Monday, 27 May 2019

Noumea First Week 16th - 25th May 2019

Checking In

Baie  De L,Orphelinat  Anchorage

We arrived in the Baie De L’Orphelinat and dropped the anchor outside the other moored and anchored boats and as instructed by Customs stayed on board for the rest of the day. The relevant offices closed at 11.30am so we could not check in till Thursday. We didn’t mind as after our strenuous sail from Aus we needed some down time.

Next morning we set off to do the official business of checking in and dinghied to a marina on the south side of the bay where we were directed to Port Du Sud Marina to look for the Capitainerie (Harbourmaster, Marc) who would complete some of the process with us. We filled out forms for Customs, Immigration and Quarantine which took some time and cost $50 Aud. We also organised with Marc to rent space for docking the dinghy for two weeks (about $100 p/w) as there appeared to be nowhere to park her. The only dinghy docks are in Port Moselle and here, and both are pay docks. The waterfront around this harbour is lined with rock walls and we have been told to be very careful where we leave the dinghy. So, we paid up and it has been very convenient and also gives us a key for the showers and laundry.

After completing business with Mark, Peter had to meet the Quarantine official and take him out to inspect the boat. He took all our fresh food, not much, because we had eaten most of it. It was raining hard, but luckily the Quarantine man was young and didn’t appear to mind his journey in the rain. Meanwhile Audrey and I decided if we got a taxi we could make the Customs in the centre of town before they closed at 11.30 am. We must have just made it and finally all the official business was done.

The rain was still coming down steadily as we walked back to Port Du Sud. I started out with an umbrella, but soon discarded it as no-one here takes any notice of the rain and goes on as if the day is fine and sunny. I didn’t want to look out of place so the brolly went in the bag and I joined the locals in the rain. Aud and I found our way back to the marina without much effort and then joined Peter for lunch at the Le Bintz restaurant where we had curried prawns and fish. We had earned it!! Le Bintz is rated as one of the top 10 in Noumea. We go there every day for drinks or coffee and to make use of Alex’s Wi-Fi.


We are still anchored in Baie De L’Orphelinat because the weather for the first nine days ranged from windy to very windy, from the SE (trade winds), with intermittent rain showers. There was no reason to leave our cosy anchorage as we had Noumea to explore. We have walked around most of this city and explored the harbour, Port Moselle, the city centre, markets, the cathedral, war memorials and resort beaches in the Baie des Citrons. We even walked around to the north-west side of the Port Moselle Harbour to the chandleries. Lucky Aud and I. That was Peter’s choice.

Our organisation for communication with the outside world has not gone according to plan. Both Aud and Peter set up an international roaming day pass which they both thought included Noumea, but when we arrived discovered that it did not. Consequently we have been very careful with phone calls and emails etc. Peter arranged his with the help of Telstra in Albany and they will be getting a serve when we get back. Audrey has bought a local cheap phone and sim card and we have been using that to phone home.

Sim Card

After Aud purchased the phone we had to find a Post Office to buy the relevant sim card. We had some directions from the phone shop lady, but as it was in French we ended up a little confused. I decided to look on the tourist map which had little envelopes to designate where to find the PO. When we reached the envelope we thought was on our intended route – no PO. More directions from locals only served to confuse the issue further. Then someone said it was on Av du Mar Foch. Finally, an hour or so later we ended up almost where we began on Foch Av at the Foch’n Post Office.

Out comes the Sun

The weather changed for the better yesterday, after a rainy, gloomy start. We booked a ferry ticket for a ride to Ilot Maitre for the day and were disappointed when we awoke to heavy rain and gloomy skies. Just our luck we thought! The island is only 3.5m from the harbour and not long after we arrived, the sun came out and the day turned into a beautiful, picture post card, glorious day – our first here. All of a sudden the place lit up and we swam with the fish and ate our sandwiches on the beach in the sunshine. The anchorage here is very crowded and we did not want to lose our spot, hence the ferry trip.
Liz and Aud enjoy the sun at Ilot Maitre

Car Hire

We will never do that again! It seemed like a good idea. Hire a car for the day and drive down the coast and then inland to Lac de Late. The roads are narrow, everyone drives much faster than the limit and it is all on the wrong side of the road. We never made the lake, but did see some of the coast to the south as far as Plum. It is very scenic and mountainous. The whole back drop here is mountains, where dark, ominous clouds collect in the evening and send showers down most nights.

