Exploring the Whitsunday Islands

Wednesday (6 October) we left our overnight mooring ball at Stonehaven Bay, Hook Island, and moved around to Butterfly Bay on the north coast. This is a no-anchoring zone so we picked up another mooring ball and were settled by lunchtime having done a huge passage of 4.25 miles LOL. And, as anticipated, we no longer had any phone / internet coverage so I was glad to have blogged before we left.

Sitting there quietly bobbing on our anchor ball we had a turtle visitation which was lovely.

Then we watched three sea eagles swooping and swirling and fighting in the sky then suddenly one plummeted into the water. The sea eagle started trying to get aloft but was obviously water logged and couldn’t manage it. So we started to get the dinghy ready to go into the water to attempt a rescue. At this point another dinghy came out trying to help with a net but then, luckily, a marine parks landing craft came into the bay and took over the rescue. He lowered his ramp into the water near the sea eagle but it started to swim away clearly frightened. Thankfully the marina parks guys were determined to get him to safety and eventually they had him on the boat with a blanket over his head to calm him before they took him off to dry land. Was very relieved for the poor bird!

During all this excitement, we were being bothered by March flies (large horseflies) who are blood suckers with a prominent proboscis. Yuck! Very annoying (and painful when they get you) so we spent much of the time trying to keep them away. Later on, we decided not to bother snorkelling so headed out for a bit of a dinghy explore instead, enjoyed another turtle visitation, checked out a rather large neighbour and even spotted some wild mountain goats. Back on board we had a movie night although it did get a bit rolly overnight.

Thursday morning it would have been Mum’s 91st birthday – she was such a big part of our lives we both continue to miss her a lot. RIP Mum, love you so much.

At 9.30 am having had a leisurely breakfast in the cockpit, we headed back around the corner to Black Island and were lucky enough to find a vacant mooring ball. So we dropped dink and headed over to explore One Foot Island first. Quite spectacular scenery in this part of the world…..

Afterwards we headed off to explore Black Island.

By this time we had been slightly longer than the two hour limit on the mooring ball so we quickly got ourselves back on board and dropped the ball for someone else to enjoy this area. Motoring away in very light airs we decided to continue down the west coast of Hook Island and came across Cave’s Cove which had a single mooring ball free for the night. Excellent! This has to be one of our favourite spots we have found this season….just beautiful….

Later on we decided to go ashore to our own private beach for sundowners but found the way blocked by rocks with no easy access – so we headed further down the bay to the other small beach near the trawler behind us but this was blocked too. Oh well, never mind. The people on MV Turtle waved at us and we headed over to say hi – and they then invited us on board for sundowners. As we had supplies with us we gratefully accepted and had a really nice few hours with them. A fun time had by all.

Friday morning we left Cave’s Cove and travelled through the Hook Passage which goes between the bottom of Hook Island and the top of Whitsunday Island. We had timed this to go through one hour before high tide so there was some current / overfalls and eddies at the exit but nothing too bad or uncomfortable. We then worked our way down the east coast of Whitsunday Island and pulled into Tongue Point. SV Island Girl were already in the bay so on our way ashore we went by their boat to say hello.

Going ashore we had to navigate some rocks on the beach as the tide was falling. We then made the trek up the 360 steps to the Hill Inlet Lookout and were the only people there – absolutely stunning and well worth the trip although my legs probably wouldn’t agree LOL.

We then returned to dink who by now, was even harder aground than when we left so had to navigate even more rocks to get back out into the bay passing through the navigational withies very slowly as it was getting shallower by the minute. Thankfully we made it out and back to Morphie for another quiet night on board.

Saturday we left Tongue Point and went down to Whitehaven Beach passing close to Hill Inlet enroute. We had a lovely time sunbathing, people watching and bobbing at Whitehaven before then inviting Mike, Karen and Dudley (yes Dudley not Douglas as I reported last blog – oops!) on board for sundowners. Had another lovely evening with them.

Sunday we spotted someone departing their mooring ball at Chalkies over on Haslewood Island (where we had hoped to have visited yesterday) so we quickly picked up anchor and headed over. Annoyingly we were chased down by a charter catamaran who drove his boat hard and fast so won the race and took the ball – so we stooged around for a little while to see if anyone else would leave – and after about 15 minutes we managed to snaffle a ball. Was very happy as this is not a good anchoring spot. Funnily enough our mooring ball did not have a time limit on it and, checking out the boats around us, it was clear that they were staying for 24 hours at a time. So we decided to do the same….

In the afternoon we headed ashore and the family from the catamaran – who were on the beach when we arrived – quickly departed. Think they might have been a bit embarrassed by their behaviour earlier….. So we had the beach pretty much to ourselves. The water was a bit warmer than the day before and we enjoyed a bobbing afternoon ashore. We didn’t realise that the sand flies were out and about until we got back to find we had both been bitten…oh well, never mind…. Oh yes, as we left the beach, the catamaran family returned to play – obviously trying to avoid us LOL. We had had an absolutely lovely day.

Monday morning we timed our trip through the Solway Passage which runs between Whitsunday Island and Haslewood Island – so were under way early at 7.40 am to get the best conditions through this area which can be a bit tricky if you get it wrong. Thankfully all good for us this time although continue to be surprised by these swirling waters as we come through them. As we came through the Passage we spotted a large trawler Rous Explorer hard aground on the rocks – oops! The chart here is quite detailed so obviously they got caught out either by a tide or wind change. Hopefully they were OK as we didn’t hear any urgent call outs on the VHF.

We arrived into Turtle Bay at the south end of Whitehaven Island and enjoyed the scenery. We had planned to go ashore in the afternoon but neither of us felt like it so we just had a lazy day on board and used the opportunity to put the phone up the mast to get some internet coverage after a few days offline. Later on we were joined by a few other boats but there was plenty of room in this wide-open bay. We then had a quiet night on board.

This morning, Tuesday, we picked up anchor and came around Hamilton and Dent Islands towards the mainland, picking up a mooring ball at a little bay on South Molle Island. There is a scrubby beach ashore so we are not planning on exploring – tonight’s stop was really just to stage for our return to the Coral Sea Marina tomorrow morning. So having a relaxing day aboard.

So that’s about it from us for the moment. We are looking forward to some marina time in Airlie Beach over the next 10 days or so. It’s Richard’s birthday on Friday so we have booked a table in a nice Italian restaurant to celebrate his 64th trip around the sun. We hope that everyone remains safe and well and looks after themselves. We love you and miss you all. So to make you smile here is this week’s Australian cutie, a dingo puppy. Bye for now