From Port Clinton we sailed to the Whitsunday Islands, one of the favourite cruising grounds on the Queensland coastline. It took us 2 days to get there – a pretty easy sail, with the wind mostly behind us and averaging around 10-20 knots. There was still some swell around, but it was steadily dropping, and that, together with our newfound sealegs made it pretty comfortable (as sailing goes). We caught 2 more fish – tuna again, so we’re really on a roll! Long may it last!
We entered the Solway Pass in the morning on a slack tide and gradually Whitehaven Beach came into view. It’s a beautiful 7km long beach with snow-white sand, and the highest silicone content in the world. We arrived before the daytrippers from Airlie Beach, but not before the seaplanes (!) We anchored in a nice sheltered spot, had a big fruit salad for breakfast and then hit the beach.
It was wonderful to stretch the legs again and get the blood pumping. We went for a long walk, followed by a refreshing swim. I so enjoyed basking in the sunshine! The vegetation looked pretty wrecked after Cyclone Debbie though, so wasn’t as picturesque as it might otherwise.
After lunch , the boys did some skurfing in the bay – i.e. skiing behind the tender on a surfboard. Noah and Josh hadn’t tried this before, but did really well and got the hang of it pretty quickly. The big smiles on their faces afterwards showed just how exhilarated they felt!
After a night at Whitehaven, we motored across to the next bay (Tongue Bay). At high tide, we dinghied to the shore to walk up the little hill that overlooks Hill Inlet and North Whitehaven. It’s a stunning view – even in overcast weather. It looked so inviting that we decided to spend the afternoon along the shores of North Whitehaven. Noah and Josh SUP’d around the headland with Rob and Paul, and Marco and I took the tender. The SUP turned out to be quite hardcore, as the wind picked up and they were SUPping straight into it for a while. All part of the adventure.
There were so many stingrays in the shallows, amazing to see! Some tiny, some pretty large. They’re shy creatures, and dart away as soon as the SUP comes near. We had a great afternoon on the huge expanse of sand, before heading back to the boat in the rain.
That night we had an interesting visitor. Rob was up tightening a halyard, when he spotted a massive fish right next to the boat. It was about 2m long, and we guessed it weighted over 200kg. We later identified it as a giant grouper, the largest grouper in the Indo-Pacific ocean. It was not shy at all, and stayed right by the boat for about an hour, right near the surface, and had 3 little fish swimming underneath it (they looked like tiny sharks). Although it was 10pm, we had to wake the boys – this was a privilege too good to miss.
The next morning we were off, heading for Cairns. Although short, our time in the Whitsundays was sweet.