Aphelion Sailing Adventures

16 September 2009 | Sydney
13 August 2009 | Whitsundays
08 August 2009 | Airlie Beach
01 August 2009 | Airlie Beach
27 July 2009 | Hamilton Island
26 July 2009 | Hamilton Island
25 July 2009 | Nara Inlet
24 July 2009 | Cid Harbour
23 July 2009 | Cid Harbour
22 July 2009 | Shaw Island
21 July 2009 | Brampton Island
15 July 2009 | MacKay
14 July 2009 | Whitsundays
13 July 2009
12 July 2009 | Middle Percy
10 July 2009
08 July 2009
02 July 2009 | Gladstone
01 July 2009 | Lady Musgrave Island

Back in Sydney

16 September 2009 | Sydney
Peter and Elizabeth
Well, here we are back in Sydney for a few weeks having a rest from the hardship of looking at beaches and sunsets.
After John left us (a few days after Jenny) we spent a couple of days at Nara relaxing and preparing the boat to be left at Airlie for the month. Our flight back to Sydney was interesting as I looked out of the window and watched all of our "waypoints" that had taken us a couple of months to travel flash past in minutes. Maybe flying at 1000kms per hour and sipping champers is the way to travel.
We will go back to Airlie in a week or so and hope the water has warmed up so we can do some snorkelling and swimming.
Next month Aphelion will come back and we will spend a few months aboard in Sydney and Pittwater before we embark on our next adventure, what ever that turns out to be. Perhaps Tango in Argentina or a small studio in Paris
We may or may not update this blog in the future but we won't bother you with anymore "update" reminders.
We both hope you enjoyed reading our diary and sharing our travels.
Take care and stay safe. Peter and Elizabeth

White Skin, Sailing, Stingrays, Feet but no whales.

16 August 2009
Jenny Gilding
Getting out of rat race Sydney was a pleasant experience for us. After a two hour flight we arrived at Hamilton airport with a child saying "Daddy you can get a beer now". After inspecting the hill we were meant to walk up with our two backpacks (filled with 7 bottles of champagne) we decided to hitch a buggy ride. At the top of the hill we were greeted by two very brown and relaxed looking friends. My white skin looked out of place to the beautiful tanned locals.

We arrived at the hamilton marina and opened a bottle of champagne to welcome our arrival. We went from drinking on the boat and went to the local pub to drink some more and soak up the lovely sunset. We then went and had our bbq dinner while listening to a Jimmy Barnes identical and watching a man doing a Peter Garrett dance. With the sydney coldness out of my veins I decided to get into holiday mode by buying the biggest ice-cream possible. We went back to the boat for our first night full of drunk skinny dippers and bad heavy metal music.

After a lovely breakfast we set sail to Whitehaven Beach. We were greeted on the beach by the whitest of sands and water so clear we could see stingrays, turtles and fish. Elizabeth and I decided to walk/jog on the beach while the boys camped under a tree and soaked up the Whitsunday sun rays.

Next location was Nara Inlet which looked like something out of Canada. Nestled away in the Whitsunday was the most beautiful location which played host to an aboriginal cave which we explored the next morning along with 20 other people and a local who made me nervous by wandering off track thinking he was a character out of Crocodile Dundee. We then made our way off to Airlie Beach. Pete got so excited to announce he could sail "Aphelion". I was hoping to see some whales that Pete and Elizabeth had seen the previous day. John got his workout for the year in undoing the ropes under Peter's strictest instructions. I not knowing what was ahead of me took some Kwell tablets and that was the end of my sailing adventure (Kwells will knock you out in no time). So while John, Pete and Elizabeth were sailing throughout the Whitsundays doing 6 knots, I was passed out on the bed downstairs. However I woke in time to see us approaching Airlie Beach and the thousand boats on the harbour participating in race week. As the wind picked up, Pete decided it would be best to make our base in the Marina for the next two days.

We set off to check out Airlie Beach which is full of backpackers and more backpackers. We had a lovely swim in the lagoon and then set off to the Yacht club to check out the locals. That night we were ravenous and decided on Cactus Jacks were curb our hunger. With garlic bread, corn chips, fajitas, cocktails and an all you can eat chilli we were stuffed pigs by the end of the night slowly making our way back to the marina. We had our best night's sleep trying to digest all that Mexican (and one person wasn't affected by all that chilli - a miracle).

On the morning of my last day we decided to do a scenic walk into Cannonvale which inspired Pete and John to buy property. We went past schools, million dollar properties, a gorgeous labrador pup and an annoying real estate agent. After a yummy bbq lunch, the men watched "We Were Soldiers" and Elizabeth and I went for some retail therapy. We should get shares in Cotton On clothing. We walked along the boardwalk back the marina and saw Pete and John sipping a cold beer on the verandah of the Marina bar.

