Monday 30 November 2015

Fun, friends, music at Airlie Beach and Rob revisits past lives.

November 2 – 9, 2015

We’d always planned we’d be turning back south around early November on our shakedown cruise along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef on Our Dreamtime to coincide with the northerly winds that spring up about that time but we had expected to be a lot further up the Queensland coast than Airlie Beach. Unfortunately our mechanical issues that saw us spend a month in Bundaberg and some heavy weather which delayed us at Great Keppel Island for a while put paid to that.
Regardless, Airlie Beach is a place with many special memories for us both and a fun place in its own right. For this voyage it was also to mark our turn around spot. After waving goodbye to our friends Anthony and Lynda who had joined us for a brief Whitsunday adventure, we had a relaxing couple of days at anchor in the bay off the Whitsunday Sailing Club. We had a great catchup with Sandra and Kel at Grotty Yachty who are located in Airlie Beach's main street. They have a great range of sailing themed clothing and will now be producing a range of Our Dreamtime merchandise for us available to all through the Join our Virtual Crew page of our blog.

On Wednesday we moved Our Dreamtime into Abell Point Marina and over the next day and a half gave her a good clean above and below decks and did all the usual things marinas are good for, fill with water, dump rubbish, pick up needed odds and ends from the chandlery etc, etc. On Thursday night we went up to the The Terraces resort which Rob had installed all the floor coverings in when it was built over 30 years ago. Having a G&Ts at the bar looking out over all the boats in the bay and watching the sunset was a real blast from a previous life.

The water quality in Abell Point Marina is excellent with soft corals thriving on the fingers and attracting plenty of good sized tropical fish. We even had nightly visits by a small pod of dolphins.

The following day Rob flew off to Sydney for a few days to revisit a more recent previous life. He'd been asked to do the commentary on the launch of Australia's new professional drag racing series, 400 Thunder, at Sydney Dragway and couldn't resist the opportunity to catch up with a lot of racing friends and earn a few dollars for the sailing kitty at the same time.

The reflection in the glass of the commentary box provided the ultimate selfie for a rev head as two 8,000 horsepower Top Fuel Dragsters blasted off on their way to 500 kph. (310 mph). Rob certainly had the best view point in the house.

 Despite some very threatening weather, the event went well with many tens of thousands of people watching the action around the world via a live streaming on the internet. It was also a great opportunity to spend some time with our son, Rod, who flew down from Brisbane to work on the crew for the winning Rapisarda Autosport International team for the weekend.

Our son Rod Oberg beside one of the 8,000 horsepower Top Fuel Dragsters he worked on over the weekend.

So what did Karen get up to while Rob was away in Sydney? Well, to start with, our great mate, Marc Beerts, arrived from London to join us for some Great Barrier Reef sailing on the trip back south to Brisbane. We first met Marc when the three of us stepped aboard the Bennetau 57 Nae Hassle in Cairns back in 2011 for our first cruising experience sailing as crew in the Sail Indonesia Rally. We then shared awesome adventures travelling together all the way to Thailand, the story of which is told in our book, Stuff it. Let's go sailing anyway!   We later reconnected in London before embarking on a joint venture which saw us sailing the Jeanneu 43DS Alcheringa together around the Mediterranean for two seasons. When we emailed Marc and asked if he'd like to spend a couple of months sailing with us again, this time in Australia on Our Dreamtime he had his airfares booked in no time.

Secondly, it just happened to be the weekend of the Airlie Beach Music Festival with over 70 bands playing at a range of venues in town. This had attracted friends Gary and Tanya up from Brisbane who actually flew in on the same plane as Marc and were staying in a resort next to the marina. So Karen, Marc, Gary and Tanya were kept more than busy enjoying three days and nights of music, eating, drinking, tall tale telling and much laughter the length and breadth of Airlie Beach.

Gary, Tanya, Karen and Marc at Coral Sea Resort next to the marina
Rockabilly band, Bad Luck Kitty, belting it out at Sorrento's Abell Point.
Marc, Karen and Rob in the wilds of Kalimantan in 2011.

Taking possession of Alcheringa in Mallorca, Spain in 2012.

Flying home from Sydney Rob's plane travelled much of the way just out of the coast and he had a great time viewing many of the island's we have visited on the way north from high in the sky.

Great Keppel Island at left and North Keppel to the right.

Next - Heading south!


Website -

Nightly rate for our yacht (14m inc davits) – $51 AUD  (This was the special rate for members of the SICYC -Shaggers, and included GST, water, power . Normal rate is $80)

The marina is located behind high breakwaters and would appear secure in all winds other than full blown gale from the North where surge could be an issue.  It is rated as cyclone safe. The berths are very wide and most easily accessible. Northern marina fingers  where we stayed are home to many tourist boats and bare boat fleets. They are not locked during the day and are open to the public to roam around.

