Tweet Manookatoo Adventures: Travelling to Townsville

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Travelling to Townsville

Cape Upstart anchorage was everything we could have hoped for on Monday night. We chose a spot along the coast with reasonably shallow water, tucked in behind the cape so that the easterly breeze didn't worry us. After lunch we took the dinghy ashore to walk along the sand, stopping to chat to one of the local holiday shack owners. With no roads to the coast, people access the many holiday houses by boat, mainly from Molongle Creek but also from the Burdekin River. Supplies to build the houses came by barge from Townsville or Airlie Beach, and the recently installed electricity poles and wires were installed by helicopter! It's a beautiful, remote haven. We enjoyed a couple of swims off the beach before returning to Manookatoo for the evening. While the slight breeze kept the weather from being too oppressive, our sheltered position ensured we slept in comfort.
Turtles in Bowling Green Bay
We woke early on Tuesday, refreshed and ready to continue our journey, across Upstart Bay and around Cape Bowling Green. There was only a slight rolling swell and with clear sunny skies the journey was very pleasant. We even attempted our exercise program in the morning - finding the balance exercises impossible but managing the rest even if we had to hold on occasionally! Unlike the rocky hills of Cape Upstart, Cape Bowling Green is a long, flat sandspit - at 14km it is the longest in the Southern Hemisphere. Captain Cook named it but the reason is unclear as there is not a lot of green - unless it was for the mangroves exposed at low tide at the end of Bowling Green Bay. We rounded the point at midday and dropped anchor just south, choosing sandy beaches over mangroves. We took the dinghy to shore for a walk along the hot sand followed by a refreshing swim. There are turtles everywhere - often in pairs and threes - and large sea slugs wallow in the shallows. As the day wore on two catamarans joined us in the bay - both heading south, as is almost every other boat we see - joining the migration home for summer. A beautiful sunset over the bay followed in another gorgeous, remote anchorage. 
Picnic Bay selfies
Wednesday heralded another early start, with the engine on and anchor raised before 5:30am. We seem to be having our own version of daylight savings! We crossed Bowling Green Bay on a slight swell, passing Cape Cleveland's beautiful lighthouse and cottages just after 9:00and heading across the bay to Magnetic Island. Townsville in the distance looks like a very busy city! We entered the Nelly Bay Harbour, tying up at the marina just after 11am. After checking in, we caught the bus to Horseshoe Bay for a swim and lunch at the pub, returning via Nelly Bay then onto Picnic Bay. Both bays are quite lovely - Picnic Bay was the original terminal for the ferry but is now a sleepy outpost with a great pub with a view, Horseshoe Bay is a lovely natural Harbour with beautiful beaches and is where most cruising vessels anchor. Most of Magnetic Island is a National Park, and with rugged rocky mountains tumbling down to the waters edge you can see its natural beauty. Returning to Manookatoo we enjoyed a delicious steak and prawns on the back deck, overlooking the restaurant at Peppers Resort.
The remote West Point
We "slept in" on Thursday, waking at 6am! We walked to Bright Point and along the esplanade then out to the end of the breakwater, admiring the engineering and technology that went into creating the safe Harbour. After breakfast we were on the move again, out of Nelly Bay and turning right - a circumnavigation of Magnetic Island. We passed Picnic Bay with its long, now disused jetty, then turned north, away from Townsville. We followed the coastline around to West Point, a small settlement accessible only by 4wd, where a dozen houses hug the coastline and a couple of fishing boats rested on the shore. We dropped the anchor and cruised ashore in the dinghy, walking along the beach and enjoying a swim before returning to Manookatoo for Bowen prawns for lunch - just as delicious as they were a week ago! As the sun set over the mainland to the west we enjoyed dinner on the back deck, admiring the lights of Townsville and the beautiful starry sky.
Horseshoe Bay from Manookatoo
On Friday morning we did our exercises on the Flybridge, followed by a well earned swim and breakfast, before we raised the anchor and continued our clockwise circumnavigation of Magnetic Island. We passed the lovely Five Beaches Bay, too swelly and/or shallow for us to stop, and rounded the headland into Horseshoe Bay, a popular anchorage for all manner of boats. We cruised past Fidelis, a beautiful yacht moored well out due to its 180ft length, and dropped anchor near the shore in 5 feet of water at low tide, a guarantee we would always have enough under the keel to stay afloat. We took the dinghy ashore for a walk along the beach, with a well earned swim at either end. Currently the water temperature is 25 and the air temperature is 30, so we are enjoying the water! We bought some Moreton Bay bugs for an entree for our Coral Trout dinner tonight - who says we don't eat well on the boat? - and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon with plenty of swimming and another walk ensuring we weren't total sloths. A lovely sunset and the lights of the village were the backdrop for another relaxing night aboard Manookatoo. 
Dusk at Horeshoe Bay
We raised the anchor just after 6:30 on Saturday morning, keen to complete our circumnavigation of Magnetic Island and reach our next destination. The seas were "lumpy" as we headed out of Horseshoe Bay, past the precariously balanced Orchard Rocks, but they settled as we headed east towards the mainland. The incredible, rugged beauty of Magnetic Island never ceases to impress. We cruised the 12 nautical miles to Townsville, travelling from rugged seclusion to well developed civilization in two hours, entering Ross Creek and passing the busy port, heading upstream and tying up at the Townsville Yacht Club Marina just before 9am. With the First Mate's family coming to visit for the next week, we look forward to getting to know the city and surrounding area well before we continue cruising north. 
Entering Townsville
The Captain's Log - Cape Upstart to Townsville
Distance travelled: 104 nautical miles
Travelling time: 16 hours 50 minutes 
Fuel consumption: 103.6 litres

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