Airlie Beach revisited

We had a busy trip down from Maggie, with the initial sparkling conditions turning into 20 knots on the nose with the horrible short swell you get in these shallow waters. We did sail for a while but we were on our ear, the cats were very unhappy and it was far from comfortable. We therefore decided to break our trip at Cape Upstart. We would arrive in the dark, and need to leave in the dark, but as Pete and I had been there before, we felt comfortable to do this.

It took forever sailing down Cape Bowling Green to eventually get into the lee of Upstart, but when we did it was such a relief. Whilst the breeze didn’t really abate, the sea suddenly became flat and it was far more comfortable. We anchored near our original anchorage, and there were a heap more boats about this time! We settled in and had chilli con carne with rice for dinner, then it was all to bed about 9:30, with alarm set for 4:30 am!

A very early start and successful weighing of anchor meant we were on our way at about 5 am. I sent Sophie and Pete back to bed, and held watch while the sun tried to struggle through the cloud cover. Pete seemed to have the cold back again, but was good by about 10 at which time I retired for more sleep and to ensure we had stuff ready for lunch. Conditions were not unlike the  previous afternoon, except we just pushed on under motor, making it bearable but noisy.

After some debate, we decided we would head into Gloucester Passage instead of going around the island. We felt this would give us some respite from the sea and the persistent 15 -20 knot breeze. It worked a treat, sea flattened and breeze eased as we entered the lee about 10 miles from the passage. Having made poor time until this point with an expectation of arriving in Airlie at night, we suddenly started to make up time.

Gloucester Passage was interesting, very shallow in the middle section but we were there just after low water. Minimum we saw was 3.5 meters, which was tense, but ok. We negotiated it successfully and entered the Whitsunday Channel, in the home stretch to Airlie at around 2:30. We checked in with the Abell Point Marina and they put us back on M24, once we had refuelled.

That evening we ate our mackerel as sashimi and fish tacos for dinner. As the fish book said, it wasn’t the best eating fish in the world, but it was all our own work and Sophie made a fantastic corn salsa that we ate with it.

The next day I walked with Pete to get the ferry for him to fly home from Hammo for a couple of meetings. On the way back to the boat I bought a bikini, checked to see if we could get the genset looked at and tried to get a courtesy car for us to go shopping. No luck at the marina for this, but we did manage to get the Shag Island Yacht Club car. While Sophie and I were at Coles, the engine dude called and said he could look at it today, so  we agreed I would call when we were back from shopping.

He came by, checked the pump, found the wrong belt on the alternator, pulled off a few bits and said he would be back in the morning at 8 to put it back together! After getting the provisions stowed, finishing the washing and tidying the boat ready for departure tomorrow, Sophie and I had roo burgers and salad for dinner, then retired for an early night. The plan was to leave in the morning and find somewhere to snorkel in the islands.

The morning dawned with a little more wind than I would have liked, but after the engine dude had been and fixed everything, we decided to head out anyway. Undocking was  a little tricky, but we had some assistance from others on the dock and headed off across the Whitusnday Passage to Hayman Island. Despite tooling about for quite some time, no moorings became available, so we decided to try for Stonehaven. It was a bit gusty at the top end of the moorings, but the bouts further down were in more sheltered water. We tooled about here for a while, missed two moorings becoming free and then finally decided to head off to anchor.

iIt was not my preference to anchor with just Sophie and I, but I felt that the conditions wee benign enough for us to anchor in shelter and relatively shallow water. Cid Harbour seemed the best place, but we checked out Nara and Macona inlets on the way down and seeing the plethora of boats in the distance at Cid Harbout, opted for Macona. The entrance was a little tricky, but we managed it without incident and dropped the anchor in about 7.5 m, with plenty of swing room. It was about 3 by now and we were desperate to swim, but Sophie thought she had seen a shark as we entered the inlet. There were Dolphins  as well and I thought it unlikely there were both dolphins and sharks in the same place. So we gingerly swam, staying very close the boarding ladder, and staying in just long enough to cool off!

it was a lovely evening, very still and an uneventful night, though the cats were very keen to try to get outside and wander. Smudge looked so close to testing the water on so many occasions they were banned from deck! We retired early again, preparing for the next day when we would pick up Lindy, Sophie’s mum, from Hammo.


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