Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Colour my world Mackay

Running water shower!


Hair colour!

Have arrived in Mackay marina.

Monday, 25 July 2011

No phone, no shoes, no pets .....

Sea Piper and Nick of Time in Roylen Bay
Roylen Bay has to be one of the prettiest and most `alive' bays we have visited. Dolphins, dugongs, turtles and masses of fish in crystal clear waters were a few of the pluses as well as a magnificent view back to the Whitsundays.
We even managed to catch some fish for tea.
With a beaut sandy beach to explore and plenty of mackerel massing around, we had no trouble spending a couple of days here. Strangely, while we had internet coverage, we had no phone coverage except for one evening when atmospheric conditions must have been just right. Anyway, that's our excuse for not phoning anyone recently or responding to any messages.

Coral and shells on the beach
After a very peaceful night in Roylen Bay we decided to take advantage of a wind drop early this morning and motor sail down to Brampton Island where we anchored in time for morning tea.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Royden almost has a bay named after him....

We've moved bays at Goldsmith Island and are now in Roylen Bay - guess they got the spelling wrong on this one.
It has a beautiful sandy beach and not so many coral bommies as Minne Hall.
Yesterday afternoon, a barnacle covered dugong came up around the boat and there are lots of turtles and fish. In fact we almost had mackerel for tea last night except it just missed getting into the dinghy!
Dugong tail
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Thursday, 21 July 2011

Meet the Smiths

Today we visited the Smiths.
Smith Islands that is.
We had two goes at it and the second time we were successful.
Early morning from Gap Beach, Lindeman Island
We'd spent the last two days at Gap Beach on the northern side of Lindeman Island but an hour before tide change this morning, we slipped through Kennedy Sound between Lindeman and Shaw Islands.
 All was calm. The channel crossing was beautiful with the early morning light on Mount Oldfield that we climbed yesterday and behind us the glowing rock face of Pentecost Island that juts out of the sea and points at the sky.
Kennedy Sound from Mount Oldfield, Lindeman Island.
We counted 10 yachts at anchor as we passed the sheltered inlet just inside Burning Point at the southern tip of Shaw Island.
As we rounded the Point to head towards the Smiths, it was like a fury had been unleashed .
The time around tide change is referred to as `slack tide' because the flooding (rising) or ebbing tide is at its slowest rate. We'd picked our run to take us throught the Sound at slack tide then catch the flooding tide south.
Nice dream. A 20 knot wind had sprung up - in the opposite direction to the tide, making the waves sit up, which were sideways to the swell of course. We must be getting smarter because after about 40 minutes of trying to push through, we decided to head back and anchor overnight in the calm haven off Burning Point and try the journey south another day.
After a leisurely morning tea then lunch, we settled down to strum the ukele (me) and do a Sudoku (Royden).
We suddenly realised the wind had dropped to nothing and the turbulent sea we had looked out on before had calmed to almost flat. It was an hour before the next tide change (from flooding back to ebbing) so we made a quick decision to haul the anchor and test out this slack tide to head to the Smiths.
We had a lovely motor sail south with just enough breeze from the south-east to fill out the head sail and not enough flow from the ebbing tide to hamper our progress.
And the Smith Islands - we passed them all and thought what great names they had. There's Silversmith, Goldsmith, Blacksmith, Coppersmith, Tinsmith, Anchorsmith and Ladysmith Islands along with Anvil, Hammer, Forge, Solder, Farrier Islands, Bellows Islet and Ingot Islets.
It makes some of the other island names positively boring.
We're currently tucked up in Minne Hall Bay on Goldsmith Island, having enjoyed a glorious sunset over a glass-like sea. We're treasuring the moment.
Sunset behind Ladysmith Island as seen from Goldsmith Is.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Who's for cards?

I hate it when our visitors go home.
Apart from the excellent company they provide, regressing to two-handed Yaniv isn't a patch on a fast-moving game with three or more!
After a beaut five days, Leigh and Rhys went back to Townsville yesterday for their last couple of days of holidays before returning to Victoria.
The wind was a bit fresh but the sun shone on day one.
While the weather was patchy during their stay, we did manage a visit to both Hook and Whitsunday Island as well as a fabulous sail from Hook Island back to Airlie Beach on Thursday (just before the weather again turned and belted the Whitsundays with 25-30 knots and three metre swells).
Overnight anchorages in Cid Harbour and Nara Inlet were tranquil and beautiful.
As we arrived in Cid, a dugong came up close to our boat and continued to feed in the vicinity for some time. This was followed by turtles emerging at various spots around us.
This great welcome was followed by a climb to the top of the Whitsunday peak for a (fortunate) view of the surrounds. In the following days it was shrouded in cloud.
Sawmill Bay turned on its best colours
We saw the dugong again the next morning. As we took a dinghy tour around Sawmill Bay it came up within 10 metres of us, did a roll and flipped its tail. Impossible to catch with the camera but firmly locked in the memory bank.
Nara Inlet beach

