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ADDITIONS TO THE BLOG as of April 2017: Shamal and her Crew being Mum and Dad are in the Cayman Islands * Should you want to contact us, you can do so by clicking on the Contact Us tab below. * PLEASE subscribe to the Blog, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox.



21 August 2009

Airlie Beach to Cairns


Hello again one and all

As I start to write this we are back out at sea once more heading North up the Australian East Coast with a few more little adventures in the wake behind us.
First I must say a big thank you to all of you who have been sending us emails along the way. We love hearing from you and catching up with your news.

Well our last email I see was from Airlie Beach in the Whitsunday Group. Here we had the starboard trampoline repaired and then with great difficulty Alec and I attempted to put it back on. We wasted nearly a whole day struggling with it, then gave up and the next morning Alec too it back to the guys who had sewn it up to find it took five of them to thread a pipe back into it which the two of us were unable to do, and had no hope of doing – no wonder – they had sewn the new strip too tightly!!! We were now at the end of our first week in Airlie and were still waiting on some important mail to arrive, so decided to spend the weekend exploring some of the Islands. It was Friday afternoon as we set out and Alec kept saying the steering was too heavy, so he took it off auto pilot and hand steered out to Hook Island where we anchored in a lovely quiet inlet just to blob out, only to be joined by another half dozen boats. We stayed on for the Saturday taking the tender further up the inlet and then into the beach for a look see. Alma I am back shelling again! On the Sunday we sailed to Whitsunday Island and anchored in Tongue Bay where we went ashore and walked to an outlook looking down on the famous Whitehaven Beach which is 6kms long, Betty’s Beach and up onto Hill Inlet. Talk about a pristine beautiful pure white silica sands. We could see the stingrays basking in the clear turquoise waters just below us. We went back to the tender and explored the top end of Tongue Bay watching turtles sunning themselves before taking SHAMAL down to the far end of Whitehaven Beach for the night. We went ashore for a walk just before sunset. Talk about beautiful clean sands. It was like walking on icing sugar that literally squeaked when you walked on it. The Aboriginal name for it is “whispering sands” and how appropriate that is.

Monday morning saw us heading back to Airlie Beach as we really needed to get this steering sorted out pronto and pick up our mail. Funny isn’t it when you want to move on in this cruising game there is always something else to be done. We phoned the boat factory and then waited till the following Monday for the parts to arrive by courier post!!! On the Tuesday a couple of the boys from Charter Yachts Australia very kindly fitted them with Alec watching on, while I did a last laundry and shop. We filled in some of that extra time that week with a couple we met from another catamaran parked a little further into the bay. They had do a road trip back to Mackay and invited us to go with them which was a fun day. We had meals with them and they joined us on board for a meal.

Then the day dawned – Wednesday 5th August – when we could finally move on out and start heading North again. We sailed to Cape Gloucester – 22 miles up the coast – for the first night where we dropped the anchor then went ashore for an evening stroll and watched kangaroos grazing just in from the beach. Next morning we headed out for Cape Upstart some 50 miles on up the coast, but, only a few miles out we noticed trouble with the steering AGAIN, so Alec went down to investigate, and found that one of the cables was not on a pulley. A job that really could not be done while underway, so, it was a divert into the township of Bowen just 12 miles away. We were told this is the town where the film Australia was made. We pulled into the visitors pontoon where Alec then took the next few hours fixing the problem. It was about mid afternoon when he had finished so we decided to spend the night there and move on in the morning. The marina asked us to move out onto their pile moorings. Not something I want to do again!! Tying up to two posts – one in front and one behind – in very strong cross winds, is no joke!! We recruited the help of a couple of guys who were on the pontoon and it still took us about half an hour to get SHAMAL properly tied up. We then went ashore to the local yacht club for dinner with one of the guys who had helped us, his wife and another couple. Both have catamarans and are travelling up the coast together. Nice evening.

Then first thing the following morning we were on our way again to Cape Upstart. 40 miles later we drop anchor and went ashore for a walk along the beach. Next morning as we were heading out Alec spotted a whale as we were putting the sails up. The winds were not very strong so we did a sail change and put up the MPS – our lovely big colour sail for light winds – and had a great run up to Cape Bowling Green. Don’t you just love all these wonderful names the Aussies have for their Capes! The following day saw the same sort of winds so it was another run with the MPS all the way into Townsville.

