The next instalment of our 2019 Coral Sea Cruise is underway. We are now in the southern part of the Whitsundays, and area just northeast of Mackay. A chain of islands running southeast to northwest with far less crowds than in the Whitsundays proper and no charter yachts, which is a plus for us, are where we have been floating around since leaving the Keppels. We have been out of internet coverage ever since, so forgive our silence! This post retraces our sails northward, we will then post a series on the various islands we visit.
Rosslyn Bay Marina
We dropped our friend Phil off at Rosslyn Bay on 20 May, for his return home to the UK. Having an experienced catamaran sailor on board was great fun and a boost of confidence in the boat as we sailed very well in strong conditions. Phil was impressed with how Anui handled. “She is a dream to sail”. He loved the internal finish too, even though he had to stoop a fair bit not to knock himself unconscious. He is a tall boy compared to us runts! And amazing but true we have had a trouble free few weeks! Touch wood, lots of wood! We might finally be over the hump with all the repairs on Anui. We probably should not say that as it might jinx us, but it is a great feeling to be enjoying our boat at last!
We spent only two nights at the marina. We picked up all the parcels we had sent there, did a ton of laundry, tidied up Anui, re-provisioned her since Phil had cleaned us out of food and drinks, and on the 22nd May we left. We opted to use the persistently strong SE to head north rather than hang around at the Keppels in the hope we might be able to go back to the Southern Reef.
To Pearl Bay
For the full 170 nm passage to the Southern Whitsundays, there is a range of possible overnight anchorages along the way. As soon as we left Rosslyn Bay, the conditions were rough. Lots of wind, agitated seas. We would have thought that with nearly three weeks of persistent south-easterlies, the downwind run would be quite smooth… Not so, we could only describe the ocean as chaotic: worse than a Bass Strait crossing – short, sharp seas, lots of breaking waves.
After seven hours of rough and tumble, we pulled in at Pearl Bay. Only 50 miles covered but that was enough! The anchorage was calm and the sunset to die for. The night however was uncomfortable as the wind shifted and left us rolling in the swell!
It’s not pleasant out there, so what do we do next? Put up with more of these rough conditions, get to our destination quickly, then hide until the weather calms down, or take small hops over four or five days, stopping in scenic anchorages and get to the Southern Whitsundays later? What would you do?
Tiny hop to Pinetrees Point
Well, we don’t like it rough and are in no hurry. So we are taking the slower scenic route and doing sails of 7 to 9 hours. That is with the exception of the next day when we did not cover much distance, may be 12 miles further on just past Island Head Creek, to get to Pinetrees Point where we had never been. It was very pretty, with long sandy beaches, colourful rocky headlands, and you guessed it, lots of pine trees. We stayed there for two comfortable nights on our lonesome.
To Middle Percy Island
On the 24th, the wind had eased down to 15-20 knots, so we headed off to Middle Percy Island, about 50 nm further. The conditions were much more pleasant: gentler seas, comfortable ride, sunny day.
Once at Middle Percy, we went ashore to stock up on honey, lime marmalade and chutney made by the local caretakers, Kate and John… Always tasty! Back on board we were treated to the absolutely stunning sight of the setting sun radiating through the clouds.
To Scawfell Island
Next hop: Middle Percy to Scawfell Island, a 60 nm very pleasant passage in much lighter conditions – screecher goose winged with jib to start with, then spinnaker for the rest of the day!
We got to Scawfell Island on Saturday afternoon, and tucked ourselves in. We had the most comfortable night at anchor for weeks! Waking up to birds singing on a calm, sunny morning was really special. We took Bengie for a beach walk, the first in at least six months. As soon as we put her harness on, she was ready! Hopped off the dinghy and started trotting, scratching in the sand, sniffing, with lots little happy meows. But she got tired quickly and we did not hear boo from her for hours after that!
This is the start of our island exploration activities around the area circled in orange on the chart below. We will now island hop, go ashore when it pleases us, and enjoy a few snorkels in calm conditions. So more on Scawfell Island in a later post.
Next post will be the first in a series on the Southern Whitsunday Islands – Warning: Lots of underwater shots!