Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Resort of the Damned - and More Windy Weather

If you recall from my last post, we were stuck in Mackay Marina for a week due to the weather – it was blowing a steady 25 to 30 knots all day every day and every night without a break.  On Saturday things looked promising with a forecast minimal decrease in wind strength so everyone in our group decided it was time to move on.  The decision was not totally a wind issue but borne of the urge by everyone to get out of the confines of the marina and move northward again. 

So early on Saturday morning, July 13, with the wind still blowing hard and black rain squalls moving in to dump some quick rain and then travel off to the horizon we all left Mackay Marina.   Bogart and Nirvana’s Kitchen left very early, then Whimaway and then it was our turn.  I must fess up here … I was doing everything I could to delay the inevitable…. taking the key back, finding rubbish bags to be taken to the bin, complaining about how I didn’t think the weather had improved … but at 9:00 Captain G said we were going.
The term “going” is as difficult sometimes for Southern Belle as for me.  Bless her, she just can’t back up worth a damn and high winds and crowded marinas make the task that much more difficult.  I’ve used the term “hair raising” before and it’s applicable here.  We went out backwards only to be pushed around by the wind into an entirely different direction.  I could elaborate about the goings on, but I won’t except to say thank goodness for the two empty berths downwind of us.  Captain G, with steely determination, managed to manoeuvre SB into them backwards and then get the boat pointed he right way and out we went!  I swear by the time we get back to Sydney and our home I will have lost at least 5 years off my life from the sheer stress of marina ins and outs.
With Brampton Island our destination, out we went between the high rocky walls of the manmade boat harbour into the wild grey sea with another squall almost on top of us.  It was awful.  I made one attempt to say to the Captain, “let’s go back, please”, which was met with the expected, “No, we’re out now!”  And off we went slamming through the swell and chop with the rain belting down.  It got a tiny bit better when we turned with the wind behind us but the sea was so wild after days of strong wind that I wasn’t the least bit embarrassed to call the Brampton Island cruise the way I saw it, “it sucked!”
We weren’t the only ones feeling the wrath of the sea.  Both Bogart and Nirvana’s Kitchen who originally planned to sail out to Scawfell Island – further away and with more of the wind and sea on the beam – were at Brampton when we arrived.  We were all really tired so Saturday night was spent on the boat settling down after a pretty rough trip.  The decision was to do the 8 km walk on Brampton the next day as a group.
Brampton Island was once a major resort destination.  It first opened in 1933 and operated as a major resort over the years with many “notable” celebrities staying there including the English rock group ‘The Police’.  The island came to grief eventually with a murder in 1983 and a few small plane crashes (the result of the island’s tiny airstrip).  Then it closed…no real fanfare.  Even searches on the internet still reveal accommodation deals.
Brampton Island in its heyday.
Now the resort on Brampton is only for the damned … those cursed enough to wander forever the desolate lanes, stay in the cyclone destroyed rooms and swim in the abandoned pools.  Well that may be a bit melodramatic but it sure looks like that now!
Brampton of the freshwater pools.
Nothing anywhere but weeds and coconuts.
There were a lot of kangaroos on Brampton... and they were huge with absolutely no fear.   They would just stand there and look at you and then eventually move out of your way.  Very disconcerting.
As a group we wandered down an overgrown road from a still standing dock to the once famed resort.  The first thing I said was, “This would be a great place to film a zombie movie!”  As we stood on one of the overgrown pathways – that would have once been beautiful – we were confronted by the only caretaker on the island.  He had an aggressive demeanour at first, it is still private property with signs all over, but with our friendly talk he soon came around and gave us a lot of information about the place.  He did say that there are those who want to bring it back to its former glory... but frankly I can’t see it.  The place is so run down it would cost millions to make it habitable – and marketable - again.
We had drinks that night on Southern Belle.  A good night and all decided we would go to Thomas Island - only 2 hours away -the next day.  Of course the wind and the waves were still crazy.  The nights – we spent two - on Brampton were both bouncy and uncomfortable.  Monday morning greeted us with more squally showers and strong gusts.  The sail wasn’t too bad and on arrival at Thomas the sun was shining and the water was the most astonishingly turquoise blue.   By this time we were 4 boats – Whimaway had joined us at Thomas – so it was decided to have drinks on the beach in the early afternoon.  We had a good catch up and all went back to our individual boats for the night.  And what a night.  Strong winds, rain and howling winds.  It was all starting to get me down.  I really want – and need – some pleasant weather and a flat anchorage.

Drinks on Thomas Island before the next rain squall.
All the crews on Thomas island.
This morning – Wednesday, July 17 – Southern Belle and her 3 companions left early for the short (1 hour or so) trip to Shaw Island.  And what a good move it turned out to be!  This bay we’re in is huge and is the most sheltered so far since we left Mackay.  We had planned to have a shared lunch on the beach and what a great idea that turned out to be!  It was almost celebratory.  A great get together with good food and wonderful people….a fun Sandy Rendezvous!  Leon, from Nirvana’s Kitchen, created a game on the beach made up of tossing beach coral.  Sharon (from Bogart) and I won!!!  Go the girls.
Our Sandy Rendezvous lunch!
Checking out the places in Coral Tossing!
The Shaw Island Coral Tossing champions!
We may stay here tomorrow.  It will be so nice to have a night’s sleep without being tossed around.


  1. You had me laughing at your description of marina exits...I so understand..the grey hairs are popping out all over my head.

  2. Hey! I know...marina stress is bad. Where are you? I haven't checked your blog today but I did yesterday and you hadn't updated. Write something soon! Looking forward to hear more from the Escape Pod. Hope you're all 3 well and happy.