Tropical North Queensland, (Airlie Beach to Magnetic Island…)
After just two days in Airlie Beach we got a Sou’easterly breeze and it was anchors aweigh, out across Pioneer Bay between Double Cone Island and Armit Island sailing on a broad reach, turning to the west running with the wind we put up the spinnaker sail and headed for Gloucester Passage “Full Sail” !!!. Destination tropical Bowen “The Big Mango” if you’ve seen the Bruce Brown’s surf movie Endless Summer you’ll know what I’m talking about. Bowen is just 39 nautical miles from Airlie Beach but a different world. Arriving late afternoon, we tied off between two floating cans, (secure moorings) provided by Queensland Transport for $9.50 a night in the Bowen Boat Harbor. It was couple days before the Bowen Fishing Derby so the harbor was full of activity. Hiroko and I spent a few days here on our trip North two years ago, we both love this town of 8000 people, great beaches, fantastic fishing and no Seven/Elevens or corporate fast food outlets. Our last night in town we had to check out the North Queensland Cruising Yacht Club for sundowners.
Bowen to Cape Upstart is 45 nautical miles; Sailing around the headland along Kings Beach schools of fish were jumping and dolphins chasing baitfish….I had two pink squids and a silver spoon trolling behind Areté at 6~7 knots feeling lucky…It was a great day on the water, calm seas and just enough wind for a comfortable sail North. About mid~day crossing Abbot Bay, 8 miles offshore I had a huge strike that hit my lure like a freight train, took the pink squid, wire leader and didn’t even slow down…As I was reeling in my line I saw a sea snake coming right at us…It was at least 8 feet long, two tones of brown and absolutely no fear...He was awesome, I’ve heard they are either curious or aggressive, he sure looked like he was on the attack, but attacking a 11 meter catamaran ? This encouraged me to investigate (I’ve got lots of books on board) = There are 32 reported species of sea snakes here in Northern Queensland, all poisonous. As I researched further I found out Australia has more things that will kill you than anywhere else….
Of the worlds 10 most poisonous snakes, all are Australian!
We have five creatures; the funnel-web spider, box jellyfish, blue ringed octopus, paralysis tick and stonefish are all most lethal of their type on the planet.
80% of all that lives here; plant & animals exists nowhere else on earth.
I’m not even going to talk about sharks or salt water crocidiles…
Cape Upstart to Cape Bowling Green 39 nautical miles,
The Nor’easterly wind caused us to anchor tucked way back in Upstart Bay trying to get some protection. A nice rain in the middle of the night gave Areté a nice bath and made for good sleeping. The following morning was grey, cloudy and breezy, but that’s what makes the boat go, so we did and it was truly a great sail! I lost another lure early in the day and later sighted a couple big sharks swimming along the surface, before landing a nice School Mackerel (between 2 and 3 feet long). It was one of those near perfect days sailing, one of my best days!!!!
Cape Bowling Green is like a long sandy finger that sticks out into the Coral Seas it’s the lowest cape on the coast. By the time we got around it and got the anchor down the wind was blowing pretty hard (a solid 15~20 knots, gusting higher). The Townsville weather forecast at 5:15pm said we could expect a couple days with 20 knot winds so we let out a bunch of anchor chain and settled in for some down time….There is always something to do on this boat, Areté is a great boat but you can’t just expect perfection without putting in lots of TLC. It kind of fun and when you fix something it feels good, makes ya feel intelligent, also that pride of ownership is a great feeling.
A couple days of beachcombing, as this is a long way from anywhere and except for cruising yachties Cape Bowling Green gets no footprints on it’s beach. This leaves lots to see and shell collecting is excellent here.
The following day Tuesday Sept.25th in light winds, we sailed around Cape Cleveland into Horseshoe Bay at Magnetic Island 39 nautical miles. No fish but another huge strike and lost my favorite lure...O~well that's what it's called fishing not catching I guess....
Captain Cook named this island when he visited in1770 thinking it had magnetic powers as it effected his ships compass.