Saturday 6 August 2016

Abell Point Marina for Karen’s Big Birthday Bash

21-31 July 2016

After thoroughly enjoying our fantastic Anniversary celebrations on one of Marcona Inlets fabulous little beaches it was time to head to Abbel Point Marina at Airlie Beach. It had been 36 days since we’d last been tied to a dock so it was time to top up water and fuel but there were also a range of things we wanted to get done on the boat before moving on to Townsville, our planned departure port for our trip to Papua New Guinea’s Louisiade Islands. Of course, there was also the matter of Karen’s big 50th Birthday Bash coming up the following week.

We are always very careful to anchor away from coral for both its health and our boat's but still managed to snag this coral encrusted rock in Marcona Inlet. Fortunately it came free with a poke from the boat hook and hopefully the coral will be fine.

We upped anchor and made our way out of Marcona Inlet to discover the wind blowing in the mid teens out in the Whitsunday Passage just forward of the beam with a moderate sea state. Just the sort of conditions Our Dreamtime loves. We were soon romping along at over eight knots weaving our way through all the tourist charter boats coming out of Airlie Beach to the islands.

The Whitsunday Passage and North Mole Island ahead

Getting along nicely in great sailing conditions.

Boats packed with tourists heading for the islands.

All of a sudden Karen cried “Whales – heading right in front of us”. Sure enough there was a large humpback whale less than a hundred metres off our starboard bow on a collision course. As we began to bear away, it casually turned parallel to us and swam along about forty metres off our beam. That’s when we realised it was a mother with a very young calf. The youngster seemed proficient enough at the swimming caper but mum repeatedly swam under it raising it to the surface making sure it was getting good big breaths. She seemed totally unperturbed by our presence and it was absolutely magical to watch. We were tempted to ease sails and slow down to extend the experience but decided we shouldn’t risk crowding these beautiful creatures.

Any encounter with these gentle giants is a privilege.

Mother and calf
Once we passed Pioneer Rocks the wind eased in the lee of the ranges but the remainder of our short sail to Abell Point was still extremely pleasurable and we were almost reluctant to drop sail as we approached because we were having such a good time but we did force ourselves to get squared away and join the line up heading up the channel. Of course one of the big tourist yachts with decks over flowing with back packers just had to cut in front rather than wait their turn. Then a kayaker and stand up paddle boarder decided cutting across the marina entrance channel in front of a stream of boats entering and leaving was their right reminding us we were re-entering the rat race.

Airlie Beach in the distance

Peak hour at the marina entrance.

Marcona Inlet to Abell Point - 15.8 Nautical Miles - 3 Hours 06 Minutes
Average Speed 5.1 Knots - Max Speed 8.6 Knots

Our parking spot at Abell Point Marina
The next few days in the marina were a blur for us as we cleaned the boat inside and out, serviced the engine, worked on completing the overhaul of our watermaker, filled the water and fuel tanks, reprovisioned, checked over our sails repairing any warn stitching or chaff areas and commissioning our new dinghy. Yes that’s right. A new dinghy.

Karen repairing some wear on the mainsail.
Our new dinghy Bumble Bee looks at home on Our Dreamtime's davits.
The injuries we inflicted on our beloved Sweetlip in Bundaberg had proved too grievous for us to be able heal on the move. (See the story HERE ) She still served us well on our trip north but our pump was given a new nick name of Amex as we dared not to leave home without it. Poor saggy Sweetlip needed CPR before every trip and usually again for the return to the boat. The experts in Airlie Beach advised us our Aquapro was repairable but not in the time frame we needed, hence we now have a brand new dink hanging on the davits. Her black and yellow colour scheme has seen her christened Bumble Bee. She does look flash on Our Dreamtime’s stern but after all the work we did refurbishing Sweetlip it was a hard decision for us to replace her. Fortunately we were able to gift her to a local yachty who gratefully became her new owner with plans to make the needed repairs and extend her life further.
Rob about to paddle Sweetlip over to her new owner
So then came Karen’s huge half century celebrations.

Wednesday – Karen’s parents, Trevor and Joy flew in from Brisbane along with childhood friend and bridesmaid Gaylene the day before so the pre-party began with an afternoon of much bubbles and merriment.
Let the warm up begin.
Thursday -  the big birthday and the celebrations proper  commenced with Champagne Breakfast at Barcelona Tapas bar overlooking the marina before more friends arrived from the airport in time for a very long lunch at Coral Seas Resort on the point. But wait there’s more. Karen was an event organiser in her working career so knows how to put on a party and was not going to let this milestone go unnoticed.  After all, one does only turn fifty once.

Appropriately seated at table 50 for Champagne Breakfast for the birthday girl. 
Long lunch at Coral Seas Resort

A birthday girl can never have too many bubbles.

Friend Gaylene made this amazing Our Dreamtime cookie for Karen

Chris from Robbo's Bakery in Ipswich made this very cool cake which Neil then carried all the way up on the plane.
Friday - Friends and family donned their finest pirate gear for a swashbuckling day of sailing on Pioneer Bay. Good friends David and Nerida very kindly took half the scurvy crew aboard their good ship Sea Breeze whilst the rest joined us aboard Our Dreamtime for an enjoyable sail in company out to the Mole Channel and back. We then anchored in the bay outside the marina where we all boarded Seabreeze for a lunch afloat. (We are dedicated monohull sailors but you have to love the entertaining room on those cats.) After disembarking we all made our way to Sorrento’s in the marina where we were joined by yet more friends who arrived from Brisbane and Townsville in time for fabulous pizzas, more drinks and much more merriment.

Some of the pirate wenches aboard Our Dreamtime.

Rob delivering some Gaylene, Bob and Lyn over to Seabreeze forour sailing day
Our Dreamtime reefed and with mizzen sail in the bag for comfort
Seabreeze went out with full sail up which provided an exciting ride when the wind hit 25 knots in the Mole Channel
Lunch afloat on Seabreeze. Thanks David and Nerida.
Rob putting his plastic cutlass to good use at Sorrento's.

Saturday – Some guests had to jet back to Brisbane but they were replaced with new arrivals from both the North and South and off we all went to the Whitsunday Sailing Club for lunch overlooking the armada of boats anchored off Airlie Beach. Then it was on to Capers at the Airlie Beach Hotel for an afternoon of cocktails before weaving our way to KC’s, the finest steakhouse in the Whitsundays for dinner.

The Whitsunday Sailing Club was a great location for Saturday lunch.

Then on to the pub for cocktails

Our daughter Yasmin flew in for the weekend to celebrate with her Mum.
Pre-dinner entertainment at KC's as Steve tries to reach new heights in glass tower building.

Sunday – Recovery breakfast and farewells at Barcelona’s where it all began. We really must thank those of our family and the large number of friends who travelled to Airlie Beach to help make Karen’s bash such an unforgettable affair along with all those who couldn’t be there but phoned and sent best wishes. Four days of eating and drinking too much, laughing until our sides hurt and living life to the fullest, the way it should be, was the best way possible for Karen to begin her 51st year.

Recovery breakfast at Barcelona's.
A small portion of the party crew.
Says it all really!
Monday – Detox and back to sailing.

We have posted a full album of photos from Karen’s four days of fiftieth frivolity with family and friends on the Dreamtime Sail Facebook page HERE.

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