Sailing the East Coast of Australia Part 2

Bundaberg through to the Whitsunday Islands

Bundaberg

The following are photos of the places between Bundaberg and the Great Keppel Island and places in between. We have sailed through these waters  five times going north and four going south.

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(Port Bundaberg under moonlight at first light)

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(Bundaberg Port Marina at first light)

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(HMAS Wollongong visiting Port of Bundaberg)

Seventeen Seventy

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(Entering Seventeen Seventy)

Seventeen Seventy is a small inlet and anchorage at Round Hill Head, it has to be nearly high tide to enter and not really good for large keel yachts. Above is American friends entering behind our catamaran with me guiding them in.

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(The 1770 anchorage)

There are a large number of local tourist and fishing boats on moorings and there is few places to anchor and at low tide it is possible to be touching the bottom.

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(Chart of Seventeen Seventy as shown it is very shallow)

The large motor catamaran shown in the above photo is the tourist boat that goes out to Lady Musgrave Island which is off the coast and is a coral cay with an island.

Lady Musgrave Island

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(Lady Musgrave Island from inside the coral cay)

Lady Musgrave Island Cay is a good anchorage  in calm waters, winds above 20 knots could cause much concern with the amount of fetch between the coral reef and the anchorage, it may be better to anchor outside in the lee of the island itself on heavy weather or leave the area before it hits.

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(Lady Musgrave Island)

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(Nancy on the island)

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(Coral type beach)

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(Clear clean waters inside the cay)

Beautiful clear waters with plenty of fish life and turtles, be aware of areas that are protected where fishing is not allowed.

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(Lady Musgrave Island near sunset)

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(On Lady Musgrave Island watching the sunset)

Pancake Creek

Pancake Creek is just south of Gladstone and is a favourite anchorage for yachts, it offers good protection from high winds and rough seas.

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(Entrance of Pancake Creek )

Pancake Creek should be entered at near high tide to cross the sandbar at the entrance and when anchoring make sure there is enough water at low tide.

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(Chart of Pancake Creek red dots showing anchorage areas)

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( Pancake Creek anchorage)

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(Pancake Creek near low tide with the sandbar showing)

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(Pancake Creek taken from standing on the sandbar)

As seen here the waters become quite narrow at low tide and the water rushes out quite fast.

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(Pancake Creek sandbar curves around to the entrance in the right of this picture)

Seven Mile Creek

Seven Mile Creek is 14 nautical miles from the entrance of Pancake Creek, this is a good alternative sheltered anchorage if the Creek is full of yachts or the seas and wind cause concern for entering. We have often sailed straight to Seven Mile Creek and bypassed Pancake Creek.

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(Chart showing Pancake Creek on the right and Seven Mile Creek on the left. it also shows Rodds Harbour just to the right of Seven Mile which can also be used)

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(Seven Mile Creek)

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(Sunrise at Seven Mile Creek)

Gladstone

Gladstone is a busy working port so it is important to notify the port authority that you are entering the waterways and they will notify you of any shipping movements and where you have to stay clear of.

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(Facing Island is the southern end of Gladstone’s shipping lanes)

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(One of the many working docks in Gladstone)

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(Entering Gladstone Marina)

One problem with this marina is if you get a north/northeast wind it can blow the coal dust from loading ships over you yacht.

The Narrows

The Narrows is a waterway north of Gladstone between the mainland and Curtis Island. This is one passage to get through to Great Keppel Island the other option is to go around Curtis Island.

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(Chart showing The Narrows and Curtis Island, red dots are possible anchorages)

Going through the Narrows  you need to be at the crossing at high tide or you may be stuck there until next tide or day. We anchored at the southern end at Graham Creek, it is possible to anchor closer to the crossing but sandflies and mozzies will drive you nuts.

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(Chart showing the Crossing  in The Narrows the green dries at low tide)

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(Motoring through The Narrows)

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(The Narrows this is the crossing Curtis Island side)

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(The Narrows Crossing mainland side)

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(Chart plotter on board showing the track through the start of the shallows)

We have gone through The Narrows twice and each time we have had wet drizzling rain which is a shame as it would be beautiful in sunshine.

Cape Capricorn

Cape Capricorn on the Capricorn Line where the tropics begin. This is on the NE point of Curtis Island and you will pass this if you do not go through The Narrows and go on the outside of Curtis Island.

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(Rundle Island nearing Cape Capricorn)

(Cape Capricorn) 

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(Cape Capricorn Lighthouse)

These days the lighthouse is automated like most others and the buildings are now used as holiday units.

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(Cape Capricorn rail line shown left the bottom, centre middle and right, the top, this is how stores and gear gets to the top of the cape)

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(Sailing towards Great Keppel Island after leaving The Narrows)

Great Keppel Island

The Keppel Islands are off the coast of Roslyn Bay and Yapoon, it is one of the yachties favourite stopovers and some yachts only sail to there and go no further in the season. It has a number of anchorages where you can move around the island to suit what wind direction. It can be a little uncomfortable at times with rolling seas. Just a reminder, these are photos taken at different periods of the many times we sailed the coast between 2008 and 2014.

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(On this occasion we arrived near sunset)

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(Looking across the bay of Leeke’s Beach north side of the island )

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(Looking east from Second Beach)

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(This photo was taken from inside a cave that has since been placed out of bounds as it is a Aboriginal sacred site, it is four photos stitched together)

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(Before the cave was officially recognised as a sacred site someone had set up this makeshift camp and yachties used to gather there, Nancy sitting on the seats we found there)

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(Entrance of Leeke’s Creek from Leeke’s Beach, it can only be entered at high tide)

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(looking across Leeke’s Creek)

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(High and dry and safe)

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(The owner was a Kiwi, he parked the yacht here caught the ferry across to the mainland and flew to home to New Zealand for a couple of weeks, beats paying marina fees)

As you can see in these pictures there is very little water in the creek at low tide, this yacht has wedged into the bank, not sure if the trench was man made or part of the landscape, however, he has secured the yacht by halyards from the mast tied down to trees and a number of ties at deck level to the trees plus an anchor out to where deep water is at high tide at the stern and one out from the bow. You would not know it was there unless you walked up the creek.

