Once the weather that had kept us in Rosslyn Bay abated, we headed north again. Our first stop was the island of Middle Percy - a national park but occupied by a lease holder, Kate and her partner John. When we arrived and took our dinghy onto the beach to have a look around we were greeted by Marty who is one of three others living on the island. He invited us to join himself, Kate, John and others cruisers/fishermen for goat stew in the A-frame that evening. The A-frame is a large shelter on the beach where traditionally cruisers who pass through leave their ‘mark’ - see the photos in the gallery. We went back to the boat to collect some veg to throw in the stew and had a great evening and duly put up an old OCC pennant with our names and boat name on it. The next day we hiked up around three miles to Kate and John’s homestead where we were greeted with a glass of very welcome cold lime juice. It was only a couple of months previously that Middle Percy had been hit by a cyclone and the evidence in the fallen trees and uprooted vegetation was clear to see. It is also incredible how quickly the stripped trees are recovering. As we walked through the island we were being peered at by local kangaroos, wallabies and goats - all introduced at various stages in the islands history.
After a couple of nights at Middle Percy it was time to go. Although it was lovely and calm whilst we were there, more strong winds were forecast and Middle Percy does not provide much shelter. A few nights in Scawfell and Shaw Island and then on to Cid Harbour - we had reached the famous Whitsundays where we reconnected with Le Mistral and at last met up with Tashi Delek. Cid Harbour was very tranquil with lots of turtles around the boat and great walks ashore. The best (and steep and long) hike up to the top of the island gave us wonderful panoramic views of the whole area. Although most of the time the weather was not very good - wet and windy - which prevented us from going to some of the bays we would like to have visited, we did have a reprieve for a couple of days. We took the opportunity to visit the infamous sands of Whitehaven Beach and were able to climb to the lookout at low tide to take the shot we had been waiting to take ever since we came up with the idea of sailing the world. If anyone can remember the framed photo with the quote that hung by the kitchen door at the Old Farmhouse in Alhampton to remind us that this was what we dreamed of doing.....well, we made it and took the shot - even though it was an overcast day - we were there!
Fun sociable times with Le Mistral and Tashi Delek, paddle boarding with turtles and dugongs and some snorkelling (although very murky due to the weather), then it was time to say farewell to Le Mistral and head further north again.
Great sailing with the wind behind us, but rather rolly anchorages due to wind driven swells. We spent nights in Gloucester Island, Cape Upstart and then Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island (off Townsville). We spent a couple of days on Magnetic taking the public bus around the island and walking to some WWII forts on the way to which we saw a couple of Koalas in the wild. From Magnetic sailed to Orpheus Island were I snorkeled over giant clams (sadly the underwater camera died at that point so no photos) and we visited the James Cook Research Centre with friends from Court Jester. From there we motored inside Hinchinbrook Island and spent the night literally up a creek in the mangroves. When the cloud lifted Hinchinbrook was stunning with its forested volcanic peaks, but after one night it was time to move on as we were devoured by sandflies small enough to get through our mosquito nets! On to Dunk Island with its cyclone devastated resort, then a beautifully peaceful night in sheltered Mourilyan Harbour on the mainland along with the sugar wharf and then finally a couple of nights off the beach at Fitzroy before sailing into Cairns - it was raining so hard that we could not see the town until we were really close. On our way into the marina we fuelled up and its time to gather with other boats joining the rally to Indonesia. Our minds now turn to getting the boat ready and supplied but we did hire a car and took a day out to drive into the tropical rainforest and the Tablelands inland from Cairns - at least the waterfalls had plenty of water flowing over them! Yes, still raining.
We have to admit that we were slightly underwhelmed by the Whitsundays and cruising up from Brisbane, but the unseasonably bad weather has a lot to do with it, I think. It won’t be long until we are in Indonesia complaining that we are too hot and there is not enough wind - well we are British so we have to complain about the weather!
It is now July 1st and the “sail2indonesia” rally is kicking off - it is the first time we have joined a rally and it will take us up to Cape York, the northeast tip of Australia, then through the Indonesian Islands reaching Singapore in the middle of of November - lots of victualling to do.............exciting times ahead!