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SAILING THE WHITSUNDAYS: TRIP BLOG

PRE-SAIL - HAMILTON ISLAND

10/16/18

 

HAMILTON ISLAND

The sun pops right up this close to the equator so by nature, we were up early.  To get moving: some yoga followed by a run.

'Stacia and I checked out the lay of the land to figure out where to lead people later.

 

We made a loop around the Hamilton Island Yacht club which has the best architecture I've ever seen in a yacht club. 
The club itself is perched up on a cliff overlooking the marina to one side, and a channel leading to open water on the other. 
The building itself is shaped like a ship, but on the side of the building the bow of the racing yacht Wild Oats sticks out as it's built in to the building. On the inside of the building you'll find the stern. 

To conclude our run we stopped by Bob's bakery and then The Marina Cafe for coffee. 

Buggies, buggies everywhere! The only gas powered vehicles on Hamilton Island seem to be the busses, shuttles, and taxi's. I have yet to see one private car. So golf carts are the primary transportation. It's almost like a retirement community. 
We asked around if anyone ever gets in an accident while driving them, the response: "all the time!"


Shortly thereafter it was time to meet up with Skipper Lynch and crew at the charter base. We checked out the boat and went through a very thorough chart briefing that covered a few navigational challenges that were ahead of us. 
The direction of the wind was to play a big role in this sail as well as the tides... the tidal difference between high and low tides are about 4 meters (13 feet). Given that our boat has about 50 meters of anchor rhode - with an overnight scope of 7:1 - high tide and low tide become a consideration. 


Our guy from the charter company, Tony, was a salty Ozzie who gave us the lowdown on the charts. He was a leathery guy with a square jaw, huge hands, and a lisp that accompanied his Australian accent. A quirky character, he giggled occasionally going over the chart as he explained that various anchorages either would or would not work depending on weather conditions. 

So, instead of pre-charting a full course for this trip, we realized that this would be a day-by-day, choose-your-own adventure. 
--

In the evening we met up with Jen Hayoun and crew for dinner at a little Mexican style restaurant (run by the Japanese... still not sure how that works) called Tako. 
Jen's boat presented Tricia with birthday gifts to kick-off the trip. 

SUNDAY: CAST-OFF

10/16/2016

 

Departed Hamilton Island at 9:09am en route to Stonehaven.

Underway we were treated to beautiful views of dramatic island ranges and turquoise blue water.

Tricia was first at the helm.
She piloted us out of Hamilton Island and up past Whitsunday Island. Caner took over after the first gybe and we continued North at 359° to Stonehaven Bay (the anchorage just off of Hook Island).
Our catamaran "Points of Sail" held a glorious broad reach.
At 12 knots of wind we were making 7.2 - 7.8 knots.  As the wind grew, so did our boat speed.  At one point we hit a SOG of 10 knots.

We arrived at Stonehaven at 12:30pm and hunted around for a mooring ball.  There were none available, but we found a nice anchorage that held us steadfast throughout the night.

Tricia was the first to don the stinger suit and hop in the water.
The suit covers almost all of the body to protect from the hundreds of various things in the water that can kill you. ;)

Duber took the kayak over to Roo-Crews boat for a quick visit.

Our anchorage was right in the middle of a wind tunnel. So every time a gust of wind came through it was like a bullet of wind shooting right down the dip between the mountains. Hence the Aussie term "Bullets".

These "bullets" caused some of our gear to run away from us.
First it was our dinghy:  The painter on our dinghy was very short -- too short to affix to the deck cleat.  I'm not sure how it was tied up, but a more heavy duty knot was required. 
Fortunately one of the neighbor boats eyed our runaway dink and saddled up into their own for retrieval.  We ended up rigging a longer painter to the bow of the dinghy -- a spare bowline, which made for a much better option.

Our second near casualty was our kayak. In a strong gust (another bullet), it followed suit of the dinghy and slipped away. Fortunately, Tricia, Dokko and Stacia were visiting Roo-Crew and witnessed runaway number two.  They hopped in the dinghy for a speedy kayak rescue mission.

