Green Island

Sunset on the Great Barrier Reef

 We headed out from Yorkeys Knob to Green Island, just 15 nm away. Green Island is where we finally reached our turn around point having decided not to sail further north to Lizard Island. The island is a true coral atoll and differs considerably from Fitzroy which is of continental origin. On arrival we had perfect conditions for entering the lagoon. Flat calm, midday sun and perfect visibility thanks to the recent arrival of the northerly wind. We entered through the channel and picked our way through the bommies to find a large sandy patch to anchor in. We did later find that a single Parks Mooring exists further out.

Green Island is a low rise cay formed by a fringing reef. It’s highest point is around 2m, and the vegetation is mainly Pisonia, Pandanus  and Teatrees. Bird life abounds with Banded Rails running about sorting through the leaf mulch wherever you walk onshore.

Being close to Cairns this little island can get busy in the tourist season. There is a small resort there and day facilities. The most action is underwater and we dinghied over to talk with Roy who runs the SeaWalker @ Green Island facility. Here we found unique tourism directed at the comfort market: Want to walk around underwater without getting your hair wet or having your makeup run? No problem! Simply turn up, put on a stinger suit, and a 42 kilo modern version of a divers helmet. The helmet weight reduces down to about 4kg apparent when underwater and 80 litres per minute of air is pumped through the helmet, so your hair stays dry!! The walkers take a short guided tour around a local bommie with support divers and photographers! This is indeed Luxe snorkelling!

We returned to Fling after an afternoon of snorkelling to enoy a bottle of French Champagne at sunset, a fitting place to celebrate our turn south point from.

Overnight a westerly land breeze had us up and down checking the anchor, worrying about being on a lee shore and wishing we had up-anchored and moved to the public mooring. We were up at dawn and left as early as we could get reasonable visibility for spotting coral bommies, it was a bit hairy leaving with 18 knots of westerly breaking up the surface visibility but we left with no regrets about our visit. A paradise day to say the least. Heading back into Cairns was by pure navigation as local fires have blanketed the area in smoke, the extra warmth from the grassfires increasing the land breeze effect. Cairns was visible from just two nm offshore.

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Cairns

 

Port Douglas Lookout

Eight months,four hours and fifteen minutes after leaving RBYC in Port Phillip Bay Victoria and we are tied up at the Marlin Marina in Cairns.

Cairns is the most northern city we will visit.

We park the boat, tidy up and head out for lunch. The following day we allowed ourselves a treat, two days stay at a five star resort, a pure comfort stop! Fling waits patiently in her berth and I feel a little bit guilty sneaking away from her.

Like Townsville, Cairns has a beachfront promenade, called the Esplanade. It has a swimming lagoon , loads of grass and palm tree’s and it’s streetfronts are full of eateries which come to life at night. There is a night market, which we found to be not much more than a shopping centre food court with a whole pile of tourist stalls and massage shops thrown in. Not very evocative of tropical life in Northern Australia, and a poor representation of Australia to the tourists visiting Australia.The  Saturday moring market proves to be much bettter.

We are tied up on the outer arm of the harbour. As are all the other luxe yachts! Ghost, a 122ft yacht from Hamilton BVI came in just before us and a quick stroll along our pier shows that despite the economy, there is still some serious money being splashed about.

November is Marlin fishing season here, so the marina is starting to fill up with huge luxurious motor yachts. The boat next to us is 60 ft long and Jared, the skipper spends maximum time preparing his boat for the season. The vessel is six years old and looks to be in mint condition.

Not all the boats ooze money though, one smaller yacht strives only for comfort, sporting two large battered cane armchairs in it’s tiny cockpit!

We hired a car for a day and headed off to the highlands, visiting the hill town of Kuranda, which is wall to wall craft market stalls and walking through the rainforest to view the Barron River waterfalls before returning to the coast for lunch at Palm Cove. Amazing waterfalls and rainforest walks to be found. We imagine they would be even more spectacular in the wet season.

