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Published: August 24th 2016
The TGO and Becs are back on Hakura
From June 25th
till 7 August, covered 158 nautical miles around the Whitsunday Islands.
Well, I must admit, I was concerned. Would I have Hakura ready for the visit of Lorraine (The TGO) and Becs (her daughter)? Without a vacuum cleaner would I be able be ready? These were the issues keeping me awake at night. Well, that plus would the weather be fine (more rain and wind were predicted for the first few days at least), and would I be able to keep my visitors happy after their recent ocean liner curse (actually they were coming directly from a 10 day voyage on one of the “Princess” ships). Would Hakura meet their elevated standards in terms of accommodation, food and service?
The only area I knew Hakura could out do everywhere else was in cups of tea. The rest would depend on my skills and charm. So you can see why I was concerned, worried and anxious.
To get things ready I had booked Hakura into the
Abell Point Marina so I could wash her down, get the bedding and my cloths freshly washed and give me the chance to have a hot shower. All of which needed to occur between 11 am, book in time, and 3 pm, when they were arriving. I also needed to get Hakura dressed, that is get some flags up so Hakura would be looking its best.
Well, the arrival time was approaching and I had done the jobs. All was washed that needed it, all was swept and tided that needed it and I was waiting at the bus stop for the airport service.
Yep that was the bus but it did not stop at the usual bus stop. It drove past.
But all was OK. There were two passengers waving at me. I could see it was Lorraine and Becs. The kind driver was dropping them off closer to the northern end of the marina.
After a warm welcome, we headed back to Hakura for the first cup of tea. Hakura and I had passed the first test, I
We would have one night in the Marina before we headed out into the wilds of the Whitsundays. As is usual we needed to stock up on food for the next ten days, which involved the walk into Airlie Beach and the trudge back with lots of bags full of food. After stowing it, we headed back into Airlie Beach for the traditional last meal ashore. This time it was not the Fish and Chips shop but a friendly restaurant I had visited several times over the past two seasons in the Whitsunday. The food and the service were as good as always. The night was made special through the efforts of the maitre d'
. He even put on a floorshow that had many guests quickly on their feet. It involved the dramatic discovery of the friendly huntsman spider. Not a massive one but as it was a hand’s width in size it did get a warm welcome from those sitting near by. I was impressed that he just picked the spider up on a menu and took it to a clump of bushes away from the place. Most people had recovered and were back in
their seats when he had returned, to a warm round of applause.
On the morning of the 26th
we headed out, after the usual watering and fuelling up, to Nara Inlet. This was in part due to the weather. It was going to rain and blow for the next couple of days so I decided on Nara Inlet, plus it would give everybody a chance to settle in.
Whilst I had not fixed the weather, I had laid on a great (sea) floor show for the first evening. As with the last evening of the pervious trip, there were lots of very active small fish around Hakura. As the evening progressed, the fishes’ activity, again as previously noted, attached some predators. However, this time they were not the red-eyed fish but a small pod of dolphins. We counted a total of four and they looked like small bottlenose dolphins. We had lots of chances to get good looks at them as they would chase the fish right around and underneath Hakura and, judging by the noises coming from other vessels nearby, many of the other vessels anchored around us. The
dolphins kept the floor show up for over an hour.
The weather had cleared by the morning of our 3rd
day out so we headed off for Butterfly Bay, on the northern side of Hook Island, however, it was far from at its best, with the wind gusting down from the hills. We turned back to Ian Point, in Stonehaven on the western coast of Hook Island, where it was much more sheltered. We spent a couple of nights here, with snorkelling, sunset watching and generally enjoying ourselves. A friendly small green turtle visited us. I think it was the same animal that Fred and I had seen the year before.
During this time the crew were developing colds, or possibly they were rejecting the lack of comforts and alcohol on Hakura. I, on the other hand, was continuing to develop my outer ear infections plus crusty and gritty eyes, this latter development lead to the use of tea bags on Hakura. Yes, there are black tea bags on board, however, they are only for medical reasons. I had be told by someone years ago that applying cold used tea
bags to the eyes was a good method of getting rid of conjunctivitis. So for the first time in a very long time black tea was made with tea bags. It was not drunk, rather it was thrown away and when the tea bags had cooled they were places on the effected eye (or eyes in this case). It appeared to have limited effect though this may have been due to it not being conjunctivitis.
