Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Neglected - but not forgotten

OK, I accept this blog is suffering from a serious case of neglect which I am about to rectify - at least once for this year anyway.
I'm inspired by our current anchorage at Cape Upstart, which is about half way between Townsville and the northern end of the Whitsundays. It's a good 13 to 14 hour sail from Townsville with not much chance of a comfy anchorage in between. After a 4am start (from Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island) yesterday we welcomed lowering the sails and our anchor hitting the sandy/mud at the lower end of the Cape, just as the sun dipped over the horizon. It was not much more than an hour later that our own eyelids dipped.
The weather forecast and sheer weariness led us to declare today a rest day. And what a great decision. We've just been watching dugongs feeding around us as the tide slips out for one of the year's lowest - 0.02 metres. The bird life is beautiful and we are protected by craggy mountains fringed with mangroves.
We haven't anchored down this far into the Cape before, but it will be getting marked on our navigation system as a preferred spot.
The southern end of Cape Upstart - and there's a dugong or two in there somewhere.
I suppose I'd better backtrack a bit to fill in Sea Piper's travels to date.
We didn't return to Townsville from Victoria until mid-May and then needed to do the usual season-starting odd jobs on the boat, which we interspersed with some trips out to Horseshoe Bay and fun music jam sessions, most memorably the marina Pirate Party and on the beach with a crackling fire at White Lady Bay.
Luckily for us, Royden's next Melbourne meeting coincided with the start of school holidays so Zander and Sonny were able to fly back with him and spend about 10 days on the boat. Stu also joined us for a few days at the end and insisted on taking the boys back!
We had so much fun around Townsville and out on Magnetic Island. The only down side was catching no fish, in fact not even losing a bait.
Studying marina marine life.

Fun - but no fish.
David was our next visitor, joining us for two weeks around the Palm Islands and Hinchinbrook, which included a trip into Zoe Bay and the waterfall which we hadn't been to for over 20 years!
The fish had started biting by then and mackerel and bream were on the menu plenty of nights.

No prizes for guessing what's for dinner.

We haven't spotted many whales this year but this pod came so close we couldn't help but see them.
Shells and seeds

The clear waters of Zoe Falls are also very cold as Royden found out.
Morning in Horseshoe Bay
We made it back to Townsville with a few hours to spare before greeting Leigh and Rob for a three week Sea Piper adventure. Our plans to go to the Whitsundays went out the window with the strong south-easterlies so we again headed north to the Palms, Hinchinbrook, Gould and Garden Islands and Dunk Island.
Dunk was a delight. After being wrecked by Cyclone Yasi in Feb 2011, work restoring the resort is underway and the public areas have been rebuilt by the local council. It sports a new jetty, campground, shower and toilet block (all in place when we came through in November last year) and the walking tracks are also cleared and open again. But more importantly, the café/bar and Sunday music sessions are in full swing.
The locals are embracing the place and the water taxis and ferries were busy all day during our visit.
Early morning Hinchinbrook
Bream ...
... and more bream
Dunk's walking track is well worth the climb
Drunk on Dunk? Now who coined that phrase?
Hmmm ...
Great music, great location, great weather, great company, who could ask for more?

Another memorable moment came in the Hinchinbrook Channel where we caught up with two other boats from Townsville and had a jam session on Sea Piper.
Our return journey included another visit to the former leper colony on Fantome Island and and overnight anchorage in Juno Bay. We must have been right over a reef as Royden's fishing catches were like a snorkelling bonanza - however they were also small and went back to their mates in moments.
We arrived back in Townsville on the day we were all to fly out to Melbourne. Talk about cutting it fine! But then it was amazing how quickly four people could clean up a boat compared to two.
After a week seeing all our kids, partners and grandchildren, plus many of our friends, we headed back to Townsville and our current trip heading for the Whitsundays.


  1. Glad to have Sea Piper back and hearing of her adventures. xxx from the hail storm in Rochy. The BERTS

  2. Great hearing the adventures I thought I may have neglected to catch up with the blog xxxxx