Saturday, 30 November 2013

Christmas Road Trip

Like many boats we have parked up in Brisbane for the cyclone season. Others who will cruise North again next year have headed off to Europe, Melbourne, Sydney and elsewhere, leaving their boats in Brisbane or Mooloolaba. We aren't headed North again next year but have still headed off on a road trip for Christmas. We plan on visiting family in NSW, currently in Port Macquarie then off to Sodwalls, before returning to the boat after Christmas. From there our plans are uncertain, there's too many options! 

Remembrance Day at Mapleton

Thursday, 21 November 2013

To Brisbane

We crossed the Wide Bay Bar after a wait of a few days for the right weather. We were anchored the night before the bar crossing at Pelican Point with about 6 other boats waiting to cross. We calculated the tide to be best for the crossing at about 0900 but despite this we awoke at about 0600 to see an empty anchorage with all the other boats having already left.  We stuck to our plan however and crossed a very calm bar that looked markedly different from the washing machine we had come across a few months ago.

The Sandhills of Rainbow Beach

A long day saw us in Mooloolaba that evening and we enjoyed getting back into the surf at the local beaches and also catching up with friends in the beautiful hinterland.

From here we sailed South to Moreton Bay through a convoluted route due to sandbanks and we are now at Scarborough on the outskirts of Brisbane. We have enjoyed seeing our friends from the yacht Last Dance again here after spending some great times with them up north.

The Local Lagoon
Tree Climbing
We are going to spend a bit more time here catching up with various friends and exploring the local area.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Big Barrel and Marina Muddies

From Yeppoon we went back out to wonderful Great Keppel Island for a last burst of clear water and sandy beach goodness. Then it was a dawn start for the 70nm down to Pancake Creek. 

From Pancake Creek we had a fantastic sail in a good 20kts of tail wind to Bundaberg where we holed up for a few days while the SE winds blew. Luckily our friend Lozza was in town at his parents house at nearby Elliot Heads so we enjoyed catching up and also seeing the local sights.

Swimming at Elliot Heads
We made the obligatory visit to the Bundaberg Ginger Beer factory and enjoyed swimming in the estuary at Elliot Heads. The girls hooked up with some kids off two other boats, one from Germany and one from New Zealand, and despite a bit of a language barrier (with the Germans that is!) the girls had a ball playing around the marina with the tribe.

Learning how to make Ginger Beer
The Big Barrel 

Next stop after another day sail was Urangan in Hervey Bay. That's where we are now waiting out more Southerlies before heading down the Sandy Straits and to Mooloolaba. 

While in the Urangan Marina and on local advice we set the crab pot under the boat and caught a big muddie. It was a female so we put it back and besides this we'd become a bit uncomfortable about eating something out of the marina. 

D'Arcy meets a local

Marina Muddie! 

Monday, 21 October 2013

South to Yeppoon

The last few weeks have seen us leave the Whitsunday Islands and start travelling South again. We hopped down through a series of islands including Brampton, Curlew, Hunter and then into Island Head Creek before finally arriving at Great Keppel Island.

On the way to Brampton Island we finally got lucky with the fishing and hauled in a school mackerel. We had nearly landed one earlier in the day but it got off the hook right beside the boat. Just before arriving to anchor at Brampton we pulled in the line with a good size fish on the end.

Reeling in the big one!
The islands south of the Whitsundays had a remote feel after the busy scene in the Whitsundays. We had anchorages to ourselves and some nice sandy beaches to swim on. The tides here are big so we often encountered choppy seas, strong tidal races and overfalls that were at times a bit disconcerting and made for a bumpy and wet ride.
Beach and anchorage to ourselves at Hunter Island

In Island Head creek back on the mainland we watched bushfires burn in the surrounding hills while we waited for Southerly winds to abate. We did school and cranked up the Aratika bakery to pass the time.
The Aratika bakery at Island Head Creek

Fire at Island Head Creek
At last we got a break to head South again and sailed to Great Keppel Island where we enjoyed the crystal clear waters, great walks, sandhills and beautiful beaches.
Great Keppel clear water
D'Arcy dives

Sandhill running
We are now in Yeppoon for a few days while Em is in Canberra for work and we restock the boat. Then it will be off Southwards again.

Kite flying at Yeppoon

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Furthest North

We've had a great last few weeks catching up with friends and further exploring the Whitsunday region.

Our friends the Johnston family were at Hamilton Island for a week during the holidays so we took the opportunity to visit them and also check out Hamilton island. The girls had a ball playing with the Johnston kids in the resort pool and on the beach.
Fun in the pool

Living Large at Hamilton
Off to do the Laundry.
It was school holidays so pretty crowded at Hamilton so after a few days we were kind of happy to leave the crowds behind and get back into some of the great Whitsunday anchorages.

In Stonehaven we caught up with friends John and Jo on the catamaran Kirra Kirra and with their advice and bait we even managed to break the fishing drought and catch a few edible reef fish in the form of a stripey snapper and a grassy sweetlip, yaaaay!!

We then chose to go further North to Gloucester Passage and Gloucester Island to escape the crowds and we weren't disappointed. Nice national park beaches and a few low key resorts greeted us in the area and we enjoyed being one of only a handful of boats in the anchorages we visited. Gloucester passage is also the furthest North we will go this year as we have decided to start our journey Southwards again.

