Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Whitsundays to Townsville

As we close in on the end of this particular segment of our adventure it seems appropriate that Mother Nature would give us a last-minute reminder of who's in charge.

After a couple more weeks exploring and relaxing around the Whitsunday Islands, including a really fun visit from my Mum and step dad, we once again headed north, spending a few days around the Woodwark Bay and Double Bay areas, and at the beautiful Gloucester Passage.

Our passage from Queens Bay (near Bowen) to Cape Upstart was frustratingly windless with only 5 or 6 knots on the stern, forcing us to motor-sail in order to make the 40+ nautical mile trip before dark. So when, just an hour or so after we dropped anchor, the wind finally piped up to a steady 15 - 18 knots from the east, Michael and I looked at each other with the exact same thought on our minds... "should we just go for it??"

"Going for it" didn't seem like that big a deal - an overnight sail of about 70 miles would get us all the way to Magnetic Island, only a stones throw from where we were hauling Bass Voyager out for maintenance in Townsville in a week's time. While we don't make a habit of changing plans at the last minute OR heading to sea just before dark, the seas had been so benign for the rest of the day, it seemed like a pretty safe bet.

And it was fine, really. Just uncomfortable. Monohulls, especially heavy, full-keel designs like Bass Voyager, are comfortable on most points of sail (i.e. most directions of wind) but when the swell is coming from off the aft quarter (i.e. hitting the boat on the side towards the back) they get this rolling motion going which makes things pretty yucky. I guess Ive become pretty soft since we got to Queensland. We tackled much more challenging seas in the southern ocean and around Tasmania, but (and being nearly 7 months pregnant is surely a big part of this) I really struggled on this trip. It was the first time in a really long time that Ive not just felt seasick, but was actually sick. This coupled with the tiredness from having already sailed 40 miles earlier that day, meant I was totally miserable.

Michael was amazing, taking on the lion's share of the night watch (guzzling energy drinks to stay awake), keeping me hydrated and comfortable as possible with pillows and blankets, and giving me lots of hugs and encouragement. I love my husband so much!

Anyway, we made it perfectly safely to Magnetic Island at around 10am the next morning, dropped the anchor and promptly crashed into bed for a long sleep. Funnily enough it was one of the best sails we've had in a long time - over 70 miles of consistent winds propelling us along nicely at around 5 knots, even under shortened sail (we always reef our sails at night, just in case the wind decides to get suddenly stronger.)

Now, a few days later, we are comfortably tucked into a berth at the very nice Breakwater Marina in Townsville. We're getting the boat all packed up and ready for her haul-out next Monday. I fly back to Adelaide on Friday (where we'll get sidetracked for a while by a - literally - little thing called having a baby). Michael, the trooper, is staying on to do the hot, hard and dirty work to antifoul and repaint Bass Voyager ready for her stay at Magnetic Island over the summer. Kitty has agreed to keep him company providing she doesn't have to lift a paw to help!

Its been an amazing 4 months since we left Hervey Bay and its hard to come to terms with the fact that we're stopping for a while, especially as it feels like the sailing season is only half over. But on the other hand there are exciting developments in our near future, not least of which is greeting our newest little crew member in just 8 or 10 weeks time! 
Airlie Beach ... beach

Stunt plane over the anchorage at Airlie Beach. It was fun being at Airlie during their annual race week - lots going on with markets, live music and the chance to watch fireworks from the deck of our boat - very memorable.

Tourists spill on to Whitehaven Beach. Mum and I caught this boat out to this beautiful and justifiably famous beach and spent a few hours lazing in the sunshine with 100 or so of our closest friends. It was a great day!


Us three at Shute Harbour (thanks for the photo John)

A few days after Mum and John's visit we took Bass Voyager back around to Whitehaven Beach, this time exploring the Hill Inlet (northern) end. We took our tender around from the adjacent bay and landed at this tiny cove - like a private mini version of the main beach. Spectacular.

Goanna in the bush at Whitehaven

Bass Voyager anchored at Whitehaven

Caitlin at Whitehaven

The Whitsundays are the most popular cruising destination in the country, and it is "crowded" (although its nothing compared to the Mediterranean, I'm told) but it 100% lives up to its reputation - it's completely beautiful and you are spoiled for choice when it comes to comfortable, picturesque anchorages and places to explore on water and land. And, if you look, you can always find a peaceful, quiet anchorage to hide away from the crowds in relative seclusion.

Michael exploring in the tender

Kitty was impressed.

After stocking up for a final time in Airlie Beach we explored the bays north of the town which were very beautiful and comfortable. This photo is of Double Bay East.

We then moved to beautiful Gloucester Passage and enjoyed drinks and lunch at the low key Monte's Resort.

Its very rare to get a photo of yourselves under sail (for obvious reasons) but now we have we have one, thanks to our friends and fellow South Australians Cheryl and John on Gypsy Lover. Thanks guys! Bass Voyager leaving Gloucester Passage for Queens Bay.
View from the top of Castle Hill in Townsville. Magnetic Island, which will be Bass Voyager's home while we're in Adelaide, is in the distance - about 4.5 nautical miles from the city.

View to Townsville CBD. Townsville is very dry by QLD standards, and the landscape is totally different to adjoining regions to both the north and south.

We love exploring inland and getting away from the (yaaaawnnn!) seascapes, pristine beaches and sunsets for a while, so this week we hired a car and drove north of Townsville to Wallaman Falls - the highest single drop waterfall in Australia apparently, although Im sure I heard that about another one we've visited along the way..... (just checked back in our blog and that was Ellenborough Falls in NSW - "one of the highest single drop falls in the southern hemisphere." So not "the" highest.) It was beautiful, and so cool and peaceful up in the rainforest, such a contrast to the dusty heat of Townsville.

I don't know what it is about Townsvillians and gelati but there are three artisan gelati shops within walking distance - one a very dangerous 5 minute walk from the marina.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Charlotte! I completely missed this comment back in November - sorry sweety!!