Friday, 14 June 2013

Wallowing, wonderful whales

The little black thing in the middle of the picture is the back of a humpback whale.
The whales are here!
Yesterday we saw one breaching well off into the distance as we returned from a snorkel out at Bait Reef,
This morning, at least three were a few hundred metres off Stonehaven Bay rolling around, slapping the water with their flukes. I heard them before I saw them.
It was dead calm so their humped backs were clearly visible, along with their big white flippers coming out of the water and slapping down on the surface. I hope that is a happy signal for whales as it was certainly a happy moment for us.
The last few days have been beautiful so we've been making the most of it. We'd never been out to the Great Barrier Reef from the Whitsundays before and yesterday presented ideal conditions.
Waiting out the weather to the west of Airlie. The shipwreck on the right is one of several from ex-tropical cyclone Oswald earlier this year.
We'd spent the previous night in Butterfly Bay at the northern end of the Whitsundays then set off shortly after dawn for the 18 nautical mile trip with the wind perfectly and gently positioned for the Code Zero to give us a lovely run.
(Note: it was the calmest night we have ever spent in Butterfly Bay. Our last stay there was when Julie and Keith nearly got blown off the front deck  - in their swags - from the bullet winds that drive down the mountain.)
That's close enough thanks. These big ships move very fast..
Arriving at Bait Reef was no trouble. Working out how to get inside it to the moorings was a bit trickier in the overcast conditions. With a bit of sun in the right position you can usually work out a safe passage. Luckily we were on a rising (and therefore more forgiving) tide as we skimmed over the bommies with less than a metre to spare!
As we found off Cairns last year, the outer reef is stunning with clear deep water and loads of fish and coral. We snorkelled until we were shivering, by which time the sun had come out to warm us dry again.
There's a white tip reef shark down there if you look closely.
Loads of brightly coloured fish at Bait Reef
As the forecast was for winds to pick up through the night, we decided against staying out on the mooring overnight. It was swelly enough in the daytime!
By then we had watched a couple of boats go in and out of the reef gap and copied their exit route for a safer passage!
As we headed back to Stonehaven, again on the northern end of the Whitsundays, we watched a whale breaching out on the horizon. It made enormous splashes. We were so thrilled. Whales never lose the WOW! factor for either of us.
Following a beautiful sunset and the stillest night we were again treated to a whale show this morning, this time much closer.
The red marshmallow sunset last night.
Can't wait to see what today brings as those winds never arrived and the forecast is now for another beautiful day! Yay!

1 comment:

  1. Yay! Glad to hear the weather has eased off a bit. Sorry to say I can't see the reef shark, but the whales have arrived, how wonderful. I love wheels!!!