Wednesday, August 31, 2011

....and when they got there, Brampton was bare!

Slowly I am going to try and catch up to where we are at present...which for the record is still Sawmill Bay, Whitsunday Island. We left Mackay Marina early on Saturday 20th August, and on our way out I took a quick picture of the shoreline, where you can see the old, re-located, kerosene lighthouse that used to reside on Pine Island (opposite Middle Percy Island).

Another interesting sight (for me at any rate) was captured on our way in to Mackay several days before. Nick is always complaining that due to Lucey Blue's beam and height, he can't see what is happening at the sides of the hulls...especially when he is trying to come alongside a fuel wharf or marina berth. I have decided that maybe an upgrade of our cockpit/bridge is in order, the bridge wings in the following picture would surely help to rectify the lack of hull view...pretty cool Father's Day present huh?

Maybe some side mirrors would be more achievable, and in keeping with our almost 20 year old design. I was actually pretty worried at the time we motored past these behemoths. I was wondering if one of them might spring to life and promptly reverse over us (I'm not at all prone to flights of fancy ;-) ...but figured that without a tug in attendance they weren't going anywhere too fast.

Anyhoo...we spent a very peaceful morning sailing under our spinnaker out to Brampton island...

Please excuse all the junk over the trampolines, we don't usually sail in such a shambles, I think Nick was looking for something in a bow locker at the time. The book I was reading was a Clive Cussler (he doesn't add fodder to my flights of fancy at all!!!!!).

As we rounded the western side of Brampton Island we crossed paths with another couple of whales steaming north...

We anchored next to Roar Ege in the small bay between Pelican Island and Swordfish Point. After Nick had untangled the trolling line from our starboard prop (it really sucks when you forget its there and end up reversing over it......we hadn't caught anything to lessen the pain hoo), we went ashore for a wee wander in the woods.

There were lots of beautiful butterflies in the trees along the walk...

I don't know what sort of butterfly they are...but I managed to capture a shot of this poor old fellow, probably by virtue of the fact that he could barely fly any more. He looks a bit moth

After our bush walk we wandered along the beach to investigate the resort...but when we got there, Brampton was bare! I was beginning to have more 'Lost' flashbacks, and was looking around for Matthew and Evangeline again (cue the spooky music). Are you starting to see a trend here?

The Brampton Island Resort website says the resort closed in Jan 2011 for renovations, and will be opened some time after Dec 2011. Let's just say, based on our observations, we don't think it'll be opening soon after Dec 2011. The only living things we saw (other than a bunch of fellow cruisers) was a large group of very well fed least someone is looking after the lawns...because no one appeared to be working hard at renovations, that's for sure!

And just like Great Keppel....the resort beach fits my definition of idyllic, so its sad to see the place pretty much abandoned.

The next day we left in tandem with Roar Ege, agreeing to catch some shots of each other en route...

We also took a little video on our way north through the channel between Hammer and Ladysmith/Blacksmith Islands...

I have made tuna casserole for dinner tonight, and it smells I'm gonna go grab some now before it gets cold!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Where is Lucey Blue?

Just thought I'd pop a little message here and let you know that tonight we are nestled in Sawmill Bay, Cid Harbour, on the western side of Whitsunday Island (along with approximately 41 other boats). When I looked outside this evening it was hard to tell where the stars stopped and the anchor lights started, and Nick commented that it felt like Sydney Harbour on New Year's Eve!

Our internet coverage has been sporadic over the last few days...while we were visiting Whitehaven Beach and then Border Island (which are overshadowed by towering granite peaks to their west). I have been trying to update our Google location map, which you can find at the top of the page here, whenever I get a chance.

I have plenty of pictures to edit and pop up, but they'll have to wait for another time. For now, I'll leave  you with this pic we caught of a calf playing in the sea off Border Island (mum was nearby, maybe giving technique pointers)...

Definitely something very special to behold!

Middle Percy Island hospitality

As I mentioned in the previous post, we still have more to tell you about our stay at Middle Percy Island (fair warning...this post has a bazillion pictures!!).

We stayed at Middle Percy Island for five lovely, warm and sunny days. When we arrived at West Bay on Friday 12th August the anchor had barely touched the sand when Ryan and I jumped overboard and swam ashore.  Dad stayed aboard Lucey Blue to ensure we weren't dragging, but I couldn't resist the almost 25 degree, bright blue water and lovely clean sandy beach that beckoned. West Bay looked like a little tropical oasis!

The sun, sand and scenery of beautiful West Bay beckon!

