After our second sortie out to the islands, we had a productive week starting Monday the 4th October 2021. Matt brought our water maker pump unit back with new seals, new everything, connected it to the reverse osmosis units and ran the system. It was as good as new, producing sweet tasting fresh water. The parts for the stereo unit arrived and I installed it; Annie polished all the stainless steel on the boat (a huge job) and I unblocked a toilet pipe and zapped both toilets with strong acid to dissolve the calcium and lime buildup in the pipes.
We rewarded ourselves with the two for one pizza specials at Sorrento’s with Peter, Tanya, John and Annie 2 on Wednesday late arvo. Annie did a final load of washing at the laundromat while I polished and Dubbined the steering wheels, before we did a last shop at Woolies and the BWS bottle shop.
On Saturday 9 October, after almost six weeks in and out of Airlie Beach, waiting for the northerly winds to kick in, we sailed 13 nm through the Unsafe Passage to South Molle Island and anchored in Bauer Bay. We were met by the derelict resort and overgrown golf course, which fell prey to cyclone Debbie five years ago. In 2005, when we first chartered a yacht in the islands, we enjoyed the Thursday evening seafood buffet with our girls at this resort.
Since then we have visited the island and resort four times, to do the scenic walk up to Spionkop. The name is English for Spioenkop (Spy hill) near Ladysmith in South Africa, where the invading British forces, including Australians, fought against the Boere (farmers) in the Anglo-Boer war of 1899 – 1902. Sir Redvers Buller’s 20,000 men and 36 field guns were defeated by Louis Botha’s 8,000 men and 4 field guns. (Wikipedia)
The walk was just as beautiful on this our fifth walk, but the resort and golf course was unrecognisable. The contract for the construction of a new wharf and pontoon had been finalised before the cyclone, so it was built anyway and stands there in all its brand new splendour. Of the quaint cottages and lush gardens there is no sign and only the restaurant’s steel structure remain.
After lunch, we sailed across the passage to Sawmill Bay for a quiet BBQ. The following morning we left early and were able to take advantage of the South flowing rising tide for a fast 15 nm sail past Dent Island to Coconut Bay on the western side of Lindeman Island. Lindeman is the first of the southern group of Whitsunday Islands that extend down to Keswick and St Bees Islands, north-east of Mackay on the mainland.
There are numerous walks on Lindeman, so early the next morning we did the walk from the derelict Club Med along the airstrip up to Mt Oldfield. The Club Med looks worse for wear after being hit by cyclone Yasi ten years ago and then by cyclone Debbie five years ago. Stuart the caretaker, told us that the Chinese company that bought the resort, is planning to demolish it and rebuild.
After lunch, we motor sailed the 5 nm south to Shaw Island and anchored in the lee, in Billbob Bay, named after the two surveyors of Shaw Island.
To the south of Shaw Island, is the Sir James Smith group of islands. Most of the islands have Smith in their names: Ladysmith, Silversmith, Tinsmith, Blacksmith, etc. Despite the northerly wind forecast for our passage through these islands, we had to motor 10 nm before anchoring in the south of Goldsmith Island. Here we had a nice walk on the sandy beach, a swim and lunch, before the northerly wind kicked in.
We had a quick 12 nm passage to Brampton Island in the afternoon, where we anchored in Dinghy Bay. The next morning we attempted to get on the circular island trail, but it was so overgrown that by the time we got to Oak Bay it was like participating in “Survivor”. We gave up after an hour, “Bundu” bashed back to Dinghy Bay, covered in burrs, nettles and blackjacks. It took a while to get these weeds off our clothes and we got back to the boat to treat all the scratches and sandfly bites with Tiger Balm.
Ego’s deflated, we set sail at 9:45 and had a good sail down to Keswick Island where we anchored in Basil’s Bay. The northerly wind was now pumping at 18 knots, so rather than go ashore for a walk on the lovely beach and watch the boat drag it’s anchor from ashore, we decided to stay put, do some reading and scratch our sandfly bites.
We were now at the most southerly Whitsunday Islands, so this will be the last post on this region. Tomorrow we have a long 45 nm downwind sail to Digby Island, where we hope to get some shelter in the lee of the island. We will report again from further south along the beautiful Queensland coast. Cheers for now.