Once again we flew the midnight horror from one side of Australia to the other and with time differences arrived at dawn in Brisbane, booked into the Virgin Lounge, had a good breakfast and found a quiet corner to crash out. After last year we were keen on finding somewhere we could get comfy and this filled the bill. I even got a couple of beers in before the next flight to Proserpine. The feeling of expectation was building and good old holiday mode was kicking in big time.
Landed in Proserpine around lunch time and loaded up the taxi with our gear, the taxi driver recognised me from the year before, I had half a dozen muddies in an esky and the wankers at the checkin wouldn’t let me take them so I handed them out to the taxi drivers out the front of the airport, they were stoked and it sure felt better than handing them over to the very people who were taking them off me. Half price to the marina, got to be happy with that.
We went through the same process with CYC who once again were great, the briefing was the same and so was the boat, but this year we have 16 days aboard her, let the holiday begin. Leaving last year almost left me devoed so this year we were going for as long as we could, plus it would be a guide to our family ties being holed up in close quarters for this long, thats how I portrayed it anyway when I was trying to legitimise my decision to have 16 days this time.
We once again did our provisioning at the local supermarket, this year it came to 800 bucks with some 213 items. We bought meat from the butcher who only charged us $10.90 for steaks, snaggers and shanks for crab bait. I sussed out his mistake, one decimal point in my favour, back at the boat and had to take a cab back in the morning to let him know, he took a bit of convincing especially from the dickhead that wanted lamb shanks for crab bait but he finally came round, my Karma levels are high, and to prove it the cab driver on the way back was another recipient of a crab last year and didn’t charge me a cent. There you go.
We loaded up the boat with ice and away we went headed for Tongue Bay, one reef in the main doing 6 to 7 knots in 20 knots of wind. It was superb and we managed to sail all the way through Hook Passage before having to start up an engine. Anchored up safe and sound in the bay and got on it. The tide was coming in and at 2100 there was 5 metres under us so I went to set the pots. This was one of those fishing trips you probably shouldn’t have gone on but it had to be done and once the first pot was in so was the second and so was I, that sobered me up quick smart, didn’t wait to find the second pot just couldn’t wait to get out of there. Mangrove creeks are spooky in the day but pissed and freezing at night takes it to another level. Got back to the boat all okay although in the morning my ankle was pretty bloody sore, reckon I twisted it somewhere. Got up at 0600 and limped about then went in and with the help of the boat hook found the lost pot and then pulled the other one which was loaded although had to chuck a womany back. The other two were beauties.
Mollie and I went and set the second pot up another creek and got back to the boat for the radio sched, not that flash but it was only the second one. We upped anchor and headed for Border Island under sail and then sailed around it and down along Whitehaven Beach and back and parked up pretty much in the same place as the night before. Picked the tide perfectly and took the dinghy to shore and climbed the track up to the lookout. Last year we had to do a stealth run up the unfinished track but this year it was all finished and a really good thing to do. The tracks climb up and over Tongue Point and give hooting views through gaps in the forest surrounding you. Hill Inlet wasn’t perfect like you see in the magazines but we did have the whole place to ourselves.
On the way back we found an oyster rock and shucked a couple of dozen nice big oysters all ready for Rods oysters kilpatrick, which is a meal I pride myself on, you have got to use the right stuff and have all the bits as well. No BBQ sauce should come near oysters kilpatrick. They went down along with a bottle of Cloudy Bay sac blanc a treat. Jumped in the dinghy and headed into check the pots, 1 thumper so put him in the esky for cooking. Later on in a pissed moment I stuck my hand in to give him a tickle up and the fucker got me. I screamed like a little girl, fair enough too, it would not let go and by the time I worked out the only way out of this with a thumb was to cut the top part of the nipper with some cutters, these were hidden in the toolbox which was hidden under the lounge which was hidden with cartons of beer and cider, fuck, fuck, fuck hurry up, so about 3 minutes later, felt like 10 to me Jen cut the tip off his nipper and the fucker was safely back in the esky. I boiled him slowly, my hand was bruised and swollen, having a bit of a bad run with injuries but it was well done by Jen as panic had set in, fucking crab.
Headed out to Border Island next day and scored a mooring which was rare for this little bay. Cataran Bay is a great place to stay, good diving, fish everywhere and protected from the wind. We parked up, had pizzas for tea and watched “In Bruges”, which we reckon was a hoot. Bit of a rock and roll and noisy place to moor and spent a fair bit of the night chasing noises. Moe was spewing as the mooring bouy was banging into her part of the hull.
One night was enough so we headed back to good old Tongue Bay and anchored up at the usual spot, put the dinghy in and went around to Bessy’s Beach and Moe and I walked up into Hill Inlet on the low tide. Heaps of sting rays and fish swimming in the channel which had the deeper blue colouring in contrast to all the shallow water surrounding it but it was still crystal clear. The ground is just covered in crab sand things where they have been digging, it goes for miles and is a good walk, well worth the effort. Just don’t tread on a stingray. On the way back to the boat we went to another beach up in Tongue Bay where we could see some coconut trees. We found 4 of them on the ground and hacked away at them to get the husk off, you don’t want to get the husk on the fibreglass gell-coat as it is hard to get the stain off.