The day before we left Cairns I wandered off to visit the local fresh food market, Rusty’s. It’s open three days a week and is a culinary delight. I can’t imagine why anyone would shop for fruit and vegetables in a supermarket when thay could come here. Every kind of tropical fruit, fresh herbs, and tasty street food can be purchased for very reasonable prices. I sampled Phillipino Empandas and Thai spring rolls as I shopped. My meal cost $2.50! I could have rounded it off with either fresh coconut juice or pure sugar cane juice. Fresh basil, coriander, watercress and mint joined the corn, apples, watermelon and asparagus in the backpack. I topped up on limes and lemons at 50c each ( When we were last at Hamilton Island the going rate was $4 each)  and if I could have remembered our stocks I would have also bought a few avocado’s for $1 each! Mango’s are still expensive though, $6.99 a kilo….it’s still early in the season for them.

On Saturday we headed off to Half Moon Bay Marina at Yorkey’s Knob. It’s just 5 nm from here and will be our home for the next few days. From our base at Yorkey’s Knob we visited the Mossman River Gorge and Port Douglas.

 

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Dunk Island to Cairns

Mother and baby Humpback whales celebrate spring

 

Getting from Dunk Island to Cairns took a little patience so say the least. 

For two nights we rocked and rolled in our Dunk Island anchorage hiding behind the tiny bit of lee shore offered by the sand spit near the airstrip. The winds blew solidly all day and night and nobody left the anchorage, but another yacht joined us. As the last yacht out towards the spit they must have been very uncomfortable indeed.

Eventually the forecast predicted a slight decrease in wind speed, so we set off early for Mouriliyan Harbour. It’s only a 20nm passage, the first fifteen with the wind directly behind us and then some lee afforded by Kent Island, the larger and northernmost of the North Barnard Group. When we rounded Kent Island to head west and inland , Andrew spied two Humpback whales, a mother and her calf. They were practicing broaching and tail slapping and we watched them for half an hour or so as they travelled past us. Needless to say we have many photo’s of the water just after each broach! As we passed them the mother whale rolled onto her back, both pectoral fins in the air, we presume to recommence feeding the calf. It’s something we have never seen before. The calf slapped its tail and settled in.  Much to our amazement we have heard that female humpback whales do not feed for the entire time they are in the tropical waters. They produce an incredible 600 litres of breast milk per day for their young and lose serious amounts of body mass doing so. A tough post natal diet!

Mouriliyan Harbour beckoned. It’s an amazingly deceptive narrow gap in the hills, but once there a sizeable and well sheltered harbour. For us it was a blissfully peaceful anchorage. It’s one purpose? It is a shipping wharf for sugar, often transported as Mollasses and despite it’s narrow entrance it accomodates cargo vessels of up to 200m in length. There is a small fishing fleet on pile moorings and behind them a channel which accomodates small craft. Beyond that lies the rest of the Moresby river, lined with mangroves. The fishing is good here and we regularly had small tinnies (aluminium dinghys)  working the shore next to us, angling for barramundi amongst the mangroves.

The wind strengthened again and we waited another day. Day six from Townsville and we were keen for a shower (no swimming here, crocodiles abound!) so we were delighted to have the couple who man the pilot boats for the harbour come alongside and give us directions as to where we could shower in the VMR building. They gave us the most recent copy of The Coastal Passage, and directed us to the only shop in town: The bait shop at the boat storage yard. Here we bought ice and to my delight a kilo of frozen cooked prawns, perfect for paella today and wraps for tomorrow’s lunch. I longingly eyed off the coral trout, Moreton Bay bugs and Mud Crabs…

On our way to the shop we passed a Cassowary warning sign on the road. I was just about to remark to Andrew how those signs usually mean you won’t see any wildlife when one appeared, wandering about the gardens of the sugar storage shed! It looked like the local pet who would most probably be a nuisance at the friday afternoon after work BBQ’s!  Alas no camera! (Non Australians: a Cassowary is a very large bird, native to Australia. They do not fly and are approximately 1-1.25 m in height. They are only found in the tropics and look similar to an Emu)

 

Again the wind blew and blew as we sat snug at anchor for that day and enjoyed our Paella in the twilight. Early the next morning we set off for Fitzroy Island. Fitzroy  is a continental island 42nm north of Mouriliyan Harbour and just 15nm from Cairns.

