With thanks to:
Whitsunday Rent a Yacht

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Easy like Whitsunday

7: Surfing home

You can’t really leave the Whitsundays without setting foot on Whitehaven itself, so on our final morning we motored round to Chalkeys Beach, a beautiful bay on Haslewood Island, directly opposite. Unfortunately, with some big gusts still bouncing along the water, and feeling less than confident in our depth sounder, we couldn’t get close enough to anchor up, so headed across to Whitehaven itself. Despite looking unprotected, it turned out to be relatively simple to anchor just off the beach, and we took the tender ashore, sharing several miles of beach only with a seaplane and its four occupants. Although the snorkelling turned out to be unexciting — the sand theme continues underwater — Whitehaven is definitely a must-see. Unfortunately that means that it’s a must-see for lots of other visitors as well, and by mid-morning it resembled a scene from the Normandy landings as large motor boats expelled their cargo of daytrippers onto the sand.

With just a few hours left to get back to Hamilton Island, we upped anchor and considered our options. The most direct route back was unquestionably through Solway Passage, an infamous stretch of water between Haslewood and Whitsunday Islands. We stuck our nose into the narrow gap but, following the advice of Rent a Yacht and concerned that our engine wouldn’t be able to overcome the fierce currents or worrying whirlpools marked in our pilotage guide, decided that discretion was the better part of valour and turned on our heel.

This left the small matter of having to cover the same ground we’d covered in four days, in a few hours. With the wind behind us, and plenty of it, we popped the sails up and headed north, enjoying some high-speed surfing (and slightly incredulous looks as we overtook a few more leisurely vessels) up the eastern coast of Whitsunday.

Coming back down the western side, we passed packed anchorages in Cid Harbour, with charter yachts circling as they hunted for space on the sheltered side of the island. Our option may not have been the most relaxing, but at least it was more fun than hunting for a parking slot.

Rent a Yacht had kindly booked us both a mooring berth and table for dinner at Hamilton Island, and to make the whole experience even more hassle-free if you arrive when the marina office is still open their staff will come and help you tie up — ideal for anyone unaccustomed to big boat manoeuvring. We might have been a little late for that, but we certainly made it in time for dinner, enjoying a delicious final meal overlooking the breakers at The Beach House restaurant — although the waiting staff did feel the need to translate any foreign references on the menu, which had me struggling to keep a straight face. Fruits de mer, anyone?

With thanks to:
Whitsunday Rent a Yacht

Previous page:6 Finding new beaches

Macona is a particularly picturesque spot and a useful anchorage in most wind directions

Next page:8 The verdict

If you’re looking for a totally relaxing holiday, the Whitsundays might not be right for you

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