Airlie Beach - 20 15.620S 148 42.888E

Mike and Liz Downing
Sun 14 Jul 2013 09:33
Stayed a second night anchored off Whitehaven Beach, but the weather didn't improve - still lots of grey clouds, showers and strong winds. However, we did see glimpses of the sun and did manage a walk along the beach between showers. (Our first steps on land for 7 days!) The forecast is for much the same so we continued to sail north along the east side of Whitsunday Island, around the top between Whitsunday Island and Hook Island and on across the Whitsunday Passage to Airlie Beach on the mainland. It was a passage of only about 30 miles, but gave good views of the islands which are green (thickly wooded) and quite high, rising in places to 1,000ft or more. And when the sun did come out between the showers, the water was a lovely turquoise. All very picturesque. In the right weather this would be a lovely place to spend days cruising the islands. 
Airlie Beach is one of the main bases/jump-off points for the Whitsunday Islands and is supposed to be quite lively. We'll go ashore in the morning and find out. The anchorage here is good - well protected from the seas and swell from the southeast, big and shallow (16-20ft), so no problem putting out lots of chain to ensure we stay put in the strong winds. We're here to get a few provisions before heading north once again. Being on the mainland there is excellent Internet access here, so a few pictures this time.
Cape Capricorn, from where we're anchored. It's all quite shallow (we were only in 9ft), but we
probably could have got closer by going a little further out. 
The lighthouse buildings on the top have a railway going straight up the hill to carry things up
from the beach.
Refuge Bay on Scawfell Island. Despite the wind bullets it was a refuge from the high seas and
Scawfell Island again with one of only 2 other boats in the bay.
One of the visitors to the anchorage in Scawfell Island. 2 whales came close, but by the time
we got a camera they had moved away. The migration that's taking place is of Humpbacks, but
from this picture we think these might have been short-finned pilot whales. 
Whitehaven is a beautiful, gently curving beach about 3 miles long. Day trippers from other
islands and the mainland congregate in the southern end as this is protected from the winds and
swell, so easier for getting off the boats. By late afternoon they all disappear. Note the blue
sky - didn't see too much of that!
Cloudy once again. In the tropics, but still need a fleece to keep warm! We walked quite a way
around the beach and had it to ourselves, well........
...... almost! Another couple going in the opposite direction.
Day trippers arrive by all sorts of craft - converted racing yachts, catamarans, fast launches,
traditional motor boats, wave-piercing catamarans and .......
....... seaplanes.
The only coconut palm tree on the beach. It's very important to help
ensure you anchor in the right place (the navigation pilots refer to it)
and don't end up on the reef. (And to think we sheltered under it when
it rained - should have known better as it did have a lovely bunch of coconuts!)
The black boat is Aurora B anchored off the beach.
Our new dinghy (although it's not so new now) with the wheels down. The wheels hit the seabed
and keep the propeller off the bottom. The wheels made it easy to pull it up the beach. (Although
great when up, it's really one size too big for assembling on the foredeck.)
Our welcome to Airlie Beach - another shower and a double rainbow! The boats ahead are all local
boats on moorings. We are one of five boats anchored behind the mooring field.