Our time in Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach

Sunday afternoon (15 August) the weather cleared up a little bit so we decided to head out on the ‘blue’ bus route which does a circular trip around Hamilton island. On our way back the heavens opened again so we had a quiet night in.

Monday we had a leisurely start and headed to the pool for the day. We were entertained by the songster again so had a nice time and had some wild cockatoo feeding time with almonds (that Richard had somehow managed to pack into our pool bag LOL) with one even sitting on his knee whilst getting fed.

Returning by bus we picked up some supplies and headed to the Yacht Club for sundowners – the bar was closed – but we enjoyed watching the sun go down from the elevated position. Afterwards we had a couple more in the Tavern and then returned to Morphie for dinner.

Tuesday was another pool day and, hurrah, the sun actually came out so we had a relaxing day before heading back to Morphie for another quiet night in.

Wednesday we headed out pretty early and got the ‘green’ bus over to the resort centre where we picked up our electric golf buggy. We then drove around for the morning taking in the spectacular views. Tour over, we then had a few hours by the pool before returning to Morphie for supplies.

Later in the afternoon we drove ourselves to One Tree Hill for a sunset picnic. When we had finished eating we did actually hand feed some of the cockatoos that were strutting their stuff looking for a handout. The sunset was very special with some great cloud formations too. Had been a really lovely day.

Thursday morning it was another cloudy day, the wind had dropped a bit, but then it started pouring with rain. Damn…this was our last day in Hamilton. Anyway, we decided to tough it out at the pool so returned the buggy and made camp under some large umbrellas. The rain stopped but the wind had a chill in it so we actually never got into our swimmers and started to get a bit cold.

So we called it a day at noon and returned to Morphie where we got busy getting ready for our Friday morning departure. We stripped beds and did the laundry whilst also doing some Netflix downloading for when we go back on the hook. In preparation for going into Coral Sea Marina in Airlie Beach – where we had a three day reservation – we went through the cupboards and freezer and did lists. One for on-line click & collect shopping and the other for shopping like meat and vegetables (preferring to chose our own). Back on board we prepped the boat and ourselves for the morning departure – so we did engine checks; navigational checks; equipment checks; and made sure everything was stowed away after dinner.

Friday morning at 7.20 am we left Hamilton Island behind. We had really enjoyed our time on the island. When we left on a cloudy and rainy morning the seas were quite lumpy and it really wasn’t pleasant although we were on a reach before running downwind in 20 knots of breeze so a good sailing day from that perspective.

As we were crossing the Whitsunday Passage in these feisty conditions we were delighted to see some broaching, fin and tail slapping action from whales in the distance. Sadly I couldn’t get a photo as the boat was rocking and rolling too much for me to take a steady shot. Continuing on towards the Molle channel we suddenly had whales broaching in front of us. Oooer…very scary!!!! They were travelling with the swell direction so we came up into the wind to cross behind them. Thankfully they moved away and we continued our passage. Phew! As we got into the Molle Passage the seas just flattened off like a switch had been thrown and we had the most spectacular sail towards Airlie Beach.

Arriving at Airlie Beach we were too early to get into the marina so we anchored off and radioed in. Actually they said you can come in now if you want as your slip is ready – just give us 10 minutes to get someone down the dock to assist you with your lines. Very happy with that so we weighed anchor and worked our way in through the dog leg channel into the marina only to find there was already a boat on the dock we had been allocated. So we radioed again and agreed to continue stooging around in circles while they vacated. This took a while which was annoying – boats are supposed to vacate by 11 am and arrivals at noon. Eventually (by 12.12) we were securely tied to the ‘T’ at the end of Q dock. We quickly cleaned the boat and ourselves up and, because we knew there had been thefts in Airlie Beach from the town dock, we removed all valuables from the cockpit before we left Morphie and walked into town. The marina has security gates but, because it is open to the anchorage where there are a large number of permanent liveaboard boats, anyone with a dinghy can come into the slips.

Well, it didn’t look too far on the map, but from our dock all the way into town took us about 45 minutes.

Definitely getting a taxi back! We headed to the pharmacy first as we wanted to ensure that they had all the prescriptions in place for dispensing the following day. They told us in July (when we picked up the last lot whilst getting our 2nd covid jabs) that they were going to request these from our doctor directly. I had actually phoned them a couple of weeks ago to check and was told everything was OK. So, of course, when we get there they either hadn’t called or hadn’t chased our doctor and they wanted new scripts faxed to them. In the meantime we met an obnoxious Australian bloke who was pissed off that we had pushed in the queue – well, we hadn’t even noticed him so I quickly apologised. At this point he started slagging us off to the pharmacist about how fed up he was. Again I tried to apologise – as it was a genuine mistake – and he was rude to me again. Stressed out from this interaction, and the fact that the pharmacy had not followed up on their promises, we continued on down the main street towards the pub at the Airlie Beach Hotel having phoned our doctors again to pass on the news that they needed to fax the scripts over. The main street seemed a bit more depressed than the last time we had visited so clearly the pandemic is really hurting the hospitality businesses here.