Sisca has arrived and the skipper our mate Ash has come over to join us in a bit of crabbing and frivolity. We caught 3 although we had to throw a girlie back the others were big buggers. Had a great night with Ash, ended with a final pull of the pots at the top of the tide, around midnight and what do you know another one. He has lucked in thats for sure. Next morning went and pulled the pots and packed them up as it was time to broaden our horizons so we sailed North and back through Hook Passage then kept Whitsunday island to port up a channel and into Cid Harbour. Anchored up and went ashore, same as last year but no rooting birds this time, they root around in the dirt with their feet. Pretty cool to see. Got a sweat up so that was good and got the BBQ cranked up for tea and early to bed.
We were organised to go to Hamilton Island, Moe calls it Hamo, thinks she so hip, so we upped anchor and headed there and stayed for the afternoon. Refuelled, topped up water and the usual stuff. Went to bakery which was no where as good as last year, must be new owners. We hired a golf cart and drove around the island and had a good look about. Hamo is a nice place but I reckon Tongue Bay is nice too. We left and headed back to Cid Harbour with excellent wind and sat on 7 to 8 knots up Whitsunday Passage. Pulled up in Cid, dropped anchor got a beer and kicked back before crab killing duties. I have been getting them really cold with an ice slurry, except of one that is, so by the time they feel the hot they are pretty much stuffed. Some of the crabs this year have been huge so mucking about with them is a bit dodgy.
Well half way is here, we headed for Airlie Beach, picked up a mooring out the front and went to restock our drinks locker and have dinner with Ash and . Ended up in a poker night although can’t remember that much, we all crashed on land safe and sound. Did a bit of food shopping, not much though, crook as, back at the boat had a snooze and finally got my act together to get underway to Daydream Island. Scored a mooring for the night so stayed but didn’t go ashore. First thing next day left through Unsafe Passage and headed down to Gulnare Inlet, which was a place we had yet to visit. Great sail, reaching all the way, top speed 9.4 knots at 80 degrees, pretty windy though.We dropped the sails and motored up into Gulnare, this is a pretty big bay, sorry inlet and is good for an explore. Caught the biggest crab here, huge mangrove forests and creeks, great fun.
We spent a couple of days in Gulnare and then headed South to the Linderman Group, another place we hadn’t got to last year and probably some of the nicest coast there is. Burning Point is cool, the water has worn paths in the rocks and is well worth the walk, the anchorage was flat and peaceful as well. We headed up past Linderman Island to Bayer Island and The Phantom Cave. Anchored just off the beach and went in and climbed up a dodgy track in crocks, cuts and bore blood, getting used to the injuries. A great spot to check out, water looks spectacular and the landscape is pretty flash too. We moved the boat up to Neck Bay for the night and anchored up easy, sandy bottom and the water so clear you could see the anchor set in the sand. Tried fishing and crabbing but no good.
Woke to beautiful morning, the water was like a mirror for miles and miles so we decided to head out round Pentecost Island, the one that Captain Cook named, then headed for Hamo as it is now known for fish and chips. Beer was cold, so were the chips but the fish was ok, restocked the eskys with ice and out of there. Worked our way back around to Whitehaven but packed with boats and stuff so we sailed up to Dumbell Island for a dive. This was an excellent dive, the island protects the reef from the south easterlies, coral trout and a couple of really big raise all surrounded in beautiful corals. After a quite exhausting hour in the water, there is a hooting current, we all got back to the boat and collapsed, luckily it was only a quick sail across to good old Tongue Bay and when we came around the corner the big red hull of Sisca was unmistakable. Ash was over in a flash, we took off to get the pots in on the incoming tide, bottom bouncing all the way in and over the bank. Tried a new spot and got out of there as the sun set to dark, bombed by sandflys, horror, but got back to the boat for beers as you do. Jen and I hit the pots at high tide and got to boys and a girl so let her go. After probably the most full on day I have had for a while it was a bloody good sleep.
Next day got up to see Sisca off and got the crew up to sail to the top of Makeral Bay South, one of Ash’s suggestions, not to bad either. Need to anchor up in pretty deep water,10 metres, as it drops off from the reef quickly but the water was clear enough to find the anchor diving and was happy to find it was not going to get tuck on any boondys and the anchor had once again set well. We swam to shore and shucked some oysters for tea that night, good size and good to shuck. Jen bought the dinghy in with some Jif to try and clean it a bit, after 2 and a bit weeks up creeks and places with mud it was looking a bit trashed. Came up a treat. Back to the boat for beers, entre of Oysters Kilpatrick washed down with a bottle of Moet, and the main course of roast lamb, crunchy spuds, peas and gravy was a winner especially washed down with a bottle of Hay Shed Hill cabernet. Needless to say slept like a log. Luckilly as apparently it got a bit rock and rolly during the night. Buggered if I felt anything.
Headed for Hook passage and set sails once through the channel and off to Daydream Island where we were expected for massages and an overnight mooring. It was a great sail across Whitsunday Passage and through Unsafe Passage to the mooring bouys at Daydream. I have nothing good to say about Daydream so we shall not go there, but $8.50 for a beer in a plastic cup.
We woke to a red sky in the morning and you know what that means and as we had to get back to the marina by 1000 we bolted with 20 knots of wind we were there in an hour. Filled her up with fuel and got our gear off, met the owner of Carpe Diem who I knew from Western Australia, said our goodbyes, piled into a taxi and jumped onto a plane and away we went.
That was a bloody good holiday and we now know our decision to find a boat of our own was vindicated, now all we have to do is sell the house.