Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Hamilton to Airlie Beach or Haircuts to Gecko.

We left Hamilton to head further north into the Whitsundays.

First stop was Cid Harbour.  This is a great anchorage and a favorite for cruisers in this area.  It's on the North West side of Whitsunday Island and last time we were here in 2015, we did the climb up to the peak where the view is just stunning but the walk was a killer.  This time around we were much to lazy to try that again.


I had my winter cut there though..  I really wanted to keep it like this but Terry thought it might be just a tad weird.

From Cid we headed into Maconna Inlet which is one of the two big North/South facing inlets on the southern end of Hook Island.

It's an all weather anchorage, quite shallow but good holding.  There's a quite extensive reef on the Eastern side of the anchorage at the top which is exposed at low tide and worth checking out but we didn't get any pics this time.

On the way in, we were overtaken by  (what looked like) an ex-ferry about 40 meters long who charged up about 50 meters clear of our starboard side right on the edge of the channel.  I moved over to the port side to give him some room but he barreled along straight into the shallows and grounded.

They managed to get it off the ground after a short while with lots of wash from the prop in reverse, backed away and headed off to a different anchorage..  Fairly embarrassed I'd say.  Again, no pics though, too busy trying to keep out of their way.

We had a visit from a couple of crested terns who hung around for a while.

From there we headed up around Hook Island to the Stonehaven (Caves Cove) anchorage and spent a couple of nights there on a mooring before heading over to Airlie Beach for supplies.

A nice looking gaff rigged schooner we sailed past on the way to Airlie.

This chap came to visit while we were having a coffee

Looking out over the anchorage at Airlie
We had to go into the marina this time around.  Last time we anchored off the sailing club in among the moorings but we found out since then that our insurance company will not cover us anchored at Airlie or a number of other bays in the same area.  They don't really say why and they can't even give us exact locations for the "exclusion" so it's pretty difficult to figure out where we can and can't anchor on the coast by Airlie Beach.  Strange.

Location: Hook Island, Whitsundays QLD 4802, Australia
GoogleMaps | GooglePlus Local

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Lindeman to Hamilton or Hammocks to Bats

It's a cliché but the Whitsundays really is a paradise of sandy beaches, colourful reefs and glorious weather.

From Goldsmith, we headed over to the south east anchorage at Lindeman.  The anchorage is somewhat exposed to the south east trade winds but sheltered to a large extent by Shaw island.  The bay between the islands is huge, deep and calm making it a very nice place to visit.

Lindeman itself has a failed resort on it which we didn't visit this time round but we did break out the hammock for a while on the beach.

We thought we'd give Hamilton Island a go next so we spent a couple of hours motoring in less than 10 knots of wind to get up there.  It took a while to get into the marina as you have to be escorted in so we watched a couple of planes land.  It's a nice place!  Expensive and geared for tourists but worth a short visit.  Nice bakery and free buses that do a circuit of the island hop on hop off style.

There are some pretty awesome sculptures on display and for sale on the main street!

Just before full dark, hundreds of bats start moving around..  We tried to get some photo's but it's impossible to capture them at least with the Lumix camera we had with us.  Here's the best of our attempts :-)  The dark blurs are bats believe it or not :-)

The marina looks pretty cool from the pub balcony at night!  Nice fish and chips too!  Terry played the pokies while I drank the ale :-)

Location: Lindeman Island, Queensland 4805, Australia
GoogleMaps | GooglePlus Local

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Mackay Northbound or from rock art to a scary lee shore

From Mackay, we headed north into the Whitsunday group of islands for the second time.

First stop was the Scawfell in the South Cumberland group of islands.  The crossing was a good one and we sailed almost all the way.  The anchorage is a deep bay on the North West side of the island with good protection from the trade winds.  It took two attempts to anchor and we stayed two nights in the end along with 5 or 6 other boats including SeaSay who we have shared anchorages with before.  Crystal clear waters and a lovely beach.

We took the dinghy into the beach and had a bit of a walk around.

Entering the anchorage at Scawfell Island
Absolutely deserted beach at Scawfell Island.  A beautiful spot!

Dry creek just off the beach

We followed it inland a bit till it got too rough for our old legs.

Lonely dinghy on the beach

And lonely Dave :-)

I had to help Terry the artist with this..  It's something we've done in a few places now and I find it fascinating to find the balance points of different rocks.  Good fun!

A curious mix of physics and art
We moved on to Brampton Island which was where we met a whole bunch of butterflys last time we came through.  It's a lovely spot but quite eerie as the resort has been closed for years and so it's very neglected.  We stopped in at Western Beach this time on the (you guessed it) west side of the island.  The fringing reef is separated from the beaches by a narrow and shallow channel.  After we anchored, a bunch of Macgregor trailer sailors came past us and went right over the reef into the channel behind and anchored there. 

We hopped into the dinghy and went ashore.  The tide was falling at the time and we planned to be away for a couple of hours which would have made it high tide when we got back so we pulled the dinghy up the beach a bit and put the anchor in the tree line.  We followed a walking trail to Dinghy Bay on the south east of the island.  It was a lot further than we thought :-)  A lovely walk though.  We've found Brampton to be a great spot to visit!  It's a national park and the trails are easy to follow and reasonably well signed. 

However, it took a lot longer than we thought so when we got back, the dinghy was about 100 metres from the sea.  Bugger..  The beach there shelves really slowly so even after we'd dragged it down to the sea, we still had to drag it about 20 metres further before the bloody thing would float.  We were both exhausted by the time we got back to the boat so we crashed and had a late tea.

