Thursday, 29 August 2013

Central Queensland Islands

Well we are lucky that Em keeps the boat well stocked with food and cooks gourmet meals because we haven't caught a crab or fish despite lots of trying. Not to worry, it's fun having a go.

We've covered a bit of water lately. First stop was Port Clinton where we deployed the crab pot to no avail. Lots of strange swirling currents in this part of Shoalwater bay kept us looking intently at the water ahead as we entered the Port.





Trying to catch dinner

Paddleboard in the anchorage
From here we went up the coast for a night at beautiful Pearl Bay where we enjoyed swimming off the beach and watching the scenery.

Next stop was Middle percy Island which was just amazing. We anchored off another beautiful white sandy swimming beach after a fast sail with a following breeze and numerous whale sightings. We also enjoyed some great dolphin action along the way with a pod including 2-3 young ones.

Dolphin Watching

Aratika 2 at anchor

Percy Island Coconut

The island was a great stop and we walked the 3 1/2 km up to the homestead where caretakers and leaseholders live. Here they farm veges, goats, have chickens for eggs and make honey. It is an island paradise and we really enjoyed the warm hospitality and cup of tea at the homestead.
Aratika 2 Crew


Percy Island Homestead
Ava and a local


Percy Island West Bay

Down at the beach there is a large A Frame structure with a BBQ and fireplace and small signs from thousands of yachts that have passed this way. The girls got motivated and we made an Aratika II plaque for the hut.
A Frame

From Middle Percy we sailed a short distance of 20 miles to Digby Island where we had a great afternoon ashore at the beach and were the only boat anchored in a lagoon ringed by three islands.
Beach to ourselves


The next day we sailed to Mackay, winding through many ships waiting to load coal at the massive Hay Point terminal, to arrive at the Marina and after 40 mins waiting for an oil tanker to depart we were able to enter the harbour and tie up.

Luckily this ship is at anchor!

The next few days will be a busy time of maintenance, washing, shopping and school before heading into the Southern Whitsunday Islands.


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Pancakes and Marshmallows

Pancake Creek was a nice stopover for us for a few days. We enjoyed the walk up to the Bustard Head Lighthouse with great views along the coastline North and South.

Bustard Head Light

Coastal View

While in Pancake Creek we also enjoyed the company from some folks on other boats who are also travelling the coast.  Of course we also had the obligatory pancakes in Pancake Creek.

Our luck at fishing didn't get much better unless you consider D'Arcy catching a Stonefish as success!!

From here we sailed up to Rosslyn Bay, arriving well after dark. The sail North was great with a good breeze and the boat sailing nicely wing and wing with the following wind. Off Gladstone we passed through the 80 odd ships offshore waiting to load coal which was pretty amazing.


Rosslyn Bay was a good provisioning stop for us with the marina providing a courtesy car to visitors that allowed us to do a monster shop to restock the boat.

From Rosslyn Bay it was off to Great Keppel Island where beautiful beaches and crystal clear water awaited. To the kids delight we met two other sailing families with children so it was a fantastic time of playing with other kids and even a birthday party ashore for one young bloke who turned 6. A fire on the beach, BBQ and toasting marshmallows along with paddle boarding and swimming led D'Arcy to declare it the best party ever!

5 kids on a paddle board

Evening BBQ

Marshmallow Toasting

We have now sailed North again into Port Clinton near Shoalwater Bay and tonight we are having our first go at catching mud crabs.


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Coral

After leaving Hervey Bay we sailed the 45nm North To Bundaberg for a quick overnight stop before making the journey further North 60nm to Lady Musgrave Island. Lady Musgrave was our first Great Barrier Reef experience and it didn't disappoint us at all.

Sunset at Lady Musgrave

Coral island

Our first Barrier Reef Snorkel

We sailed into the coral cay through the narrow entrance channel and anchored with just the reef protecting us from the ocean outside. The water was crystal clear and we could easily see the coral bommies we needed to avoid while anchoring. The island itself is a beautiful coral fringed island with a reef full of fish, corals, turtles and rays. The girls were bursting to get into the water for a snorkel which we did within hours of arrival. It was great to see the fish life on the reef and to encounter two green turtles on our first snorkel. Even better was to see the girls delight at being under the water in this amazing environment. The following days we spent snorkelling and exploring the island.

Aquanauts




Ava and Green Turtle (Can you see it?)




On land the island was home to various birds and the incredible Pisonia tree that actually traps nesting Noddys and then uses their decaying carcasses as fertiliser!

Outside the reef edge we regularly saw Humpback whales cruise past as we sat snugly at anchor.

After a couple of days enjoying the amazing weather, scenery and wildlife we set sail again this morning. We had a speedy sail to windward to arrive 45nm later at Pancake Creek where we are anchored tonight. We are looking forward to exploring the area over the coming days.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Fraser Island

While in Mooloolaba we caught up with a few friends which was really nice. This included a night up in the Sunshine coast hinterland at an amazing house built by Emilia and her family. The view to the coast was fantastic and the girls loved swimming in the pool. We did a great walk here at Mapleton Falls in amongst some tall timber forest. We also visited the local Underwater World while in Mooloolaba and saw a great array of marine life there.

Hinterland Walk
Pool with a View
On Saturday we sailed North again about 60nm for the Wide Bay bar and Fraser Island. This bar is pretty amazing and covers a few miles of breaking waves with a winding path of waypoints through the sandbars and waves. The final section is known as the Mad Mile and with a 2m swell it proved true to its name. A bit like being in a washing machine and after about 40 mins on the bar it was great to be in the calm water of the Sandy Straits inside Fraser Island.

We motored up the Straits in superb but now windless weather to Gary's Anchorage for the night. A run ashore in the dinghy and we were met with signs warning of crocodiles so any thoughts of swimming were quickly shelved.


Dawn at Gary's Anchorage

The next day we continued our way through the winding and shallow Sandy Straits up to Kingfisher Bay for the night. There is a resort here and they welcome yachties so we dinghied in for a swim in the pool where we were sure of encountering no crocs!

The Sandy Straits are full of marine life with numerous turtles, Indo Pacific Humpback Dolphins and various wader birds sighted along the way.

On Monday we sailed under spinnaker up into Platypus Bay where we had an amazing encounter with some Humpback Whales. The whales here are spending time in the bay and actually swim around the boats so we had whales underneath and all around us as we drifted with the wind! This is an amazing place to see the whales as they are not travelling through the bay but instead just spending time before moving off again. Check out the video below.



video

Spinnaker run up into Platypus Bay
School Underway
We are now in Urangan at Hervey Bay for a few days of catching up with friends and school lessons. It's 24 degrees and not a cloud in the sky!