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(These photos were taken from out on the point east of Svendsen’s Beach, I say photos there are six separate photos I have manually stitched together)

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(North Keppel Island I framed it as I could not stitch them properly)

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(Sundowners on Svendsen’s Beach, yours truly on the right)

For those that don’t know ‘sundowners’ is what yachties have around 1700 hours (5pm), drinks time and watch the sun go down, this sometimes last an hour or all night. We are a very sociable people.

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(Couple of old sea dogs with their life jackets on)

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(Sun setting over Roslyn Bay)

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(Red skies)

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(Carl and Lyn Svendsen have a holiday units here they have ancestry on the island here they entertain us as they are yachties to) 

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(Secret men’s business, talking boats)

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(Another day another sunset)

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(Sailing over to Roslyn Bay Marina)

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(Chart Great Keppel Island, red dots suggested anchorages)

Great Keppel Island has good anchorages during south to south west winds  red dots top right is the best anchorage and get in as close as possible to the beach, swell can bend around and make things uncomfortable if far out in heavy conditions. East and northeast winds west coast anchorage is the better, northerlies you can go around the south but I have never had to do this.

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(Chart Keppel Isles and Roslyn Bay)

Roslyn Bay Marina on the mainland is a very friendly marina and even supplies a free courtesy car in two hour limits for sailors to go into Yapoon to do shopping and store their yacht. The entrance to the marina can be dangerous to enter in large swells because the swell will push the yacht on the break-wall, so in heavy swell stay anchored out.

North Keppel Island is not a good place to anchor unless total calm conditions, the island offers little protection from the winds and swell.

Over the years there has been a proposal to build a large resort and marina on Great Keppel Island, not sure where that is up to today but I hope they never build the marina there it will ruin the perfect anchorages and spoil the island atmosphere.

Keppel Isles to Island Head Creek

Still sailing north from Keppel Isles there is a choice of three anchorages before leaving the mainland for island anchorages. Port Clinton, Pearl Bay and Island Head Creek, my preference for heavy weather protection is Island Head Creek. Before leaving Keppel Isles make sure you read Mariner Notices or contact Coastguard regarding the Military Zone along the coast. If military exercises are in progress you must sail outside that zone area, but it usually allows you to enter the anchorages most times.

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(Sunrise in Port Clinton)

Port Clinton offers good protection from heavy weather conditions but can be tricky to enter of leave in some weather conditions.

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(Chart showing Port Clinton, black dots showing the route to enter and leave, red dots where we have anchored before)

Always enter and leave Port Clinton near high tide as you can see there is a sandbar to cross.

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(Fishing boat trawling as we passed by after leaving Roslyn Bay)

(Arriving at Pearl Bay, entrance off the port bow where the beach and yacht can be seen )

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(Pearl Bay anchorage, quite calm conditions if the conditions were stronger the better anchorage is where the yacht in the centre is and as close to the beach as possible.)

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(Chart Pearl Bay, anchorages around red dot area)

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(Dome Island as we sail by on the way to Island Head Creek)

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(Nearing Island Head)

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(Friends on catamaran ‘Scarlet’  setting the pace)

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(As we changed course to enter Island Head Creek this Black Noddy landed on the rail)

The black noddy was having a little trouble in the rolling waves trying to balance on the rail with web feet, he looks like he saying “Can you hold the bloody boat still”.

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(The Black Noddy relocated himself to a comfortable position inside the dinghy and stayed the night, it must have been worn out)

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(Island Head Creek from the beach)

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(Nancy on a beach walk)

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( A reminder that the sea can be dangerous, a motor boat entering a couple of weeks before we arrive entered in heavy conditions at night and got too close to the rock face at the north end of the entrance and the seas pushed it on the rocks, it was totally wrecked)

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(A good bunch of people, yachties having a lunch and a couple of drinks)

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(A new day begins)

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(Looks like a good day, but weather is on the way)

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(Rainbow)

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(Four lovely ladies, L-R Nancy, Mercedes, Shelly and a lady known for her writings and long time solo sailor Jill Knight having an afternoon get together)

(Here is the man with crabs, Rick a good friend on another catamaran loves crabbing and shares his spoils with us)

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(Now that’s a crab)

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(All anchored along the sandbar within the creek)

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(Here comes the weather, we anchored closer to the entrance and we had internet so I became the weatherman, I used to check the weather then report it to the other yachts daily)

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(The rain settles in)

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(Morning has come again what a sky)

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(Goodbye to Island Head Creek as we sail away)

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(Peninsular Range)

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(Chart of Island Head Creek, red dots good anchorages, some people go further in)

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(As we sail on conditions change)

Island Head Creek to Mackay

There are many different route choices from Island Head Creek to Mackay, there are quite a lot of islands that can be used each day to anchor for the night, over the years we have tried a few. Some things to look for before heading on a choice is tide flow and wind direction for the night which is the norm but tides between Cape Townsend and sailing to Mackay in a northwesterly direction crossing the mouth of Shoalwater Bay the tides flow in an more east-west  rather than north-south direction and they are the largest tides on the east coast.

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 (Clara Island Group, just south of Island Head Creek)

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(Chart showing tide flow north and south of Cape Townsend, grey arrows show directions)

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(Leaving Cape Townsend behind)

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(Sailing towards Hexham Island)

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(Hexham Island)

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(Inside the anchorage at Hexham Island)

The anchorage at Hexham Island is quite small and maybe fit three boats of similar design to to boat movement at anchor, catamarans dance a lot more than monohulls. It is really a calm water anchorage as the winds bullet around the island and makes for a sleepless night.

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(Sunset at Hexham Island)

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(Chart of Hexham Island anchorage)

Another choice after leaving Island Head Creek is to sail to the Duke Islands and select an anchorage at Marble Island or Hunter Island. Southeast – Southwest winds north side of Marble Island would be my choice, East – Northeast winds on the west side of Hunter Island.

