Decisions decisions..... and island hopping

Australia's flag
Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Whitsundays
August 8th 2013
Published: August 9th 2013
Edit Blog Post

Total Distance: 0 miles / 0 kmMouse: 0,0

Cole IslandCole IslandCole Island

from the tip of 2 adjacent beahces
Wednesday was a warm day with light balmy breezes. A perfect day for exploring a place I have had in mind for some time - Cole Island. Some years ago, on a flight up or down the coast I happened to look down and see a special island. A small one off the northwest of Lindeman Island that looks so perfect its hard to believe it isn't man-made. It has an off-centre irregular lump of land covered in bush, and 3 beaches connecting its projections forming a triangle of beaches.

With barely any wind the motor to Cole Island was just over an hour. As we came around the bottom of Seaforth Island I noticed the cardinal marker for Spitfire rock was missing.

Cole is not known as anchorage so this was something else special. Except for in The Broadwater as its easy to anchor almost anywhere, we normally never stop where a place is not marked as an anchorage in either a guide or on a map. So here we were making a little exploration into the unknown or at least the poorly documented.

The east side of the island seems to be the only spot where
Alex on the Beach at ColeAlex on the Beach at ColeAlex on the Beach at Cole

Pentacost Island in the background
water shallows before the edge of the reef but its also where the map marks it as disturbed water with eddies.... probably why its not an anchorage. Approached the reef edge cautiously with the water not being nearly as shallow as shown on the map. It was obviously steep as when we chose the spot to drop the anchor it was 9 m deep, by the time I had dropped it it was 11m and when we had paid the chain out we were now in 15m of water. For the record the sand/mud bottom held well S20 25.386 E 149 00.577

On shore we walked around the beaches and came across some prime beach combing pickings. First was a fishing net wreckage with some melon sized floats - I cut one free using some dead coral as a souvenir. Had to climb over a small rocky headland to get the third beach and we soon spotted the missing cardinal marker perched upright amongst the rocks. Further up the beach also found half a canoe, and a car inner door panel and sun visor.

I headed through the bush as I thought this should bring us back to the beach we landed on. As I stumbled back onto sand I got a fright as the boat was nowhere to be seen.... then I realised I was only back on the second beach. At this point cries started coming from Naomi who was carrying Alex behind me - they were getting attacked by biting green ants. I returned to help and got a nip on the chin too. We all evacuated and walked back to the dinghy. Then we made a circumnavigation of the island on the water and back to the yacht for lunch - chicken korma wraps.

Motored around the top of Lindeman and Little Lindeman Island keeping close to the shoreline to take in the scenery until we crossed to Neck Bay on Shaw Island. The current in the channel here is quite strong - it actually turned the boat about about 90 degrees to the left without the wheel moving.

Approached this established anchorage carefully as there's "extensive reef" but like Cole it was a lot deeper than expected. We were right on the edge with the depth still at 12 m, coming just a few metres from a big rock beneath the
beautiful clear waterbeautiful clear waterbeautiful clear water

Cole Island (Lindeman Island on the right)
water as we pulled away. Explored a shallow patch further out but it was too far out of the bay. Returned to the edge of the reef and dropped anchor with the plan to explore this narrow isthmus on Shaw Island. Lowered the dinghy and engine onto it, all piled in but as we started riding over the shallow coral we realised going ashore now with the tide still dropping for another hour would leave us stranded there for a while - assuming we could even get to the beach without tearing up the inflatable. So back to Luna Ray thinking " that was a waste of time" but Naomi was happy as it gave her the time to bake the chocolate brownies she had wanted to cook.

Up anchor again and just a couple of miles across to our final stop at Plantation Bay with two other boats - a good spot for protection from the northerly winds forecasted. Here we treated ourselves to a shower and of course, the brownies. One of the boats lifted anchor and got jerked around as they did so from their chain snagging on rocks. They repositioned behind us and then the male half came over apparently to explain they moved to get away from the rocks closer to shore. Had a little chat - they had come up from Sydney and had been in the Whitsundays for months. He said this was the first time they had anchored on the south of an island as the wind always blows from the south. Also discussed the Louisiades Rally which he was considering but now planned to miss.

Talking of plans, we have been reconsidering ours. We have been told by the time we get to the archipelago of Indonesia the wind will have gone, and its slowly dawned on us that we would have to keep quite a pace, probably motoring all the way, to get up the Malacca Straight before the stormy weather in November. In fact because of a few delays along our way, now we would have to rush up the coast here to have any chance of leaving Darwin by mid September. We still haven't organised our cruising permits for Indonesia (mostly from being too relaxed about it and also procrastinating about which route to take) and rushing really goes against the whole ethos of
Our anchorage in Plantation BayOur anchorage in Plantation BayOur anchorage in Plantation Bay

Taken from Lindeman Island. Neck Bay in far background
cruising. On top of this there are a few pieces of equipment we would like and we would be pushed for time to collect them in the next month before leaving Australia.

So we are now thinking we may put Indonesia off until next year, giving us time to cruise the east coast at a leisurely rate... maybe join the Louisiades rally... spend more time in Yeppoon over summer with family while Alex is still cute, and set off for Indonesia with plenty of time to enjoy it, perhaps stopping at The Kimberleys along the way.

