Saturday, 7 September 2013

Heading North

The crew are heading North - slowly, relaxed and looking forward to the next adventure.
The crew left Airlie Beach Marina and turned left - the plan is to day hop between anchorages starting with Woodwark Bay with the final destination for this leg Magnetic Island and then Townsville. 
A very short sail from Airlie Beach we arrived at Woodwark Bay.  This is nice anchorage, with a large beach at the end for walking the crew.  The crew arrived and realised that 'Gilly' who we hadn't seen since Digby island many weeks ago, was anchored down a little way, so we took the dinghy over to say hello.  Gilly is now heading South to Mooloolaba where they plan to put the boat on the market and head overland on their next adventure together.
The crew decided to stay only one night at Woodwark as we had a nice sailing breeze the next morning to get to Double Bay our next planned anchorage - again a nice anchorage but shore access is a little limited particularly on low tide.  The captain and I actually discovered this anchorage many years ago when we chartered a yacht and were advised that solitude could be found here - on that particular charter there was 2 boats, this time there was about 15 boats anchored up as the 'Shaggers club rendezvous' was due to take place over the next few days just around the corner!  They are expecting around 200 boats...

Jonah Bay - The captain, catching the aggressive Whiting to be found along the beach
The next day, the crew headed around Georges point into the anchorages known as Jonah and little Jonah bay - wow!  What a lovely place, with sandy white beaches, crystal clear water, a few mangrove areas to explore, a number of resident 'beach squatters' that have lived in very (very) basic camp sites for over 10 years, some good fishing and not a boat to be found (they were all around the corner at the Shaggers doo) so we enjoyed the area to ourselves!
We spent our time, walking, fishing and collecting shells.  We did see a snake on the beach but were advised that it is only a water snake and they often come over from the neighbouring Islands and then head back out to sea - I wasn't taking any chances so we stayed well clear.

Jonah Bay
The crew elected to stay 3 nights at this amazing place, before making the trip through the Gloucester passage to an anchorage behind Gloucester Island - again a nice anchorage but we only stayed one night before sailing further North up to Greys Bay located behind the headland of the town Bowen.  The sail was more than pleasant even though the breeze was a little light. 
The crew did have a very close encounter with a whale and her calf - the old girl guided her calf no more than 50 meters past the bow of the Pod with a little hurry up towards the end as the calf could not hold its breathe for as long, and decided to come up for a quick breath just in front of us.  It was awesome sight for the crew from the bow! 

Greys Bay Lookout
Greys Bay was actually a pleasant surprise as we weren't expecting much other than a place to drop the anchor for the night.  It turned out to be a nice spot to explore with an awesome lookout and a nice little beach to bring the dinghy ashore on.

Me at the Greys Bay Lookout

Greys Bay nearing Sunset
The next day, the crew sailed up to Cape Upstart for a few nights and again this proved to be very pleasant anchorage.  The wind had been very consistent for the sail up under a poled headsail, and a winged out tri sail and main - I am pleased to say the Pod more than held her own against all the other Mono's and most of the cats (for those not in the know - more than 2 boats on the water constitutes a race even with heavy, old cruising boats!)
We arrived quite late in the afternoon and the bullets really let fly over the land - most of the night we had 30 plus knots but the anchorage was still pleasant and the trusty anchor held without a problem.  The next day was spent exploring the beach and the lovely rock formations.  The crew just about always go for a trip in the dinghy after going ashore, so this time we explored the shoreline, with many houses dotting the shore for mostly weekend residents.  The funniest one was actually the shed converted into the 'Bedrock Hotel' with a mooring rope available for the visiting dinghy's - it was well set up and looked like a fun place to enjoy a cold drink or two!
After two nights at Upstart, the crew elected to head further North with either Cape Bowling Green or Cape Cleveland the destination.  The sailing was in very light winds so we motor sailed most of the way - it didn't stop the Captain making about 100 sail adjustments though! 
The crew decided (once the wind kicked in) to keep heading to Cape Cleveland which is literally a few miles South of Maggie Island rather than anchor behind Cape Bowling Green as it didn't look particularly interesting.  Mmmm - well I can't recommend this anchorage unless your desperate.  Due to the expanse, location and shallow waters the Pod was anchored in the middle of the Bay (seriously about a NM to 2 x NM from the shore) and the swell although not severe was still not a highlight of our trip.  None the less, the crew slept okay and the next morning we sailed over to Maggie Island.
Love it, Love it, Love it but I will leave out time at Maggie for another post .............

