Sunday 17 July 2016

Cid Harbour – Our Whitsunday Islands Haven

12 – 17 July 2016

The weather reports were showing some potentially very strong winds on the way. A real problem was that none of the forecasters were sure exactly what was going to happen but all agreed some  fairly serious weather was likely. As much as we were absolutely loving our time at Thomas Island, we knew the anchorage in Cid Harbour on Whitsunday Island’s north east shoreline would be a far safer and more comfortable place to ride out whatever may arrive.  It was time to go.

A number of the boats anchored with us were heading for the shelter of the marina at Hamilton Island but it’s far from our favourite place. Priced at $130 a night to berth our 42 foot boat its more than double what we pay in any other Queensland marina while everything ashore is also outrageously priced. All for the privilege of being surrounded by thousands of holiday makers intent on running you over in a golf buggy. No thanks.

A well known feature of the Whitsunday region is the very strong tidal flow experienced here. The outgoing tide runs north so we timed our departure for the twenty four nautical mile passage to arrive at Cid Harbour before it turned mid morning. Yep! We were up and underway in the dark again but were rewarded with an absolutely awesome sunrise.

We were treated to this amazing sunrise as we made our way towards the western tip of Shaw Island.
The new day brought a modest southerly breeze blowing in the low teens providing us a reasonable wind angle for the run across to the southern tip of Dent Island. Here we would turn and run up the Whitsunday Passage. With full main, mizzen and headsail set, the current assisted us to get along very pleasantly above seven knots.

Sailing conditions were extremely pleasant
Through the morning the wind did ease and progressively swung more to the south east. As we passed the Dent Island lighthouse and altered course towards the entrance to Cid Harbour we found the wind directly on our stern. We then left the mizzen and headsail out to starboard but switched the mainsail to the port side and made our way gently wing on wing dead down wind.

The Dent Island Lighthouse

The boat sails wing on wing very nicely.
Hamilton Island in the distance.

By the time we gybed the Mizzen and Genoa to run through the Hunt Channel between Whitsunday and Cid Islands the wind had eased even further but it was really pleasant ghosting through slowly with the last of the outgoing tide. We were enjoying the sail so much we didn’t want to stop but resisted the urge to continue on. We sailed all the way to Sawmill Beach before furling sails and finally restarting the motor to anchor.

Thomas Island to Cid Harbour – 24-5 Nautical Miles – 4 Hours 59 Minutes
Average Speed 4.9 Knots Max Speed 7.7 Knots
See our full track and details here Navionics

Cid Harbour is a very secure anchorage in winds blowing anywhere from North through East  to South West

We anchored in our favourite spot off Sawmill Beach
We were surprised to find there was plenty of space in the anchorage despite the forecast blow coming. We were able to anchor right where we wanted to reasonably close to the beach. We made sure the anchor was well dug in and laid out forty metres of chain with plenty of swing room around us. The sunshine and beautifully calm conditions provided no hint of the weather on its way. 

We got settled in before enjoying a nice afternoon catch up with Geoff and Daphne on board Wai Whare anchored in front of us followed by sundowners with Sheryl on her catamaran Sub Zero along with the crews of a few of the other boats around us. You can certainly entertain a lot more people on a cat than we can on our mono.
The Cid Harbour population continued to grow as the strong weather approached.
We arose next morning to more mild weather however the change was now due to arrive through the night. The population of the anchorage had swelled considerably by now and a continual stream of boats arrived all day. We decided to make the most of the temporary weather reprieve and headed ashore to do the delightful walk from Sawmill Beach through the rainforest over to Dugong Beach.
The walks on Whitsunday Island are well maintained by National Parks staff.

Karen with one of the beautiful big pine trees along the way.

The trail is cut into the headland and through the rain forest.

A glimpse of Cid Harbour through the foliage
 It was very relaxed and much less strenuous than the four hour return trek up to the magnificent views from Whitsunday Peak Rob had done on our last visit here. You can read the story and see those photos here  Cid Harbour-Whitsunday Island.

A group of ocean kayakers were camped under the trees at Dugong Beach.

Karen beach combing on Dugong Beach.

Our Dreamtime is second from left in this view back towards Sawmill Beach
Sundowners that evening was quite an affair with Sawmill Beach covered in dinghies as over forty cruisers converged for drinks nibbles.  Along with meeting many more new acquaintances it was fantastic to also catch up with mates Linda and Bill Frylink Anderson who were in the Whitsundays celebrating a friend’s birthday with a group on a chartered catamaran.

