Whitsunday Islands, Queensland
It is almost sunset and we just dropped the anchor here in a small bay in the north side of Keswich Island. We are the only boat here.
We spent the morning at the Mackay Marina sleeping in. We had spent last night in Sandpipers cockpit sampling Amy's homemade Sangria with our friends Steve & Renee from S/V Shiraz. They finally caught up with us since we left them behind back in Surfers Paradise.
Also our friends Tom & Anne from S/V Stormsvalen who we have run into numerous times while crossing the Pacific showed up as well. Tom and Anne sailed all the way here from Norway, via the Panama canal, and have been out cruising over 4 years.
After a late wake-up, we let Sandpiper get every last bit of power for her batteries. Then we topped off the water tanks, got rid of every last piece trash on the boat, and left the marina at noon for a very nice 15 mile sail with a beam reach to where we are anchored now.
Keswick Island has a small channel separating it from St Bees Island, which is just a little bigger. There is no town here, and 80 percent of the island is protected as a national park. It has really large hills with rock cliffs, trees, and small beaches.
We are officially in the Whitsunday Island Group, at its southernmost island. The Whitsunday Islands are Australia's best cruising area, and they claim that it is the best in the world. Here is a little of what is said in the book
"100 Magic Miles of the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands. The Cumberland Islands, now more often referred to as the Whitsundays, and arguably to best cruising grounds found anywhere in Australia, and they rival the best in the world. These wrinkled and indented mountain tops of a bygone era today provide a wide variety of anchorages, one seldom more than ten miles from the next. Of more than one hundred islands and islets in the group, at least fifty offer comfortable anchorage, many of them have several anchorages. Almost all the islands are national parks, covered with trees and bush, creating the impression that they have yet to be discovered and offering visitors the faint smell of adventure."Every evening at 5pm all the charter boats check in with the charter company on channel 81 on the VHF radio. It makes for great eavesdropping. Tonight a boat called into the company asking why none of the electrical power outlets on the boat would work when they plugged in their appliances. They were told that there was nothing wrong with the boat. It just needed to be plugged in to power at a marina first!
Tom and Amy
Note From Ron: The charters boats that Tom refers to are live aboard sail boats, usually about the size of the Sandpiper, that are leased out for a week or so. The customers usually have little to no boating experience. So eavesdropping on their conversations is like amature night, every night.