Depths and Heights

From Macona we headed out the next morning to the northern part of Hook Island, aiming to check out the snorkeling at Maureens Cove. The wind was blowing about 10-15 knots from the East and we werent sure if the shelter there would be adequate, so  we made alternate plans to head to Butterfly Bay if need be. However, on arrival at Maureens Cove, there were 2 moorings and not another boat in sight. We sussed out the better option mooring, which was, of course, furthest from the best snorkeling and then picked up the mooring. Once more we got fouled in the ground tackle, but because we had fully expected this, we managed it and unwound ourselves without issue. Eventually the breeze held us off the mooring adequately, and we were confident to leave the boat and head into the depths. Luckily, the other mooring was still free, so we were able to park the Goon Bag on that, and slip into the water.

The snorkeling here was good in that there were plenty of fish, but the coral wasnt as good as it had been at Border. It was still better than Blue Pearl Bay though, and we stayed in for a good 45 minutes until we ran out of stuff to look at! We could hear lots of whale song as we admired the fish, and expected that we would see plenty of whales on the way back later. Sure enough, we saw several pods as we sailed then motored towards Cid Harbour, our chosen anchorage for the next two nights.

There were a lot of other boats at Cid Harbour, which is not unusual, but we were far enough away not to be too bothered. Once we were settled, we decided to go and check out Sawmill Beach, as we knew the track to Whitsunday Peak started from there. We took our sundowner champagne in with us to enjoy over a beach sunset, and explored the beach and track start. Not a single person from another boat came into the beach for sunset, which was a little sad, as we have had some great conversations with other cruisers on beaches at sunset. I guess its the nature of the “cruising” up here, with most of the boats being charter vessels, so the crew are not looking for a change of scenery or in need of a conversation with some different people!

The next morning dawned with some cloud cover and it felt a little cooler, so was perfect for our walk. We had breakfast and then prepared our walking pack with plenty of water and some food, and then headed ashore. Walking shoes on, we started the trail which went up a valley in a pocket of old rain forest, climbing steeply and crossing 2 rocky creeks. Out of the rain forest and into dryer bush as we started to follow the ridge line, and the path leveled out somewhat, but then as we neared the peak we had another very steep climb. The vegetation changed again to grass trees, some of which looked pretty old with considerable height to the trunk, and then we were on rock, and the astounding view opened up. We couldnt see WDS from the top, as she was behind the lower peak in front of Whitsunday peak, but we could see a couple of other boats anchored off Dugong Beach, and they looked tiny from our vantage point 450 meters above them!

We caught our breath as we admired the amazing 360 degree panorama, then sat and had some food and water, as it had become very hot with the cloud lifting and not much breeze to cool us. Feeling energised after eating, we started the descent, which as always seemed to pass very quickly, and by 1100 we were back on the beach. Not having had enough of walking yet, we decided to take the trail round to Dugong Beach, and on this trail we saw two goannas, one climbing a tree and one rooting in the vegetation close to the beach. We didnt stop at Dugong Beach as it wasnt really a swimming beach, and decided to head back to WDS and have a swim there.

We passed the afternoon with Pete working and me preparing our spare room so that it was ready for Row, arriving tomorrow for the wedding. This involved having to reorganise the store cabin, as well as changing our bed, which added to my already tired limbs. After this and our morning exertions, we ran out of energy quite early, and had a quiet evening and an early night.

Friday was one of those amazing, Whitsunday turquoise days, with absolutely no breeze necessitating a great deal of time in the water to keep cool. I baked Janets sesame crackers and had another crack at scones, with a little more success on both counts this time. We were ready for Rows arrival with the bed made up and even cupboard and shelf space available for her, and scones with jam and cream for afternoon tea, as well as champagne chilling in the fridge! We departed Cid Harbour at about 1300, and pootled south to Hamilton Island, ready to pick Row up when her flight arrived at 1450.

As we got to Dent Passage, we checked to see if we could pick up a mooring. We hadnt realised there were two public moorings there, and though both were occupied, we could see a dinghy heading back out. Then we realised that one of the boats was Miramar, who we had seen an numerous occasions as we came up the coast. The dinghy was Miramars and they were just about to leave, so we gratefully took the mooring, as the flight was making its turn to land. We stood on the bow and waved like mad, hoping Row was on the starboard side of the plane, and sure enough she sent us a photo as soon as she landed! Pete took the Goon Bag over to the airport ferry wharf to collect her, and soon we were on our way to Happy Bay, with our first guest.

After some pretty good whale watching on the way across to Happy Bay, we anchored at around 1500 and had scones with jam and cream, and Pete did his second saubrage of the trip. This time it was completely successful with the bottle really well chilled, and we toasted the soon to be happy couple as we settled in to catch up. Later as I prepared dinner, Row and Pete had a very successful evening fishing, catching a couple of bream and a baracuda, as well as 2 that got away! Using the Ryobi spotlight, we could see loads of fish activity, with shoals of tube fish schooling and leaping all over the anchorage. Though we had roast lamb for dinner, Pete gutted the fish and we would eat them tomorrow, so kept them in the top of the freezer.

We had a lovely peaceful and quiet night at anchor, and in the morning headed into the beach to see if we could get some coconuts. We had not taken advantage of this brilliant resource at any other islands and we felt it was time to do so. Row was also keen to have a go at making coconut milk. We gathered about 6 nuts, and Pete started to hack them with his machete, when we realised there was a coconut spike for the purpose, obviously used by the caretaker, who didnt seem to be around. Eventually Pete got the husk off one and opened the nut, and I got to try the milk – it was foul! The nut was completely off and the milk was like sour cows milk. However, a bush turkey scavenging near by thought it was the most delicious meal he had ever eaten, and he made short work of the nasty nut! We had more success with the next few, and the caretaker returned and demonstrated correct use of the spike and showed us how to open them more effectively. We returned to WDS with 6 good nuts, and Row started her coconut milk process, as Pete and I raised the anchor and we headed back to the marina and Hamilton Island.

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Hand made coconut milk stage 1

As we motored across, we received a message from the wedding party that there was to be a BBQ and pool party at the bride and grooms place in the afternoon. With Rows coconut milk a great success and there being plenty of it, we decided we would make pina coladas to take to the BBQ along with our 3 fish. Once berthed on the T head of B arm, we had a light lunch then gathered our washing and pool stuff to head to the party. As Pete went on to start the washing, Row and I went to the brand new Hamilton Island IGA (which is brilliant and way better than the old general store) to get pineapple juice for the pina colada.

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The fish on the BBQ

It was fun to see everyone at Al and Larissas place, and the pina colada went down very well indeed, and we passed a happy afternoon catching up and chatting and getting our washing done! Eventually the party moved on to the pub, where it was karaoke night and we found that Mathers was a “famous” pub singer with a wide repertoir, and that Pete and I should never sing in public! We murdered Delilah – yes, pun intended! We got turfed out of the pub as it closed, and whilst the party continued, I bailed and went back to the boat. Very glad I did too.

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Morning bath time at Cid Harbour

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