Pendana arrived at Abel Point Marina complete with a fanfare of trumpets!!!…… ok … no trumpets but there was a light breeze, the sun was shining and the water was sparkling! Pendana managed to enter the marina and get tied up without any dramas which is great considering the rather winding entrance to Abel Point.
To recap on the last few days, upon arrival to the Whitsundays proper after our night run from Middle Percy Island, we had anchored up in a lovely spot and one of the only all-weather anchorages in the Whitsundays called Cid Harbour. Cid Harbour lies south of Hook Island and is protected from the wind on virtually all sides with little Cid Island lying just offshore to the west, providing natural protection from westerlies.
One thing that has struck all of us is how un-Australian the Whitsundays actually appear to be; we would all swear that when motoring around the islands that the appearance of them is more akin to cruising in Canada than Australia and while one would expect to see the islands littered with various species of gum trees (indigenous Australian tree) nothing could be further from the truth. Norfolk Pines are the order of the day! What you have are islands with sheer cliff faces or steep, steep hillsides slanting acutely down into the blue/green waters, covered in rich, dark green Norfolk Pines right down to the absolute edge making the whole experience rather surreal. One wouldn’t be surprised to see a Canadian brown bear leaping from the land in search of (an Atlantic salmon, perhaps?) lunch but alas, not to be. I must say that it is incredibly beautiful and some of its attraction may lie in its complete difference to the mainland foliage.
After spending the day and night at Cid Harbour we decided to move Pendana to the very beautiful Whitehaven Beach so that we could drop anchor, have lunch and then go for a swim in the afternoon. I for one was still not brave enough to go swimming as my toe, whilst recovering nicely, still had a wee bit of blood that would no doubt attract the first shark to my general direction. Whitehaven Beach is on the west side of Whitsunday Island and as such we decided to go via a narrow passage between Hook Island and Whitsunday Island as being the most convenient route. One important point to mention here is the effect of tides and current. In this part of the world tides flood (incoming) to the south and ebb (out-going) to the north and can create strong currents up to 9kts in some parts so after checking with my new best friend, the Queensland tide table book, we were confident that our arrival in the passage between islands would be at almost slack tide giving us less current. With Mark at the helm it was clear that while the current was not a problem there were certainly times when Pendana would yaw off course due to the current’s residual effects. I for one was glad when we made it through.
Passage between Hook and Whitsunday Island.
On arrival at Whitehaven Beach we were amazed at not only its length but also its shinning white sand. Whitehaven Beach runs a staggering four nautical miles and draws tourists and boaters like bees to honey. That being said, at four nautical miles in length there is plenty of room for everyone and everyone can have their own little piece of paradise for the day. Whitehaven Beach claims to have the whitest sands of any beach in Australia and while a claim that is held to be true I am not sure that there aren’t many more beaches in the world with white sand (the very beautiful Hyams Beach on the south coast of New South Wales with its pristine white sand springs easily to mind, for example), after-all surely white is white? In fact, the sand at Whitehaven is not really sand but rather silica (quartz sand) – silica doesn’t retain heat which makes walking on it a pleasurable experience. It is thought the silica on Whitehaven (silica being an incredibly fine sand) was brought to the beach via prevailing currents over millions of years ago as there is no silica present in any rocks around.
Tender and Pendana at Whitehaven Beach
Can never have enough photos of Pendana!
Bianca and Abi on Whitehaven beach!
After a day and night it was time to head to Abel Point Marina so that Mark could fly home to be with his family and then we could continue our adventure alone. Mark, was not allowed to leave though until he supervised me complete my first ever, unassisted main engine oil change. Now for some of you this will seem like nothing at all but when born with a disorder that makes all things electrical and mechanical sound like gibberish holding no real interest at all, I am pleased to report that all went well and the mission was accomplished in the record time of one hour and ten minutes. Ok, I know that my engine guys do this in around fifteen minutes but as it was my first time doing it alone, with Mark watching on providing the odd bit of commentary, I was happy with that time and although I was trying to shoot for under an hour, I am pleased it’s done and Pendana’s mighty Cummins N14 has another 250 hours running time until required to be done once again.
