Sailing is all about making the most of the conditions you get and seizing opportunities, whether you planned for them or not. Sometimes – actually often in our sea wanderers’ life – we just have to go with the flow!
The first example of this was when we left Airlie Beach with the tide in our favour and took the opportunity to go south via the Long Island Sound – a narrow 5nm passage between the mainland and Long Island we had never been through. We were motoring, since the breeze was just about non existent early in the morning, but with 4 knots of current with us at one stage it was a fast drift down, much faster than going via the more common Whitsunday Passage. And the bonus: a very scenic run!
Here is another prime example of going with the flow. On the way up a couple of months ago we were keen to stop at St Bees and Keswick Islands at the very bottom of the Southern Whitsundays, but the weather was not right so we missed out and were a little disappointed. This week, we got stuck at St Bees on our way south because the day after we arrived, strong easterly weather stopped us in our tracks. We knew it would happen when we left Airlie Beach, but thought it would be far nicer to hide at a scenic island than in front of town! Here is our first sunset at Keswick:
This is a satellite image of the two islands. We arrived at Keswick and anchored in one of the southern bays, then moved to St Bees, Homestead Bay, hooking onto one of four newly installed public moorings to get protection from the strong easterlies.
We were there for a week and boat bound for a few days which was a bit tedious! It was an opportunity though for Chris to work on an article about the Southern Whitsundays for Australian Multihull World, bake and play the piano! We also read a lot and plotted options for our track south.
We managed to explore on the not so blustery days: beach wander for Bengie, a walk up the hills for us, and a couple of snorkels, although the fringing reef has deteriorated a great deal. We made the most of our enforced stay. As Wade’s Dad Phil used to say: “everything works together for good”.
Here is the pick of the photos we took. As usual to see the images and captions in full screen click on the first one and arrow right.
And just to infuse a dose of realism about the state of some of our fringing reefs, here are a few upsetting sights. These images were taken at Horseshoe Bay, St Bees. 18 months ago, the bay was like a garden, with vibrant corals in a variety of intriguing shapes and lots of juvenile fish, which is why we so wanted to return. Look at them now, smothered with invasive algae and weeds which cut off their sunlight. It is a heartbreaking, frighteningly fast destruction. It is confronting because there is nothing we can personally do to change the situation.
The installation of marine park reef protection markers and mooring buoys to stop people from anchoring over fragile areas seems such an overdue yet grossly inadequate measure. How will this reef ever recover – not from anchor chain damage but from excessive nitrogen and sediment in the water and from bleaching events? It leaves us feeling terribly sad and powerless.
As we post this, with the northerlies back at last we have headed off south again, bound for a whistle stop at Mackay to pick up our long awaited right angle drill, then onto the Keppel Isles – a good test for the gear! Stay tuned for our next post on “Overcoming Winching Woes”.
For now we will leave you with a magic sunset from our last night at St Bees.