Cruising Log - Mackay to the Whitsundays

Wednesday 2nd August 2006 (MacKay Marina)

Today was spent provisioning and preparing for cruising the Whitsundays. We organised a diver to go down and clean the water intakes and props and a quick bottom scrape. Annette from Boutique Marine 0412 037 474 organised this for us. Annette is very capable and can organise all your boating needs – she lives onboard her yacht at the marina.

We caught a bus into town, checked for mail, then shopped for food and caught a taxi back (about $20).

We met David and Ian on the yacht "Jenard of Mersey" (Liverpool, UK), a 43ft Halberg Rassy. They had recently arrived from New Caledonia. They are sailing around the world with the Blue Water Rally, having left from Gibraltar last October. (see ). We have decided to sail north in the company of David and Ian.

Also we met Bud and Bev on the power cat "Sea Eagle". Bud and Bev had spent time at anchorage with our friends on "Montage" during a bout of bad weather.

Thursday 3rd August 2006 (MacKay – Brampton Island)

After refuelling, we departed MacKay Marina for Brampton Island, with "Jenard of Mersey" close behind. Unfortunately there was no wind and we both motored all the way.

Two whales were swimming in the bay between Western Point and Osprey Point and they followed us for a while.

We anchored off the Brampton Island Resort. The four of us went ashore to have a look around Brampton Island. Walking along the track towards the resort we came across two kangaroos, one of which had a joey in her pouch. Would you believe it, none of us had a camera. David and Ian joined us for afternoon drinks and later we went over to their yacht for a lovely fish dinner, which they had previously caught and frozen.

Friday 4th August 2006 (Brampton Island – Goldsmith Island)

After going ashore, with cameras this time, to have another walk around the island to see if we could find the kangaroos, (no such luck) we departed with wind from the S at 18-20 knots so we set sail with the first reef in the main. This was a delightful downwind sail in the gusty wind and short chop.

Arriving early afternoon we set anchor in the northwest anchorage on Goldsmith Island. We went ashore with David and Ian and had a delightful walk up the beach. Dinner and drinks were on our cat.

Overnight the anchorage was very comfortable even though the wind picked up to about 20 knots at 0400. The next morning we dinghied over to Farrier Island, this time Liz & I went in our dinghy. Unfortunately for Liz it proved to be a very wet trip. The island has a time share residence on it which was deserted. The island would make a great holiday spot.

Saturday 5th August 2006 (Goldsmith Island – Thomas Island – Shaw Island)

We departed with S/SE 15/20 forecast but we motor-sailed with little wind. First we went to Thomas Island, anchoring in the northwest bay for lunch and a quick dinghy trip around the bay.

Mid-afternoon we departed for Shaw Island. As we approached Burning Point we saw a number of whales in the distance. On rounding Burning Point we discovered two whales swimming fairly close by. We stopped to watch them play and took some nice photos.

We arrived at Shaw Island (Burning Point) where we anchored well into the Bay for the night. Dinner and drinks onboard Jenard.

A comfortable night was had by all even though the wind picked up to about 20 knots at 0300. .

Sunday 6th August 2006 (Shaw Island – Lindeman Island)

Today we weighed anchor and motor-sailed in 20 knots over to the Lindeman Island Resort (Club Med). We were unable to raise them by VHF and neither were VMR MacKay,the resort looked deserted, so we continued on through the channel between Shaw Island and Lindeman Island, past Neck Bay and arriving at Gap Beach on the northern side of Lindeman Island. Here we set anchor for the day/night.

David and Ian picked us up in their dinghy and we headed for shore. However, this proved to be very difficult as the tide was out. There were coral heads close to shore and the remainder was soft mud so we couldn’t walk, let alone carry the dinghy ashore. Ray hopped out to guide the dinghy followed by Liz, who promptly got stuck in the mud and fell forward into the water. So we opted to go ashore on the rocks and climb the rocks carrying the dinghy to place it on a higher set of rocks above the high tide line.

