Whitsundays - Hamilton Is to Airlie Beach

Day 12 Sunday 28 September

With the wind forecast to strengthen in the afternoon, we got going early, heading over to the fuel jetty first to top up. This caused a few anxious moments because we weren't 100% sure of the location and navigating Sandpiper around a tight marina is not our strong point, particularly with a lot of big power boats equipped with twin engines and bow thrusters zipping around like cars in a carpark. However, we got directions to the jetty and made it alongside without crashing anything.

Then it was off to Cid Harbour for the day and night. As we exited the harbour mouth, a fast cat ferry arrived from Daydream Island. It kept up the high speed approach right to the head of the channel entrance, creating a wake that threatened to break over us. We had to round up rapidly. Why is this sort of thing so common? I have found that commercial operators have very little regard for recreational boaters.

At various times on the trip to Cid Harbour, we tried setting a jib to take advantage of what appeared to be some wind but each time we pulled it in soon afterward. The reality was it was dead calm. The charts indicated that we could expect eddies and whirlpools in some areas during spring tides so we were careful to give all the points and isolated reefs a wide berth. A couple of times the boat was thrown this way or that as the rushing tide pushed the hull aside but there was nothing really nasty and we entered the lovely Cid Harbour, between Cid and Whitsunday Islands.

There were already at least a dozen boats anchored throughout the area, a figure that would grow to over thirty by sundown. As a perfect protection from the SE, it was to be a popular spot. As we entered the anchorage area, there was another trailer sailer, a Sonata by the looks of her and called Night Ryder. We exchanged greetings with the occupants, who indicated that they were just leaving. Another smaller Farr 6 called Mini Mac also cruised out, a shame because we had been hoping to cross paths with some other trailer sailers.

Initially, we anchored off Dugong Beach but inshore areas proved rocky. We stayed for the high tide and went ashore to take the 2km return walk trail to Sawmill Beach, a trail that took us up the hill through some beautiful rainforest and hoop pine forest to the next beach. It was a steady climb up then down but the trouble is we had to repeat the whole exercise for the return journey. Another 4km return walk could have taken us to the summit of Whitsunday Summit but we decided to leave that to younger and fitter types.

On our return, we relocated to the better depths near Hughes Point. As the afternoon wore on, the anchorage filled with craft of all types until it resembled a public mooring area in a large city.

Day 13 Monday 29 September

We got an early start to avoid forecast freshening south easterlies and motor sailed down Hunt Channel to return to Hamilton Harbour. The wind was gusting madly so one minute we were doing 6 knots and the next the sails were hanging limp. The channel is quite narrow and we seemed to face a regular procession of large wakes from very big power vessels. We were following a keeler around 35' and they seemed to take the brunt of it. I am convinced that some skippers will head towards a displacement hull to watch in amusement as they bounce in their wakes.

Once around the corner we had to turn straight into the wind so we got the jib down and tried to use the main as a steadying force, doing long slow tacks down Fitzalan Passage. Once opposite Dent Channel, Christine radioed the marina in the hope that our booked berth was ready but unfortunately, it had not been vacated and they had until 11pm so we decided to anchor off Beach 25 on Whitsunday Island.

As we motored towards the anchorage, I glanced at the sounder and saw it read 7 feet. I looked over the side and all I could see was numerous bombies and plates of coral. Motoring with the tide, we were doing 6 knots so I rapidly backed off and Christine went up front to spot our way out. The chart doesn't show this reef, the chart plotter doesn't show it but 100 Magic Miles has it clearly marked with a “Danger! Reef” in red. I guess we were lucky.

Eventually, our berth was ready and we faced the usual horrors of entering harbour and berthing up. This is not our strong point and it pains me to watch people with huge boats spin them like tops and back into a berth. Twin engines and a bow thruster helps.

We showered, washed some clothes, had a beer, made lunch and generally relaxed, watching the comings and goings. We are berthed next to a charter fishing boat which does half day charters. I was amazed to see them just filleting fish and throwing the carcasses over the side in a marina. I guess there is a resident population of rays and shovelnose that clean everything up quickly but it still looks bad. They cleaned up, boarded the afternoon crew and headed off again. The catches weren't huge but there was a steady stream of scarlet sea perch and red emperor so most people seemed to walk off with a healthy bag of fillets.

