A couple of weeks in the Whitsundays do nobody any harm. Departing Brampton Is. on the 10th May with the intention of overnighting in Kennedy Sound, the passage between Shaw and Lindeman Is. my plan was soon altered when less than 3 miles north of Brampton Is. the wind piped up to the high twenties and gusts into the low thirties from the south. Unable to resist the lift this would give to Solway pass between Hazelwood Is. and Whitsunday Is. I amended the course and let the wind and following seas and tidal current whisk us along at a brisk pace. Not long and we were through the Tinsmith group of islands passing Shaw and Lindeman islands to port and then Hamilton Is. a mile or three further west again. Solway Pass is a deep but tide troubled narrow pass that would frighten most non sailing mortals with its overfalls and whirlpools with rocky shores in every direction. Get it right or peril lurks. 20 minutes in that washing machine against the tidal current with 25 knots of wind driving us forward seemed like an hour. The log showed our speed at 8.4 knots through the water but in effect we were only making 4.2 knots in the desired direction. Once through the pass the delights of calm water and the famous vista of Whitehaven Beach arcing it’s way northward like a mirror image of the Nike tick is a pleasant experience indeed. Motoring up to Apostle Bay after dropping sail at the northern end of the beach Truansea anchored close in to some substantial bald cliffs of smooth rock. This anchorage is very comfortable in southeasterly weather with a view through the mouth of the bay to Border and Deloraine Islands. A couple of decent sized sweetlips decided to join Truansea courtesy of Shimano and angling skill. Yummy.
|Maureens Cove. Good snorkelling.|
|Fish at the stern Maureens Cove.|
|Backpacker Fleecer at Maureens Cove Hook Island|
Old Sol broke the horizon at 0620 illuminating a clear sky and with it by 0800 was a perfect sailing breeze at 15 knots from the southwest and forecast to swing to the southeast by midmorning. Taking advantage of the coolish breeze Truansea took a little sightseeing tour out to Deloraine Is and then back past Cateran Bay on the northern side of Border Is. The snorkeling in Cateran Bay was first class back in the nineties when I was there last and I have no reason to doubt it is still the same. Judging by the number of boats on the moorings there it can’t have changed much. With the breeze swinging back to the southeast at a steady 15 knots the run up to the top of Hook Is and Maureen’s Cove was as good as it gets. Courtesy moorings have been placed outside of the coves fringing reef as a protective measure against anchors and chain causing irreparable damage to the coral and Truansea was just early enough to avail herself of one of these. The ships boat was lowered into the beautifully clear blue water and I managed to remember how to snorkel closer in shore and was amazed at the coral and number and size of fish that carried on doing what fish do and ignore me completely even though I was often only an arm’s length away. I must look fishy underwater or salty at least. If only they knew I was still digesting their cousin. There were several dive charter boats and big backpacker fleecers elsewhere in the cove with their well-organized diving and snorkeling trips inshore. Loud music and exclamations of delight and disbelief were the order of the day until they returned their weary punters to the resorts. The night, as calm and quite as the afternoon was chaotic, was left exclusively to Truansea and two other cruising boats.
The new day on the 12th May saw Truansea leave this wonderland astern as she made her way past Hayman Is and on into Abel Point marina. Now here is a place that has made an art form of extracting money from any who happen by irrespective of race, religion, political leaning or social standing. Even those with the longest of pockets are afflicted by this Whitsunday malaise. I overheard one tight faced lady making a bee line for the exit saying she feared being charged to pass wind. Beware fellow catamaran sailors! An overnight stay for an eleven metre multihull will set you back 90 of your hard earned wallet padders plus a refundable 50 they bet you at even money that you’ll return the electronic gizmo that gives you access to your boat and the dunnies. Stay a week and it will set you back 450 of the aforementioned plus the refundable. And I thought gold was mined underground. You could look at it like I did, as a weight loss program, not only can’t you afford to eat; the length of the walk to the facilities or even out of the marina grounds would have Steve Monagety gasping. Why are we joining these captive craft, well Truansea had to come into the marina to have a little problem with her auto helm diagnosed by the Raymarine agent. Now this fellow, a fellow sailor, is a walking advertisement for quality service. He responded to my voice message and met Truansea at the marina berth within an hour of tying up. After explaining to him the symptoms he did some checks and was fairly sure the drive motor was faulty but would check and confirm with Raymarine technicians in Sydney and order the necessary part depending on their advice. This was midafternoon Thursday 12th, by Friday when I rang him he was able to advise that Raymarine Sydney agreed with his diagnosis and a new drive motor had been ordered and would be dispatched ASAP likely to arrive at his office by courier by Wednesday 18th. Jumping ahead a few days now to complete this story Truansea returned to Abel Point Marina on Monday 16th to sit out some bad weather and have the auto helm drive motor replaced. Just after lunch on Tuesday 17th the Raymarine agent arrived to my surprise and fitted and tested the new drive motor. This work was all done professionally and under warranty with little input from me other than to advise of the faulty equipment. I was more than pleasantly surprised at the efficiency with which this repair was carried out. Absolutely first class service and back up for their product by Raymarine and outstanding efficiency by the repair agent. The agent I refer to is Phillip Pleydell of Whitsunday Marine Electronics and communications, obviously I recommend him to anyone with a marine electrical problem in his area.