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(Early morning sky, Marble Island)

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(North side of Marble Island)

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(Chart showing anchorages at Hunter and Marble Islands)

Leaving these islands or Hexham Island the next choice is to go to Percy Islands or Curlew Island if not going straight through to Mackay. Many sailors like to go to the Percy Islands. There is a homage there a lean-to shed with lots of memorabilia from sailors from all over the world. This is at West Bay in Middle Island, the anchorage at West Bay can become very uncomfortable with rolling seas and is usually vacated in strong weather. This island has a bit of history which can be found here,  http://percyisland.com.au/history 

There are other anchorages around the Percy Islands for different wind conditions.

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(A squall near South Percy Island as we approach)

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(Anchored off South Percy Island)

(South Percy Island is a pretty anchorage but not great for heavy weather, you would survive but would be uncomfortable)

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(Chart showing anchorage at South Percy Island)

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(West Bay Middle Island, most popular in the Percy Island Group)

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(Percy Hilton, the old lean-to was flattened in a cyclone and this one was built by the volunteers)

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(Chart showing anchorages on Middle Island, Whites bay is good for west to northeast winds)

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(Sunsets at West Bay Middle Percy Island)

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(Another Percy Island sunset)

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From Percy Islands one can go straight to Mackay or island hop, if expecting heavy southerlies Curlew Island is not a bad choice, we have headed to Curlew some years from the Duke Island Group and not visited the Percy’s. As you leave the Percy Islands you may get buzzed and called up by the customs aircraft that patrol our seas. Some sailors get upset about this, I don’t understand why unless they have something to hide. They have a job to do and they are protecting our coastline.

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(Sailing between islands can be so different from one day to the other, a day like this the iron sails (engines) have to be used if you want to go somewhere, then,)

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(there are days like this, we complain about both, but we love it)

It was a day like this we headed for Curlew Island because conditions were going to be worse and Percy Islands was going to be a good place to be.

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(Bluff Island part of the Guardfish Cluster)

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(Approaching Curlew Island, seas calmed a little as we neared the Guardfish Cluster Islands)

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(North side of Curlew Island, selection of anchorage is important wind bullets can come around the contours of the land-form.)

The first time we anchored here we were pinned down with heavy weather for three days, having a catamaran that loves to dance on winds we did 9 nautical miles on anchor over the three days.

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(Curlew Island anchorage north side)

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(Chart of Guardfish Cluster Islands)

This chart shows the anchorages on the north side of Curlew Island, be mindful of that sandbar when entering and leaving that anchorage. The other anchorage on it’s west side is good for north through to east winds but it is a small anchorage three or four boats comfortably.

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(Curlew sunset)

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(Curlew Island twilight)

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(Suns up, good morning get ready to sail)

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(Sailing on to Mackay)

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(South of Mackay is Hay Point Harbour and you may come across a large amount of anchored ships in this area, the chart shows some of the many anchorages)

Mackay and the Cumberland Islands

Mackay

Mackay is a good stop over for hauling out our catamaran because it has a wide lift and a good hard area to do the work. The other place I have used i the Boatworks at the Gold Coast which has a better lift for catamarans.

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(Up we go, it is at times a long way up due to the large tide differences which can be 9 metres)

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(Me a little nervous with the boat in the slings)

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(A wash before I have to start work)

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(All work complete, Alana Rose came out with a blue bottom and going out with a black bottom)

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Cumberland Islands

A week on the hard and Alana Rose looking like new we head of to the Cumberland Islands as we head north.

The Cumberland Island Group include, Brampton, Carlisle, Scawfell, Goldsmith, Cockermouth, Keswick, and St Bees islands are all national park islands. Many people think that they are the start of the Whitsunday Islands but this is incorrect as there are other groups before getting to the Whitsunday’s.

Keswick and St Bees Islands

This is one of sailors first anchorages after being on the hard at Mackay other choices are Scawfell Island, Brampton Island or Newry Island. Our choice was often St Bees as it is the closest island and if you find a problem after being out of the water for a while it is not that far to go back to Mackay.

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(Sailing towards Keswick and St Bees Islands)

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(Entering Egremont Pass, Keswick Island port side and St Bees Island on the starboard side)

When entering or anchoring in Egremont Pass one should be aware of the strong current flow between the islands, anchoring close to Keswick Island in the pass has less current.

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(Egremont Pass)

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(Kewick and St Bees Islands, red dots indicates anchorages for different wind and wave conditions)

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(Egremont Pass north view)

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(Sunset from West Bay Keswick Island)

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(Twilight from West Bay Keswick Island)

West Bay is good anchorage for east to north winds and offers a pleasant beach.

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(Beach at West Bay Keswick Island)

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(Anchored at West Bay Keswick Island)

Brampton Island

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(Approaching Brampton Island)

Brampton Island used to have a very nice resort on it, it first became a resort in 1933 and has had a few owners since, United Petroleum purchased it in 2010 and closed it in 2011 for renovations which never happened, it is still up for sale today, the government actually own all these islands and the buyer on buys a lease which the current seller states is one of the reasons prospective buys wont buy. Personally I think there is also one other major factor and that is insurance costs if you can get insurance after the cyclones have done a lot of damage to many island resorts over the past ten years.

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(Brampton Island Jetty, suffered storm damage)

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(Brampton Island anchorage from the jetty)

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(Looking north from Brampton Island anchorage)

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(Chart showing Brampton and Carlisle Islands red dots anchorages)

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(West Bay Brampton Island)

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(Brampton Island in the operational days, the resort is located at the beach at the low point of the islands)

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(One of the walking tracks on the island)

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(Our Alana Rose anchored)

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(Sundown at Brampton Island anchorage)

Newry Island

Newry Island is not part of the Cumberland Group but is just near the mainland opposite Brampton Island and is a very popular spot.