With 22 knots apparent behind us and making speeds of 7.5 knots we flew along. Deep aqua blue water sparkled beside us and we were happy to arrive by early afternoon. We saw a few tuna or mackerel jumping out of the water and several flying fish but no whales.

Fitzroy island has a resort, a camping ground and a day visitor centre. There are walks through the forest and up to the lighthouse. The resort was redeveloped last year and looks quite attractive. Day visitors can buy a pass to use the pool, but the swimming and snorkelling off the beach is just as good. Much beloved by the locals is Foxy’s Bar, a ‘seventies themed pacific island bar’ (their words not mine!)  which offers reasonably priced meals, live music and well priced drinks, all with spectacular views across to Cape Grafton and out to Green Island, a Great Barier Reef atoll. It’s a very chilled out place. Local sailors head over on Friday nights, just to watch the football on tv and still have a view!

Fitzroy Island has eight marine park moorings, due to the coral growth, but you can anchor outside of the moorings. Picking up the second most southern buoy we found our anchorage to be rolly and our mooring buoy bashed the boat nonstop all night. The northern end is to be favoured in SE trades.

Early the next morning I fed our stale bread to the fish, Andrew capturing a snap of a Remora, commonly called a sucker fish, who came to gobble up half a loaf all by himself! Remora fish have a suction pad on the top of their head which they use to attach themselves to mush larger fish for transport and feeding purposes. The suction pad is about 8 x 15 cm long and can leave a really nasty bruise should one latch onto your bare skin! A bit like the house guest you wish you had never invited! Goes away eventually, but not without pain!

Being very short on water we dropped the mooring and headed to Cairns first thing the next morning.

 

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Hinchinbrook Channel and Dunk Island

 

 Whilst beautiful birdsong lulled us to sleep last night at Opheus Island, our old friends the Welcome Swallows woke us early to get on the way to Hinchinbrook Passage. We love the Welcome Swallows, they are so tiny but make such an effort to have their gentle wake up call heard!  And wake we did, having read last nights forecast we decided to cut short our stay at Opheus and head for the protection of Hinchinbrook Passage.

The only concern was crossing the Lucinda Bar. If Fraser Island has it’s Mad Mile, then Lucinda has it’s Mad Three Miles!

Big difference though! No swell, and the bar as such is crossed in the first mile. There is about a two hour window for crossing at high tide. AND you can easily see the leads! Even with all the smoke haze they were clear to us.

Coastguard recommend you pass the Fairway Buoy to the north then line up the two leads untill you have almost sailed up to them. These instructions seem correct, just don’t expect to pass the fairway buoy and then immediately line up the lead lights. Sail back towards the end of the wharf to line them up, then just follow them in. 

The reason why this bar crossing is so long is that the Lucinda Sugar Wharf  extends for at least three miles out and there is significant silting behind it.

Once in its a short bit of mark spotting before an easy channel is then navigated to Haycock Island.

Haycock Island is about eight nm into the channel and provides a great overnight anchorage. It seems to be totally sheltered and we spent an incredibly peaceful night. Despite the 20-25 knots blowing outside the island.

The sunset was spectacular and the clouds gently lowered themselves over the mountain peaks as dusk settled into night.

In the morning we decided to head to the top of the passage, but as we arrived we settled on Goould Island instead. Only seven nm further on it looked like having good shelter from the prevailing breezes.

Shortly after that, with Fling lifting her kilt and dancing along at eight knots we decided to make for Dunk Island instead. What a difference to come out of the lee of the island! We now had 18 apparent beam on and a 1.5m local swell due east. A bit like walking from a sensory deprivation cave to a wind tunnel!

We flounced aroung, covering the 20 nm in record time and settled in behind the sand spit in Brammo Bay, Dunk Island.

