16/06/08, Curlew Island
Two water nymphs frolicking in the crystal clear waters of Percy Islands. Andamon is behind.
Just when you think the tropics is a myth, the weather turns warm, so warm in fact we had our first swim at Middle Percy. Thats Howie and me (Howie's the bald one).
We tried to walk around the Island but it is closed off as much of it is privately leased. We found a plaque on rock commemorating Mathew Flinders who was here in 1802, and visited the A-frame shrine, took lots of photos and had a beautiful sail to the next port of call Curlew Island. These islands can be seen all over the horizon and are grouped, e.g. the Duke group, the Beverly group, etc. Middle Percy is one of 3 called 'the Percies'. The interesting thing is that because there are no resorts anywhere they are unknown. Despite being quite large, they aren't as picturesque as the Whitsundays and many are bald, rocky and barren. However they all have sandy beaches and each has their own personality.
We did finally catch 2 fish at Middle Percy, both whiting which we ate that niight. However, we failed to get a photo of the fish being caught, and then forgot to take a photo of these fish on the dining table!. No record at all, but it did happen.
15/06/08, Middle Percy Island
Howard holds fish down while Lyn, in a most disconcerting way, vigirously decapitates it.
Don't get excited, we didn't actually catch this fish. It was a gift.
We had a great sail north, only about 20nm, and we put the anchor down at Cape Townshend without a soul in site - perfect solitude. Whilst enjoying a bundy and coke or 3, a fishing boat with 2 on board came up and anchored about 50m away. ?!?! why so close??... there goes our peace we thought. Afer an hour or so we realise they weren't fishing, they were cleaning and scaling what must have been a lot of fish, as it turned out their catch for the day. At this point we had our rod out the back and as usual were catching nothing.
Howard says, 'I bet if we ask we'll get a free fish'. Lyn says , 'I'll ask what bait they are using', Lyn figuring this is a less direct method of procuring oursleves a fish. She yells out, and they yell out 'squid', and we realise the bread we were using just wouldn't do. Lyn then took the rod and re-cast the line whilst acting both sassy and vulnerable, whilst Howie and I kept a low profile, and next thing the 2 fisherman up anchor heading our way - it worked!
'Do you want a fish' they yell, 'Yes please' our response. These guys had caught 49 red emporer and showed us their huge esky full of these sought after delicacies. After handing us a fish, they also gave us some squid - what a deal.
Howie went to work, scaling this huge fish. Lyn, with worrying enthusiasm, put on her gardening gloves and took a knife to it, one hour in the BBQ wrapped in foil and we had the best fish meal we've ever had.
We also had no-one else around which added to the magic, at times like this you look around at night and you may as well be on another planet.
Next day we sailed to Middle Percy Island. This Island is somewhat famous because it is a really popular stop-over point for yachties heading north and there is a A-frame hut full of memorabillia that everyone visits.
This day was not so good for me, I wasn't feeling well after the previous big night out (lots of fish needs lots of wine with it) and the skies and seas had turned grey. When does it start getting tropical?
So still, my perfect fishing record is maintained. Still undeterred, we will try again tomorrow to catch our own fish - we have squid as bait now!
14/06/08, Townshend Island
Lyn and Andamon enjoy the late afternoon stillness at one of the most picturesque anchorages at Pearl Bay.
Pearl Bay, north of Yeppoon is a wonderfully scenic stopover, with high hills covered by pines, and pretty islands scattered just off the coast also covered by pines. We shared this anchorage with about 6 other yachts. The bay itself is tucked around a corner away from the trade winds so has been a calm and still (i.e. not rocking)stopover.
It is quite amazing how cool it is here. We are further north from Brisbane than Brisbane is from Sydney, but we are still wearing fleeces and long pants throughout the day. I do not know whether the trade winds, which are always South-East this time of the year, are particularly cold for us or they are always this cold. One thing is for sure is that we had envisiged tropical balmy weather and we are not getting it, in fact the warmest we've had was around the goldcoast when we were always in t-shirts.