Final Thoughts

·         When the sun comes out Noumea and surrounds are picture postcard perfect.

·         The coffee is not to our taste, although Peter is getting used to it. We have resorted to Mac Donalds for coffee at times. Alex at the Le Bintz Restaurant makes a nice latte for us. At one patisserie Peter asked for a large coffee for each of us, complete with hand signs. The young lady served our coffee, which was in large paper cups, however the amount of coffee in there was the same and it was only half full!! We tried!

·         We bought some almond croissants and will never do that again, so sweet and like over-dosing on marzipan. We all felt sick for the rest of the day.

·         There is very little room to anchor in this bay or Moselle Bay due to boats on moorings and at anchor. The marinas are full. Every man and his dog must own a boat here.

Peter at the old gaol

Friday, 17 May 2019

Au revior Australie   8th – 15th May

On Tuesday ‘MetBob’, our weather Guru from New Zealand, gave us the go ahead for our sail to New Caledonia. One small comment in his forecast did not necessarily impress itself upon us as it should have, due to our desire to get underway – ‘it’s not going to be entirely comfortable but this seems to be the best for this week.’ The email was long and the description of weather systems detailed so this statement was glossed over somewhat. He gave us way points to sail to and this involved doing a loop to the south to pick up favourable winds. We ended up covering 920nm in 6 days 23 hours and 20 minutes. MetBob gave us a time of 7 days and 59 minutes. Hey! Not bad! We were impressed with MetBobs forecast and our own sailing ability.

We spent two nights in the marina at Southport gearing up for departure and Border Force arrived at 9am Wednesday to clear us out. This was a relatively simple procedure that took less than an hour and then we were on our way. The day was magnificent and we sailed in a gentle northerly all day, Australia gradually disappearing behind. Day 2 continued fine and mild until the late afternoon when the wind turned East and began to push us off course – not so comfortable sailing close to the wind.

On day 2 we reached our first way point near the Brisbane Sea Mounts and we turned E/SE towards way point 2 just north of Middleton Reef. On Friday the frontal system caught up with us and grey overcast skies and stronger winds meant we were experiencing a boisterous sail. No hot drinks, too dangerous. I was feeling queasy as the wind turned even harder on the nose from the SE. Saturday followed a lumpy, windy, squally night where dinner was 3 minute noodles.

By Saturday the wind had swung to the south and the swells had picked up to 3.5m and swamped the cockpit in spray and occasionally dumped a big greenie in as well. Audrie seemed to catch the brunt of that! Unfortunately the rest of the trip followed this pattern. Strong, gusty winds, bigger swells than I liked to see, squally, grey skies with a patch of sun here or there and generally thoroughly uncomfortable.

Audrey and I compared bruises. We both looked like we had been dropped in the cement mixer. It felt like that too, actually. At one stage Peter took a full on dive over the table and landed head first in the bookshelf. That alarmed us and reinforced the adage, ‘one hand for the boat and one for self.’  Audrie and I decided that toast and vegemite was all we could contemplate cooking one morning, but it took two of us to manage it. The toaster required someone to hold it on the burner and even then the toast resembled something that a seagull had shat on rather than evenly spread vegemite and butter. Way point 3 had us turning further north and this alleviated the discomfort a little as we sailed just off the wind.

One interesting thing that happened out there in the middle of nowhere, was that we saw a ship turn up on the chart plotter. On examining the AIS info we discovered it was a tanker bound for NZ. It was not on a collision course, but quite close so we kept a good eye on it and eventually saw it passing in the distance. Then suddenly it turned at right angles and headed straight for us again. This was concerning. A ship in the middle of nowhere altering course towards us makes one feel very vulnerable. We kept our eyes on the chart plotter for several minutes and were very relieved when it again turned on its original course away from us.