Cave at Nara
In anticipation of finer weather tomorrow or Monday, we've done the washing and restocked the cupboards and will head to the Lindeman group of islands (south of Hamilton Island) and then maybe onto Mackay. Maybe. I'll tell you when we get there!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Sea Piper's special visitors sleep over

What an excellent few days we have had, capped off with a special sleepover on Sea Piper for Sonny and Alexander and a surprise dinner and birthday cake on Long Island last night.
It was sad to farewell Stu, Tina and the boys this morning but, with much improved weather conditions over the past week, we've made the most of the days, seen our share of turtles and dolphins, made lots of dinghy and canoe trips, and played many rounds of mini golf. Whales would have been good to cap it off however they proved elusive though we heard a report of them off Long Island (on the other side of course) on Tuesday and again this morning on the east side of the Whitsundays.
One of the funniest sights occurred yesterday when Alexander went with Pa to anchor the dinghy out beyond the low tide mark. Looking up from the shore we noticed the two had changed positions and Alexander was proudly mastering the controls and doing the odd `zoom' across the bay leaving a trail of white foam in his wake.

A change of Captain!
Many thanks to friends and family for their birthday greetings, messages and presents. I am loving the ukele and practice every day - thanks Rochy gang for coming up with such a beaut and unexpected challenge. Stu was able to assist with some strumming technique which I was finding very difficult so now the chords are coming together and it's sounding a bit more like music. I'm sure Royden's pleased at this development.
Turtle heaven or haven on Long Island.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Calm seas - and wildlife

Doesn't look rough but we were surfing in front of the waves. Note the angle of the seat - one of its straighter moments.
The sea is a fickle creature. Yesterday we surfed the Whitsunday Passage with a three metre swell, the waves just as high and the wind filling the headsail.
It's the first time we have surged ahead at over nine knots.
The conditions were a big improvement on the preceding days when we heard charterers over the radio with shredded headsails, lost dinghies and/or simply `lost' to the awful and freakish conditions.
Our last night at Gulnare Inlet was calm and peaceful - we almost got to sleep through the whole of the night without having to check the anchorage. Old habits die hard though and we each did a quick reccy in the early hours of the morning.
After a re-stock of groceries and `refreshments' at Airlie yesterday, we upped anchor this morning and headed around to Long Island. Minutes after we set off, heavy cloud and rain drifted in, leaving us in close to white-out conditions. The upside of this was little wind (six knots) and a calm sea. Hard to believe we were re-tracing part of yesterday's bracing sail.
As we neared Long Island we could see four figures on the beach - the smaller two running round excitedly.
Securing the mooring was a breeze in calm conditions and we quickly lowered the dinghy and headed ashore to the resort and to warm hugs and kisses.
The little boys, decked out in their bright life jackets, were keen to visit Sea Piper and Pa keen to oblige.
24 hours later - the same stretch of sea as the photo above.
As if on cue, a pod of dolphins circled the boat as the dinghy neared. To cap it off, turtles appeared off the bow as the boys explored the boat.
A pretty good day by anybody's standards.
Dolphins and turtles - what a treat!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Bring on the sun

Who would have thought that last Sunday's weather in Rochester and Melbourne would be better than Monday's weather in the Whitsundays. Ditto Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
We returned to Queensland to be greeted with rain, wind and coolish temperatures which have lasted until now but with signs of improvement tomorrow. Allelujah.
We crossed from the marina to Gulnare Inlet on Wednesday morning just before high tide. Thirty knot winds and a surging sea saw us across the Fitzallan channel in no time.
Gulnare is reputedly an all weather refuge but the prevailing conditions mean the boats here have been subjected to bullet winds and a rolling sea for several days now. The periods of calm are tranquil and the surrounding mountains beautiful.
A ray of promise?
There's lots to explore here and we snuck the dinghy out between squalls yesterday morning for a trip down a couple of creeks dragging a lure. No fish but very enjoyable nevertheless.
Exploring Gulnare's creeks
Patches of blue in the sky this morning have us optimistic that the forecast is correct and we may be able to poke our noses out of the inlet tomorrow and sail across to Airlie Beach to re-stock supplies before heading to Long Island to greet Stu, Tina and the boys.
They - and we - are very excited.