Welcome to Zenitude’s blog where you can follow us while we travel slow in our Lagoon catamaran. We update this blog frequently when we are cruising to let family and friends know where we are. Check the complete story of our adventures that started in 2006 when Zenitude became our home and cruising our way of life. Graciela and Oscar

Friday, 31 October 2014

Back in the Whitsundays

After spending a couple of days in Hamilton and about a week in Airlie to provision we were ready to leave marina life behind, so when the weather improved we happily left the docks for a week around the islands.

Previous time in the Whitsundays we missed Whitehaven Beach. This time we wanted to make sure we wouldn't miss it so we headed there after spending a night in Stonehaven.

Such an amazing beach we were glad we made it this time. You can anchor almost anywhere alongside the beach but the most protected area is towards the south end. The problem is this part of the beach is totally crowded with day visitors, including the little seaplanes that bring couples for a romantic time at the beach. Our strategy worked out well by spending daytime at anchor in the isolated places and going back to the good anchorage for the night. We found that by evening this place is usually quiet, except for the camping area that seems to have visitors most of the time. 


A romantic setting at the beach

Zeni and the clear waters of Whitehaven

A view from the inlet at the end of the beach
We had about 8 days before my flight to Sydney to go back to work and we spent these last days going to places we missed when we came up. The wind was mainly from the NNE this time so we visited anchorages that are not available in the predominant SE winds. The weather was lovely, the places a lot less crowded this time of the year and we sailed to more remote places visiting White Bay in Haslewood island, Plantation Bay in Lindeman Island and the highlight of the week, Thomas Island.

And then the week was over and we headed back to spend the last night at Turtle Bay before going to Hamilton marina. Zenitude will stay here for a month, while we wait for our dear American friends John and Anne from Livin’ the Dream that will be visiting Australia and join us for some more of Whitsundays sailing towards the end of November. 


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Going South – Time to start heading back

Palm Isles is as far north as we go this season. Visiting Cairns, Lizard and the reef around there will have to wait for next season as it’s time to start heading south.

We leave Orpheus heading back to Magnetic Island, just for a good night of sleep. Very early next morning we left towards the South. Forecast was just for a couple of days ENE before the return of the south easterlies so we decided we could stop at Cape Bowling Green for one night. What a beautiful quiet and peaceful anchorage, with right weather of course. It’s a very wide bay with a long beach and several fishing motor boats around being quite close to Townsville. No other cruisers tonight. Oscar decided to try fishing and soon enough he caught a wonderful fish. It was big enough for several dinners.

Cape Bowling Green

Next day we left for an overnight towards Gloucester Passage, with the idea to get a mooring at the ECO resort and wait there for the next window to keep going south, but after a quiet overnight crossing we arrived at the ECO resort to find the moorings untenable in northerly swell. We went around and anchored in Breakfast Bay which was calm and protected however the forecast was not good for the area and we left soon after catching up on some sleep. It must have been a good decision as it was an exodus of cruising boats; I think we were one of the last to leave. Early that afternoon we arrived at Hamilton Marina where we decided to stay for a couple of days to fix the lazy jack, provision and hide from southerly change and strong winds.

So now, here we are, back in the Whitsundays. 


Friday, 10 October 2014

Orpheus Island – Giant clams and a full moon eclipse

We’ve been recommended not to miss this place and we were not disappointed, it is an outstanding bay, with a nice little beach that you can’t reach at low tide as there is a large fringing reef all along the coast. The beach has a little camping area and a track to climb and check out the views on the other side of the island.

On the next high tide we hoped on the dinghy and went to visit this nice little beach. To our surprise we found the warnings not only about stingers (no surprise) but crocs too! There are mangroves on one side of the island and that might appeal to these salty creatures. Neither of them was on sight. 

Be aware stingers and crocs

A camping area

Not far, on the next bay is where James Cook University Research Station is. It’s just a dinghy ride away and we decided to go and check it out.

The manager from the station gave us a great welcome and a tour of their station which provides facilities to the university students to work on their research projects. They provide accommodation as well. We also met a girl currently working on a project to find out more about a decease affecting some of the reef. All quite interesting.

They told us to come back next day at low tide. With the full moon spring tides, the low tide is indeed VERY low and you can walk around the reef to see the giant clams out of the water, spitting water when you touch them.  So we did as we were told and came back next day. Apart from the amazing clams we saw lots of rays and small sharks quietly swimming in very shallow waters, as we stood very still for a while letting them approach quite close to us. We were not able to do much about the ‘click’ noise of the camera that scared them away in a big rush.

The very low tides and the reef

Giant Clam

Giant Clams are closed when out of the water

Small clam opened, under water

Many clams all together

A small ray
It'll grow bigger

That night was a full moon night and a full moon eclipse as well. 

The night was incredible calm and clear as we witnessed the full moon eclipse just on top of the island hills. 

As the eclipse completes, the moon turns red, just a magical evening.

Moon eclipse starts

A perfect red moon


Monday, 29 September 2014

A trip to the Rib Reef - The Slashers

From the many reefs in the Slashers we were recommended to go to Rib Reef as it has a lagoon with good sandy patches quite safe to spend the night in settled weather. 

The reef is beautiful, the lagoon easy to enter and anchor. As we approached we could see there were already other boats in there. We used waypoint: 18.28.531S 146.51.874E to enter the lagoon and going carefully around coral patches found a sandy area to anchor in about 4 meters depth at: 18.28.828S 146.52.099E

It was a perfect day for the reef and soon we were snorkeling with many fish around and some small black tip sharks, as usual patrolling the reef. There were also turtles around. 

