Thursday, June 30, 2011

Yeppoon to Mackay (27th June to 1st July)

This probably didn't end up being the best part of our adventure to date. As already mentioned the military have bought forward the date for exclusion to the Shoalwater Bay area which means we really don't have any option but leave Yeppoon on Sunday (27th June) and means we are not able to linger either and have to be out of the area on Monday. This along with the forecast of 25-30knts for the entire week didn't bode that well for our adventure to the islands in this area.

En-route Port Clinton to Hunter Island
Despite all this we were up early on Sunday as it is a fair haul to Port Clinton. We were joined by a couple of other yachts also heading in the same direction but a number of yachts intending to head off have thought better of the weather and have elected to stay in Yeppoon till the weather abates a little. The trip to Port Clinton was pretty good with 20-25knot winds blowing but the seas are pretty short and sharp making it pretty rolly on board. We arrive at Port Clinton and caught up with Cloud Nine who has been travelling with a group from Royal Prince Alfred YC and have pretty much been with us since we left Mooloolaba. After some discussion Cloud Nine think it might be a good idea to stick with us for a bit so we are all off to the Duke Group on Monday and hopefully the anchorage wont be too uncomfortable.

Anchorage at Hunter Island
Again the trip out to the Duke Group was pretty good with moderate winds but again the seas are a tad uncomfortable.  We originally were planning to drop the pick off Marble Island but after a bit of a look-see decided that the anchorage at Hunter Island was going to be a lot more comfortable for the night.  In order to get to this new anchorage we had to go through the "Lola Mantes pass"!!   Looks like we weren't the only ones with this idea as we found about another 10 yachts already anchored up for the night.  During Monday night the wind really started to blow but we figured it was best to keep plodding along as things were still not forecast to get any better for some time.  We left Hunter Island and got to feel the full force of the wind which was now blowing at 25-35knots.  Luckily we only had around 30NM to cover to get into our next port of call which is Curlew Island.  After much rolling around and plenty of ducking & weaving between rocks, islands and shoals (which seem to be everywhere!) we arrived at Curlew Island. 

Sunset at Hunter Island

 Unfortunately due to the high winds and large sea state the anchorage is pretty rolly so not a lot of sleep was had on either Sally or Cloud Nine so think we were all pretty keen to head off early and get into the Mackay Marina.

Cloud Nine with their
Cruising Storm Jib
As it is still pretty windy Cloud Nine decide to go with their storm jib today as it has to be better than going with no sails at all (as they did the previous day) as it does settle the motion down a lot plus with 25-35knots blowing you can actually sail quite well with not much sail up. 

Mid afternoon on Wednesday we pull into the safety of Mackay Marina.  After a number of days at sea with Cloud Nine in company and many radio chats we actually finally get to meet the Cloud Nine team in person!.  As we had all had a bit more adventure over the last few days than was on the brochure we all decide to wander up to the yacht club and share a meal, plenty of good wine and many tales of dare and do before heading off to the comfort of a still bed for the night. 

As the wind is forecast to blow for a few more days the plan is to stay in Mackay till the weekend and then head off the tackle the southern islands in the Whitsunday Group - and hopefully we will get to spend a couple of weeks out of a marina this time!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Great Keppel to Yeppoon (22nd to 26th June)

Another Beautiful Beach
Long Beach on Great Keppel Island
As the weather was so delightful we decided to spend another day on Great Keppel and tackle yet another walk over to the south east end of the island - Long Beach, Monkey Beach via Morris Lookout to the resort and back to Leekes Beach via Putney Beach.  We were both feeling a bit foot sore after our hiking so the rest of the arvo was spent swimming and relaxing on the aft deck.

Sharpie Worship at KBSC

Thursday morning we headed over to Yeppoon which is only about 10NM so we arrived late morning.  We took the bus into town to check out the local scene and I think I found my tropical spiritual home at the Keppel Bay Sailing Club where they have mounted a Sharpie at the entrance of the yacht club for all too worship!  Naturally we decided that this was the place to be and went along for drinks and dinner on Friday night which also happens to be members night so the place was going off.  We hoped to emulate our efforts at Coff's Harbour and win the meat tray but unfortunately this was not to be and we left empty handed but we did have a nice meal.

As the military have brought forward exercises at Shoalwater Bay we now have to leave the safety of the Yeppoon Marina tomorrow (Sunday) so today is going to be jam packed with shopping, cleaning and washing.

