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

Playing Games

This week we’ve been playing a lot of games. Monopoly. Pass the Pigs. Uno. That waiting game. It’s been a necessity; we’ve been sitting at anchor the whole time, waiting for the weather to change (and for another part for the generator to turn up on the mainland).

Matt chose a particularly lovely spot in which to get weather-bound; Cid Harbour on Whitsunday Island. It’s gorgeous here and has become another one of our favourites. The wooded hills almost fully encircle the bay, so you’re protected in most winds. There are several beaches to kayak or tender to and a few good walks, including the fairly demanding hike to the top of Whitsunday Peak (see here for the last time I climbed it).

According to 100 Magic Miles, Cid Harbour was occasionally used as an anchorage by the Australian and Allied navies during WWII, and it’s strange to think of such a pretty place being full of naval ships.  It’s been busy whilst this strong wind warning has been in force, Tilly counted 32 boats at one point.  And there’s still loads of space.

Before we came here to hide away from the wind, Matt wanted to sail to Whitehaven Beach and take us up to The Lookout. It was a boiling hot day and we met plenty of other tour groups on the path. There are so many daytrips that the operators have taken to tagging the guests with a disposable plastic anklet and each company has a different colour. It’s a great idea but does contribute to the “cattle class” vibe!

Tilly and Sasha were quite “meh” about the Lookout, and about waiting our turn to get our picture taken in front of the world class view, but they LOVED it when we got down to the water and they could splash about in the warm, impossibly-clear water. There are so many people on the beach too, but it’s so vast, there’s room for everyone. And amazingly, there are still fish darting about in the shallows, and beautiful rays and little sharks (not the scary sort, luckily!).

You can tell the visitors from the Aussies – and I first noticed this on Fraser Island. The visitors are usually in togs/minimal clothing and the Aussies are usually in longsleeves with hats. I’m not sure which is cooler, to be honest!

When we left Whitehaven, and headed to Cid through Hook Passage and past the ruins of the old observatory, it was hot and windless. Hard to believe there was weather coming. But we were glad to be tucked up safely the next day, the wind howled and the rain spat and the boat swung and danced around on her anchor chain. There’s been 30-35 knots recorded at Hamilton Island most days this week. I’m pretty sure that’s officially gale force.

After a couple of days we took advantage of a lull to go ashore for a family hike to the top of Whitsunday Peak. Most of us like a good stomp, but Sasha is … how to put this? Still unsure of the benefits. It’s a shortish hike to the top, only 2.5km, but steep and rugged. At some points you’re almost clambering and using your hands to pull you up.

Well. The fuss. The bellyaching. You’d have thought we asked her to do The Kokoda Track. To add to the fun, the rain had brought out the March flies and they were EVERYWHERE. March flies are like horse flies, massive and buzzy and take a big stinging chunk out of you when they bite. And there were clouds of them.

The only upside is, we were moving, which made it harder for them to land on us. We passed a small group on the beach as we started our walk, trying to picnic. All you could see was waving arms and people bobbing up and down from the picnic bench to avoid the flies. Their yelps faded into the distance as we climbed, but we were still besieged. It looked like we were Morris Dancers (a strange, Olde-English dance involving hopping and slapping) as we swiped and windmilled our way up the track.

The flies did thin out as we reached the top, probably blown away by the gale force wind up there. I was actually worried about the kids being blown off, the top is a huge dome of lichen-covered rock. And you’re awfully high up. But the view was amazing and we were very impressed that 7yo and 9yo legs had made it up. It took and hour and a half, and after some water and muesli bars (and some words of encouragement for the youngest member of the family) we headed back down.

Amazingly, the kids sang and danced their way down. I was quieter, on embarrassingly wobbly legs. It was quite a climb and I’m clearly out of practice!

The rest of the week we slipped into a very relaxing routine of schoolwork in the morning followed by playing, baking and “adventuring” (exploration trips in the tender).  And swatting March flies.

Matt has got loads of boatjobs ticked off his list.  One made me very happy: we don’t have a table in our cockpit and it’s the wrong size/shape for an eating-off one.  However, he’s made a very nifty removable one for drinks and nibbles!

Today we’re heading back into Airlie Beach to pick up the final things we’ve ordered, and to shop and take on water. Later this week we’re heading out again and this time – we should be finally departing the lovely Whitsundays.

South Ho!