On the other side of the fishing charter there was a bareboat Benneteau 31 out of Shute Harbour. I spoke to the family of four on board and asked how the boat sailed. I was a bit stunned when the reply was that they couldn't compare it to anything else because they had never sailed before but they found it easy enough. So much for all the hard work getting some sailing experience.

Day 14 Tuesday 30 September

Today was excursion day, with a helicopter flight and a trip to Reef World, a floating pontoon out on Hardy Reef. The helicopter trip was worth every cent, an amazing ride over Whitehaven Beach, the beautiful Hill Inlet and out to the Great Barrier Reef. It was terrific to fly over some of the islands and passages that we would sail to over the coming week and pick out the best of the anchorages and corals. We had to fly in separate choppers, bookings being otherwise taken up for more than a week. This paid off for me because my machine only carried three passengers and being the single, I got to go in front. The pilot had previously worked in the Kimberleys, at both the Mitchell Falls and the Bungle Bungles so we had more in common than with the other couple from South Korea.

Christine was in a bigger helicopter, which carried five passengers. She didn't get front seat but had a terrific view. The highlight of the flight was undoubtedly the chance to get a big picture view of the area. From the air, things scale down a lot, especially when we are used to taking an hour to cover 6 or 7 kilometres.

It is a long way to the reef itself. The closest reef is Bait Reef, a sail of 17 nautical miles from Border Island, the most easterly safe anchorage. Hardy reef is more like 30 nautical miles out, too far for Sandpiper. Once away from the protection of the Whitsunday Islands, the sea gets a lot heavier and there is no way we would be that brave. Many do, however, we could see a cluster of yachts at anchor in the protection of Bait Reef to the north.

We did several circuits of features of interest on the reef, including the over-hyped “Heart Reef”. I have seen pictures of this perfect heart shaped feature and had always assumed it was a lot smaller than the picture suggested but I was shocked at just how tiny it is. It is a big sell but then the Japanese tourists seem to love that kind of thing.

We landed on floating pontoons near Reef World and were ferried over on a small barge. The Reef World platform is spacious, easily holding a considerable crowd of passengers with two large power catamarans alongside, one from Airlie Beach and one from Hamilton Island. The platform is anchored in the channel between Hardy and Hook reefs, right up against the reef drop off. It has been in place for thirty years, a fact demonstrated by the incredible coral growth on the mooring chains.

The platform is brilliantly organised, with a large staff ensuring that everything runs smoothly. A safety briefing was compulsory and supplied in a variety of languages. There is a wonderful array of snorkelling and dive gear on hand, including both stinger suits and full wet suits. For the less confident, there are life jackets and ropes and buoys anchored along the reef face. Inflatable craft patrol the snorkelling area, rounding up stragglers and always ready for the rescue. It is a slick operation.
The coral itself is beautiful, with lots of beautiful stag horns and plates. The fish life is abundant, including some seriously large fish in the form of a 300kg Queensland Groper called Charlie, a very large Maori Wrasse and a number of giant trevally over the 50kg mark.

The problem with the experience is the sheer number of people, many of whom have absolutely no idea of what they are doing. We entered the water and were bumped, crashed, buffeted and apologised to endlessly. It didn't ruin the experience but seriously detracted from it.

Back on board the platform, we gazed into a viewing well, set into the deeper water, at the huge pelagic fish that had taken up residence. We also took a cruise on the semi submersible underwater viewing vessel that does continual 20 minute circuits of the reef front. We saw more this way than we did with the snorkelling experience. It was quite breathtaking.

Lunch was an excellent buffet affair with a wonderful salad array, chicken, ham and the usual large tiger prawns to add that touch of luxury. Of course, we felt compelled to wash it all down with a wine and a beer.

The trip back to Hamilton was interesting. We had wisely stacked out a good seat early and avoided the wind and spray swept location that provided so much amusement to those of us who remained dry. Through the shipping channel, a voyage of around an hour, the boat staff patrolled endlessly with pockets stuffed full with sick bags, ready to pounce on anyone looking green. Actually, everyone did very well given the conditions. Once back inside Hook Island, things calmed down again and the second half of the two hour trip was peaceful, with getting access to the fruit and scones being the hardest part.

The day was expensive by any measure, but it was something we will remember and recount many times over the next few years. It was definitely money well spent.

