A more relaxing time – thankfully

Yeppoon to Mackay – part 3

The Percy’s to Mackay – A more relaxing time – thankfully

I am sure there is a rich indigenous history connected to all the islands along the Queensland coast.  However, I have found it very difficult to find the indigenous names for many of the islands – I would like to find out their traditional names and the significance of these islands to the lives of the first peoples of the region.  A lot of the islands also have something of a ‘white’ history.  The Percys’ are one such group of islands that does have current residents and is also a very popular cruiser’s destination.  That is one reason why we were going to try to access some fresh water to replenish our supply. 

West Bay anchorage – Middle Percy Is.

Once we had anchored after our night of terror, a priority was to get some water to see us through the next few days sheltering from the strong winds and then get us to Mackay.  The huge irony of the situation is that we do have a ‘water-maker’ on board. That is a system of pumps and filters using osmosis to desalinate water for drinking.    It was something I hadn’t serviced prior to departure.  With 500 litres of water storage on board I didn’t think it would be needed for coastal cruising where we may only be two weeks between marinas.

Fortunately, there was a small tarp on board and as it was still raining lightly I spread it out to catch whatever we could.  Before the rain stopped it gave us 10 litres – a good start to our scrounging.  The other luck on our side is that the previous owner had left a 10 litre water container on board.  With that and the bag for our 19 litre solar camping shower we ventured ashore to see if we could find as much water as possible.

For many years Middle Percy Island has been a popular stop off for many boats cruising north or south. It is a safe overnight anchorage between Mackay or the Whitsundays and Yeppoon. Part of that history was the construction of ‘the A-frame’ as a shelter for cruisers to get together.  It is now traditional that something is left behind to mark the visit of each boat and the A-frame is adorned with all sorts of bits and pieces from boats and visitors.  There has also been the formation of the ‘Friends of the Percys’ and the Percy Island Yacht Club to ensure the ongoing upkeep of the meagre facilities that are there. 

After leaving our piece, an illustrated rope bag, we were able to scrounge almost 60 litres of water to see us through the expected four days before we would get to Mackay.  To do that meant two trips ashore.  Each trip included a little exploring of the beach and inlet. 

Once we had enough water it was time to lift the tender on the davits and secure everything for an early start the next day.  Our plan was to sail to Curlew Island and stay there two nights before sailing to Mackay.  Whilst the winds were strong enough for sailing it was a more direct course to motor and make good time.  We were the only boat in the anchorage, and it would have been nice to go ashore and explore however the weather continued very windy and was somewhat overcast – nothing encouraging to put the dinghy down and walk along the beach.

The second night did have another boat call in and drop anchor to share the beautiful spot.  Shell and I discussed our plans for the next day.  Of course, weather and winds hugely influence any decision, so it was that with two options ahead of us we planned to depart early the next day.  After the usual pre-sailing routines were completed, we lifted anchor and motored out of the shelter, hoisted sails and headed north with the wind and swell behind us. Sailing seldom allows a direct course from one place to the next.  Consequently, our course would need one or two alterations to get us to Mackay and needed us to make our way between the enormous bulk coal ships lying at anchor awaiting entry to Hay Point.

The sailing was great, the winds held all day for us to make around 7 knots all the way.  It was however a welcome relief to arrive in Mackay and tie up alongside in the marina where we could fill our freshwater tanks, wash the boat, tidy up and luxuriate under a hot shower – the first in almost 10 days.   Marina life will also give us the opportunity to make any necessary repairs and to restock the pantry and beer store. 

A week here in Mackay then we should be on our way further north through the Whitsundays and on to Bowen and beyond.

West Bay from the A-frame, Pine Islets across the bay


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