At last we had reached the stunning clear waters and coral reefs that is Great Keppel Island, paradise now gained.
After a fairly windless 20nm trip from Curtis Island to Great Keppel we dropped anchor in Monkey Bay close to our good friends on Sagitaire. Along the way we witnessed mother and calf whales synchronised breaching, turtles and dolphins out enjoying the perfect weather and brilliant sunshine.
Monkey Bay is around the South Western side of the island, has good protection from the Easterly conditions and a lovely protected coral reef close to the beach. Just the thing for the Freespirits to wiggle their toes in the sand, enjoy a dip or three in the crystal clear water followed by some rousing nights of music playing Ukuleles, laughing and having fun.
The days seemed to pass in a blur as we soaked up the view, took numerous trips to the beach and had some good walks along this and the next cove called Long Beach. The pics pretty much tell the story and as we were at that time experiencing Neap tides we managed to bring Freespirit 52 close in to the beach.
We visited the Resort, spoke to locals and got the impression that much of the vigorous tourism which inspired its early development has since gone. Only peak school and public holiday times now see crowds of any size yet the beauty and attraction of the island is undeniable.
Perhaps this is a sign of the workplace malaise overtaking our country where family holidays are fewer and lower budget than ever before. Lower wages, casual tenure and the possibility of redundancy at any moment must spell doom for family holidays on resort islands whilst the well heeled head further North to Hamilton Island and the Whitsundays for their holiday leisure time. With the weather turning Northerly it was time to seek more suitable shelter so the Freespirits moved further round the island to Long Beach. As the name implies this is a long sandy crescent shaped beach. What a beauty! Gently shelving sandy bottom beach with crystal clear water over. Just the ticket for a walk and beachcomb or just a swim and a long look over the scene to drink in the serenity.
Mid afternoon I tried out my trusty Squid Jig and caught a monster within a few minutes. This fellow measured over 60cm long with bulgy eyes big as golf balls and enough ink to write several copies of War and Peace! Cooked up as Salt and Pepper Squid he was delicious!
With the Northerly setting in, more boats came around to join us off Long Beach until we were 17 by the second night. That afternoon we enjoyed sundowners on another ‘Freespirit’ (a catamaran) with some new friends before heading back to our own Freespirit 52 for dinner.
Around midnight a sudden about-turn in the wind saw everyone caught against a lee shore as 30 kn gusts screamed in from the South. This was an entirely unannounced, (un-forecast) and an unprecedented state of affairs with the sudden wild weather jerking anchor chains, tossing people out of their beds and many pulling their anchors up and moving further offshore to a safer distance. Unnerving to say the least but totally unseen by the BOM of whom discussion on yachting social media was fast and furious. It seemed a very large number of yachts cruising north Queensland had been caught by these nasty conditions and were definitely not happy.
Thankfully no boats were lost that I’m aware of but not much sleep was had that night by anyone either.
Days earlier I had booked us into the Keppel Bay Marina and so we motored off the next morning and took up a berth there.
Unfortunately this is also the departure point for Dini as she leaves the boat to return to Tasmania. These eight months have been the best times in my life and I’m not looking forward to the lonely weeks ahead. My task from here is to resupply, repair and prepare for the long trip back down South to Tassy.
Here Freespirit 52 will become our temporary home and weekend pleasure vessel as our life together enters a new phase.
Caio (for now)