We then walked around the beach, west past the dried creek bed to the track. We followed the track over the island to Lindeman Resort on the other side, a distance of 2.6 km. About halfway, the track divides and another goes to the mountain peak. Near the resort we noticed a lot of bats hanging in the trees. The resort was not deserted after all and looked quite nice. The resort is built tierred down the mountain and there are a huge number of steps from the accommodation down to the restaurant/bar/pool area. There is no lift. You would need to be fit to stay there.

When we arrived back at the dinghy the tide had come in, and was just at the dinghy. It was a little difficult to relaunch the dinghy from the rocks. We were glad the bay was protected from the swell and the wind had abated.

Dinner was on our cat and it was quite rolly as the tide was ebbing and the wind had dropped in our protected little bay. Once the tide changed the anchorage was once again comfortable and a good night was had.

Monday 7th August 2006 (Lindeman Island – Cid Harbour)

Once again we set off with Jenard. A nice fresh 20 knot SE was blowing. Our course took us up Dent Passage past Hamilton Island Marina and around into Cid Harbour on Whitsunday Island.

Here we found over 70 boats anchored trying to avoid the prevailing SE winds. During the afternoon we went ashore with David & Ian for a walk over to Dugong Beach. As Liz has a bad knee, she did not do the walk, staying on the beach instead. Lucky, as the walk would not have been kind on her knee. Tonight we had dinner onboard Jenard.

Tuesday 8th August 2006 (Cid Harbour – Stonehaven)

This morning we waved goodbye to our friends David and Ian on Jenard. They were off to Able Point Marina to reprovision ready for their impending trip north. We decided to have an early lunch and then motorsail to Stonehaven on Hook Island. The wind was S/SE 15-20 knots.

At Stonehaven we picked up a mooring. Although the mooring was a little rocky a good night was had, except that the mooring buoy decided to ride under the boat during the night and knock against the hull. I had to keep getting up and move it out. Fortunately, the buoys are well maintained and there were no barnicles on the buoys to scratch the hulls. I intend to buy a ‘pool noodle’ to drop over the buoy to prevent it knocking against the hulls. I will let you know how it works later.

Wednesday 9th August 2006 (Stonehaven – Butterfly Bay)

Today we moved to Butterfly Bay and again picked up a mooring. We took the dinghy ashore and a short walk along the beach and up the dry creek bed. There we saw many beautiful blue and black butterflies.

Thursday 10th August 2006 (Butterfly Bay – Blue Pearl Bay – South Mole Island)

After breakfast we set off for Blue Pearl Bay on Hayman Island. We picked up a mooring and watched the boats come into a very narrow channel and drop off divers ashore. The channel was so narrow they had to reverse out. This is supposed to be a great spot for snorkelling and diving. Hearing a little commotion ashore, we looked up to see two whales leaving the bay behind us. A couple of the divers decided to swim out to the whales, but they were not quick enough, or else the whales were too smart for them. At last Liz has got a photo of a turtle. Well she thought it was, but it turned out to be a great shot of a log!

About midday we heard our friends Mike & Lyndall on "Montage". We arranged to meet up with them and go to Bauer Bay on South Mole Island.

Friday 11th August 2006 (South Mole Island – Airlie Beach – South Mole Island)

Today we had an early morning departure with "Montage" and headed for Airlie Beach for provisioning. I also had to buy a pair of impellors for the engines after discovering my pair of spares from Volvo were incorrect.

Mid-afternoon, we headed back to South Mole Island with "Montage" for dinner ashore – a Polynesian night. We radioed David & Ian on "Jenard of Mersey" and they also decided to join us. It cost $22 per boat for the day/night use of the facilities on the island and $38 pp for the dinner and show. Be careful going ashore in low tides as the coral is everywhere. There is a small track without coral on the left side of the jetty facing the island. Don’t tie up to the jetty – take your dingy right up the beach.

Saturday 12th August 2006 (South Mole Island)

This morning we waved goodbye to our friends David & Ian on Jenard as they headed for Townsville to have their boat hauled out before continuing on their round the world cruise. Liz and I wish you both well on your cruise home to the UK.