Considering the conditions we had only two minor breakages. One was the top batten broke free from the batten car on the mainsail and then so very close to our destination one side of the lazy jacks broke free making it more of a challenge to drop the mainsail. The only other problem was when Aud discovered a leak through the deck had saturated one side of her bed forcing her to relocate to the main cabin.

Wednesday: 6 days, 23 hours and 20 minutes saw us entering the Boulari Passage into the lagoon and on our final approaches to Noumea. This was definitely not a comfortable passage, but not overly concerning given the prevailing wind conditions. The boat handled it well and we all have full confidence in Olivia’s seaworthiness.


Saturday, 4 May 2019

Sailing Olivia 2019

A New Sailing Season Begins      26th April - 3rd May 2019

Scarborough Marina

The sun rises on a new day and a new sailing season, Scarborough Marina
Karin dropped me off at Perth Airport at 9.30pm ready to board the midnight flight to Brisbane, then on to Scarborough Marina where Olivia had been residing for the summer. Peter had gone ahead 5 weeks earlier to do some routine maintenance, such as antifoul the hull, service the motor and install a new echo sounder. He also had some jobs to do for me, mainly find a bicycle shop that could sell us some fold-up push bikes. I have been wanting one of those for a while now. He also had friends Robin and John from WA join him for a fortnight of exploration from Moreton Bay down to the  Gold Coast.

At Perth Airport I met Audrey, a sailing companion of many years, who was taking 5 weeks off work to help us sail Olivia to New Caledonia. We have planned to go to New Cal for some time and this year is the one! Our plans are to set sail for New Cal as soon as the weather allows and if time permits perhaps do Vanuatu as well, before heading back to Townsville later in the year. We have been in contact with Bob, the weather guru, from New Zealand, who is renown for his weather routing advice for sailors transiting the Pacific Ocean. We were anticipating a departure today, Friday 3rd May, but Bob tells us that strong headwinds are expected in a few days, so we are staying put for now.

Scarborough Marina is a good place to leave Olivia over the summer as it is one of the cheaper marinas in Moreton Bay and it has an excellent lift out facility for maintenance. The staff are friendly and the amenities clean, fuel jetty accessible at high tide (for us), and the shops are an easy bus ride or long walk away, depending which takes your fancy.

Audrey grazing on fungi on the way to the shops!
Actually she was taking an artistic photo. 

Our walk to Redcliff took us along the seafront for five kms of parkland and on the way we discovered that the Faraway Tree is actually in Australia. I knocked on the door, but no one was at home.

We found the Faraway Tree.  It's at Scarborough!

A Trip To Brisbane

We had a spare day so we decided to take the train ride into Brisbane city to find the AEC Office so that we could do our absentee votes and get that little job out of the way. Having accomplished that we found a money exchange and purchased some petty cash for New Caledonia. Our $200 turned into 13,000 SPF. We could easily be multi-millionaires there!!! After the conclusion of our business we decided that lunch on the South Bank was in order and we enjoyed a leisurely walk through the parkland.

South Bank

Having accomplished all we wished to do in Brisbane City we made our way to Central Station to catch the train back to Kippa Ring, then the bus onwards to Scarborough. Things did not go according to plan. Firstly the bike shop rang Peter and informed us that the folding bikes had not yet left Melbourne and would not arrive in time for our departure to New Cal. Big disappointment!!! Order cancelled! Then when we were still five stations short of our destination an announcement informed us that there was a problem with the overhead power lines ahead and that passengers would have to disembark and continue by bus to our destinations. I won't swear here, but we did.... However, buses were quickly provided for us to continue our journey, although somewhat extended due to traffic building towards rush hour. Finally as we arrived at Kippa Ring Station as our 699 bus pulled away before we could get off the train/ bus. Damn!!

Folding Bikes Arrive

Hooray!! Postponement of our departure date has meant the bikes are here.
The folding push bikes arrived yesterday evening, after much anguish because we thought they would not make it before we left. They had to come from Melbourne. The postponing of our departure date meant that the bike shop could get them to us just in time. They look beautiful and I can't wait to get on them and go for a spin. We had better read the instructions as the one we took out to try, definitely did not go back in the bag quite like it was packed before. We all had fun trying it out on the pontoon, scaring the onlookers as we wobbled our way along. Something about a narrowish walkway, water each side, made me nervous.

