Lovely but lively!

Getting to the Percy Isles from the Keppels is rarely totally pleasant. Once you leave the Keppels, the ocean state is affected by big tides: 7 to 9 meters. So you can expect that during part of your passages, the tide will be against the wind and if the wind is fresh it will get pretty uncomfortable! The sailing has been lovely and fast but lively.

The large estuaries – Port Clinton, Shoalwater Bay, Broad Sound, Thirsty Sound – produce the biggest tides and fastest tidal streams on the East Coast of Australia with sharp steep seas. There is a definitive tidal border around the Shoalwater/Broad Sound area where south of the area the rising tidal stream runs north and the ebb stream runs south. Whereas north of the area the tide floods south and ebbs north. And guess where the two directions collide? Between Cape Townshend and the Percy Group!

Looking back towards scenic Shoalwater Bay

A couple of years ago we explored the many islands in this area at length. To read about it do a search on ‘Playing Explorers’ – there are four posts in the series. This year, we felt we did not need to repeat the experiment. Apart from the huge tides, the water is milky, making snorkeling or spearfishing a risky pursuit. Sharks, crocs might lurk down below – bad, bad plan to swim in these waters! So we went straight to the Percy Isles.

West Bay at Middle Percy is where we paused for a week. It is a popular anchorage. We counted 17 boats at one stage, but few stay. It is a constant stream of yachts coming and going, generally only staying for a night then moving on. Despite its popularity as a stopover the anchorage is not the most comfortable spot. You get tossed around in the tide and breeze – good to be on a cat! It is a pretty place though, so again: lovely but lively! Between the walks ashore, taking Bengie for her morning beach wanders, the chats with other yachties, fishing, playing with photos, reading, life has been quite laid back.

West Bay
Bengie at West Bay – Middle Percy
Walking down the dune to Rescue Bay, with South Percy in the distance

We even got the drone out for shots of the little lagoon where a few boats were sheltered among the mangrove, high and dry at low tide. Definitely not a spot for Anui. And a schooner belonging to the new lease owners is also tucked in there, precariously held in place with ropes to the shore including lines from the mast to stop the whole thing from leaning over!

Joshua C, the lease owners’ schooner, taken with the drone

It was good to fly the drone at last, but Chris was so rusty after nearly 10 months of not using it! It was like starting to learn all over again. Here are a few aerial shots, taken on a fairly windy day, so not too bad!

The lagoon at high tide
The other end of the lagoon at high tide
Blue Jay and Joshua C tucked in
The Percy Hilton – the A frame at West Bay

But what got us to stay longer than originally planned was meeting up with another couple on a 46ft cat, Wind Song, who were keen kite surfers. We really hit if off with Simon and Amanda and took this rare opportunity to go kite surfing for the first time in a couple of years while the wind was blowing hard. We had great fun at Rescue Bay, having taken the dinghies all the way there on a wet and wild ride in 20-25 knot winds! Here is a slide show. Amanda and Simon were taking turns on the blue kite on the first day and yellow one on the second day; Wade was on the red kite, while Chris was on the camera!

Finally, on Thursday, we left Middle Percy Island and sailed 65 nm north to Scawfell Island, in the Southern Whitsundays. This is where we will be for a few days as it is again blowing hard!

20 thoughts on “Lovely but lively!

  1. Chris & Wade … you certainly have a higher tolerance for the rocking & rolling than us! I did snorkel in the lagoon’s mangroves last year at Percy. A very different snorkel. It was great!

    • Hi Amanda, it was pretty uncomfortable on a few of those days and we would have been sick at anchor on a mono! Snorkeling in the lagoon… never thought of doing that!

  2. Good to see the kites out.
    Great flat water conditions at Bowen if you get the chance.

    • It is so rare for us to do it. You are never anchored where the wind is onshore and the dinghy ride to the other side of the island was wild! Lucky we met up with people who were keen!

  3. Thanks for the post!
    Good to hear of this nice time, and good to see Wade out on the kiteboard. Yay!

    • Hi Murray, we were lucky to meet up with people who were keen and as adventurous as we are. The dinghy ride was ‘extreme’… an adventure in itself!

  4. Excellent photos, Chris! I figure that this must be like a small paradise. 🙂

  5. ‘Not sure windsurfing is something that I would ever want to try – but then again you are both more adventurous than us. Glad to see you are safely at the bottom of the Cumberland Group. Stay safe. xxx

    • Thanks Trish – surf kiting, rather than wind surfing… but yes it was fun and the first time we have been able to in a few years! We were hidden at Scawfell and very well protected from the strong winds. Now heading for Shaw as we need internet and phone coverage!

  6. Glad you finally got your kite out Wadie. Good pics from the drone Chris, I can’t believe you have taken so long to use it again. those tides look dangerous and make for wide weather.

    • Hi Sue – with COVID everything got too hard! I thought of using it at the Reef but I am too scare to launch it and land it on the boat! Wade was thrilled to be able to kite surf. He was a bit sore afterwards!

  7. It was such fun meeting up and being able to spend time together kiting, thanks! Will keep in touch and see you again some day 🙂 Love the photos.

    • Hi Amanda – we had a ball. Nice to meet a like minded couple… it is not often it happens! We hope we meet up again in a couple of seasons! It is the crazy thing with sailing friendships, you might not see each other again for a while!

  8. Why not a motorised paraglider instead of the drone guys? Keep you hand in, so to speak 😉 (Remember those turn point photos with film cameras?)

    • No way! We have enough gear on board already! Funny you mention paragliding, we were talking about that with our kite surfing mates as a parallel to kite surfing!

      • Yeah, I’ve been secretly yearning to have a go at kite surfing too but worn out knee cartilage tells me it won’t be worth the pain! Looks a great sport though, Wade going to have a go? Combine his surfing and PG skills, he’d be a natural!

      • Wade was on the red kite Elgar! It is me who has not given it a go yet. The learning curve at the beginning is steep… lots of being dragged at full speed through the water before you can actually get up on the board! I might drown!

  9. I really like the drone shots, Chris. They give a wonderful wider perspective on the scenery. I can’t believe the beautiful color of the water, an amazing mix of greens and blues, even when it was cloudy. Kite surfing looks to be really wild–I can’t ever imagine having the courage and skill to try something like that. It is great to see Bengie and his shadow out for a walk on the beach.

    • Hi Mike – the drone shots were taken flying it quite low as it was rather windy. I would have liked to get higher but was too worried I would not get it to land back were I was!
      Between the water and the trees there was not much margin for error.

      Yes everything about the kite surfing trips was a bit wild: getting there by dinghy (a half an hour trip buffeted by wind and waves), launching the kites in the waves… You need 20 to 25 knot winds to fly these things! But we had great fun.

      And Bengie… she likes her walks and it is fun to take her ashore in the dinghy, she hops off on the beach and trots away, sniffing, digging and meowing happily! Just as adventurous as us!

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