Mike & Lyndall from "Montage" and Liz & I dinghied ashore. We did the bush walk up to the top, taking some breathtaking photos of the islands and of course our cats anchored in the bay. This is one of the best walks we have been on amongst the islands here. Later we had lunch on the island and then did the clothes washing/drying before returning to the boats. This is a nice resort, the staff made you feel very welcome.

Sunday 13th August 2006 (South Mole Island – Macona Inlet, Hook Island)

We set off mid-morning with "Montage" to meet up with our friends Warren & Glenda on "Catamaran Imagine". They also had friends Greg, Andy & Beck on a yacht "Mr Bojangles" travelling with them. Sundowners and dinner, etc was on "Catamaran Imagine".

Monday 14th August 2006 (Macona Inlet)

Just a lazy day on board. We all had morning tea on "Montage" and decided we would have sundowners and a BBQ on the beach. Our first as a group together. We have been trying to catch up with Montage and Imagine for some weeks, at last we have, it had been six weeks since we had seen them last.

Tuesday 15th August 2006 (Macona Inlet – Hill Inlet/Whitehaven – Tongue Bay)

A mid-morning departure with "Montage" and "Catamaran Imagine". We headed for Hill Inlet, anchoring just outside the mouth. We all dinghied over to the beach and walked down Whitehaven, the sand is incredibly white (hence the name). We decided to do the walk on Hill Inlet, so went across in our dinghies. As we approached the shore we heard a noise. When we looked up it was an F1 11 flying incredibly low, and extremely fast. We walked up the trail to the top of Hill Inlet. A delightful lookout at the top made the walk worthwhile.

Back onboard we all up anchored and moved around to Tongue Bay for the evening where we played Dominos on Montage.

Wednesday 16th August 2006 (Tongue Bay)

Another lazy day on board.

Thursday 17th August 2006 (Tongue Bay – Nara Inlet)

Today we sailed in light winds with "Montage" and "Catamaran Imagine" to Refuge Bay, Nara Inlet on Hook Island. Our course took us around the eastern and northern end of Whitsunday Island and down Hook Passage past the Hook Observatory and down to Nara Inlet. As we passed the observatory we noticed Imagine was stopped and wondered what they were up to. Well they lost there steering, temporarily and at the same time we had an awful squeaking noise coming from our port engine. We then went into Nara under one engine with Montage and Imagine standing by incase we needed assistance. Always good to have friends around when you need them.

Friday 18th August 2006 (Nara Inlet – Hook Observatory – Nara Inlet)

Today we all (with "Montage") went onboard "Catamaran Imagine" to Hook Observatory where we had organised a mooring for the day. Although the observatory is old, it was fascinating to see the fish and coral from below the sea. Because it is a sanctuary there were plenty of spectacular fish. Then we walked over to the backpackers resort where we had milkshakes. It cost $30 for the boat.

Saturday 19th August 2006 (Nara Inlet – Happy Bay, Long Island)

Today we had a lovely sail in SE 15/20 knots down to Happy Bay in company with "Montage" and "Catamaran Imagine". We all dinghied ashore for the showers and the seafood night at Club Croccadile. Cost was $55/night for the boat ($35 for 2nd night) and $40 pp for the seafood buffet. As we didn’t pick up a mooring and were eating ashore they waived the boat fee. It was a nice seafood dinner.

The trip ashore is between coral and there is a small set of leads to the beach for dinghies. Once again, tie right up the beach or high tide will catch you out.

Sunday 20th August 2006 (Happy Bay – Airlie Beach)

Early this morning Warren & Glenda ("Catamaran Imagine") and Liz & I joined Mike & Lyndall onboard "Montage" for a trip over to Hamilton Island to watch the start of the monohulls. This was spectacular as we motored in the shallows just beyond the start line. It was a downwind start and the maxi’s were off first, followed by a number of other divisions. I have to say that the manouvreability of these maxi’s was something to be seen. The last division, and the largest, saw some jostling and barging at the start and I think probably some minor collisions.

