Mackay to Brampton, Goldsmith and Shaw Islands

Wednesday afternoon (14 July) I winched Richard up the mast as he wanted to check out the steaming light which had stopped working. This was just corrosion so with a quick clean and a spray it came back to life. Whilst there he checked out the fixings at the top of the whisker pole as, when we had tried to deploy it the other day in light airs, it was firmly stuck in place. So a bit of cleaning following by a coating of sailkote on the track and everything was fixed. And just in time because as I was bringing Richard back down to the deck it started raining and the wind switched north as forecast.

So we spent a few hours down below before the weather eased again and Richard decided to service the windlass while I just chilled out. We had a quiet night in.

Thursday morning very early, the wind had died away, so we took the opportunity to pull out the main sail as it didn’t appear have to furled properly the last time we had put it away. All was good and yet another gym workout for my upper arms on the winches. We ran the weather models again and the forecast now had northerly winds until Friday night so we decided to stay in Mackay marina until Saturday.

We then had breakfast, showered, and headed out on the bus to Mackay. We got off at the Caneland Central Mall and managed to tick everything off our shopping list – including new flip flops for Richard and a haircut for me – except the Netflix downloads. We had taken the computer with us as Mackay marina appears to be in a ‘dead’ internet zone and it was pretty poor most of the time. Well the Mall wifi was equally as bad so we did get a couple of films downloaded whilst we had lunch out but that was about it.

Oh yes and, of course, Richard just had to try a Crocodile Dundee hat adorned with genuine crocodile teeth. Not sure this really suits him LOL.

Late in the afternoon, having been out for most of the day, we returned to the marina and stopped off in the on-site tavern for a couple of cold ones before returning to Morphie for a quiet night in.

Friday morning we got cracking with boat jobs again. Whilst I was at the laundry Richard changed the oil filter; the oil; and the primary and secondary fuel filters. Good job! He also did a tidy up down below and some general departure preparation. We then had dinner on board before being tempted back out to the tavern by the sound of live music. The ‘group’ were really good and we had a very social (late) evening chatting to some locals. A really good time had by all and a very nice end to our stay.

Saturday morning we waited for slack low tide and left at 10.15 am going slowly through the exit to the marina into the main harbour passing the huge ship that was tied to the wharf.

We sailed in very light airs towards Brampton Island. On the way we saw humpback whales. They were quite a way in the distance (and too far away for photos) but this certainly put a smile on our face. So happy!

We had our anchor down by 3.20 pm in Maryport Bay having covered 21 miles. Whilst on the bow dealing with the anchor snubber we were welcomed into the bay by a lovely big turtle – such a shame we didn’t get a photo of him. We then watched the sunset and had a quiet night on board.

Sunday morning and the wind was howling but there was good holding in this anchorage although it felt a bit chilly. We got the outboard off the rail, dropped the dinghy, and installed the outboard. We then waited for the tide to come up so that we could get across the rocky shoreline and head ashore to check out the beach and the deserted luxury resort which had been abandoned to rot. There are custodians living on the premises to ensure there is no trespassing and, apparently, it is up for sale with planning permission to develop a 7-star resort. That would be an expensive project! Was interesting to see the power of nature at work though, particularly in the way it had smashed up the beach swimming pool. What was sad though was that there was a sting ray inside the murky waters of the pool and we wondered how on earth he had got there as the remains of the pool are above the high water mark.

We checked out the beach and then returned to Morphie where we had another turtle visitor welcoming us back on board. We also had to chase the seagulls away as they seemed to quite like sitting on our bow. We then watched a small aircraft coming into land on the tiny airstrip behind the resort before settling down to watch another spectacular sunset before retiring down below for the night.

At 8.45 am on Monday morning we picked up anchor and headed out on a slow downwind sail towards Goldsmiths Island. And suddenly we were treated to a whale show of slapping and breaching. OMG just amazing!

We carried on towards Goldsmith Island and then another two whales decided to check us out as they swam parallel for a short time. The whale encounter rules here in Australia are that boats are supposed to stay 300m away from them but guess no-one told the whales that LOL.

We arrived into Goldsmith around noon having covered 13 miles and were met by another turtle. As the wind had dropped off it felt a bit warmer so we rested up and waited for the tide to clear the fringing reef so that we could go ashore. Around 3pm we headed into the beach and had a couple of hours just sitting on the sand and enjoying the surroundings. So beautiful…. Back on board we got ourselves cleaned up, had dinner followed by a movie night.

Tuesday morning we left Goldsmith planning to stop at Thomas Island. The wind was just strong enough and on a reach so we were able to get both sails out and we had an amazing sail.

When we cleared the headland and turned into Thomas we realised that the anchorage was quite crowded and with a bit of a blow forecast to come through that night we decided to abort. So we turned around and headed to the next island Shaw. At this point we came across a whale and her new baby calf – she was quite content swimming along but then, suddenly, she turned towards us so we quickly motored away in the opposite direction LOL.

We arrived at Shaw Island at noon having sailed 16 miles. We then spent the afternoon on our own private beach enjoying the sights and sounds of this beautiful place and its surroundings. But this time the high tide was at the wrong time so we had to beach the dinghy and, during the afternoon, Richard had to pull him up closer a couple of times as the tide flooded in across the muddy/sandy bottom.

Then it was back to Morphie for another beautiful sunset before turning in.

Today, Wednesday, the wind is howling and is supposed to strengthen even further overnight so we are staying put. So I’m blogging while Richard is reading. We are expecting an influx of boats into this large anchorage today because of the weather and we have already got three new catamaran neighbours. Luckily the bay is large so there is plenty of room to spread out – although they do tend to stick together! We plan to move on tomorrow to take advantage of the southerly winds to get to the Whitsunday Island where we have found a bay that we can stay at for a few days to sit out a northerly blow which is supposed to come through on Friday night. As we go further north we are in credit-card captain territory as there are large charter fleets in the Whitsundays so we’ll just have to assume that nobody knows the “rules of the road”.

Anyway that’s it from us and we hope you are enjoying the blogs as we explore some of the beautiful Great Barrier Reef islands. Hope you are keeping well at home and enjoying your new found freedoms. Please stay safe and look after each other. We love and miss you all. So today we have another Australian bird – this time it is a laughing kookaburra.