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Friday, May 4, 2012

May 1 - 3, 2012 Goldsmith, Lindeman, Shaw and finally Hamilton Island

We had been told that Goldsmith was a worthwhile stop, so we opted for here over our originally planned trip to Scawfell Island. Besides, Goldsmith is on the most direct route to Hamilton and Whitsunday Islands.

Following Scallywag, we picked our way around the north side to the most comfortable anchorage, and one that had a sandy rather than a coral shore. We don't even know the name of the bay we chose but noted oddly enough; there was a dwelling on the small island just across the way. Although the dwelling and outbuilding looked nice enough, the shore was unapproachable, banked in coral heads. Perhaps the inhabitants come and go here at high tide? The home supported a massive TV antenna, yet we saw no evidence of activity human or otherwise, nor could we pick up any signal.  We anchored in 35 feet of sand just outside the coral reef that ran between shore and us.  When the sun peeked out between clouds we noticed how beautiful the water is here.  We arrived at low tide, and spying the waterline of the island, let out an extra 30 feet of chain. Tides look to be maybe 10 feet here? 
We settled in to watch sunset and the tide roll in. The small sandy beach literally disappeared at high tide, which took the waterline clear up into the trees on shore. Note to self: wait until low tide to venture ashore. That night after dinner, we sat out under the stars. The air is so clean out here that the brilliant colors among the larger stars revealed hues we'd not before seen.  The stars seemed to  dance and sparkle themselves into a near kaleidoscopic frenzy.  My God this is amazing.

Wednesday, May 2nd, we rode with Paul and Glor to the beach for a walk and to see if there is any hiking to be done. We were surprised to find that it was a long way to shore.  Hmm, didn't seem like it from the boat.  Crossing the coral reef over to the sand bottom something zipped past us at lightening speed. A turtle? A stingray? We beached the dinghy and set off on foot. On closer inspection, the beach isn't pretty, although nice enough for a stroll. We walked until we were met with swamp, then turned and tromped through the ankle deep water lapping to shore. Glor had picked up a large stick that she was using to prod the sand ahead when she exclaimed to Frank, "Stingrays!" Just a few paces ahead of him we could see outlines in the sand of at least a dozen of them. One shimmied out from under its hiding place to reveal a very large barb and then began floating toward Glor's brandished stick. Paul and I hotfooted it back onto the beach. Frank and Glor casually sidestepped the rays more inquisitively than I dared. The closer we looked the more we saw burrowed just beneath the surface of the sand. Time to leave now. Back in the dinghy, as we were slowly moving out Frank spied a turtle. He swam unperturbed just ahead of us. I tried to fire off a picture but the chop was too much to get a clear shot. As we were making our way back we all decided that although it is a pretty place there really isn't anything to do here. Lineman Island is just 2 ½ hours away, and there is a Club Med resort there with moorings available.  We weighed anchor at noon.

The sail over to Lindeman was brisk and exciting, but as we neared the resort Frank commented that it appeared devoid of activity. He tried to raise someone on the VHF but received no reply. Fortunately I was able to pick up internet access, so I did a quick search online for a phone number. What I found was a notice: "Regrettably, January 31, 2012, the resort closed down". Bummer.  Realizing this bay is no longer an option we continued on to the northeast side of Lindeman seeking a comfortable anchorage. Scallywag found a good spot and, being a catamaran, swell does not bother them so much. We on the other hand were unable to cope with it. When drinking glasses tumbled off the shelf, Frank asked me if I thought we should move. It was already 4:30, but if we hurried we could raise anchor and sail back over to Shaw Island to a bay that looked promising.
We could be there before sunset.

We said goodbye to Paul and Glor making our apologies as we sailed away for Neck Bay. Holding here was good in 35 feet of flat bottom, there was a slight roll but nothing close to that of the anchorage on Lindeman. It was very windy here however, making it a rough night for sleeping. I awoke several times to the howling.

May 3rd, we awoke leisurely and made plans for the day. The Scallys are moving on more northward. We on the other hand want to experience Hamilton Island  ("Hammo" in Aussie-speak). Anchors aweigh at 11:00 AM. We have a good breeze and are going with the current at a comfortable 7 knots.

Arriving at the pass between Hamilton and Dent Islands Frank told me to get ready to secure a mooring. It is windy and rife with current. I had great difficulty picking up the lead – the hawser was as big around as my arm. I traded places with Frank, quickly stepping to the helm. He secured us after some struggle. Once situated, we hailed the marina to report our mooring number. This is a great dialogue:
Frank: "Hamilton Island Marina, Hamilton Island Marina this is Destiny, Destiny, over"
Marina: "Destiny, Destiny, Hamilton Island Marina go ahead Destiny"
Frank: "We have picked up mooring #3, what is the cost for the night, over?"
Marina: "$90, over"
Frank; choke, throat clear: "Uh, that's 90, as in nine-zero? Over?"
Marina: "That's right, Mate"
Frank: "Hamilton Island Marina, how much is a berth for the night, over?"
Marina: "For your size yacht…that's $120, over"
Frank: "Stand by, we need to consult, over"
We chat – I say, Frank that is a no-brainer. $90 for a mooring, AND a long, choppy, wet dinghy ride across this channel, or $120 for a berth with water, power and amenities, sans dinghy ride".
Frank: "Hamilton Island Marina, what side tie would a bow-in be? We will be there in 20, over"
It is apparently low season here. As we were checking in at the marina office, we were quoted a weekly rate of just over $500. This just keeps getting better! So here we are at stunning, trendy and relaxing Hamilton Island for a nice weeklong vacation.

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