Tuesday 22 November 2016

Turtle Bay, Whitsunday Island

8 November 2016

Karen put our stamp on Turtle Bay.

Rob arrived back in Abell Point Marina from his few days away in the deep south with our friend John in tow to sail with us southwards for a couple of weeks. He met John sailing in Moreton Bay on a RYA Skipper’s course back in 2011 and have been friends ever since. John has been onboard day sailing with us many times but this was to be his first extended trip on Our Dreamtime. We planned to give him a taste of what the cruising life is like compared to his usual weekend outings or occasional week chartering.
Despite enjoying the Airlie Beach Music Festival to the fullest, Karen had done a fantastic job of provisioning and preparing the boat for sea so with nothing left to be done on board we headed for our favourite haunt of Sorrento’s for a great pre-passage meal and drinks.
John  and Rob enjoying a welcome aboard white before heading to Sorrento's for dinner.

Motor-sailing in the Mole Channel towards the tip of South Mole Island.
We got underway in light conditions next morning and motor-sailed around Pioneer Rocks and south through the Mole Channel between Shute Harbour and Daydream Island. We gained workable wind strength and angle when we rounded the bottom of South Mole Island and were able to sail nicely across the Whitsunday Passage to the northern end  Fitzalen Passage .
Calm water sailing in the Whitsunday Passage with fish jumping of the starboard bow.
The wind then disappeared in the lee of the high peaks of Whitsunday Island and we had to resort to the motor again for the run south and through the overfalls at Fitzalan Island to the northern side of Hamilton Island where we turned into Turtle Bay where we were able to anchor up in 7 metres of water over a good holding sand bottom.
Abell Point to Turtle Bay, Whitsunday Island 20.5 Nautical Miles – 4 Hours 20 Minutes
Average Speed 4.7 Knots – Max Speed 6.9 Knots
John was all smiles as we headed for the beach.

Turtle Bay on the southern shores of Whitsunday Island is an excellent anchorage in any northerly wind.
It was our first visit to this very attractive bay and it didn’t take long for us to have the dinghy down and be on our way into the nice sand beach for a swim. We were soon snorkelling over to the rocks at the point . On the way across the sand, Rob swam straight over the top of the biggest Shovelnose Shark he’d ever seen. It appeared to be sleeping and took no notice of him at all. We discovered plenty of fish around the oyster covered rocks and also spotted a good size crayfish hiding under a rock but, despite Rob's best bare handed effort, he wasn’t able to extract it from its lair. Pity. Crayfish with sundowners would have been a great start to John’s time with us.
Karen couldn't wait to cool off in Turtle Bay

Rob getting ready to snorkel the rocky point.

Rob didn't spot this Shovelnose Shark until he was directly over it in only about a metre of water.

This crayfish retreated too far back into its lair to be extracted by hand.

There was no shortage of fish to be seen in Turtle Bay.
We certainly did enjoy our afternoon in the sun and warm, clear water here and yes, there are plenty of turtles to be found in Turtle Bay, along with big stingrays and plentiful fish. On our way back to the boat, we took a detour and briefly explored the inlet on the western side of the bay in the dinghy. Even though it was high tide at the time, we could see it would be a very good snorkelling site with lots of coral bombies and fish life. We decided to snorkel there the following morning when the tide would be lower. We would then head south to our next anchorage at Thomas Island later in the day.
We anchored near the bays two beaches. The inlet on the western side looked an excellent snorkelling site.
The superbly calm conditions at anchor for sundowners compensated for the fact we saw no sunset due to the high rocky shoreline of the bay. It was a small price to pay for the excellent protection mountainous Whitsunday Island provides. Turtle Bay is a perfect anchorage in any northerly wind and a place we will definitely keep on the list of places we’d be happy to spend a few days at in the future should the opportunity arise.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to snorkel that western inlet this time as the updated forecast the following morning indicated the best chance of finding a sailing breeze was earlier in the day so we decided to forego our planned expedition and set sail while the wind blew.


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