Left early this morning on another southeast 25 to 30kt forecast. This time we actually learnt from the previous passage and didn't bother to prepare the poles before we left. Just as well as it was east southeast to start with and we would have had the wrong pole up. But it did mean putting the pole up in quite rough seas. These winds have been blowing now for several days non stop day and night and the seas have built and are now churning, confused and aggressive (glad we didn't have the dinghy on the back), but putting the pole up was no issue apart from a wave coming onboard the side deck while I was sitting in the sun attaching the guys, so ended up with wet feet! The good thing about today was the colour of the sea - a lovely turquoise, mixed with foaming white horses. We haven't seen colours like this since Fiji and it was a real picture, but it would have been nicer if a little less aggressive. Nevertheless the boat was very comfortable. The course had several dog legs in and we soon had both poles up and making up to 8kts at times. The passage was 43.3 miles to Shaw Island which is in the southern group of the Whitsunday Islands. The Whitsundays group is probably the main cruising area in Australia. There are lots of charter boats here (not that we've seen any yet), and it's where we chartered for a week when we came in 2001. Then we had light winds. It's quite a different place with 25 to 30kts blowing and the strong winds are forecast continue so we'll be lucky if we can get to the anchorages we had hoped to visit. We're anchored in the lee of Shaw Island, so the sea is mostly flat, but it's blowing like stink here with sustained winds of 20 - 30kts (we would happily swap it for the bullets of Scawfell). We'll have all our alarms on tonight - wind, depth and GPS to check if we start to drag. If we must have strong winds over the next week, lets hope the sun comes out as well - it makes all the difference.
Incidentally, we've just found out that ABC Radio (equivalent to our BBC) is broadcasting Test Match Special from the UK, so we're listening to the first Ashes Test Match with Australia at 130 for 9. We haven't heard Geoffrey Boycott and the Test Match Special team for years and it's a bit like old times!