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(Chart showing Newry Island anchorage indicated by red dots)

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(Newry Passage)

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(Newry Island Sunset Beach)

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(Point Cottage with Alana Rose anchored)

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(History of the island)

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(The hut ruins)

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(Newry Resort Beach)

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(View from Newry Lookout)

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(Couple of Oyster Catchers)

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(The old boat shed)

08 06 2012 Second peel

(Very fresh coconut)

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(Tough life, BBQ with boating friends)

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(The stone fish trap, only legal now if Aboriginal people do this)

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(Sunrise at Newry Island)

Goldsmith Island

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(Beach at Goldsmith Island, our dinghy way out in deeper water)

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(Chart of Goldsmith Island and Linne Island, red dots anchorages)

Shaw Island

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(Shaw Island anchorage)

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(Shaw Island chart showing anchorages)

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(Anchorage off Burning Point Shaw Island)

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(Beach at Shaw Island)

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(Just before sunset Shaw Island)

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(Oyster Catchers)

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(View from the beach Shaw Island)

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(Large wheels are better to move the dinghy about)

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(Sundown Shaw Island)

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(End of another great day)

Lindeman Island

Lindeman Island Resort was another resort that closed in 2012 by Club Med, it was then sold White Horse Holdings a Chinese company and has in April 2018 been given the green light to spend $83m to upgrade the resort.

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(Lindeman Island )

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(Lindeman Island and Shaw Island chart, red dots anchorages)

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(Lindeman Island  jetty entrance)

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( Looking south on Lindeman Island , the resort at the southern point)

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(Looking north of Lindeman Island )

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(We anchored in the bay in the north and worked the island to the resort)

Pentecost Island

Pentecost Island was named by Captain Cook on the day of Pentecost, it is a very steep island and is the last island of the Lindeman Group.

Summary:

There are many islands and anchorages that have not been listed above, you can sail these waters for many years and not see all of them, some places you try to visit the weather is just not right at that time to anchor comfortably.

Whitsunday Islands – Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach

The first usual port of call when arriving in the Whitsunday Islands is Airlie Beach to store the boat, fuel and water and probably a wash down of the boat. The marinas in the Whitsundays such as Abel Point, Airlie Port Marinas are the most expensive that you will find on the Queensland Coast so many sailors anchor out.

To get fuel you have to call Abel Point Marina and book a time to go to the fuel dock the same goes for Hamilton Island Marina. In Abel Point Marina boundaries there is a public dock, you are permitted to stay on the dock for a two hour period and there is a fresh water tap there that you can fill your tanks and give the boat a wash down.

Anchorage outside the wall is the best place as you do not get the wash from all the tourist boats or the other option is out in front of the Whitsunday Sailing Club.

The dinghy dock at the sailing club gets very crowded and when the tide goes out there is little water under the dinghy.

Airlie is a tourist haven with people chartering yachts or going on yacht tours. Backpackers are all over, it is rather busy during the season.

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(Airlie Beach, beach front)

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(Airlie Beach markets each Saturday, get there early for fresh fruit and vegetables)

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(Like all markets they have the usual jewellery and clothing stalls) 

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(Don’t be shocked when you go to the Gents toilet)

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(Our Alana Rose in Abel Point Marina, those days $128 per day)

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(Chart showing Abel Point Marina red dots anchorages)

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(Chart of Pioneer Bay)

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(The marina at low tide when the previous owner had it)

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(Always a busy place with the amount of large tourist boats)

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(The public swimming lake at Airlie Beach, quiet in the early morning but comes alive with backpackers after they have woken from their partying)

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(Plenty of eye candy around the pool)

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(Just south of Airlie Beach is Shute Harbour)

Shute Harbour there is fuel available and not far up the road is a chandler and a good rigger if you need one his name is Andy, he is well known and I can recommend him. Safe anchorages there are few because of the large amount of moorings owned by the charter boat companies, you could contact them and they will lease you a mooring at a reasonable price for short term.

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(Chart of Shute Harbour, not a good place for strong SE winds)

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(Shute Harbour night lights)

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(First light at Airlie anchorage)

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(A little fog coming down the waterways at Airlie anchorage)

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(Pacific Dawn, these tourist boats visit occasionally)

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(Pioneer Bay Airlie Beach)

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(Pirate Pete paid a visit sitting on our dinghy)

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(Sun going down from Airlie anchorage)

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(Sunset from Airlie Beach)

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(Airlie Beach at night from the anchorage)

Whitsundays – Molle Islands and Cid Harbour

Molle Islands

The Molle Islands consist of three main islands, North Molle Island, South Molle Island and West Molle Island.

West Molle Island – (Daydream Island)

West Molle Island is known as Daydream Island which at present has been closed due to cyclone damage and will reopen in September 2018 after $100m renovation.

If sailing to this island anchoring  on the northwest area only in good conditions, the east side it is best to pay for a mooring as the current is very strong between the islands. It is a nice place to visit it has a lot to offer and will even be better when it reopens.

North Molle Island

North Molle Island does not offer good anchorages, it is a National Park and people can be dropped off there if the wish to go camping, fees apply and that you have to arrange with the National Parks Office at Airlie.

South Molle Island

This is a beautiful island and it saddens me to see what has happened to the resort, or should I say what has not happened, it was neglected for years and now it is in ruins after the cyclone Debbie hit in March 2017.

Anchoring at South Molle Island it is best to get in as close as possible and not to close to the peak of The Horn, the high point of the island, winds can bullet around the horn increasing the winds strength.

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(Chart of the Molle Islands, the pencilled route marked goes through Unsafe Passage between North Molle and Mid Molle Islands)

Unsafe Passage

The name makes one think, it is safe to go through the passage but pick the tides and make sure there is enough depth. The current flows very strong if full tidal flows.

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(Chart showing tracks from Airlie Beach to Cid Harbour via the Molle Islands)

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(Molle Islands ahead, Unsafe Passage is that gap dead ahead of the starboard bow)

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(Unsafe Passage after we passed through)

The above photo shows Unsafe Passage and it looks quite wide here but it is not the channel is quite narrow. The beach in front of the yacht on the left is the north point of Mid Molle Island, behind that is Daydream Island and beyond that is the mainland.