Cyclone Yasi has had her way here and with devastating consequences. We had already passed Port Hinchinbrook Marina which may never be rebuilt, due to a nasty little clause in the contract….and wonder about the people we have met who had made their homes there in the harbour…

This month Dunk and Bedarra Island’s management announced they would not be re-opening in April 2012 as planned, and there are no plans for re-opening in the future.

This must surely be a big blow for the local community who depend on these two islands for tourism income.

Dunk’s wharf is unuseable. It’s tree’s are stripped of leaves and are now just starting to regrow, just as our Victorian trees did after the devastating bushfires. Local ferries just reverse up to the beach and allow the guests to walk ashore. This morning chainsaws echoed around the bay as reforestation work continued. Such a tragedy that this Island Group and it’s mainland support systems should be so effected by a weather pattern and an economic trend.

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Orpheus Island

I just have to write this down now…

I have never been to a more serene and peaceful anchorage. Ever.

Tonight the sun set behind our stern, smokey and dusky with all the local fires in the hills behind.

The almost full moon rose over our bow, as seven yachts enjoyed a quiet bay.

Quiet except for the delightful cacophany of exotic bird calls and for the splashing of fish being hunted around the outskirts of the bay.

If ever a reward was needed for a day’s sail, and we had such an easy sail that we needed no reward, but if ever…. this bay is a paradise.

Hinchinbrook Island beckons, But I think I may need to stay a little longer in Pioneer Bay…

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More Townsville time…

We headed back into Townsville to reprovision for our cruise to Cairns and to enjoy Ephemera, the Townsville outdoor sculpture exhibition. This is Float,one of our favourites, a floating sculpture made entirely of recycled bottle tops and cable ties.

Ephemera extends along The Strand, Townsville’s amazing park which lines the shoreline.

This park is several kilometers long, and has to be one of the most well used public facilities we have seen as we have made our way  up the coast. It doesn’t seem to matter what the time is, the park is in use. Birthday parties, fitness fanatics, quiet chats….

On Friday night we took a stroll to view the sculptures. We headed halfway along, then enjoyed a cool glass of rose at Jamaica Joe’s as the sun set. Turning right we headed up Gregory  Street in North Ward and had a fix of Japanese food at Gyo. More sculptures then home to our cosy berth at Breakwater Marina.

Breakwater Marina has suffered some damage from Cyclone Yasi last year, but it remains as one of the friendliest marina’s we have visited and is to undergo repair work next month. There’s a nice community attitude here, people look out for each other. We were a llittle disconcerted though, to hear that a saltwater croc visited the marina a week or so ago!!

Yesterday Andrew came back from onshore to tell me he had bumped into Paul Lobsten, owner of Shearwater (Salar 40)  ex RBYC and QCYC. How small this world is when you sail ….

We met Paul and his crew for drinks at the local that night, a great chance to catch up. They are also headed for Cairns.

This morning we headed off early for Orpheus Island, some 45 nm north. As we departed the marina, another RBYC yacht passed us, Roger Jepson on his Queensland based 50 ft Cat A Whiter Shade of Pale!

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Magnetic Island Race Week:2

 OOPS! E -Doc goes over!

Lay Day was spent riding Scooters around the island, great fun once I overcame  my fear of falling off at speed!The local wallaby population kindly posed for photo’s at Geoffrey Bay and the crews who did the Forts Walk spied several Koala’s in the trees. Magnetic Island is home to a sizeable collection of Scarecrows, some posing as speed camera operators, some as tourists on decks and balconies.

 A BBQ at the unique rock house rented by the Clipper of Capricorn crew saw all five RBYC crews partying into the night. The house is unique in that it is built around a large rock. The rock is the platform the crews are photographed on in the previous post.

Day three of racing saw the winds ease slightly and the race passed without major incident, just the odd rudder damaged. The final day of racing brought a considerable reduction in wind strength and offered very pleasant conditions for a windward / leeward race across the channel to Launs Beach and back. Unfortunately this race was not without incident: A medical emergency saw one crew member airlifted to Townsville, Dr Rosie Colahan of RBYC extending medical support by radio whilst racing on another yacht.