Here we spent four nights. The first night we anchored up behind the breakwater, and then on the Monday morning we moved up into the Ross Creek to the Townsville Motor Boat and Yacht Club. Again so we could do boat jobs as well as visiting the sites. One of these jobs included a slight alteration to the sail bag which involved sewing. Alec, in his great wisdom, said it would be so easy and I should use my sewing machine. Fine – no – as he would not take the bag off the boom, as that was too big a job! I was to take my machine up on to the roof and do the job up there!! Well after a couple of hours in temperatures around 29 degrees I managed to complete the job, but as you can imagine it was not easy sitting on my bean bag with the machine at knee height on a box, the sail bag still attached to the boom, and working the foot peddle with one knee.

Townsville really is a mixture of the old and new with some wonderful old Queenslander Buildings. It has the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium which was fascinating. We also caught up with one of the couples we had met in Bowen which was fun. Then just 11 miles off the coast is another famous resort Island – Magnetic. We moved out there into Horseshoe Bay which was lovely. The following morning we had a quick visit ashore and on the way Back to SHAMAL we went aboard “Champagne Charlie”, the other people from a cat whom we had met in Bowen, for a detailed brief on the trip to Darwin. They are from Lake Macquarie and on board they had their neighbour who sails with them every winter to the warmer north. Sid was 94 and reminded me so much of Dad. He was just delightful.

By 1.00pm we were on our way again, this time heading for the Palm Islands. This was a day for a bit of self dentistry!! Yep I was eating some almonds when I broke a bit off a tooth. No problem - out came my little kit my Dentist at home had given me and after about 20 minutes I must say with some difficulty and a lot of dribble I had managed to put in a temporary filling!! Alec wanted to help but I decided his skills lie in different areas!

After a night anchored at Great Palm it was on to Orpheus Is. and into Yanks Jetty. Just catching up with local history. Then on to the Hinchinbrook Channel. This is a 26 mile channel which runs between the main land and the Island of Hinchinbrook. We were now entering real croc country. I really would like to see one but from a distance. This place was like entering another world. The tropical rain forest comes nearly to the water’s edge where the mangroves then take over. There are creeks and channels leading off in all directions. The water changes to a muddy brown and it was like motoring into a mill pond. The imagination takes over and the deeper in you get you could see anything you want to!! We anchored up for the night about a third of the way in. Everything was lovely till just after sunset when we were invaded by every flying insect that could bite. We had to lock ourselves inside. Thank goodness for the mosquito screens.

Next morning it was up anchor and we headed on through the channel passing sea snakes basking on top of the water who would uncoil and dive as you pass. We motored out into Rockingham Bay and on up to Dunk Island (another resort Island ) passing more sea snakes and also dolphins. Again a trip ashore for a good 6k walk around part of the Island through lovely tropical rain forest and past lovely white sandy beaches and, mangroves. Yes I was watching out for my croc!! That evening we were anchored beside another kiwi boat whom we joined for a sun downer and watched two huge manta rays playing about just beside the boat.

We have been having the most stunning sunsets of late. The seas turn to a sparkling liquid silver and the sky’s the most gorgeous colours of pink. The sunrises also are something else with the sea the most beautiful golden colour as the big yellow ball rises for the day.

I have had my fishing line out each day but so far NOTHING. Not sure what I am doing wrong. Maybe there just are no fish up here. Talking with other yachts the fishing has not been too prolific of late.

Yesterday was a 55 mile sail towards Cairns to High Island where again we anchored in the lee for the night. The wind changed during the night and we rolled around a bit so we were up just before sunrise this morning for the short sail of 35 miles up to Cairns. So here we are now. We got a berth in the Super Yacht side of the marina and are packed beside something so huge that we look like their tender. We have had one quick walk into town. It is very much a tourist town with street signs in different languages, a huge range of international eating places and all the tourist curio shops looking like something you would see in Singapore! It is quite tropical with wide streets and lovely trees all over the place. Cairns has a nice feel about it. We hope to do some site seeing here before heading North again. Also stock up on a few fresh supplies.
Well that is enough from us for this letter so we will sign off.

Hope all is well with you all.

Love from

The Admiral and The Captain

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