Raising the anchor at 6:45 am, it was an early start to the day on Wednesday, 1st July as we headed for Cape Upstart. Sailing under screecher alone, we headed across the bay towards Bowen making 7.5 – 8 knots. Before turning around the point and heading towards Abbott Point and Cape Upstart we raised the mainsail and were soon maintaining 9-10 knots broad reaching in 20 – 22 knots of wind. The fastest we got to was 12 knots at one point. It was a very pleasant and relatively fast passage for the 52 nm with ~1 m waves. Eli took a nap around lunchtime as we went along but clearly we mustn’t have given him enough lunch as he decided to chew a piece off our cork matts/trivets. Finding anchorage at Shark Bay on the western side of Cape Upstart we watched the moon rise before Dinner and had an early night.
Abbott Point coal loading wharf
Today we had a more leisurely start to the day leaving our calm anchorage at Cape Upstart at 8 am as we headed for Cape Bowling Green. We started sailing at 7.5-8.5 knots on a broad reach with full mainsail and screecher in 15-20 knot winds before the wind dropped to around 7 knots dead behind us after a couple of hours. So, we doused the sails and motored the rest of the way. As we rounded Cape Bowling Green, our log ticked over 1000 nm meaning we have now sailed over 1000 nm with Spy Panda over the last 6 months.
We had always avoided anchoring at Cape Bowling Green with our last boat as we had a draft of ~2 m and didn’t fancy getting stuck on sandbars for what has been described to us as a particularly uncomfortable anchorage. We thought we’d give it a try with the catamaran to break up the trip between Cape Upstart and Magnetic Island. We made our way to the inner anchorage but after 2 attempts to get our anchor to hold we gave up realising it is only soft mud and the anchor is just ploughing through it. Trying 3 subsequent spots as we made our way further out of the anchorage, we finally found somewhere 2 nautical miles from where we started where the echosounder indicated a harder substrate and we could get the anchor to hold. Can’t say I agree with both guidebooks indicating good holding in sand and mud in the inner anchorage. Due to tide against wind and the boat turning every which way to the waves across the bay, it is likely to be an uncomfortable night. We regret not having tried the first anchorage closer to the end of the cape. We are expecting an offshore southerly or south-westerly land breeze early in the morning which is why we sought an anchorage closer to the south of the bay.
Tomorrow will be our last coastal passage of this voyage as we make for Magnetic Island, just offshore from Townsville. We will spend a few days relaxing at Magnetic Island (taking Eli to the beach to play in the sand) before moving back into the Breakwater Marina in Townsville on our new residence, Spy Panda.