Picking up from the last blog post….we sadly left Lady Musgrave Island earlier than planned as some big winds were forecast. We wanted to get to a more protected anchorage so we packed up and left as soon as it was light enough for us to spot and avoid the bommies (small patches of shallow reef) on the way out.
We sailed all day. We often head off in the morning with several potential destinations in mind. A decision is then made during the day depending on factors like the weather, currents, our average speed and our mood. On this day we decided to stop overnight at Cape Capricorn and get a good nights sleep before continuing on to the Keppels the next day.
Great Keppel Island
We arrived at Great Keppel Island after an easy sail, greeted by an empty beach and beautiful sunset. Spending a few days here meant we were able to really explore the place. On our first big walk, we pulled the dinghy right up the beach as we knew the tide was coming in and we weren’t sure how long we’d be gone. Lucky! After following some dubious paths through the bush, we ended up back at our starting point around 3 hours later, just as the sun was setting and the high tide was lapping at our dinghy.
Our second big walk was a little less risky – we walked up to a lookout where we had beautiful views of several of the island’s beaches. It was fun. We love walking together. We all walked in bare feet and saw lots of butterflies.
The rest of the time at Great Keppel was spent on the beach and in the water. Markito and I did our first ever swim around the boat. An important moment as we’ve been nervous about swimming in the deep ocean.
Freyja’s favourite game was fetching a tennis ball that Simon would throw into the water. What is it with 3-year-olds and repetition?!? Zach’s favourite game was swimming with mum. I would hold him under the armpits and he would lie on his back, kick furiously and shout excitedly, “I’m an outboard motor, I’m an outboard motor!” Markito’s favourite was snorkeling.
Next stop for us was Pearl Bay. This anchorage is absolutely stunning. Surrounded by national park, there was a long white beach stretching out in front of us and crystal clear water surrounding us. From what we know, the area is used for military exercises so visitors are not allowed to go hiking through the bush. While we could’ve gone for a walk along the beach if we wanted, we decided to stay put and enjoy a quiet evening on board. A couple from a neighbouring boat stopped by for a chat and gave us a coconut, so we spent some time getting it open and munching on our yummy gift.
Middle Percy Island
By this stage we had decided to keep moving every day. We needed to get to Airlie Beach in the next few days for better internet access (work) and to meet up with some friends there (fun).
Middle Percy Island is a haven for cruisers and we were keen to check it out. We were concerned that it’d be a popular spot so there might not be enough space for us to anchor. We arrived in the afternoon when there was plenty of space, and by evening were surrounded by another 13 boats!
Unfortunately, there was a big south-easterly swell that afternoon, which made it very difficult to get off the boat. We watched enviously as the other cruisers clambered into their dinghies and went ashore to hang out at the famous Middle Percy yacht club. We decided it was too tricky to try and get the kids into the dinghy. We didn’t want to scare them as the boat was rolling so much that if we put the dinghy in the water it would be crashing against our swimming platform as each new swell rolled through.
Onwards! By the time we got to Scawfell Island we had been onboard for 3 days and 3 nights – our longest time yet. And you know, we weren’t experiencing any cabin fever. We were in the sailing groove. Having said that, we still really enjoyed spending a few hours running, skipping, jumping and exploring along the beach at low tide.
We found heaps of crabs, sea snails and a few shells with little critters living in them. There was lots of conversation imagining these tiny animals lives – where are their parents? why did they choose this shell in particular? what do they eat? what do they play? does it feel cold or hot when they burrow under the sand? Later on, I found two really cool shells:
Me: “Hey Zach, check out these beautiful shells.”
Zach: “They aren’t shells mum. They’re little homes.”
Oh yeah, and we also saw a baby stingray in the shallow water!
And then finally… we sailed through the Whitsunday Islands and arrived at Airlie Beach, anchoring right next to our friend’s boat.
We had a wonderful few days at Airlie Beach, made particularly special by the old and new friends we spent time with there. A big shout out to long-time cruisers Andrew and Joy who lent us their car to do some shopping, and organized a fun bbq at their house during which we were able to do some repairs.
We also met 4 other liveaboard sailing families in Airlie Beach. Four! In one place! Living aboard a yacht is a unique lifestyle, but doing it with kids is even more niche. It was really wonderful sharing stories and plans with our new friends.