Hamilton, Long and Whitsunday Islands

Friday evening (30 July) having completed all our domestic duties and got ourselves cleaned up, we headed to the Marina Tavern at the top of our ramp for a bite to eat and a couple of drinks. We were expecting it to be pretty quiet as the Hamilton Island marina was only about 60% full and the resort had even lower occupancy at around 20%. These stats have obviously not been helped by the latest Covid lockdowns and interstate border closures. There are also some residencies on this private island although a single family continues to own the entire freehold. Surprisingly the Tavern seemed to be very popular with residents and holidaymakers alike and was quite buzzy. We were lucky and found a small table on the balcony and enjoyed a nice dinner and a few drinks before we returned to Morphie for the night. It had been a very busy but productive day.

Saturday morning we had a late start. We wandered to the ice cream parlour ‘bus stop’ on this cloudy but warm day and waited for the ‘Green’ bus to take us over to the over side of the island to the centre of the resort. The buses on Hamilton are complimentary and the Green one runs every 10 minutes or so on a loop – great service. We arrived at the resort and had a look around before settling down to enjoy a lazy day by the main pool area.

We did dip our toes into the pool expecting it to be warm as there were a few people swimming and bobbing at the pool bar but the water was absolutely freezing! They are a hardy bunch these Australians LOL. In the afternoon there was a guy playing live music so we moved sunbeds so we could watch as well as listen and then we had a couple of frozen mango cocktails whilst we sat on the pool edge dangling our feet. Was a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

Around 4.30 pm we headed back on the bus to Morphie, got ourselves cleaned up and changed, before we headed to the iconic building at the end of the marina which houses the Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Within the Yacht Club there is an embedded race boat – Wild Oats – which also belongs to the owner of the island (who are vintners). Hamilton has an exclusive feel to it and reminded us of Mustique, although Hammo (as the locals call it) is open to visitors and day trippers who arrive in droves each day on the ferry.

We enjoyed watching the sun going down from the Yacht Club and people watching all the twenty-somethings that frequented the place – presumably on the bank of Mum and Dad as the drinks were certainly not inexpensive – but had to be done!

Sunday morning we were up early and wandered the main street checking out the variety of shops including the studio selling statues – presumably for landscaping private villa gardens. As you can see the main form of transport on this island are electric golf buggies.

We then headed out again on the Green bus to the resort centre for another day by the pool. This time we made camp near the pagoda where the musician sits so we could watch and listen again during the afternoon. Richard went a bit crazy wanting to bob at the pool bar and insisted we get into the pool – which we did – and then we posed for our photo with compulsory cocktail. Actually once we were in, it wasn’t too bad but I certainly wasn’t staying immersed for another one LOL.

So we headed back to the pool edge and sat with our feet dangling listening to the music again. The guy didn’t have a great voice actually but he had an amazing repertoire as he didn’t repeat any of the set from the Saturday into the Sunday. I did wish he hadn’t attempted Adele though…. We really enjoyed watching the antics of the cockatoos who seemed to be able to hear the opening of a crisp packet from a long way, swooping in to sit on the top of the umbrellas hoping for a taste.

Around 4pm we used the hotel facilities to change out of our swimwear and caught the Blue bus to One Tree Hill where we enjoyed the views and watched the sun go down from the bar. This is obviously a regular event for the residents and guests alike as the hill was really busy with people and even some kids sitting in the trees watching the scenery. We loved checking out the cockatoos that were trying to cadge food. Was a lovely way to spend a few hours – absolutely spectacular scenery.

We then returned to Morphie back on the Blue bus to the marina and had some fish and chips on the boardwalk before turning in for the night.

Monday morning and I was up early to head to the supermarket which, according to the blurb, opened at 7 am. Well, I got there, and it didn’t actually open until 8.30 am so I aborted that plan and returned to Morphie. Back on board we continued with our usual checks to make sure we were ready to go back out on the hook. With this done we headed to the laundry to do a final wash (beach towels etc) and had breakfast in the bakery, enjoying the company of some more cockatoos and small rainbow lorikeets as we sat on the boardwalk. But, because we didn’t feed them, they moved on quickly so didn’t get a photo of them sadly.

Back on board, we radioed the marina to ask permission to come alongside the fuel dock and was asked to wait for assistance – about 15 minutes later the dock concierge came round in his pontoon boat and we slipped from the dock and followed him to the fuel dock. We pulled up alongside and while Richard filled up with both diesel and petrol I did a quick run to the IGA supermarket (which is located virtually opposite the fuel dock pier) and picked up the fresh provisions that I was looking for earlier. I rushed back as quickly as I could and Richard had just finished fuelling up so we hadn’t hogged the fuel dock longer than was necessary – phew!

We slipped away from the fuel dock – radioed the marina to say thanks for their hospitality and assistance – and worked our way towards the channel. Annoyingly, a large motoryacht (must have been 60+ feet) cut the corner coming around into the channel so we had to stop suddenly whilst he straightened up to give us room to pass port to port. Not impressed – he must have been able to see our mast as he was steering this vessel using a mobile joystick from the height of the bow of the boat. Oh well….