Part of me feels we are wimping out.... are we making excuses not to venture into the unknown?... will there be some excuse next year and we'll never go? I don't think so, the east coast of Australia and Indonesia are some of the best cruising grounds in the world so it seems silly to rush it because of some schedule we have had in our head. We have the time.... we should be masters of our schedule not slaves to it. If we leave next year, with a few more miles under the hull and more confidence, we can only enjoy it all the more.

Woke thursday to dead calm but the predicted northerly wind built over the morning. Went over to Neck Bay on the dinghy, this time near high tide. Another beautiful beach, torquoise water and a couple of turtles swimming by near the water's edge - Naomi's favourite beach so far. Found a path across this isthmus of the island, marked well by plastic objects tied to the trees, almost all of them a surprisingly consistent shade of blue. On the other side we found a scenic sheltered pebbly bay but with a lot of plastic debris on the high water line. Combed through it looking for gems but it was all rubbish.

Back on the west side of the island we motored back to Luna Ray into the wind - this dinghy certainly gives more of a wet ride.

After lunch headed over to the Lindeman Island resort and tied up at the jetty. This Club Med resort is also now closed, but didn't look as run down as Brampton. Walked up the steep road past the holiday units, the golf range, tennis courts, indoor sports building and at the archery range next to the airstrip found the National Park signs for the walks available. I was hoping we could climb to Mt Oldfield lookout but at 3.6 km one way it was too far for us all do to this late in the day, so while Naomi went back to the dinghy with Alex, I hiked the 2 km path back to Plantation Bay.

It was perfectly manicured initially but quite soon suddenly became overgrown - long grass with just a footstep width line of flattened grass through it. Had some nice views down to the anchorage and across to Neck Bay, and also could see Naomi in the dinghy coming out of the resort's channel markers down below. She eventually picked me up from the beach when I arrived, cautiously paddling in as there wasn't much water over the coral.

The next day it was predicted stronger winds from the south would return during the morning. So I was hoping we could find an anchorage on the north of the island and make the climb to the view point then.

At about 5 am this morning we were awoken by the boat rocking (well apparently Naomi was already awake from trying to settle Alex at 4.30 ).... the wind had come earlier and stronger than expected, blowing 19-23 knots, so now we were hanging back toward the beach and coral with the wave tops breaking around us.

Naomi tried to sleep while I took up anchor watch, made the boat ready and watched the exodus start as a few boats left the bay. When we left at about 6:30 am Naomi was more concerned about a flat anchorage so we headed back south to where had anchored a couple of nights before at the bottom of Shaw Island, near Burning Point. It meant I missed out on my bushwalk (this time!) but going anywhere in our dinghy in this much wind would be very wet.

On the way we noticed the oil pressure dial was reading high, in fact off the scale! I have noticed it looking a bit wobbly lately and I suspected just an electrical fault so ignored the risk of blown valves and motored on. Google seemed to back up what I thought, and so did the fact it still ready high when the engine was off for a while, but I wasn't even sure where the sensor was on the engine.

After morning tea of puftaloons (like mix between rock cakes and doughnuts), I did find a sensor and nearby a wire that may have been connected to it that had its insulation broken. Every time I pushed the wire against the engine it effected the dial so it seemed it was shorting it out. Cleaned it up and insulated it with some electrical tape. But when I ran the engine the dial still read high ?!

Further probing and I really did find the sensor - it was a little obscured from view - and also a loose connection to it. The original wire I repaired lead into a bundle of wires and these in turn had moved the sensor wire as I wiggled it, hence misleading me as to where the real problem was. With this connection replaced she was working fine. A relief as we are supposed to be picking up our friend Michelle tomorrow from Hamilton.

I did happen to check on the raw water pump as it took me three goes to get the impeller cover on without leaking when we were in Yeppoon. Unfortunately I could see water has been leaking again but perhaps not from cover after-all. Will have to take a proper look when I have time to empty the cockpit locker as this gives me a better view.

With the satisfaction and relief of any immediate engine problems solved we all had a nap and I just woke to find the wind has eased to 10-15 knots, but I doubt we will bother going ashore today. As I said we will have a guest tomorrow, so will meet Michelle at Hamilton and stay Saturday night in the marina ($109 per night!- over double the normal marina rate) which is good timing as our water supply is getting low, so may not write until she leaves wednesday.



9th August 2013

Every time I hear the word puftaloons, I think of Grandma lol, I haven't made them since I was a kid. So how are you travelling Naomi, Is Alex being a good boy !!! I don't know how you do it. I love reading your blogs and look forward to the next time we meet. Safe travels, Gina and Tribe
15th August 2013

good on you guys
good on you for slowing down and enjoying some of the best cruising grounds in the world. We are dreaming of our next boat ....can't get it too soon, hating missing the sailing season here. We think maybe a Peterson 44-46, just got to talk to the bank nicely! As for the dinghy nightmares - been there, done that, john had to do a swim to retrieve ours once - not a great feeling left stranded on a remote beach with a baby, watching your partner swim out into shark waters! enjoy the ease of the whitsundays, if you come across Dale and Tam, with two kids (toby age 3, and Tullulah age 2) they are on a 40ft ben lexcen freedom yacht say hello - they are brilliant fun.

Tot: 0.108s; Tpl: 0.015s; cc: 13; qc: 29; dbt: 0.0369s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.1mb