The Whitsunday Islands – Can we just stay here?

After spending  two days at Cid Harbour enjoying the beach and the short walk to Dugong Beach, we raised anchor on the 23rd of June and headed for Nara Inlet.  We passed by the Navy Ship, the HMNZS Canterbury which was also anchored in Cid Harbour.  Upon arriving in Nara Inlet we had Lunch while receiving a visit from a White Cockatoo.  We then headed to shore on Hook Island for a short walk up to the indigenous cave site of the Ngaro people.

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After anchoring the night in Nara Inlet, on the 24th June we took the opportunity that some lighter winds gave to stop by Langford Island on the way to the northern bays of Hook Island.  After wrestling with a mooring due to a tricky wind against tide situation, we had lunch and went ashore at the sand spit of Langford Island.  Of course, Eli had to take a bucket and spade and thoroughly enjoyed the trip to the beach as always.

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We departed Langford Island and headed through the passage between Hook Island and Hayman Island around to the northern bays of Hook Island.  We picked up a mooring in Maureen’s Cove and again went ashore with Eli for some fun on the beach.

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After a very peaceful evening on the mooring, on the morning of Thursday 25th June, we motored back around to Stonehaven Bay.  While here, Geoff snorkelled around the boat to check the hulls, antifouling, fittings and saildrives/props.  Rod managed to get some last fishing in before we headed off for Airlie Beach.  The wind was initially over 20 knots but it calmed down a little as we got closer to the mainland.  In idyllic conditions, we had some of the most enjoyable sailing we have had this whole trip with the boat doing 7.5 – 8 knots under screecher on a beam reach in only 11-12 knots of wind.  Before we put the screecher up, Eli even got to enjoy a special treat of sailing along at the front of the boat.  Once we arrived at Abell Point Marina in Airlie Beach it was great to be able to go out to a restaurant and enjoy some gourmet Pizza at Sorrentos.

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Airlie Beach gave us the opportunity to eat out a little, for Rod and Lynne to take Eli to the Lagoon and play in the sand / water and for us to restock for the next part of our trip.  It also gave us some respite from the 20 – 30 knot winds and showers that would soon be upon us and last for days.

The morning of Saturday the 27th of June saw us saying goodbye to Rod and Lynne as they headed off to Proserpine Airport to catch a plane back to Brisbane.  It was wonderful to have them aboard for nearly four weeks to share the experience as we journeyed up the coast.  Eli has certainly missed them these past few days since they left.

Having waited another few days in Airlie Beach for the wind to drop below 20 knots, today we set off for Gloucester Island near Bowen.  After departing from Abell Point Marina we noticed squalls approaching from the East.  Although we only had 5-10 knots of wind, we erred on the side of caution and only hoisted a single-reefed mainsail for the time being.  As the squall approached, the wind increased slightly to 15 knots and then rapidly increased.  Geoff initially steered us downwind to run with it but as the wind built to over 30 knots we quickly luffed up into the wind as the strongest burst hit us.  Lasting around 25 – 30 seconds this burst of wind peaked at 44.4 knots (82 km/hr) as the rain started.  We later noticed on the instruments that our peak boat speed hit 10 knots as we were running, and that the air temperature dropped from 23.5 degrees to 19 degrees.

The rest of the day was rather uneventful as we made our way toward Gloucester Island, went through the passage and headed south to anchor in Sinclair Bay in the south-east corner of Edgecumbe Bay.  As often happens, the wind tends to swing to the south a little overnight so this should afford us a bit more protection should that happen.  Tomorrow we will be making for Cape Upstart which will take us past the contentious Abbot Point coal loading facility.

 

Posted from Cape Gloucester, Queensland, Australia.

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