Pictures from Passages to Magnetic Island, Orpheus Island and Dunk Island

Mike and Liz Downing
Wed 31 Jul 2013 13:27
A few pictures from the passages to Magnetic Island, Orpheus Island and Dunk Island. It was on the way to Magnetic Island that we had our encounter with the breaching whale. Since writing the blog for that day we have looked at the video I was taking. I was recording at the time, trying to get our two headsails in, when the whale decided to try and fly! Looking at the video you can hear the noise of the whale smashing back into the water and see the mast, rigging and sails all shudder from the shock wave. It was too close for comfort!
We keep referring to our poled out headsails - this is a reminder of what that looks like. With
wind dead astern (or close to it) the main just gets in the way and blankets one of the other sails.
So as each genoa is bigger than the main (just), it's better not to use it. Together the two genoas
give 1,067 sq ft of sail. 
Looking the other way. Going dead down wind in a good blow, as we were on the way to
Magnetic Island, she is remarkably stable - very little rolling. Shame I wasn't looking this
way when the whale came along! Creeping up behind us was not in the script!
The sea on that day. It looked rough and confused, but was never big and never a threat,
but it was a lovely colour in the sunshine. With our headsails poled out she hit speeds we didn't
think we would get close to any more as she's so much heavier these days! 
8.1kts, not bad and shortly after the camera was put away she reached 8.7kts. As the sea wasn't
big we could happily do these speeds. In bigger seas, careering down waves at these speeds is a
bit hairy and the risk of breaking something expensive much more likely. So in those conditions
we would generally keep both sails up to keep her balanced, but reef both right down. 
Horseshoe Bay at Magnetic Island (off the coast at Townsville). It proved a good anchorage for the
3 nights we were there. The buoyed off area is for swimming. It was patrolled by lifeguards and
may have had shark nets.
The same bay taken from on board as the sun goes down.
Looking inland on Magnetic Island. There were coconut palms along the shore, but it was all eucalyptus
and open bush land further in, not tropical vegetation that we're used to, although well into the
"You will see wild koalas on Magnetic Island" was the message from friends who had gone before!
This sign was encouraging.
Another sign that suggested they might be right.
So we walked up to the Forts - a bush walk up to a World War II lookout and gun placement (here
the threat was from Japan), looking down on this bay en route.
Although bush, as we got further up it was more rocks and boulders, but the path was a good one.
The lookout and gun position perched high up on the rocks, and not far away ........
................ our first wild koala.
Note the change in position - they do move in the wild! It turned around a few times, had a good
scratch and settled down in the new position
Having left Magnetic Island the passage to Orpheus Island could not have been more different.
No wind and the smoothest sea we have seen in years.
We motored on for 8 hours and not a breath of air. But it was a lovely sunny day.
Approaching Orpheus Island where we anchored in Pioneer Bay.
The following day en route to Dunk Island, with a little more wind and Hinchinbrook Island in
the distance. The island is high, over 3,000ft and is often covered in cloud. The areas of the
mainland to the west of it are some of the wettest in Australia as the island forces the air up,
clouds form and down comes the rain!
The clouds threaten to expose the peaks, but not quite.
Anchored at Dunk Island. Further out than the others as other boats had been there when
we anchored and with a high spring tide due we wanted to make sure we stayed in deep
water. The tides here are higher than in Pittwater and at springs the rise of tide was up to 11ft.
The island looked a lot more tropical, with tropical rainforest covering the slopes. The resort on
the island was being rebuilt after the cyclone in 2011. Having been an expensive up-market resort,
we had assumed it would have lovely clear water, but were disappointed to find that we couldn't
see more than a foot or two down the anchor chain. The islands not that far out and probably gets
affected by the run-off from the mainland.