Paul's Around Australia Trip 2011

Leg 4 Hamilton Island - Around the Whitsundays


Julie Westcott

Richard Urquhart

Deb Urquhart

Hamilton Island is quite nice with many things to do. My 42 foot yacht is dwarfed by the 60 foot plus power boats with names like “Born to Battle” and "All Black". I have had a free day so walked swam and maintained. Guinevere is all clean and shiny and ready for the next leg.

The supermarket is OK with prices higher but not silly.

Great sunsets from the new yacht club.

The big boss (Julie) arrives on afternoon flight and we will leave at dawn for Whitehaven Beach to catch the tide

Sealed section: Read below perforation only if you are not a true cruising yachtsman

“Theeee plane … theeee plane”.  Julie, Debra and I are greeted by Paul at Bob Oatley’s Fantasy Island, Hamilton. Hamo for race week people. Our minibus makes a break from the peloton of golf carts and heads for E arm of the marina. The 60 footer 2 down has someone busily polishing the tender. But do they have time to use it.

Within an hour, swimming with a turtle before provisioning, sunset drinks on the yacht club foredeck, followed by dinner at “The Club” to try the local delicacies. Local extends to Coffin Bay, SA, and not sure if the Barra is wild but great in any case.

Dawn start for the tide to Whitehaven via Chalkies for breakfast. Headsail unfurled.

Recheck. Rising tide south, falling tide north. Solway Passage still angry, boiling with whirlpools tugging at the wheel. Whitehaven doesn’t disappoint. Beach beautiful with fauna in abundance. Mainly back packers. On our beach walk we count 2 games of touch, 2 cricket, 1 soccer, a Frisbee or 2, 3 helicopters, 2 seaplanes and a purple catamaran not to mention the iridescent stinger suits. However, finally one goanna lurking at the edge of the scrub to scare the Japanese tourists out of lunch. Yes, justice.

Great long day and head to Tongue Bay and a surprise mooring available. Guinevere rolls with the swell to the 2am disco beat of the party boat anchored within subwoofer distance. 100 Magic Miles Ninth edition didn’t mention this. This is offset by the morning walk to the lookout at the northern end of Whitehaven. An absolute must. Looks even better without Qantas kids.

Border Island looks good but with the weather closing in it has us putting the wet suits away after a sail-by and head for the upper reaches of Nara Inlet for safe haven. Any hint of water lapping at the stern or anchor chain growling more than offset by the soothing sound of the waterfall close by.  Ngaro art investigated on our morning walk before a quick trip under headsail to Stonehaven Anchorage with a mooring nestled amongst the coral. Above expectation. Beach, coral, snorkel, throw out a line at dusk, great dinner washed down with a 2004 drinking at its best. Can it get any better? Well in fact yes.

In the morning, head for a mooring at Langford Island a smooth stone skip away.

A walk along the sand spit has Debra sighting two black tipped sharks in one foot of water. Alas this restricts her snorkeling to eight inches of water here. With the wind picking up and the current strong we head for Blue Pearl Bay on the North West corner of Hayman Island. Alas we are stuck fast to the mooring. This doesn’t appear possible.

With little choice, Paul dons the goggles and dives over to investigate. Hard to believe but the wind, swell and current had combined to lasso the mooring line to the keel.

With a big breath Paul dives and releases the half hitch, climbs aboard before sliding by with the strong current with Julie hitting the throttle as Paul climbs aboard to keep us from the coral lurking a little close by now.

Blue Pearl Bay, Simply Stunning. Perfect conditions, glassy clear water, magnificent snorkeling, and abundant fish. Parrot, coral, you name it, it was busy munching at the coral. Black and white banded fish kept close company. No swell and perfect for an overnight anchoring. You can’t dial up days like this.

The Big Day. Heading south however! Like taking a Melbourne horse to Sydney, a clockwise day starting via Butterfly Bay, then facing a bumpy start past Pinnacle Point on the corner of Hook Island before settling in with a running current and the breeze on the nose.  IPAD Navionics cross-checked to Guin’s logs has us doing 36nm in five and a half hours down Hook then Whitsunday, a Whitehaven reconnaissance, then looping by Pentecost Island to our overnight target of Neck Bay Anchorage off Linderman Island in perfect sailing conditions. Stunning.

Haven’t mentioned the catering. Being a non journey leg Paul had provisioned with Master Chef in mind (with the help of Julie and Debra’s emails). Master chefs took turns in producing vegetarian- nonvegetarian options whist I managed the wine matching from the floating Cellar. Mentioned in dispatches was the crispy skin on the BBQ’d Barra.

Only a minor confusion over quantity surveying of tinned tomatoes and a couple of misbehaving pears resulted in creative options being pursued.

A great down wind sail back from Neck Bay on Shaw Island to Hamilton for a hasty hot seat change due to flight times with the next crew Lani, Kate and Dave. With the Fantasy Island stopover complete back to the journey.