It is time to put away the northern reefs chart, and get the Curtis Coast book out. Bengie is not so keen and won’t let us make the swap!
After a day or two of unsettled weather, bringing thunderstorms and rain, the northerlies are sort of here at last. No more tacking against south-easterlies, no more using fuel like it is going out of fashion. With the wind now on our stern, we have resumed our southern migration. We left the Whitsundays on Friday 11th October, and have been doing long day sails to get down to the Keppel Isles as quickly as we can.
It is interesting doing this passage on Anui, after doing a similar trip last year on Take It Easy. Anui certainly does not need much to sail. We tend to motor-sail first thing in the morning, then as soon as a hint of wind appears, different combinations of sails go up depending on the conditions: spinnaker alone, reefed main and spinnaker, spinnaker down and back up on the other tack, spinnaker down, main and jib out, swap of the jib for the screecher… Those of you who know Wade realise he likes fiddling with those strings! If we can get an extra half a knot somehow, we wind those winches! We really like getting the most out of Anui without straining her – because she’s an old lady! But we also like speed. Although Wade won’t own up to being competitive, I will. When I see a yacht in the distance ahead of us, my thoughts go: « let’s catch up to it and pass it! » and it is nice when we do!
Brampton Island was our first hop, a 38nm sail from Hazelwood Island in the Whitsundays. The light show was in full swing in the evening, with thunderstorms in the distance. Second hop was to Middle Percy Island, 75 nm further, mostly under spinnaker. It was then a part motor, part sail to reach Port Clinton 60 nm away, and finally a 45 nm sail back to the Keppels under main and screecher. Job done! And the surprising thing, we had those anchorages to ourselves, a bit different from last year when a whole flotilla was moving south! Maybe a lot of boats started before us, while we were having fun at the Reef, or maybe we started early! Mind you, when we got to Long Beach at Great Keppel there were 32 boats anchored!
Here is a gallery of our passage south. Click on the first image to display in full screen slide show.
The Keppels are a great spot to re-provision and catch our breath after a few days of passage making. They are also the launching pad for a last reef hopping trip for the season at the Capricorn & Bunker Group in the Southern Great Barrier Reef. We missed out on going there on the way north because of the very strong south-easterlies, so are keeping our fingers crossed that we will be able to explore and stop at different reefs we have not yet been to. We are also hoping our friends on Bossa Nova catch up to us at Great Keppel, so we can enjoy the Southern Reef together.