Day 15 Wednesday 1 October

We stocked up on a few provisions, including fuel. After the traumas of the last visit to the fuel jetty, we put some small jerries in the tender and ran across to fill them. The system is that you use a credit card to do a pre-approval for a certain amount, fill your boat, then wait a couple of days for the pre-approval to turn into a withdrawal for the amount purchased. Not having my glasses with me, I mis-read the instructions and entered my PIN number instead of the amount desired. The result was that I got a pre-approval for over $5000 worth of fuel yet purchased around $20 worth. This is why Christine usually does all our financial transactions.

We left the harbour without drama and headed south through Fitzalan Passage. There were a few interesting spots with the tidal flow lumping up against the south east breeze but nothing too serious. However, as we continued south, the seas grew as both the breeze rose to around 10 knots and the tide started to run hard.

Our first stop was Chance Bay, a possible overnight stop depending on just how bouncy it would be. On a tide that was still very low, we picked our way through the numerous bombies to a strip of sand on the beach. The anchorage was reasonable but would get much worse with any more south in the wind so in the end we decided to push on through Solway Passage to Whitehaven Bay.

Much has been written about the perils of Solway Passage in a tide opposed wind. However, with the wind steady at only 10 knots, we didn't have any issues, although we could see the areas that would get a lot worse if the wind was to pick up. I had to disconnect the autohelm too, because it couldn't cope with the forces the tidal flow created. This is a place that could be a very bad place to be in the wrong conditions.

As we rounded into Whitehaven Bay the sheer popularity of the place became obvious. Named as the World's Best Beach in numerous surveys, it attracts a daily flotilla of pleasure craft, some of them more like small ships than private cruisers. The beach was littered with people, the larger groups from the many charter excursion boats. These boats attempt to break the world record for the most number of people in an inflatable in order to ferry everyone ashore. Fortunately, Whitehaven Beach is 7kms long and can accommodate everyone, from tour groups to those who want to isolate themselves or even remove all their clothing on a glorious stretch of pure white silica sand.

We anchored up, quite close to shore, and had lunch. As we prepared to go ashore, a bareboat mono-hull came alongside to anchor, I worried that they were too close but they dropped the pick and proceeded to pay out at least 100m of chain, all in 12 foot of water. They were destined to swing on a big arc.

We went ashore, swam, relaxed, inspected the camping area, watched others at play and generally just posted time on the iconic Whitehaven Beach.

From there, we hoisted a jib, poled it out and ghosted along with the breeze at 3 knots to find the entrance to Hill Inlet for the night. The tide was high, so access wasn't an issue for us, but I was anxious to follow the deeper water channel to mark a track on the GPS for coming out tomorrow. After one aborted attempt, we found the right channel and made our way in to anchor in a very calm spot on 8 foot of water. We calculated that this would keep us afloat for the night, although we probably wouldn't get out again until around noon.

Hill Inlet is famous for sandflies and there were plenty in attendance so we rigged our screen and I smothered on the chemicals. Christine remains untroubled by these monsters. It just isn't fair. However, the scenery makes up for it. The glorious white silica sands, the beautiful blues and greens of the water and the contrasts of the shallows and channels creates a wonderful picturesque scene.

Day 16 Thursday 2 October

Luckily, a call of nature got us up just before sunrise at 5am. A check on the tides and a quick conference. Do we spend most of the day in Hill Inlet (along with the sandflies) until the next high tide or leave now? We chose the latter and followed our GPS track out. The sea outside the inlet was rolly, despite the complete lack of wind so we kept going around into Tongue Bay to join the dozen or so other boats there.

We breakfasted, had a catch up nap and watched the comings and goings of the various charter boats. We have noticed that there are quite a lot of famous named ex racers pressed into service as cruisers up here. Tongue Bay had three 12 metre racers anchored up, including the well known “Siska”.

Once we were ready to go again, we headed off to Border Island for some serious snorkelling. The sails were not a concern, with the sea being a sheet of glass. As we drew inside the Border Island fish protection zone, the tuna started leaping from the sea all around us. It was as if they knew we weren't allowed to even try to catch them.

Surprisingly, we were able to pick up a mooring in Cateran Bay, which meant that we didn't have to worry about coral damage with the anchor. The corals and the bombies looked incredible as we donned our stinger suits and snorkelling gear. The site lived up to the promise,

with the greatest variety of coral we have ever experienced. It was far more impressive than the Hardy Reef on the outer Great Barrier Reef. The fish life was good by Queensland standards, including a beautiful big coral trout at a cleaning station being worked over by three cleaner wrasses.