My last meal was a lovely fish meal that Elizabeth prepared accompanied by rose to cool us down. Since it was such a romantic setting we all of us on the water in the Whitsundays we decided to watch "Tango Lesson" and think of future adventures - Paris, Argentina watch out.

P.S Sorry Pete for my big feet getting in the way of your every move.

Wind, Whales, Wine and Yanks

13 August 2009 | Whitsundays
Katie Larson, onboard Aphelion with husband Cameron Larson August 8-13
Guest contrributor, Katie Larson, onboard Aphelion with husband Cameron Larson August 8-13

After a stop in Sydney, Brisbane and a delayed JetStar flight into Proserpine, we joined Elizabeth and Peter late Saturday evening at Abel Point Marina in Airlie Beach. We first talked of this trip when aboard Aphelion in Sydney Harbour New Year's Day. Hard to believe we're here and that it's almost over with our flight back to Los Angeles, less than 4 days away. But, back to our first day on Aphelion...
We awoke Sunday to beautiful skies and excitement, pulling out of the marina a bit past 10:00am. The wind was up and so were the sails. A couple of hours later we were anchored off our first Whitsunday Island, Hook Island, in the Stonehaven Bay. It was time for lunch. Let me digress and state right now that Elizabeth is a great menu planner and cook. And she's versatile! Meals were made with the stove, the microwave, the toaster, the Weber, the barbecue and a propane camp stove. From stir fry to eggs on toast, all was great. Thank you for feeding us well and often. Sous chef Peter did a very admirable job on the grills, by the way. We also had great champagne, VB, gin and tonics, as well as great Sauvignon Blanc wines with each dinner.
After a windy night in Stonehaven, we tried to sail up and over Hook Island to Whitehaven Beach. The seas were a bit rough at the top, so we turned around, heading back past Hayman and the bottom of Hook Island to the beautiful Nara Inlet. P&E had been here a few times and we were very happy they decided to try it again, as we loved it. We visited the Aboriginal caves mentioned in a past blog and enjoyed our gin and tonics on the deck in the middle of the gorgeous scenery.
Tuesday we left Nara and motored along the bottom of Hook Island. The wind wasn't right to get the sails up, but we enjoyed the trip through turquoise seas and past wooded islands. As we passed through the narrow passage between Hook and Whitsunday Islands, Peter said "Now it's time for the whales". And just a few minutes later, there they were! At least three whales were at play, splashing and fluking and diving. We turned the boat for a closer view and enjoyed the whale frolics for about 20 minutes. Perfect!
Next was a visit to Whitehaven Beach where there were lots of backpackers and people from the island resorts. Helicopters and seaplanes were there, too. We had a walk and a swim and it was our first chance to admire Aphelion from the shore. What a beauty! After lunch onboard, we decided to sail for Cid Harbour for the evening. Around the bottom of Whitsunday Island, with Hamilton in sight, Peter called to see if there was an open berth for the night. We were in luck! We pulled into GN21 on Hamilton Island for the night. Dinner and drinks in town, the boat plugged in and laundry done.
Wednesday we rented a golf cart/buggy and toured the island before casting off into the calmest seas that P&E had seen their entire trip. While there was no wind for sailing, it made for a very comfortable ride on the front deck, of which Elizabeth and I took full advantage. As we approached South Molle Island, we couldn't raise them on the radio and no one appeared to be onshore. It reminded me a bit of a scary movie where you wonder why in the world those people are going on an island that appears to be deserted when there is scary music playing. Peter and Cam went ashore to check things out at the newly named "Koala Adventure Island". We lost sight of them but did hear a chain saw - visions of cigar smoking koalas attacking Peter and Cam with chainsaws... They did return, though, with not much to report. The four of us took the dinghy in, sat around the pool for awhile and had a swim. Elizabeth found out that only 8 people were staying at the resort and the bar wouldn't open until 6p. With that frightening report, we left. Calm seas over to Cid Harbour and whales twice along the way.
It's our last night aboard and we can't believe it's gone so fast. I just came in from looking at the Milky Way, the Southern Cross and stars that go right to the horizon. This has been a great time with dear friends and we will be talking about this for years. We look forward to reading more in the blogs to come. Thanks, Elizabeth and Peter for sharing Aphelion with us.

