With a reasonable breeze forecast the crew headed off from Bundaberg to Pancake Creek as we needed to make up some distance to ensure we were in the Whitsundays for a visit from our Nephew and Neice (in law) Tim and Pam in 2 weeks.
The Pod sailed really well after leaving at 6am to ensure we made the best of the slack tide getting out of the marina and through the long channel of Bundaberg. Pancake Creek is a wide expanse of water (it is actually a creek) which if you follow the markers has a deep high tide channel that allows boats to enter from the outer anchorage into a larger more protected area. The outer anchorage has land on one side and a sand spit on the other - it can be a little rolly but generally is quite good. If you enter through the channel - there is more protection from the swell and wind as well and that is where most cruising folk end up. Due to a fuel blockage (yes again!) literally at the entry we only anchored just inside the headland - we spent two nights here and did a lot of exploring in the dinghy. This is a well known East Coast anchorage for cruising boats and I look forward to spending some more time there on the return trip - there is good mud crabs here and some good fishing I am told.
|Pancake Creek - Second anchorage|
Great Keppel Island
With the continuing good breeze (20-25 knots) we headed off to Great Keppel Island. Originally the crew planned to break the trip up with a different anchorage about 15 NM from GKI but upon arrival the swing to a more Easterly breeze throughout the day meant this would not be comfortable so we arrived well after dark at GKI. A late arrival to a new anchorage (for us anyway) means anchoring outside the shelter of the Island and that means a rolly night at anchor....this is the type of night that cruising people dread!
First thing in the moning we picked up the anchor and made our way further into the bay - what a lovely island this is! It has many walks over the island and a couple of resident live aboards who have lived on their boats at GKI for years! The crew did many hours of beach combing for shells and whilst the captain tried to drown the crew a few times getting ashore in the swell we had a great time none the less.
After three nights at GKI the crew decided to head off to the Percys as the forecast was for a declining breeze for the next three days. At 4pm we headed off for an overnighter - arrival mid morning the next day. Normally most cruisers will break up the trip anchoring over at Island Head meaning an overnighter is not required but the defence forces were having 'war games' and therefore a significant area (including anchorages and some distance out to sea) is closed to all boat traffic...this is definitely on our list for the return trip as it is an amazing area! Isolated and serene!
The breeze completely died overnight and we motor sailed the last half of the leg. The crew arrived to an almost glassy anchorage known as Middle Percy.....ahhh the serenity! This anchorage is a very well known place for cruisers and is a number of Islands literally in the middle of no where. It has a long maritime history that includes a very large A frame which passing boats for decades have left their memorabilia. The captain recalls his parents doing the same about 23 years ago! Some of the memorabilia is very elaborate and often has 3-4 different dates on the same plaque as boats come back year after year.
|Middle Percy - The Serenity of a Beautiful Anchorage|
|The Big A Frame|
The fishing was amazing - literally in a few feet of water there was Spanish Mackeral chasing huge schools of Gar Fish in beautiful clear water. I kept the crew of a cat entertained when we motored into a large school being chased and the Gar Fish were hitting the side of the dinghy and nearly jumping aboard to escape the Mackeral - needless to say I was head down, screaming trying to escape the jumping fish to the great delight of the cat beside us! We did enjoy a lovely evening with some new friends on the yacht Gilly who we have passed a number of times at different anchorages. The crew also enjoyed walks along deserted beaches and a few paddles along the edge.
|Gilly anchoraged at Digby|
All wonderful things can not last - and we decided to head off for a quick day sail to Digby Island and then onto Scawfell Island whilst a small breeze was forecasted - mmmm there was no breeze for both legs but we did enjoy both anchorages very much. Digby had some good fishing but alas the captain with his sprained hand just couldn't get them onto the boat (it was night as well which didn't help!)
|Sailing to Digby - Breeze - what Breeze?|
The last leg has now seen the crew arrive in the Whitsundays proper (also known as the Cumberland group) just in time to meet with Tim and Pam.
Plenty to write about on the next post...