For the past two weeks, we have been playing explorers! We left North Keppel Island on 3 August, bound for totally new cruising grounds for us. Between Port Clinton and Mackay is a seldom frequented stretch of coast with large inlets and a multitude of offshore islands. Unfortunately, there has been no internet coverage around these parts, so we are in catch up mode. We have scheduled several posts to take you to scenic spots we have stopped at, first to the coastal anchorages, next to the small offshore islands and then further north to the Percy Islands.
Most yachties bypass the area and go straight to the Percy’s and the iconic Whitsunday Islands. But to us, this is an invitation to sail around a whole lot of cruising country.
Why is not this vast area on most people’s itinerary?
Well, when you look at the map you see three large bays: Port Clinton, Shoalwater Bay and Broad Sound. These huge bays produce the biggest tides and fastest tidal flows on the East Coast of Australia. Because of the 6 to 8 meter tides, the waters are rather lively with strong currents, bigger seas and a lot of chop, especially when wind and tide work against each other. And the tidal stream also means there is a lot of sediment and particles in the water, even out among the islands. With murky water in the tropics you have to be weary of crocodiles, especially inside the bays. It is less of an issue among the offshore islands, but visibility there is not great for snorkeling. As if all this was not enough, there is a military zone around Shoalwater Bay and if the current does not get you, the odd bombing practice will!
So why are we here?
We can hear you say “they are crazy!” Well, despite all these drawbacks, we enjoy exploring, we like short sails to places we have never been to before, we prefer to be away from crowds and we relish island hopping. So for the past two weeks we have been doing what we like best and we will probably continue our explorations of the area for the next week or so.
Here is a sample of our wanderings: for this post we take you to some of the inshore coastal anchorages we have visited.
For those who like to know exactly where we are, we are at Curlew Island, some 40 nautical miles southeast of Mackay. We will be here for a few days, hiding from a blow. Internet coverage is poor, so although we have scheduled the next few posts, we may not be able to answer your comments promptly. But it is nice to find out if you enjoy reading about our adventures so do keep those comments coming!