Beach in Gloucester Passage
Relaxing at Gloucester Passage
We then went to Butterfly Bay for some more snorkelling before returning to Airlie Beach, where we are now, to provision and do chores before heading South. We are now looking for Northerly winds for the first time since rounding Tasman Island in late January!  There's lots we want to see and do on the way South again with many places we either missed or just really enjoyed on the way up that we want to visit.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Swimming, Snorkelling and Baking

The last few weeks have been spent exploring the Whitsunday Islands.
Ava in the air

Ava under the water

D'Arcy the Dinghy Skipper
A myriad of islands and anchorages to explore and lazy days of swimming, snorkelling and beach time interspersed with some serious baking on the boat turning out all manner of cakes and goodies. 

Aratika 2 Bakery Goodness! Baklava Torte with cinnamon mascarpone cream and honey lemon syrup.
We had Em's birthday in Airlie Beach where the girls and I managed to turn out a half respectable chocolate cake for her birthday dinner. 

Birthday Girl with Choc cake. 
We've met some great families on the water here on charter boats and spent time with our friends on the yacht Last Dance with their daughter Mayja a favourite playmate for the girls. 

Here are some pics of the last few weeks. 

Seaplane at Whitehaven Beach

D'Arcy finds a whale vertebrae

Checking out Whitsunday Aboriginal art

Tow in surfing

Hill Inlet and Whitehaven

Idyllic Beach with Robb & Em

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Wandering the Whitsundays

Fathers' day on Aratika 2 saw us enjoy a great run under spinnaker from Mackay up to Brampton Island. The girls baked a fantastic coconut and lemon cake (while dad had an afternoon snooze) which we all enjoyed for afternoon tea.
Aratika II under spinnaker (Thanks Al for the photo)

Fathers' Day Cake! 

With a 30kt + blow forecast for the rest of the week we had a quick sail up to Goldsmith Island where we anchored in a great protected bay and best of all we had the place to ourselves. We spent three days here getting schoolwork done in between swimming and playing on the beach and remained the only inhabitants throughout. That's if you don't count the resident turtles that popped up beside the boat during the day. The girls also enjoyed games on the boat and remodelled themselves as Sarong Superheroes.

Beach to ourselves at Goldsmith

Sarong Superheroes
The wind eased to 20kts by Friday so it was off towards Lindemann island again at a brisk pace with the wind and tide both in our favour. On arrival the anchorage looked particularly rolly so we elected to use the strong breeze and continue through to Cid Harbour. This was a nice anchorage but very crowded which is to be expected this time of year in the Whitsundays.

From Cid Harbour we were able to conquer Whitsunday Peak which was a great walk with excellent views that were a good reward for all the uphill. We set the crab pot again to no avail and eventually set off for for Stonehaven and Hook Island.
Whitsunday Peak
We have been snorkelling lots here at various locations and have enjoyed seeing some great coral and fish and even a few turtles while snorkelling.  The baking theme of the week has also continued with choc chip cookies and carrot cake being produced from the oven onboard. Emma has also taken to yoghurt making and after a sloppy start is now producing great fresh yoghurt for us.

Into the water

Snorkel Team

Local Colour
Life is good and there's lots more to see here in the 100 Magic Miles of islands.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Central Queensland Islands

Well we are lucky that Em keeps the boat well stocked with food and cooks gourmet meals because we haven't caught a crab or fish despite lots of trying. Not to worry, it's fun having a go.

We've covered a bit of water lately. First stop was Port Clinton where we deployed the crab pot to no avail. Lots of strange swirling currents in this part of Shoalwater bay kept us looking intently at the water ahead as we entered the Port.

Trying to catch dinner

Paddleboard in the anchorage
From here we went up the coast for a night at beautiful Pearl Bay where we enjoyed swimming off the beach and watching the scenery.

Next stop was Middle percy Island which was just amazing. We anchored off another beautiful white sandy swimming beach after a fast sail with a following breeze and numerous whale sightings. We also enjoyed some great dolphin action along the way with a pod including 2-3 young ones.

Dolphin Watching

Aratika 2 at anchor

Percy Island Coconut

The island was a great stop and we walked the 3 1/2 km up to the homestead where caretakers and leaseholders live. Here they farm veges, goats, have chickens for eggs and make honey. It is an island paradise and we really enjoyed the warm hospitality and cup of tea at the homestead.
Aratika 2 Crew

Percy Island Homestead
Ava and a local

Percy Island West Bay

Down at the beach there is a large A Frame structure with a BBQ and fireplace and small signs from thousands of yachts that have passed this way. The girls got motivated and we made an Aratika II plaque for the hut.
A Frame

From Middle Percy we sailed a short distance of 20 miles to Digby Island where we had a great afternoon ashore at the beach and were the only boat anchored in a lagoon ringed by three islands.
Beach to ourselves

The next day we sailed to Mackay, winding through many ships waiting to load coal at the massive Hay Point terminal, to arrive at the Marina and after 40 mins waiting for an oil tanker to depart we were able to enter the harbour and tie up.

Luckily this ship is at anchor!

The next few days will be a busy time of maintenance, washing, shopping and school before heading into the Southern Whitsunday Islands.