05/09/2012, Shaw Island, Near Burning Point
We left Scawfell Island at a "leisurely" hour: 0700. We could have left later but Mary Margaret wanted to get to our next anchorage early in the afternoon. We had thought we would be going to Thomas Island but by 0900 the winds had picked up and were blowing 20 knots from the SE. At 20 knots, we had read that the anchorage there would be rolly. We have had our share of rolly anchorages so we opted to go a bit further and make our anchorage at the SW side of Shaw Island. It is well protected from the swells that typically wrap around many of the islands that lie off Queensland.
It was a great sail as our heading was more WNW than NW so the SE winds were perfect for a wing and wing configuration and we really did not have to keep trimming the sails as we went. While the winds were still behind us (we were running with the wind), they behaved themselves and we were able to make 6.5 knots through the water. We actually went only about 6 to 5.5 knots over the ground since we were bucking a 0.5 to 1.0 current most of the time. However, it was really nice to be sailing and not have the noise of the engine growling in the background.
As we made our passage, S/V Miss Behaving slowly approached us from behind. We were basically on the same course. When it came close to us, I called Justine on the VHF radio and discovered that they were heading to Lindeman Island, which is just north of Shaw. From there, they will be going to Hamilton Island since his wife's mother, Dot, will be leaving them from there.
Miss Behaving is a 55 foot monohull and they were flying their Yankee and Jib in a wing in wing configuration with no main. They were making about 0.1 to 0.2 knots more than us and slowly cut across our stern to pass us. It was a pretty sight to behold. We hope to bump into them again somewhere in the Whitsundays.
As we started to pass some of the southernmost islands of the Whitsunday group, it started to look more and more like the British Virgin Islands. We think the BVI's is one of the best, if not the best sailing grounds in the world. It typically has winds in the 15 to 20 knot range, there are numerous islands with great anchorages, wonderful snorkeling and dive spots, and if you want fine restaurants and marinas, you can find that too. From what we have read about the Whitsundays, it sounds like you can have it all here also!
About 1400 we complete our 44 nm run and pulled into our anchorage. There was just one other catamaran here. After the last two anchorages having about 7 or 8 other boats, this was sheer bliss. While we love to socialize with other cruisers, we really look forward to having an anchorage to ourselves and chillin' as we enjoy the solitude and the raw beauty by ourselves. The other boat is about ¼ mile from us so it is like we have the whole place to ourselves.
As an added benefit, it I take the computer up to the helm and plug in our wifi dongle, we can also get Internet here. Man, are we in seventh heaven or what! If the Internet holds tomorrow, I will start to upload and post the various photos we have taken since we left Keppel Bay Marina. I have a lot to post so tomorrow promises to be a busy day...
05/08/2012, Anchored At Refuge Bay, Scawfwll Is., AU
We rested today, getting ready to move on to our next anchorage tomorrow. We think we will be heading off to Thomas Island, which is just a bit over 30 nm from us. Thus, tomorrow should be a short sail.
Thomas is part of the southern group of the Whitsundays. It will have taken us three weeks to get to the Whitsundays from Bundaberg but we have just dinged along, not being in any hurry. We are thinking that we will just spend a day or so at Thomas Island and then move on to just north of Whitsunday Island where the water is clear and the snorkeling is great! We so miss our daily swims.
We are trying to time our arrival for Friday or Saturday. My thinking is the Whitsundays are chalked full of charter boats and that those that have been there will be returning to their base marinas then and those that are starting will not be making out to where we want to be until after the weekend. That is my theory, at least. I sure hope the theory holds up since we want to get a good anchorage and use that as base for a while. We can then use our dinghy to go to many of the various reefs in the area where the diving is supposed to be good.
Australia has a dumb regulation that if you take your dinghy more than 2 nm from your boat, it has to be registered with the government. Yeah, right! Going two nm is like spitting into the ocean. You just do it and don't even think about it. If the water police (yes, they are really called that in this country) should stop us, I will just be a dumb foreign yachty and hope that will allow me to avoid the fine. We shall see
05/07/2012, Anchored At Refuge Bay, Scawfwll Is., AU
Once again we had a 60 nm sail in front of us and with anticipated light winds, this meant we were up at 0530 and had the anchor weighed at 0600. For the first hour we pretended that we were a power yacht and motored with one engine making 6 knots at 2600 RPMs. In about an hour, the winds freshened up a bit so we turned into the wind and put up the sails.
As what we are learning to be standard conditions along the eastern coast of Australia for this time of year, the winds were behinds us, from the SE, as we motored sailed to the NW. Our apparent wind was 4 to 7 knots and we averaged about 6.5 knots running against a ¾ knot current. Our sails were in a wing and wind configuration.
