The strong northerlies have been blowing forever and with daily thunderstorm warnings we decided to stay in the Port Of Airlie Marina for a few nights (no anchoring off Airlie in northerlies). We were also waiting on two packages, one being our new screecher which we had been missing big time since our old one gave way, way back in Cairns and I desperately needed a haircut!
Unfortunately, both packages had not arrived by the time we left (for a long and boring list of frustrating reasons), so another trip to Airlie was on the horizon.
Thunderstorm warnings are not fun on a yacht. That very high mast can be a lightning attractor. Weather is ‘god” when planning our sailing passages and anchorages, so adding another layer of constraint to wind strength and direction, as well as swell heights … thunderstorms are a pain and somewhat scary! Marinas are often safe havens as someone else’s mast will be higher that yours, but seriously though, these storm warnings seemed to have come very early this season and also way further north that previous years. Most yachties we spoke to agreed.
So after a few nights in the Marina, we then caught up with Ilikai and Vivacious at Happy Bay on Long Island. It was two months since we’d seen these boats as they didn’t join us further north. While the winds were favourable to head south with Ilikai and Vivacious we were still waiting for our packages and with the thunderstorms surrounding us most days, we decided to stay put and spend a few days in the Whitsundays. It was very hot and humid so the sandy beach in Chance Bay was appreciated for swims and kayaking, followed by a quick visit to Waite Bay on Hazelwood Island for a snorkel.
I only had time for a quick snorkel in Waite Bay, as we planned to meet up with Anui at Beach 25 later in the day. It was half-tide, the water quite cloudy, the clouds were building (for another storm somewhere nearby), no strong sunshine and I knew Waite Bay had suffered from some reef deterioration over the last few years, and of course I had been spoilt with so many outer reef visits this year … so I wasn’t expecting much. I’d just set up my cameras after hopping in and there it was … a bright blue Nudibranch! The first (and possibly one and only) for this season. I am always searching for these colourful little critters. So happy to have finally find one.
What a find! So colourful. You can just see the orange/yellow rhinophores (horns).
Here’s a few more pics …
Time to head south. We collected our two packages, the northerlies were still blowing and the thunderstorm warnings were easing in the forecast. Unfortunately, we copped a big storm while anchored in Shute Harbour on our last night. We had caught the bus in to Airlie earlier to collect our packages, returning in sunshine. These storm cells build so quickly. After copping some strong wind from the outer edge of a storm the previous night, we weren’t so lucky this time. It was a complete white-out. Strong winds, howling horizontal rain, thunder and lightning and hailstones! It seemed to go on forever but in reality, probably only 15 minutes. Our anchor held, our boat stayed dry and no boat dragged near us. We did lose a few items overboard and our dinghy motor got swamped. Thankyou to Dean on Live Louder and Paul on Skellum who very kindly helped Neville dry out the ‘bits’ in the motor the next day. And to Tobyrush for gathering two of our reef shoes (unfortunately not a matching pair ) and our torch as they floated by.
These photos were taken just before the storm hit.
The next morning it was a “stupid o’clock’ getup from Shute Harbour, which meant we could make Keswick Island for the night, followed by Middle Percy Island, Port Clinton and then Great Keppel Island, before the Shoalwater Military closure set in. Four big sailing days, so we were looking forward to using our new screecher and hopefully the spinnaker. We hoisted the kite on all four days. We had several great runs of consistent breeze, particularly in the afternoons. The screecher? Watch this space.