Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Whitsunday Islands

15 September: Turtle Bay
Once we had picked up Bayden we headed to Turtle Bay, one of the southern bays of Whitsunday Island. It was a nice little bay, however, it was packed with boats. Luckily Kite has such a shallow draft that we were able to sneak right to the front :). We made it an hour before sunset.

The next morning we paddled to shore and went exploring for a short while. Sorry, we forgot to take the camera! Maybe we will head back again at some point. Around 11 a.m. we headed towards Waite Bay to go snorkeling.

16 September: Waite Bay
Waite Bay was quite isolated regarding other boats - there were only four others compared to the 30-40 boats the night before. One reason for this may be that charter boats aren't allowed to anchor here. We went for a very pleasant snorkel. Although there wasn't much coral around, the fish made up for it as well as the layers of bathtub warm water on the surface. We stayed the night here.

We used our spare anchor chain
to hold the Kayak in place

Bayden having a go at de-husking a coconut. This one was still pretty green so the flesh of the coconut wasn't very good for eating. The juice was pretty good though.

17 September: White Haven Beach
We set out fairly early in the morning so we would reach Hill Inlet at high tide. Hill Inlet is an inlet that cuts through White Haven Beach. We arrived just on time and were able to navigate our way a fair way upstream to beach Kite. Once Kite was beached and we were certain that she would remain level we headed of to explore a nearby beach.

When we came back Kite was no longer level - the sand hadn't been as supportive as we thought and the wind had been strong enough to make Kite lean over to her right side. Luckily it wasn't nighttime yet, so when the flood came in we decided to re-anchor in part of the inlet that didn't become exposed at low tide. This, however, was a big mistake! The current was pretty strong and Kite was going out of control on the anchor - the anchor rope was rubbing against the hull. Not good. We spent half of the night up until we got Kite settled. The solution was throwing another anchor over the back of the boat.

The next morning we decided to head to Island Head Creek, since we needed to drop of Bayden at Hamilton island again on the 19th and we needed to be nice and close.

We pulled Bayden up the mast when we were beached.

Bird's eye view of Kite.

We walked over to the rocky out crops when the water had receded even further.

A lonely mangrove.

A Cone shell. It was probably still alive. We turned it over with two long sticks not wanting to get too close to it. For those of you who don't know, Cone shells are highly poisonous and you can die if you get stung. Furthermore they can get you from either end of the shell so it is best to stay away from them.

This beach was riddled with tree trunks and branches poking out of the sand.

Enjoying an afternoon drink on the beach.

Heidrun keeping a look out so we don't run aground.

Leaving Hill Inlet.

18 September: Island Head Creek
We arrived in Island Head Creek around 2 p.m. We had planned to paddle to a palm forest but we were far to exhausted from the night before to paddle the 1.8 km oneway.

The boats in the inlet were all abandoned.
Some were in really good condition, others not. 

19 + 20 + 21 September: Dugong Inlet
 We dropped Bayden off around 10 and filled our water up. Thanks Bayden for all your help, we had a great time with you! We then headed to Dugong Inlet. We arrived just before lunch time. The water was a bit milky due to the mud bottom but otherwise nice.
We saw lots and lots of sea turtles. By lots we mean one popped up out of the water every 5 minutes or so.

22 September: Homestead Bay, Cid Island
Some nice snorkeling, although the visibility wasn’t at its finest. Met a yachter who had sailed up from Tasmania and went over for coffee in the evening.

A deserted beach, all to ourselves.


Our map indicates that there used to be a camp site here. All we could find was this sign.

Bernd waiting for a crab to climb out of its hole.

23 September: Arlie Beach
Did the usual restocking of water and food. The canoe sat pretty low in the water when we had filled it with water bags in the sum of 70 L. This also made for some rather strenuous paddling, especially since small waves were breaking over the canoe. Let’s just say our ride was quiet a wet one! Sometimes we suffer from dinghy envy, since it would make things just a little bit easier on the occasion.

24 - 26 September: Nara Inlet
The most crowded anchorage yet. We gave it the nickname of Nara City since the inlet looked like a city when all the anchor lights were on at night time.
On the 25th we found out that the regulator on the solar panel was broken. It must have been for a couple of days since our battery power had become quiet depleted. Luckily Bernd is really good with fixing such things and after half a days work we had a working solar panel again J. It was even charging better than before. Unluckily our VHF radio broke on the same day. Luckily we have a hand held one which has alright reception for the Whitsunday's. Hopefully our new radio will get here soon so we can sail out to the reefs.
On the 26th we went for a hike up to some aboriginal caves, before leaving for Dugong Inlet again.

The way up to the caves.

Ngaro people's cave site.

Electric fence around the cave site.

Green ants.

Lookout from the cave site.

27 - 29 September: Dugong Inlet
In the afternoon on the 27th we paddled up a mangrove creek in Dugong Inlet. It was a beautiful paddle, and we saved a turtle that was trapped in the mangroves. On the way back we met two elderly couples having drinks under a beach umbrella on a tiny little island in Dugong Inlet. We decided to sit on the beach for a bit and join them. They were really nice people and David and Linda (we are really sorry, we forgot the other couples name L) invited us over for coffee the next day.
Around 10 a.m. on the 28th David came by in is dinghy and picked us up for coffee. We were given a tour of their lovely motorboat and the other couple came over for coffee as well. Before we left, David and Linda filled up our water supplies and gave us some delicious mackerel fillets. They also gave us some lead weights, fishing hooks and bait as well as some tips on fishing. Thanks so much you two!!! And the mackerel was absolutely delicious!
We coated the mackerel with a mixture of Parmesan, flour, salt, garlic, egg, pepper and sweet paprika and fried it with a bit of oil in the frying pan.
In the afternoon we went for a hike in Sawmill Bay, opposite Dugong Inlet.