The sail downwind was brilliant with regular gybing being performed like clockwork. After the start we headed back to Long Island and a short time later we watched the smaller yachts in the race sail past. On our way back to Long Island we had a mother whale with her young calf, maybe a couple of days old, teaching how to wave her tail. It was great to watch and get some photos.

Back onboard "Blue Magic" we ate lunch and then proceeded to sail after "Montage" in a SE 15/20 knot breeze. "Catamaran Imagine" followed later. We dropped anchor outside the sailing club at Airlie Beach.

We have been unable to make reliable connections to the Internet since we left Mackay but thought this was just because we were in bad reception areas. However, we should have been able to get a reliable connection here. Our connection is with Telstra CDMA using a Maxon MiniMax modem plugged into our laptop’s USB port. It is a tiny box with a flip up aerial, about half the size of a small mobile phone. In cities the connection is at broadband rates, but in the outer towns it is about twice the speed of dialup.

Anyway, "Montage uses the same as us and since they were having no problems we checked ours out. I called telstra support (yes, on Sunday afternoon) and they were great. Unfortunately, after disabling almost everything on the laptop we were still unable to maintain a connection, so we took our modem over to "Montage" and tried it on their laptop and it didn’t work there. So the MiniMax modem was faulty and now became tomorrows problem.

Monday 21st August 2006 (Airlie Beach – Able Point Marina)

"Blue Magic" and "Montage" were both booked into the marina for 24hrs from midday. So we both motored over, with "Montage" leading the way. The berths they put us in were adjacent and tiny. Although they knew the width and length of the boats, the berth "Montage" was given was only 300mm wider than their boat of 6.9m and way too short. It was the old section of the marina and looks like it was built for maximum lengths of 30ft. Even our cat at 35ft was out over the end and "Montage" is 40ft. Anyway "Montage" had the impossible task of getting in and scraped the jetty doing some minor paint damage. Lucky for us, after they berthed Mike & Lyndall were on hand to help us and so we didn’t touch.

So now off to shop. We caught the bus to Centro with Mike & Lyndall ("Montage"). The ladies were allowed a little retail therapy at the Rivers store, then off to Woolies for food shopping. I took my MiniMax modem into the Telstra shop, but they told me to go to their other shop at the Whitsunday Shopping Centre, back towards Airlie. With our food shopping done, we shared a taxi back to the marina.

Now back to the Telstra/Tandy shop with may faulty MiniMax. At the shops I met up with Warren & Glenda ("Catamaran Imagine"). They had booked in to the marina later and were given a berth in the new section – a long walk but much larger berths.

Anyway, after a long wait at the Telstra store they were able to test my modem and yes they agreed it was faulty after 2 ½ months. It had to be sent back to Sydney for repair/replacement.

I rang Maxon and they were very helpful. I gave them my credit card info to ensure the modem was returned and they would despatch a replacement in the morning.

On our way in we had noticed "Beva" anchored outside the breakwall so we called them up on the radio and had a nice chat. We hadn’t seen them for a few weeks, having left them at Middle Percy. Bill & Toni were headed out to Bait Reef next morning for a few days and invited us to join them but we declined.

Tuesday 22nd August 2006 (Able Point Marina – Airlie Beach)

This morning Liz did the washing while I did a few things on board including filling up with water. Unfortunately our tank gauge died a few days earlier so unless I removed one of the plugs from the top of the tanks we couldn’t tell how much water we were taking on board. So I filled the tanks – I think this is only the second time I have filled them. Last time we filled to 424L at Mackay on 3rd August and I estimate we had between 50-100L left. So in 19 days we had used about 350L.

At 11:30 we walked "Montage" out of their berth and then followed our ourselves. We went to the fuel berth where we had a booking for 11:45 (yes, you have to book the fuel berth here). We refuelled filling our tanks. We had used 150L in 19 days.

