We flip the bird to the machiavellian mooring buoy as we leave Pancake Creek, and head off on our trek northwards. Next stop Great Keppel Island.

The skies are overcast and grey, but the wind is a steady 18 knots from the SE and we have a good, fast sail to Great Keppel, dropping anchor in Svendsen’s Beach on the north side. It looks like it should have good protection, but the swell’s wrapping around the headland and into the bay. We watch the monohulls and motorboats lurching from side to side and count our blessings that we’re on a catamaran. Last time we were here it was a completely different experience – calm, sunny and exactly what we were expecting of a tropical island. This time, not so much. The rain sets in so we have a weekend of enforced boat time, catching up on the never-ending boat jobs.

lots of company at Gt Keppel Island

The next pitstop is Pearl Bay, just north of Port Clinton on the mainland. It’s an easy day sail with just our genoa up and what a beautiful spot it is – very sheltered and peaceful (or it would be if the large power boat didn’t run his generator ALL NIGHT. Sheesh!!).  

Approaching Pearl Bay
Pearl Bay
A tranquil sunset at Pearl Bay

From there it’s another day sail to West Bay, Middle Percy Island, home to the famous “A” frame where the visiting yacht ritual is to leave a memento of your visit.  The A frame is literally crammed to the rafters with caps, t-shirts, carved inscriptions, baubles and trinkets, some going back to the 1960’s.  Sadly our fender that we inscribed and hung up last time we were here has gone walk-about.  In the absence of anything more fancy, we leave a “Toucan Diving” T-shirt with our inscription on it and nail it to the upstairs balcony. Ritual done, we buy some of Cate’s delicious Percy Island honey, write in the visitors book and hightail it back to the dinghy before we’re stranded on an outgoing tide.

There’s a familiar theme emerging in this trip up the Queensland coast so far – it’s called ‘the last time we were here’ theme. At Middle Percy in 2011 we had an amazing few days with several other cruisers, the weather was perfect and we enjoyed exploring the island and sundowners ashore.  This time there’s very few boats here, the wind is relentlessly blowing from the SE and the swell’s pretty uncomfortable (even for us).  Oh well, c’est la vie…we love you Middle Percy but one night is enough this time so now it’s on to the Whitsundays.

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