S/V Silver Lining II had weighed anchor a few minutes before us and we watched them slowly veer to the east of us. Our destination was Scawfell Island while Paul had mentioned that they would be going to Digby Island. However, in a few hours we watched as Silver Lining sailed past Digby Island and followed a heading to Prudhoe Island, which is a bit NW of Digby. By now they were about 4 nm to our east and we lost sight of them.
The weather and seas were great and around 1500 we were approaching Scawfell Island. However, as we did, we watched three other sailboats converging on the island and a huge super tanker heading in a direction that appeared to be straight for us. A quick glance at the Chartplotter showed the cargo boat was the tanker New Stage and he was following a course that would taken him about 8 tenths of a nm mile past our stern. It was a little bit eerie watching us cross in front of a huge tanker as he was steaming toward us. This is not something I really like. It turned out fine and within an hour, we had made our anchorage and were enjoying the views of the steep, tall hills that surround our quiet anchorage.
We will stay here for a day or two and then be moving on. Our next stop will be one of the islands in the southern most Whitsunday group. I am anxious to sail up to the central part of the group, to Border, Hook and Hayman Islands, as the snorkeling there is support to be awesome!
05/06/2012, Anchored At West Bay, Middle Percy Is., AU
It was another beautiful day today at Middle Percy Island. The sky was blue, the winds were gentle and the swells in the anchorage, for the most part, behaved themselves. However, every now and again a train of big swells made their way in and rocked us some.
Early this afternoon we motored the dinghy into shore. We were greeted by Julie of S/V Silver Lining II and she was kind enough to wade into the small surf and help us pull the dinghy up onto the beach. We were also were helped by Justin, the skipper of a 55 foot monohull called Miss Behaving.
Soon we were joined by Justin's two children, Haley (age 9) and Reilly (age 7). We all walked up the beach together and went into the A frame. A few minutes later Justin's wife and her mother (Dot) came walking down the hill from their walk about. They had returned from visiting Cathy, who is the leasee of the island. She and her husband now manage the island after an ugly lease dispute that started when Andy Martin died about 8 or 9 years ago. A third party had muddied the lease waters and took quite some time and effort for Cathy to win her case. Her husband works on the mainland to earn money to cover their expenses while Cathy stays on the island and grows wheat, mills it for their flour and she tends a garden for their vegetables as well as feeds and cares for their lambs, goats, a milk cow, and chicken. They have a homestead at the top of the hill which is about a 2 mile hike from the beach. It sounds like a tough life and they certainly have our respect and great appreciation. I had wished that I had brought my wallet with us so I could make a donation.
While we talked at the A frame, different people would take turns picking up the perfect coconut, husking it using a spike that has been driven into the ground and then enjoying the sweet coconut milk. Once empty, they would break it open and pry out the coconut meat and pass it around.
Soon Paul of Silver Lining II returned from their boat and then Bill and Sue of S/V Dreamtime returned from the homestead. They were soon followed by the couple from S/V Caliysto. We had met them a few times, going back to Tahiti but I am drawing a blank on the wife's name. The husband is Marion. I tell you, my memory is the second thing to go
We had a wonderful time together and enjoyed everyone's company. Justin and his family will be doing the Sail Indonesia Rally so we expect to get to know them better as we bump into each other at the various anchorages between here and Darwin and then throughout Indonesia.
Tomorrow we will be weighing anchor at dawn and sailing another 60 nm to the next anchorage, Scawfell Island. Justin and his family will also be sailing there tomorrow so we hope to see them there. Paul and Julie will be leaving tomorrow also but may sail to Digby Island, which is about 20 nm NW of here.
Scawfell Island is just south of the Whitsunday Island group, so we will be getting closer to some great swimming and diving spots. Since leaving Lady Musgrave Island, we have not gone swimming because the water has been cloudy. We don't like to swim in cloudy water because we can't see what may be swimming with us (i.e., sharks and crocodiles). The last croc attack in the Whitsundays was in the 1930's. While some sightings have been made in the last few years, it is still considered safe to swim and dive. I will still be following my water safety rule, which is to let Mary Margaret go in first!
Techno-Tip Of The Week; Stainless Steel Scraper
You should have as a tool on your boat a strong stainless steel scrapper. You will be using it to scrape off the barnacles and mollusks that adhere to your hull over the antifouling. These buggers are very persistent and are difficult to remove unless you have a good scraper.
I initially had just a wide bladed steel putty spatula that I bought for next to nothing at a hardware store. However, no matter how well I kept it oiled, the salt water won and it turned to an ugly, rusty thing that fell apart. Our stainless steel scraper cost what I thought was a bundle but it has lasted so well and still has many, many years of life in it. It is an investment well worth the cost.
Here is Leu Cat, sitting very happily at her anchor. She just loves anchorages like this with white beaches, palm trees swaying, and aqua marine water.