We then motored over to Airlie Beach where we anchored with "Montage" and "Catamaran Imagine". Mike had discovered Bev and Lloyd (or Buddy) on "Sea Eagle" anchored across the bay. We had met them in Mackay where they helped us carry the shopping back to the boat. They had told us how they were laid up in the winds at Thomas Island with "Montage" a week or so earlier.

Anyway, afternoon drinks were on their boat. It is a 56ft? Eagle power catamaran they had built on the Gold Coast. It was a lovely boat with huge amounts of room on board. A delightful afternoon was had on board.

Wednesday 23rd August 2006 (Airlie Beach – Cid Harbour)

We ("Blue Magic", "Montage" and "Catamaran Imagine") originally set sail for Turtle Bay. However, the wind was light at 5-8 knots so we all decided to divert to Cid Harbour.

As I am writing this a little later (Wednesday 30th) I can’t quite remember what we did on the different evenings, so here is what we all (Blue Magic, Montage and Catamaran Imagine) often do of an evening. We have had a beach BBQ, we have eaten dinner on each others boats, but mostly we have dinner and then about 7-7:30pm (or should I say 1900-1930) we motor over to one of the cats for drinks and games. On "Catamaran Imagine" we often play dominos with two sets of dominos for six players. On "Montage" we have played dominos and cards. On "Blue Magic" we usually play Bolivia which is like Canasta but is played with 3 packs of cards. It is better played with 4 players than 6. Lots of wine is often consumed.

Thursday 24th August 2006 (Cid Harbour – Turtle Bay)

The three cats set off about 0900. "Catamaran Imagine" was heading for Hamilton Island to pick up friends while "Montage" and us ("Blue Magic" were headed for Turtle Bay.

As we came our of Cid harbour towards Hemming Island, Liz & I noticed some whales a short distance away. We motored over near them and as we did they came closer so we idled the engines and proceeded to watch a great display of frolicking in front of us. I took many photos and will upload them shortly. There were ultimately six whales, although we are not sure whether they were all there at first. They appeared to be jumping over the top of one another. There were no babies present and we have since been tod they were probably male juveniles playing. "Montage" joined us and we watched for about 30 minutes before they went on their way.

As we turned for Turtle Bay there was a steady stream of yachts departing Hamilton Island and proceeding towards Whitehaven. They apparently had a race starting over that way. We motored through the northern Fitzalan Passage. This is a shallow and narrow passage with strong tidal flow. Most of the yachts from Hamilton were following this route. There was the occasional idiot in a power boat who had a blatant disregard for anyone else on the water, making huge wash as they pass a couple of boatlengths away. This reminded us of the broadwater on the Gold Coast.

As we arrived in Turtle Bay there were a half dozen or so boats anchored. We dropped ours and "Montage" did likewise nearby. However, as the day progressed, the bay was inundated with boats and by the evening there must have been at least 40+ boats (yachts, cats and power boats) anchored here.

It was a delightful anchorage despite the older gent on the adjacent Lagoon Cat continually showing his ‘bum crack’.

Friday 25th August 2006 (Turtle Bay – Airlie Beach)

Off this morning with "Montage" sailing in a light NW 10/15 knots. We once again anchored off the sailing club at Airlie Beach. Later we were joined by "Catamaran Imagine".

Saturday 26th August 2006 (Airlie Beach – Able Point)

We were asked to crew on "Montage" for the Multihull Regatta. She was entered in the Cruising Division 3 (no spinnakers or screechers). "Catamaran Imagine" were also entered and they had asked Greg and Pauline from "Mr Bojangles" to crew for them. Since registration and headquarters was at the Shingley Beach Resort located inside the Able Point Marina breakwall, we decided that anchoring near the entrance to the breakwall would be the best option so we motored around.

