till Thursday or Friday.
We have a good little "hole" here to wait it out and there's time to explore a little and do some fishing before the winds really kick in.
Sunday, 26 July 2015
At 10am we enter Island Head Creek. Low tide is 11:30am. I have to keep a look out, watching the depth closely as Robert steers his way around the shoals. It's so clear I can see the sand ripples under 15-20 feet of water. The Lucas guide "Cruising the Coral Coast" provides soundings for anchoraes along the creek but our copy is old and shoals may have shifted over the years. We can't take anything for granted just because it appears in print.
There are three boats anchored just inside but we want more protection than that. The most promising arm we think is much further up the creek. Slowly motoring Bristol Rose in from the main channel we find 8 feet of water under the keel. No, that won't work at low tide.
|Daisie waits patiently.|
We drop the anchor back down the creek near an arm we had earlier dismissed as too difficult to navigate and Robert takes the dinghy through to take soundings. He's found a way in to a "hole" with sufficient depth and enough swing room. We are confident this will work for us to ride out the high winds we're expecting to arrive either late Monday or early Tuesday.
Saturday, 25 July 2015
It's slow going through the day but we are making progress motor sailing. We are joined by pods of dolphins which race over to ride our bow wave, weaving from starboard to port side, back and forth, back and forth. I can't think of anything more delightful! The sailor's companions. They bring an instant smile and seem to smile back as they turn their heads skyward. Are they looking at me? I feel they accept our presence in their world and want to have some fun with us for a while.
We've seen quite a few Humpback whales since we started this ourney over a month ago. They are calving in these northern waters at this time of year.
Through the night we get a few hours of north easterlies which compensate for the earlier slow speeds we've been making. That was a nice surprise and could help put our arrival at a good time for the tide.
Friday, 24 July 2015
We're in luck, we make good time and we settle in for the night at Keswick. We are constantly monitoring weather forecasts on Windyty.com, windguru.com and the Bureau of meteorology site and we're aware that strong winds 25-30 knots SE are expected to hit late Monday 27th, lasting three or four days. We can't sail or motor directly into those kinds of winds and need to find a safe anchorage to wait it out.
Considering all our options we decide that Island Head Creek will be our best option, about 110 nautical miles to the southeast. In favourable conditions we could sail 6-8 knots/hr, making it a 14 hour passage at best. We could do it in stages leaving tomorrow, Saturday, sailing only in daylight hours and arrive on Monday morning.
Light winds are forecast for Saturday, Sunday and most of Monday, reducing our chances of making good time. Motoring and adverse currents could reduce our speed to 3 or 4 knots per hour, or worse. We'll sleep on it.
Thursday, 23 July 2015
The season is really only beginning for many cruisers to the Whitsundays who take advantage of the south easterly winds through winter to travel north. The northerlies kick in around October/November so we are a bit out of sync with the prevailing winds but we have a chance of picking up an occasional northerly or south westerly that could help us. The Coastal Cruising Club of Australia has a helpful rundown of weather patterns by Roger Smith on coastalcruising.org
Leaving Airlee Beach late in the day we made it to South Molle Island as the sun set.
Wednesday, 22 July 2015
|"Resonance" by Bonnie Bombach|
We found that our propeller should be replaced, a legacy of the damage back in Panama.
While in Airlie Beach I've done quite a bit of polishing and cleaning. And you thought it was all cocktails at sunset!
Sunday, 12 July 2015
|Bristol Rose anchored at Line Reef, Great Barrier Reef|
Saturday, 11 July 2015
Anchoring even in the designated areas is tricky among the coral bommies but here it's absolutely out of the question as much for protection of the coral reef as for preservation of boat and crew. Bareboat charterers are not permitted to sail themselves to the outer reef.
We find a suitable sand patch to anchor off Hook Reef for some fishing. Fishing is allowed in a (yellow) Conservation Park Zone, under certain restrictions. The sight of the coral and large reef fish was some consolation for the fact we caught nothing we could keep.
In very calm conditions and with the latest edition (2014) of the cruising guide "100 Magic Miles" in hand we otor over to Hardy Reef intending to anchr inside the lagoon for the night. The guide indicates that with our draft (1.5m) we could enter at a gap in the reef aptly named "The Waterfall". We don't know how long it has been since the author hs tried it himself but we would not dare!
We have navigated some challenging waters in the "Dangerous Archipelago", the Tuamotus but this lagoon "entrance" has to be seen to be believed. We would not risk taking our inflatable dinghy through the narrow gap at high tide. The marker pole can be clearly seen below the surface, lying atop a bommie.
The anchorage at Line Reef is our best bet for the night with the bonus being that we can fish the less restricted blue "Habitat Protection Zone" classification.