Just to keep the race interesting the 50 ft catarmaran E -Doc capsized and dug its mast into the mud, creating an obstruction in the centre of the course. It was eventually righted and now sports a very muddy mast top. A crew member who was below escaped through the underwater hatch and all crew were removed from the boat without injury.

Today Highland Fling took three of Caledonia’s crew onboard and managed a crediable third place. Thanks, Mavis , Sally and Bryan, without you we probably would have been eigtheenth!

In the advertising Townsville Yacht Club promised a regatta full of good old fashioned fun. They certainly delivered the fun component. It was great to see crews heading out each day in full fancy dress. Everything from fairy outfits to tuxedos got an airing. It was also great to see how well the various medical and yachting incidents were managed.

This morning we slipped away from the marina, heading back into Townsville for a few days before heading north towards Cairns.

 

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Magnetic Island Race Week: 1

Aloha from the RBYC Crews

Aloha from the five crews of RBYC yachts participating in Magnetic Island Race Week.

Here are the Skippers and Crews of Caledonia, Clipper of Capricorn, Coorain, Instant Karma and Highland Fling.

We have had an unusual weather pattern for MIRW, the last four years being very light winds.

This year the weather came in with a reminder that she was to be both respected and considered, constantly considered.

Day One of racing gave us a lively race towards Cape Cleveland , and for the IRC yachts a course a little past Cape Cleveland to the Four Mile Rock. One yacht retired due to the wind strength at the windward mark. Highland Fling sailed two handed and like the cruising sailors they are, enjoyed the downwind leg most!

Day two Highland Fling did not sail. 32 knot winds were not for us.

The other  four crews did race and sadly Caledonia lost their mast, despite a well reefed main and prudent sailing. A fitting gave way at the forestay. They came back into port with a very tidy deck and a very tired looking crew, happily with no injuries sustained during the incident.

A crew member was taken to Townsville with a hand injury and a rudder or two were lost by other yachts, always a handy reminder to keep the drogue available!

The other three RBYC crews did well, Clipper of Capricorn scoring her best so far, but all sore and tired after a heavy day of racing.

Wendy Luck looked after race management for the F 18’s and apparently in the fresh weather some sailed airbourne.

Today for most of the boats has been a lay day, with only the IRC boats and the F18’s racing..

This equals time to catch up with mates, hang out and just not think about what could happen next….

Here at RBYC we excell at this sport, this time a minimum of thirty two RBYC members, hanging out and having fun, despite the weather! ( See above!!)

Good Sailing to the RBYC Yachts tomorrow and and for the rest of the regatta.

 

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Horseshoe Bay

 

A short sail from Townsville had us rounding the eastern tip of Magnetic Island then sailing into Horseshoe Bay. Horseshoe Bay is on the northern side of the island and has a three km long sandy beach. It’s large enough to easily accomodate the twenty plus yachts which we shared company with over the next four nights. It is also deep enough that the swell isn’t much of a bother even if you have to anchor further out.

There are four inhabited bays on Magnetic, and Horseshoe offers a range of restaurants, bars and cafe’s onshore. It’s also home to some lovely land-based accomodation, a general store and a good gelati store!

Every second and fourth Sunday there is a market on the foreshore, focussing on local handmade products, art and food. We visited and enjoyed the asian food stall. We also, once again found ourselves in the midst of a wedding, this time on the beach and providing the curious sight of groomsmen wearing formal dark suits and thongs! The guests had all been provided with pretty paper parasols to shield them from the sun, very colourful and it seemed a supremely relaxed way to enter married life. Quite in keeping with Horseshoe Bay.

Breakfast the following morning was less relaxing, as a boat circled ours several times, scruitinising our tender. Eventually Andrew went up on deck and asked the problem. Apparently the boat had had their tender stolen the previous night. It was set adrift and found by another yacht who was approaching the bay from the west. Unfortunately their outboard was gone, and it looked similar to ours. The boat owner quickly realised our motor wasn’t his, and we commiserated with him for his loss. All this on his first day of holidays!