At this stage the plan is to have our fist night out at Port Clinton and then work our way around some of the island groups between here and Mackay.  Again we are not likely to have good mobile reception so will update the BLOG again when we get a chance.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Turkey Beach to Great Keppel Island (17th to 21st June)

With a name like Turkey Beach, how could we resist.  We did the short hop from our overnight anchorage around to Turkey Beach.  Yes it really does exist and to prove it we have a stubby holder that says so.  There is a small township of mainly fishing shacks and a general store.  It is a really tidy little place although we did notice a lot of places are for sale which is apparently because of the close proximity to the ever growing area of Gladstone. 

We were very happy that Sally comes fitted with some excellent fly screens as they once again proved there worth as the back of the boat was covered in sand flies when we arose on Saturday morning. 
Cape Capricorn
As it is a fair old hike to Cape Capricorn (~45NM) we left Turkey Beach bright and early.  The weather has been stunning with cool nights but sunny, warm days with light South Westerly (offshore) breezes.  Today is the day when we get to cross the Tropic of Capricorn at
23degrees 30' S) - YAY!!
As the forecast was for stronger winds from the SW during the evening we decided that Cape Capricorn wasn't going to be the best spot for the night so headed over to a beach approximately 5NM west and had a very comfy night there and shared a bottle of Moet Chandon to celebrate our arrival in the tropics.

Hummocky Island
With some recommendations from the Bundy locals Hummocky island is our destination for Sunday - this was all of 6NM from our overnight anchorage.  Hummocky island was quite spectacular and rugged and reminded us a little of the Bass Strait Islands.  The water is amazingly clear and blue with a beautiful sandy bottom.  After having a chat to a couple of fisho's who were enjoying a coffee break on the beach we went for a wander around the rocky headlands as the rest of the island looks a bit rough for a bush walk followed by a snorkel in the afternoon.

A bit of R&R for Juddy
on Great Keppel
Monday morning and we are off to the well known Great Keppel Island which is approximately 20NM NW of Hummocky Island.  We dropped our anchor in Leekes beach as this was a little quieter than the more popular Second Beach - this is one of the busiest anchorages we have been in for quite some time but luckily there is heaps of anchoring room for all.  As Carlton had such a good win over the Swans yesterday we decided that Juddy was due for a bit of R&R and a sun bake at Great Keppel to recover. 

We wandered over to the resort side of the island although the resort was shut down some time ago so it is all looking a bit dejected these days but they do have some excellent white sandy beaches so it is easy to understand the attraction for tourists and resort goers.  There is still some rental accommodation, a back packers and a little shop where we stopped for a cool drink and ice cream before heading back to the boat

Map of Great Keppel Island

Tuesday morning and we are off for a bush walk around the North and Eastern parts of the island.  On our trek we went past the Great Keppel Homestead, Second Beach, Svendsen's Beach and Eco Resort,  Butterfish Bay and then across the island to Wreck Beach.  After a spot of lunch under the shade of a really old Quinine Tree we went along the Light House track and back down to our starting point at Leekes Beach.  Doesn't sound like much but it took us around 5hours to do the circuit.  As you can see from the photo the beaches are certainly a big hit and very popular spot to hang out when at Great Keppel.

Butterfish Bay
Local Sign Post on Great Keppel

At this stage we might end up spending another day at Great Keppel as the weather is great and there are some more walks that we are considering but all will depend on the updated weather report at 17:00H.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bundaberg to Rodd Peninsula - via Lady Musgrave Island (14th to 17th June)

The visit out to Lady Musgrave Island was everything the tourist brochures claim.   The lagoon has been described as a big bowl of "Bloo Loo" as the water is such a vivid blue colour. 

Lady Musgrave Island

View of Lady Musgrave from the Lagoon

Lady Musgrave  Island
Western Beach
To get our snorkelling back on track we headed over to a bommie for a bit of a practice and saw some lovely coral and plenty of reef fish.  Wednesday morning we did a shore party to the island and went on one of the walks across through the rain forest to the western beach and then around the south end of the island.  To walk around the circumference takes around 40minutes so it is not such a big place but there is plenty of bird life and white sandy beaches,   As the snorkelling practice went quite well we took the dinghy over to a larger coral reef in the lagoon and did a dive along the coral wall.  The  hard coral's where amazing and in excellent condition with plenty of bright colours and intricate structures and again there were lots of reef fish of various kinds to keep us amused. 

