After the trauma of our first night’s anchoring experience, Whitehaven was the perfect place to jump back on the horse, with nice shallow water and great protection from the current South Easterly. We headed down to the southern end of the beach, running just off the beach to avoid French Shoal, a set of drying shifting sands running almost parallel to the coastline from Esk Island. With the girls on lookout from the trampolines between the bows, we sneaked in amongst the vast array of day trippers with boats ranging from small fishing boats to a couple of mega yachts and a boat plane. We got as far south as we could and found a nice spot just off the beach at 3m depth, we calculated the tidal change and dropped the anchor to a 5:1 scope and voila hooked in and not dragging – happy days.
Whitehaven beach is everything and more that is said about it. The sand is pure white, smooth and cool to the feet, even in the hot mid-day sun and the turquoise sea gently laps against the lightly sloping shoreline. The kids were in seventh heaven, running in and out of the water, chasing the myriad of fish and even doing a bit of snorkelling in the shallows with the gear provided with the boat. For those seeking a bit more adventure there are a couple of different bush walks to be had ranging from around 45 minutes to 2 ½ hours.
The tender that came with Seafox was around 3m and had a 6HP outboard, which was OK for puttering around short distances, but not really capable for anything else, especially when loaded up with a family of 5. We did however take it for a little jaunt of about a kilometre to explore a bit more of the beach. The engine, although seemingly bullet proof for starting, decided to play up the only time my crew in their eagerness to get to the beach headed off without me, promising to come back and get me in 10 minutes when I was ready. Predictably, when daughter #1 decided to come back, the engine would not start, which was not a problem as I had at last found a really good use for those overpriced Kayaks. It appears the engine did not like being started again so soon after stopping and had flooded the carby, which was a simple fix of just waiting half an hour and then trying again which started it first time.
Come mid-afternoon and the day trippers started to slowly head back leaving the bay with a few scattered over-nighters and the peace and tranquillity of a deserted island creeped in, that is until we cranked the engines to charge up the house batteries on Seafox. Having minimal solar and no wind generator, the engines needed running 3 times a day for at least an hour a time to keep the 600AH house batteries charged up and meeting our needs.
Being a charter, the batteries were not in the best shape and seemed to drop off voltage pretty quickly in between charging. This leads me to another bug bear with the boat and what caused a mini disaster, the refrigerator and freezer systems were very poor. The fridge was lucky to get below around 12 Degrees C and the freezer sat at around 6 Degrees C, which had disastrous consequences as I had put my beers for the evening in the freezer to cool down on the first morning along with some frozen squid for fishing bait. The plastic containing the squid, turned out to be holier than our local vicar and promptly defrosted in the warm freezer and leaked, coating the amber nectar in squid juice. Another comparatively minor inconvenience, our nearly out of date meats went bad in the roasting heat of the refrigeration system.
After some serious relaxation at Whitehaven, it was time to move on and our next stop was Hamilton Island Marina to restock and spend the night in the lap of Luxury. It’s a busy marina, so booking in advance is essential and the cost of a pen or slip for the night was $120 which gives you access to the whole island, including the Luxury hotel and its swimming pools.
When leaving Whitehaven and heading through the Solway Passage it is essential to take account of the tides and tidal flow as strong currents can occur in this passage and conditions can be very rough with a strong tidal flow against wind. Tidal flood in the Whitsundays gives a Southerly tidal flow and the ebb a Northerly flow.
We nipped through on slack tide, but as we came through the passage, were hit with a 20kt SE wind and a quite unpleasant short 2m swell just off the beam and with a couple of hours sailing down to Hamilton Island, the crew were not all that impressed with sailing anymore, with the 2 little ones lying down and going to sleep and the rest of the crew looking a little green around the gills, but holding it down nicely. Around 20 minutes from the marina, give them a call on Channel 68 to let them know you’re coming and they will tell which side to fender up and prepare lines as well as arrange a concierge boat to come out and guide you to your slot. After such a rough passage, the crew all came to life as we entered the calm waters of the marina which was well protected from the South-easterly.
To Be Continued…..