Before I write about Airlie Beach, I have to apologise to those followers of our blog, who haven’t received our last two posts. I built this website on the cheap six years ago and didn’t realise the content would eventually exceed the capacity of the shared server I used. Enter Danny Longhurst from “Siteshack” (he is good!), the website developer for our business, before our retirement.
Danny explained we needed to get our own server, which would increase the speed with which you can look at this website and would also have adequate capacity for our future posts (the next 20 years?). I also asked him to select a new crisper theme and to design us a new homepage. Your email notifications about new published posts will also be in a new Mailpoet format. So here it is, save for a bit of fine-tuning, for you to read:
On Monday morning the 30th August 2021 we said our goodbyes at Shag Islet and motored through the Gloucester Passage to Airlie Beach, 20nm to the South. Airlie Beach is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. We were quite tired after 4 days at Shaggers and after anchoring outside the Coral Sea Marina with about 80 other boats, we hit the sack early, vowing not to touch the turps again for at least a day.
Just as well we left on Monday, because the weather turned on Tuesday with gusting S-E winds and bucketing down with rain. We spent the day inside and caught up with admin and writing a post for our blog. Wednesday dawned overcast with fresh winds, but we managed to get the jib down after getting flogged by the sail. We took the sail ashore to the sailmaker for a complete restitching of all the seams between the sail panels.
We bumped into Brian Oldfield on the jetty, who invited us to join him and some friends at the Sorrento Bar on the Quay for late afternoon drinks and pizzas. But first we had to walk to Woolies and the bottle shop for supplies and then take it out to the boat. We met quite a number of new faces at Sorrento’s while enjoying very tasty pizzas on special – two for the price of one. An early night was to follow, again!
In the meantime, Michelle informed us, she had bought a camper van to be more mobile during the Covid-19 pandemic. She is busy doing a contract for the UN in India and works online on her projects from 11am to 7pm, Sydney time. As long as she has good internet connections she can be anywhere in NSW. She has also recently had an arthroscopy on her knee and has recovered well enough to be surfing and cycling before work each day.
Airlie Beach, like Cairns, depends on tourism and yachting for its economic well-being and therefore also goes to great lengths to make their town attractive and tourist friendly. We used this anchorage as a base for stocking up with food, drinks and essentials for the boat during the next 10 days. They have an excellent and cheap bus service which takes you all over town and adjoining Cannonvale for 2 hours at $1.90/person on your seniors card.
Property prices here are also low compared to Sydney (around $500,000 for a 2 bedroom waterfront apartment), but the town does get hit by the occasional cyclone. This makes investment in property here a bit risky, with high property insurance premiums.
Nevertheless the rental returns are better than Sydney, making us reconsider our rental property strategy in Sydney, to maybe re-investing in Queensland. With Covid-19 limitations, Aussies may just be considering holidays at home, particularly in tropical Northern Queensland.
Slowly, but surely, we attended to our maintenance list while at anchor, giving us more time to enjoy Airlie Beach and relax.
Annie set about getting quotes for our boat and public liability insurance along the Australian coast. What a rip-off – the quotes were double that of sailing from the Caribbean, across the Pacific Ocean to Australia. She eventually got an annual premium quote from Pantaenius Insurance, nearer the 1% of boat value norm, subject to a rigging inspection. The rigging inspection we had done in Tahiti was accepted.
Airlie Beach has zero Covid-19 cases, so here life goes on as normal with no lockdowns or masks and with open air music events. On Saturday the 11th September we had a great time at the Airlie Beach Hotel to listen to a Cold Chisel revival band. The lead singer did a good Jimmy Barnes impersonation.
It reminded us of our epic music evenings at the Dee Why RSL – very much schoolies for older people! After two bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, we left elated and bought some chicken falafels on the way back to the boat. On Sunday it was back to reality and we took the opportunity of a windless day to hoist the mainsail at anchor and re-stitch by hand, 5 small seams and fit 2 new sliders.
Apologies for the average sound on “Keh Sanh” (Last train out of Sydney) and “Working class man” `- it’s the best my iPhone can do.
Annie also went up the mast to check, anti-rust treat the main stays and lubricate the mainsail track. Matt, the technician from Rainman watermakers came out to fit a new impeller on the lifting pump, but it turned out the seals in the high pressure pump were leaking, so he had to take the unit back to the workshop to fit new seals. Getting the parts from Sydney and doing the work would take about a week.
Cheers for now – we will report on the Whitsunday Islands soon.