Wednesday 9 December 2015

Whitehaven - Is this the best beach in the world.

November 14-15, 2015

Here’s a tip for any cruisers who need daily prescription medication. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ADEQUATE SUPPLIES BEFORE YOU LEAVE PORT. Unfortunately Rob forgot to pick up a new supply of his hypertension tablets before we left Abell Point so now we had to cut our time at Bait Reef short and faced a choice of returning to Airlie Beach or calling into Hamilton Island which has a pharmacy by the marina. Despite having ridiculously high marina fees, Hamilton won the day as we really didn’t want to back track to Airlie Beach again.

Motoring over glassy seas with the Whitsunday Islands ahead.
We all enjoyed one last snorkel at Bait Reef in the morning before we carefully made our way out between The Stepping Stones and pointed our bow south away from the outer Great Barrier Reef and back to the Whitsunday Islands. We can report on the wind because there was none. We motored over glassy calm waters for the first few hours with the only excitement being timing our run across the main shipping channel between two fast moving ships.
We slowed right down to let the first ship pass then scooted across the lanes ahead of the next.

By the time we drew level with Hook Island a northerly breeze had sprung up and we were able to silence the engine and sail by Border Island across to Tongue Bay on the eastern side of Whitsunday Island. By now the 15 knot northerly had blown up a bit of a choppy swell which made picking up a mooring a bit of a challenge. Our Dreamtime’s bow was bobbing up and down fairly energetically and the wind doing its best to blow us off and away as we picked up the float. Karen did a great job on the helm as Rob and Marc combined to finally get the boat secured after a couple of attempts. Fortunately the wind eased and swung to the north west about sunset making our anchorage a bit more comfortable for the night.
Border Island ahead and the wind arrived.

Bait Reef to Tongue Bay -26.9 Nautical Miles - 4 Hours 20 Minutes
Average Speed 6.2 knots Highest Speed 9.0 knots

Where we picked up our mooring in Tongue Bay
The swell calmed down overnight fortunately and was very pleasant by next morning.

Next morning we lowered the dinghy and went ashore to make the short climb up to the magnificent viewing platforms on the point that look out over Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach. Stunning, magnificent, breathtaking, awesome, any of these words are really inadequate to describe the scene that nature laid before us from these vantage points.

Karen and Rob soaking up the Whitsunday's most dramatic views.

Looking across Hill Inlet to Whitehaven Beach.

Marc with Hill Inlet in the background
After quite a while just trying to soak it all in we returned to the boat and got underway. The northerly was back so when we rounded the point we simply unfurled the genoa , turned the engine off and glided downwind along the length of Whitehaven’s stunning white silica sand beach. We anchored for a while near the southern end as we wanted Marc to experience the unique feel of Whitehaven’s ultra fine sand underfoot. He and Rob swam into the beach so he could get his Whitehaven experience. He quickly agreed the sand was both the whitest and most powder like he’d ever experienced.
Marc on his way into Whitehaven Beach.
Many travel writers describe this as the best beach in the world. If it’s not we would definitely like to know where the better ones are so we could put them on our bucket list.
Solway Passage ahead.
After our quick stop to play in the sand we continued on south through Solway Passage while we still had the tide with us. This piece of water gets very angry when a north flowing tidal current runs into a northerly wind such as we were experiencing and we were happy to get through before the tide changed and the associated overfalls and whirpools formed.
We then had a great sail west in the shelter of Whitsunday Island before we did face a bit of disturbed water getting around the northern tip of Hamilton Island Fitzalan Passage. We had rung ahead and booked a berth for the night in Hamilton Marina and were soon tied up nice and secure.
Wind over tide standing the water up in Fitzalan Passage.

Tongue Bay Whitsunday Island to Hamilton Island - 14.8 Nautical Miles
After getting his prescription filled at the pharmacy Rob serviced both of our outboards while he had a dock to work on. That was his penance for making us have to come here in the first place. Karen tried to top up our fresh fruit supplies but found almost nothing available and what was on the shelf was far from fresh and three times the price of the mainland.
Quite frankly Hamilton Island is outrageously overpriced at every turn. Compared to the $45-55 price range all other Australian marinas have charged for our boat Hamilton was $125 for the night. The prices in every shop, restaurant or bar are way higher than anywhere else we have travelled on the Queensland coast and for your hard earned money you get the privilege of being regularly bashed by the wash of big ferries and charter boats, surrounded by high rise apartments and almost run over by speeding golf carts at every turn wherever you walk. Hate the place. One night there was one night too many.

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