Linda, Louise & Karen enjoying sundowner bubbles on Sawmill Beach.
Thursday dawned a very different day with wind and rain.
The wind did begin to arrive overnight and we awoke to a wet and windy morning. Courtesy of the excellent weather site Willyweather, we could see that it was blowing consistently in the high twenty knots region just a few miles to our south at the Hamilton Island Airport. Tucked into the high hills of Whitsunday Island we were quite comfortable only seeing low to mid teens. There was nothing for it but to spend most of the day with a good book or in Karen's case, do some baking. Yum.
Carrot cake for morning tea.
Spinach & Feta Fillo for lunch.
Spicy Tex-Mex Rolls for sundowners
Salami Roses also for sundowners
Apple & Berry Strudel with toffee sauce for desert. 
A good friend from Ipswich, James, had his motor cruiser berthed in the Hamilton Island marina and was flying in that afternoon. Before he left home we had suggested to him that his choice of boating weather left a bit to be desired but he was not to be dissuaded. He was coming up to attend a SICYC (Shaggers) charity ball that weekend at Airlie Beach and was determined to get a couple of nights out of the marina along the way so he decided to visit us at Cid. The reality of fast cruisers was driven home to us when just after messaging us to say he was leaving the marina we picked him up on our AIS doing almost 23 knots. Just minutes later we spied his huge bow wave charging through Hunt Channel towards us. His big Maritimo had taken just over twenty minutes to cover the 8 nautical mile trip that normally takes us a couple of hours to sail.

There goes the neighbourhood as James' stink boat moves in amongst all the sail boats.
Conveniently there was room for him to anchor in front of our bow but the rain began to fall in earnest soon after so we decided catching up could wait until morning. By now the anchorage was reasonably crowded but, with the exception of a charter yacht that anchored a little close to our starboard side, we were very comfortable with the space we had for the stronger weather to come. The weather gurus were all agreed that a very unseasonal upper level low was developing that would bring gale force winds and very heavy rain but what they weren’t clear on was where exactly it would form.

Cid Harbour is the green marker while our planned next stop at Abell Point is the red on this Predictwind forecast chart.
Luckily for us it eventuated just to our south making Cid Harbour the perfect place to ride it out. We did experience heavy rain throughout the night and while the wind piped up into the 20+ knot zone with individual gusts reaching 30, we were clearly better placed than Hamilton Island. Rob was up quite often during the night making sure that neither us or the boats around were dragging anchor. He also kept an eye on the weather station at the airport which was recording winds consistently near 40 knots with gusts above that. The system did head further south with conditions easing through the following morning for us but bringing high winds and flooding rains to areas from Mackay to Yepoon.

The wind gauge at Hamilton Island Airport showing 39 knots with gusts to 44 at 7am Friday morning.
In the daylight Rob did discover one little thing he forgot to do in preparation for the weather. We had taken the sensible precaution of raising our dinghy onto the davits before the blow but he had neglected to take the drain bung out. The fuel tank and various other odds and ends were now floating around in our poor dinghy which held about 30 centimetres (a foot) of fresh water adding who knows how much weight. Oops. At least it was easy to drain by just pulling the plug.

On Max Sea Lady James had lowered his dinghy when they arrived the previous evening and looking over it also appeared low in the water so we sent him a message to have a look. Turns out where Rob had forgotten to remove the bung when we lifted our dink, James had forgotten to put it in when he lowered his. Double oops! Out came the bucket for some serious bailing.

Bail, bail, bail your boat.

James caught his first fish for the trip. It was swimming around in his dinghy.
Once all was sorted we went across for coffee and cake with James and Chris – which turned into Canadian Club and pizza about lunch time before degenerating to liquors and whatever was left in the galley by sunset. We know we laughed a lot but that’s about as much as we can remember about Friday.
A lunch for champions on board Max Sea Lady

By late morning the wind was gone but the rain stayed.

We got these shots of Our Dreamtime from Max Sea Lady's flybridge.
Next morning James got a couple of cool pics of a seagull on their stern with our boat in the background before coming aboard Our Dreamtime for a visit. As they were heading off to Abell Point later in the morning, we resisted temptation this time and stuck to the non-alcoholic beverages.
The Whitsunday locals are inquisitive.

Not so welcome once they poop.
Later we also hosted a return visit from Geoff and Daphne off Wai Whare before settling in for a very full afternoon of doing nothing as the drizzle continued.
Sunday then came and went exactly the same way. Such is life.
Good night from Sawmill Beach, Cid Harbour, Whitsunday Island.

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Tuesday 12 July 2016

Adventures on Naked Lady Beach, Thomas Island

7-11 July 2016

With only a short 20 nautical mile hop to Thomas Island on the cards for the day, we had no need to get up in the dark for a change and had a relatively leisurely breakfast before getting underway from Brampton Island.

Goodbye Brampton Island. Thanks for the calm stay.
The wind was predicted to blow in the mid to high teens from the south so we expected to have a fairly deep downwind sail until clearing the eastern headlands of Tinsmith Island so we raised the full main, poled out the genoa and away we went. By the time we rounded the island and came to port, which should have provided a better wind angle for the run to Thomas Island, the wind had swung to the south east so the status quo was maintained. Once again a fair sized following swell was running and, with the wind strengthening a little further, we were a little over powered with the full mainsail up. We would have benefited by furling in to first reef but with such a short way to go we put up with the ride.

