Tweet Manookatoo Adventures: The northern Whitsundays - bound for Bowen

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The northern Whitsundays - bound for Bowen

The Cid Harbour anchorage was peaceful on Monday night, and we stayed outside enjoying the tranquility until bedtime. We woke refreshed on Tuesday, doing our exercises and rewarding ourselves with a swim before breakfast. Later, we raised the anchor and headed off, past the trawler MV Banks, washed up on the rocks, another victim of Cyclone Debbie and a reminder that conditions are not always so tranquil. We cruised across the Hook Passage and into Macona Inlet, passing many hired yachts full of families enjoying holidays aboard, with kayaks, standup paddle boards and other water play equipment galore. We anchored towards the northern end of the inlet then dived in to enjoy the water ourselves! With life as one long "holiday", we still never cease to get pleasure from the simple things.
A relaxed Captain
MV Banks
On Wednesday morning we enjoyed breakfast and a swim before moving again, cruising beside Hook Island, heading a little further north. We pulled up a mooring near Langford Island, where a coral reef and sand cay looked inviting. Donning snorkels and flippers, we dived in for a closer look, and were rewarded with our first view of "live", colorful coral. There was also a lot of evidence of what was destroyed by the cyclone, but it was lovely to see signs that this will improve over time as the coral regenerates. Langford Island is near Hayman Island, where work continues to restore and improve the resort ready to reopen. As the tide fell, the currents increased dramatically, so we swam (with great effort) back to Manookatoo and cruised over to Stonehaven, lucky to snare a spare mooring in the deep water. As the day progressed, boats came and went, and by dusk we counted over 30 boats moored or anchored nearby. The islands of the Whitsundays sure are popular!
Manookatoo from Gloucestor eco lodge
On Thursday morning the captain was up early, the engine on and the mooring dropped by 6:15. After two weeks in this area, and with lots more coast to explore, we farewelled the islands of the Whitsundays as we headed north-west. We passed Double Cone Island, Dingo Beach and Hideaway Bay before entering the Gloucester Passage, rounding Shag Islet and dropping anchor just near the Cape Gloucester Eco Lodge. After a refreshing swim we rowed the dinghy ashore and walked along the beach, checking out both resorts and enjoying a drink at Montes before returning to the Eco Lodge for a lovely lunch and wine overlooking the water and Manookatoo. Returning mid-afternoon we earned another swim after our rowing, then sat back and let the afternoon turn into evening, with a light dinner on the back deck overlooking the anchor lights of the neighboring boats.
Entering Bowen Harbour
Our intention on Friday morning was to anchor as close as possible to the beach, swimming to shore for a walk along the sand, however with misty rain and a cool breeze we changed our mind, lifting the anchor and cruising north across Edgecumbe Bay before 7am. We enjoyed breakfast on the way and arrived at the Port of Bowen just after 9:00, where we were lucky enough to get a berth at the North Queensland Cruising Yacht Club marina. We walked around the harbour to the seafood outlets, buying Endeavour prawns for lunch, then took a long walk into town, exploring the local shops, murals and beautiful quilt depicting the history and highlights of Bowen. We had planned a swim at the town beach but, at low tide, it is a long, muddy walk to the water, so we made do with a cool shower! A pleasant evening followed, watching the movie "Australia", where Bowen was transformed into wartime Darwin - a fitting choice, given our location.
Beautiful Horseshoe Bay
Revived after a swim
With the fish supplier so close, and the dinghy now finally working, the captain cruised over the marina early in the morning to buy some oysters for a Saturday night special dinner. Later, after breakfast, we took the bikes up into town, catching the bus to Rose Bay and doing the rugged bush walk to Horseshoe Bay. A reviving swim was much appreciated, followed by a cuppa at the local cafe before catching the next bus back to our bikes, doing some shopping and riding home. After an antipasto lunch we watched the yachts around us set sail for the afternoon races, then rode our bikes up to the Grandview Hotel, also featured in "Australia" the movie, for an afternoon ale. We returned to Manookatoo and prepared our delicious dinner, enjoyed on the back deck in the balmy conditions.
One of Bowen's many murals
Bike riding in Bowen
We set off early on Sunday morning, riding our bikes to the Queens Bay markets and being attacked by a few territorial magpies for our troubles! We purchased some vegetables from local farmers and returned to Bowen town to finish our purchases then ride back to the boat via the fish supplier, where we bought a kilo of headless prawns to freeze for other lunches! With work in Bowen on Monday, Kirsty drove up from Mackay and we enjoyed a lovely lunch with her and a workmate at the Grandview, followed by drinks at the Cruising Yacht Club for Kirsty and the first mate, while the captain watched the Bathurst 1000 and prepared the boat for tomorrow morning's departure. Farewelling Kirsty, we cooked our regular Sunday night pizzas and watched a bit of tv before bed.
Abbott Point coal loading facility
An early departure on Monday morning had us out of the Harbour and cruising past Queens Bay as the sun rose, having breakfast as we passed the Abbot Point coal loading facility, then rounding Cape Upstart and dropping anchor in Upstart Bay before lunch. The next few days are for cruising, with our next major port of call being Townsville. The weather looks promising and, with a few nights on anchor in the ocean, we hope for smooth seas and pleasant conditions!
Beautiful Bowen
Captain's log: Cid Harbour to Cape Upstart
Distance travelled: 103.8 nautical miles
Travelling time: 17 hours 55 minutes
Fuel consumption: 104.2 litres

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