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!

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