So all on board were not firing on all cylinders, though we were able to relax very well. One of the activities we were able to do was the playing of cards after dinner. Those of you who know Lorraine, she is a very good card player with quite a competitive streak. I, on the other hand, am very laid back about it all. Really I am, and any stories otherwise are all false (well most, would you believe at least some of them).
The main game was Phase Ten, which Lorraine and Rebecca have been playing for years and I learnt off Lorraine. Well it turned out that Rebecca was the master on most nights, though Lorraine did
win twice. One of those involved a very rare event. In the game, plays have to achieve specific combinations of cards to move to the next level. At the end of each hand any play with cards still in their hand has to add up the cards and this amount is added to their total. The winner is the person who achieves the final phase for the lowest score. Usually the score does not matter as only one play reaches Phase Ten, however, in one game Lorraine and I both reached Phase Ten in the same hand and our scores where tided, so it was a tided game (PS the only game I won in the whole stay, they must have been cheating).
As the weather was improving we were considering a trip out to Bait Reef (on the Great Barrier Reef proper), though before that we headed off to Whitehaven Beach. Unfortunately, the wind was a bit strong from the east so we moved over to Chalkie’s Beach on Haslewood Island. This is a very comfortable anchorage next to a very deep channel (the middle of which is 130 m deep, and the deepest spot for
many miles around). The beach is a great spot for a swim and Rebecca and Lorraine went ashore in the morning and had a relaxing time.
One of the issues now developing was a shortage of toilet paper. You may remember that we visited the supermarket before leaving. Well, I forgot to add toilet paper to the list. So the big issue became could we stay or did we need to resupply. I opted for resupply, though in hindsight, I should have checked the supplies as we had more than I thought and we could have stayed longer at Chalkie’s Beach, which the crew wanted to do.
After a run into Airlie Beach for the resupply, we were now into the final 4 days of the crews’ visit, so having re fuelled, re watered, and re stocked (including the all important toilet paper), we headed out again. This time we went to a new anchorage called Cid Harbour, which is on the western side of Whitsunday Island.
On the way out we had a very unusual sitting. Lorraine spotted a large black object off to starboard. The guesses as to what
it was were being offered in quick succession and included a dolphin, a whale (the highest on the hope-it-to-be list) or a dugong (almost as high). I, being the originator of many of these suggestions, became a bit concerned, as it was not swimming away as we got closer. This might mean it could have been a dead one of the above. Not good for it, but on the plus side it would mostly likely mean large sharks.
As we moved closer we realised that we had not included in the list floating tractor tyre. An oversight that will stay with us for years. Will we ever live down the shame? After recovering what was left of our composure we continued to sail towards Cid Harbour. By the way, a tractor tyre was a big deal as they float just at the surface and are big. I would not want to hit it in Hakura and certainly not in a speeding powerboat. Oh what a mess that would be.
Now the crew were over their colds and I was starting to come down with it. So the collective decision was to move
back to Nara Inlet to allow for recovery and set out another couple of days of wind and rain.
On the 5th
we did the big circumnavigation of Whitsunday Island, going past Hamilton Island and a large cruse ship anchored just of Hamilton Island. After spending several hours motoring around we anchored off Whitehaven Beach. The crew reported back that the beach was very white and the water very wet, thus a very suitable beach.
We finished the day back in Macona Inlet as it was their second to last night aboard and tomorrow we needed to be in Abell Point Marina so that we could all get showered and cloths washed in readiness for their departure. We had a quite evening in Macona Inlet, without any fish turning up.
Back in the marina, and as is now customary, we went out for the last night dinner, heading back to the same restaurant. However, there was no floorshow this time.
Next morning we had a farewell Hakura breakfast and cups of tea. As they were catching the bus to the airport after 3 we had a
slow relaxing day before the walk around to the bus stop at the southern part of the Marina.
It was a great visit and Lorraine and Rebecca are great crew and even better friends. I really enjoyed having them aboard and they are both welcome back any time, together or own their own.
Oh well, I was back to being a solo sailor again. Such is the lot of the skipper. Would I be able to handle the quite of no visitors, having nobody to make the tea and nobody to thrash me at cards? The quite was easy to deal wit, just turn up the music; I would manage not being thrashed, but the tea making? I’m not sure there.
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