No crabs in Pacific Creek. Plenty shopping-list writing, prior to a motor-sail, turned kite run, to Rosslyn Bay marina.
We fitted into a tiny mono sized berth. Confidence building. Then the marina offered us a ‘courtesy car’ for a couple of hours to hit Woolies 10 km down the road in Yeppoon. George is a serious shopper, and we made the most of the last opportunity to stock up before the wilderness of Shoalwater Bay and the islands we will go through before Mackay or the Whitsundays.
Sunday 9th May.
Snuck out of Rosslyn Bay at the late start hour of 6.30am, and carried on northwards with a 20-25 knot wind behind us. Waves built up to 3-4m. We put in a couple of reefs. Pretty nice sail. We are getting more confident with heavier conditions.
Round Manifold Island and on to Port Clinton, part of the huge Shoalwater Bay military reserve. I love it. I’m sure that if the army hadn’t locked it up, it would have been ‘developed’ or mined. Instead it’s this huge area of unspoilt country, available to yachties. We went up the top of Port Clinton, and ‘gunkholed’ in a mangrove creek miles from the next human.
Monday 10th May.
A slow start in the quiet anchorage. George scrubbed the boat to the point where you can see through the fibreglass. I fixed stuff. One definition of cruising is ‘doing repairs in exotic places!’
Then on to Island Head Creek, a very special place. A brisk reach across the shallows at the entrance to Port Clinton. Picture a 38 foot Hobie cat playing in the surf. Then through some very pretty islands along the coast past Pearl Bay.
Island Head Creek is about as big and beautiful as Pittwater, but has no houses and hardly any boats. There is a beach you could land an airliner on.
We walked it, before going upstream to a cyclone hole, where George and I stayed on our first cruise in 2001, and I also stayed another time with my Kiwi friend Richard. A sacred site.
Tuesday 11th May.
Out of Island Head creek, passing a Fusion 40 cat like one we nearly bought a few years ago. No regrets. Then a tricky days sail with not quite enough wind and some fidgeting with kite, genny, main and motors. The kite got stuck up the mast at one point, which lead to plans to climb and free it in the next quiet anchorage, but we managed to find another solution.
We passed Strong tide Passage and the Cannibal Islands.We anchored at Hunter Island, in the Dukes. A pretty spot with a hill to climb, where George gave her phone a workout. We have been out of mobile range for a few days.
Keeping up with email sometimes requires climbing to the top of an island!
A large stag startled us by leaping out of the long grass and galloping away.
Wednesday 12th May.
Onward ever onward to the north, through masses of lovely uninhabited islands. All as nice as anything in the Whitsundays, but without the crowds and charter fleets.
Today to Curlew Island, described in Noel Patrick’s cruising guide as “Curlew Island is one of the most beautiful. Anywhere.”