Passing Abbot Point JettyWe left Queens Bay early, coming out into the easterly swell that had given us a little roll in the bay and was now giving us big roll, so Naomi didn’t get back to sleep again. But once we got back on course, travelling with the swell things got a lot more comfortable.
not sure the jacket was necessary
Bypassed the ten or so tankers outside Abbot Point and several hours later we turned into the first bay around the tip of Cape Upstart for a surprisingly flat anchorage in the early afternoon. Pretty little birds congregated on the lifelines at the front of the boat. I took some pictures before chasing them away before they left any more mess on the deck. Explored a couple of beaches with some cautious use of the outboard over the shallow rock seabed between them. Set off at first light the next morning, about 6am, and had an annoyingly rolling ride north as we had the largish swell on our starboard aft quarter but winds not strong enough to hold the sail as we swung around, so ended up motorsailing for the first few hours. Comfort improved as the wind built and we able to sail around
the large curve of the Bowling Green sand spit. We wanted to make a decent distance for once but the wind became light again and we considered pulling into Bowling Green. Naomi decided we press on and it was a good choice as the wind build and we rounded Cape Cleveland well before dark. Anchored about a mile south of the lighthouse but were annoyed that after 60 miles sailing we were not rewarded with a swell free night.
Last time we were here we tried to take the dinghy to the lighthouse but this was the moment the old outboard died and we had an adventure of trying not to be washed out to sea, the dinghy taking on water and almost being stranded in the muddy shallows. So now we had a quest to succeed where we had failed before. So we left early and climbed to the cute lighthouse ignoring the “construction” signs that implied we shouldn’t enter and then visited the beach further down the cape that we almost got stranded on. It has possibly the worlds ugliest holiday home on it made of sheet metal with no windows. On our return
Worlds ugliest holiday home
Cape Cleveland - notice the official Townsville street sign on this beach
we left for Breakwater Marina, Townsville but the wind died out so we motored most of the way, to be met by Naomi’s parents again who were in town visiting family. Spent the day visiting a few shops and eating out on the seafront. Said our final farewells that evening and around 10 am the next morning after the usual washing, collecting water etc etc we headed north along the east side of Magnetic Island.
We had a nice sail closely hauled into the 10 knot breeze. Must have looked a sight with all our washing hanging out on the lifelines, but then the wind and chop picked up a little so while most good sailors might adjust their rigging we adjusted our washing and took them down so they didn’t get salty spray on them. Came around to Horseshoe Bay and anchored close into the corner to avoid swell that might come in.
After burgers for lunch it occurred to me that I should do the Fort Walk that I hadn’t got around to last time we were at this beautiful Island. Time was getting on so Naomi dropped me off at the beach
behind the dunes
and I found I had just missed the bus that takes you to the start of the track. Its only 3kms away so set off walking, bumping into the Everitts again from SV Fly South. Luckily after about half a kilometre out of town I was able to hitch a ride from a well endowed friendly woman in her one piece. She was a tourist too and looked like she hadn’t dried herself after a swim as her large round shoulders were covered in beads of water…. unless it was just sweat?
A short ride up the hill which I was thankful to avoid walking and I set off up the track passing small groups of tourists, mostly english or french. I climbed up to the WWII fortifications and admired the view from the plain concrete boxes but the most remarkable thing was seeing some guy wearing the opitome of australian fashion - the broad-brimmed hat with corkscrews dangling around the edge! Being from England myself we thought all aussies wore these but once here I don’t think I had ever seen one until that day - he sounded french from his accent.
After the circuit I had
about an hour before sunset but decided to take the longer scenic walk back to the bay following the northeast corner of the island. Jogging down the hills and striding quickly on the flats, I stopped to take in a few views from lookouts close to the small road but it would be nice to return and take all the detours.
As the road turned to track I got a bit lost and ended walking right down onto Radical Bay which has some interesting rock formations and millions of flowers were blooming behind the dunes. I retraced my steps and found the path again. Climbed up and passed the turnoff for Balding Bay and then down into Horseshoe Bay at about 5:30 to find Alex & Naomi sitting on the beach. She wouldn’t welcome me back with a hug as I was dripping in sweat after covering about 10 kms in 2 hours.
I am writing this now at about 8 am Sunday as we are motoring up the Hitchenbrook Channel, weaving through the markers on flat water, passing beautiful scenery on both sides albeit often shrouded in clouds. I managed to lift anchor myself about
Another hard day sailing!
coming into the Palm Islands group
6:30 and the rest of the crew are still in bed but I think I hear Alex crying so will go get him out of his bunk. We had a comfortable night and left after FlySouth for The Palm Islands. As had been the habit we were met by swell from the side bigger than the wind that made it so were rolling about motorsailing for the first couple of hours before we could head down wind with the pole out and along with the waves. Things became a lot more comfortable again and once through the gap and under the shelter of Great Palm Island, we just had small waves and beautiful flat sailing. Cruised passed our usual stop of Fantome Island and around to Hazard Bay on Orpheus Island.
