Whitsunday recollections and on to Townsville. 13July2010

Yet another whale!

Cid Harbour; Every dot and blob is a boat!

The ‘Whitsundays’ or rather the Cumberland Group and the Whitsunday Passage is without a doubt the Bareboat charter capital of Australia. Loads of self drive charter boats hopping around myriads of anchorages all looking for the sailing experience that people dream about and every anchorage kind of spectacular.  As well as that you get coral reefs, turtles, dugongs, whales, forest, clear water (mostly) and dead easy sailing in sheltered waters.  What it is also though is kind of crowded with boats jockeying for position in the best (read that as most) anchorages.  It also seems that a lot of the charter boat drivers are uncertain about the use of ground tackle and really like to use the courtesy moorings provided in many of the anchorages as a means to protect fringing coral reef.  This especially applies to the multitudes of catamarans that try to get in almost to the shore (where they have historically anchored in the coral) and watching them race for the limited number of moorings is like watching competition for car-parks on saturday morning at supermarkets. Of course if they just anchor out a bit further the problem is resolved but there again is the need to know actually how to anchor your catamaran.

All things considered though a fabulous place to go sailing and chill out.  No night passages, no more then four or five hours between spots and plenty of relaxation time.  We spent in the end 10 days sculling about the Whitsundays and after our visit to the sailing club made it to Whitehaven Beach for an afternoon and night, then north to the top of Hook Island (Butterfly Bay), around the corner into Stonehaven Bay for a night then back to Airlie Beach before heading north to Townsville.  Whitehaven was what one would expect, white and lots of boats.  We went to anchor here tucked up in the hook at the southern end of the bay and ogled at the number of people that could be delivered to and taken off a single beach in one day; as Dave said, herded like cattle!  Next morning the run north to the top of Hook was interrupted by an inconvenient engine problem when the mounting bolt for the alternator gave up the ghost and sheared in half.  Kind of entertaining as Dave and Leif both gazed in deep thought at the engine trying to work out where the smell of burning fan belt was coming from (as the alternator gyrated about in a most unhappy manner), followed by the skipper’s desperate,  “turn the motor off”!  Anyway after some quick repair work we nipped into Butterfly Bay and all of the crew except for the skipper went for a review of the coral. Next day was through the narrows between Hook and Hayman Island, the latter of course with yet another resort at which your average sailor probably can’t afford a cup of tea.  Our run next day from Stonehaven back to Airlie was livened up by a couple of Humpback whales cruising past at close range leaving our Danish/English coxswain yet again short of breath and needing to manage several hundred more photographs.

The next port of call was Gloucester Passage about twenty miles north of the Cumberland group and this seemed a good option to get away painlessly from the seductions of Airlie Beach.  We passed through the passage between the point and Gloucester Island and went to anchor under the lee of Point Gloucester itself.  Paul Bartley had told the skipper of the merits of a visit here and that there is a pub on shore to visit.  So ashore we went and actually discovered two bars, the ‘Eco Lodge’ and ‘Monty’s’.  We had decided that night to have a BBQ on the beach and after buying some wine at the Eco lodge invited Wally the barman to come down for our beach soiree; and he did!  He in turn invited us to breakfast next morning at his accommodation on the beach so in we went for what turned into visits to ‘Monty’s’, then the ‘Dingoe Beach’ pub and Wally coming on the boat that afternoon for the overnight run to Townsville (bringing steaks, seafood, home brew beer, wine etc etc).  We spent three nights in Townsville at the Townsville ‘Motor Boat and Yacht Club’, pretty much in the middle of town and across the river from the main pub strip (bit of a theme happening here perhaps).  David, Tin and Caroline headed out for Magnetic Island (David has family there), leaving the skipper, Gini and Leif to look after the boat (along with Wally on the first night). Wally and Leif went out ostensibly to buy food but ended up also doing something of a minor pub crawl.  That night we caught up with Marie (from Brisbane) who was in town for business and the five of us went back to the boat to eat the food that Wally had lashed out on; thanks Wally, good company and one might see him again down the coast.  The next night the good three went for a BBQ dinner at Gary and Claire’s (and the children), friends from Melbourne currently enjoying the sunshine and fishing available in north Queensland. After three nights the crew of three then moved the boat out to Magnetic Island and after a three hour run dropped the pick in the north-east corner of Horseshoe Bay at the top of Magnetic Island; along with the multitudes of other like minded persons afloat.

The two nights in Horseshoe Bay were relaxing and involved sightseeing, walking, enjoying the sun (yes the sun was finally shining) and chatting with the many yachty types doing the same.  Before the boat left the crew of three bid farewell to Caroline and Tin, both headed north on land and to Dave who was planning to stay with family for a while before heading home to the highlights of StKilda.

Oh yea, ‘Whitsunday’ refers to:-

  • The Sunday of the feast of Whitsun or Pentecost in the Christian liturgical year, observed 7 weeks after Easter
  • One of the Scottish quarter days, always falling on 15 May

Whitsun is a festival which originated from the pagan celebration of Summer’s Day, the beginning of the Summer half-year, in Europe. In France and England it took on some characteristics of Beltane. Whitsun was later incorporated into Pentecost in the Christian calendar which is the seventh Sunday after Easter and commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ.

In British and Irish tradition, the quarter days were the four dates in each year on which servants were hired, and rents were due. They fell on four religious festivals roughly three months apart and close to the two solstices and two equinoxes.

The significance of quarter days is now limited, although leasehold payments and rents for business premises in England are often still due on the old English quarter days.

The quarter days have been observed at least since the Middle Ages:

“These have been the days when accounts had to be settled, days when magistrates paid their visits to outlying parts in order to determine outstanding cases and suits. There is a principle of justice enshrined in this institution: debts and unresolved conflicts must not be allowed to linger on. However complex the case, however difficult to settle the debt, a reckoning has to be made and publicly recorded; for it is one of the oldest legal principles of this country that justice delayed is injustice. Among the provisions that the barons wrested from the extortionate and unjust King John in Magna Carta (1215 CE), a safeguard for gentry like themselves and hungry peasants alike, was the promise that ‘To none will we sell, or deny, or delay right or justice’. Days of assize ensure openness, assurance and timeliness of justice, justice not sold, not denied, not delayed.

Bit of trivia and one guesses Captain Cook was quite the Sky Pilot (God botherer)!!

Wally on the left!

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3 Responses to “Whitsunday recollections and on to Townsville. 13July2010”

  1. Bro Says:

    Hi Trev

    Merry Christmas to you and the crew. Hope all are well and you are having a great time living the dream. Unbelievable the unnecessary development, end of the world stuff with you blokes as the remaining human existence. Wait a minute if you blokes are all that are left…..god help us all!!!

    See you later

    • Trevor Says:

      Hi Noel, thanks for the Christmas cheer, hope all going well. I am on Phuket in Thailand and happily going broke, need to rationalise my expenditure. Boat going well except for all of the standard breakages; expensive habit this. We are going south to a couple of islands for a few days then back to Patong on Phuket for new Year. After that north to the Similan and Surin Islands then back south for a while and fixing things. Looking at probably going to the Andaman Islands to the west about 400 miles (part of India) then in March head back down the Malacca Straits. Decision time after that about across the top of New Guinea or hang around on the Thai east coast. Hope all well at home and the house thing going well. Will try and update the blog in the next week or so. Very much in Holiday mode at the moment. Cheers and beers, trevor.

  2. Bro Says:

    Got your message re the tattoo, but for some reason can’t call, new mobile number?

    Kids have put in for a Collingwood tat for Christmas, making the transition to bogan.

    Cheers

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