There are two self serve fuel docks which you must make a booking to use. Each booking period is 30 minutes. The price of diesel was about 30c per litre higher than at a nearby service station. There is a very small but reasonably well stocked chandlery, a boat yard with haul out facilities, a number of retail outlets and restaurants. There is also a small liquor outlet with outrageous prices. Bathroom facilities are modern and of a high standard.  There is a coin operated laundry onsite with lots of machines available at about average cost. WIFI available at additional cost. All parking is paid and reasonably expensive.

The nearest supermarket is located near the marina at Cannonvale.  The marina provides a free courtesy car limited to 2 hours use once during your stay . A regular bus service stops in the car park.

The staff were very helpful and pleasant. We enjoyed our stay and would award five stars rather than four other than the cost of add ons such as parking, fuel etc.

Good night from Abell Point Marina

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If you have only recently discovered our blog and would like to read how it all started, or work through our previous adventures, click the link to go back to our first blog entry. Stuff it. Let's just go sailing anyway.  We hope you enjoy reading the previous posts to catch up on our story.

Monday 23 November 2015

Cruising with friends on board Versus Sailing as a couple.

October 28 to November 1 - 2015

Over the last five years, we have sailed in South East Asia and Europe as crew on a number of other people’s boats, cruised the Mediterranean for two seasons on Alcheringa with a boat partner, Marc, and, at other times on our own, and most recently, sailed our new (to us) Whitby 42 ketch Our Dreamtime in Australia, often with friends aboard. So which is better, sailing just as a couple or with others?

Sailing by ourselves has numerous advantages over having other people along. We can be totally selfish through and through. It is great not having to consider anyone else about anything. We decide where we go, what we do and when we do it purely based on what WE want. If we feel like skipping dinner and making do with light nibbles and a bottle of wine at sundown instead so be it. Constraints on our movements are largely limited to what the weather is doing rather than having to worry about what day our guests need to be somewhere to catch their plane, go to work or whatever. On any particular day we rise early or late in the morning as we please. There’s also privacy advantages of course. Clothing becomes optional. When, where and how much noise you might make enjoying being a couple is of no concern.

Including our unexpected four week stay in the Port of Bundaberg Marina fixing our transmission issue, we have spent over three months with just the two of us on board island hopping the 630 Nautical miles up Australia’s Queensland coast to Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays. Despite having spent the past thirty three years together, we have revelled in each other’s company. We spent days and days lazing in the cockpit with the trade winds pushing us along and swells rolling gently under the boat. Together we’ve faced and overcome some trying conditions on occasions and unexpected boat issues. We’ve explored many new places and revisited others. We have strolled naked in total privacy, hand in hand along golden sand beaches of uninhabited tropical islands. We’ve stayed in places as long as we wanted or moved right on if we wished. Toasting the sunset to celebrate the conclusion of another wonderful day alive has become our ritual.  Yep sailing alone is very, very cool.
Having an uninhabited tropical island all to yourselves is about as good as it gets
However, we are both very sociable and really enjoy other people’s conversation and company. We love having people on board to share our enthusiasm for sailing and get a taste of our relatively new cruising lifestyle. Through our previous careers and social networks, we are blessed with a number of good friends from all walks of life. Some of these love a day out on the boat with us around the bay while others are always up for a weekend away sailing. While there are a number who would love to spend some extended time cruising with us, for most, the time pressures of still being part of the Nine to Five grind make it either very difficult or impossible. It’s shattering for someone to lock in a week or two off work a couple of months in advance to go sailing only to have the weather turn to absolute crap when the date finally arrives and us have to tell them the trip is cancelled.

Fortunately for the sociable people we are, there are a few some who have the flexibility to escape such concerns at times and jump aboard when and where the opportunity arises. Two of those people are great friends Anthony and Lynda. They got their few first taste of cruising with us in 2013 when we shared an awesome week sailing on Alcheringa in Sicily during our Mediterranean wanderings.

Before we headed north on our current Great Barrier Reef adventure we had extended an open invitation to them to spend some more time aboard with us if they could get away from their businesses for a while. On October 21, shortly after finally reaching the Whitsunday Islands and anchoring at Shaw Island, Rob sent Anthony a text message which simply said, ‘We’re now in the Whitsunday Islands. Why aren’t you?

On October 28 we moved the boat from our anchorage off Airlie Beach into Abell Point Marina, gave her a big freshwater bath all over, filled our tanks, fridge, freezer, pantry and re-stocked our wine supplies. Late morning on October 22 Anthony and Lynda stepped aboard carrying just a small carrybag each. We threw off the lines half an hour later and headed out into the islands.

