Saturday, May 28, 2011

Airlie Beach to Mourilyan Harbour

As noted in the previous post my extended stay in Airlie Beach was brought about by the failure of the Raymarine autohelm drive motor. The faulty part being replaced in a timely and professional fashion allowed me a little extra time to spend with my brother. Airlie Beach is not high on my list of places to visit being so much like other tourist orientated Mecca's e.g. the Gold and Sunshine Coasts but I was impressed with the friendliness and positive attitude of the business operators in Cannonvale and Airlie Beach that I came across. So if you yearn for touristy places this is one very friendly one. There are any number of tourist delights for you to see and enjoy here and it is one of the best naturally scenic areas in the world. Photos of the Whitsundays, far better than I can produce, abound on the web and in glossy tourist brochures.

Anchorage at Cape Gloucester, Gloucester Island in the background  Monty's  resort just out of frame to the right.

Cape Gloucester bottom of picture with Gloucester Island above.  The passage is well marked.
I slipped away from Abel Point marina at Airlie Beach early on the 21st May to avoid any conflict with the catamaran ferries and backpacker fleecers in the narrow winding marina entrance. Once into Pioneer Bay proper I raised sail and set course for east of Grimston Point and the gap between Gumbrell and Armit Islands and then on to the entrance to the Gloucester Passage. I dropped the mainsail in the lee of Saddleback Island before entering the passage and carried on through under jib alone. The deep water in the passage though narrow in places is well marked and easy enough to follow provided you understand the cardinal system of bouys and beacons. Once around Passage Islet  the courtesy moorings provided by the resort are clearly visible and very welcome providing a comfortable and secure nights sleep. A couple of heavy rain showers with their attendant strong gusts limiting visibility to about 100m for up to 20 mins made the days run interesting. Only two other vessels sighted during the passage.

Abbot Point coal loading wharf. Not a ship in sight.

0630 on Sunday and all those morning things like breakfast over and done with the anchor is raised and sail hoisted and underway north west again for Cape Upstart passing Bowen and the Abbot Point coal loading facility along the way. An uneventful day. I did mentally question why the Abbot Point Coal loading facility seemed abandoned given the hype about coal ships queuing up offshore and in light of the 28 ships I counted waiting at anchor off Hay Point. Even if the facility doesn't operate on a Sunday I still expected to see ships cued up. What's going on Mr Palmer? This could case blackouts in China. Bring the oriental manufacturing megaplex to it's knees. Tut Tut Mrs Bligh. Maybe it's a way of reducing carbon emissions, shut down for 1 day out of 7. That would be 52 days longer for each year practised the earth would survive the dreaded rise in temperature. I'd call it the one seventh cooling phenomenon. Anyway back on track and round Cape Upstart into it's lee and a lovely little anchorage not far of the beach. There are some homes here quite modern looking beach houses and it's a very secret place and looks like a real little gem. Further down the extensive bay there a many more houses which I suspect have been sponsored by the good years in the sugar industry. Good luck to them this little paradise is some reward for the hard work and obstacles that come the way of the sugar bush farmers.

Cape Upstart. A small section of a lovely remote place.

Kajabbi - a modified Nichol islander trimaran.
Since leaving Airlie Beach I'd noticed a blue trimaran in my wake and anchored nearby at night and at Cape Upstart anchorage I had an opportunity to exchange a hello with the owner as he motored close by.    
Kajabbi is a pretty trimaran easy on the eye and cleverly modified. These are an older style of trimaran still popular for affordable coastal cruising.   Mick and Adele are the couple on board and I was to share the anchorage with them again at Cape Bowling Green and further north at Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island. Here I was to learn that the couple both come from Kajabbi a small town north of Cloncurry that I was aware of as a fellow sapper from my army days some 40 years ago hailed from there also. Mick had spent a year in Mackay refurbishing and modifying the tri and had done a pretty good job of it. He and Adele are new to sailing and had been emulating my sail settings as they motor sailed along. A lovely couple who with a few more months experience on board will be really relaxed and enjoying themselves. The couple of days sail prior to Horseshoe Bay were blowy and bumpy but hadn't deterred them. Kajabbi remained in Horseshoe Bay when I sailed out at sunrise on the 25th May headed for Orpheus Island under jib and double reefed main. Interestingly the weather forecast for Cardwell to Bowen offshore waters for that day was for winds 20 to 25 knots SE but Truansea rarely experienced anything below 30 knots from the south until well passed Havannah Island and in the lee of Great Palm Island. 

