Brampton Island, Cumberland Group (Whitsundays)
View from the top of Brampton's lookout towards Carlisle island
(Steph) The original plan was to head to Goldsmith Island when we left Scawfell on Wednesday, but Woj suggested we stop at Brampton because we'd have to scoot around it anyway in order to reach Goldsmith, another 10 miles on. I consented and we were relieved to get out of the 25 knots of wind and 3 meter seas. Brampton has turned into a great place to wait out the ridge that has been keeping winds up to 30 knots and seas up to 3 meters for the past few days. It doesn't create that "bullet" of wind effect that we were constantly being hit with at Scawfell, so we actually feel like we're in a sheltered anchorage. Another plus is that there is not a huge fringing reef, which means rowing to shore is relatively easy. The aggressive wind bullets and half-mile stretch to shore kept us on the boat most of the time in Scawfell, but here it's just a 5-minute row to the jetty.
For David Burch: a squall running us down in the Brampton anchorage
As we were motoring into the anchorage, I thought I saw a rock where there shouldn't be a rock. I looked more closely, and realized it was a manatee (aka dugong)! We tried so hard last year to spot manatees in Vanuatu, and never had any luck. The rest of the afternoon we got to watch a mother and her calf leisurely making there way around the bay. What a treat! Since then, we've spotted a couple sea turtles that must consider the bay home, because it's never long before one of them pop their cute little faces out of the water.
We rowed to shore that first afternoon and found a well-groomed walking path. We only had a couple hours before sundown, so we just took an hour-long walk to a bay on the west side of the island. There is a camping area there with a propane-powered barbeque, picnic table, and 400-gallon rainwater cistern. We vowed to come back the next day with our solar shower and take advantage of all that free rainwater. As we worked our way along the trail we were confronted by two kangaroos that looked a little annoyed that we were using their trail. They nonchalantly chewed their lunch as we stood about 20 feet away. Eventually they rolled their eyes and hopped off into the brush. We also enjoyed butterflies -- a huge variety, at least 7 different kinds -- that flitted all around us by the hundreds.
The next day, we headed to shore, but couldn't figure out what to do with the dinghy. The tide was so low that we'd have to drag it across a bunch of big, sharp rocks to get it up to higher ground. We couldn't tie up to the jetty because we knew a big passenger ferry would be coming in for the resort guests. We eventually gave up and decided we'd have to try again after the tide had risen a bit. Not long after we got back to the boat it proceeded to rain most of the afternoon. We decided to try hiking the next day and instead caught a lot of water and did a lot of reading (I finished Bangkok 8 by John Burdett, Woj continued with Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland; thanks to Ian for the books).
Today we rowed to shore at 0800 in order to catch the tide at a good time. We got the dinghy safely ashore and started our island circumnavigation hike. It was a pretty moderate hike with nice, wide trails and not much of an incline. A great hike for those of us who are pretty sedentary on the boat. We were rained on once and although rain threatened several times later, we managed to stay mostly dry the rest of the day. We had lunch at Western Bay again, where we had previously marveled at the rainwater capturing system. Woj shaved and I had a shower and washed my hair. People are always commenting on how cheap cruisers are -- I guess it's true! I'd rather use that water than what I have on the boat. When you have to carry every drop of water you drink, cook with, or bathe in, you can criticize. Until then, shut it.
Woj finally cleaning up his image on Brampton's far west side
We'll probably go ashore tomorrow, rain depending, and hike around a bit more. What else to do? We hope to leave for Shaw Island, another 25 miles away, on Sunday. Winds are supposed to drop down to 20-25 knots by then, although some lows are supposed to come through next week. So far, this season is shaping up to look a lot like last season, but I'm still optimistic ...
Update on May 12: We went on another hike today, timing our shore arrival with the tide so we could tie up at the jetty. We thought we were soooo smart. Well, we got back to the dinghy and found that as the tide had risen, it had trapped the dinghy underneath the jetty steps, and BOTH pontoons had been holed! We were completely stuck on land, with our only connection to Mico out of commission!
We went into emergency mode, figuring out how to get our poor little dinghy unstuck from under the stairs. I had to jump into the water and use my feet to push it out from under a very sharp pole that had impaled it. Woj had to keep a handle on it so it wouldn't immediately sink to the bottom. Luckily, you may remember that our outboard is out of commission, so we had rowed in. Small mercies! A couple from the resort on the other side of the island, who had been enjoying the view from the jetty, offered their services, but we were too wrapped up with saving the dinghy to put them to use. When someone says, "Is that your boat?" and they are talking about your inflatable dinghy, you just kind of realize that this person isn't going to add much to the equation. (I was a bit confused when he asked the question; I'd never thought of the dinghy as a boat. It is, in the strictest sense, so he wasn't completely off the mark. It just seemed like such a land-lubber kind of thing, to think of a dinghy as a boat.)
I sent Woj to the top of the jetty to catch the attention of the only other cruising boat in the anchorage. We hoped they could give us, and our useless dinghy, a ride back to Mico. Woj's anemic whistle was not doing the job, so I charged up to the jetty and yelled in my most bombastic musical theater projecting voice, "Hello!!! Hello!!!" Right at that moment, a sea turtle popped his head up and looked at us; "Are you talking to me?" Luckily, the crew on the other yacht heard us and came to our rescue. We loaded up the oars, the dinghy and our wet, scraped bodies and got a ride back to Mico. I spent the rest of the afternoon (in the rain, thank you very much) and the following morning patching three holes we found. I found a fourth one later. The patches have been semi-adequate; the patches leak air, but at least we can use the dinghy and just pump it up again every day or so. In our next port we'll have to invest in more glue and patches, and maybe even see about having the dinghy patched by a professional. Two of the patches are near seams, so it's hard to get a really good seal on them. And one is a slice that is about 2", so it should be patched on the inside as well as the outside.
Funny aside -- back in Bundaberg, we realized we had no dinghy patch glue to speak of and tried to buy some at the chandlery, but they don't stock it. We thought, oh well, we'll get some eventually. We mentioned the issue to our friends Dick and Shelly on sy Sandpiper, who have ended their cruise and are trying to sell their catamaran. Dick offered us the remainder of their glue, as they wouldn't need it anymore. Well, we put it to good use just a week into this season's cruise, and already we need more!
Dink patching party after sinking poor old Bonobo
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