After four lovely days, we returned to Townsville to reprovision and ready ourselves for Magnetic Island Race Week.

 

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Townsville time

The Strand, Townsville

Arriving at the Townsville Yacht Club by night was fraught with stress, so many lights! We  found our way in and settled in for the night. As early as possible the next day we sourced a marine engineer to replace our exhaust sump and to evaluate any damage which may have happened to the engine during our passage. Engine inspected and suspect parts removed we were free to wander into town.

The first person we met was Paul Wise of SV Instant Karma, a fellow member of RBYC and QCYC who had been our great guide to a decent coffee and pizza in the Whitsundays. Paul offered us a lift and true to form gave us a quick guide to the best coffee and food in Townsville! We are thinking of appointing him as our roving restaurant reviewer for the http://sailfling.info site!

Paul drove us to The Strand, the beachfront promenade of Townsville. It’s a lovely place, great parks and a really fun waterpark for kids. It wil be the host of an outdoor sculpture exibition in early September. We look forward to seeing it when we return from Magnetic Island.

Happily the ‘Eat Street’ of Townsville is just a minutes walk from the yacht club, and the coffee at Jam Corner is as good as it gets. Palmer Street is lined wth cafes and restaurants, but I especially enjoyed the fresh Thai herbs planted in the street boxes along the wayside! Fresh lemongrass is hard to find sometimes!

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Today we wandered over the bridge to the Aquarium, Reef HQ. It hosts a large reef, where boatloads of new specimens are hoisted up and directly into the site by a gantry. That’s three floors they rise! Marine researchers from James Cook University spend time here observing and filming the sealife, and occasionally cleaning the windows of the aquarium! Everyone has housework to do, no matter how glamorous their job title may be! Hopefully tomorrow the engineer will fit our missing bits and then we can get away to Magnetic Island for a few days…

 

We are now anchored at Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island. Blissful!

 

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Sailing the Capes: Whitsundays to Townsville

Gloucester Passage

 With yet another high pressure ridge forecast we decided to skip our plans for a trip to Bait Reef and to head instead to Townsville. After nearly two months we put the Whitsunday Islands behind us. We surfed north along the Whitsunday Passage, with 23-25 knots of wind, an ebb tide behind us and the engine just ticking over to keep the fridge cool. Truly exhillerating sailing! All was going swimmingly until Fling caught a rather large wave from behind and water flooded into our engine exhaust trap. The trap blew a hole in it’s roof and split the hose which connects to the engine. With the possibility of carbon monoxide flooding the back cabin, the engine was shut down completely and we sailed through the passage, one eye on the marks and the other on the depth sounder! Emergency repairs were effected by the district nurse with a roll of ”Duct Tape Bandage”, the nurse carefully dodging the still spinning prop shaft! After transiting the passage we cautiously started the engine, slipped around the corner from Montes and picked up a mooring to assess the damage. New hose clamps were fitted to the shortened hose, the engine tested again and declared fit enough for today. Following multiple phone calls to Bowen, we were advised to return to Airlie Beach as Bowen has only one Marine Engineer and he works only on outboard motors. Returning to Airlie was entirely unacceptable to us so we decided to soldier on north.

Given all the drama an evening at Montes Reef Resort was called for and we did enjoy a delightful evening and were gratified to chat with a Magnetic Island sailor who told us she was most impressed with our sail through the passage, most people “wimping out” and motoring through! We smiled and tried to look like we did that sort of thing all the time…..

Montes is a most delightful haven, out of the SE winds, very relaxed and with great food. Sailors are welcomed and on this night there were at least eight yachts at anchor in front of the resort. We enjoyed our seafood on the deck , watching the sunset.

A pod of dolphins waved us off the next morning. A nice omen we thought. We slipped across the bay, past Bowen and it’s lovely long beaches. There was almost no wind so we were grateful our temporary repairs held. In mid afternoon the breeze filled in and Fling scooted up the coast and around our second cape: Cape Upstart. We settled in longing for a swim, but a short but crazy wind kept us onboard.