Once everything was properly tied down, we ventured to Roo-Crew's boat for a little sunset cocktail hour where Kathleen was mixing up some delicious Pimm's Cups.  We chatted on the stern of the boat and watched the sun go down. We then moved to the bow to watch the moon rise.  The moon peered up over the mountain range with a bright beam of leading light. At first, we couldn't see the moon, just some clouds that were silhouetted by the moon beams. Then, as the moon continued to rise, we saw her crisp edges slowly peek out from behind the mountain range.

Strong gusts of wind carrying fairly chill air encouraged our crew to retreat back to our boat. It was also getting to be dinner time and thus, because seamless doesn't cater to charter boats in the Whitsunday islands, we still had to cook.
Anastacia and Caner whipped up a delicious mix of chicken, rice, potatoes, peppers, and wine.

MANIC MONDAY? - NOT IN THE ISLANDS MATE

STONEHAVEN (HOOK ISLAND)
   20°6.05' S
   148°54.46' E


It's always nice waking up Monday morning somewhere tropical on a boat as opposed to the sound of an alarm with the realization that you have to go in to work. 

So this morning, Caner was making coffee as the sun was rising over the Whitsunday Island mountain range. As much as I love my coffee, this time around the best part of wakin' up had nothing to do with what was in my cup!  ;)
See, I love the sunrise, but rarely ever get to see it since my "day job" has me working in a dark control room well before the sun gets up in the morning.
The sun comes up early near the equator and when it's up, it's up - It's like someone upstairs flips a switch. 


Our first destination for the day was to Blue Pearl Bay - a pit stop near the north eastern tip of Hayman Island. It was a short trip around the bend so we just motored. Blue Pearl Bay has a limited number of mooring balls as it's a common place for people to go to snorkel. One of the mooring balls there that was available for us was a red ball (which is typically reserved for larger vessels), however since it was the last available morning ball it was fair game for us to take. Roo Crew's boat had declined to take the mooring so we decided we would go check it out. At the same time that we were heading to the ball a smaller fishing vessel was bearing down on the ball as well… A head-to-head race ensued! Tricia held up her index finger and wagged "no-no" to the other vessel and threw the boat into full throttle forward and raced over to said ball beating out the other boat.

The reward for winning the mooring ball race- snorkeling and kayaking. 

Tricia, Caner, Kerry, Cay, Matt and Julie all took the dinghy to snorkel. 
Anastacia and I took the kayak and went to explore the two different beaches. The first one was a nice, untouched sand beach, the second beach was all coral. As we beached the kayak we could see at least 20 to 30 small jellyfish in the water between the rocks. Being springtime in Australia it's not yet peak season for jellyfish, but there were certainly more than I care to see or come in contact with. 

So, along the lines of jellyfish and other dangerous water dwellers: being that this was the first snorkeling outting, we should address the stinger suits and the process for getting into the Australian waters....
It turns out, Australia has 1000's of species of critters that can kill you at just about any time, and just for the fun of it. 
We're just visitors in their world, and this is true in the water as well. 
Unlike the Caribbean, you can't just drop anchor and jump in the water here. ...Well, you can... but you have to be prepared to die. 
Seriously. 
The various water inhabitants, including jelly fish, and other even smaller deadly critters, contain deadly poison that will "give you a feeling of impending doom"... as well as cause a "pain so bad you'll beg the doctor to kill you." 
So in order to avoid such nuisances, in comes the "stinger suit". It looks like a wetsuit, but it's a little loser. The idea is that the suit will keep the poisonous critters from coming in direct contact with your skin. 


So when the crew suited up for the first time in the infamous stinger suits, it was a sight to see. 
Caner take on the suits:

  "we looked like navy seals, except less navy and more seal." 

--

Next stop ...

BUTTERFLY BAY
  20°4.48' S
  148°55.46' E


Anchored in a nice calm protected area in Butterfly Bay. 

