Stolen Kiss

Stolen Kiss

August 29, 2013

Wonderful Whitsundays!

As we were now in the Whitsundays, it so happened that the highs were not so high being around 1022HP and hence we had 3 weeks of winds under 10 knots. Of course the two regattas, Airlie Beach Race Week and Hammo Is were both plagued with light winds.  For us, heaven on a stick!

From Shaw Island in the south of the Whitsundays we had stunning calm anchorages littered with whales and turtles! How good is that! We have mat many cruisers and enjoyed the walks.  The stunning Whitehaven beach was all that it lived up to and we stayed for 5 glorious days. It got little busy between 1000 and 1530 with tourists, but we had only a handful of boats there in between.

We walked the entire length of Whitehaven beach and back up, 10km in all which was a decent exercise. There were helicopters that had dropped their punters off at various places to get the experience of being on an isolated beach…they almost got what they paid for!

In the afternoons, yachties gather on the shore to do what we do….sundowners.

Peter, on his walks, would sing. A lovely thing to share but I suspect it was to scare away the snakes! He carries a spider stick to carefully remove the webs as we walk. The views and beaches we came across on our walks never failed to disappoint. We found many bush turkey mounds that were larger than Peter!

There was one day and night when winds over 20 knots were forecast so we decided to go into Nara Inlet, which offers all round protection. Peter said that he had sailed all those miles overseas, and he finds what he was looking for at Nara Inlet! Well almost! It is certainly a stunning anchorage with aboriginal art at its head. There were only a handful of boats there when we arrived and by nightfall we had over 40! The anchor lights twinkling provided our own little galaxy!

We climbed Whitsunday Peak...a lengthy and somewhat of a challenge, however when you have climbed Mt Kinabalu, anything is possible! The views, of course are worth it!

Hamilton Is in the background.

Outboard issues we had earlier (ie engine cutting out; not so good in a tidal race!) were solved with putting the fuel through the baha filter. Water in the fuel was the culprit! Old fuel left over the wet season with condensation inside the tank.

We have the VHF on scan to listen to the goings on and pick up any useful information. There is one yacht, Fluffy Muffy…whilst we thought we could not charter a boat with that name, Sam and Stu thought that would be fun!! It sounds as though the yachts here suffer from a lack of maintenance and punters who either do not have engine instruction or ignore it. Complaints about over heating engines is common…the cause…the engine being upset at being run over 3000rpm. We must admit that the charter operators at the other end of the VHF do have the patience of a saint, as they are very polite and patient!

Our venture into Airlie Beach was to meet Sam and Hitchhiker. Dave McCready (aka Macka) from FSC once again trucked HH over here. He is such a great guy who does his job with such a passion, and of course being a yachties, enjoys the history of HH. Outback Truckers, a Ch 7 program are doing a session on the journey here, being 10,000km. Dave and his escort Andy had a film crew with them the whole time. The first crew were apparently great as they had done filming in Afghanistan and various difficult places, but the Sydney city crew ….well, it sounds like they learnt a few things being with Dave and Andy! We look forward to seeing the program.

Airlie was in full swing with the Airlie Beach Regatta. There is a lagoon swimming pool on the beach which is open to the public. One thing is for sure, Queensland and its people are so welcoming to visitors and tourists and especially to yachties. Something that Perth could take on board.

In the afternoons a tiger moth entertained very brave souls with an acrobatic joy flight. it would buzz around the anchorage then on a dive, cut its engines for a while. Screams would errupt..not surprising. A little disconcerting when you are on the boat and hear the plane in the background then all of a sudden...silence! By the law of averages the engine will fail at some stage...hopefully when he is not above us!

Peter helped Sam put the boat together. With two other crew, it only took the boys 4 hours to complete the task. How amazing is that! When all was going smoothly, the foil broke as Sam unraveled it. This was Friday and racing starts on Sunday. Stu pulled a lot of strings with his contacts in Sydney and within 4 hours had a new foil flown up from Sydney to Hammo, with the owners meeting the plane at Hammo to collect it! Magic! There was only one foil in stock in Sydney!

We enjoyed Airlie..they do tourism, visiting yachts and regattas very well! Easy to get around and there is a bus to take us out to the large shopping centre at Canonvale to re-stock! We were soon off to Hammo, having a great sail there wth HH close behind.

The new club house at Hammo was an atention seeker!

HH, having won the inaugural Hamilton Is Race Week 30 years ago, was a special entry. They received a lot of well-deserved press and the Marina gave us a complimentary mooring for the week, along with a night in the marina for presentation night. We were not going to drift off on this mooring!

We were in good company out on the moorings!

The boys won many races during the week, culminating in 1st in Frist Fleet and 3rd in Performance 2. Given that the winds were in light airs, their effort was awesome!  Sam had organized the girls with their ‘Shore Things’ shirts and all in all, they got the best dressed! How could they not! We know Emma was there supporting Sam.

The 'thumb' was adopted by many people and as you went by in a croud, the thumb was the accepted gesture; at trophy presentation there would be always a group of guys with their thumbs in the air. Many people stopped by the boat to see her and everyone had many comments regarding how pleased they were ot see her back!

Peter and I sat at one of the social gatherings and looked at all the crew and their girls. We have not seen such a wonderful, happy group of people who all got along. They all share a great sense of humour and fun! Quite a rarity. We enjoyed getting to know them all better and were over the moon to be part of  race week. 

Sam's uniform won the best dressed yacht. We think it was the 'Shore Things' that was the icing on the cake!

Of course, having Macka drive the boat there..well, it would not have been the same without him. He takes an enormous amount of care with the boat and a lot of pride with it sharing in a bit of WA yachting history.

We are as proud as punch seeing what Sam has again achieved and appreciate the effort it takes to get the boat and all the crew here and back....not to mention out sailing! It was a special time for us spending time with the boys and their girls and are so proud to see them all grow into the amazing, wonderful adults that they are.

After one of the successful wins, the HH crew put a little dent in the Piper Heidieck champagne...which was very nice! Sam in his usual amusing manner helped Anita out with her photo!

The owner...he had a fantastic week as well....

We took the girls out to Whitehaven on one day and another to watch the windward /leeward racing, which HH outperformed a Whitbread 60! Macka came out and gave the girls an excellent running commentary the racing!

There was a lot of off water fun to be had, with the tug of war (HH won one lost one!) Of course with Audi being a sponsor there were a few cars Peter fancied!

We did have a little hiccup on leaving Hammo Marina as the engine lost power and blew out a lot of smoke and soot, the latter of which emptied out into the marina! Embarassed, we wanted to quickly get out of there!  The good thing is that we did not hit any boats! We finally got towed out of the marina to sail back to Airlie (3 days of good wind followed the end of race week!) but not before almost sinking the marina tender that towed us out! They forgot to release the back line and I bore away with the main up thinking they were free! OOPS! We turned back into the wind and released them!

Our return to Airlie saw the boys have the boat from the water packed on the truck in just under 4 hours! It did help with the crew taking necessary bits off at the conclusion of racing at Hammo. Of course the wind started to blow the day after race week ended!!

We will start to head south in a few days when the winds fall back to 10 knots, although there is a bit of a blow coming in the first week of September. Once around Yeppoon, some 140 miles south, the winds will be lighter as we get below the trades. Our plan is to enjoy the Great Sandy Straits before heading south to catch up with friends in Brisbane and Mooloolaba and finally on to Sydney by late November.

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