Paddling along the mangroves in the inlet.

The sea turtle that was trapped in between the mangroves.

Bernd saving the sea turtle.

The remains of a bees nest.

Trecking in Sawmill Bay, opposite Dugong Inlet.

30 September : Blue Pearl Bay and Maureen’s Cove
·      We set sail for Blue Pearl Bay (which had been recommended to us by everyone as the best snorkeling place) early in the morning and managed to score a mooring buoy there. Luckily for us we can go on a 9 meter mooring buoy, which most boats can't, otherwise we would have had to wait a substantial time until one freed up. Once it gets past 9 a.m. in the popular mooring areas it is like on big feeding frenzy. People on other boats don't seem to care if you have been waiting for a while they will just zoom in and snatch the mooring of you if they can. It is even worse in the afternoon when all the charter boats are looking for a mooring to stay the night. Usually the time limit on a mooring buoy is 2 hours. At 5 p.m. this time limit is lifted and you can stay on the mooring till 9 a.m. the next day. Charters boats have to be at their anchorages/on a mooring by 4 p.m. so once it gets close to 3 in the afternoon a big race starts - people get so desperate that they will motor past you full throttle (which has happened several times to us) to try and snatch the last mooring from you even if you are only 30 meters of getting there. The snorkeling was alright, although the visibility wasn't the best. After having finished snorkeling we went for a paddle along the shore and proceeded to head to Butterfly Bay around 2 p.m. to grab a mooring for the night. Just as we had our sights on our mooring (the last mooring in the bay we might add) a charter boat motor catamaran zoomed past us and snatched it away. Disappointed, we contemplated on what to do. The anchorage was too deep for us. We decided to head to Maureen's Cove which was just next to Butterfly Bay. According to the book we have the cove isn't sheltered from north easterly winds (which were predicted for that night), but because they were only meant to be light we decided to stay there for the night and managed to get the last mooring. 

  30 September + 1 October: Maureen's Cove
  Once we had moored we paddled to the beach which was made up of small bits of coral. We met some campers who told us about a dried up river bed you could hike up. We proceeded to check it out. However, we didn't get far since we were only wearing thongs and it was a fairly steep climb over boulders. We decided to head back, especially because the mozzies were getting really bad. On the way back the campers asked us if we had seen the tree snakes (we hadn't). We decided to go for another hike the next day so that we might be able to see some.
    On the first of October we went for a three hour hike early in the morning. Although we made it to the top our view of the cove was obscured by a thick tree line. We did encounter some tree snakes but weren't quick enough to get a photo of one. Once we got back from our hike the next day we went for a snorkel, which was much better than at Blue Pearl Bay.
    In the afternoon we headed to Stonehaven Bay to moor for the night. But alas, although we started nice and early all the moorings were gone by 2:30 p.m. so we moored behind Black Island (the closest island next to Stonehaven Bay).

The start of the dried out creek.

One of the larger boulders we climbed over.

One could have easily have fitted inside the hole of the boulder.

Mud wasp nests.

Can you spot the huge spider?

The spider had some nasty looking orange fangs on it. When Bernd threw a thumb sized stick in its net the spider scuttled to the stick and proceeded to stab into it with its fangs several times until it realized that it was a stick, upon which it removed it from the net fairly quickly.

A spider's exoskeleton hung of the side of rocks we walked over.

Maureen's Cove

Bat fish underneath our boat,

The mooring line was a thriving biotope for small fish.

   1 - 3 October: Black Island
   We went for a snorkel in the afternoon. It was the best yet, and this wasn't even a designated snorkeling area. Later we went to the beach to have a sunset drink and ended up joining some other people from two catamarans moored on the other two available moorings. 
 We stayed moored the whole of the second October because we were on a 9 meter mooring and no small enough boats came past us.
 On the third of October we went over to Langford Island for a snorkel. Bernd had been for a snorkel there when he had been for a previous trip to the Whitsundays. The visibility, however was very poor and we were not able to see much. We did however, swim very close to a turtle!
Around 2 p.m. we went over to Stonehaven Bay, since a strong wind warning had been given out and we definitely wanted a mooring. We had stopped seeing the point of keeping the 2 hour time limit when no one else was keeping to it!
Black Island.

Parrot fish.

Weird coral/sea urchin?

Kite seems to be a safe haven for small fish. As soon as we anchor or moor somewhere it doesn't take long for them to start congregating underneath the main hull.

We walked around Black Island. Most of it was rocky outcrop.

We spotted an eagles nest but no baby eagles.

Mummy or Daddy eagle wasn't far off.

3 October: Stonehaven Bay
We went for another snorkel, only to be rather disappointed. The visibility was the poorest yet. It was like trying to see in a snow storm. The water was nice and warm though (as long as you didn't dive lower than a meter or so. Once it got dark it started to really blow. We measured gusts of 96 km/h.

4 - 6 October: Arlie Beach
The strong wind was mean to start up in the afternoon again so we decided to head to Arlie Beach in the morning to restock our supplies and pick up our mail. However, the strong wind hit us earlier than expected. This made for a choppy and wet ride. We were very happy when we set anchor and were able to change out of our cold wet clothes!
We got up around 7 a.m. on the fifth of October to go to the Arlie Beach markets. 
In the afternoon we did our shopping. Heidrun's mail still hadn't arrived so we decided to stick around till Monday.