Maiden Ride: Spectators Audrey, John, Colin & Issy
Peter had already made friends with John (English) and Colin and Issy (Scottish) who were berthed either side of us. Both of these boats are on their way to Thursday Island for the Indonesia Rally leaving later in the year. Such interesting people, with world sailing experience make us feel mere novices. We have had a great time socialising with them and other yachties from France, USA and Canada who have sailed in here and briefly shared time with us. It has been sad to say goodbye this morning as we departed for Tangalooma Wrecks on the western side of Moreton Island before motoring (probably) south to Southport, on the Gold Coast, where weather permitting, we hope to check out next week.

My first blog for 2019 will have to contain a big thank you to John who ferried us to the shops for our stores, in his hired car. Also to Issy and Colin for being such good neighbours at the Scarborough Marina during our short stay. Safe Sailing friends and hope we catch up some day.

Audrey has a go

Thursday, 23 August 2018

More Maggie Island 13th to 22nd August

Goodbye Friends

Lexie curls up for a sleep while Ric has dinner with us on Olivia

Arkaydes, Blu Glass, Moor R&R, Blue Pointer and our other Lake Macquarie friends have left us now and headed back south to the Whitsundays. The night before they left we had a "Pot Luck" dinner on Moor R&R. What a delicious selection of food was on offer. It was a lovely evening and a great way to say goodbye for a while. Peter may see them when he and Mike Clarke head that way next week. We have been having plenty of light northerly winds so lets hope it continues, to see them on their way.

The Walks

The lookout walk between Florence and Arthur Bays. Beautiful!

We have now walked every track on this island. Today we climbed over the hill to Radical Bay and then on to the lookout on the promontory between Florence and Arthur Bay. I have never done that walk before and it is a very pretty walk, lots of Magnetic Island Pines and piles of boulders that this island is known for. The bush is looking very dry and many of the leaves on trees and shrubs are frizzled up from lack of water. Amazingly the Kapok Trees are flowering and despite the thirsty landscape these trees burst forth with their beautiful, clear, yellow flowers. They provide an optimistic touch to the parched hillsides. Peter and I are getting very fit now. We have been walking 9-10kms a day. Our walks always include a trek over the ranges as Maggie is very steep. I hope I can keep up the exercise when I get home.

Kapok Trees - no leaves, parched bushland - the definition of optimism

A couple of days ago we did the Forts Walk. There are always koalas there and we found two that were attracting the attention of the tourists doing the walk. One was a mother with a baby clinging to her tummy. SOOOOO cute!! We have come to the conclusion that the Parks and Wildlife people put them there. They are always conveniently at just above eye level and are always on that walk. We rarely see them elsewhere. There are well worn tracks into the bush where the koalas rest in the fork of a tree. If they do put them there it would at least be a useful activity for the P & W to do (entertaining tourists etc) Setting fire to uninhabited islands all the way up the Queensland coast the way they do, seems to be an exercise in stupidity. So many of the islands and many of the Capes are scorched from fires supposedly lit to control weeds. Strange! When I observed where a fire has been weeds seem to thrive. Even Magnetic Island has an area that has been burnt. Did anyone think about the 1500 koalas that are supposed to be here before they set fire to the place? I still think about those huge racehorse type goannas that live on Lizard Island, as when we were there two years ago, 'Sparks and Wildfires' set fire to the place in front of us.

Forts Walk

Tomorrow we are saying goodbye to Magnetic Island for this year and are off to the Breakwater Marina for a week. Here we will have a clean up, catch up with the family and pack me up ready for the trip back home. I have 3 weeks of teaching, in Albany, for my cousin. I am starting to get my head around the idea of work. Actually I am looking forward to it. Peter will be able to have a wonderful time with his ol' mate Clarkeii and won't have me nagging him to do stuff.

Just got to go down there and back up the bush track over that hill and then it's coffee in Horseshow Bay. Yay!!!

Eating Out on Magnetic Island

Best Vegetable Lasagne. Yum!