Leaving again at first light we were this time farewelled by two whales, lounging around at the top of the bay. Surely another good omen?

We had deliberately left early to give ourselves the option of continuing on past Cape Bowling Green to Cape Cleveland as the forecast was predicting strong winds for the next day. We were glad we did, arriving at Cape Bowling Green with plenty of time to decide to sail the extra 25nm to Cape Cleveland, and the extra 12 to Townsville should we feel like it.

During the afternoon the winds built and we hand-steered from Cape Bowling Green to Cape Cleveland,the following sea overriding our autohelm. We saw another five groups of whales, including one which must have just passed under our bow at Cape Cleveland!

As the sun set next to Magnetic Island we made our way into Townsville and by just after dark were snug in the Townsville Yacht Club harbour.

Eleven and a half hours of sailing and just over 75 nm travelled but worth the effort, Townsville looks enticing to say the least!

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Race Week Airlie Beach

Returning from Melbourne to the Whitsundays we watched the Airlie Beach Race Week yachts making their way up the passage as our ferry whisked us along from Hamilton Island to Abel Point Marina.

Several crew from our home yacht club were already ensconced in the ”After Race Celebration ” tent ( read Bar) when we went to say hello.

Caledonia, Coorain, Redline crews were all spotted, along with other colorful locals. We particularly liked the canny behaviour of the Coorain Crew who had identical shirts to the bar staff….an opportunity for interloping no doubt will appear at some stage in the regatta! Where’s Wal and the others were not spotted in the rush.

The Wolverines were in full swing and the dance floor packed.

As a former foredeckie I admired the Fashions on the field that two local girls swanned about in.

We escaped to dinner before the post race rush and happily watched the fleet drifting about this morning as we set off to provision Fling for her next adventure.

A ”Yachties got Talent ” quest is on the agenda for tonight and we have wisely refrained from visiting. Somehow I’m not sure RBYC will cover themselves with glory in this event!

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Wishing the best of luck to the RBYC yachts racing in Queensland…

Diving whale off the Whitsundays: Neil Grimley pic.
 Congratulations to those crews who have made their way up to the Whitsundays for the tropical regatta’s. We wish you fair sailing and many adventures, just watch where you put your feet (or keels)  though!  
The whales appear to have settled in for the party season and our intrepid wildlife reporter Neil has noted twenty sightings in the last week!
See you next week at Airlie, and we are looking forward to racing at Magnetic Island with you…. even if we are in cruising mode!
Highland Fling….
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Stonehaven

A HUGE big THANK YOU to Bryan Drummond, my WordPress GURU for staying up late and finding the one missing file to make this slideshow function work!

AND A HUGE big THANK YOU to JENNY WRIGHT who ALLOWED US ACCESS TO HER SITE: http://anotherdimension2011.wordpress.com so we could try and track the problem!

When we return to the Whitsundays next week I will endeavour to fill your screen with endless slideshows of good sailing, whales and long white beaches….

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Tongue Bay

Still fiddling, please bear with these older photo’s from the Whitsundays while I learn how to make better slideshows…

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Whitehaven slideshow

This is the girls at Whitehaven Beach, such a lovely day.

 

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testing out slideshow options

This is  a testing post, please be patient Bryan’s working on making it , …. well….. work! 

 DONE!

Dear Webmaster, we have liftoff.  It’s working due to imagerotator file had to be uploaded. Now you need to create galleries which will allocate ID numbers. Then add your photos at will. Pls call to discuss

Cheers Bryan

Dear Bryan, I have removed your slideshow , just in case it may mislead people that I have sailed to all the good places you have!!

Your most worshipful website student…. KP

 

 

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Wildlife abounds…

 

 

 

This not so little fellow turned up on Dugong Beach in Cid Harbour today. Once again he was artfully captured not by us but by the ‘roving wildlife photographers’ on Zolibato!

They seem to have all the luck and joy in capturing wildlife.