Roo Crew came over for drinks, and then we had a delicious dinner aboard. 

After dinner we had drinks on our trampoline and watched the moon rise. 
We saw a bright shooting star and then headed to bed. 

Day 2 Video Clip

SARONG TUESDAY

10/18/16

 

BUTTERFLY BAY
  20°4.48' S
  148°55.46' E


"The problem with the radio is, there's no voicemail" - Julie H, regarding the VHF radio

---

We woke up to calm waters in Butterfly Bay and did a short motor over to Manta Ray Bay which is the bay right next to Hook Island. The primary mission: snorkeling.
The current where the mooring ball was was very strong - so strong, in fact, that it was unswimmable. It was clear how this spot was a popular snorkeling destination - as soon as we tied up to the mooring ball, we were instantly joined by finned friends looking for food. Since pita bread was in abundance on our boat, it was good to chum with. I dangled the GoPro in the water and you'll see that these fish were by no means afraid. I suppose they figure any boat pulling up in their hood was there to feed them.
I swear those fish ate more pita bread than I possibly could.

After snorkeling we headed to Tounge Bay...

------

​TONGUE BAY
  20° 14.32' S
  149° 0.78' E


Tongue Bay is situated at the north-eastern side of the Whitsunday Island and proved to be a peaceful spot for an overnight there were a few mooring balls available to us so we snagged one.  Roo Crew was able to jump on a ball right behind us so our boats were nice and close together.

For lunch, Anastacia made us a delicious "taco salad" with the provisioned "mystery meat".
I'm sure it was some sort of "burger" type meat. ... hey, warm food... no questions.
Now that said, the highlight of lunch was the homemade pita chips that she made...huge hit! I guess the Greeks know a thing or two about pita!

Caner, Kerry, Duber, Stacia, Julie dinghied around the point to Betty's Beach and along the way in our dinghy we "bumped into" Roo Crew as they followed us to the beach as well.
Betty's Beach is absolutely marvelous.
The white powdered sugar sand under our feet made a "whisp, whisp" as our bare feet scrubbed along.

We plopped our booties on the beach and drew in the sand. We would find out the next day that our drawings were still there - the definition of exclusivity.

Trixi Roo hosted Roo Crew aboard for cocktails and this night was to be dubbed "sarong night".
The ladies all looked Island chic in their floral sarongs and even Matt Smith and Dokko had sarong attire. Caner and I did not.

But not to worry!  Prior to the trip, Caner and I had come up with a plan....

It's amazing what you can find on Amazon.
A few weeks prior to this trip Caner and I were chatting at our "pre-trip sailing meeting". After a little bit of rum, half joking, we thought "hey wouldn't it be funny if we showed up one night on the boat dressed as kangaroos?!" Why yes! Everything sounds like a great idea with rum involved. 
Unfortunately Amazon prime 1) doesn't know when you're joking, and 2) doesn't know when you're impaired. (That app really should have some sort of BAC test prior to allowing you to hit the "Purchase" button). Anyway, 2 days later, we were the proud owners of adult Kangaroo onesies.
Yup. Full blown onesies, with a pouch in front that had a little Joey poking out.
Oh dear.

So... fast forward back to "sarong night". Since Caner and I were "sarong-less" we figured it was time to debut the kangaroo suits as a way to celebrate Tricia's birthday.
We put on some 80's rock, cranked it up, and came out to the trampoline of the boat bouncing in full kangaroo mode.

I had stuffed a bottle of rum in my pouch along with my joey and offered it up to our spectators. We treated Tricia to a special birthday kangaroo mating ritual dance, and the rest of the story can be told in pictures.


********

For Dinner a delicious kabob over rice with grilled pineapple made by Cay, Kerry, and Caner.
The rice was a nice touch as it had almonds and orange zest added for flavor.

After dinner, we went back to the trampoline and watched the moon rise. The moon provided an amazing orange glow that slowly came up from over the hill. Clouds would slowly roll in front of the moon creating a scene apropos to October.