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(Looking down at Unsafe Passage from The Horn walk on South Molle Island)

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(South Molle Island Resort pre- cyclone Debbie)

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(South Molle Island Jetty pre- cyclone Debbie)

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(Looking down from the walk on South Molle Island)

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(Northern point of North Molle Island, Whitsunday Passage to the left and Molle Channel to the right.)

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(Molle Islands from the eastern side)

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(Whitsunday Passage looking from South Molle Island east side)

Whitsunday Passage can be very unforgiving during strong southerly winds especially with wind against tide, you can often  experience 25 to 35 knot winds in this area.

Cid Harbour – Whitsunday Island

Cid Harbour is situated on the west side of Whitsunday Island and is used regularly by many boats large and small during severe wind conditions from NE through to SW. However, one should be aware that in some of the anchorage areas you can experience some wind bullets. We have anchored there for some days of heavy winds and had over 150 boats anchored, during the night hours it looks like a small town with all the anchor lights glowing.

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(Cid Harbour is quite a sizeable anchorage, here looking south)

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(Cid Harbour looking northerly direction)

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(Chart of Cid Harbour)

The red dots indicate anchorage areas, this chart includes a few anchorages outside Cid Harbour, a few spots in Hunt Channel and ones by Lion Point, the bay next to this Point is May’s Bay and during harsh winds this bay offers better protection than Cid Harbour. However, the draw back is that only a few boats can anchor there and if you are there for some days you can miss out of the larger social life in Cid Harbour where most boats are.

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(Beach near Jones Point Cid Harbour)

The beach at Cid Harbour close to Jones Point is the starting point for walks to Dugong Beach or the walk to The Peak on Whitsunday Island.

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(Dugong Beach)

The walk to The Peak takes around one hour to the top, I would class it as a moderate climb on the way you cross a creek that is usually dry. However, one year when heading back south we were stuck in Cid Harbour with stormy weather and it poured rain these photos show what happened.

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(This is the creek that is usually dry)

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(Water poured into Cid Harbour off Whitsunday Island in many places)

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(View from The Peak Whitsunday Island looking north, Dugong Inlet and Cid Harbour below)

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(View from The Peak Whitsunday Island looking south, Gulnara Inlet in foreground, Hamilton and Dent Islands to the south) 

Gulnara Inlet can only be entered around high tide, I have never entered there just did not get around to it is the only reason. But I must say one thought always comes to mind is that going into places that totally restrict you makes me feel uneasy if something should happen and you need to get out in an emergency you have to wait for the tide.

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(Sawmill Bay Beach at the southern end of Cid Harbour)

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(The walk to Dugong Beach)

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(Lace monitor – Goanna)

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(A beautiful shell that we found)

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(Sunsets at Cid Harbour)

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(Early morning Sawmill Bay)

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(Another sunset in Cid Harbour)

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(Good morning from Cid Harbour)

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(Early morning in Cid Harbour)

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(Resident Sea Eagle)

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(The Welcoming Swallow, as you enter a marina or anchorage they land on board and leave evidence of their visits)

May’s Bay and Bernie’s Beach

Mays Bay is the small bay near Lion Point  in Hook Passage just outside Cid Harbour and as I mentioned before it offers great wind protection. The name came from a couple Bernie and May that built the Observation Centre on the opposite side of Hook Passage on the southern edge of Hook Island. They lived in their boat and whilst they built their home and when the strong southerlies came they would shelter in this bay.

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(Chart of Cid Harbour and Mays Bay)
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(Mays Bay from Bernie’s Beach)

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(Bernie’s Beach looking into May’s Bay)

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(Twilight in May’s Bay)

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(Misty morning looking out from May’s Bay)

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(Sunset from May’s Bay)

Whitsunday’s Radio Network

The charter boat companies do radio schedules morning and night on VHF Ch 80 and 81 dependant on what area you are anchored. Often referred to as the Comedy Channels by many salts. This is due to many people charter a yacht or motor boat that have never been on a boat before and some of the questions asked by some people become a little comical and some very serious.

You will get the weather report through these radio schedules which can be handy and they usually give the report before all the other stuff so if you don’t want to listen to all the reports or questions you can change the channel.

Charter Boats Anchoring

As I mentioned before many people chartering boats have little experience and charter companies tend to tell them that if they see a cruising yacht anchored go near them because they know where the good anchorages are. So many take this literally and anchor right on your bow so just tell them to move. I used to fix this by hoisting the Day Anchor Sign (Black Ball), as they did not know what this Black Ball meaning was they kept clear, even some regular cruiser’s kept their distance, maybe they weren’t sure either.

Whitsunday Islands – Hook Island South.

Hook Island

Hook Island has many places to visit and anchor at some of the anchorages they have Marine Parks public moorings, they are blue in colour and they have a tag that state what size boat can use the. They also have a two hour limit but after 1700 hours you can stay on them for the night, so the trick is to pick up a mooring around 1500 hours and the two hour limit ends at 1700 hours so you stay.

Southern end of Hook Island

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(Sailing up Whitsunday Passage)

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(Approaching Hook Island)

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(A whale and her calf, each year we see them on the western side of the Nara Inlet entrance)

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There are two inlets on the southern end of this island, Nara Inlet and Marcona  Inlet.

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(Chart showing Whitsunday Island and the south end of Hook Island)

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(Chart of Nara Inlet and Macona Inlet)

Nara Inlet

Nara Inlet is quite popular and is quite a nice anchorage it has a point of interest being a cave with Aboriginal art on the walls. The sea bed near the small bay on the northern end can be a bit silty so make sure your anchor is holding if anchored there.

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(Looking down Nara Inlet fro the steps leading to the cave)

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(The cave with the art work that appears to have been touched up)

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(Interesting point which proves global warming started well before the industrial revolution)

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(Nara Inlet early morning)

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(Panaramic view of Nara Inlet)

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(Looking down at Alana Rose from the cave)

Macona Inlet

Macona Inlet is usually a quieter anchorage, I think the entrance puts some people off and the reef inside.

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(Chart Macona Inlet)

The chart shows the track in to Macona Inlet and it is best to stick to this if you do not know the area as there is the occasional bommie in the light blue area. The grey area marked  along the eastern side is a reef and almost dries at low tide.