Back on board, we had morning tea then headed off to Hook Passage, the narrow gap between Whitsunday and Hook Islands. It is a very narrow passage and can be quite nasty in the wrong conditions but with the wind still non-existent, it was easy. From there, we headed south through Hook Passage and around to enter Nara Inlet.

What a beautiful stretch of water, with towering mountains on each side, covered in hoop pines to the west and eucalyptus forest to the east. We settled down in a secure little anchorage (#3 in 100 Magic Miles) and had lunch. A Farr 6 called Mini Mac was anchored inside the narrow strip of reef onto a small beach.

After clean up, I managed to talk Christine into taking the tender to inspect the aboriginal site a short distance up the inlet. Some 170 metres above the water, there is a cliff overhang that has been used by the Ngaro people for thousands of years. Cave wall paintings have been enhanced by some wonderful narrations and interpretive displays. It would have been a highlight if it wasn't for the march flies. The whole way up the hill, I followed Christine and smacked her with my thongs, killing many of the blood sucking beasts. She was attacked incessantly. We wondered why I was escaping relatively unscathed until we we remembered that I had smothered myself in anti sandfly chemicals. The march flies were seriously bad and attacked no matter how many of their compatriots fell to the swatting thong. Christine didn't really want to go on the walk in the first place. I felt bad.

Most of the large rocks along the banks are covered with the names of boats that have visited over the years, the early ones going back to the 60s. There are hundreds of names recorded. While I normally disapprove of people leaving their names emblazoned over our natural scenery, this is now so extensive that it forms kind of a nostalgic history of an earlier breed of cruisers.

We compensated for the experience with an afternoon read and sleep, a rare treat. By the time we rose, the anchorages around us were filling up with the usual collection of bareboat charters and private craft. The evening was peaceful, a fitting end to a great day.

Day 17 Friday 3 October

Today was a day in Nara Inlet. The forecast promised steady easterlies winds but we were greeted with northerly winds, followed by southerly, then easterly, then south west. The radio sceds were full of the charter yachts seeking advice as to where to go. The whole day was the same with the boat swinging at anchor through all points of the compass. One minute it was glassy calm, the next minute a bullet of wind would send the boat snapping on its anchor chain.

We hung around Nara Inlet, moving down to the tiny bay just inside the entrance to fish and snorkel. The corals along the edge are very beautiful, although we misjudged the tide turn and the incoming tide brought some silt with it and things weren't quite as clear as on the ebb. There were a few thoughts about the theory stated in “100Magic Miles” that Nara Inlet is a breeding ground for hammerhead sharks but we pushed them aside and enjoyed the swim.

Fishing is hard going around here. I have seen quite a lot of effort but I have not seen anyone catch anything. The only decent fish we have seen have all been in habitat protection zones. Around Border Island, the no fishing zone was clearly marked by the huge schools of tuna leaping just inside the line. A few hours of fishing produced to tusk fish, enough for dinner, but expensive because I also lost a $20 lure on the reef.

We moved back up into our snug little anchorage (#3 in 100 magic Miles) for the night. The inlet was lit up with anchor lights as at least 20 vessels of all shapes and sizes sought a peaceful night.

Day 18 Saturday 4 October

We had planned to sail up towards Hayman Island today but a bad night with a terrible neck pain, something I haven't had a problem with for a year or so, left me lacking energy. Christine was happy to do some bread making so we moved down to the head of Nara Inlet to improve Internet reception and had a lazy day, running the generator to top up the batteries and doing a few chores.

The chartplotter has died, a real bummer. It shows a boot screen on startup but then just turns itself off. Fortunately, I have the Navionics App on my Android tablet so we can use that. Even an extensive search of the Internet failed to come up with any suggestions or secret diagnostics.

The wind was a steady 10 knots from the east but built steadily to 15 knots by lunchtime. Eventually, we moved over into Refuge Cove on the western side of the inlet and anchored a short distance from a catamaran. As we passed it, we noticed an extensive garden planted out in pots and sitting on the cabin top.

