Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Untouched Islands

Can you spot the dinghy?
We were the first boat to leave Great Keppel Island at dawn and the last (of about 8) to arrive at Pearl Bay in the afternoon.

This part of the coast is very wild. Rocky outcrops suddenly plunge out of the water, some of them bare, while others are covered in thick impenetrable forest. There are no man-made structures in sight. We found a tiny beach (if you could call the collection of slightly smaller rocks that!) to pull in our rough-about dinghy into. We climbed the rocks and felt awed at the natural beauty of Pearl Bay.

There seems to be many more catamarans up here than we've ever seen before! The anchorage was very rolly and we barely slept. I kept looking out at the masts of the catamarans as they sat there – barely moving – while we bucked and bounced this way and that at the mercy of the waves. I must admit, I was very envious!

We followed some of these cats as they moved on, up to Island Head Creek. It was meant to be a simple journey but I found it scarier than ever before! Our little laptop which we bought especially for running navigation software, chose this trip to stop working. It kept losing the GPS signal and going to sleep right when we needed it most. Rene fought with the sails for hours trying to get Anhinga to move faster but the wind just didn't want to cooperate. The waves kept knocking us about while I held on for dear life onto the helm (steering wheel). I watched in ever-growing fear as these same waves moved on from under us, and then continued on to smash over the rocks of the land which was looming ever closer. Eventually the engine was started and it roared in protest as we changed course suddenly to avoid certain death at the face of some submerged rocks. The entrance to Island Head Creek looked so different in reality to the illustration in our Cruising The Coral Coast guidebook. Rene took over and expertly navigated our way through rocks and shoals while I sat on the foredeck freaking out.
Anhinga at Anchor in Island Head Creek
This place at first glance seems so pure and untouched by humans. The mountain ranges are covered in bushland, there are seabirds, turtles, fish and dolphins. The only humans here are on boats and there aren't many! Yet, when we walked along one of the beaches, I was saddened to discover that the highwater tide line had the most human-created rubbish that I've seen since leaving! Countless empty oil containers, rope, bottles, plastic, drums, paint rollers, condoms and the most bizarre thing – this computer monitor! WT? How did it get here? We're miles from civilisation! The only thing near here is an army base. I really hope that all of this waste is due to a cyclone or some other freak disaster and not from the yachties and fishermen who frequent this place as one of the last calm-water anchorages until the Whitsundays. How could someone choose to throw their rubbish overboard?

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