April 30, 2012
If you are ever near Townsville, make time to visit Magnetic Island. This place, which appears to be made of rocks piled upon rocks, is lovely. Most of the island is national park, so there is only one main road, 10k long. For $7 you can get a day pass for the local bus and travel back and forwards, getting off and on when you please. Or you can walk. There are stops at each little township, and near some of the walking tracks. A real highlight for us was seeing a koala bear sitting in a tree along one of the walkways. It looked very sleepy, and had hardly moved when we stopped for another look on our way back.
Our haulout in Townsville was not without incident. With Recluse on the cradle, being pulled gently up out of the water, there were a couple of bumps which didn’t feel right at all. One side of the cradle on the slipway had come off the track, so we had to stay there until the tide went out, and a crane was used to help it back on track.
Our first priority was to check out a small hole Steve had discovered under the bathroom floor and get it fixed. but a bigger scare emerged when Steve noticed diesel leaking out. When I say holes, we are talking very small ones, in case you are imagining huge gaping chasms. Steve was happy with the diesel tank, when he drilled a 50ml hole and discovered there was only one little pinhole with good thick steel all around. He has kept the piece as a memento. It did mean though, that the tank had to be drained before it could be welded.
With all repairs done and the antifoul put on, we were back in the water after 4 days. It was after 9pm before we were put back in the water, so we anchored outside the breakwater before sailing back to Magnetic island the next day.
Next stop was Palm Island, about 30 nm north. We had planned to sail, but with no wind, and the sea like a mirror, motoring it had to be. Palm Island is an Aboriginal community and permission is required to land there. This being the case, we did not go ashore, just anchored there for the night. The following day we had a lovely slow sail through the nearby islands. There was a light breeze which only just kept us moving. Big fish were leaping out of the water, but not looking at the lure Steve was dragging behind us. A dozen dolphins joined us briefly before continuing on their way.
Eventually we arrived at Little Pioneer Bay on Orpheus Island, where we stayed a couple of days. Got off the track while returning from a walk and spent some time looking for it. Eventually went back up the hill to find the start of the track again. I did not enjoy meeting a huge spider during this exercise. Another boat came into the bay shortly after us, and our new neighbour came to visit. They had caught a huge mackerel along the way and were sharing it around. It was lovely.
From Orpheus Island we sailed back to the mainland and entered the Hinchinbrook Channel. This is the waterway that separates HinchinbrookIsland from the mainland. It is like a river, lined with mangroves with big creeks branching off all along the way. ‘Crocodile country’.