May 10 - Enroute to Darwin; Shaw Island

Position: S20deg30.1min/E149deg02.8min After a brief stay of four days, we departed Bundaberg in very light air enroute to Darwin. We encountered most all wind quadrants and strengths, causing many sail changes, use of the reaching pole, and motoring conditions. Deciding to forego stopping, we sailed on and after three days and nights of coastal cruising and winding around small islands and going thru narrow channels, anchored in 30' of mud/sand in a beautiful bay here at Shaw Island, one of the southern most islands of the Whitsunday Islands. The Great Barrier Reef actually starts around Bundaberg, but we have 2000 nm to get to Darwin, and feel pressed to "bank our time" when we get good weather, hence the rush northward without stopping too often to sight see. Wind and tides are a great concern here on the coast (as they are most everywhere), and tidal ranges of up to 8 meters are fairly common around here, emphasizing the importance of transiting narrow channels during the correct flood or ebb tide. We didn't catch any fish, but did see one good size sea snake, who swam past our boat oblivious to us. In Bundaberg we had our first kangaroo encounter, as well as seeing a flock of orange headed parrots that we think were lorakeets; we've seen many other species of birds here we aren't familiar with, so need a good bird guide of the area. Of note, we also check in with the Marine Rescue Service volunteers who are found in various ports along the Australia coast (VHF channel 22, 67, 80 and 81; also HF SSB radio frequencies); it's not mandatory to do so, but it's good to let someone know where we are, and we're also able to get local weather, tide and other information from them. They're very cruiser friendly, so it's akin to filing a float plan.
PIC: It was great to see LeuCat anchored in the bay. We haven't seen Dave & Mary Margaret for a few years. They didn't have their radio on, so we were unable to contact them until we were raising anchor. They're heading to Darwin too!

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