Monday, September 22, 2014

We Made it!

Now Bryce and I had both been to Whitehaven Beach before. My last visit there was about 7 years ago and Bryce hadn't been there for 20 years but for both of us this signified "The Whitsundays" so making it here was making it north!
After not being able to leave last year, we were pretty keen to get going. We were so focused on "getting north," that was our only objective. So... We were pretty happy. The gorgeous pristine white sand stretching for miles is hard to beat. The downside to this being one of the more popular tourist destinations was that there were so many other boats anchored there as well and when the tour boats brought even more people in multiple times a day, it kind of lost it's appeal.
So white it's like snow
We spent a morning making a repair on out sail. We had tried to do running repairs a couple of days prior on the way up but they didn't hold. One of our battens (sticks through the mainsail that help it keep some shape when sailing) had torn through it's pocket and was chafing on all sorts of things on the mast. It was our first sewing repair and it turned out pretty OK I think!
First sewing repair... many more to come
We enjoyed our walks on the beach and the hiking that leaves from there but we were ready to move on. The day after we got there we upped anchor to leave, taking the scenic route along the beach to leave. When we got to the northern end of the beach, the sand was whiter (if you can believe it!), the water was clearer and there were no people! Win! So back down the anchor went for the night. From here we headed up to Blue Pearl Bay. It was an easy, breezy, relaxing sail. It is clear to us why this is such a popular destination for sailing. We made it up to Blue Pearl Bay and picked up a mooring buoy just in time to say adios to our Welsh friends heading north on their Catamaran. This was our first time on a Cat and it's a different life then that on a monohull.

UPS (light-wind) sail
Blue Pearl Bay is located on Hayman Island, that of the resort and again just another stunning place. The water was crystal clear and so deep but we could see the large parrot fish swimming around underneath our boat. The snorkeling there was stunning.
Living the dream
Now at this point we had been planning on heading into Airlie Beach to resupply, do some laundry and get rid of our rubbish. It had been three weeks since we had left Bundaberg and seen civilization.
We probably could have gone longer and we were pretty keen to get some fresh food but.... we had some friends, Michael & Caitlin, who had just left Airlie and headed up to Gloucester Island. They somehow convinced us to head up to join them and we are very glad we did! We had a quick stop (<18 hrs) at Airlie Beach to resupply and so some laundry and then we were off again.
Laundry Day
 Our trip up to Gloucester Island was bonus. We had never planned to go further than Airlie Beach. This was a bit of a leap of faith seeing how we had never actually met before. Caitlin and I met in an online sailing group and had kept in touch. Thankfully we hit it off! There are also two resorts at Gloucester Passage with restaurants and pools that are very cruiser friendly. We came in with most gorgeous sunset but we were too busy anchoring to take photos, though I did contemplate how I might manage running to get my camera.
Dusk off Gloucester Island
We bought Aquabat from the man who built her 22 years ago. We had no reason to change her name and nothing better to change it to so we stuck with Batty. As we were sitting in the cockpit one morning anchored off the resort, a man sailed by and yelled out that when he was a young backpacker, he had sailed across the Indian Ocean on Aquabat. We have encountered this type of thing a fair bit as we have come up the coast and it's kinda cool to collect these stories about Batty's history.

From Glouchester Passage we headed off to Bowen to pick up a very special passenger!