WHITSUNDAYS CHARTER 29 JUNE – 7 JULY 2019

I was reviewing the blog over the 2020/21 summer holidays and realised that we had missed out on posting our second Seawind 1160 charter! Sorry for the delay – better late than never!

CATAMARAN CHARTER REDUX


We had been back in Canberra less than two weeks after returning from our Seawind 1160 Lite charter with Cumberland Charter Yachts and were reminiscing about how great the holiday was. All three of us were in violent agreement that this had been one of the best holidays we had done in Australia, and that we should try to do it again! As I had made a commitment to the Noelex 25 crew that we would compete Hamilton Island Race Week in August 2019, and then had some work commitments in October 2019, we decided to try a winter charter. On 23 October 2018 we contacted Cumberland and made a booking for The Pearl from 30 June to 7 July 2019.

THE PLAN

We decided to continue to the model where Cabin Boy could bring a friend. He promptly asked one of the girls at school if she would come on holidays with him. This made for a great conversation with the other family, who agreed and also decided that they would do a holiday on Hamilton Island, so that if Cabin Girl didn’t enjoy the experience on board it wouldn’t be any hardship to drop her back to the Island. We booked flights into Proserpine to collect the boat, and looked at options to return to fly home from both Proserpine and Hamilton Island. You can never pick the way airlines price their flights – even with the additional cost of having the charter company send a crew across to collect the boat, it was significantly cheaper to fly home from Hamilton Island.

DAY 1 – SAT 29 JUN 19

It was around 4 degrees and foggy when we checked in for the flight to Brisbane. We were delayed by the fog, and of course that raised concerns about our ability to make the connecting flight to Proserpine.

Three happy sailors!

There wasn’t much time for morning tea / lunch in Brisbane, and we had a quick opportunity to meet up with the other family, and send Cabin Boy and Cabin Girl away to see what they could find to eat, before we boarded the flight to Proserpine.

We booked the same transfer company we have used previously, who were brilliant, and were soon dropped off at Cumberland Charter Yachts for our first night on the boat at Coral Sea Marina. This gave us ample time to unpack and then have a leisurely dinner at the local marina pub.

DAY 2 – SUN 30 JUN 19

The provisioning arrived as planned and we quickly packed it away before meeting up with our boat briefer who put us through our paces, refuelled the boat, and practised us in berthing, anchoring, reefing and using the tender. We discovered a problem with the wind vane, which the charter company did everything to rectify, including climbing the mast on an adjacent yacht that was not out for charter, retrieving their mast head wind sensor and transferring it to our boat. Great service! This did slow our departure and with relatively strong winds we decided to head north to Double Bay on the mainland rather than rushing to get across to the islands.

DAY 3 – MON 1 JUL 19

After a good first night, we headed off across Whitsunday Passage. With winds 20 knots SE, seas 1.5m, and swell E-NE around 1m, it made for a lumpy trip across to the islands. Cabin Girl was an absolute champion overcoming some initial sea sickness.

A lumpy crossing of Whitsunday Passage

We stopped briefly for lunch at Blue Pearl Bay, on the western side of Hayman Island, before heading off to find a mooring in Butterfly Bay for the evening, offering great protection as the wind swung further south overnight. We went ashore for an explore – which included a walk among the butterflies, and sighting a turtle and a huge manta ray as we went back to the boat.

DAY 4 – TUE 2 JUL 19

After another still evening we left early to head across to Langford Island for a walk along the beach and some snorkelling. We picked up a mooring before 0930 and hung off it until mid afternoon.

Langford Island – or as Cabin Boy calls it “Disappearing Island”!
Langford Is
Getting ready to go ashore for a walk and swim

After lunch, with the wind picking up, we headed off to find some shelter for the evening. We originally planned on Cid Harbour, however on the way over we spotted a very protected bay – Mays Bay. We had never stayed here before and it turned out to be brilliant, good holding for the anchor and literally not a breath of wind from the S or SE. A real find and not what we were expecting.

Cabin Girl teaching us a new card game “Idiot”?

DAY 5 – WED 3 JUL 19

We hadn’t really been too lucky with the weather – the winds were a constant 20 knots and sometimes above, and firmly from the E through SE. We made the call to head back to Hamilton Island Marina. This would provide Cabin Girl an opportunity to see her twin, and her older sister, and Cabin Boy was dying to go on a buggy tour of the Island! There was a steady steam of boats that had the same idea as we did.

Heading back to Hammo!

Once alongside we reunited the twins, and hosted a dinner aboard for the shore based family.

DAY 6 – THU 4 JUL 19

Cabin Boy’s 14th Birthday! And yes – he is getting into the habit of having his birthday on a boat! A rainy and blustery day, with restricted sailing areas imposed on charter yachts. Very happy to be alongside. Buggy rides, 10 pin bowling and a swim at the resort pools. We got wetter trying to get the restaurant that night for a celebration dinner, than we did in an afternoon of swimming! In all our years of going to Hamilton Island, including at this time of year, we have never seen so much rain 😦

Birthday surprise!

DAY 7 – FRI 5 JUL to DAY 9 – SUN 7 JUL 19

We really weren’t lucky with the weather! It continued to bucket down, and with winds in the high teens through to mid 20s it was an easy decision to remain alongside. Thats not to say that we could not have sailed, or would not have had a great time in an anchorage on The Pearl, but rather, with another family and all that the island had to offer, there was enough to keep us all busy, engaged, and having a good time. We entertained and dined on the boat, working our way through the provisions to make sure that nothing went to waste.

Sunday morning came around too quickly, when we packed up, and met up with the Cumberland Charter Yachts crew who had come across from the mainland on the morning ferry. We conducted the post charter inspection and checkout (no issues), and then headed to the airport.

Because of the strong winds our flight was delayed arriving into Hamilton Island – we watched a number of jets attempt to land, go around, and then head back to the mainland due to the strong winds, low cloud and poor visibility. It was interesting that two Virgin flights had aborted landings and diverted to the mainland, while the Qantas flights were able to land.

THOUGHTS ON THE CAT

We specifically requested The Pearl for our second trip as we were very keen to see how she faired after a year of charter use. We were very impressed with her condition – there was no obvious wear and tear, and with the exception of the mast head wind sensor, everything was in an excellent state. We put this down to both the quality of the boat build, and the work that the charter company puts into maintaining her.

Even in difficult seas and strong winds she was a joy to sail. I cannot imagine spending the amount of time we did alongside in pouring rain and windy conditions, on a monohull. The large covered cockpit area, with its side cloths, and the large saloon made it joy to be on – there was never any sense of being confined. The saloon area offered space to walk around, great views throughout, and was like being in a small apartment.

All things considered, it was a brilliant holiday – different, and we of course would have preferred better weather, but the challenge of the weather presented us with other opportunities.

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