Gloucester Island to Hinchinbrook Island

Our decision to leave the beautiful passage was made due to the weather again~ Our dilemma was whether to spend another peaceful day here and run the risk of the bad weather pattern catching up with us. Although the boat handles bad weather superbly, if you don’t need to then why do it????

So at 6am we jumped out of bed and fired the motor, and the kettle, most important! The 8 hour, 47 nautical mile trip was very comfortable, calm seas, 10-15 knt SouEasters pushed us along nicely at an average speed of 6 knts. The high rocky cliffs of Cape Upstart could be seen from miles away and it seemed as if we were never going to get there. By 2pm when we rounded the point and entered Shark Bay, it was empty of any other yachts. This is a popular spot as its the only shelter for a nights stop when going north. By sunset the bay had become the overnight stop for 8 other boats. Next morning we were up and rods and bait thrown in the tinny for a fishing trip out around the rocky headland. Well for hours we tried, drift fishing with lures and bait, trolling, and finally we anchored but to no avail! So Alan decided to troll the beach back to the boat. We hadn’t got far when we saw a HUGE Manta Ray coming towards us, then another one equally as big behind it, so we cut the motor and sat and watched as they circled the tinny. I stood up and took photos whilst Alan tried to balance the boat.Then a third came on the scene! It appeared to be a mating type ritual that was in progress!It was nearly 2 hours that we were watching them. One would chase one away and then 2 would go off together, next minute one would reappear and the same over again. Totally Amazing!

By now we had been out there tooo long, the sun was beginning to burn and our tummies were rumbling.

We enjoyed Happy Hour sitting on the bow watching the many turtles popping their heads out of the water all around us. The stars were magnificent with the absence of lights from any towns. The foreshore is dotted with shacks, they must all be running generators as no lights shone at night!

Next stop . . . .Cape Bowling Green, 36nm, 7am start and arrived at 1.30pm, SSE 5-10 knt, avg speed 6 knts. When we travel the trolling lines are always out the back if we are not in a National Parks Green Zone. And today we were lucky enough to catch a 1.3metre Queenfish weighing in at 10.5 kg, Alan was one happy boy! It put up a great fight and after the official weigh in and a photo shoot he was put back to swim another day.

Cape Bowling Green is a large sand spit that protrudes like a finger into the sea, the anchorage is just around the tip, but as it is sand and constantly moving, we needed to be very careful where we droped anchor. We have used this anchorage many times before and once again we vowed not to stay here again!! The afternoon is always nice and calm which lulls you into believing that this time will be different and as usual by 3am, Why did we do it came to mind!! As the charts are so inaccurate for this area, it is not wise to move at night, so we hung in til first light!!

Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island was our next planned stop, it is 10nm NE of Townsville. Again our run of luck with mother nature is continuing and we had 36nm to go and had SSE 5-10 knt winds. Coming across Bowling Green Bay we saw some whales playing a few miles away from us, but they dissappeared before we got to them.

Our stay in Horseshoe Bay was rather rolly, we did anchor way out to allow us to put our flopper stoppers down in the required depth of water. Thank goodness! Horseshoe Bay as one would expect was in the shape of a horseshoe and inshore of us were 30-40 boats of all sizes. The foreshore was full of holiday maker accomodation and eateries with a beautiful golden sand protrolled beach. Whilst relaxing after we arrived, a dinghy began to circle us and eventually Alan went to speak to the driver! A Nordhavn dreamer! Later his wife reported the elation he had when we entered the bay! So we invited them over for morning tea the following day!

Another batch of Rock Cakes and a quick tidy up had us ready to receive visitors the following morning. John and Annie owned a Clipper 36 (Motor) and have cruised extensively up and down the coast but would like a Nordhavn to live aboard. We declined their offer to swap!!!

The next day we booked a tour of the island with www.tropicanatours.com.au in a stretch Mini Moke. Our driver was Mal, a very knowledgeable chap who had all the answers for us and prepared us a great morning tea on the shore at Picnic Bay! Excellent trip! He picked us up from the beach and 3hrs later dropped us back at a Hardware store at our request so we could get a few scrapers to make it easier to complete the hull cleaning.

Many of our friends had mentioned the ‘hut’ on the beach with yacht name plaques secured to the frame but up and down the beach we walked and couldn’t find it! Eventually after asking John and Annie we went back to the shore for a final look and found it. Not sure whether this is what it looked like before but now it isn’t that impressive. I think the council must have done a tidy up and only a few remain in what appears to be a new shelter!

In search of a quieter anchorage we left at 3.30pm for the short 14nm trip to Rattlesnake and Herald Islands. The suggested anchorage was the northern side of Rattlesnake Is but after going there and finding the swell running straight in, we went back to Herald Is. Only small with a sandy point and fringing reef we anchored just outside the reef and had a quiet night! It was worthwhile moving! Our ‘safe’ anchorages are diminishing fast and soon we will be in CROC!! country. So we took the tinny ashore for a full detail and hair cut!! It has been in the water since Lady Musgrave Island (1/6/10) and had grown hair. . . Barnacles! Next job was tackling the scrubbing of our hull. As neither of us are proficient at diving, it takes us a lot of effort to stay under the boat for any length of time. 1 1/2 hr later we were well and truly stuffed!! We met a couple on the beach whilst cleaning the tinny and invited them to join us for Happy Hour at 4.30pm on the beach to watch the sunset! We barely made it there and back and collapsed early that night!

In the early hours of the morning the wind blew up, we lasted to sunrise before we decided to pull the anchor and get underway!

The wind on our stern at 20- 25knts really didn’t concern us, and as we settled down to enjoy breakfast in the pilothouse, whilst keeping watch for whales at play. about 15nm north we were trated to a magnificent display of tail slapping and frolicking by several whales. We ventured off course a little to get closer but alas they disappeared.

Orpheus Island in the Palm Island group was todays destination. 

Great Palm island has a large Aboriginal settlement, and in recent years has had some unrest!! So we gave this area a miss and decided that Little Pioneer Bay on Orpheus Island was a better choice.

This small bay had fringing coral reefs and 5 heavy duty moorings, big and sturdy, rated for vessels to 20m! During the night a storm passed over, blowing to 35knts that we saw!! All was fine! As we were nearing Crocodile country we needed to finish scubbing the bum in preparation for our trip to the Louisiades. Alan spent 2.5 hrs scubbing and cleaning all the thru hull fittings before climbing onto the swim platform totally knackered!!!

We had another yacht hovering around, awaiting our mooring so I quickly got us underway and Alan barely made it to the helm chair, where he sat to recover for a few hours whilst we made our way towards the 2.5nm Lucinda wharf. This wharf was built to load sugar from the nearby cane mills and is still in use. We went in on the making tide and made our way for an hour in calm, peaceful and picturesque surroundings past Haycock Island and turned into Sunday Creek and it was only Saturday!!

The crab pots and fishing lines were bought down from upstairs and next day as the sun was rising we went out to deploy them and begin our 2 hourly checks in the hope of a feast of mud crabs!! In Queensland it is illegal to keep Female crabs and this area has a lot of commercial fisherman so our hard work only reaped us 3 mud crabs in 4 days. Expensive!!

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