Thursday, September 8, 2016

Exploring in the Whitsunday Islands

Like New Zealand's Bay of Islands, the Whitsunday Islands are Queensland's premier cruising grounds. Unlike the Caribbean Virgin Islands, there are no restaurants or shopping on most of these islands. A local cruiser was kind enough to give our group an impromptu presentation on where to go and anchoring the Whitsundays. It was very helpful.

We had a friend sleep over - under the boat at Tongue
Point anchorage: a huge Grouper!
Actually, we chose a counterclockwise route because we wanted Sheila to see Whitehaven Beach. This time we visited Hill Inlet from the Tongue Bay side. The path joined the path to the viewing platform. Again it was breathtaking. There is so much beauty in nature and we miss so much rushing through our daily routines.

The sand and water pattern is different every tide.
From Tongue Point, we sailed north to Manta Ray Bay. Our lovely weather made a turn and kick up 30-35 knot winds. This turned out okay since we were sailing with it from behind the beam.

If we had been going on the route as described, we would have been bow crashing into it. As we rounded the corner of Hook Island, we could see all of the moorings in Manta Ray and Luncheon Bays were taken so we when on to Butterfly Bay to find one.

Dennis and Sheila went snorkeling, but there were jelly fish so it was a short trip. On land, they made a discovery described as "magical." So the next day I went ashore to see this magical thing. And it was!

It was hard to photograph the mass of butterflies in flight.
The forest was filled with thousands of butterflies. They were fluttering everywhere. And whenever you made a sound, they all took flight again and again. We just stood and watched for a long time.

Capturing them as a phot or video was challenging. This also explains the butterflies we had seen flying near other islands further south within the Great Barrier Reef.

Our next stop was at Blue Pearl Bay on Hayman Island. Back at Butterfly Bay, Dennis and Sheila decided we would tow the dinghy; I expressed my concern, but it fell on deaf ears. I had just had that unsettling feeling. While trying to snag a mooring buoy in Blue Pearl Bay, we managed to flip the dinghy and lost our oars and anchor. These were the oars we had struggled to find on our way to St. Lucia in 2013. Now the search is on again.

Sheila (who is a professional dive master) donned Dennis' diving gear and went down in search of the items. The water was dark and murky so she couldn't see much, but she found the floor of the bay covered with lost item like flip flops, snorkel equipment, junk and even a few boat hooks. She surfaced with a paddle, but could see our oars. After cleaning it up, it became ours. Since we were occupied with the mooring buoy, we weren't sure where the dinghy actually flipped. Mission Not Accomplished.

Then Dennis and Sheila went snorkeling in Blue Pearl Bay, which was much better than Butterfly Bay - and no jellyfish. Enjoy Dennis' photos:

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