Later, the cat's owner, Stewie, came over to say hello. He is a West Aussie and his parents are with him for a holiday. They hail from Duncraig and his mother teaches at Balcatta Primary. Stewie told us that he had been having a lot of fun fishing at night from the anchorage, which is backed up onto a reef wall. He had managed a red emperor and a few redthroat emperor but also a lot of “unstoppables”. It got me more interested in fishing again so I headed off in the dinghy and caught a few small fish to use for bait.

Once night fell, I put in a line, but still failed to get a bite, only a couple of lost rigs due to snags. We had the floodlight on out the back but nothing of interest came in to the light.

Day 19 Sunday 5 October

The neck is much better. After breakfast, we motored over to Stewie's boat and chatted to him and his parents, Ian and Claire. Stewie is a chef by trade so the garden is part of his cooking regimen. He actually has a hydroponic setup in one of the cabins (no, not that kind) but he finds the plants need real sunlight every week or so. He grows, all manner of herbs, tomatoes, cucumber, squash and lettuce.

Stewie told us that they had caught so many mud crabs in Hill Inlet that they got sick of them and had released the last pair in Nara Inlet. Damn, we could have helped him out.

With a 10-15 knot easterly forecast, we decided a sail north to Stonehaven Bay and Hayman Island was in order. For once, the tide would be in our favour so an easy sail was indicated. The winds actually proved quite fluky, especially if we got too close to shore, which rose steeply to mountains. By sitting well off, we at least got enough wind to sail at times but we still had periods of oily glass seas.

Eventually, we reached Stonehaven. It was so calm that we thought it might be nicer over at Langford Island with its reputed good snorkelling. There were quite a few boats taking up the public moorings but, fortunately, one left just as we came up. In the areas with particularly good coral, “no anchor” zones have been created to protect the corals and the use of moorings is mandatory.

We aren't very good at picking up moorings so it took us a couple of goes. Once Christine had caught the rope with the boat hook, I quickly ran forward to help her with the heavy rope. Unfortunately, I'd left the motor just ticking over in reverse and we backed over the tender painter and it wrapped itself around the prop. I knew it had happened when I heard the motor stop. This is a real nuisance because the rope actually wedges down behind the prop and removal of the prop is necessary to free it. This has to be done from the dinghy, while it tosses around in the sloppy seas. I managed it without dropping either the split pin or the crown nut over the side and the painter was freed. You would think I'd learn but I probably do it again.

By the time we had done this we were surrounded by enormous bat fish looking for their free handout. The easterly had also increased and was now a steady 12-15 knots, making things a bit lumpy. With another 2 hours to slack tide, we abandoned the idea of a snorkel and had lunch instead.

With hunger satisfied, we motored over to Stonehaven Bay to check out the anchorage. The wind was becoming quite fresh and once close in, a few of the famous Stonehaven bullets came roaring in, at around 25 knots. Fortunately, they are brief affairs. There was a mooring available, tucked inside a protective spur of reef but I have a distrust of anchorages that are right in and amongst heavy reef country so we set sail for the sail back south to Nara Inlet.

Once again, I found that staying in too close to shore meant losing wind so I tried to hand offshore a bout a mile. This worked well for a while, until the wind suddenly shifted to SSE and we had a lot of trouble making way. The tide was making straight into the wind and conditions soon became ordinary, so we once again headed for the inshore areas. Rounding the south-west corner of Hook Island was very lumpy, with rather large standing waves competing with a decent wind chop to make things very lumpy. We had the company of two catamarans that were not making any better of things than us. Keeping close to shore off False Nara Inlet eased things somewhat but a large power cruiser chose to just plough through the three of us at high speed, adding to the confused seas and making us hang on tight. I found myself hoping that the Australian Tax Office would catch up with the owner.

Nara was a most welcome haven. Two boats were heading out as we entered and one didn't get far before it returned. The inlet was deceptively calm. The tide was still very low so we anchored off a small beach and took the tender ashore for a feed of oysters. As the sun set, Oysters Kilpatrick and a beer made a wonderful reward for the endeavours of the day.

Day 20 Monday 6 October

With the wind up we had to spend another day in Nara Inlet. It was forecast at 10-15 knots SE rising to 20 knots by midday and the morning suggested that the forecast was right. After breakfast, an inflatable with two young guys and two children came alongside to chat and ask questions about the Porta-Bote. They were another couple of West Aussies. It seems we are everywhere.

After a lazy morning doing a few jobs like washing and cleaning, it was obvious that we were slowly dragging down on a $2M+ super yacht. We used this as an excuse to up anchor and move further up the inlet.