Made short work of the coffee and scones. Loved the coffee mugs. Tamarind Tea House, Arcadia

Goodbye Beautiful Magnetic Island

Horseshoe Bay. The boats are tucked in the corner out of sight

Forts. Cape Cleveland in the background

Friday, 10 August 2018

Magnetic Island and Townsville 28th July - 10th August

Gloucester Passage to Cape Upstart

We departed Abell Point anchorage at 8am and motored all the way to Gloucester Passage in calm conditions. Here we found plenty of anchored boats in Edgecumbe Bay off the Eco Resort. Most had been involved in a Lagoon (catarmaran) rendezvous here and were still in party mode. Sunday lunch at Eco Resort, under the trees, with about twenty sailing friends turned out to be a lovely way to wile away the afternoon. The resort turned on a delicious lunch for us. After an early night we were up with the birds and off to Cape Upstart for the next night. Here we had another calm night, ready for an even earlier start, 4.15am, for the trip to Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island. We wanted to arrive there before dark as we expected to find the bay full of anchored boats. Our fuel gauge steadily shrank as we motored all day - beautiful but costly.

One of Our Favourite Places On Earth - Magnetic Island

Someone pukled the plug out!!!!

Horseshoe Bay was as expected. Many anchored boats there. On our first night we counted about fifty. Luckily it is a large bay with plenty of room to accommodate everyone. We spent three days here walking our favourite tracks, catching up with friends and reacquainting ourselves with the beach coffee shops. Having satisfied ourselves that all was well here we thought it was time to catch up with Peter's brother and sister in Townsville, so we booked into the Breakwater Marina for four nights. This enabled us to catch up on the laundry, fill up with water and fuel and take a trip to Coles for supplies.

Clive and Virginia invited us out to Muntalunga Park for a BBQ Sunday lunch. Amanda met us at the Cotters Market and we all travelled the 30kms out there together. It was lovely to catch up with the family again. We still find it hard to realise that we won't be seeing Andrew again. He was always there to meet us, full of questions about our trip. When we are in Horseshoe Bay I often think of how much Gwyn and Andrew loved being here. There are always memories.

While in Townsville, we discussed purchasing a fridge/freezer for us to use as a freezer only, as our boat fridge is not set up to keep running continually enough to store meat safely. We ended up with a WAECO 35litre car/boat fridge that will run easily off our solar power supply. So far it is working really well and is performing as we envisaged. The boat fridge can now be dedicated to veges and fruit, drinks storage and other items that are not as touchy as meat.

The Ridge Walk to Nelly Bay

After our short stay in the marina we headed out to Horseshoe Bay again to continue our "holiday". Yesterday we walked the ridge walk to Nelly Bay, some 10kms over the range. I must be getting fit as I didn't have to rest along the way, however, my legs were letting me know they'd done some work by the time we arrived back at the boat.

The spring tides are huge at the moment. Yesterday the low tide at 1.30pm was 0.19m. It exposed the sandy mud more that either of us has ever seen in Horseshoe Bay. Peter and I didn't factor this in when we walked to Nelly Bay and when we arrived back here there was no moving our Lily the fifty or so meters to the water. We decided to explore the sandflats and see what was there. All my childhood shell fossicking with mum and dad came back to me. We came across a deep furrow in the sand and upon digging carefully discovered a beautiful Olive shell. I was elated that they are still there in the sandbanks just above the very low tide mark. Us humans have not succeeded in eliminating them all. Needless to say I put it back in the sand after admiring it's shiny, patterned home.

Very low tides in Horseshoe Bay

What a beauty!

Many of our friends from our trip up the coast, and previous years, are here as well as Ron Irons, the man who sold Olivia to us.  As expected, there is plenty of socialising, both on shore and on the boats. Some of the yachts will be leaving in a couple of days to head south again to the Whitsundays. Most of our friends are not going any further north this year. Peter and I are here until I leave to fly back to WA on the 28th August to complete a teaching job that I committed to previously. Mike Clarke, an old sailing mate of Peter's, is arriving to accompany him south to the Whitsundays on the 29th August. I expect they will have a great time - they usually do. Peter is hoping that I will come back to help him take Olivia south to Manly to the East Coast Marina, in Moreton Bay, where he wants to leave the boat for the summer. I'll see. Maybe I will, as it's a long way by himself.

