Shaw, Whitsunday and into Hamilton Island

Thursday (22 July) the forecast had the wind turning north overnight so we needed to find shelter elsewhere as the anchorage on Shaw would be exposed in that direction. So by 10 am, we were underway towards Turtle Bay on the south side of Whitsunday Island. We picked up some pretty strong currents along the way and enjoyed the fast downwind ride – at one point we were doing 8.9 knots in only 9.7 knots of breeze.

We pulled into a large reef-fringed bay and set our anchor.

The wind was still blowing quite stiffly from the south so we were nodding a bit but we were the only boat and were situated in the middle of the anchorage so we had lots of anchor chain out and were holding steady. We were then joined by a charter boat who came in and anchored under sail alongside us – which is pretty unusual – and, literally within minutes of anchoring they had the BBQ on and were enjoying a sausage sizzle. Then a large rib came in – clearly a rescue boat from the charter company and it would appear that they had engine problems – before they were eventually towed away. So we were the only ones in the anchorage again.

The wind switched north right on schedule around 5pm so the nodding stopped and we were completely alone for the night. Absolutely lovely.

Friday morning we had a lazy start before going off on a dinghy exploration around the bay. We sat on the beach for a little while too before heading back to Morphie. The northerly wind had now picked up and suddenly there was this massive influx of boats with around 30 turning up within a few hours – but, funnily enough, everyone stayed well away from us.

During the afternoon we “unpickled” the watermaker and were relieved that everything was working as it should with no leaks after a seven month period of inactivity. So, once everything was checked and filters changed, we made some water to top up our tanks. We had sundowners on the coachroof although there was no sunset as the sun sank behind the hill but, instead, we were treated to a beautiful full moon and the anchorage glassed out for the night. The stronger forecasted winds had not materialised so we were considering where to move on next. Having been offline for a while (and no phone signal either) we hoisted the phone to the top of the mast so that we could check our emails etc.

Saturday morning we sailed around the corner to Whitehaven beach which is considered to be one of the best beaches in Australia due to its high silica content. It was blustery and the wind was still northerly but we had a great reach on the short seven mile trip and thoroughly enjoyed the sail although the eddies as we came around the bottom of the island were pretty strong and we had to be very careful as we made our way through the narrow Solway passage.

We anchored out a long way from the beach as the wind was forecast to go completely around the compass during the night before it settled back into the usual south easterly trades. We had a good anchor set and enjoyed a leisurely day on board. Over the last few days we have come across a number of large private superyachts which are available here for charter – around $250k per week plus fuel / food / alcohol / gratuities etc. Must be nice, eh?!?

Sunday morning we awoke to find a little red helicopter on the beach….presumably a luxury breakfast outing for someone.

We made some more water and, now that the winds had switched to the SE, we picked up anchor and moved in closer to the beach to reduce the chop. We went ashore for a bobbing session at 1pm but the water was absolutely freezing although it didn’t stop one young woman (or should I say “Influencer” these days?) doing a rather revealing photoshoot in the surf with her boyfriend taking each shot which she then approved before the next one was posed. This is not the first time we have seen this couple – Richard said he would recognise that arse anywhere, which you might just catch a glimpse of over his shoulder in our bobbing selfie LOL – and clearly they are minted if the designer outfit she was sporting to travel back to the mainland was anything to go by. Even the seagulls are chilled here watching the tourists having fun….

The tourists come and go all the time on the tour boats – some bigger than others – and there were even some who flew in by seaplane for a “lunch on the beach” experience. All great people watching for us so we had a fun time.

Back on board for dinner and we had another beautiful moon to light the evening – absolutely stunning!

Monday morning we made water again and headed back to the beach for the afternoon. It was much hotter and sunnier so we took the shade tent with us and set up camp… Another tourist-watching day, a bit of bobbing, lots of reading and even a bit of sleeping. Absolutely lovely time had by all. Back on board for the evening and a quiet night in.

During the night the swell picked up and started to come around into the anchorage so we started rolling from side to side. We ran the weather models at the Tuesday 5am update (via the Iridium Go! as we had no phone/internet coverage again) and we decided to move on. To avoid the worst of the eddies as we turned the corner at the bottom of Whitsunday Island we wanted to be going through there at slack tide which was around 7.15am. So at 7am we picked up anchor and got underway heading to another anchorage on Whitsunday called Sawmill Bay, which is part of the CID Harbour area. We arrived at 10.30 and had a leisurely day at anchor just enjoying our new surroundings.

Wednesday morning we headed out in the dinghy and checked out the ‘no swimming area’ sign. Apparently there have been four tiger shark attacks here (with one fatality) so swimming is banned. Scary stuff!

We headed over to the beach which had appeared at low tide in the corner of the bay. We chatted to some people who were enjoying the beach before heading up a steep path to take us over the headland. I managed the walk up but had to admit defeat and turn around. Never mind…..was probably a bit too ambitious to even attempt it. We then headed over to check out the Captain Cook monuments at the other end of the beach.

Back on board I started working on the blog while Richard sunbathed on the coachroof. We need to do a bit of provisioning, get a gas refill, get some diesel, get rid of some rubbish and some laundry so have booked into the Hamilton Island marina for a long weekend. This booking means we have access to the facilities of this exclusive private island – so pretty excited! And, hopefully, there will be good internet so we can download some more Netflix content and publish this blog LOL.

During the night the weather changed with the wind swinging all over the place so we had a pretty rocking and rolly night. This morning (Friday) we awoke to a cloudy miserable day so we were happy to be moving on. We phoned the marina to find out which side we would be tied to the dock so that we could organise our fenders and lines. All sorted, plus engine checks completed, we weighed anchor at 9am and made a slow motor into the wind and waves towards the marina entrance. We even managed to stay out of the way of the Jetstar aircraft as he came in to land too…..

Morphie is now tied securely to the dock and we have taken the gas bottle to the chandlery for a fill. We have had a coffee out and I’m now in the laundry multitasking with the blog while Richard is on board washing Morphie down as she is pretty salty! Today is for chores and tomorrow is for R&R so hoping the sun will come back out then.

As an update of what is going on out here in Australia, covid infections continue to spread through the community in a number of states so lockdowns continue and many interstate borders are closed. This has come as a bit of a shock to the general population who have been well isolated from the global pandemic and the restrictions that have become the norm elsewhere. At the same time, of course, the blame game continues with the slow roll out of the vaccination programme as well as the anti-vaxxers who continue to protest about the situation. We really can’t see this getting resolved anytime soon in terms of international borders reopening. Thankfully we remain legal here on bridging visas so we are just going to have to sit it out and watch and wait. Right now there is only one route home anyway and even that has changed in the light of the outbreak in New South Wales with Singapore toughening their restrictions. So we could be here for a while yet folks. We miss and love you all and are relieved that things appear to be returning to some sort of normality at home. To make you smile this week I give you another happy quokka These little critters are just so cute I thought he deserved the final spot this week.