Friday, 10 July 2015
Crossing an ocean in a sailboat is one thing. Paddling a kayak across the ocean, even island to island in the Whitsundays, is entirely different. These adventurers have my utmost respect. I wonder about the little things such as comfort levels, energy levels, keeping well hydrated and managing basic bodily functions over long periods of time. Best not to think too much about it!
We can check the boxes from one exotic location to the next but travel is more than the sights. For me it's about the people we meet along the way and the experiences shared. Spending even a short time with someone who looks at life and the life around us from a different perspective can broaden our horizons. I love how travel presents opportunities to meet some amazing people along the way.
Thursday, 9 July 2015
In any other place Chalkies would be deemed magnificent but here, this special spot plays second fiddle to another. We are watching the tourist boats spill hordes of day trippers on the opposite shore. Everyone wants to walk along this iconic beach, to check it off their list of gotta sees. I can't say we are any different. The fine, powdery silica sand beach stretches seven kilometres along the South East of Whitsunday Island. It's the truly magnificent Whitehaven Beach. Soon the white sand is littered with people walking, lying, playing. It's the classic picture of a fun day at the beach. But this is the beach dreams of made of; reputed to be the most photographed beach in Australia. The sand really is that white, the water that blue and that clear.
Tonight we pay the price of anchoring in such natural beauty. Bristol Rose rocks and rolls all night as the currents move around with the change of tides. Small price to pay really.
Wednesday, 8 July 2015
Tuesday, 7 July 2015
In 1802 Lieutenant John Murray and crew of the Lady Nelson were assisting Matthew Flinders in his coastal explorations. "They made several landings and found evidence of Aboriginal visitation" (according to the cruising guide "One Hundred Magic Miles" by David Colfelt, in which the author cites his source, Historian Ray Blackwood). I'm tempted to find out more but this reference is just a teaser.
The island's vegetation seems typical of others in the Whitsundays with pandanus at the high water mark, craggy points supporting tall Hoop Pines, often oddly bent by the wind, and sandy beaches interrupted by rocky shorelines.
Most interesting are the rocks, conglomerate and Coquina with bits of shell, coral, pebbles, etc. all held together by sandy, muddy "glue" that over time (thousands, millions of years?) becomes rock. I could search for hours finding odd shapes and colours to photograph.
But this is not an overnight stop and we dinghy back aboard and sail on to Goldsmith Island. We're easily entertained by the naming of many of the islands and reefs in The Whitsundays. Close by Goldsmith is Silversmith, Coppersmith Rock, Tinsmith, Ingot Islets, Farrier Island, the Anchor Islands (Anchorsmith, Blacksmith, Hammer, Bellows Islet and Ladysmith Islet). Could there be buried treasure in these parts? Doubtful, I decided to stay aboard while Robert and Elliot explored Goldsmith Island.
Monday, 6 July 2015
We'd like to get to as many islands as possible while Elliot is aboard so we sail to Brampton Island with the wind directly behind us; southeasterly 15-20 knots.
Anchored a short way off the jetty, we jump in the dinghy and soon find the jetty is a complete wreck, separated from the land during the last cyclone. Getting ashore is now a little challenging due to the rocky shoreline but we manage to tie to a rock and clamber up to the path. The sun is setting and the path is very overgrown but it looks like a place we'd like to explore tomorrow.
Growing up in Australia I knew Brampton Island as one of Queensland's premier resort islands, just 20 miles north of Mackay. Those days are gone for Brampton and a few others in the Whitsundays. Natural disasters, Australia's mining "boom", high wages, high currency rates and relatively cheap overseas vacations have hit home-grown tourism hard. It's quite a sad sight, looking just as if everyone simply stopped what they were doing, got up and left. There are some reports that a Chinese group has purchased and will re-develop. For now, Brampton Is. offers a National Park with a couple of walks and an off-limits resort wasteland.
Sunday, 5 July 2015
The two islands are separated by the narrow Egremont Passage with strong tidal currents of 3-4 knots. With the prevailing winds being east-southeast at 15-20 knots we choose an anchorage protected in those conditions. We are happy to pick up a mooring ball. This does not lessen the roll in the anchorage but does allow us to be secure in an area with a mostly coral bottom, deep water and sand patches too small to risk dropping an anchor.
We have time this afternoon to explore one of the beaches on St. Bees. Tomorrow morning Robert and Elliot want to fish along the northern side.
Saturday, 4 July 2015
|Elliot after a hard night sailing.|
Daisie comes from a country with many outdoor dangers, bears, coyotes, porcupines, raccoons, rabies, severe cold. Any of these could mean injury or death for a dog left outside. Even in rural Australia the outdoors at night can present dangers for a small dog. Daisie's routine is as regular as clockwork; out for a walk in the morning, helping with sailing or other activities with us, a walk last thing before the sun goes down and then it's in for the night. She's well trained, well adjusted, gentle and loving. If anything she may be too well socialised, approaching everyone and every living thing as a friend. She's a perfect boat dog.