Luckily the weather was calm for the duration of our stay however, the forecast for Friday was not looking quite as good so we opted to leave Lady Musgrave mid morning on Thursday the 16th and head back to the main land.  As our arrival was to be at night we decided that we would aim for a small anchorage in Rodd Harbour which is just south of Gladstone.  We ended up dropping our anchor in a little bay near Bircher Point around 19.30 on Thursday evening. 

After hearing of many fish caught on the way out to Lady Musgrave we thought we better put the line in for the trip back to Australia.  Many hours went by without a thing but late in the afternoon we saw some ruffles on the water so figured we were in luck.  Well we were, kind of,  we managed to hook something but unfortunately it was a bit big for the line and also the angler holding the rod as whatever it was broke the line which was very disappointing but may have been for the best as Mark may have had to deal with an MOB otherwise,  As well as getting a new lure and trace to get us back into fishing action we are now also considering getting a larger reel with heavier line that we can fix to the push-pit just in case we hook another BIG ONE!!

After a very calm night we rose to another sunny and calm morning and after doing a few chores on the boat and hopefully a bath off the back we are hoping to head to Turkey Point which is only a couple of miles further down the harbour.  The books tell us that there is a small township in there so we will head ashore for an explore to see what we can find

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Urangan to Bundaberg (13th June)

After a bit of a cold and weekend in Urangan the forecast for this week is looking GOOD!
We are currently sailing to Bundaberg with a light southerly, blue skies and it is getting warmer.
Great to see Carlton get a big win yesterday and move into third on the ladder - GO BLUES!!!

If the weather gods are kind to us (and the forecast is telling us that they will be) then the plan is to leave Bundy early tomorrow morning (so no we won't be battling the Bundy Bear!) and head out to Lady Musgrove for a few days which means coral and snorkeling :).  Again depending on the weather we then have a few options including Fitzroy Reef and North West Island and may then head directly to the Keppel's and give Gladstone a miss.  If Plan A is successful then we probably wont have internet or mobile access for a while but will update the Blog as soon as we get a chance as we should have some exciting stories and hopefully a good photo or two.

So far this morning we have seen a huge Green Turtle which was having a bit of a snooze on the surface until we rudely interrupted!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Gary's Anchorage to Urangan - Hervey Bay (6th - 11th June)

We departed from Gary's Anchorage at 11:00H on Tuesday 6th June and figured we had got the timing right to meet the high tide at the shallows as we were promptly followed by 5 other yachts.  Luckily there were no issues in getting through and had at least 3-4ft under the keel so we were all pretty happy. 

We lunched on the pick just near the Ceratodus wreck which is an old barge that was scuttled on the western side of Fraser Island just near Deep Creek.  We did a bit of exploring on shore before heading off to our anchorage for the night at Sheridan Flats (South White Cliffs) for a quiet evening on the pick.

After a leisurely morning on board we headed to North White Cliffs for a spot of lunch and another shore party.  Our original plan was to spend a few nights anchored off the well known Kingfisher Resort however the forecast of SW winds meant that this was not going to be a great spot for the night so Plan B was implemented and we spent the night at the northern anchorage at Big Woody Island (which is west of Little Woody Island).  A few other boats had the same idea so we had a bit of company for the night.  Luckily the plan did pay dividends as the South Westerly wind came in during the early hours of Thursday morning.

Main Highway on Fraser Island
Urangan was the destination for Thursday.  Again the weather is sunny and warm although cooler and damper weather is the forecast for the weekend so Urangan will be home till at least Monday morning.
As we didn't have the opportunity to do a Fraser Island tour from Kingfisher Resort the next best option was to organise the same from Urangan so the tour was booked with an early pick up on Friday morning.  Unfortunately the tour didn't quite make the early barge trip to Fraser so after a bit of re-scheduling we ended up on the 8.30am barge.  We had an excellent day on Fraser Island and went to see the usual spots such as the Moheni Wreck, Eli Creek, McKenzie Lake and Central Station.  One of the most bizarre things was travelling down the main road on the island which happens to be on the beach.  As you can imagine driving on sand is not for the faint hearted nor inexperienced as we found our when we came across a car sinking on the main highway.  The other highlight for the day was getting up close and personal with a young dingo on the beach.  All in all we had a great day.
A Local!
Sinking 4WD Rent A Car

As the forecast for the weekend is looking a little dour, Michael and Monica decided to head off for a few days up on their yacht which is berthed at Airlie Beach so we bid them farewell on Friday evening and once again we are back to two.

