1: Glassed out at Fitzroy Reef
|Our Dreamtime anchored in Fitzroy Reef with Sea Whiskers at sundown.|
We negotiated the narrow channels to exit Pancake Creek in the pre-dawn light by closely following our own GPS track. If we didn’t run aground coming in we were not likely to hit bottom going out exactly the same way. The full moon was yet to set in the West and the sun made an appearance over the opposite horizon as we cleared the rocks of Clews Point and pointed our bow North East. Our destination was an anchorage inside the coral lagoon at Fitzroy Reef, 35 Nautical Miles off the coast. Once clear of Bustard Head we silenced the motor and let our sails push us along at a comfortable five and a half to six knots. The ten knot wind was square on the beam while the swell was reasonably mild and the sun was shining. What more could anyone ask?
The entrance to the lagoon is very narrow and curves through with the menacing coral coming up near vertical to protrude above water level except at high tide. We timed our arrival for just after midday so the sun would be high in the sky providing the clearest view of the coral below the water.
By now the water inside the lagoon had totally glassed out and in very short order we were heading off to the reef to snorkel. The fish life was abundant and though the reef has suffered from some bleaching there were plenty of healthy colourful specimens to view. We spent a few hours in the gloriously clear turquoise waters transfixed with the world below the surface.
|Snorkelling inside the lagoon at Fitzroy Reef|
After hot showers we settled on deck with a bottle of bubbles and a fine selection of cheeses and experienced one of THE most amazing sunsets we have ever seen. It seemed to last for hours with the sky altering its spectacular display constantly. Nothing could be more romantic or could it?
|Enjoying sundowners we had no idea of the magic Fitroy Reef was about to weave.|
It was one of the most incredible experiences we had ever shared in our lives.
2: Naked Nirvana- Hummocky Island
|Karen sketching in the shade on the beach at Hummocky Island|
Imagine strolling naked in the warm sun, hand in hand across a golden sand beach, slipping beneath the surface of crystal clear, azure blue water to cool off as small waves lap the shore of your own uninhabited tropical island miles from any other human being. That, and so much more was what we delighted in experiencing at the amazing Hummocky Island, the first of our romantic anchorages north of the Tropic of Capricorn.
After dropping anchor in the small bay and freshening up with nice hot showers it was time to celebrate reaching the tropics. Right on cue, a near full moon appeared over the trees to welcome us and we popped a special bottle of champagne given to us by a good friend before we left to save for the right occasion. Thanks John, the Bollinger was outstanding. It went down very nicely in our new found serenity. Not to be out done by the moon, the sun then put on a dazzling display setting behind the western point to put a lovely full stop on our day.
Next morning we were engrossed by the sight of a number of humpback whales putting on a display of aerial acrobatics for us just beyond the island’s western point. We witnessed synchronised breaches with two and three whales leaping high out of the water at the same time before falling back generating huge splashes. Tail waving was also a popular trick as was slapping the water repeatedly with their huge fins. The show lasted almost an hour before the pod submerged and swam on.
|There were no lack of succulent oysters on the rocks on the point.|
|Fresh oysters, cheese, crackers and bubbles of course.|
3: Hexham Island - Another uninhabited tropical paradise all to ourselves.
|Our Dreamtime in the tranquillity of Hexham Island|
After a peaceful night at anchor, we awoke shortly after sunrise to the sound of chicks squawking loudly in their nest high on a rock outcrop directly behind Our Dreamtime’s stern. The brood was raucously letting their mother know they were hungry and ready for more food. Once more we had a private tropical paradise all to ourselves and we were going to make the most of it. The coffee was soon brewing and a quick breakfast prepared and enjoyed in the sunshine on the aft deck as we planned our day in paradise.
|Nesting birds were our only neighbours at Hexham Island.|
|The climb above the beach was well worth the effort for the views.|
|Time to cool off after our hike.|
|Decadence on the beach|
|Karen with the sketch pad out again on Hexham Island|
When we finally ventured back on board we were treated to another spectacular sunset and agreed, our magical day had firmly put Hexham Island well up on our favourite romantic anchorage list.
4: Marcona Inlet - Special Occasions can be very special when cruising
|Our private beach in Marcona Inlet on Hook Island in the Whitsundays.|
We had been holed up in the Whitsunday’s Cid Harbour for a week while a strong south easterly wind blew and rain fell. Although intermittent showers were persisting, at last the wind was settling down. Naturally we were keen to move on but Rob was especially so. The following day was our Anniversary and surrounded by dozens and dozens of charter boats in Cid Harbour was not where he wanted us to be.
We have always tried to make birthdays and particularly our anniversary special events in our lives. We started a tradition on our 10th anniversary when Rob organised a three day break as surprise for Karen. Each year after that it became Rob’s mission to organise surprise anniversary celebrations for Karen.
In the nearly two decades since, we have popped the champagne cork to celebrate another year of marriage in Paris, Bali, the ski fields of New Zealand, Hawaii, Ibiza, Rome and many fantastic places in between. Once we began our cruising life we wondered if we would have to forego this annual indulgence. Fortunately it’s only taken a bit of imagination and planning for us to continue to celebrate each year of our union in style.
After days of miserable weather, magically the special day dawned clear and calm. We loaded the dinghy with everything needed to make our 31st Anniversary as memorable as any and made our way to one of the small beaches in the inlet. Tree lined with beautiful sand lapped by crystal clear warm waters, the setting was perfect. There was even a rope swing seat hanging from one of the trees. It was our own private tropical paradise.
|31 years on and going strong.|
We soon had our chairs and improvised table set in the shade overhanging trees complete with linen cloth, Moet Champagne and a cheese platter. The rocks at one end of the beach became the location for our bush kitchen where we prepared the rest of our three course celebration lunch.
|One of our most romantic anniversary settings ever.|
|Crispy skin duck breast on the beach|
|and Almond Tort with Passionfruit and Chocolate Sauce was a nice way to follow the duck.|
Special days are very special in the Whitsundays.
|North East Herald Cay - far, far away in the Coral Sea.|
Anchored in the shelter of remote North East Herald Cay far out in the Coral Sea, 200 nautical miles (360 kilometres) from the Australian coastline, we arose to find only a gentle breeze blowing over the crystal clear waters of the lagoon. Taking in our amazing, unspoilt surrounds, we could only speculate on how few people have visited this idyllic setting before us. No doubt it would number in at least the hundreds, maybe even thousands over the years, but we seriously doubt if the all time total would reach five figures. The cays are a totally protected ‘green’ conservation zone with no fishing of any sort permitted. They are also a very important hatchery for a range of migratory bird species and sea turtles.
As eager as we all were to get ashore and explore this unspoilt coral atoll there was a more important item on the schedule first. After two days of eating on the go during our rough passage from Townsville, Karen had prepared an awesome breakfast and we were not going to rush it one little bit. It was fantastic sitting on the stern in the sunshine, encircled by crystal clear turquoise water, listening to the waves washing ashore on the gleaming white sand beach of the island. Yep this place is paradise.
|Most of the birds on the Herald Cays have more than likely never seen humans.|
|Oh the serenity!|
Romance is still well and truly alive and well on Our Dreamtime.
Please leave us a comment and tell us some of the most romantic anchorages you've discovered.