I had read there were some WWII ruins here near the public jetty so we dropped anchor just around the corner from it. Dinghy’d over and tied up to the jetty that was bumping around in the small chop. I had forgotten the instructions on where to find the path to the ruins but I noticed some ribbons tied to trees often used
as path markers up the steep wooded slope. We followed these but Naomi dropped back when she had a thong (flip-flop) blowout (Havianas!) so I carried Alex up to the rocks at the top of the ridge but no sign of the ruins. I got a fright when I must have disturbed some sort of nest as suddenly I had a swarm of black bugs around my head but they dispersed quickly. Came across a snake ! but it was a small one, I have seen bigger worms. We turned back down the hill where I caught sight of the ribbon trail again and followed it, and soon it was supplemented with a cotton thread marking the way.
To use the word path is a bit generous as we were really bushwhacking our way through the trees, not easy to do carrying a small boy. Then we both started getting bitten by green ants, so spent a frantic 5 mins tearing our shirts off to find them, both of us had one biting up an armpit!
Kept bashing on, through spider webs, over logs and tangled in vines, until the path was invisible and turned back
Shepherd hut ruins
Little Pioneer Bay, Orpheus Island
disappointed. Back at Luna Ray the swell working into the bay had died off and as it was nearly dark we stayed the night joined by a few boats. The wind turned to the south overnight and the swell returned giving us a bit of a roll.
At first light having read the instructions, I returned to the jetty myself through the chop, and found the ruins quite quickly climbing the rocks directly behind the jetty. There was an obvious manmade platform in view from the jetty - cannot believe we didn’t see it earlier. Further up found a little concrete pool and some bits of metal work lying around.
Naomi was up when I returned and we motored around to Little Pioneer Bay to find FlySouth and tied up to a public mooring. On the beach the path to the shepherd hut ruins was easy to follow. I continued along the track through the woods, which then opened up to tall grass. Climbed the rocky slope, cutting my heel along the way, to wonderful views at the top all around from a stone precipice. With the worry of getting into the Hitchenbrook channel
before the tide started to drop I hurried back to the beach to find the others. We motored away from the mooring, over to say Hi to FlySouth, and headed toward the end of the massive 5km jetty off Lucinda. Came up the shallow channel, narrowly passed the old jetty and up into the flat near windless waters south of Hitchenbrook Island, We would have loved to visit Zoe Bay on the east side again but with 15-20 kn ESE winds it would have been nasty there.
Followed the channel around the back of the island, with occasional showers dampening us, and clouding over the dramatic steep peaks, whilst weekend tinnies swarmed around heading to their favoured fishing spots. Naomi was in her element and cooked up some noodles while we coasted along. We picked a spot in the main channel to anchor rather than up a creek so that we might get a light breeze and avoid insects, and relaxed with a movie that afternoon. This morning I was up early and had us away before 7am while Alex & Naomi slept for another couple of hours. We left the channel
and had a lovely sail for about an hour before, as usual, the swell from the east really started to roll us about and the wind wasn’t strong enough to hold the sail. So back on with the motor and rolled annoyed all the way to Dunk Island. We considered pulling in for lunch but the wind picked up as we drew close so pressed on and started making noodles again.
Unfortunately the protection from Dunk didn’t last long and the swell was upon us again - I got pretty angry with this constant roll and the need to motor as the wind was still just too weak. After a tantrum, wishing we had more time just to wait for better conditions at Dunk, I went for a rest. I didn’t sleep - kept thinking about what would happen if Alex fell overboard when Naomi was in the cockpit alone with him. I insisted he wear his jacket in future even if Naomi is holding onto him.
Naomi rushed me back up an hour or so later as she was worried about passing between Kent Island and a rock just to its east. By the time
I was up we were almost between them! I hadn’t read up on whether it was a safe passage and neither had Naomi so we veered sharp right to come around the rock. I couldn’t rest as I was a little shook up but as we turned more west we had a comfortable ride down the swell and could actually sail for once.
We noticed a yacht up on the beach so I called Cairns Coast Guard to check they were aware of it, which they were and told me Innisfail CG had attended to it yesterday. Came into Mourilyan Harbour and couldn’t find space in our usual spot, so anchored south of the pile moorings in an unsurveyed area - so we made a survey of our own.
We have all had showers and I am about to cook up a chilli con carne. After ten hours of sailing its good to be back in flat water again… I do wonder if we would be better suited to river cruising (?).
This part of the trip is featured in this video "Whitsunday to Cairns" at
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