|Sunrise over the pacific ocean.|
Saturday, June 29, 2013 - Another great night’s sleep. The little bay at Hexham Island was relatively calm with just enough swell to rock us to a peaceful sleep. The alarm wasn’t set – a good thing – so we woke with the sun at 0730 to a glorious morning. Before turning in we couldn’t decide if we wanted to move on to South Percy Island or stay in our little bay. The morning brought another lovely sunlit day with the promise of wind which meant that, for almost the first time since leaving Southport, we should be able to sail.
|Leaving Hexham Island behind...on the way to the Percy Islands.|
Sail we did. It is 16 nautical miles almost due north from Hexham Island to South Percy Island. With a 10 to 12 knot breeze behind Southern Belle she made a respectable 5 – 6 knots under headsail all the way. We rounded the corner of South Percy Island about 1pm (1300) to see a glorious long white beach with tropical green waters …and not another boat or soul anywhere to be seen. Lovely.
|Southern Belle - all alone off South Percy Island - about 50/60 miles off the central Queensland Coast. Not another soul around!|
|A beach...all alone ... not another foot print.|
We dropped anchor and while cleaning up the morning’s usual leftovers from cups of tea, coffee, cookies and luncheon sandwiches another boat pulled into the bay and beat us to the beach! With the dingy launched we motored over to discover an inviting clear-ish pool just at the top of the beach. As we walked – well Captain G walked and I limped with my stick – half the distance of the beach from the beach pool to the far end we met up with the couple from the other boat. He was from Brisbane and his companion from Beijing. He was very talkative and said he was visiting the area again after many years. As we stood in the sand he told us stories of the once lessee of Middle Percy – a larger island just across the water from here – and how he (the lessee) went from being a terribly eccentric British person to being just plain wacko ..over 30 years mind you … before going back to England for good. After experiencing this lovely Australian tropical winter I think you’d have to be crazy to go back to England, of all places, once you lived here!
We said farewell and went back to our respective boats. Dinner, for us, was left over spinach cannelloni and a nice green salad with avocado topped off with a few glasses of red. Then off to bed.
Sunday, June 30, 2013 – The rocking of the boat wasn’t quite what you’d call gentle last night. The wind had come up strongly overnight and the morning found us rocking and rolling to increasing winds. This area – the Percy Islands – are famous for their beauty and whenever you talk to cruising sailors who have visited they all talk in terms of it being “one of their favourite places”. Yes, it’s very picturesque… but, as in the lovely Port Clinton, there is a set back to the “perfectness”. The anchorages are open to waves in any strong wind. In fact Alan Lucas in his cruising guide uses the terms “uncomfortable” and “abominable” to describe the area’s anchoring spots. Our experiences today are somewhere in the middle of that spectrum… not quite “abominable” but past “uncomfortable”.
When the rolling subsided a bit during the early afternoon the Captain launched the dingy and we moved over to the beach to stay for a while… and to experience firm ground for a while.
Let me just say something about the dingy. Normally I’m pretty agile in getting on and off the boat and into the bouncing rubber thing. However, when you add a foot that doesn’t work that well yet and my depleted confidence when trying to walk on both feet, I’m not a pretty sight leaving the boat! Because I don’t think I could kick the healing foot enough to swim we make sure I’m safely enclosed in a life jacket. Additionally I was told by the doctor before leaving Sydney, “no jumping into the dingy”, so I sit on the back transom with the good Captain holding the dingy as steady as he can (a pretty impossible task in these conditions) and then at the right moment I have to scoot my bottom in quickly. We’ve managed it so far without tears or shouting at each other… a plus!
The night wasn’t pleasant. Strong winds became the norm during the evening and the night …. where we were anchored was smack in the path of the rolling waves. They seem to catch the boat broadside and then toss us one way and then the other relentlessly. With few choices of places to move, and approaching dark, the decision was made to “cop it sweet” and stay put.
For dinner I made a Thai Green Chicken Curry which was so bloody hot I couldn’t stand to eat it! As I watched the Captain slurp his rice noodles his face turned a very bright scarlet colour – even more so than the sun kissed look he has been sporting – I could tell he loved it! We turned in after dinner hoping the v-berth would offer some solace from the rolling and tried to put on a movie. As will happen when things are JUST THAT BIT too much – the disc we wanted to see turned out to be a frickin’ Blu-Ray instead of DVD. That was it for me! I took two night strength Mersyndol and surprisingly slept pretty well – actually I passed out I think.
On to Cruising Update #3.......