Tuesday 24 th June

Greg & Janie came round for morning coffee then it was off to explore Magnetic Island (Maggie as the locals call it). The weather was stunning again. On our way out of the marina we noticed Whiskers in the duck pond ( a sheltered basin just outside the marina). We gave Gary and Mel a call just as Mel was preparing to catch the bus back down to Bunderberg for a few days for family. Having agreed to catch up with Gary on our return to Townsville in a few days we kept going all of 4 Nm to Picnic Bay on the south of Magnetic Island. Greg and Janie had recommended it as a great place to see to lights of Townsville at night and the early morning sun on Castle Hill. As a light northerly was blowing we thought why not.

Ashore after lunch we explored the track up to Hawkings Point, which overlooked Nellie Bay to the North

and Picnic Bay to the SW.

At the lookout we meet Phil, a local, who was showing his mate Steve around. We got chatting and Phil offered to drive us up to Arcadia to save us the walk both ways as it was a hot afternoon.

Phil gave us the Cook's tour of the area and dropped us off at Geoffrey Bay. We walked back on the beautifully made broad walks, exploring the Nellie Bay Marina on the way. (Found out that Nellie Bay marina is about half the cost of Townsville marina's).

It was a long hot walk back but very scenic.

Wednesday 25th June

We were expecting a wind change from the SW around 0400 and it came in an hour early. Although not strong enough to cause a problem the sea got choppy and jiggled us about making sleep difficult. Lea wanted to be up early to see the dawn on Castle Hill so we got going early heading for the north of the island. As it turned out the light on Castle Hill was better around 0800 but we got much better photos a couple of days later.

We did consider anchoring in Radical Bay as it looked stunning as we past it. However, the forecast indicated Horsehoe Bay to be a better choice for the day so we continued on, anchoring close to DOT and crew.

It was lovely in the bay so we blew up the SUP's for the first time this trip and went for a paddle over to DOT to invite the crew over for sundowners. Then we dinghied ashore to catch a bus up to the beginning of the Forts Walk. These forts were part of the WWII defence positions. Unfortunately both the Fort and the Signal Station were closed for repairs. The gun emplacements, however, were well preserved although apparently no one knows what happened to the guns after the war ended.

Above the 2 gun emplacements was the range finding station.

The guns commanded a great view over the approaches to Townsville.

We looked for a shortcut down to Radical Bay but the Ranger advised against it so we headed back to the car park just in time to jump on the bus back to Horseshoe Bay.

After a light lunch in town we were off again to walk over to Radical Bay. Lea enjoyed a quick swim. I relaxed in the shade.

The tide was well out when we returned, hot and tired, so it was a big job to haul the dinghy across the sand into the water.

The crew from DOT arrived for drinks and we finished up at the local Thai Restaraunt attached to the backpackers lodge. Another good night was had.

Thursday 26th June

With all the walking over the last 2 days Lea's Achilles' tendon was painful again so we decided on a rest day. It was beautifull weather again and we pottered around the boat. I attacked some rust spots on the washing machine but soon realised it was a bigger job than it first appeared. I sanded out the worst of the rust bubbles in the paintwork and quickly sealed them with epoxy self priming enamel.

We got the message just after lunch that the spinnaker was ready so we headed back to Townsville. Good sail back in a 15 knot SE hard on the wind heading east then bore away down the island. Arrived at Breakwater Marina bang on low tide so we crawled in slowly with only centimetres of water under the keels.

Sail was delivered as promised at 1600 and we were soon joined by Gary off Whiskers. Afternoon drinks started and Greg and Janie soon arrived.( together with the correct toilet bit).

BBQ'ed butterfly lamb leg for dinner and Janie had been to the Cheesecake Shop for desert so a farewell feast was had, together with a great catch up with Gary.

We squatted on the fuel pontoon for the night and hoped we didn't upset marina management too much.

Friday 27th June

Marina activity started around 0500 so we were up and gone before 0700 in the early morning calm. We motored out through West Channel as the morning sun hit Castle Hill.

We also got a text from Janie who was doing her dawn walk up the Hill and could see us leaving.

Lea went back to bed for an hour as she hadn't slept well. Then it was Spinnaker time as the breeze filled in a little. Repair looks good.

We had a slow pleasant sail to Little Pioneer Bay on Orpheus Island. We had cloud cover all day and it was a little chilly at 21 degrees but conditions improved once we sailed through Steamer Passage near Greater Palm Island. The swell lessened and the sun made more of an effort to break through the clouds.

Picked up, a courtesy mooring in Little Pioneer Bay and watched a pair of Brahminy Kites working to find their dinner. Tide was too low for us to go ashore.

The weather was forecast as light and southerly the next day so we agreed to head for Zoe Bay on the outer eastern side of Hinchenbrook Island. It was a rare opportunity to access one of the most beautiful places in the whole area.