The best spot to anchor is the eastern red dot in the horseshoe type bay, make sure you are clear of the reef when the boat swings on anchor it is good protection from any winds.

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(This catamaran is high and dry)

The catamaran entered just after high tide and as I looked out it was heading for the reef, I yelled out to Nancy to call them on the VHF radio and warn them but before she even got to the radio they hit the reef.

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(Having to wait 7 hours before the tide will lift them off the reef)

Just after they hit the reef I went over in the dinghy to make sure they were alright. I first thought they were novice sailors because it was a charter boat but when I arrived the two men were wearing T shirts with Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race 2008. They said they were just about to radio the charter company and tell them what had happened, I suggested they phone them otherwise everyone would hear on the radio and they would then be looked at for their time here. (There’s that boat that hit the reef).

The skipper said to me that it is probably good it happened this year and not last year, last year they hired a monohull. They had been smart enough to get the dinghy in deeper water and take the anchor out and drop that in deep water to pull themselves out when the tide comes in.

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(Macona Inlet)

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(Alana Rose at anchorage Macona Inlet)

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(Macona Inlet Beach)

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(Macona Inlet from the beach)

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(Macona Inlet reef coral)

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(Macona Inlet twilight)

Whitsunday Islands – Hook Island North

The northern end of Hook Island has a few places of interest Stonehaven Bay, Butterfly Bay, Luncheon Bay and Hook Island Reef.

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(Sailing up to Stonehaven Bay of starboard side Black and Hayman Islands on the port side)

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(Chart north end of Hook Island red dots anchorage areas, blue dots moorings)

Stonehaven Bay

Stonehaven Bay has a number of Marine Parks Moorings that have a two hour limit but can be used for overnight stays after 1700 hours, if you pick one up around 1500 hours you can stay the night. These moorings have boat size limits noted on them so make sure the mooring is made for the size of your boat. Anchoring is possible but get as close in to shore as possible if there are chances of strong winds as winds do bullet of the high grounds.

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(Chart Stonehaven Bay)

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(Stonehaven Bay)

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(Stonehaven Bay)

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(Sun setting taken from Stonehaven Bay)

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Butterfly and Luncheon Bays

These bays are full of beautiful coral which makes it difficult to anchor there are marine parks public moorings again with a two hour limit but after 1700 hours you can stay the night. Luncheon Bay is similar to Butterfly Bay but smaller.

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(Sailing around the northern point to Butterfly Bay)

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(Alana Rose on a mooring in Butterfly Bay)

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(Butterfly Bay beach which is mainly coral)

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(Looking in the water gives you an idea what the seabed is like)

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(Nancy on the beach Butterfly Bay)

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(This is what most the beach is made up of, coral)

Whitsunday Islands – Hayman, Langford and Black Islands

(Chart showing Hayman, Langford and Black Islands)

Hayman Island

Hayman Island is a private resort and yachts may only go to Blue Pearl Bay other than if you book your yacht into the Hayman Island Marina if there is room.

Blue Pearl Bay gets rather busy as all tourist boats go there for the purpose of diving on the coral reefs, there are a few Marine Park public moorings there and like them all they have a two hour limit. It is also a difficult place to anchor as the depth drops down quickly to 24 metres, there are a few places in around the line of the moorings. Again it is mainly coral so holding is not always good. Best time to go is just after lunch and drift off the bay until a mooring comes free then jump on it and stay the night. The tourist boats leave mid afternoon.

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(Coral caught in the anchor, not good for the holding and not good for the reef)

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(Blue Pearl Bay from the beach)

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(Colourful fish swim around you)

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(Blue Pearl Bay Sunset)

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(Quiet night at Blue Pearl Bay)

Langford Island and Black Island

These Islands are just south of Hayman Island and share the Hayman Channel.

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(Chart of Langford and Black Island)

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(Langford Island with the long sand beach)

Quite a lot of the sand areas of Langford Island goes under water at high tide, it is a great place to get off the boat and go for a lengthy walk.

There are a number of moorings that again have the two hour limit, however, anchoring there is good as the seabed is mainly sand. There is nothing on the island it is bare but offers good beach and swimming, it is a marine park so no fishing. There are the beautiful Bat Fish that will visit your boat looking for a feed.

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(Beautiful Bat Fish)

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It is also possible in this anchorage to get a visit from whales in the whale season. We were woken one morning by the sounds of whales calling, we can hear it through the hull of the catamaran in the cabin which is partly below waterline level.

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(Mother whale and calf pass by)

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(Langford Island)

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(A day at the beach)

The above photo is of a couple that were dropped off by a courtesy boat from Hayman Island that have come over for a picnic lunch. I thought it was good so I photoshopped it a little. Stonehaven, Hook Island in the background.

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(Langford Island and another picnic)

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(Another area of Langford Island)

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(Solway Lass anchored near Langford Island)

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(Langford Island at high tide girls from a tourist boat and navigation marker maintenance ship replacing a marker)

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(Walking Langford Island at sunset and high tide)

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(A tall ship anchored at Langford Island)

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(Sun sets behind Langford Island)

Black Island

Black Island is a very small island but has a nice beach and a few rock formations and sea eagles nest there. It does have some nice coral in places. The island can offer protect from the southeast winds.

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(Black Island)

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Whitsunday Island – East Coast

Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach is one of the most visited beaches in the Whitsunday Islands, this may be due to the long white sands and the lookout to Hill Inlet.

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(Chart of Whitehaven Beach, Haslewood Island and Solway Passage)

Whitehaven Beach anchorage indicated on the chart by four red dots is only good in fair weather in stronger southeasterly winds it can be uncomfortable  and place you on a lee shore, Haslewood Island affects the behaviour of the wind as it can cause winds to bullet from the peaks. Many sailors relocate to Tongue Bay if there is a change expected during the night hours.