Monica & Michael before their
departure to Airlie Beach
Saturday saw a cool day with a bit of rain so it is back to provisioning the boat for the next leg of the journey and also trying to get all sorts of forms and applications completed for the Louisiades Rally in September!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Inskip Point to Gary's Anchorage (3rd to 6th June)

After a lovely trip up the coast we arrived at the Wide Bay Bar which is certainly an interesting crossing to say the least.  Luckily the seas were relatively calm and the new way-points were pretty much spot on so apart from being pretty rolling we had a good crossing.  We spent the night on the pick at Inskip Point which was calm and peaceful.

Sunset at Tin Can Bay
Sunday morning we headed up to Tin Can Bay which certainly has its only personality.  We did a lovely walk along the foreshore trying to identify the 135 types of bird that can be found in the area and think we ended up finding around 15!!  The sunsets up here at the moment are pretty amazing and the shot attached which was taken from the Tin Can Bay marina give you a bit of an idea of what they are like.  We headed off to the yacht club for a sun-downer and then to Snapper's for a great meal before retiring for the evening

By now you would think that we would have had enough dolphin action - but NO - we were up early on Monday morning for the daily "WILD" dolphin feed which happens at the boat ramp just down the road from the marina.  Apparently the dolphins have been coming into this cove since the early 50's and enjoy both the human interaction plus the good feed of fish.  Late in the morning we headed off to Gary's Anchorage which is a lovely little spot up the Great Sandy Strait.

WILD Dolphin Feed at Tin Can Bay
Dolphin Whisperer

Tuesday morning we woke to a very foggy Gary's Anchorage which is a little eerie.  We will be leaving here around 11.00H in order to meet the high tide as we approach the shallowest point of the Sandy Strait - luckily we have a high tide of around 8ft today so we should have plenty of clearance under the keel (we hope!)

Foggy start at Gary's Anchorage

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mooloolaba to In-Skip Point - Fraser Island (4th June)

We left Mooloolaba early this morning as we have a long day sail to the Wide Bay Bar and will anchor in at In Skip Point around 16:00H

Humpback whale sighting off Coolum
After promises of seeing whales since we went around Gabo Island we finally saw our first pod of Humpback whales off Coolum this morning which was just amazing.  We are hoping to see many more as we head up the coast.  Thinking of putting out the fishing line soon so hopefully we might pick up a fish or two on the way.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Aloha from Mooloolaba (28th May - 4th June)

We decided to take a week in Mooloolaba for a bit of R&R and also because we have Michael and Monica Arcaro (SBSC) turning up on Friday for the next leg of the adventure.Mooloolaba is a nice spot right in the middle of the Sunshine Coast.  The Marina is close to town so it is a nice spot to spend a bit of time.

Sunday morning we said farewell to Ian and Karen who ended up heading to Noosa for a few days before flying out from Ballina on Thursday.

Locally known as The Thong - Canal Cruise
Award winning property

During our week at Mooloolaba we certainly have not been wasting any time and been kept busy in all sorts of ways.  I managed to get a hair cut on Monday which was needed as it has been a few months since the hair has had any form of attention at all.  Tuesday morning we went a long walk along the beach to Maroochydore via Alexander Point and Cotton Tree.  Wednesday arvo we did the Canal Cruise which takes you around all the waterways in the area and was quite fascinating as mos
t of it seemed to be focused on the price of  real estate, celebratory homes and which properties were on the award list.   Thursday was the day for jobs which included doing the laundry and a good vacuum and clean of the boat which in turn led to another issue in that the front toilet had finally given up the ghost.  For the uninitiated the guest toilet hasn't been on its best behaviour since we left and even led to callouses for Leapy with all the pumping required.  I am however pleased to report that a new seal kit has been purchased and it is now behaving just like a new one!  Amongst all this activity we have also been doing plenty of walking and also a daily boogie board which has been excellent fun although we have both been dumped a few times and have had to remove plenty of sand from the bathers.
Surf Guru !!
Boogie Boarding 101

Michael and Monica will be arriving just after lunch today (Friday 3rd June) and we will be heading to the Surf Club for a spot of dinner before an early start on Saturday (~5.30am) as we head to the Wide Bay Bar and Fraser Island.  At this stage the plan is spend up to a week travelling through the Great Sandy Strait which is between the main land and Fraser Island.