Its that time of year again when the leaves fall from the trees, the mercury drops, and most boat owners forget they own a luxury escape pod.
Around the same time every year (May – July) it is the great migration of Humpback Whales from the chilly Antarctic waters to the sub-tropical waters of Hervey Bay and beyond. They do so to mate and give birth, before returning later in the year when things warm up again down here. (September – November)
These days they are not the only ones doing this seaonal migration.
An ever-growing number of recreational boats are heading north for winter, affording the owners the luxury of being able to use their boats in a warm environment for the full 12 months of the year.
There are a number of reasons which can be attributed to the increase in interest in ‘heading north’. Some of these are cheaper domestic airfares, improved fuel efficiency from drive systems such as IPS/Zeus, more accurate and reliable electronics, more experienced and adventurous boat owners and improved marina and fuelling facilities along the East Coast.
SVM assisted a client with their trip North last winter on their Princess 50 flybridge “Kia Orana’. The client is a competent boat handler but wanted someone more experienced offshore to come along for peace of mind. SVM planned took on the planning of the trip taking into account fuel burn and range to calculate the maximum distance the vessel could travel per day. We conservatively calculated a range of 220Nm per tank (1800L) at 25 knots cruise.
We broke down the approx. 900Nm from Sydney to Hamilton Island with short daytime legs ranging between 90 – 180Nm (4hrs – 8hrs). Our stopovers along the way were: Port Stephens, Coffs Harbour, Southport, Mooloolaba, Bundaberg, Yeppoon (Great Keppel Island), Mackay (via Middle Percy Island), and then on to Hamilton Island (after a customary swim at Whitehaven Beach!)
We were fortunate enough to link up with friends in Southport who were also heading North (as far as Lizard Island past Cairns). We travelled from Southport to Great Keppel Island in convoy with 2 other boats – a 70’ Bertram ‘Revive’ and a 75’ Johnson. It was great to be able to follow these local boats from Southport to Hervey Bay through the back of Stradbroke and Fraser Islands (always nicer having a boat with a deeper draft ahead of you in shallow waters with shifting sand banks!)
After refuelling at Yeppoon, we all anchored off Great Keppel Island (Leekes Beach on the northern end of the island) for a beautiful night on anchor.
After breakfast and a swim we said our goodbyes and headed off to the Percy Islands to visit the ‘Percy Hilton’ for lunch. It is an amazing place with a rich history, a bsic A–frame shack covered in memorabilia from boats that have visited from all over the world. It was built by the late Andy Martin (‘Lord Percy’) who bought the lease in 1964 and lived there for 33 years.
Another SVM client, a Riviera 53 ‘Paulette’ was also on anchor at Middle Percy on their way to Cairns to chase the elusive black marlin so we caught up for a chat and swapped stories from our adventures North.
We arrived at Mackay Marina that afternoon just before sunset. After refuelling in the morning, it was off to Hamilton Island, island hopping and taking mental notes on other islands, bays, beaches, anchorages along the way of which there was many. It was straight to Whitehaven beach to anchor for lunch and a swim before pulling in to Hamilton Island Marina, which would be the boats new home base for the next 4 months.
The boat owner and his family flew in and out more than 6 times over the 4 months that the boat was there and had an amazing time exploring the surrounding islands that make up the Whitsundays. We brought the boat back in November, ready for Boxing day and NYE on Sydney Harbour.
For whatever reason you decide to head north, one thing is for sure – it will be a trip of a lifetime, one that you will reminisce over for years to come.
For advice, planning, or assistance with deliveries contact the team at SVM.