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(Camira taking tourist to Whitehaven Beach)

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(Taking people ashore to Whitehaven Beach from a large motor catamaran)

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(Whitehaven Beach anchorage)

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(Whitehaven Bay from lookout up from Whitehaven Beach)

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(Looking west from lookout up from Whitehaven Beach)

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(Sunrise from Whitehaven Beach)

Haslewood Island

The anchorage shown at this island by Martin Islet is really a day anchorage, this area is full of coral so one has to make sure that the anchor is well set. The other problem is the strong tidal flow  through Solway Passage. Many a novice has anchored here for the night to wake up the next morning anchored at Whitehaven Beach due to dragging anchor through the night.

The other area I have not marked is Windy Bay, it’s not called Windy Bay for nothing. To anchor here you need to be sure it is going to be calm weather.

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(Sunrise and Windy Bay Island)

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(Looking at Whtitehaven from Haslewood Island)

Solway Passage

Sailing through Solway Passage can be interesting, it is best to work the tides here and pick the tide that helps you through rather than trying to fight the opposing current.

Tongue Bay

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(Chart showing Tongue Bay and Hill Inlet)

Tongue Bay has some public moorings with the two hour limit but anchoring there is good. In the southeastern end of the bay there is the entrance to the walk up to the Hill Inlet Lookout but this area drys at low tide so plan to do the walk whilst there is depth of water. The alternative if you are going at low tide is to take the dinghy around Tongue Point and enter via the beach, but be aware that mid to late afternoon the northeast sea breeze kicks in and the waves start to break on the beach making it a little lively getting back off the beach.

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(Tongue Bay, tourists at the landing at high tide)

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(Tongue Bay has a number of turtles so keep speeds down please)

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Tongue Bay have quite a number of tour boats of all sizes that come for the Whitehaven Beach and the Hill Inlet lookout, many of the tourists on the boats are backpackers, some touring and some working.

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(The tourist looking pretty for a photo)

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(The backpacker working on the boat while others enjoy the tour)

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(Quiet night at Tongue Bay)

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(Dawn at Tongue Bay)

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(Gull looking for food)

Hill Inlet

Hill Inlet drys on most low tides, however, some sailors have entered on high tide and found a whole to anchor in at low tide so they are still upright. On the chart it is all green.

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(The walk to Hill Inlet lookout)

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(Hill Inlet from the lookout at Tongue Point)

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(Hill Inlet at near low tide)

Great Barrier Reef – Line Reef

Line Reef

Line Reef is part of the Great Barrier Reef situated northeast of Hook Island and is amongst a few other reefs which include Bait Reef, Hook Reef and Hardy Reef.

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(Line Reef, Alana Rose in the distance)

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(Chart showing location of Line Reef from Hook Island)

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(Chart showing anchorages at the reefs)

Bait Reef

The chart above showing Bait Reef which is the small reef bottom left, it is impossible to anchor at this reef, there are Marine Parks public moorings for about three or four boats and care has to be taken when entering as there are coral mounds (bommies) in the centre of the reef.  It is often difficult to find a mooring without a boat on it in fact all the times we went there we never succeeded  they say it is beautiful for diving around the reef with incredible coral.

Hook Reef

Hook Reef next to Bait Reef there are a few places to anchor and many sailors will anchor there whilst waiting for a mooring to become free at Bait Reef.

Hardy Reef

Hardy Reef is also referred to as Fantasea Reef which is the name of the tourist company that has infrastructure there where people either do day trips or stay for a few days to dive on the reef or do tours in glass bottom boats.

There is a place to anchor in this reef but to enter in a yacht you need still tide at high tide to go through the narrow waterway on the northwest end of the reef, water rushes in and out with tidal flow.

Line Reef

There is a number of places to anchor along this reef, care has to be taken when entering this and all reef areas looking out for bommies which are easy to sea in this clear water. The anchorage here is well protected by the reefs from any southerly direction winds.

It is so nice here as all you can see is water with the exception of the Fantasea Centre which is a distance away.

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(Fantasea Centre at Hardy Reef from Line Reef)

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(Fantasea Centre Hardy Reef)

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(Looking from Line Reef towards the two structures of Fantasea Centre in Hardy Reef and the Whitsunday Islands in the distance)

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(Coral on Line Reef)

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(Early morning a whale sleeps in the Hardy Reef entrance channel)

The whale, one morning just at dawn I could hear a noise like a diver breathing, then I spotted this fellow. Apparently when they sleep they drop just below the waterline and then float to this position to breath so they basically bob up and down whilst sleeping. I called the Fantasea Centre on the radio to let them know because the very large motor catamaran full of tourist were due to arrive and I did not want them to hit the whale, a crew came over and the whale moved.

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(Whales in the area)

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(Dawn at Line Reef with a few neighbours)

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(Nancy taking a photo of the new day)

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(Another sunrise at Line Reef)

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(Sunset at Line Reef)

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(Looking southeast at sunset)

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(Another dawn at Line Reef)

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(Sailing back to the Whitsundays a sea snake wanted a lift)

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(Sailing back under light winds a friend on his yacht took pictures of Alana Rose under sail)

Whitsunday Islands – Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island is owned by the Oatley family of Oatley Wines and the Super Yacht ‘Wild Oats’ in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race amongst others. The place caters for everyone’s needs from backpacker to five star guests. The airport caters for all major city flights.

The marina there in my time was not as expensive as Airlie Beach and you received good service and you had entitlements to use facilities on the island along with free bus travel around the island.

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(Chart of Hamilton and Dent Island)

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(Marina staff on this punt would meet you at the entrance)

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You have to book a spot in the marina and they give you a time to be outside when you arrive outside call them on VHF radio and they will inform you what side to set up for going alongside, (what side to place the fenders). Once set they request you to meet them at a large orange float just inside the entrance  where they meet you, they welcome you and ask you to follow them, once near your berth they will point it out and then they will go ahead of you and get on the dock to take your lines, they then give you information about the island and they even have mobile efpos so you don’t need to go to the office. Best marina service I have experienced.

