A contemplative Lyn with binoculars always at the ready to find rocks and reefs we are about to hit, as we pass by Blunt Island over azure waters.
Another day, another sail going from island to island through turquoise seas, nothing to do but watch the islands pass....... lifes tough, but somebody has to do it.
We spent the night on Curlew Island. We decided to give the fishing a rest now that I've proven I can actually catch one. We were also over the mess that fish cleaning makes - blood/guts all over the place, fish scales everywhere including in your sheets -(how did they get there?).
At Curlew Island the Qld mainland could just be seen on the horizon. My mobile phone showed one bar - which means I could possibly phone people. For the last 3 days and nights we have been out of range. Spoke to Dane and Nikki who wondered where the bloody hell we were. Also spoke to friends Don and Marco who had intended to meet us on the weekend at Mackay , but would have needed to be in Mackay the following day because of our new itinery meant we had to leave Mackay by friday morning at latest getting to Airlie by early next week. Unfortunately we couldn't re-arrange things so we will continue with Howie all the way to Airlie and Don and Marco can defer to November for a more relaxed cruise in warmer weather, when we come back. Sorry about that Don and Marco!
We arrived in Mackay and met Valhalla folks again, who came via a different route. Its great to catch up and swap tales. Mackay have the 'Mackay Show' on today, so we visited and had a great time. Its like a mini-Easter show. The rest of Mackay was like a ghost town as we discovered the day was a local public holiday.
One of the best parts of this trip is that Andamon has not needed any work to be done. We've been expecting a few things to wrong, this being its 'shakedown' cruise, but, apart from a seized winch which shouldn't be a problem to fix once we get to Airlie, and a dodgy toilet because yours truly stupidly expected it to flush away 'Wetone', nothing has gone wrong. The toilet seems to have finally sorted itself out and is now working fine. There are no leaks, the engine uses no oil, the electrics are fine and the rigging just sits there making no noises apart from the occasional 'groan' which translates into the hull via the lee cap shoud and we haven't quite worked out how to eliminate it.
Tomorrow we commence on our final leg of the journey - a short hop to Airlie via Goldsmith, Lindaman and Hamilton Islands. We are now in a hurry, but because we will be coming back here over the next 5 years we will have plenty of time to explore these places in more detail then.
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.