Coffee with our contingent at Adele's Café, Horseshoe Bay

Pets We Know

We have met some gorgeous dogs this year on our travels. Here are a couple of them.
Tilly is in a long term dogsit relationship with Ron, previous owner of Olivia. She is gorgeous. The reason her owners have left her with Ron is that they are on a boat trip to New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Tilly does not travel well on boats, so it was decided that it was kinder to leave her at home. She still has to endure boat trips, but at least it is only to Magnetic Island in a motor boat, not a leaning sailboat. Ron is having dinner with us and Tilly is trying to pluck up courage to come down the stairs to sit on his knee. She sways as the boat rolls slightly in the swells coming into the bay. She's making me feel seasick! We try not to laugh too much. Poor Tilly!! She has such an intelligent look on her little face. I think I've fallen in love with this beautiful little dog!

Tilly, the Jack Russel


Ric dogsits Molly (left) and his own dog Lexie. He looks like he's had enough. These two are best friends and go nuts when they catch up.

Molly is from SV Chandon and belongs to Colleen and Ian. She is a Spoodle. Lexie, the Cocker Spaniel, belongs to Ric and Val from  SV Arkaydes. Lexie has the longest eye lashes imaginable. Both these gorgeous girls race around like maniacs when they meet on the shore. Lexie has the most expressive brown eyes that speak volumes. Molly is a dog that 'talks'. If you speak to her she knows and immediately comes back with an answer. As far as dogs go these three are good advertisements for owning a dog - and from me that's saying something!!!!!

(I'm a cat person) Shhhh!!!! 

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Rediscovering The Wonderful Whitsundays 19th - 27th July 2018

Cid Harbour

Whitsunday Peak
The Climb

We are soooo... lucky! The weather has been absolutely wonderful since we left Keppel Bay Marina. On our other visits here we found that the weather can be windy, just a bit too much for comfort a lot of the time, and cloudy and cool. This time it has been beautiful. Warm, sunny, mostly cloudless, clear and perfect.

The Lake Macquarie people left Burning Point on Shaw Island early in the morning. We stayed on to walk the long beach and wander over the exposed sand banks as the tide receded. We had thought we would follow them to Whitehaven Beach later in the afternoon. However Sparks and Wildfires (Parks and Wildlife Dept.) decided this was the perfect time to set fire to Haselwood Island. Whitehaven Beach is west of Haselwood Island and as we headed towards it we saw clouds of thick smoke blanketing the whole area. We didn't fancy being smoked out again. (Lizard Island two years ago was enough of that!!) Cid Harbour looked like a good option and we also had the advantage of a strenuous walk 2.5km up to Whitsunday Peak. We love this walk.

The View

We spent two nights in Cid. We set off early to walk to the summit of Whitsunday Peak on a cool, smokey morning. Within a short distance of the top you can get mobile coverage and after nearly a week we phoned or messaged a few family and friends. The view from the huge slabs of granite rock, south to Hamilton Island were superb. The natural air conditioning up there cooled my overheated body and we both sat there appreciating the wonderful views despite the smokey atmosphere.

The Office

Airlie Beach

Supplies were getting low so we pulled the anchor and motored to Airlie Beach for stocking up and to do the laundry. No sooner had we anchored north of the Whitsunday Sailing Club than a Marine Safety boat circled us. It was quite intimidating really. No greetings or friendliness. Just, "Are you anchored?" in a less than friendly voice. I felt like saying, "No. we're flying to the moon." I didn't of course, but for goodness sake what did it look like? Anyway they wanted us to put a black ball in the rigging as International and Queensland Rules require. No-one has ever done this since we have been travelling. It is in the rules, but surely a pleasant request to do so would have been a better approach. We have since purchased a black ball and put it in the rigging to show our boat is anchored, but no-one else has taken the slightest bit of notice. I wonder how many fines have been issued.