A Week in Airlie

08 August 2009 | Airlie Beach
Elizabeth
We had so much we wanted to do in Airlie that we decided to go onto the marina. We were already booked in for the 7th and 8th August so we chanced getting a berth earlier. We were lucky as Race Week is coming up and there are lots of yachts preparing for the big event.
We love Airlie Beach, the constant stream of happy backpackers who contribute to the economy and the feeling of excitement as well as the laid back lifestyle. We met a number of people that had come to Airlie years ago for a holiday and were still here either driving taxis or landscape gardening. It is so easy to meet people, you just sit down with a beer and say "G'day".
The week went quickly and we threw ourselves into the sights, the bars ( Magnum was one of Peter's favourites), the restaurants.....Shipwrecked, Cactus Jack where they serve the best frozen Margaritas.
We hired a car for a few days and explored the surrounding suburbs and towns.......Prosperpine ( 10 pubs in the main street and a fabulous shop called Colour Me Crazy with the best jewellery and unusual fashions), Cannonvale, Shute Harbour and Jubilee Pocket where we visited our property which I had never seen before.
Once again, Peter couldn't resist the urge to check out the real estate market. We saw some incredible homes and apartments, some of which were originally $ 1.7 million and were now selling for $950000 (Interesting)
We caught up with old friends from Phlat Chat and Windvane and met new sailors, Tom and Nancy from Bloodhound and Ian and Sharon from Kickback. The interchange of experiences is always interesting and a lot of fun!
A big highlight was the Saturday local markets at the beach where you could find fresh produce, clothing, jewellery, local bric-a-brac and plants. We were able to pick up a few fresh products to take on board in preparation for our visitors from Long Beach California, Cam and Katie, who will be arriving tomorrow. We are looking forward to showing them the Whitsunday Islands. Let's hope that the winds and seas die down!!!!

We're Here

01 August 2009 | Airlie Beach
Elizabeth
We left Hamilton Island hoping to make it to Airlie Beach but once again the" wind gods" were against us. We have had four days of 30 knot winds which will continue until Monday or Tuesday. So we decided to return to the shelter of Cid Harbour. We took advantage of some downtime to clean the barbecue, catch up on some varnishing and repair the washing machine. How nice to have that convenience! The following day we headed off to Nara Inlet in search of a quiet anchorage but the swell was rolling in. We bobbed up and down like a cork so we moved on and finally anchored in Refuge Bay. This bay was originally known as Shark Bay, spawning grounds for Hammerheads. I certainly won't be swimming here.
The following morning, despite the howling winds and choppy seas, we braved the elements and headed to Airlie Beach. We couldn't believe we were in the Whitsundays. The waves were crashing across the bow and it was sometimes difficult to keep Aphelion on course. We only had a third of the headsail out and we were still being propelled along at 8 knots.

In the distance we could see the islands of North and South Molle and Daydream. Once we rounded Mandalay Point the seas began to abate and the rest of the journey was more comfortable. The approach to Airlie Beach is magnificent, with the high mountains of Conway Ridge dotted with houses and apartments providing a picturesque setting for our entry into the harbour. We needed to be very vigilant in anchoring because the depths around Airlie Beach are very shallow at low tide.

We couldn't believe that we had finally reached our " psychological" destination. We thought we would never get here. We walked along the Bicentennial Walkway from Abel Point Marina to the main centre where we found coffee lounges, restaurants, fast food eateries, boutiques and facilities to promote tourism. We ran into Brian and Wendy who joined us for lunch at Shipwrecked and dinner at the local yacht club. It was a wonderful way to begin our stay at Airlie Beach.

Hamilton Island

27 July 2009 | Hamilton Island
Elizabeth
Wonderful news! Our headsail could be repaired. We left it with Tony for the day and by late afternoon he had stitched the base and helped us to reinstall it. We had four wonderful days here. One of the highlights were the many walking trails which allowed you to explore the island by foot. On one occasion we chose the Resort Lookout which is the second highest point on the island and drops off to sheer cliff faces, revealing an excellent view of the main resort area, marina village, airport and surrounding islands. We missed the turn-off on the way back to the marina which made our journey long and tedious. On other days, we walked to the resort areas, privately owned properties, checked out the different pools and bars and even investigated apartments for sale. ( Peter can't help himself!!!!!) Along the waterfront a huge and rather spectacular yacht club is being built and should be ready for a "soft opening" to accommodate Race Week in a few weeks time. We realised that a great deal of maintenance and tender loving care goes into keeping the island looking so pristine.

Most evenings were spent at the local pub meeting new people or catching up with those we had met along the way....Terry and Jane from Perth, Brian and Wendy on " Windvane", Peter and Paula and their friends from Canberra on "Valhalla". A real surprise was meeting Barry who was aboard a game fishing cruiser which was in the pen next to us. He recognised Aphelion and told us that he knew David Bass who built her. What a small world!!

One of the things that I will remember about the island is the number of different types of birds.... lorrikeets, crows, currawongs, cockatoos, finches. In the early evening their bird calls are amazing. What is so wonderful to see is how well they interact with people. You will often see them perched on tables sharing food. They are not intimidated at all.