|Daydream Island Mermaids looking towards Unsafe Pass|
|Bruce the banana shark right of centre and stingray Daydream Island Living Reef|
|Part of Daydream Island resort from the mooring.|
Digression completed and back on track now. After spending that Thursday night at rip off central Truansea ambled on over to Daydream Is on the Friday where one of my lovely nieces is the Executive Secretary. This is lucky for Truansea as she was able to organize a mooring in the bay there for a few days at very special rates. This allowed an opportunity to experience the delights of Daydream Is, of which there are many, and a weekend visit from my brother and the rest of his family to the island. A little excursion on Truansea on Saturday to a bay on the south west corner of South Molle Is with a BBQ lunch on board was arranged for all involved. A very pleasant day was enjoyed. Daydream Is would be one of the best family orientated resorts I have visited. There are facilities and activities for every age group, singles, couples and families are catered for. There is a remarkably good open air aquarium called the Living Reef complete with coral, fish, sharks and rays and attendant marine biologist. There are restaurants and bars, swimming pools with swim up bars and lifeguards, a huge atrium and an outdoor theatre for evening movies laid back style. Kangaroos by the dozen adorn the beautifully kept gardens and lawns and curlews that will accompany you at your table in the restaurant. Look out for some cheeky cockatoos that will remind you if you’ve left your room open. The staff are very friendly, helpful, knowledgeable and unobtrusive. Check it out if you’re looking for a great getaway holiday.
This brings us back to rip off central post repair job. The weather like that experienced by most of the QLD coast during this week has the attendant strong wind warning and rain in all forms. Abel Point may as well be any other place in the wind and rain. Thursday 19th and the weather forecast is looking good for a departure for Cairns on Saturday. Once again my brother offered to ferry me around the supermarket and a few other shops to stock up so that was completed on Friday afternoon before we had dinner at a restaurant run by a friend of his at Airlie Beach.
At long last contact from Seawind regarding some outstanding warranty issues I had been at odds with them about. I have to say Andrew Crawford the Qld agent for Seawind and the most sincere advocate for Seawind catamarans and fellow Seawind 100XL owner you’re likely to meet. He has been able to garner a satisfactory outcome for the issues that have bothered me. Within the hour of receiving that long awaited phone call from Seawind a representative from Whitsunday Yacht Services was at the boat to resolve an issue regarding anchor chain shortage. Another pleasant experience as the missing chain was replaced and a joiner fitted that afternoon and followed up with a visit from one of the owners of Whitsunday Yacht Services to ensure the job was completed to my satisfaction. Another part is to be delivered to the rear admiral who will bring it to Darwin for me to fit next month. Thank you Andrew I reckon you’ll see me smile next time I say Seawind. Just keep on about the Quality and prompt after sales service and future customers will come and be happy.
|Gloucester Passage and anchorage.|
|Gloucester Island Monty's Resort just out of frame on right.|
Saturday 21st arrived and I was halfway out of the marina when the sun rose realizing in my haste I had left Truansea behind. Off we went together inseparable as two part glue across Pioneer Bay past Grimston Point relishing the conditions and making a comfortable 6 knots with full Jib and single reefed main. As we passed between Armit and Gumbrell Islands rain and cloud enveloped Hayman Is. and Hook Is. 15 or so miles to the southeast of us. We would be in low visibility also within an hour but it soon passed. We passed George Point and I took advantage of the lee of Saddleback Is. to drop the mainsail and prepare for the narrow Gloucester Passage 2.5 mile ahead. We passed through the beaconed passage under jib and rounded Passage Islet heading in towards Monty’s Resort where we took up a vacant courtesy mooring. The outlook from the anchorage here includes a longish beach with some half tide rocks which are backed up quite closely by heavily wooded hills. The resort is almost indistinguishable from the anchorage but several people are about swimming or fishing or kayaking. Looking east Gloucester Is. a high continental island with a steep heavily wooded aspect dominates the surrounds. West by north west of here distant 11 miles is the port of Bowen. I’ll bypass there and Abbot Point coal loading facility tomorrow on my way to Cape Upstart. You will read about that in the next post. The rain has cleared and it is a beautiful afternoon clear to Bowen with a little haze.
|Family friends Scott and Lisa with Alan outside their business in Bowen.|