Here’s their lovely boat, if you see it look out for the accompanying menagerie of wild things which seem to follow them!

 

 

We today had our own wildlife experience, as we walked from the marina into the office we came upon a 1.5 m brown snake who was casually wriggling along the pathway, striking fear into the hearts of most pedestrians!

The marina gardeners had been busy all day adding mulch to the gardens in preperation for the upcoming race week, and must have disturbed him. As we returned from the office he had been gently returned to his garden where he was settling back into the nice warm mulch……

Alsa for me, no camera!

We are heading home tomorrow for a week or so, time to touch base with our children and the house. Time to sleep in a BIG bed, have a shower in our own bathroom and to gaze into the fridge, just because it has a front opening door! Amazing how simple life’s pleasures are really…

We just hope Melbourne’s brief spell of warm weather holds on for a bit….

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Woodwark Bay

Local dolphins feeding at dusk

 

Leaving Airlie Beach after another quick trip to the markets for fresh fruit and veg, I commented to Andrew that I really wanted to see some wildlife during our stay at Woodwark Bay. Oceanic wildlife has been a bit thin on the ground lately. To it’s credit Woodwark Bay has not disappointed us!

 

Woodwark Bay, so named for the fishing lugger ”Wood Lark” is a short hop to the north of Airlie Beach.It is a large sheltered mainland bay with the benefit of being a bit more off the beaten track for tourist boats. With the Southeasterly trade winds in effect it makes a very pleasant short sail to clear Grimston Point and enter the bay. The bay is large enough to accommodate plenty of yachts without a sense of feeling crowded.

Settling in we watched a turtle in the distance, and set off in the dinghy to set our crab pot… 

Hunting and gathering…

I set to fishing….

 

And joined Alex in the exclusive club of Highland Fling crew who catch….

 totally inedible fish!!!

(Yep, a puffer fish, notoriously poisonous!)

Unsurprised by our hunting and gathering failures we reflected that it was a good thing that I had the foresight to buy a few prawns to supply the seafood component of our Paella!

 We settled into the cockpit to watch the pod of dolphins which live in the bay feeding quietly as we watched the sunset. Their breathing was audible, the area so peaceful.

Today we dinghied out to tour the bay, having spied the dolphins again during the morning. This afternoon they provided the spectacle of ‘air dancing’, leaping up several feet from the sea whilst hunting their lunch. I think they eat more often than we do and are far more effective in gathering seafood than we are! Many photo’s were snapped, mostly of water rather than the acrobatic dolphins!

Whilst dinghying we found what we at first thought to be someone’s personal utopia at the head of the bay.

 The main building was originally built as the set for the film / mini series Tusitala. It is now used as an exclusive retreat and has several other buildings. ”Woodwark Bay”  has accomodation for up to 14 people and is situated on 4000 hectares of bushland surrounded by national park.

As a couple it will set you back $4,400.00 per day with a minimum stay of four nights, your drinks and additional activities will cost extra. A private utopia for the wealthy isolationist!

Off to check the crab pot now….Who knows?  Maybe we’ll have Crab Cakes for breakfast tomorrow?

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Today’s Luxe Yacht….

 

 

As we crossed the Whitsunday Passage today we spied a yacht we had heard on the radio for the last few days.

We thought the name ‘Family Day’ to be quite cute and imagined a small cruising or charter yacht….

Not so….

 

 At 67 metres long, reputed to have cost $20 million Aus, with three crew onboard ( which we could see), and several others delivering the guests onshore, this is no cute little family boat!

If it is, I want to be adopted!!   NOW!!

The stern opens out to deliver the tender, a 25 ft vintage timber motor launch, think ”Riviera”,  or say, a James Bond style motor boat designed for fast moves and seduction.

We’d like to show you a picture but it moved too fast for us!

Here on Highland Fling we count our blessings just to be here,  at meal times we miss the extra ten or so staff to prepare and serve them,  but we do enjoy exactly the same beautiful environment that the Family Day owners do!

And nobody decides the menu except US!

I guess that makes it a Win / Win!

 

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