For our second week with Grant & Debbie on board, we have continued to enjoy a mix of experiences both over and under the surface in the Whitsundays: sails in lively conditions, snorkels at the islands, bush walks up the hills, and just hanging at anchor. This is what cruising is about: seizing opportunities, doing what the weather allows, being open to the accidental but also relaxing, having fun and enjoying a nap when you feel like it!
This is a map of our trails and tribulations this last week:
As usual we have had to work with the weather which has been a bit rowdy. We sailed back from Bait Reef last Friday all the way into Cateran Bay at Border Island.
We hid at Cateran Bay from 25 to 30 knot winds for a couple of days. It did not stop us from getting ashore and climbing up the saddle for a good view of both sides of the island, or watching baitfish balls and baby reef sharks off the beach. However in the main we chilled out, read, snoozed, cooked tasty meals… no snorkeling there, as being battered by chop did not appeal.
With the wind easing a tiny bit, we ventured out for a brisk downwind sail to the northern most tip of Whitsunday Island and lucked out with a mooring at Cairn Beach. The aim was to snorkel on the little reef along the beach and do a nice walk ashore. We had never snorkeled there and although the visibility was poor and the current strongish, you could still enjoy lovely soft corals and a good work out to swim back to Anui. There are areas of rubble, yet the variety of species of soft corals gives you hope there might be some recovery.
And the next day the real workout was the scramble up to the Whitsunday Cairn, a volcanic rocky escarpment. It was a bit overcast and showers cooled us down after the climb, but we enjoyed the views and the exercise.
Tuesday saw us move around to the other side of Whitsunday Island, to the iconic Whitehaven Beach. No matter how often you have been here, it never fails to impress. But when it is your first time as was the case for Debbie, it is a breathtaking sight. The colours of Hill Inlet are to die for with the many shades of blue, turquoise and aqua. And the sand on the beach is like icing sugar: super fine and white, made of silica rather than crushed coral.We anchored overnight at the southern end of the Beach and did another walk to get panoramic views.
After several days of unrelenting ESE, we were hoping the weather gods would give us another window to return to the Reef. We made an attempt on Wednesday however the wind and showers got the better of us. We persevered for a while but in the end we felt it was safest to turn back. We came in to Chalkies Beach, opposite Whitehaven Beach, had a snorkel among the soft corals, said hello to Nemos, had a few swan dives from the bow of Anui and a celebration of Wade’s birthday.
With the weather clearer but still a little windy, we were torn between attempting to get to the reef again, or opting for one of the southern islands for a change of scenery. In the end we chose to sail to Lindeman Island, discretion being the better part of valour. It was a fun sail close to the wind and once again the services of George the autopilot were not required. Grant had fun at the helm!
As this post is published we are climbing to the summit of Mt Oldfield for magnificent views of the Whitsunday Islands, a fitting end to Grant and Debbie’s stay with us. It is back to Airlie Beach on Saturday!