Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Trapped at Great Keppel Island

23-28 June 2016

We not sure what it is about Great Keppel Island but every time we come here with plans to stay a day or two it ends up much longer. We try to blame it on the wind not being right to continue on but really we just love the place so much we find it hard to drag ourselves away.

When we stumbled out of our bunk after a great night’s sleep in the calm of North West Island, some forty nautical miles east of the Keppel Islands, we were  greeted with an absolutely stunning morning of glassy water and breathless air. Rob quickly took the opportunity to point out to the two New South Wales crews anchored with us what a great State of Origin game it had been the previous night. His enthusiasm for the football didn’t seem shared by either Chances or Sea Whiskers this morning.

Anne on Chances took this great morning shot of Our Dreamtime and Sea Whiskers at North West Island
Our anchor chain dropping 9 metres then laying across the sand.
As tempting as it seemed to stay in the paradise of North West Islands, a moderate north westerly wind was predicted to spring up that afternoon to be followed by a strong south westerly change a day later. This would be a very uncomfortable and potentially unsafe place to be in those conditions. It was time to bite the bullet and motor across the windless water to Great Keppel Island for a couple of nights before continuing on up the coast.

Karen on the helm as we say goodbye to North West Island

We didn’t bother to raise any sail at all during the day as the trip across was about as boring as you could get. With our clean hull and Propspeed coated propeller working well together we were able to maintain six knots at just 1300rpm in the flat water which certainly helps limit fuel consumption. To help the time pass we both read our books while keeping an eye on the waters ahead. Rob also broke his boredom by cooking up a nice pizza for lunch in the BBQ and Karen felt inspired enough to bake some yummy banana bread for afternoon snacks.

It's all about the food on Our Dreamtime

Fresh baked banana bread.
As we crossed the main coastal shipping channel we again made our way through a huge area of brown sludge. We have come across large areas of this in our passages in Queensland coastal waters and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Some people argue that it’s just coral spawn but having lived in Townsville and the Whitsundays we’ve seen enough of that to know this is something else. The crud we motored through this time re-enforced our belief that what we encounter is foul ballast water pumped out by bulk carriers as they approach harbour to load up with coal. It’s awful.

This crap in the water is disgusting.

It was not a small patch of the crud that we motored through
The water was nice and clean again once we cleared the shipping channel. This is Barren Island east of GKI.
North West Island to Great Keppel Island - 43.2 Nautical Miles - 7 Hours 10 Minutes
Average Speed 6.0 Knots - Max Speed - 6.8

Our anchorage in 3 to 5 metres of clear water at Great Keppel Island

Fortunately the water was beautiful, clean and clear where we anchored near Svenson’s Beach on the northern side of Great Keppel Island.  Karen prepared a very nice rack of lamb and vegies which Rob cooked on the BBQ as we cracked a bottle of bubbles to salute the sunset.

We then spend the next few days simply enjoying the fantastic island that is Great Keppel. We did some exploring in the dinghy and put the crab pots down amongst the mangroves in the tidal creek. Karen sat on the beach and did some painting while Rob got stuck into the blog again. More books were read, great food cooked and eaten and a bottle or two of wine emptied.
The BBQ continues to get a workout on Our Dreamtime

Putting the crab pots down

Even inside the mangrove creek the Great Keppel water was crystal clear.
Saturday June 25 marked Karen's Father's birthday but also the 40th anniversary of the day her family launched G.F.V. Wahoo, the 36 ft game fishing boat that was to be Karen's home in the Whitsunday Islands for a number of years. We were able call Trevor with birthday wishes and some nostalgic recollections of their first voyage on Wahoo from  Brisbane up to her new home at Shute Harbour. The next morning Karen's Mum emailed us some great old photos including one from their stop at Great Keppel Island back in 1976.
Karen with her family on Wahoo's flybridge on launch day.
1976 - Karen and her brother Russell enjoying Svenson's Beach at GKI while Dad cleans the dinghy with Wahoo at anchor.
Late each afternoon we made our way ashore at Svensen’s Beach and gathered with other cruisers around the fire to meet new people, swap stories, enjoy a drink or four and of course, discuss the weather and sailing plans.

Karen and Anne from Chances at sundowners

Karen's spinnaker themed sundowner snacks

Each night delivered a great sunset
Cruisers around the Svensen's Beach fire for sundowners
It’s the sort of place where it’s very easy to convince yourself that although the weather tomorrow may be OK to head north it’s probably going to be better if we stay another day – or two. Yep! We love it here.
But enough is enough. The forecast looks pretty good so we will definitely leave tomorrow - probably - OK maybe.
Goodnight from Great Keppel Island.
If you'd like to find out more about Great Keppel Island you can read about our previous stops there at You can still get Wrecked at Great Keppel Island , Island Head Creek to Great Keppel Island and GKI to Pancake Creek.

We love to receive comments on our blog from readers. If you do leave a comment and you also have a blog, please leave a link as well. We'd like to click over for a visit and leave you a comment too.

To stay right up to date with what we’re up to  and see lots more photos check out and 'like' our Dreamtime Sail Facebook page at DreamtimeSail
If you have only recently discovered our blog and would like to read how it all started, or work through our previous adventures, click the link to go back to our first blog entry. Stuff it. Let's just go sailing anyway.
We hope you enjoy reading the previous posts to catch up on our story.


  1. Just love GKI! A great resting up spot before tackling Shoal Water Bay and beyond. About the film you sailed through though. Lucas covers this off in his seminal book "Cruising the Coral Coast". It's algae, it's natural and part of the natural cycle. N'joy!

  2. Wonderful blog again guys. Very, very jealous. Wish we were there too. Will check the tracker tomorrow evening to see if you did actually leave. Fair winds and safe sailing! Bob & Lyn xx


We love to read your comments regarding our blog, what you enjoyed and what you might like to see more of. Please leave us your thoughts.