Abell Point Anchorage

After this friendly welcome to Airlie Beach we stocked up. did the laundry and had a take-a-way coffee at MacDonalds. (The Self Appointed Café Appreciation Society will take on all venues!!!) The coffee was OK and the lovely young lady serving behind the counter gave us lots of change to shove in the washing machines and drier at the laundry.

Socialising is always a prominent activity in our day. Greg and Leisha had told us to look out for friends of theirs who were here, with their two little kids, on a catamaran called Inter Alia. We contacted Emma and Ian and met Ian at the dinghy dock in the Abell Point Marina to go out to their boat for morning tea. We spent an interesting morning with them discussing where we had been and other boat stories and lapsing into surrogate grandparent mode as Abbey showed me through her treasure box. I hope Greg and Leisha can get together and sail with them in the future. They would have a lot of fun.

On Sunday evening 'Shaggers' have a weekly Get-Together at the Hogs Breath Café for snacks and drinks and this turned out to be an enjoyable evening. The next morning Ric and Val met us for coffee, Then Jane and Greg turned up and joined in for a chat. After all this catching up we thought that as the weather forecast was for light winds for a few days, it was the perfect time for a trip around Whitsunday Island to Whitehaven Beach and the bays on the northeast side of the island.

Three Days Around Hook Island

This cheeky fellow beaked his way up the rigging. Luckily it is stainless steel.

Nara Inlet, on Hook Island, was our first port of call and we spent the night there amongst the steep mountains and quiet calm of this anchorage. In the morning the ebb tide helped us on our way
 through Hook Passage, between Hook Island and Whitsunday Island. The tidal streams run fast here and it is best to pick the right state of tide to travel through the narrow passes between the islands. Everyone was out on the water, from huge ferries racing out to their destinations to tiny run-a-bouts fishing in the sheltered bays.

Looks like the bulldozers have been here. Whitehaven Beach
Our destination was Whitehaven Beach. The fires on Haselwood had by now burnt out and the air was clear. Many boats were already here and we chose a spot further along the beach as a quiet night was predicted. Whitehaven was battered by Cyclone Debbie that roared through here last year. Huge piles of trees have been ripped out and pushed up along the high tide line along the beach, like a bulldozer has been hard at work. Dead remnants of other trees clothe the hillsides their silver grey branches reaching skywards. However, nature has begun her recovery and waist high shrubs are regrowing amongst the dead tree trunks. The beautiful white beach is still there, along with the shimmering blue water and tourists. It is still the most beautiful place to visit.

Still Beautiful 

From Whitehaven Beach we motored along the northern shores of Whitsunday and Hook Islands until we came to Maureen Cove. We took up a courtesy mooring here at 3.30pm so were able to keep it for the night. There is a two hour limit on all courtesy moorings here during the day, but you are allowed to stay the night if you pick up after 3pm. We went ashore to walk along the coral shingle beach and then pottered around in the dinghy for an hour taking a close look at the interesting rocks along the shoreline.  Whales passed close by in the evening and we heard and watched them make their way slowly across the bay near us. In the night we heard them blowing and breathing close by as we lay in bed. After three gorgeous days around Whitsunday and Hook Islands we made our way back to Airlie Beach for a planned BBQ lunch, at the water front park south of Abell Point Marina, with the Lake Macquarie crowd.

What a hectic life we lead!!!! After all this' catching up' we spent a day doing the chores, i.e., the inevitable laundry and stocking up the larder for a five day trip to Magnetic Island and our favourite Horseshoe Bay.

An amazing rock formation on Hook Island near Luncheon Bay.
The Woodpile

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Keppel Bay Marina to the Whitsunday Islands 12th - 18th July 2018

A Quick Trip Up The Coast


After spending five days relaxing and hiding from the non-existent strong winds, we set off again for more northern climes. The first day we motor sailed 47nm to Pearl Bay where we rocked and rolled for part of the night due to the tidal influence within the bay. Luckily when the tide changed the rolling moderated, the contents of the cupboards settled down and we were able to get a good sleep. Friday morning saw us up at 4am and we departed Pearl Bay at 4.45am bound for Middle Percy Island. This was one of the better sails we have had and we arrived at 3pm, after 56nm.We were just in time for a quick trip ashore to the A-Frame to look at the names of boats and crews who have visited here before us. This lovely island has a mediocre anchorage and it proved to be another rolly, tide affected night for us. Saturday was another ideal sailing day and we left Middle Percy at 6am and sailed all day in beautiful conditions and arrived at Scawfell Island just before sunset, after completing 62nm.