Getting Hot Under the Collar...

Last post had the crew returning to the Whitehaven Beach/Hill Inlet area to replicate the fishing efforts of the Captain (not mine for obvious reasons!)

The offending hook

Jason's catch of fish
The crew headed over to Macona Inlet for the first nights anchorage so that we could take advantage of the tide going through Hook Passage the next morning.  A fast moving Southerly enabled us to sail over, and the crew spent a lovely afternoon in Macona which has proven to be one of my favourite anchorages.  There is a reef around the anchorage but other than that the water is lovely and clear with a number of white sandy beaches to explore. 

Macona Inlet - solitude compared to the more popular Nara Inlet
In the morning the crew headed around to Whitehaven and anchored about 50 meters off the beach - it is a lovely sandy beach obviously but needless to say in near perfect conditions, just about every boat in the area is also around there!  The weather was definitely getting warm (the wind had also died) and it was easy to start getting hot under the collar - thank goodness for the Pod's awesome shade covers. 

Perfection in the Whitsundays - from the deck of the Pod
This magnificent weather didn't stop the fish from biting and the captain still managed to catch a few Queenies and a number of Trevally before the Captain set off on the paddle board to explore the Hill Inlet area.  This area is amazing and a haven for all marine creatures - from small fish, good size sharks and off course the stingrays who are about in significant numbers as well.  The captain commented - that this was probably his best day so far in the Whitsundays so this probably better explains the beauty and wonder of the area.

The crew decided to anchor around at Tongue Bay for the night but upon arrival there was  heaps of boats with the same idea, so we elected to anchor in the next bay along, Apostle Bay - this now ranks as my second favourite anchorage in the area.  It is quite a large anchorage, with plenty of swinging room and not another boat to be found.  There was heaps of turtles (around 30 in our bay) who pop there head up next to the boat, take a deep breathe and dive back down. 
Then we spotted a large whale and a very small calf no more than 300 meters away from the Pod just lolling on the water.  I must admit to being concerned at first that the big girl was hurt until we pulled out the binoculars and realised she was suckling her baby - it was one of those moments where you appreciate the simplicity of how nature works.  Upon sunset I wished her safe passage on her long journey with big kisses to her baby calf.

Looking down the visible length of Hill Inlet - it goes for miles
The crew spent 3 nights in this area and on the last day we walked up to the lovely lookout that has views over Whitehaven and Hill Inlet - this is a lovely walk through the bush with spectacular views from the top.  The water is so clear that you can see the lemon sharks and stingrays swimming around the shallows below. 
With this amazing view in mind, the crew decided to take the dinghy exploring up the 6 or so Km's of the Hill Inlet area - we had a great time as there was no one beyond the first 500 meters of the entry - we simply motored for miles, past small sand passages, into mangrove surrounded areas and marine creatures jumped and swam away as we passed by.  This is a spectacular place for which words probably will not adequately explain.  Some places had the crew so awed we were silenced (a rarity for those that no me!).  I hope the photographs go some way to showing her beauty.  I am glad however that we have the trusty Tohatsu outboard as 'she' worked hard on the return journey, as the tide turns a bit later down the end of the Inlet compared to that of the entry.

Whitehaven and the entry for 'cats only' to Hill Inlet
Sadly the crew decided that we needed to return to Macona Inlet for another 2 nights of perfect weather and then make our way back over to Airlie Beach - the crew had a great sail across to Airlie with 12 knots of wind and the kite flying (no main) at about 7 knots. 

The Pod under spinnaker heading to Airlie
We were lucky to meet Doug for dinner at the sailing club (what a life - Doug was back for another fishing charter!) and spent the next few days enjoying the local markets and the lagoon area for a swim each day!

The captain 'working' - running some new lines
The crew did make one vital mistake - cruising boats are lucky to enjoy the use of the sailing club dinghy wharf for free.  Of course we planned oh so carefully to come in on high tide but misjudged the time we would take shopping/swimming etc.  Upon our return 'Poddyin our tender' was high and dry - oh well, we just sat in the club enjoying a cold drink and then under the shade of a tree to watch the tide eventually roll in!

Poddin - High and dry at the dinghy wharf!
It is now time to say goodbye to the Whitsundays and continue our journey North to Magnetic Island and Townsville.  Its been an amazing time....