Thursday, June 23, 2011

The end of the cruise

Some photos from the last days of our cruise from the Gold Coast to Laguna Quays.

Backpackers ready to dive off their boat at sunrise.

A bush-fire at sunset behind the Laguna Quays hard-stand

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Seawind regatta

We have spent the last few days enjoying the company of Graeme Nolan and his wife Enriqueta, who came on board while we took part in the informal version of the Seawind Whitsunday regatta. Graeme used to be production manager at Seawind, and is a fund of useful information and entertaining stories.

The formal regatta had been cancelled for lack of participants, but our version worked just fine. We had an exciting race on Sunday, in which we flew our kite in a 25 knot wind, narrowly missing overtaking a Seawind 1250 called 'Imagine' (bigger and faster than our 1160).

Unfortunately I yelled out 'Yer big Nancy!' to their Scottish skipper Chris, because he was afraid to fly their kite. He was provoked into putting it up, and staved off our challenge. Still great fun, fast sailing on a lovely day.

Then down to Whitehaven Beach again, with nightly parties.

The Whitsundays are a lovely cruising ground, with lots to see.

Backpacker daytrip on an old racing yacht 'Boomerang'.

The beach at Hill Inlet on Whitsunday Island.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Whitehaven Beach

A beautiful stopover on one of the great beaches.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


We arrived in the south Whitsundays yesterday, at Brampton Island. The resort is closed 'for renovation', but it looks like its a GFC mothball job.

We went for a nice 8km walk around the island, before heading north again to Shaw Island, just near the Lindeman Club Med resort.

Goanna with tongue stuck out.

Another goanna.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


After waiting out the stormy weather in Island Head Creek, we moved on north, but not before seeing a dugong working the creek near the boat.

After passing Townsend Island, the wind picked up and we had a fast kite reach up to the Duke Islands, where we stopped at Marble Island, and went ashore for a walk.

Leaving Marble Island at dawn.

Next morning on to Curlew Island, where we had a spectacular beach all to ourselves.

Now we are motor sailing further up to Brampton Island, near Mackay.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


We raided Rosslyn Bay in commando fashion. Swept in and topped up with diesel and filtered water. The diesel needs 1/100 'Fuel Doctor' because we have had an infection. Then we borrowed a free car from the marina, and hit the supermarkets in Yeppoon to provision for the next stage of the cruise, through remote wilderness with limited access to shops or coverage.

Thursday 9th an early start and a pleasant kite run up to Pearl Bay, a gorgeous spot in the Shoalwater Bay Military Reserve. Initially we were all alone, but then two Seawinds turned up and we were invited aboard for a drink.

Friday we went on to Island Head Creek, a favourite place, which George and I visited in 2001, as well as a number of other times. Not dissimilar to Pittwater, but completely isolated.

Island Head Creek

And here we are, hanging out as a cold southerly and pouring rain comes through. Cosy as, with the genset giving a squirt to the reverse aircon as required, and entertainment like reading (George is reading 'Cutting for Stone' by Abraham Verghese, and and I am reading 'Lovesong' by Alex Miller on my iPad), and watching 'War and Peace' (the 20 episode BBC version with Anthony Hopkins).

The technical expression for this type of cruising is 'gunkholing'.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef lies about 30 nautical miles off shore, and there are not many all-weather anchorages. The main one we have used several times has been Lady Musgrave Island, which has a large lagoon with a boat entrance.

Leaving 1770 on Sunday, the weather was extremely calm, with a forecast of trivial winds for the next few days. Not good for sailing, but a great time to check out some of the reefs which might be uncomfortable in more normal conditions.

Leaving 1770

So first to Fitzroy Reef, a spectacular coral lagoon with no island. It was glassy, like being in a huge swimming pool way out in the ocean.

We did some diving, with the 12 volt Divemaster airpump following in the kayak, and George went for a paddle. You can get the feeling here.

Lovely sunset.

Then on to North-West Island, via Heron Island. NW Island has a large lagoon, but no boat entrance. We went ashore and later did another dive. Stunning fish life. The Divemaster lets me go down to about 10 metres, without the need for compressors, tanks, BCDs etc.

Now back to Great Keppel Island and Rosslyn Bay for reprovisioning, before we hit the wilderness between here and Mackay.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cruising north 2011

I set off with my mate Steve Davis on Friday 27th May, and we sailed up through Moreton Bay. Steve is a comedian, and we have sailed a lot together over the years.

Steve playing 'Air ukelele'

Winds easy and mostly following, with the kite up a lot of the time. A particularly good romp from Tangalooma on Moreton Island to Mooloolaba, much of it at 15 knots boat speed. Then across the Wide Bay Bar into the Great Sandy Straits. A large fish got on the line, and carried off the rod-holder, rod, reel, hook, line and sinker!

Up to Garry's Anchorage, and a night in Platypus Bay, before a rendezvous with George in Burrum Heads, a little settlement on the west side of Hervey Bay. Steve drove George's car home.

Nimrod in Platypus Bay

Platypus Bay, storm brewing

Burrum Heads

Burrum Heads

The Womens group in the Burrum Heads caravan park.
The brollies are to protect against poop from rainbow lorikeets roosting at dusk!

Burrum Heads fisherman

June 2nd, George and I carried on north to Burnett Heads, and then to the town of 1770, where we met up with our friends in their new Lightwave 45 'Blue Spirit'. I made a video of the launching a few weeks ago.

A trawler in the Burnett River at dawn.



Blue Spirit

As I write we are motoring out to the Great Barrier Reef in calm conditions. We hope to do some diving this afternoon at Fitzroy Reef, then go one tomorrow via Heron Island to North-West Island, before ducking back to Great Keppel Island. These reefs are better visited in calm conditions, so this is a good opportunity. We will try out the kayak and Dive-master 12v air-compressor.