We found a drawback to this reef the next morning when a couple of professional fishermen boats where at anchor and cleaning the night’s catch fish. The problem was that now there were plenty of very excited sharks in the lagoon in a feeding frenzy, we decided we would skip the morning snorkel tour.

We would have like to visit some other reefs in the Slashers but the weather was not promising a good quiet night so we decided to head towards Great Palm Islands instead and check out Orpheus Island where you can stay either at anchor or on one of the visiting moorings available in Little Pioneer Bay. 

At anchor in Rib Reef

Plenty of fish coming to check us out

Looking for lobster?

Pretty star fish

Waters are clear and the reef is quite pretty


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Magnetic Island - Do we ever want to leave?

Arriving in Magnetic Island we anchored in Horseshoe Bay, our first impression was wow, what a fantastic anchorage. Our first trip to shore was not disappointing either and the first ice cream in the Italian ice cream shop was the best we had in a long time. All indicated we wanted to spend a good time around here.

Since then we’ve been around between Townsville and Maggie (as it is known to locals) for over a month. You can visit the island with the local bus that sells a daily ticket so that you can hope in an out of the bus anywhere you want to visit. There is a golf course for Oscar to play and many moderate level walking tracks with amazing views as the island is very hilly. There are more than 20 bays and each of them with a beautiful beach, some with easy access while others feel like a huge reward after a tough walking up and down the tracks.   The ferry service to Townsville is quite good and in 20 minutes you can be there if you need more serious shopping as the island has 2 reasonable well provisioned supermarkets (or rather ‘food markets’).

In Horseshoe Bay, the most popular anchorage, there are picnic facilities on shore and water is available, you can fill your water jugs if you run short of water. We’ve seen many boats that seem to be permanently at anchor there.

In Nelly Bay there is a new marina. Facilities are not great as there are still trying to improve them but the place is beautiful, the scenery fantastic and the location very convenient next to town and the ferry terminal, without forgetting that prices are very reasonable and the people in the marina quite accommodating.

 One afternoon in Horseshoe Bay we were happy to welcome Tortuguita, with Dave and Booker, our long-time friends.  We spent several days with their company and shared ice cream and pizza nights. Dave as always was a great help when our outboard engine refused to keep going until a new impeller was installed.

We were hoping to do some sailing together to the middle reef but the weather was late to cooperate and they had to start their trip back south and as Tortuguita sailed south we left Maggie towards the north and the Slashers Reef.  We left Magnetic Island behind knowing it will most probably be a sure stopover on the way back when we finally decide to start our trip south before the start of cyclone season. 

Beautiful Magnetic Island in pictures: 


Friday, 29 August 2014

Townsville, a lively town

It finally felt like summer when we arrived at Breakwater Marina in Townsville with Emi and Edu on a sunny Friday prior to their departure flight on the following Tuesday. After taking care of Emi’s hurting with the bad fall and after a subsequent doctor’s check-up we were ready to explore a bit of town with our rental car.

One of the things high on the list for our friends was a visit to a wild life reserve, so on Saturday we headed to Billabong Sanctuary where we spent a wonderful day feeding and learning habits of Australian wildlife. This park is very well organized with shows and talks scheduled in a way that allows you to cover all the park animals in a relaxed and enjoyable way. It’s been a long time since we visited one of these parks; it was nice to do this again.

At the Billabong Sanctuary:
Emi's first encounter with Mr. Kangaroo

Black cockatoo

A sweet wombat

Sleepy koala

Mom kangaroo
Feeding with delicious sunflower seeds

Next day we all went for a walk around Rock Pool, an interesting public salt water swimming pool with picnic and park facilities for kids. It was a bit windy and not many people were around but quite a good place for families to hang about with their kids.

Rock Pool

Rock Pool is not far from the Jezzine Barracks and Kissing Point area where we walked along the coastal boardwalk. Here you can appreciate aboriginal as well as non-aboriginal artwork. Some of the artwork addresses the military history of the site and the important role of Townsville in time of war. We climbed to the top of Kissing Point where there is a fort with observation decks that have incredible views over to Magnetic Island. We spent a bit of time reading some of the many brass plaques describing significant people and events during WWII. Until now we didn’t realize the importance role that Townsville played in various wars over time.

Our friends left and we finished various routine boring tasks and now are ready to leave the marina life and go back to Horseshoe Bay to explore Magnetic Island.


Thursday, 21 August 2014

From the Whitsundays to Townsville. Going around with our friends.

Our friends Emi and Eduardo arrived from Argentina and we spent the first 3 days hiding in Abbel Point Marina in Airlie Beach waiting for the weather to clear before heading out to the Whitsundays.

Luckily once that weather cleared we had 10 fantastic days and were able to take our friends anywhere they wanted to go including Bait and Hook Reef where we spent an outstanding time before heading to Magnetic Island.

Their time on board Zenitude is almost over and tomorrow we are heading to Townsville, the last port before they catch a flight to Sydney, their next vacation destination.
Emi and Edu
Beautiful Whitsundays

Black Island
Napoleon, our pet in Bait Reef

Hook Reef in a calm day

Magnetic Island

Horseshoe Bay in Magnetic Island 

At anchor in Horseshoe Bay