Whitsundays – Part III

We made it to Cid Harbor again on Thursday with just enough time, we thought, to do the four hour hike to the top of Whitsunday Peak. We had the anchor down and were immediately ready to put the dinghy in the water and leave for the island at 2:30 with 4 hours of light (maybe). Karen wasn’t going to do the hike since she can’t make steep ascents at a fast pace. So, she ended up taxiing us with the dinghy ashore. We took a VHF so we could call her.

We already knew where the trailhead was from our first visit, so we started on the hike right away. The oldest boy walked with me and we were told to walk on ahead while the rest of the family came at their own pace. It was a nice trail actually, with many stone steps (made with plenty of rock on the sides of this volcanic-origin mountain). There was also plenty of vegetation to keep us in the shade. It was a bit strenuous, but not really bad. In fact, we made it to the top in less than 1 hour! Not only that, but the rest of the family were only 10 minutes behind us! I was very impressed that even their youngest – 6 year old – made that pace. At the top, we were treated to a spectacular view of the islands. We had about 220 degrees of view, but trees at the top blocked the rest. Fortunately, a short trail leads to a view the other direction – where you can see Nara Inlet and Hamilton Island. We took lots of pictures while we were there – the album below includes photos from both Part II and the trip up Whitsunday Peak.

View full-sized with descriptions

The hike down went quickly of course, so we made it back after only 2 hours. It was a pleasant surprise to find the trail sign was way off in the time required.

The next morning, Friday, was to be our last full day at the island. The family wanted to go to Butterfly Bay again and do more snorkeling. So, we sailed that morning the 16 miles or so around Hook Island. Not long after arriving we went snorkeling. The water was clearer this time and we had a good time. I noticed a large coralhead not far from Tahina. So, after our snorkeling, I brought out the VideoRay ROV. We had a good time exploring the nearby coral. There was a very funny moment when I suggested we explore the bottom of the reef to look for a lobster. Two seconds later I dropped the dinghy and looked in a likely spot and there was a lobster right there! They were amazed at my ability to find lobster – too bad I can’t do that when we are in a spot where lobstering is allowed.

Unfortunately, when bringing the Videoray back to the boat, I asked the kids to bring the tether back in. Only, it wouldn’t come up. It turns out I forgot to tell the boys to only put out a small amount of tether at a time. We had got wrapped up on something. We brought the ROV over to look at the problem, but it was too wrapped up to untangle from above. So, while I was trying, Karen got my dive gear out and I ended up having to dive down to 42 feet and untangle it.

We had a nice big dinner that Karen prepared while we watched a movie. Turns out we have recruited some new fans of “Galaxyquest”.

The next morning, we moved the boat over to Manta Bay again. The winds were up a bit. Only two of the kids wanted to go, but they had some small jelly fish stings. Annoying enough that they decided to come back out. Their parents stayed out a while longer and enjoyed some great views of fish since there wasn’t anyone else in the bay at the time.

We then left to sail back to Airlie Beach. The winds were a bit higher than the 15-20 knots I expected. And more southerly. Plus, we had an opposing tide through the channel, which meant the seas would be a bit choppy. Once we sailed around Hook Island, and headed a bit further south to get a better angle, we started sailing with a double-reefed main, and a triple reefed jib. We had 30-35 knots apparent wind at times, and seas as high as 4-6 feet for a short while. The family thought it was a great time. Fortunately, the winds didn’t stay that way the entire trip. But, we did make it there pretty fast.

In the afternoon, we went ashore and did some shopping. We also opted to stay and have dinner ashore. The family bought us dinner as a reward for treating them to such a good time at the islands.

Today, on their last day, we plan to do some cleaning, laundry, and Karen and I need to do more provisioning. The family will also be packing up as they leave in the evening for an overnight bus trip back to Cairns. Karen and I will need to move the boat back over to Hamilton Island because we are picking up our daughter there tomorrow. We will go to the expensive marina again, so we can wash the boat, get more fresh water, and do more cleaning.

Read part I and Part II of our visit to the Whitsundays (and more photos).

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