Sunrise Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island

Having such a good run I abandoned plans to stop at Orpheus Island and instead opted to cross the passage between Orpheus Is. and Hinchinbrook Island and make for the anchorage at Lucinda. Lucinda is the site of one of the longest wharves of it's type in the world. At 5.6km long it dips almost 2m over it's length due to the curvature of the earth. There are three large bulk sugar sheds at the onshore end of the wharf and a small but very peaceful anchorage 200m off afforded Truansea a secure and comfortable night. 

Entrance to Lucinda past the wharf. The GPS again has sub 5m accuracy.
Double click on image to enlarge 
20 miles of Hinchinbrook Passage just like this near the southern end. Full sail gliding along at 5 knots.

About 15 miles further north a spot called Angels Wings.

That's the Hinchinbrook Passage steep rugged hills on the starboard side heading north and mangrove lined creeks to port. One of those creeks closer to the southern end is the Herbert River. Closing on the northern end of Hinchinbrook Island Truansea diverts to port from her course at Scraggy Point for her overnight anchorage about half a mile offshore from the Cardwell Jetty. Here is where I go ashore the following morning, Friday, to stock up on a few grocery items. I preferred to shop here rather than Cairns because every little bit helps these cyclone Yasi ravaged businesses to stay open and assist with community morale. I have experienced first hand the destruction tropical cyclones can wreak on communities and the natural and built environment. Cyclones Ada, Althea and Winifred and the associated 1974 flood being the most devastating. We had been lucky on those occassions not having serious personal loss and damage but I really feel for those most affected and noticed that there are still many homes and businesses in Cardwell tarped up or abandoned. The damage to trees for at least 80km and most likely 100km of the coastline that I passed is truly unbelievable. In places it reminded me of the sparce hairs on a mangy dogs back. Yasi will be remembered for generations to come in the Tully/Cardwell area and the Family Group of Islands. Dunk Island is probably the better known of this Island group and the damage there is no less than is seen on the mainland. 

The sail across Rockingham Bay on Friday afternoon to Brammo Bay on the NW point of Dunk Island was your typical lazy Sunday afternoon sail. After a comfortable night at anchor Truansea set off for Mourilyan Harbour a further 20 miles to the north west arriving there at 1130. Along the way I changed the lure I had been trolling unsuccessfully for the last 200miles for a nice shiny spoon. What a good choice. within half an hour I had a strike but dropped it. Probably over anxious and excited. Never mind about half an hour later we had the real deal. A nice tuna mackeral brought aboard and despatched from this world with the pacifier. Hung by the tail over the aft beam to bleed I set about dropping sail as we had reached the entry to Mourilyan Harbour. Safely anchored inside the surgeon in me filleted flesh from bone and took a couple of happy snaps before refrigerating future meals. Being careful not to attract the crocodiles reported to be in this anchorage in the Moresby River I was very fussy about the clean up. Yes it was fresh tuna and rice for dinner and not to bad either. Tomorrow Truansea is off to Mission Bay in the lee of Cape Grafton or Fitzroy Island nearby whichever takes her fancy for the night before a short leg into Trinity inlet and Cairns on Monday. After a day stopover in Cairns to pick up some electronic charts for the NT and WA Truansea takes on the far north coast and Cape York. 

The blog will continue as time and signal permit.

Tuna Mackeral 
Sashimi anyone? Sliced to your preference. The wine is for dimensional reference.




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