Having established a secure anchor, we took to the dinghy to check out the waterfall at the head of the inlet but the extended dry season proved too much and the fall was dry. So it was back down the inlet to a point where we could get good Internet and caught up on emails and a few bits and pieces. We also gave the hull a clean, with the growth building up to noticeable levels. We used a length of shade cloth with ropes tied to each end and used a see-sawing action as we walked the contraption from bow to stern. Later, a check of the hull showed that we had been reasonably successful.

With the outside wind blowing at 15-20 knots SE, there was a fair swell rolling up the inlet and we definitely needed to find some respite. Refuge Bay had only one catamaran in it so we motored over to the bay. We set an anchor and set up a shore watch to check for anchor drag. The catamaran in front of us check his anchor and decided the proximity of the coral was too much and up anchored to seek a safer spot. We watched our marks move and tried again. Another large catamaran entered the bay and rounded up alarmingly close to our stern. We told him that the holding was poor but he said he'd be OK. We left him to it and headed back to the creek where we had spent the night. With the tide at a low low, we where able to scope out the sandy areas between the reefs and settle into a very safe and secure anchorage for the night.

After anchoring, the tide dropped even further, leaving us grounded but upright. I took the chance to walk around the boat with a scrubbing brush and got even more growth off the hull.

Once the tide rose a bit, I tried fishing again, losing a big fish and getting a few decent bites but still returning empty handed. Fortunately, we had used the low tide to collect some excellent oysters so we pigged out on Oysters Kilpatrick again.

As the sun set on beautiful Nara Inlet, we reflected on just how lucky we are to be here. We sit surrounded by many millions of dollars of boats. I have no idea of where all the money comes to purchase the fabulous craft we can see every day in the Whitsundays and I don't really care. We are doing the same things that they are doing at somewhere around 10% of the cost. Somewhere, the system is broken! Figuring out just where is a younger person's job.

Day 21 Tuesday 7 October

Today was to be the day we headed in to Airlie Beach. However, with the forecast for 15 knots gusting to 20 SE, we decided to wait one more day for the variable 5 to 10 knots to ensure a smooth crossing of the Whitsunday Passage.

Supplies are getting low and we aren't really catching much in the way of fish. Besides, we are ready to go in. We will probably have another day of moving around Nara Inlet, according to wind strength and the amount of swell running up the inlet.

Later, we actually abandoned trying to find a calmer spot near the entrance that could receive reliable Internet because the wind was blowing SSE at 17 knots and the conditions in the inlet were unpleasant. So we returned to our little hidey hole in the creek. Along the way, we passed an RL28 called K Sera on its way out to sea. Not my idea of fun.

Once the tide dropped and we bottomed out, we set about dismantling the Porta-Bote and stowing it on board. It had a healthy layer of marine growth on the bottom, but not too bad after three weeks.

Day 22 Wednesday 8 October

The weather forecast proved correct and we awoke to glassy conditions in Nara Inlet and a steady 7 knots SE outside. The tide was rising into the breeze creating some interesting conditions for the first 2 miles out from Nara. It would not be the place to be in heavier winds. The wind was in our favour for once, but we fought the tide. With the motor just ticking over and all sail set, we made a steady 4 knots. Without the motor, we dropped to 2 knots, which was rather unacceptable for a 15 mile trip.

Our route took us across the northern end of North Mole Island and then a straight run in to Airlie Beach. Christine phoned ahead and organised a berth at Abel Point for two nights, one to settle in and another to bus down to Mackay to retrieve the car and trailer. We got an excellent berth close in to the shops and where met on the dock by a very friendly girl who assisted with lines. For once, I didn't stuff up the docking and we were soon settled in. Our Whitsunday adventure had come to an end.

We wasted no time at all in making full use of the showers, a rare luxury, then on to the bar for a relaxing beer. The pizza that evening went down well. I can only recommend the lifestyle.

Day 23 Thursday 23 October

Today we caught the Greyhound bus down to Mackay, a trip of around two hours, to retrieve the car and trailer. Then it was a run back and a final night on the boat, before hauling out the next morning. In the cool of the evening, we got a lot of jobs done, lowering the mast and squaring away lines. It makes the process of getting Sandpiper back onto the road that much easier. Then, it is heading south towards home, now more than 5000km away.