Day 3 Video Clip

POstcard Perfect

10/19/16

 

Matt Smith Quotes:
  -  "Cheeky bastard!" - Re: the fly that was sitting next to his hand, prior to smacking it
  -  "Anyone want some crunch with their breakfast?"  - holding up said dead fly

---

Day 3 of no internet, no wifi, no cell service... LOVING IT!

For the morning, we stayed on ball at Tongue Bay.

Anastacia made delicious pancakes for breakfast and we watched the sea turtles pop their heads up every so often to see what we were up to.

We dinghied back over to Betty’s Beach this time to hike up to the Whitehaven Bay lookout point.

The view from the lookout was postcard perfect. From high atop we could see the white silica sand beaches mixed with various shades of crystal clear water.  Whitehaven Beach itself runs for about 4.5 miles, and this was it!  It’s the shot that you see in all the brochures on the Whitsunday’s.  

Since the next night's anchorage was right around the corner from where we were, we decided to do a little day-sailing in the afternoon just for the fun of it. Matt Smith took the helm, we hoisted the sails and cruised until it was time to anchor.

A few things to note... 
1) The mooring ball incident

As we were pulling away from the mooring ball at Tongue bay, the mooring ball line got fouled in the prop.  Yikes!  No good.  
Fortunately, Caner-on-the-spot immediately jumped in and got us untangled.  

These mooring lines are no joke.  They're at least 4" in diameter and they look like giant sea monsters!  These nasty-ass lines are what bad dreams are made of!   They look like they'd jump right out of the sea and devour you whole.... like a lochness mooring line.  They were so nasty the charter company even provided us with a special pair of gloves because the lines can sometimes be home to poisonous barnacles!  

Once that incident was remedied, we went to hoist the main.  
2) the halyard block
There must have been something quirky in the boat's rigging because the block that runs the halyard off the deck popped right off.  It sustained a high amount of pressure from somewhere and the aluminum pin (aluminium if you must) popped right out.   
A quick run of the halyard into the reef block made for a quick-easy fix and off we went.  
...Let's just hope we don't need to use that reef line!
(Possible foreshadowing here)

After a little sailing about we headed in to Whitehaven beach in the afternoon. 

WHITEHAVEN BAY
  20° 17.562' S
  149° 3.1906' E


Whitehaven is an incredible white sand beach that runs for miles.  
Even though there are tourist catamarans that bring large groups of people to the beach, there are still no facilities, no signs, no bars, or anything of the like.  
Once again, a completely untouched beach.  In the afternoon, all of the tourist boats whisked the people away, and the beach was completely ours.  


Just before sunset we all dinghied to the beach.  
Just as we were pouring our beach wine, we saw Roo's dinghy pull up in the distance.  
On the bow of the dinghy: a shirtless Dokko... Posing with his chest high, one leg on the bow of the dinghy, and his arms proudly pressing into his hips.  He was sporting a bow tie, white cuffs, and a captain's hat - I won't mention the speedo.  
So apparently this presentation was a gift from Roo Crew to Tricia.  

Certainly entertaining.  And I suppose that's where the phrase "Thunder from down under" comes from.

---

After dinner, we had a little social hour on the trampoline and called it a night.

Fridays I'm in Heaven

10/21/16

 

Our last full day of the charter.  
The sun was up bright and early again shining on Whitehaven Bay. 

Russell Crow once said about Australia: "The best things...are free: the sunshine's free, the harbor is free, and the beach is free."


​The crew motored up the bay a bit to check out the hill inlet.
They took the dinghy to explore the crystal-clear shallow water and silica sand.  At some points, the water was so shallow they crew had to hop out of the dinghy and pull it across the sand.   

Eventually it was time to head back to the charter base at Hamilton Island.  
We had big plans for Tricia's birthday dinner and a big party ashore.  

We motored thru Solway passage then sailed a bit downwind.  
When we got close to Hamilton Island we dropped our sails and radio'd the marina.  
We had to wait for a few boats to come out, but then we were in.  
Tricia navigated her cat in to the slip like a pro and there we tied up for the night.

