Sea Cloud is tucked away under her covers in Marsden Cove Marina, Whangarei, NZ. We should’ve been joining the other yachts about now to sail north to Tonga, Fiji and beyond, but as my aging parents were in need of a bit of assistance, we’ve stayed put in Sydney for the season.
We’d met Dick and Monique (Dutch catamaran SY Umnyama) in Curacao at the end of 2017. Our paths crossed many times as we sailed our way across the Pacific. They spent the summer/cyclone season in the bay in front of our house in Sydney. Now they are headed north for Indonesia then to South Africa, so we jumped at the invitation to join them sailing between Airlie Beach and Cairns in Northern Queensland.
Proserpine Airport’s rather amusing way to occupy passengers waiting for their bags.
It was good to be back on a boat again, and to enjoy the extra space of a catamaran.
Our first stop was Gloucester Passage, a beautiful calm anchorage with a spectacular sunset.
There are long stretches between anchorages along this coastline, hence our very early departure for Upstart Bay, just north of Ayr.
We are now in crocodile (and stinger) territory.
Magnetic Island’s Horseshoe Bay anchorage was rather busy. The grey sky cleared in time for the Fort Walk and its wonderful views.
Magnetic island is one of the 2 places we’ve seen koalas in the wild. A mother and her very active baby were just along the pathway.
We were keen to stop at Orpheus Island. Although the pilot book mentioned good walks, they weren’t easy to find. Jim, who worked at the James Cook University Research Centre was very helpful, filling us in on the history of Orpheus, and pointing us in the direction of the giant clams (the bay just off the research station) and telling us about the main walks on the island.
Pioneer Bay – walk starts behind the research station and crosses to the other side of the island. Apparently this is a 2 hour reasonably demanding walk requiring sturdy footwear.
Little Pioneer Bay – walk starts at the right of the picnic tables behind the National Park sign. The walk is quite well marked by pink plastic ribbons and although overgrown was easy to follow, taking about 1.5 hours from the beach to the top of the island. The path passes the ruins of a stone house and has 360degree views from the top.
Little Orpheus is less than 10nm from the start of the Hinchinbrook Channel. The 5.7km long jetty at Lucinda is visible from quite a distance.
Clouds cleared again, and with little wind we could enjoy the spectacular landscape of Hinchinbrook.
We anchored at peaceful Scrubby Point at the northern end of the Channel and braved a walk ashore
Cardwell, the main town on the Hinchinbrook Channel was a quirky, friendly place with good provisions. There is no longer evidence of the devastation Cyclone Yasi caused to the town in 2011.
The resort at Dunk Island, our next anchorage is still in ruins after Cyclone Yasi. The big bonus here for us cruisers were the hot showers in the camping area. Quite a luxury on a cool and cloudy evening.
With strong winds predicted, we’d hoped to have a decent sail to Fitzroy Island, our next anchorage 50nm north. Unfortunately the wind came in after we’d arrived.
Luckily we managed to hike to the summit of the island before the seas in the anchorage became too uncomfortable.
With cloudy skies, strong winds and rain predicted for the next few days, we decided the marina in Cairns was the place to be. Umnyama will spend the next month at Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron before continuing north to Indonesia as part of the Sail Indonesia Rally.
After a day of sightseeing at Port Douglas and Mossman Gorge
a fabulous Thai meal by the waterfront in Cairns
we headed back to Sydney (and better weather), Monique to Holland and Dick stayed in Cairns to prepare for the next journey north. Although Queensland’s weather didn’t live up to their advertising slogan of ‘beautiful one day, perfect the next’ we had a great 10 days on Umnyama!
Wonderful trip. We’ve made to Airlie last year from Sydney and looking forward to doing the trip north again and will definitely go further north this time. Inspiring to read about your travels.
cheers and fair winds Jonathan Cape Flyer