However, it was the hospitably of the island’s resident caretakers - Cate, John, Ernst and Steve - that really made our stay. Cate and John hold a 20-year lease over some of the best parts of the island with the rest forming a national park. They have set about repairing the old homestead and other historic infrastructure as well as heartily welcoming visitors to the island. Andy Martin (Cate’s cousin) established a welcoming island culture over his three plus decades on Middle Percy and it is great to see it coming back to life.

The A-frame....a place packed full of visitor's memorabilia

The treehouse...the place with the telephone!

On our first night at Middle Percy Island Ernst and Steve came down to the A-Frame on the beach to cook goat stew for everyone, with the yachties providing the vegetables, snacks and drinks. After collecting the firewood and getting the stew going Ernst, Steve and Cate chatted with us about the island's history and life on a remote island. There were about nineteen yachties ashore that night, from 6 separate boats – some on their way to the Hamilton Island Race Week and others just cruising north like us – and the conversation was fast and lively.

Ernst cooking goat stew on the BBQ behind the A-frame hut

Sunset over Pine Island and West Bay

Feeding the littlest Post as the sun sets (and the sandflies descend ;-)

Ryan enjoying a hearty bowl of stew with Steve in the background. The kids and I all went back for seconds...that's how good Percy island goat stew is!

Steve, an ex-park ranger who also happened to grow up on the neighbouring Pine Island with his lighthouse-keeping parents, brought a bevy of animals down to the beach for the kids to feed and play with. There was: Diamond the dog, Ginger the goat (6 weeks old), Jack the goat (2 weeks old) and Winnie the Wallaroo joey (3 months old). I am not sure who had more fun – Emily, Ryan or Sam.

Sam and Ryan feeding Jack the goat

Emily feeding Ginger...who was quite a messy eater

Ernst with Ryan cuddling Jack

Emily and Winnie the Wallaroo joey

We spent the next few days exploring the island, visiting Cate at the homestead and having lunch with Steve at the Rondarval...

The long walk up to the homestead is punctuated by various motivational poems and fun sayings scattered along the track, these were especially useful in encouraging the kids to keep going on the long slog uphill!

This one comes just before you turn a corner and are greeted with a gorgeous, sweeping view out towards South Percy and beyond.

Another beautiful poem is found in a tree on the side of the track, and Emily read it out for all of us...

We also had the good fortune to meet and make friends with another cruising family on the catamaran Roar Ege. Angus, Mel, Michael and Fiona promptly put to rest any notion we had that fish were getting scarce in Queensland waters. They caught two large Mackerel right off the back of their cat in West Bay!!! We couldn't have been happier for them, especially as they shared both with us...thanks again guys, the fish was delicious and your company much appreciated.

Eric’s top two front teeth also made their first appearance at Middle Percy, but despite a few sleepless nights (for which we were given some unusual 'proven' teething solutions)...

...the bottle was empty before it was offered to Eric...promise!

...our time on the island has been one of the highlights of the trip thus far. It looks like the warm and welcoming culture of Middle Percy is alive and well, and our thanks go to everyone who helped make our stay so special.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A day at the Audi Hamilton Island Races...

I know this post is out of order...we still have several posts to add here covering our visits to Middle Percy, Brampton, Shaw and Lindeman Islands (I have been a pretty slack blogger of late)...but I was so excited after witnessing some of the maxi yachts up close today (part of the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week), that I couldn't wait to pop up a few pictures.

We left our anchorage at Lindeman Island at 8:00 am this morning and sailed under spinnaker up to Hamilton Island and through Dent Passage, arriving just as the race fleet departed the Hamilton Island Marina.

We weren't sure where the races started from, so we dropped the spinnaker and followed the back of the fleet right up to the start line (and then promptly got out of the way).

Check out the water!! The current through Fitzalan Passage was about 3 kts...against us!

We ended up in Turtle Bay, on the south coast of Whitsunday Island, and were bobbing about directly off the start line, where we got the following shots...

I had to put this one up, because I got one for my birthday! A silver Pandora bracelet...not a Hanse 540e racing yacht ;-)...

As soon as the majority of the fleet had departed we motored back past Hamilton Island and anchored off Henning Island, just in time to catch the race leaders come flying back home...

It was a poopy, overcast and drizzly day, but it was so much fun watching the race fleet that we hardly noticed the poor weather. There were hardly any spectator boats out either, which surprised us, but enabled us a good clear view.

We finished off a fabulous day with a quick jaunt ashore on Henning Island, where we helped the kids construct a driftwood shelter on the beach. This project was inspired by one of Emily's Distance Education units on different types of shelters, and someone had even thoughtfully started the shelter for us too!

Anyhoo, way past time this chook was in bed.