Our Dreamtime on a mooring at Stonehaven, Hook Island.
First up was a very relaxed fifteen and half mile square reach across to pick up a mooring at Stonehaven on Hook Island for the night. While Rob and Anthony secured the boat, Karen headed to the galley emerging shortly after with a round of large pina coladas in fresh coconut shells to set the tone of the next four days of fun and frivolity.
Abell Point to Stonehaven - 15.5 Miles - 3 Hours 08 Minutes
Average Speed 4.9 Knots Highest Speed 6.1 Knots

The moorings are located quite close to the fringing reef but are very well maintained.
Karen's masterpieces to set the tone of the next few days.

Great way to start the fun

Lynda and Anthony with their 'Welcome to the Whitsundays Pina Coladas on the stern.
We had a great sunset at Stonehaven followed shortly after by a very cool moonrise.

Next morning we sailed a circuitous 15.8 mile course in flukey winds south out into the Whitsunday Passage and then into CID Harbour where we anchored of Sawmill Beach. Cue a cooling dip off the boat, more cocktails, great food, laughs and another sunset in paradise.

Stonehaven to Cid Harbour - 15.8 Nautical Miles - 3 Hours 55 Minutes
Average Speed 4.0 Knots - Highest Speed 7.6 Knots

We planned to make the five kilometre round trip climb to Whitsunday Peak the next day to take in its reported stunning 360 degree views of the islands but overnight rain and a drizzling morning convinced us to relax on board instead. No point slogging up a muddy trail just to put our heads in the clouds and see nothing.

The weather cleared enough later in the day for Anthony and Lynda to go exploring well up into Dugong Inlet in our two man kayak while we trolled a line around the expansive CID Harbour in the dinghy hoping to pick up a nice fish or two. No such luck unfortunately so after a round of Karen’s strawberry daiquiris we had to console ourselves with roast lamb and a few appropriate bottles of bubbles.

We went chasing fish with the dinghy in Cid Harbour

While Anthony and Linda went exploring Dugong Inlet in the kayak
Anthony and Lynda enjoyed their own private island for a while
Karen and Anthony -more fun and frivolity in Cid Harbour
Who needs fish anyway
CID Harbour really is a beautiful anchorage
Sunday provided a very modest south easterly breeze for our trip back to Airlie Beach. While charter yachts motored all around us with furled canvas we were determined to sail. Up went our main, mizzen and then asymmetric spinnaker. We may not have set any speed records but we did have a very relaxing sixteen and a half mile run back. The wind angle gave us just enough room to sneak past the point of North Mile Island then we continued on the same tack well out into Pioneer Bay before gybing for home.

Spinnaker time
Lynda chillaxing in the cockpit on the way back to Airlie Beach
Rob trying to get that perfect I-phone shot of the spinnaker flying
Anthony enjoyed his Blueberry and Banana Cake after lunch enough to lick the plate. All class that lad.
Just after we gybed and headed into Airlie Beach
We passed close by the huge ship Voyager of the Seas anchored in the bay giving hundreds of photo snapping tourists a good view of a real cruise boat under spinnaker. We must have looked good because boats ferrying passengers back to the ship from the shore all came close by us with even more lenses pointed our way.
If you prefer to sail alone imagine the pain of being on that sucker with a couple of thousand new friends.
More tourists heading back to the floating city.
Our asymmetric spinnaker run back from Whitsunday Island was a perfect end to some fun filled days.
Cid Harbour to Airlie Beach - 16.4 Nautical Miles - 4 Hours 05 Minutes
Average Speed 4.0 Knots - Highest Speed 7.6 Knots
We dropped all sail as late as possible before anchoring off the Whitsunday Sailing Club again. Post passage beers were followed by final night cocktails, more bubbles, bbq dinner and a late night of laughs and tall tales.
Our anchorages in the Whitsunday Islands so far.
We ferried our by now weary guests into the sailing club at 8.00am next morning to meet their shuttle bus to the airport for the flight back to 9 to 5 world.
For us it was back to the boat for a good sleep and a couple of alcohol free days to give our livers some recovery time.

So which is better, sailing just as a couple or with others? Who knows. We love both. Tell us what you think. If you leave a comment and you have a blog, please leave a link as well. We'd like to click over for a visit and leave you a comment too. 

To stay right up to date with what we’re up to  and see lots more photos check out and 'like' our Dreamtime Sail Facebook page at Dreamtime Sail on Facebook


If you have only recently discovered our blog and would like to read how it all started, or work through our previous adventures, click the link to go back to our first blog entry. Stuff it. Let's just go sailing anyway.  We hope you enjoy reading the previous posts to catch up on our story.


Thursday 19 November 2015

Airlie Beach - Where it all began.