The great thing about Pendana is that the gentleman who originally commissioned her (Mr Mickey Smith, I believe) was rather particular in how she was set up both electrically and mechanically. Most Nordhavns are dry exhaust, have a wing engine and usually John Deere main engine whereas Pendana is a wet exhaust boat, with a hydraulically driven Duncan Drive and a Cummins N14. When Mickey Smith set up Pendana he added two whopping big alternators to the main engine, one 24v and 12v so that while underway the need for generators is not required as the alternators provide enough electricity to power the boat and maintain/charge to the many AMG batteries on board. Thank you Mickey Smith wherever you are for setting Pendana up so well. I understand that Mr Smith actually ended up working for Nordhavn PAE as they were so impressed with the set-up of Pendana.
On approach to Abel Point Marina we soon picked up the entry markers and with a quick call, via VHF 09 to the marina office our berth was allocated. On approach it was clear that due to the design of the breaker wall which is used to disperse current/wind/wave in the cyclone (hurricane) season, there would be a number of between 90 and 180 degree turns required as we manoeuvred towards our berth. I hoped another vessel wouldn’t be trying to exit when we were entering and happily that was the case. Other than a few runabouts and small yachts departing, all was clear and our entry was without incident. As we entered our channel/fairway we passed “Commander” a N57 owned by the charming and incredibly knowledgeable Murray and his lovely wife Marilyn. As Pendana approached her berth a nice lady from the marina office was on hand to take the heavy bow line which Claire had thrown beautifully, (unlike her first attempt some eighteen months earlier or so, when she nearly decapitated a young man, to both their mutual horror) and Pendana was soon tied up and berthed at Abel Point.
Pendana all tied up at Abel Point Marina.
Abel Point Marina is in a word beautiful, wow, wow, wow! The Marina is set in tropical gardens and the facilities are endless. The Marina itself is relatively new with wide walkways (3 metres/ 10 feet) and huge berths. We are in a pen with a 70+ foot sports boat next to us and we still had enough room to deploy our tender between! Wow! The marina has loads of shops, cafes and marine service facilities as well as a fantastic Italian restaurant called Sorrentos. On Mark’s last night with us we decided to go out for dinner and as Mark had an early start the following morning we decided to give Sorrentos at the marina a try. Well, I am very glad we did. Honestly the food was first rate.
Back in my corporate days I have been lucky enough to eat at some of the best restaurants in the world, from el Bulli in Spain to the Fat Duck in the UK and I can attest that Sorrentos in Airlie Beach/Abel Point Marina should be added to the list! Congratulations to the new chef and staff as we had a first rate experience – we’ll be back!
Abel Point Marina
Thank god this wasn’t heading out as Pendana was heading in!
Pendana approaching marina
Pendana manoeuvring in close quarters.
Our total travel distance so far from departure in Sydney to arrival at Able Point Marina was 1061nms or 1965klms or in other words the same as travelling from Sydney to the North tip of New Zealand, Los Angeles to Oklahoma or London to Bucherest in Romania. Which ever way you carve it, a long way. During our trip we have consumed a total of 1000 gallons / 3785 litres of fuel and worked our way through all the good stuff to eat. Can you believe that there is no chocolate aboard Pendana! Outrageous! As such, today we plan to go shopping to restock before heading out the islands once again.
The plan from here is to spend a few more days at the marina, restock Pendana and explore Airlie Beach before heading out to the islands once again. The weather here is superb although the forecast is for strong winds 25kts+ over the coming days and while not a problem once in and around the islands as we will anchor on the lee side (side protected from wind), I do not relish the idea of threading Pendana out of this marina in anything more than about 15kts, so we shall see what the weather does over the next day or so as our planned departure nears.
Airlie Beach from above
Below is a link to a full 360 degree photo of Pendana at Middle Percy Island.
Photo below taken at Lady Musgrave and I have included it here as I just like it!
I have just read that Sandra Bullock is in Sydney promoting her new film. I must confess to having a bit of a thing for Ms Bullock. Claire, not really sharing my view point, said, “She arrived once she was sure I had left”. Oh honey, how could you! On another note, on our way north from Sydney we didn’t use the internet or VSAT other than for checking emails and posting blogs so you can imagine our surprise when we had heard that there had been yet another change in leadership with one of our political parties – just goes to show, we missed nothing at all!
As I sign off, the clouds have now rolled in on paradise and are the first clouds we have seen for about eleven days so almost makes a welcome change. No, just joking! I want the big blue skies back! Please remember that my second book, “From Family to Crew” is available and shipping right now so if you want to read more about all things Pendana then go to :