Wing on Wing in Light Conditions

The Shoalwater Bay/Broad/Sound area has the largest tidal range on the east coast of up to 9m. This produces strong tidal streams and care must be taken especially with spring tides and wind against tide situations. Luckily we had light winds as we made our way north. There is plenty to see in this area as it is  littered with  islands as far as you can see. We saw whales close by, leaping and showing their tails. The ships anchored off Hay Point and those entering and departing the port kept us on our toes as we navigated through the anchorage area and across the main channel north and south, and out through the Barrier Reef. I kept a close watch on the plotter and it became obvious that one ship was going to come very close to us. Peter rolled in the jib and slowed us down a bit and it steamed across our path. It was huge! I have never seen such an enormous ship. It had nine holds and was fully loaded. What an impressive sight as we slid quietly and safely behind it.

Young Endeavour sails past St Bees and Keswick Islands

Having reached Scawfell Island we slowed down to take in the beauty of the islands to the south of the Whitsundays. We decided to motor sail to Brampton Island for a night and as we left Refuge Bay on Scawfell, 'Young Endeavour' came slowly sailing up from the south, so we detoured  a bit for a closer look. She looked wonderful set against the backdrop of Keswick and St Bees islands. Brampton Island Resort remains derelict, with caretakers living there to keep an eye on things. After a quiet night we set off for Goldsmith Island

Brampton Island. Smith group in the background.

Goldsmith Island
Beautiful Goldsmith Island

This island is part of the Smith Island Group. There is many Smiths - Tinsmith, Silversmith, Ladysmith, Blacksmith, Anchorsmith. There is Bellows Islet, Ingot Islet, Hammer Island and Farrier Island. Someone really let their head go in naming this group of islands. However, Goldsmith is very beautiful and we took advantage of the perfect weather to anchor in Roylen Bay for the night. We spent the day exploring the whole northern coast line, walking beaches that had no other footsteps on them and finding a couple of lovely shells. Minnie Hall Bay is not such a good anchorage as you need to anchor well out due to shoaling ground and bommies scattered throughout the bay, but it is great to explore in the dinghy. There is a mangrove lined nook in the eastern corner, which is so pretty, with the background of steep hills that are covered in places with majestic pine trees.

Farrier Island

Since departing Keppel Bay Marina we found ourselves sailing with numerous other boats. Some we have travelled with on and off since the Clarence River in NSW and some since Brisbane. There is always at least eight to ten boats anchored with us every night. At Thomas Island, only 9nm north of Goldsmith we stopped for lunch and anchored amongst five 'cats', on the north side of this rugged, beautiful little island. We decided to move on and anchor for the night at Burning Point, on Shaw Island, as we had explored Thomas Island before on two previous visits.

Yakkidy Yak Blah Blah Blah!!!

Amongst Friends

We rounded Burning Point and were surprised to see about 15 boats already anchored there. No sooner had we set our anchor than a dinghy came racing over. It was Leonie from Comfortably Numb and Ian from Chandon. We had now caught up with some of the Lake Macquarie contingent. Shenanigans was there, our neighbour at the Toronto Yacht Club moorings. They had been joined by a couple of Tasmanian boats and travelled with them for some time. A sing-a-long had been organised on Shenanigans in the evening and we were invited along. It was hilarious. Ian and Leonie played their ukuleles, and the rest of us sang along. Waltzing Matilda, Click Go The Shears, Auld Lang Syne,  Still Call Australia Home (made Jane tear up!) and too many other songs to list, kept us all entertained for the evening. It was a memorable night on the water.

We are now at the Whitsundays proper and intend to explore here for a couple weeks before heading north to Townsville for several weeks then beginning the long journey south back to Brisbane.

Best Found So Far

Sunrise At Middle Percy