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Voyageur - Log day 131 - "The Beach"

1 August 2010

With the morning, all the mist and rain of the last two days had passed over and for the first time since leaving Mackay we luxuriated in the warmth of the sun. The marina rules dictated that we had to vacate our berth by 11am. We cast off the mooring lines at 9am. With 29nm to go today and a planned lunch stop on the way it was a sharp start for us. Our first destination was Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island. Now I know what all the fuss is about. Whitehaven Beach is not just a beach. It is magnificent beach, but it is just a beach! 6km long, it consists of pure white silica sand, hardly a soul on it. Whitsunday Island is the largest in the group and the Australian government have certainly had the good sense to leave it undisturbed and undeveloped. There is nothing here save the bush and beaches. Although Whitehaven was not recommended as an overnight anchorage due to swell it was a location that we felt must not be missed. In Aboriginal language it means "whispering sands". We lay quietly at anchor, staying long enough to have lunch before heading north to Hook Island. We had to get our timing exactly right to pick up a mooring there before 5pm so we could remain on it overnight. The anchorage in Butterfly Bay in the north east of the island like very many other throughout the Whitsundays, is protected under the anchoring scheme. A marine park, the Whitsundays are governed by very strict rules brought in to protect the coral as so much has been damaged through anchoring. White buoys form a line of demarcation beyond which a boat may not anchor. From 9am in the morning until 5pm only two hours on the moorings are allowed. If you arrive before 5pm you may stay on the mooring overnight until 9am in the morning again. This sounds all well and good but when we arrived at Butterfly Bay just after 3pm no one was for moving. We were so lucky that there was just one available mooring left to pick up. They are extremely well maintained and colour coded for the size of the boats. We were told they are screwed into the seabed and so guarantee that you will not go anywhere, that is in winds up to 34knots. After that you are on your own! Hook Island is just south of Hayman Island, the last in the group which is so exclusive that if you go into the marina you are not allowed to stay on board your boat. You are required to seek accommodation ashore, presumably at vast expense. There is nothing like your own bed and Voyageur's are extremely comfortable. Peter agrees. He has slept like a log ever since his arrival on board. We'll see how he gets on tomorrow night. It will be his first overnight passage as we head for Townsville 137nm to the north......

Susan Mackay

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