Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Whitsunday Islands - Macona Inlet and Airlie

Sunday 17/06/2012

As usual we were out of bed early and we got underway from Tongue Bay before the sun popped up from the horizon, being no wind we motored north to Hook Passage and then into Macona Inlet. When we arrived at Macona there were a few yachts already there but plenty of room for us to anchor.
(Turbulence of the sea in the passages between islands these can throw a small boat around)
(One of the tourist yachts 'Solway Lass' anchored in calm waters in Hook Passage)

I noticed a catamaran had gone in at high tide past the reef and onto the beach area that dries out at low tide. The other two yachts were anchored where we usually go close in the bay on the eastern side, it is a small basin with reef all around the beach. The chart plotter is quite accurate as far as the bay and reef area it is easy to see the reef near low tide it's not so easy at high tide unless the sun is high. Soon after we anchored the two yachts left so we picked up the anchor and moved closer in the bay.
(Chart of south Hook Island with Nara Inlet & Macona Inlet, there are many anchorages in both inlets)

Macona Inlet is quite pretty and not that many yachts come in here I think all the times we have visited there has been a maximum of around 6-7 yachts for an overnight stay. I think the reef and the entrance deters people from coming in. The charts show a narrow entrance to the inlet but in actual fact the whole mouth of the inlet is deep enough at high tide to cross in most areas. I always stick to the deeper water in the marked channel but I have taken a short cut at times.
(The bay from our anchorage at Macona Inlet)

Today was a day of rest, after we dropped anchor we cooked breakfast a team effort I cooked the bacon on the barbie and Nancy cooked the poached eggs and toast in the galley. We then sat in the cockpit and ate breakfast listening to Macca on the radio.

After breakfast we caught up on phone messages and emails and get some scribbles for the blog as we have not had phone service for a few days. We had a quiet night before crashing into bed.

Monday 18/06/2012

Another quiet day today, I was a little tired as I got up a few times during the night. This is a normal thing when we have a first night at an anchorage when situations change during the night. I was aware from my checks on the weather that there was a change in wind occurring during the night hours. The winds were going to pick up to SE 15 - 20 knots then increasing 20 - 25 knots early morning. When there is a slight change in wind or movement of the boat I wake up and then the normal thing is to go up on deck have a look around and then check the anchor watch GPS and make sure we have not moved. Naturally doing this the brain wakes up and then it takes awhile to get back to sleep.

I was up and making the cups of tea at 0515 hours and then checked the weather on the internet and decided we may head over to Airlie Beach tomorrow. We need water as we are just about out of it, we have used 880 litres since we left Mackay on 5 June and we have done a fair amount of washing with the machine.

I worked on the anchor chain roller this morning, we cannot buy the type and size we require in Australia and I made one myself out of a couple that can be bought but it was a softer material and did not last long. I have replaced it with another modified roller but that is of the same material and I don't expect it to last too long. I may have to get one made. Other than this we have had a lazy day.

Tuesday - 19/06/2012

Up after day break this morning a little sleep in for me, not much of a sleep in the sun had not got over the horizon but it was light. Did the usual made the cups of tea then got on the net to check the weather. Hamilton Island is getting 17 - 21 knots wind from the SE which means Whitsunday Passage will be a little active with wind against tide. So we have decided to wait until just before the tide change before we get ready to sail.

The tide is supposed to change around 1025 hours so if we get ready at 1000 hours by the time we get to the passage the tide would be on the change and the waves will be a little less active and not standing up as much.

This we did after breakfast we got things ready and at the allotted time we weighed anchor  motored out of the bay and hoisted the mainsail with a reef in it, the wind increases as you sail around the islands so a reef in the mainsail makes it a little safer and it is not so hard on the gear.

(Reef in the sail means that we shorten the mainsail resulting in less sail area, our mainsail has two reefing points where we can lower the sail to one of these points dependant on wind strength, it is suggested to put the first reef in at 20-25 knots wind speed and the second in at 25-30 knots after that no mainsail and very little headsail.
(Sailing across Whitsunday Passage to Airlie Beach we are at a speed of 8.5 knots)

As we left Macona Inlet we changed course for Airlie and unfurled the genoa (headsail), I left a couple of turns on the furler as the wind strength was 22 knots. As soon as the sails were set they took over and the engines were shut down. We sailed along our rhomb line at speeds between 7.9 and 8.5 knots, the waves were near beam on and although film and photos do not show it was quite a lively sail.
(Keeping watch as there are a few other yachts and I believe the whales have arrived)
(Checking things out as we near Airlie Beach, wind chill factor requires a jumper)

As we neared Airlie we passed a P&O liner, 'Pacific Sun' anchored and ferries were taking passengers ashore. These ships always look as though there is too much structure above the waterline to me.
(P&O Liner 'Pacific Sun' as I took the picture they started a diesel hence the initial smoke from the stack)

We entered the Abel Point Marina and headed for the public dock where we filled our near dry water tanks and then gave the boat a good wash, unloaded our garbage and then went outside of the marina and anchored. This marina and the other two one at Port Doulas and Horizon Shores on the Gold Coast went into receivership last year. They must be suffering here as the marina has many empty spaces but that is their own fault for what they charge. Most places it costs us $60 per night in a marina here it is $128 and they wonder why we anchor out. If we need to go into a marina in the Whitsunday's we will go to Hamilton Island, it is also expensive but cheaper than Abel Point.
(Alongside the public dock at Abel Point Marina, I am putting on the mainsail cover)

There is no doubt that businesses are doing it tough in Airlie Beach but they do not help themselves with their high prices let's hope they learn before all the doors close.

Anyway after we anchored we lowered the dinghy and went ashore for a feed, a late lunch, we went to Sorentino's the pub in the marina complex and had an ice cold beer and a seafood plater for two which was very nice and plentiful, it included skewered BBQ prawns, smoked salmon, muscles, oysters and salt and pepper calamari with salad and sauces, oh what a life. Then it was back to reality we got back to the dinghy returned on board and I had to fix one of the toilets that decided to play up this morning, see it's not all wine and sunshine.

We will stay here a couple of days to do shopping and a few jobs before selecting an anchorage in one of these gorgeous islands.


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