The Stewart family buy a boat, jack it all in and go sailing!

Next please!

We’re ready for Stage 2.

Much as we’ve enjoyed floating around the Whitsundays and seeing our land-based friends every week or so, we’re now keen to set off on the next stage of our journey.

The plan is to head south and … well, see what happens.  Our plans are pretty loose!  We’d like to be out of the tropics for the cyclone season (which officially starts on 1st November; earlier than I thought) and we also have family in Hervey Bay, so we thought that would be a good place for Christmas.

Matt grew up in Hervey Bay, and his first job as a freshly-minted Captain at the tender age of 19 was driving the ferries to Fraser Island, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site.  He knows the area well and we all love the beautiful sand island, the whales, the sealife, the fishing, the beaches and the cool island creeks and lakes.

We’re looking forward to the sail down there as well.  It would only take a week or two if we sailed every day but there are lots of gorgeous places to visit on the way down and we also have friends we want to spend some time with, so we’re allowing a couple of months.

We’re pretty much ready to go. We’re just waiting for a few things to be posted to our long-suffering shore-based friends in Airlie Beach who are acting as Postman Pat: a small part for the generator (one day it’ll work perfectly!), some jackstays (webbing straps that run the length of the boat that you can clip yourself to when going on deck in foul weather) and some sail slides (these are T-shaped plastic pieces sewn onto the leading edge of the sail and then fed inside the mast to allow the sail to be hoisted up and down; the current ones are too small and keep popping out of the mast track, doh!).

I wouldn’t say we’re itching to go but … ok, yes, we’re itching to go.

Or to put it another way, we’re itching to be ready to go.  To have everything collected from land, to be provisioned and watered and watching for the rightweather.

We had such a great daysail with our friends last weekend.  I’d forgotten the joys of taking friends out for a daysail, you see the awesomeness of sailing through their eyes and it’s such a buzz.  The point is though; in the morning we bashed our way over to a local island.  Nothing too bad, but we were going into the wind, with a bit of chop, which made it all quite bouncy.  After anchoring for lunch and watching the kids divebomb off the bow, we sailed home again, with the wind astern this time.

It was heaven, gliding along, watching the islands drift past.  We were sailing faster than we could motor, but it felt like we were hardly moving at all.  We are now firmly resolved to sail downwind as much as possible! So when we’ve picked up our last packages (thanks again, Kirstie & Jase!) we’ll be watching the weather for some seasonal Northerlies to take us on our way.

We’re currently back in Macona Inlet, which is becoming one of our favourite spots.  It’s very sheltered and peaceful, plenty of space and plenty to do – snorkelling, beachwalks, kayaking, collecting and eating oysters.

We saw dolphins when we arrived yesterday, a mum and calf judging by the size.

There are often fish jumping here, breaking the glassy calm of the water, and phosphorescence in the water at night.  We love seeing the marine life, it’s one of the best parts of this lifestyle.

Yesterday we were at Stonehaven Beach, just around the corner.  It’s a busy anchorage and was quite gusty; however we went as some friends had told us of a friendly turtle who lives there.  He loves having his shell stroked, and will come over to say hello.  He’s a bit of a local personality and we thought Tilly and Sasha would like to meet him.  We were lucky enough to pick up a mooring in the area where he hangs out, and sure enough, over came “Nigel”.  He cruised over (he would definitely talk like the surfer-dude turtles in Finding Nemo) and hung around for a while, checking us out, investigating the hull of Iron Will and the tender and coming up for a stroke.  He didn’t seem to have any fear, and friends on other boats nearby reported he visited them as well.  He came back several times during the afternoon and evening, just cruisin’ around, checking out the ‘hood.  It was fab!

This morning we’re going to the world-famous Whitehaven Beach, to hopefully climb up to The Lookout and see those amazing views of swirls of white sand and turquoise waters that are so amazing they look photoshoppped in pictures.  We won’t stay though, it can be a rolly anchorage and there is the forecast of some winds coming, so we’re going to Cid Harbour (more here on Cid) for a few days to hide from the weather.

And then – bring on Stage 2!