To shore we went for Tricia's big birthdayday dinner.
It had been a while since we had seen commotion from civilization.  There were people, and lots of boats, and construction.  Hamilton Island is a small island, but where we were for the past few days... it felt like a city!

We headed to the Hamilton Island Yacht Club to the restaurant there called "Bommies".  
Anastacia worked her magic prior to the trip to get us a private room at Bommies.  It was a very nice setting.  We had our own private wait staff and the room overlooked the marina.  
A beautiful setting to celebrate a beautiful woman!

Dinner included a chef's tasting menu and then, just as the birthday cake came out...
Fireworks!
We ended the week with a BANG in celebration of one Lady Skippah!

After dinner we had a little post-merriment on Jen's boat. 
There we played Cards Against Humanity... the dental dams version!
Followed by a game of heads up via an iPhone ap.  

It was 12:30am.  Almost all of us had to fly the next day, so we returned to our cabins for one last night on the boat.

Back at Hamilton Island

10/21/16

 

Our last full day of the charter.  
The sun was up bright and early again shining on Whitehaven Bay. 

Russell Crow once said about Australia: "The best things...are free: the sunshine's free, the harbor is free, and the beach is free."


​The crew motored up the bay a bit to check out the hill inlet.
They took the dinghy to explore the crystal-clear shallow water and silica sand.  At some points, the water was so shallow they crew had to hop out of the dinghy and pull it across the sand.   

Eventually it was time to head back to the charter base at Hamilton Island.  
We had big plans for Tricia's birthday dinner and a big party ashore.  

We motored thru Solway passage then sailed a bit downwind.  
When we got close to Hamilton Island we dropped our sails and radio'd the marina.  
We had to wait for a few boats to come out, but then we were in.  
Tricia navigated her cat in to the slip like a pro and there we tied up for the night.

To shore we went for Tricia's big birthdayday dinner.
It had been a while since we had seen commotion from civilization.  There were people, and lots of boats, and construction.  Hamilton Island is a small island, but where we were for the past few days... it felt like a city!

We headed to the Hamilton Island Yacht Club to the restaurant there called "Bommies".  
Anastacia worked her magic prior to the trip to get us a private room at Bommies.  It was a very nice setting.  We had our own private wait staff and the room overlooked the marina.  
A beautiful setting to celebrate a beautiful woman!

Dinner included a chef's tasting menu and then, just as the birthday cake came out...
Fireworks!
We ended the week with a BANG in celebration of one Lady Skippah!

After dinner we had a little post-merriment on Jen's boat. 
There we played Cards Against Humanity... the dental dams version!
Followed by a game of heads up via an iPhone ap.  

It was 12:30am.  Almost all of us had to fly the next day, so we returned to our cabins for one last night on the boat.

AUSTRALIAN VOCAB

10/25/16

"Bommies" = Things to watch out for in the water...
IE: coral heads, submerged rocks, reefs, sand bars, etc. 
You don't want to be sailing along and run into a "bommie".

Slang form of the indigenous word "bombora".  

The name of the bar at the Hamilton Island Yacht club takes the name "Bommies" as well.  


"Skids" = (sheds), aka schedules.  
Roll call on the VHF. 
Twice a day the charter base would contact each boat in the fleet to check in and see what their planned "skid" for the day is.  

"Bullets" = (or wind bullets).  Bursts of wind that come shooting over the mountain ranges while underway.  These bursts are strong gusts that hit your vessel like a bullet.

"Go Bush" = Go off the grid!  One Aussie greeted us saying "Ah, so ya heea t' go bush!"  It means to go off the grid... no cell phone, no email.  Literally, going to the bush!

 

"Roo Crew" = the crew of Jen Hayoun's boat. 

 

"Trixi-Roo" = nickname for Tricia, also the name of Tricia's boat. 

 

"Aluminium" = Australian (and of course, also British) for aluminum.

 

"Fosters?" = Nope... no one in Australia drinks it.  

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