Our final day was spent fuelling, getting water on board, cleaning and preparing for our departure the following morning. That evening we decided to dress for dinner and dined at Romano's, an Italian Restaurant. Unfortunately, it was very noisy and the food wasn't particularly good. Nevertheless, we still had a good time. We'll be returning to Hamilton Island to pick up our friends, John and Jenny, in a few weeks time.

The best part of our stay here was finding out that Richelle's ultrasound went well. Mia will have a baby brother or sister in February. We will be grandparents again!!!!!

A Ripper of a Day

26 July 2009 | Hamilton Island
Elizabeth
As we left Nara Inlet there were some heavy showers and big squalls. We raised the mainsail and the headsail and headed towards Hamilton Island. The wind was on the nose again so we had to tack. With the wind hitting us between 25 and 30 knots we were flying along at about 8 knots. Our exhilaration soon dissipated when we heard a loud bang and the noise of the headsail tearing all along the lower edge. The foot of the sail was still connected to the sheets, laying on the deck but the headsail itself was flying as free as a bird!!! We quickly furled in the wildly flapping headsail and started the engine to motorsail to Hamilton behind Cid Island.
We managed to get a berth at the marina for a couple of days, hopefully no more as fees are quite expensive.
We said goodbye to Scott who caught a flight back to Sydney. We are now waiting for a sailmaker to discuss our problems tomorrow.( any donations greatly accepted).In the meantime we will take advantage of the wonderful facilities offered here.

Nara Inlet

25 July 2009 | Nara Inlet
Elizabeth
It was cold again. The wind was really blowing as we tried to get the anchor up. We headed for Nara Inlet which is part of Hook Island. We were doing between 6 and 7 knots in very choppy waters but it was good, once again, to not have the engine running. We were sailing well!
After anchoring we explored the area where Aboriginal cave paintings still exist. The National Parks have done a great job in promoting and preserving the area on behalf of the Aboriginal people with excellent signage, an audio presentation by the Ngara people and easier access to the cave. We searched for more walking tracks but couldn't find any. The Inlet is really a magnificent spot. It also brought back fond memories of when we visited Nara with Dennis and Barbara on "Southerly Change"

Scott's back for two days

24 July 2009 | Cid Harbour
Elizabeth
We left Cid Harbour and made our way to Hamilton Island to pick up Scott who will be aboard for the weekend. We experienced winds of 25 knots with the tides running against us. We managed to hook up onto a mooring and take the dinghy across some very choppy waters to Hamilton.
While we waited for Scott's arrival, we explored the Marina Village. It has the atmosphere of a tiny town with facilities that include a bank, a post office, newsagency, florist, numerous restaurants, a nightclub, a pub and much more. Several bareboat charter companies operate from offices around the harbour. The island is both a resort and a resort town with permanent residents. It's a very busy place with people scooting around in buggies. Visitors to the Hamilton Marina pay a mooring fee and then have complete access to island amenities, including sports facilities.
The flight was on time and it was good to see Scott again, looking relaxed and happy to be back on board.
We actually sailed back to Cid Harbour. The winds were perfect and it was glorious to not hear the sound of the engine running. We tucked Aphelion safely into the harbour as strong winds were predicted for the evening and the following day. Chicken cooked on the barbecue and a bottle of Savignon Blanc finished off an almost perfect day!

Cid Harbour

23 July 2009 | Cid Harbour
Elizabeth
We left Shaw Island and made our way to Cid Harbour. The sun was shining, the water was once again crystal clear and the most beautiful colour. We sailed between Dent and Hamilton Island. There seemed to be much more activity on the water... jet skis, motor boats, catamarans and lots of yachts. We even saw a Jetstar aircraft land on Hamilton Island. It is really strange to see so much development after coming from such peaceful and isolated islands.
Cid Harbour is a large harbour which is very popular with yachts, catamarans and campers. There are several sandy beaches which have barbecue, camping and toilet facilities. The beaches are very rocky which don't allow for pleasant walks but a family still managed to have a game of cricket. The water was so still that night we could have almost been on a marina. It looked magical with all the millions of stars and the many anchor lights from boats in the harbour.
Vessel Name: Aphelion
Vessel Make/Model: 60ft F/g Cutter
Hailing Port: Sydney
Crew: Peter and Elizabeth
About:
Peter and Elizabeth are living aboard the beautiful 60Ft F/G yacht "Aphelion". (Refer photo albums). Our goal is to continue sailing in Australian waters, visiting special, secret and exotic destinations including the Whitsundays. [...]
Aphelion's Photos - Main
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Sailing with Aphelion

Who: Peter and Elizabeth
Port: Sydney