We left the following morning for Cape Townshend on the northermost part of Townshend Island. Valhalla left before us and headed towards other islands, so we will catch them again in Mackay.
Trolled for most of the day, caught some seaweed which at least had the real rachet screaming , making things exciting until we realised it was'nt a fish.
13/06/08, Pearl Bay
Howard and Andamon enjoy the solitude of a Yeppon sunset. Note amazing Geology in background.
Howie, a sailing friend from Cronulla Sailing Club, arrives from Sydney with tales of cold miserable weather down there. He has 2 huge bags full of clothes and stuff and we figure that, as being a ladies man, he must make sure he always looks good.
The five of us (incl. Valhalla crew) pile into a marina courtesy car (free - other marinas take note) we drive into Yeppoon town and buy food and drink. We have to restock on Bundy rum, as since we visited the factory Lyn has taken a liking and supplies are critically low. Yeppoon seems a great town, it has a decent sailing club, and it seems most houses have views of the ocean and islands. The marina , like all that we visit in Qld is new with great facilities, e.g. restaurants and bars and chandlery, we have nothing like this in NSW.
Next morning we leave at 6:00am with Valhalla, set sails and head north to Pearl Bay about 40nm away. This time Andamon took an early lead and after a few hours Valhalla was a speck on the horizon behind us, revenge at last.
Trolled all day - no fish.
Some friendly locals
We left Cape Capricorn for a champagne ride to Yepoon. We are now sailing in warmer waters, with islands all over the horizon. We sailed around Great Keppel Island and would have like to have anchored there but we had to be in Yeppoon to clean the boat for our next guest , Howie, who arrives tomorrow.
Finally found some friendly dolphins who played games around the bows.
Trolled all day, but managed to keep my perfect fishing record.
11/06/08, Cape Capricorn
'Valhalla' pulling out all stops to beat 'Andamon'
Luckily Port Bundaberg has a fantastic marina with nice facilities, as we stayed an extra 2 nights due to the weather (again), i.e. strong winds and rain. However we used the time productively by visiting the Bundaberg rum plant as well as visiting some surrounding towns. We did this Peter and Paula from 'Valhalla', and had a great time.
When we finally left Bundaberg, we were accompanied with strong sou-easterlies taking us to our next stop, Pancake Creek, near Bustard Head, so named because Captain Cook shot a bustard (large bird) here in May 1770. (Yes I didn't know we had bustards either - maybe they are extinct now)
Though this leg was a little depresssing with grey gloomy skies and grey seas, at least we had the wind directly behind. We left at the same time as Valhalla and were always close by. Being a monohull, Valhalla sailed straight to Pancake creek, but being a cat we tacked downwind (i.e. zig zagged) on a series of broad reaches because cats sail very fast on this angle. So we were very surprised when at each zig or zag we kept passing behind Valhalla, as everyone knows cats are much faster than monohulls. Clearly this was upsetting Lyn who suggested that they probably had their engine on as this was the only explanation for their brilliant speed, though I quickly responded that Peter would never think of such a thing. In the end we got to Pancake creek first only by sneaking between some offshore rocks and the mainland, wheras Valhalla decided to take the safe route and go outside the rocks. Later he admitted to having the engine on for 2 hours - only to recharge the batteries - and he ran it in neutral without the prop spinning - oh yeh for sure.
Next day we kept going but this time Valhalla left earlier than us and we really didn't see them all day. Not much to report for the day, more grey skies and quite a bit of rain as well, very choppy seas - not very pleasant. We are both staying overnight at Cape Capricorn, so named because it lies directly on the Tropic of Capricorn, a tiny little indentation on the coast but with strangely calm seas (no swells), so sleeping wasn't too bad. These last 2 destinations have meant we had no mobile or internet coverage - first time this has happened. strangely though we had excellent television coverage and were able to watch the State of Origin game, which as it turned out wasn't worth watching.