Townsville to Dunk

By | August 25, 2016

After a few days reminiscing in Townsville we left for Magnetic Island.

We worked out it was 1987 when we first visited … in a 23’ trailer sailer called Southern Comfort.  No we didn’t sail it from Melbourne to Townsville!  We had three months long service leave, towing our TS up the east coast cruising the Whitsundays, Magnetic Island, Orpheus Island, Hinchinbrook Island and Dunk Island.  We were mad!  Those boats look so small in these big waters now.  Can’t believe we were so brave!

We hired a car for a day in Townsville (always handy with the shopping too) and took in a few sights including Castle Hill which sits behind Townsville.  We had rainy days so not a clear view from the top but worth the trip.  (Not sure the lady who fell from her hired Vespa in front of us agreed.  Fortunately she was fine.)  We tried to find the older Townsville which we remembered and we did.  A favourite memory is sitting ‘outside’ upstairs on a restaurant balcony eating dinner.  We had left a Melbourne winter and ‘outside eating’ way back in 1987 wasn’t really that common.  The newer Strand along the Townsville waterfront where our marina was, was lovely.  Cafes, beautiful gardens and a great walk.

We hope to spend more time at Magnetic Island on the way south.  Aqualibrium needed to be in Cairns by a certain date and we felt it was a good opportunity to sail in company for a few days so we only had one night in Horseshoe Bay (with 50 other yachts sheltering from the strong wind).  We did manage a meal ashore (great steaks with Wednesday’s steak night at the tavern) and a beach walk to the ‘lagoon’.  We hope to hire a mini-moke on our return and ‘revisit’ 1987’s visit when Neville’s aunty Bonnie lived there.

With the forecast looking great, we sailed to Orpheus Island the next day.  A Paynesville reunion!  As we entered the anchorage we realised Skellum were there.  So we had three Paynesville cats … Aqualibrium, Skellum and bossa nova.  Drinks on AQ!

We had a terrific time with Aqualibrium (and the sandflies) in the Hichinbrook channel.  Calm as, mangrove nooks and crannies and the most spectacular backdrop of Hichinbrook Island  (check out the next blog post).  I really enjoyed playing with my new digital Olympus camera with its 75-300mm zoom (did I mention the Townsville shopping?).   Great fun getting closer to the whales now and I’m loving this camera.  Great buy!

Ahhhh … and the crabs!  We had great fun catching our muddies with AQ.  We had a big lunchtime feed with a few bottles of cold white wine.  We both lost a crab pot each, but lucky us, we found ours floating down the channel as we left.  We have learnt from the local fisherman pros to tie the float to the mangroves, not let it float … the local croc (which we did not see but others have) likes to mangle the odd crab pot or two.

Goodbye to AQ!

Last year we sailed quite a bit with Easy Tiger which was an unexpected treat.  It’s great to have a combination of crew on board, sailing company and some solo time too.  We have met so many new boats this year and great people. So many ‘new’ sailing friends.  Sharing stories and destinations over sundowners on shore or on each other’s boats, they will all be fond memories.

Last year we met Gary and Annie on Chances and we have been trying for the last three months to catch them.  We finally did, at Otter Reef.  After ‘grilling’ Reeflections on the outer reef spots to visit (see, you get lots of great info from fellow yachties, thankyou Doug and Jeanette) and then meeting Africat in Zoe Bay who also knew Chances, we plotted a course for Otter Reef.  We had been quite keen to get out to the outer reef.  We just haven’t had the calm weather at the right times, nor the knowledge of where to go … and a boat to go with us!

Otter Reef is only 20nm off shore and a good stop off point before Dunk Island. We had a wonderful time at Otter Reef with Chances, Africat and Bella.  Calm glassy water, crystal clear turquoise water, great snorkelling and a terrific sundowners session on board Chances sitting in our private lagoon, watching the sun go down. More in the next blog post!

We are now anchored off Dunk Island with Chances after leaving the reef yesterday.  A good sail but  another lost Spanish mackerel (and lure)!  A mack tuna was my consolation prize … only good for crab bait.  Chances caught a sea snake (eeks!) and Gary retrieved the lure, with a price to pay! (He hooked his hand.)

We are looking forward to some walks and the weekend café.  Everyone is talking about the great seafood at the outdoor waterfront café.