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Sunday, May 13, 2012

May 10 – 13 2012, Whitsunday Island, Hook Island and Back to Whitsunday

May 10th – 7:00 AM departure from Hamilton to catch an outgoing tide over to Whitsunday Island's Whitehaven beach, which didn't matter really, because swirling around these islands are all these crazy currents and eddies that you inevitably have to beat into. Fitzalon Pass, between Hamo and Whitsunday Island gave us a fit of a time pushing against a 2.5-knot current with headwinds of about 20 knots. We cleared that and picked up "good" wind and flow around Turtle Bay, only to hit an even fiercer counter-current in Solway Pass between Haselwood Island and Whitsunday Island's Whitehaven Beach. We finally arrived at the anchorage around 9:00 AM, greeted by storm clouds. 
Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island

At first only 3 catamarans were anchored there so we reveled in finding it nearly all to ourselves. Even under cloudy skies, the beauty of this long white beach is extraordinary. When sun finally appeared so did several seaplanes and tour boats as if on cue, pouring people onto the beach. Suddenly there was so much traffic about us the anchorage got uncomfortable. At around 2:30, the clouds returned and this time threatened rain. This is when we realized a venture to shore was not going to happen today. Frank got out the "100 Magical Miles" cruising guide of the Whitsundays, and started perusing alternative anchorages to get us out of the high traffic zone and swell. The book recommended exactly what we sought; around the corner, 3 miles away lay Tongue Bay with just bit of a roll, but offered the best alternative (according to the book), so off we went. BIG MISTAKE. It was crowded with charter, commercial and private yachts bobbing away see-sawing and rocking in a terrible swell. We grabbed an available mooring and because it was really too late to move anywhere else, spent an awful night there. Thinking back, it doesn't even sound good – Tongue Bay!

What a miserable night – up at 7:45 AM on Friday, we left Tongue Bay for Macona Bay, Hook Island. Wow the sailing was great over to Hook Island. We made 7-8 knots over from Tongue Bay. Man, are we happy to be out of there!

Macona Bay
Macona is a pretty bay, nice and calm, but large gusts of winds, which are refered to as "bullets" rattled our bones and the rigging throughout the night. 
We awoke leisurely on Saturday and I booted up my laptop to find that we were picking up a signal on the trusty Telstra broadband stick so I Skyped my folks back home. I wanted to wish my Mom an advance Happy Mother's Day in case we were not able to phone on Sunday. Although very pretty here, the beaches don't look approachable, and we couldn't find info in the guidebook about going ashore here so in the late morning we thought of moving next door to Nara Bay. 

approaching Hook Island
Frank had an alternative idea, however, that since we are killing time through the weekend we might take a sail up to Hayman Island, which is said to be one of the most beautiful of the Whitsundays. We nosed out of Macona Bay and filled the sails immediately. It's yet another great day for a fast ride. As we are going along I pulled out the sailing guide to read about Hayman's anchorage. My reference guide informed us Hayman hosts an exclusive high-end resort, and although has a very nice marina with all the amenities, does not allow boaters to stay aboard overnight. If we use the marina we must book into the resort. We don't particularly want to do that just to find a berth for the night. The alternative bay is a nice stop for day anchoring only but not recommended as a safe overnight anchorage. Oh brother. We were halfway there enjoying such a lovely sail, but realized it was not to be and so we turned back to Hook Island and Nara Bay.

Nara Bay is similarly pretty to Macona and boasts a nature hike up to some Aboriginal sites. We easily located a comfortable spot to anchor, and just in time too because the rains came and pounded us for the duration of Saturday. Early Sunday morning we hiked up to the Aboriginal cave. 

It was interesting, had some drawings but was fenced off so that we could not get too close. We returned to the boat and bid farewell to pretty Nara. We had no phone or internet access in here and needed to get somewhere to try to get some sort of connectivity. We were praying that our shipment had arrived at Hamilton Island so we can get on up the coast.
Nara Bay

Nosing out of Nara, we picked up a signal, answered some emails and phoned Hamo Marina. Nothing had yet arrived for us. Next stop would be a return to Whitsunday Island, a strategic move to edge closer to Hamilton. We sailed a quick trip over to the western side into Cid Harbour's Sawmill Bay. On approach we were once again reminded of the Virgin Islands. It is simply beautiful here. Sawmill is a calm, large and very protected anchorage. We read about a strenuous hike up to Whitsunday Peak, which we intended to undertake the next day. We spent the rest of our afternoon watching a huge turtle swimming in the water around Destiny. We enjoyed a very beautiful sunset and settled in for a night of reading as there was no phone, TV nor internet service here.  
Sunset from Cid Harbour

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