Venture is out there somewhere :-)

Over the hill to Dinghy Beach

A walkway over one of the creeks
The following day, we headed off to Stingray Bay on Goldsmith Island.

This anchorage is on the south side of the island and we chose it because the expected weather overnight was 5 to 10 knots from the North.  Boy did we get a surprise!

A front came through in the early hours and the wind swung round to the south at 20kts gusting 25 or more putting us on a lee shore in rising seas.  We were woken by the anchor alarm at 2am and when we turned the instruments on, we found ourselves with 1m under the keel when we had anchored in 10m of water at near low tide! We decided to get out of there and head around to the other side of the island so we started the engine and headed up towards the anchor.  We bumped the sand a couple of times as we headed out into deeper water.

I went forward and started pulling the anchor up while Terry stayed by the wheel.  But I could not get the anchor to break free of the sea bed!  The seas were mounting and the bow was pitching about 2 meters when the waves came through.  I tried pulling on the anchor when the bow was down but as it came up, the chain was pulled back over the gypsy (see below).  The anchor was properly wedged or the chain had wrapped around a rock.  I gave up and went back to the cockpit to find Terry in a right state..  She had been panicking as it was pitch black and the plot showed rocks off the starboard bow but she couldn't see them.

We talked it over and decided she would go back to bed while I kept station over the anchor until daylight.  The only other option really was to slip the anchor entirely (let all the chain out) with a buoy attached so we could pick it up another day.  But I was confident that worst of the weather had passed us so I was happy to hang there until it calmed down again.  Amazingly enough, Terry actually went back to sleep!

So I spent nearly 3 hours at the helm watching the plot and trying to keep the boat in one place over the anchor using the engine.  It was actually not that difficult once I figured out that with the engine just above idle and left rudder, it basically sat there head to the wind.  The engine just counterbalanced the wind and we were basically hove-to using the engine.  Occasionally I'd have to give it a squirt of power to bring the bow back into the wind but on the whole, it was relatively easy, just really tedious.. 

In the morning, I got Terry up and we freed the anchor by giving it about 10 meters of slack and motoring slowly against the pull of the anchor chain.  It didn't work first time round (clockwise) but second time round (anti-clockwise) it unwound from whatever it was stuck on and the anchor came up cleanly but with a 5 degree bend in the shank!

We went around the other side of the island to Western Beach and anchored again with a sigh of relief.  I had a kip..

Our anchor winch..  The "gypsy" is on the right hand side with the chain going over it.  The chain disappears into the anchor locker just behind and below the gypsy.

This was the track recorded on our plotter of the 3 hours or so I spent keeping station over the anchor.

Location: Brampton Island, Queensland 4805, Australia
GoogleMaps | GooglePlus Local

Monday, 12 September 2016

Drifting over the coral at Scawfell Island

The reef at Scawfell is extensive and we spent some time in the dinghy drifting over it trying to get a better look at a large fish playing near the surface but had no luck.

We did however, take some video as we drifted back into deeper water.

Location: Scawfell Island, Queensland 4805, Australia
GoogleMaps | GooglePlus Local

Monday, 5 September 2016

North to Mackay

We left Rosslyn Bay and headed further north aiming for Mackay.  As usual, we planned carefully to do the trip in small hops all during the day which meant some early morning departures but means we rarely (if ever) end up entering an anchorage in the dark.

We headed for Port Clinton first as we stopped just north of that anchorage in Pearl Bay last time we headed north.  It's a large, well protected area with a lot of small shallow creeks but anchorages for all weather.  We stopped on the western shore a couple of miles south of the entrance in 3 meters of water but expecting another 5 meters at high tide.  Tides are getting much bigger now as we head north.

We only stayed overnight and in the morning moved on to Island Head Creek just 20 miles north.  This is another large area with mangroves and creeks suitable for anchorage in all weathers.  We stopped this time in the second inlet about 2.5 miles from the entrance.  We put our nose into the first inlet but we were put off by very shallow water and with the big tides, we tried further down and found a nice spot just inside the inlet near the northern bank.  There were a couple of other boats in there but nobody we knew and we wanted a rest before the next leg.

We stayed there for a few nights enjoying the peace, did some exploring of the creek and had a quite unsuccessful fishing expedition. 

An unsuccessful fishing expedition.  But they say you have to actually put the hooks in the water if you want to catch a fish..  Go figure..

At anchor in Island Head Creek

We headed off early for the 40 mile leg up to the Duke Islands.  We decided to go the inside route this time as we visited the Percy's on the outside route last time.

Heading around Townshend Island, we hit 9.5 knots at one point in 15kts relative wind on the port quarter but that was in a 2 knot northbound current :-)

We anchored in a beautiful spot behind Hunter island which looks quite exposed but is well sheltered from the SE Trades.  We headed into the beach for sundowners and toasted an absolutely glorious sunset behind Venture at anchor.

A toast to the cruising life!

From the Duke islands, we headed up to a small island called Curlew 30 miles north west.  The anchorage off the northern beach was lovely but the trades were blowing hard and we spent an uncomfortable night with 25kt bullets (sudden wing gusts) coming over the hills and a fair swell coming around the southern point.  So we only spent one night there and headed off to Mackay the following morning.

The trip over was very rolly with the wind on the port quarter and not quite enough to stabilise the boat against the easterly swell.  But we did manage to sail most of the day with the engine off.

Location: Mackay QLD 4740, Australia
GoogleMaps | GooglePlus Local