24 -28 October 2015

The final step in our return to the Whitsunday Islands was a 10 mile sail around from Shute Harbour to Airlie Beach. This was where we had met 33 years ago during the week of the famous Airlie Beach Fun Race. An event contested by hundreds of yachts of all shapes and sizes from trailer sailors to Sydney-Hobart boats and even old pearl luggers all aiming to win the coveted line honours prize, a bottle of rum. Of course the miss figurehead title was also hotly contested by buxom young ladies. Rob sailed on a 24 footer while Karen made a slow trip around the bay aboard the lugger Dahlia. Little did we realise our chance meeting would lead to three decades of marriage so far and our family of three children and five grandchildren.

The week we met 33 years ago at Airlie Beach during Fun Race week.
We were last in the Whitsundays five years ago for the start of our life changing move to become full time cruisers. We had passed through town on our way to spending a week doing our first RYA course sailing from Hamilton Island. Rounding Mandalay Point and seeing the changes that had occurred in Karen’s old home town in the relatively short intervening period was quite an eye opener.

Karen checking out the changes to Airlie Beach as we approach the anchorage
We anchored in the bay not too far from the Whitsunday Sailing Club on the point where our calculations told us we would be sitting in 2.6 metres of water at the lowest approaching tide. There was still about a 10 knot northerly blowing which made the anchorage a bit bumpy but we expected it to drop out during the night.

Shute Harbour to Airlie Beach – 9.9 Nautical Miles – 1 Hour 57 Minutes
Average Speed 5.0 Knots Highest Speed 6.8 Knots

This Google Earth picture was taken before the Port of Airlie Marina on the right was completed.

Airlie Beach was our fourth stop in the Whitsundays.
The anchorage at Airlie Beach isn’t anywhere you want to be if the wind pipes up much over 15 knots from the north west through north east as it can get quite uncomfortable. Any stronger than 20 and it can be dangerous. The holding is OK but not great and more boats have been lost here to strong northerlies than actual cyclones. A graphic reminder of this fact sat smashed on the rock wall behind us.

A sad end for a classic timber ketch. The latest victim of Airlie Beach's notoriously bad holding in strong northerly winds.

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We were later told this classic timber ketch had been sailed all the way from the UK before dragging anchor and coming to grief in a strong northerly blow a few weeks prior to our arrival. Rumour had it that the live aboard owner was not insured and had done a runner rather than face the costs of the wreck’s removal. It was such a sad sight and sadder tale.

The sun setting over Abell Point.
After arriving we spent a quiet afternoon onboard then really enjoyed the view ashore after sunset. The lights of the apartment buildings terraced up the steep hills behind Airlie Beach provide an unusual vista compared to the rest of the mostly flat Queensland coast. It honestly reminded us of the lights of the Italy’s Amalfi Coast we had enjoyed on Alcheringa in 2013.
The following morning we took the dingy into shore at the sailing club’s dock where we paid for temporary membership to be able to use all their facilities including the dock itself, showers, laundry etc and of course the excellent bar/restaurant.

The main street of Airlie Beach in the '70s.
A little different in 2015

Wandering the main street of Airlie Beach we were amazed at how much the place had changed. Five years previously, we hadn’t been all that impressed with the new Airlie. Now however, everything seemed right. The boardwalk around to Abbel Point Marina is fantastic, the new Port of Airlie Marina will clearly be a great addition to the town, the shops, cafes and bars all seemed vibrant and the swimming lagoon on the foreshore was well populated with people enjoying the sunshine. The whole place had a very good atmosphere.
Karen outside what had been her parent's combined booking office for Wahoo Charters and amusement machine parlour.
After doing plenty of exploring we returned to the sailing club and freshened up with long hot showers. What a delight. Then it was upstairs for a very nice $15 steak lunch and a bottle of wine. We were in for a small surprise when we went to return to the boat. Our dinghy was sitting amongst a small fleet of ribs at the dock high and dry in the mud. So it was back to the bar for another bottle of vino while we waited for the tide to come in. Such is life!

The Whitsunday Sailing Club has a cunning strategy to get cruisers to stay at the bar longer
At least we could keep and eye on Our Dreamtime while enjoying an extra vino.
The work of a talented sand sculptor on Airlie Beach.
We spent another three days anchored off Airlie Beach commuting in and out to the Whitsunday Sailing Club’s sometimes floating dock in our dinghy. We swam in the lagoon, wandered around revisiting old haunts including have a drink at the spot we first met and generally just had a good time ashore.

After all. Cruising is not just about the sailing but rather also enjoying the places you visit.

A moon rising instead of sun setting just for a change. Good night!

To stay right up to date with what we’re up to  and see lots more photos check out and 'like' our Dreamtime Sail Facebook page at Dreamtime Sail on Facebook


If you have only recently discovered our blog and would like to read how it all started, or work through our previous adventures, click the link to go back to our first blog entry. Stuff it. Let's just go sailing anyway.  We hope you enjoy reading the previous posts to catch up on our story.