Liz & I set off in our dinghy for the beach. As we were motoring through the breakwall entrance I announced to Liz that I must check the fuel. This was an ominus statement for a few moments later the motor stopped and you guessed it – out of fuel. So much for the statement that these tiny (3.3hp) outboards run on the smell of an oily rag – I guess you have to replace the oily rag every once in a while. Lesson learnt. Now we have to row ashore. Not easy in our little inflatable. We manage to row past "Mr Bojangles" who was in the marina having the gearbox replaced. Considering the distance to go, decide to tie up to their boat and walk to the beach – good decision.

After registering for the regatta at the Shingley Beach Resort, we had drinks and dinner there. Warren & Glenda gave us a lift back in the dinghy, collecting ours on the way back and towing it behind. This was the second tow for them as they had towed "Mr Bojangles" into the marina after its gearbox failed, locking in reverse.

Sunday 27th August 2006 (Racing on "Montage")

Today we crewed with Mike and Lyndall on "Montage". There was no wind and the start was delayed for over an hour and before the start was shortened to half the length. We came a respectable second behind the trimaran "Paxos". However, there are only 3 boats in our division and "Catamaran Imagine" withdrew as they were not aware the course had been shortened.

Drinks and a presentation for the day was at the Shingley Beach Resort.

Monday 28th August 2006 (Racing on "Montage")

There was a little more wind with a SE at 5-8 knots for todays afternoon start. Once again we were beaten by the trimaran. However we kept up well with a number of cats from division 2 despite them using spinnakers. Once again we came second. However, we will have to watch "Catamaran Imagine" as she was only a minute behind us on handicap.

We received a phone call from a broker friend of ours, Leigh Dorrington of Leigh Dorrington Yacht Brokers. We met Leigh nearly 6 years ago when we were in the market for a yacht/catamaran. He is one of the honest yacht brokers who really put himself out trying to find us the right boat. He said to Liz how he was in lovely sunshine while we were in the wet (thinking we were still on the Gold Coast). Liz said no, it was sunny here. Anyway, turns out he was staying at the Shingley Beach Resort and we were anchored within sight. We arranged to meet him at the Hogs Breath Café where the days presentation was being held.

We all had a great steak meal at the Hogs Breath Café before the presentation and met up with Leigh for drinks afterwards.

Tuesday 29th August 2006 (Layday – visit to Daydream Island)

The sailing club organised a trip to Daydream Island for $16 pp. A great day was had by all. On the Island we met John from "Nyeki", a Perry 43 catamaran. He was very interesting and has cruised the South Pacific. After milkshakes and coffee Warren & Glenda, Mike & Lyndall, John, and Liz & I played mini golf. Glenda hit two successive hole-in-one’s and received the lowest score for our group. Later at the presentation evening she received Golfer of the Year Award for the lowest score of the day. After golf, we ate lunch and walked around the resort. The fish in the ponds were amazing. Then we joined the launch for the return trip.

I must say we were made to feel very welcome on the island and I am sure we will cruise over there with the boats for the night. Mooring cost is $55/night. A number of resorts do not want day cruisers.

Wednesday 30th August 2006 (Racing on "Montage")

This morning we awoke to a fresh S/SE breeze of 20-25 knots. Our division’s course was Airlie to Langford Reef (near Hayman Is) and return to Airlie, a distance of approximately 30M. We put in the 1st reef and set off on our shy run to Langford Reef. After rounding the reef we put in the 2nd reef for our return trip as it was a tighter shy run home and the wind had also freshened. We had a delightful sail with winds averaging around 25 knots with some consistent gusts of 32 knots. We finished 2nd.

The other division’s course was to Hemming Island and return and the fleet chose to go via Unsafe Passage, which is a safe passage between North and Mid/South Mole Islands. We heard over the radio that one cat lost its mast and a tri pitch-poled and was upside down. Sadly, we were to learn later that another skipper passed away later in the evening.

Thursday 31st August 2006 (Racing on "Montage")

Today the winds were still fresh but lighter than yesterday, with about 20 knots although during the race the breeze dropped significantly. Our course was from Airlie to near Pioneer Rocks to Airlie and repeat to finish off Airlie. Once again we finished 2nd.

We enjoyed the sailing but can’t say much about the organisation.