Leaving the Pub we headed to the Hogs Breath Cafe where we met fellow Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club (SICYC) members (Shaggers) who were having a social there. This was our first get together and most were in big groups as they cruise in company up the coast going from one of these get togethers to another. Well, as first timers we met another couple who knew no-one else either, so teamed up. We had a nice evening with Yvonne and Ed from SV SteeLee before cabbing it back to the marina.

Saturday morning we were up very early to find that Morphie was covered in cockatoo poop! Not nice….. So we did a quick wash down before heading out in a taxi back to town. We had breakfast out at Garuma – which was very good – and then I headed to the pharmacy while Richard picked up our hire car for the day. Well, the pharmacist had not received the faxes…..so I phoned the doctors again….and they promised to send them by 2pm when the chemist closed for the day.

We then headed to Canonvale to do our shopping. Heavily laden, on the way back to Morphie, we called into the pharmacy again to be told ‘no’. Very stressed I phoned the doctors again and asked them to email them instead of faxing them as this just wasn’t working. They promised, again, to send them by 2pm. So we returned to the marina and unloaded the car. Most of the dock carts were either in use or were obviously privately owned and secured, so Richard had to go on the hunt for one. He parked in the nearest car park and then came back to meet me on the ramp and we pushed and pulled all the way to Morphie. Her berth (Q45) is the furthest away from anywhere so was quite a struggle.

We unloaded and stowed all the shopping and checked the emails (as I had asked the doctors to copy me in so I could prove they had been sent if the pharmacy disputed it again). And yes there was one so opened it eagerly only to find that they had only sent mine and not Richards! So rang the doctors again and asked them to send these through urgently. Finally, a couple of hours later, I had them…phew….so took a deep breath….

We moved the car to the long-term car park – no free parking here in Airlie – and paid for an overnight spot. Then we headed to the Garden Bar and had a few drinks before returning to Morphie and then took supplies to the Ocean Club for sundowners. A nice facility here in the marina offering BBQ, free coffee, laundry and ensuite. We met a local restaurant owner up there who said that, if the interstate borders didn’t reopen, he might not survive this year as he is already digging into savings to keep his up-market fish restaurant going (which, apparently, was a real hit with Chinese tourists back in the day). Such a real shame….

Sunday morning and it was sunny – yay! So we headed out to return the car and then had breakfast at Garuma again. Then we walked down to the pharmacy to collect our medication. Then they told us that that they needed the originals posted to them and that they hadn’t ever received them from the last time (despite my phone call to them checking they had!). Shame they couldn’t have told us about this sooner. Bottom line was they didn’t want to fill the prescriptions for us as they had no physical paper back-up, despite the emails having been received. Richard explained that he had only a few days worth of supplies left and we were actually leaving the area in the morning. At this point the pharmacist (a different one) checked the drugs Richard was taking and realised that these were actually quite important. So he decided to fill the scripts on the basis that the originals would be posted to them. Not the end of the saga but at least we were good for another month. I sent an email to our doctors explaining exactly what they had to do now and, hopefully, that will happen. Will definitely call the pharmacy in about a week to check they had received the originals. There is an electronic prescription system here in Australia which has recently been rolled out in Queensland so we have sent a link to our doctors suggesting that maybe this is the way forward instead of this endless mindless paper chase…..

After finally getting this sorted for now, we walked back to the up-market Coral Sea Resort and settled down for the day by the pool. We definitely needed some R&R after this hassle….. Was a beautiful sunny day and we had a great time at one point floating around the pool on the huge bean bags. We met some nice people and enjoyed people watching – this is obviously the place people come to be seen on a Sunday. A lovely time had by all.

Afterwards we walked back to the Garden Bar in the marina for sundowners and then to Morphie for tea. When we got there we found a cockatoo roosting at the top of the mast and he refused to leave despite our banging on the rigging….so Richard got a halyard and swung it around near him and, eventually, he moved on obviously quite irritated by the noise he made!

Monday morning we were up early and headed out again into town for a final breakfast at Garuma and our last minute shopping. We were back on board by 9.30 am and we then washed all the poop off Morphie again….absolutely splattered…..

We filled up with water; flushed the watermaker; did our engine and navigational checks; reset the fridge and freezer for being back on the hook and left the marina by 11 am.

The wind had died so we motorsailed all the way and managed to get through the Gloucester Pass between Gloucester Island and Cape Gloucester on an ebbing tide so had some current going with us. We had our anchor down by 3pm and had a leisurely afternoon and evening on board.

This morning, Tuesday, we awoke to a spectacular sunrise and are delighted that Steve and Jo (SV Tamanu, our British Island Packet friends) have just arrived into the anchorage so are looking forward to catching up with them later today once they have caught up on their sleep (as they did an overnight run to get here). The Shaggers annual rendezvous starts on Thursday through the weekend so we’ll be sat here for a while now.

So that catches us up. The Covid numbers here in Australia (and also New Zealand) continue to grow and lockdowns are in place for a large proportion of the population. Interstate borders also remain firmly closed. The idea that they will consider opening international borders anytime soon when they won’t even let Australians travel freely around their own country probably means that people will remain locked in/out for some time to come yet. Anyway sending lots of love and hugs your way and, to make you smile, here is an Australian wallaby hug.

Bye for now, Jan