(Chart of Hamilton Island and surrounding areas)

Anchoring near Hamilton Island is not desirable with the strong currents and the fact that large planes need clearway near the airstrip. Short term anchoring is best north of the marina or over by Dent Island. For overnight anchorage over in Fitzalan Passage on the southern end of Whitsunday Island indicated on the chart by red dots or Gulnare Inlet. There is one public mooring on the northwest of Henning Island, (blue dot on chart). it can be tricky picking up this mooring when the tide is in full flow.

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(Hamilton Island Marina on a cool morning)

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(Our Alana Rose in the marina)

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(Hamilton Island Beach)

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(One of the swimming pools)

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(Waterfront on north side)

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(Looking down on the main beach)

On the island buses circulate the island on a regular basis and you just hop on and off as you please it makes it good to have a look at all the views.

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(Dent Island left and Henning Island on the right)

Dent Island is also owned by the Oatley’s and  they have a golf course on it and a restaurant.

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(Fitzalan Passage, Fitzalan Island in the forground and Whitsunday Island in the background)

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(Marina and waterfront shops)

If you don’t want to spend big dollars in flash restaurants on the island they have some other restaurants that are very popular, the Manta Ray Pizza Restaurant is great, they also have a bakery and fish and chip take-away and cafes.

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(Stores and vehicles arrive by barge)

If you are in the marina and you need stores you can order from Woolworth’s online and they will deliver it from Airlie Beach and even store it on your boat for a very small fee, five years ago it was $7.

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(These buggies are for hire if you want to get around by yourself)

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(The sulphur crest cockatoo like the cafe also, waiting for people to vacate the tables)

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(Cockatoo looking at Nancy eating hoping for some food)

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(Hamilton Island Yacht Club)

Hamilton Island Yacht Club is a unique building it cost around $3m to build, built with the nautical theme representing parts of yacht and sea along with a sail siloette style roof top.

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(Above a swimming pool is the Bommie Bar which is open in the afternoons and closes after sunset, sunset is a must here)

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(Top left, Bommie Bar, bottom right the Bowsprint)

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(Bottom left, swimming pool under Bommie Bar, right Bommie Bar)

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(Sunset from the Bommie Bar)

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(Sunset from the Bowsprint)

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(Sunset reflection)

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(Sun sets behind Dent Island)

A very busy week for Hamilton Island is Hamilton Island Race Week, don’t bother trying to book in the marina that week as it is booked by the racing yachts.

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(Spectacular sights on race week)

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Whitsunday Islands – Final part

Wind-up

The previous posts on the Whitsunday Islands covers quite a lot but not everything, there are many places that I have not covered and many places I have not seen, there are other islands and bays where there are good anchorages. There are guide books that you can buy that show many anchorages but please remember guide books information can be a few years old by the time it is released on the shelves for sale so you still need to take care. As it states it is a guide book.

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(Looking out from Whitsunday Sailing Club)

The Whitsunday Islands are beautiful and as you have seen there are some great places to visit and sail, please keep it this way make sure you do not lose rubbish over the side, plastic bags are the worst things out there sea life such as the beautiful turtle think a plastic bag is a jelly fish and swallow it causing it to go through a terrible death. Plastic shopping bags pick up in the wind easily keep them inside the boat, bait bags in use keep in a bucket so they don’t slip over the side.

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(These storm fronts happen on the east coast)

Weather and weather warnings

Listen to the weather reports on the VHF radio during the morning and afternoon radio schedules on VHF 80/81. The weather in this area can change to high winds and storms and with the amount of Islands and high land forms winds pick up speed. The narrow waterways have fast tidal flows and strong winds against tidal flow can create very rough seas.

Around July each year it can get rather cool at nights and mornings so be prepared for some cooler weather.

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(Chart of Whitsunday Passage)

Most main waterways in the Whitsundays travel north/south the strongest winds come from the south/southeast, this means the waves will stand right up if the tidal flow is in a southerly direction.  Charter companies tell the people that have chartered their yachts were they should anchor in certain weather so if you are not sure follow their lead.

An example of people who don’t listen and make things unsafe for themselves and others:

One afternoon on the radio schedule the charter companies asked the chartered boats where they were after giving a strong wind and high seas warning. They told people that were at a safe anchorage to stay there the night and all of the next day.

Early next morning I heard a frantic woman on the radio calling their charter company who eventually answered. She screamed in the radio that they needed help as they had sailed and was located near the southeast point of South Molle Island on their way to Long Island. Winds were 25-30 knots from the south so they were basically smashing into large waves. The charter company told them to turn around and anchor in the bay of South Molle Island and they will be safe. The lady refused to she stated they were booked in at Long Island and wanted to go there and asked that they send a crew to help them get there. The company kept telling them that it would be too dangerous for anyone to go to Long Island. The company had by now sent a crew out in the chase boat. The woman continued to sream down the radio every few seconds asking where help was. It was going to take a minimum of 30 to 40 minutes for a chase boat to get to them at best. The chase boat finally got there and a crew member got onto the troubled yacht turned it around and anchored in the bay at South Molle Island. 

The sea can be a dangerous place for experienced sailors and it deserves respect, I have lost some good friends to the sea and they were very experienced sailors they had sailed and raced all over the world, they and their yacht disappeared during a storm when they were sailing back to Australia and they were only 164 nautical miles from home.

Navigation

When navigating around seas there is one thing to keep in mind. chart plotters are not always correct in shallow waters. Most chart plotters on start up will give you a warning stating that you should not rely on this equipment only, you should use paper charts, your eyes and depth sounder. Make sure your chart plotter is on the right projection to show all seabed information such as contours.

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(Don’t let this happen to you)

When entering places like above go slow and have someone on the bow looking for reefs or bommies this may save some embarrassment and money.

Comedy Channel

In an earlier post I referred that VHF Ch 80 and 81 cruisers call the comedy channel probably unfairly. There are a lot of novices out there chartering a boat for the very first time and I say good on them for having a go. We started off chartering boats years ago and since then sailed more than 35,500 nautical miles which include the Caribbean, Pacific, up and down the east coast and circumnavigation of Australia.

So if I see a charter boat in trouble I offer to give them a hand, however, you do hear some comical things on the radio.