The Smiths lay between us and Thomas Island

Rocky islets like this one are common in the area.
Approaching Thomas Island sailing deep downwind with the headsail poled.
Brampton Island to Thomas Island – 20.2 Nautical Miles – 3 Hours 56 Minutes
Average Speed 5.1 Knots Max Speed 7.9 Knots
 You can see full detail of our track here NAVIONICS Brampton Island to Thomas Island

Thomas Island is part of the Lindeman Group, the southern edges of the Whitsunday Islands.

The anchorage was beautiful and provided good protection from the south east winds.
Considering the established SE swell running, the anchorage at Thomas Island proved far more protected than we had expected from reading the write up in Alan Lucas’s pilot guide. We were very happy with how little of the swell was making it into the bay when we anchored up in just under seven metres of water which would put us in four and a half at the low that night. We were now officially in the Whitsunday Islands. Fortunately for us though, Thomas Island is outside the area that charter boats are permitted to go and there were only three other boats in the anchorage with us. It was school holiday time and, judging by the charter companies radio scheds we heard, the more northern anchorages would have been very, very busy.
Our Dreamtime at Thomas Island photographed from the bow of Wai Whare

Another pleasant surprise for us was finding our friends Geoff and Daphne on the ketch Wai Whare in the bay. They had been great neighbours in Port of Bundaberg Marina last year when we were stuck there for a month getting our transmission rebuilt. We had a relaxing afternoon on board their boat catching up on what we each had been up to in the intervening period.  Later we enjoyed a typically magnificent Whitsundays sunset.

Stunning Thomas Island sunset

We had no mobile  phone reception in the anchorage but were again able to get internet by putting our Wifi dongle in a water proof phone case and hoist it up the mast. See our blog about this trick at A simple way to extend your Wifi range afloat. We were also able to get TV reception so Karen was once again glued in front of the screen picking up cooking tips watching Master Chef.
Wai Whare about to weigh anchor
Heading ashore

The following morning we waved good bye to Wai Whare as they were moving on to CID Harbour while we were spending the day enjoying more of Thomas Island. We went ashore on the well named Naked Lady Beach and had a wander in the sunshine.

We always try to obey any National Parks signs on the islands
We are also strong believers in equal rights.

The island is heavily wooded and making any inroads from the beach is a challenge however we discovered what appeared to be a trail leading up a dry creek bed at the back of the beach and went exploring.  About 80 to 100 metres on we found a collection of flotsam hanging from trees and realised it marked where the obscure trail left the creek bed and headed off to the left. The rest of the trail was marked by all sorts of items hanging from branches and lead up to a gap in the islands hills and a tiny rocky inlet on the southern side with great views to the Smiths islands. It was well worth the short walk and we’d highly recommend it to any cruisers visiting this delightful anchorage.
The trail leaves the dry creek bed

Trail marking Aussie style.

The views back to the south made the walk well worthwhile

Roughly the route through the bush

We returned to Naked lady Beach where Karen spent some time sketching while Rob did a little more beach combing and enjoyed a dip in the clear water.  We enjoyed our day so much we cancelled plans to leave the next morning.
Karen found plenty to sketch

Mackerel Thai green curry fish balls for lunch back on board. Recipe at OUR GALLEY
 We decided to explore the middle of the three beaches the following day. Although we never found any trails to explore this time Karen did enjoy spending a morning working with her watercolours while Rob kicked back on the beach with a good book.  He was then a very happy boy spending the  afternoon watching the V8Supercars back on the boat.

A nice view of Our Dreamtime from the middle beach

Book time for Rob

Karen had the watercolours out
Later she whipped up some boat made sausage rolls for sundowners. Such a talented girl. Recipe at OUR GALLEY

Guess what! We were enjoying Thomas Island so much we decided to do it all again the next day.

The third of Thomas Island's beautiful beaches

The pattern was set with a morning on the beach then lazy afternoon aboard and we saw no need to change it. Friends we’d made last year, David and Nerida arrived in the anchorage late morning and invited us for dinner on board their catamaran Sea Breeze. We were also joined by Greg and Sue off Sunshine for an evening of great food and lots of laughs. The social side of cruising is great fun.

Dodgy Iphone pic by David of Sue, Rob, Karen, Greg and Nerida on board Sea Breeze.
 We had originally planned just a two night stop at Thomas Island but here we were staying yet another day with a heavy morning schedule of doing absolutely nothing. We managed another visit to the beach in the afternoon. Greg and Sue then came over for sundowners and more merriment which was a great way to finish off a fantastic five night stopover at Thomas Island. There was a huge storm moving in from the great Australian Bight towards southern Australia which was going to push some heavy wind all the way up the east coast so it was going to be time to go in the morning otherwise we’d probably still be there.

We love to receive comments on our blog from readers. If you do leave a comment and you also 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 DreamtimeSail

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.