We left Hamilton Island marina behind us having had a really great weekend and vowed to return.

We had light airs and a glassed out sea but, with a lift from the current we had a lovely sail on our way to Happy Bay, Long Island. And on the way we saw more whales. Yay!!! We had our anchor down by 12.30 pm and relaxed on board for the rest of the day.

Tuesday morning we awoke to a very heavy dew – Morphie was so wet it looked like it had actually been raining LOL. So Richard spent some time wiping the topsides down. We then had a lazy morning on board and in the afternoon went exploring in dink. We passed by the beach in Happy Bay but didn’t go ashore there as this is just another defunct resort waiting for a new owner. We were careful to avoid the extensive reef and isolated bombies as we traversed the coastline and continued around to the next bay also avoiding the derelict pier that sticks out into the water. The scenery is just stunning here.

We ‘checked in’ to the Palm Bay resort at reception and had a wander around the facility including crossing over to the over side of the narrow island to check out the rocky coastline. This resort consists of individual villas with a small pool and a large guest kitchen for everyone to use in the communal / bar / lounge area. Although a bit more upmarket than a large public BBQ area as the resort supplied all the crockery, plates, condiments, cooking utensils etc and there was even a place to leave your dirty dishes to be cleaned after use. Perfect for a totally isolated getaway but not sure we’d want to stay there…. They were very cruiser friendly so, before we left, we purchased a drink from the bar and sat on their beach deck to enjoy the scenery looking out to sea. Very chilled.

We then returned to Morphie and sat on the coachroof watching the whales meandering around in the Long Island Sound – this time it was a mum and her baby. Really can’t get enough of this! As it was quite warm we had dinner in the cockpit before retiring down below for the night.

Wednesday morning we dried Morphie off again after more heavy dew and then had breakfast in the cockpit. The forecast was for strong South Easterly winds so we decided to head back to CID Harbour (on Whitsunday Island) to sit out the blow. We had also been in contact with John and Stella (SV Exocet Strike) who had recently sailed into the Whitsundays from Scarborough Marina (near Brisbane) having luckily left before lock down. We had another great sail and even went the long way round to keep going LOL. We got a good anchor set not far from them and got ourselves tidied up. Later on John and Stella came over for sundowners so it was great to catch up with them again. Was a lovely evening.

Thursday morning the wind kicked in overnight, as forecast, and we were pleased that our anchor held well in the gusts of 30 knots or more.

We stayed on board all day and watched the comings and goings in the anchorage. This is a large bay so most boats are quite well spaced. During the afternoon the Young Endeavour (a Tall Ship training boat) came into the anchorage and we enjoyed watching the youngsters being put through their paces onboard. We had another quiet evening and actually ended up putting the duvet back on the bed during the night as the temperature dropped again.

Friday morning Richard kept busy doing boat jobs: he cleaned the shower bilge; ‘flushed’ the watermaker as we don’t need to use it for a few more days; and fixed the leak on the heads shower hose. I started this blog but will not finish it here at CID Harbour (Whitsunday Island) as the internet is just too slow and erratic. The forecast continues to show fresh SE winds for the next few days but there are numerous anchorages / islands with shelter from the trades in this area that we have not visited yet so will return to Happy Bay tomorrow and take it from there. We enjoyed a beautiful red sky before turning in.

This morning, Saturday, we picked up anchor around 8.45 am and said our farewells to Stella and John as we passed them on our way out of the anchorage. We’ll catch up with them again soon and will look forward to that.

We picked up some current and made good progress under engine despite heading straight into the wind and, once we had cleared the Hunt Channel (between Whitsunday and CID Island) we pulled out a small genoa to make our way across the Whitsunday Passage towards Long Island. The sea state was boisterous with a steady 20 knots of breeze with higher gusts and we got pretty wet with waves breaking into the cockpit. Halfway across we saw a whale who was quite close to us but he quickly dived – and, at this point, the bilge alarm starts going off adding more excitement to the mix. I headed down below to check the bilges and there was nothing untoward – the switch gets wet with the water sloshing around and it stays on until we physically dry it out, which we weren’t going to do until we were back on anchor. As we rounded the top of Long Island we furled the genoa away and the furling line came out of the drum. Great!

We had our anchor down by 11.15 am and got a good set straight away. Richard sorted out the bilge and the furler whilst I continued with the blog. There is a communications tower on Long Island so the internet here is pretty good! The forecast remains windy for the next week or so and there is even some rain predicted. So we will probably sit tight here for a few days now. Hoping for some more whale encounters too…..

So hope you are all well at home and continue to enjoy more freedom as restrictions are eased. Stay safe and well and look after each other. Sending lots of love and hugs your way and, today, you get a cheeky rainbow lorikeet to make up for the fact that I didn’t get a photo of them at breakfast the other morning!

Bye for now, Jan