Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hinchinbrook Channel

We left Trunk Reef and came into the coast in order to take a detour through Hinchinbrook Channel.

Hinchinbrook Island is about 25 miles long and the channel between it and the mainland is about half a mile wide at the south and two miles at the north end. Both the island and the adjacent coast are mountainous and wooded so the channel is very picturesque and has many mangrove-lined creeks going off from it. We anchored one night near a small island, and the second night at the north end.

We also called in at Cardwell, a small town on the mainland side, to shop. The visit was a challenge because a breeze was blowing onto the beach building up a small surf. When we got back it was a struggle to get the dinghy back out to the boat. We did score some veggies, though!

Now we've come back out to the reef and are anchored at Yamacutta Reef. We'll dive here tomorrow but the weather looks like it will make us go back to the coast the next day. We'll head for Mourilyan Harbour.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

At the Reef

We spent five days in Townsville to re-provision, to scour the used book shops, and to see the latest Harry Potter movie.

Then, after a couple of nights at Magnetic Island, the weather settled enough for us to come out to the Barrier Reef. We have finally realized that in settled weather we should come out to the Reef, and when the breeze pipes up we should go back to an island anchorage near the mainland. In essence, diving at the islands sucks and anchoring at the Reef sucks!

We spent two nights at John Brewer Reef where we had been told there was a lagoon we could get into. Our charts just don't have the detail to show that sort of thing; reefs are generally poorly surveyed. Then we moved on to Kelso Reef, and from there to Trunk Reef where we are now.

Lighter weather - forecasts of 10-15 knots or less - have held out for a week while southern Queensland has had a heat wave. Today it is flat calm and the sea is glassy. We can see in the distance the hills of Hinchinbrook Island to the west and the Palm Islands to the southwest. Otherwise nothing breaks the surface to the horizon. No visible reef, no boats.

We made a couple of dives at each reef. The diving has been 'OK'. Visibility has been moderate - say 30 feet - the coral has been relatively sparse, but there's a reasonable population of fish.

We plan to continue like this to Cairns. Out on the Reef when it's quiet, island anchorage near shore when it's not.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Podcast posted

We're in Townsville and I've posted PodCastaway Episode 32 to my podcast feed. It's an account of our month diving in the Whitsunday Islands; and I answer some emails. It may be downloaded from my podcast page.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Still in the Whitsundays

We're still anchored in Butterfly Bay on Hook Island in the Whitsundays. We've been to other anchorages but we keep coming back here. It's our favorite anchorage when it blows - every few days - because it's reasonably sheltered and offers dinghy access to some of the best dive sites.

We visited Hamilton Island a week or so ago. This is the only developed island in the the Whitsundays. We stayed a couple of nights in the marina, grocery shopped and ate out. The marina is expensive - AU$90 per night! It's very busy with mainland ferries and tourist boats constantly entering and leaving. It also has the only airport in the islands.

We've stayed in a variety of anchorages. The southern side of Hook and Whitsunday Islands have deep mangrove inlets that we visited, and Langford Island has a reef and sand spit that is pleasant in calm weather.

By the weekend we expect to have left to head for Townsville. The long breezy spell that has kept us in Butterly Bay for a week is easing and we'll go to the mainland at Airlie Beach for groceries, and head north.