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

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Lizard Island to Mackay – Leaving the Queensland Far North Behind

It was just after sunrise when we raised anchor. Watson Bay was already looking empty as many boats had left by now and were underway a bit ahead of us. Even with a promising weather forecast, many of us did not have a certain destination, waiting to see how the weather conditions unfolded before deciding how far south we could get. 

We couldn't have hoped for better conditions, it was a great sail day with our course south and light ESE winds. Just before sunset, we reached Hope Islands. There was still enough light to enter and spend the night there and we could hear the chat in VHF with most of the boats that left Lizard that morning stopping there.  Without hesitation, we decided to keep going and take advantage of the very mild conditions that usually do not last very long around this area. By sunset the wind had died, which was fantastic as now our course was SSE. Zenitude became a trawler with no sails happily motoring thru the night.

We made it all the way to Russel Island arriving at noon the following day.  It is a fantastic place if you can grab a mooring and the snorkel is superb. There was nobody there. The forecast confirmed we’ve done a good decision, the SE winds were starting to pick up again north of us, while very calm weather would stay with us as we kept going south.

Next morning we left with the sunrise at 5.00 AM and by 1.30 PM were reaching Dunk Island. At this point fresh supplies on board were low and having heard from other yachties that it was possible to anchor at Mission Beach and walk to a Woolies nearby,  we decided to try it.  There is also a Caltex petrol station, which was perfect to restock on diesel. Google Earth helped us find a good spot to anchor, with the petrol station and the supermarket just about two blocks from the beach.

Anchor Waypoint 17 54.1340 S 146 05.9580 E - Careful with the tides!
Mission Beach is exposed to ENE winds but it was calm at the time. Down went the dinghy loaded with empty fuel jerry cans and we landed in the beach. It is a wide flat beach with firm sand but the tides are quite big so you need to be aware of this when you anchor as well as where you leave the dinghy.

Mission Beach - Gone shopping -  Dunk Island behind
In any case we did not leave the dinghy unattended and poor Oscar did all the shopping while I enjoyed a quiet time along the beach. I spoke with some locals who told me it is quite common to see boaties do this and you can leave your dinghy and shopping unattended as there hasn’t been any problems in the area. Nevertheless, I stayed around and enjoyed the resting time. Two hours later shopping was done and the dinghy was super loaded with all the shopping and the heavy jerry cans (5 of 20 liters each).

By now we were running against time as a north easterly wind had decided to start picking up. The result was a not so friendly swell invading the beach. Looking at the loaded dinghy and the waves coming in and starting to break, raised some concern, to say the least. Somehow we managed, somehow we put the loaded dinghy in the water, turn it around, Oscar turned the engine on quickly with me holding the dinghy in position and somehow I managed to jump in at the right time. This is something to consider before you go shopping. You can get in big trouble with tides and wind and you have to be ready to leave at short notice before conditions get ugly.

Zenitude was jumping up and down at her anchor and unloading the dinghy was another big task. We finished completely soaked but the food was safe and the fuel stored on deck. The holding there is excellent but we happily raised anchor and crossed to Dunk Island were we finally could relax.  

The next day being Sunday we decided to have a rest from our travels and go for lunch on the beach at the Sunset Bar to enjoy once again their super fresh prawns dish.

Prawns and Coronas for lunch

The Sunset Bar at Dunk Island

After a splendid Sunday we raised anchor next morning before sunrise and reached Orpheus in the Palm Islands early afternoon. All the Pioneer Bay moorings were taken so we kept going down to Juno Bay where we anchored for the night. The bottom there is coral ruble and the anchor took a while to set. It was a fantastic quiet full moon night. The weather kept holding well and so far the feared trip south was going quite smoothly, a great thing if you don't mind all the motoring.

 Full moon and all quiet in Juno Bay
Next day was an excellent run as Zenitude motor sailed in light winds. Taking advantage of a favorable current in the Whitsundays we made it all the way to Shaw Island to anchor in Billbob Bay, a place we haven't been before. It is protected from the NE and the night was completely motionless, which was a good thing as the anchor here was hard to set, the guide says there is a sand bottom but the anchor noise dragging at the bottom indicated a kind of coral rubble again.

We were in luck with the time of the tides for the final leg and arrived next day at Mackay marina with the wind starting to pick up. It was a good sail again and by noon we were securely tied at the docks. Our sailing season ended in a great way and now it was time to get ready for another working season.

Zenitude will stay out of the water securely tied to the ground waiting for the end of the cyclone season in April. Plans for next year on the making.