The inside story on what its really like to cruise the east coast of Australia.

22 June 2008 | Airlie Beach
20 June 2008 | 'Hammo'
19 June 2008 | Hammilton Island
17 June 2008 | Mackay
16 June 2008 | Curlew Island
15 June 2008 | Middle Percy Island
14 June 2008 | Townshend Island
13 June 2008 | Pearl Bay
12 June 2008 | Yeppoon
11 June 2008 | Cape Capricorn
06 June 2008 | Bundaberg
05 June 2008 | Hervey Bay
31 May 2008 | Mooloolabah
27 May 2008 | At Mooloolaba
26 May 2008 | Tangalooma
24 May 2008 | Sanctuary Cove
15 May 2008 | Hope Harbour Marina
12 May 2008 | Ballina
02 May 2008 | Port Macquarie


22 June 2008 | Airlie Beach
Those yacht masts above the seawall are our final destination - Airlie Beach Marina.

We'd like to say we've battled the elements, been terrorised by the fury of mother nature herself, surmounted unsurmountable hardships, and survived ! , but we can't. In fact sailing up the east coast of Australia has been a walk in the park, as they say.

The last leg from Hamilton Island to Airlie beach took just 3 hours in strong trade winds, so we had a single reef in the mainsail. We were met by our 'managing partners', Charter Yachts Australia, who take over the on-going management of Andamon, and then started the BIG clean-up. Its amazing just how much clutter a boat collects in a few weeks. Saddest of all was having to get rid of un-opened food - what a waste.

It was a bit sad that this has come to an end. Best parts of the trip up were the wonderful anchorages we visited along the way, and particularly in the out-of-the way places in Queensland. We only ended up visiting a fraction of what is there, so we look forward to future passages out of Airlie where we can explore the rest. We also enjoyed meeting people on the way - and of course the Valhalla crew, Peter and Paula who we much of Queensland crusing with. It was great to have spent most of the time with different friends on board, and though living in close quarters no one ever complained, in fact everyone on board was pretty impressed with 'passage making'. After a while at sea, you enter a different state of mind, days melt together, you spend hours and hours watching scenery go by at an incredibly slow speed, but for some reason you never get bored. In general the weather was good with the only strong winds over the final 3 days at sea. We never had to sail to windward as the wind was always behind, or very occasionally on our beam. We had a few grey, rainy days, but generally we had enough time to sit out the worst weather in ports. Andamon performed well, did everything asked of her and is the ideal boat for this type of trip.

To all those who have been following this blog, thanks for your comments, SMSs, emails and support. This is Lyn and Jon signing out.

Goldsmith to Hamilton Island

20 June 2008 | 'Hammo'
Extraordinarily windy
Nothing nice to photo on brash Hamilton Island so here is a photo of Lyn beachombing on Goldsmith.

During the night on Goldsmith the wind picked up. We set off with one reef in the mainsail, only the second time on the whole east coast we had to reef the mainsail. As we set off the wind just got stronger. The weather report said 15-20 knots, however we were soon travelling at 10 knots with the wind behind us showing 20 knots on the guage, meaning we were in 30 knots of wind. The waves were building (no swell) and at first it was a lot of fun catching these small steep waves, in fact we set a record at 11.5 knots at one stage.

After an hour the wind seemed to be increasing still - so much so we thought we should add a second reef to the mainsail, so we looked for somewhere out of the wind to reef and decided to gybe across to the lee of Shaw Island. After the gybe we were sailing across the wind (i.e. 90 deg to the wind), it was then hitting us with the full 30 knots, and across the waves with much more action, occassional spray coming over the top etc. I think we were all a bit relieved when we made it to Shaw Island. Its good to know the boat is fine with one reef at 25 - 30 knots, the manual indicates we should be reefing from 1 reef - 2nd reef in 24 knots.
This was also only the second time on ther whole journey I was hand steering - the other time was through the Wide Bay Bar. We normally never hand steer, we always use the automatic pilot which is quite sophisticated and never gets tired. Often we are all sitting in at the settee out of the cold weather while Otto (nickname form Automatic pilot) keeps us going where we want to go, but normally someone is outside 'on lookout'. The reason for hand steering this time was that we didn't want to be caught out by a rogue wave and bad gust at the same time, even though these were small waves they had steep faces{click here} to see Andamon in 25-30 knots
After a quick discussion we decided to drop the mainsail altogether and go to Hamilton Island on motors and jib alone - much more relaxed.

Hamilton Island itself is an affront to the senses and to the wallet. The most expensive berthing ($85 per night - more than twice the cost of all other marinas), the facililities are filthy, and there are too many people. However, it was our fairwell to Howard who has to go back to Sydney the next day so we had a nice meal in a classy restaurant.

Next day we toured the Island on a buggy, farewelled Howard at the airport and started to prepare for the final leg to Airlie Beach.

Mackay to Goldsmith Island

19 June 2008 | Hammilton Island
light winds
Howard enjoys a joke with Lyn.

We left Mackay and farwelled Valhalla. We had decided to go north via different routes, basically we had to get to the Whitsundays by next Monday wheras Valhalla had more time so will be going via a much more relaxed route.

The trip to Goldsmith Island was in light winds and non-eventful. The anchorage was our first with coral bommies which meant a fair bit of weaving to find the right spot, but when we did it was secure.

We went ashore and had the whole place to ourselves.
{click here} to see Andamon resting at Goldsmith

That evening Howard cooked a great meal, including entree (first entree on the whole trip), and he would have continued with desert had we let him. You think you know someone pretty well, and they surprise you - little did we know of howards cullinary expertise. Lyn and I were so impressed we can't understand why he is still single. Howard is equally mystified.

Curlew Island to Mackay

17 June 2008 | Mackay
Mild, sunny, great wind
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.

Middle Percy Island to Curlew Island

16 June 2008 | Curlew Island
Warm - tropical - great wind
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.

Cape Townshend to Middle Percy Island

15 June 2008 | Middle Percy Island
Cool / grey skies
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!
Vessel Name: Andamon
Vessel Make/Model: Seawind 1160
Hailing Port: Cronulla, NSW, Australia
Crew: Jon and Lyn
This is a story about two really nice people who are heading north for the Australian winter. Jon has a background in IT and specialises in talking about sailing stuff to sailing friends. [...]


Who: Jon and Lyn
Port: Cronulla, NSW, Australia