Where do we start? it's been a crazy few months since the last update and the Brisbane to Gladstone. The day after we arrived in Gladstone I flew to New Zealand and did a delivery back to Australia. We sailed into Sydney then onto the Whitsunday Islands finally stopping in Cairns. After this I was able to get back to Spirit in Gladstone where I did some minor renovations to make the trip north a little more comfortable. It was well overdue and to now have more room on the interior and a kind of dodgy double bed made a world of difference. Sleeping on Spirit has been an ordeal it's not too bad but it's definitely not what one would call comfortable. Now she has a foam mattress and there is enough room for two people on the interior to sleep in relative comfort ;-)
It took roughly three days to get the interior done. After this we departed Gladstone and headed north to Great Keppel Island. The first day out was amazing just a really light breeze from the north east and Spirit was away sitting on 8kts in totally flat water, just the way we like it! We did the trip from Gladstone to Keppel in easy time and were able to pull into Keppel Island and drop the anchor by sunset. Unfortunately the weather wasn't to stay in for long and the following day we had some light rain and strong winds from the south east. The forecast didn't look good either it was setting in and there was a trough that looked to be sitting over us for the following few days.
After a couple of crappy nights sleep with the boat slapping from side to side we sailed over the Keppel Bay Marina where we got a berth for a day and night. What a great decision that was! A super nights sleep fresh case of cold beer and some more supplies made things look a heap brighter. The following morning we made a run for it up to Pearl Bay where we thought we would get some protection from the wind and waves. What a sail up! we had a constant 25-28kts with short steep seas and Spirit was off like a train. She loves that angle just aft of the beam as most boats do and with the short seas she was happy sitting on anything from 14-18kts constantly surfing and overtaking waves.
We spent a really nice few days in Pearl Bay where the rain continued but with less consistency and where we were able to get Spirit right up into the corner of the bay. We put out the stern anchor and removed the centerboard and rudder which allowed us to virtually beach the boat. It was awesome, really calm and we were the only boat there in the bay. A few days later we were joined by two other cruising boats and upon meeting them we all had a great BBQ ashore and enjoyed each others company. The wind looked as though it was going to ease a touch so after five days in Pearl Bay we again made a run for it in better weather this time to the Percy Islands. I have been to the Percy Islands many times cruising as a child with my parents and later on helping them sail their other cruising boats up the coast. It's a magic place and one that brings back so many fond memories each time I go there. This trip proved no different. We had a super sail up again with strong south east trades and decided to make things easy we would just use one of the spinnakers to get up there. We had about 20-25kts constantly and used our middle sized shute for the duration sitting on anywhere from 12-22kts. It was awesome and so much fun putting away the miles so fast and getting there just after lunch! We did the 60nm in 5 hours anchor to anchor, which is not back for a little cruising tri.
Upon reaching Percy where we were the only yacht in the bay. We went ashore and did the walk to the homestead. We also heard from Cate and John about the new Percy Island Yacht Club, which we promptly bought a life membership to. The money will go to the insurance that is now required of them. Sounds like a lot of bureaucratic BS to me and it's one reason I love living on Spirit and sailing as you can normally get away from all that but we heard how Cate nearly lost the Island, read all about the rich history of it and their plans of doing it all up in the future. They have already put a huge amount of time and money into restoring the homestead and I recommend anyone that is heading past either north or south to pop in and join the club as Percy Island is a gem of a place and one that has an incredible history within the cruising community.
We lazed around for days at North Percy Island. Did some good mud crabbing in the lagoon and also managed to help out around the A-frame clearing the overgrown garden areas and helping to tidy up the BBQ area, which was fun and it was nice to be able to help out. We tried our luck trawling a few times in the mornings up and down the coast but had no luck catching anything. It was lucky though as a little fishing boat that came out for the day and night managed to catch a good load of fish as passed some off to us.
Our new stand up paddle boards came in handy and each day we paddled around the lagoon and into the beach. With the large tides it's much easier dragging up your paddle board compared to your dinghy and we made good use of this. We meet a great cruising character called Kerry who joined us for a BBQ ashore and was kind enough to have us onboard one evening for dinner. All in all we really enjoyed Percy and found it incredibly hard to leave. It's one of those places that makes you feel at home and if you have the weather to spend a few days ashore and explore there is so much to be found here, it's a must!
We pulled ourselves away from the spell of the Percy's after five days and headed to the Whitsundays. We had an awesome weather forecast with super light south southwest winds and thought we'd make the most of it. We departed Percy at about eight at night and sailed through the night to Whitehaven where we meet up with our old cruising friends on Kappa. They had arrived a week earlier on their way north to Darwin where they're going to join the Cruise Indonesia Rally. After a night of sailing we arrived just after lunch. A great run up through the night flat seas and about 10-12kts of wind just off the quarter giving us a nice 6-10kts the whole way up to Whitehaven. We managed to sail right through Solway Passage and anchored just off the beach.
Doing the trip through the night takes it out of you a little so we anchored right up in the Southern end of the beach where the waters flat and had a nice swim and paddle on the boards. A little stroll ashore and then headed to Kappa to enjoy some of the mud crabs we had caught the day before at the Percy's. We had an early night and then the next day we spent exploring Hill Inlet and Tongue Point two of my favourite places in the area. After two days relaxing and enjoying the area it was off to the top of Hook Island where we had a snorkel at Manta-ray Bay before motoring around the Stonehaven for the night. Up early the next day and off to Nara was the plan. With light winds we thought we'd tuck in there and enjoy the glass out that you get right up in the end in the mornings. We weren't disappointed either and upon awakening in the morning we found the water to be a mirror and the perfect place for a nice long paddle. It's not often your the only boat i Nara but Kappa and Spirit enjoyed having the place to ourselves a real treat!
Kappa joined us here as well and we took them for a walk to the Aboriginal Caves and beyond to the lookout and creek. This trail is now over grown but was once a great walking track. I guess National Parks didn't agree and have stopped the trail now at the Aboriginal Caves, which is a shame as the lookout and creek are both gorgeous area to be visited. If you don't mind a good trek through the bush it's another little surprise that Nara has to offer. Later in the afternoon we wrestled with the oysters on the rocks, managing to get enough for us to enjoy a few with wine later on and were visited on Kappas back deck by the local Cockatoos whom had no problem coming close enough to be hand fed. Early the next morning we up anchored and headed into Airlie Beach where we now are based for the next few months. We plan on doing some work to Spirit to ready her for the next leg up into and through Asia. Who know's where we'll end up?
Spirit's base will now be in the Able Point Marina where we have a berth for the next two months. We hope to compete in the Airlie Beach race week and then to head up inside the reef before heading out from Thursday Island to Indonesia.
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