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Old 05-04-2021, 03:01   #1
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Whitsundays and Hook Reef

Hi Cruisers,

I am sailing to the Whitsundays this season and would appreciate anyones experiences on the best places to visit. And has anyone anchored at hook reef and can you use the mooring or pontoons that are there. What are peoples experiences of overnighting at Hook Reef.

Thanks, Dan.
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Old 05-04-2021, 03:32   #2
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Re: Whitsundays and Hook Reef

following
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Old 05-04-2021, 03:33   #3
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Re: Whitsundays and Hook Reef

Hi Dan
Excellent public moorings (about 5?) available at nearby Bait Reef, which is also a very nice spot to snorkel or scuba around the stepping stones. Watch the current though. Be aware that a couple of these *public* moorings actually have first dibs by the big commercial day visitors (I dunno how that works...).
As for Hook Reef, someone with more knowledge might chime in, but I'm not sure if outside the reef is anchorable. Certainly in the channel is not - very strong currents and eddies and over 60 metres deep.
And I'm pretty sure tying up to the pontoons would be severely frowned upon.
Depending on the size of your cajones and given that you are on a shallow draft cat, another option is to time the tide through the horizontal waterfall and actually anchor inside the lagoon. Definitely not for the faint-hearted, but it does potentially provide access to the famous heart shaped bommie in all the tourist brochure photos.
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Old 05-04-2021, 05:21   #4
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Re: Whitsundays and Hook Reef

Thanks Tim Iíll do some more research on the waterfall
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Old 05-04-2021, 06:12   #5
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Re: Whitsundays and Hook Reef

Dan, it has been many years since we have been there, so this information might be out of date.

The waterfall is actually on the entrance to Hardy lagoon. We have been through this a few times and while it is only short, it can be a little daunting. We visited before the days of GPS and the entrance was unmarked, which did not help. I imagine it is easier these days as you can at least check you are not trying to enter one of false entrances.

One caution is the advice about the correct timing (in 100 Magic Miles) was also completely wrong, but they have released many updates since then so hopefully the error has been corrected.

I would recommend launching the dinghy and scouting the entrance before attempting the waterfall for the first time. Bait and Hook reef are much easier anchorages. There are now some moorings at Bait so these would be a better introduction. Keep in mind the protection at high tide is minimal.
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Old 05-04-2021, 14:59   #6
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Re: Whitsundays and Hook Reef

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Quote:
Keep in mind the protection at high tide is minimal.
Of course, this is especially true at spring highs, and enhanced trade wind conditions. Know what you're getting into before you leave for there. If it is your first time in tropical waters with bommies, wear polarized sunglasses, it will help with spotting them.

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Old 05-04-2021, 15:25   #7
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Re: Whitsundays and Hook Reef

Here is a screenshot of a satellite photo showing the waterfall position at Hardy Reef, with the lats and longs top left. I will see if I can find some photos of the difference in water heights inside vs outside the lagoon.
A very interesting exercise to do for the experience, but for me not worth repeating compared to the ease of anchoring/mooring plus clarity of the water and diving opportunities at Bait Reef. After the murk of the Whitsundays, it is refreshing to get back out to properly clear water there. Plus the whales come past very close.
If its your first visit up to Whitsundays etc, the entrances to Lady Musgrave and Fitzroy Reef are probably exciting enough.
TimClick image for larger version

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Old 06-04-2021, 00:04   #8
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Re: Whitsundays and Hook Reef

i know some spots...but i'm not telling

but seriously : check out zulu waterways. loads of good info and spots to stop

cheers,
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Old 06-04-2021, 00:24   #9
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Re: Whitsundays and Hook Reef

Anchoring inside the lagoon at Hardy is great. The entrance is narrow so try to go through at slack tide with the Sun high in the sky. Once you start going through the entrance keep moving. We saw a cat who lost nerve half way in and stopped. He then drifted sideways onto the Reef.

Once inside, the lagoon is huge and mostly sandy bottomed so it is easy to anchor. The commercial boats stay outside the lagoon so the anchorage is not crowded. The reef is quite healthy and there is good snorkeling in many areas.

Do not go to the outer reefs if there are strong winds or large waves. The lagoons can be a rough trap in foul weather.

You may want to take a mooring at Bait Reef first before going on to Hardy. Bay is very easy to get into and the bommies are easy to see.

The photo is from the boat at anchorage in Hardy Atoll at high tide and was taken last October.

John
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Old 06-04-2021, 02:06   #10
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Re: Whitsundays and Hook Reef

Hook reef is a decent anchorage, there's miles of choice of where to anchor. You anchor on the north side of hook in light SE breezes. Look for sandy bottom less than 10m deep, so you can easily see any bommies.

Hardy lagoon is a somewhat more protected anchorage, the reef rises about a metre out of the water at low tide. The lagoon is huge, with only a few small outlets, so water level in the lagoon is up to a metre(ish) higher than :sea level" at low tide.

The entrance isn't negotiable for yachts at low tide. Fast dinghies can do, if a bit exciting. At high tide it's a piece of cake, wide and deep.

Anchoring in Hardy lagoon is easy, the depth and clarity make bommies easy to spot.

In the right weather it's an awesome place. Snorkelling the edge of the channel at slack tide (tow your dinghy) is fantastic.
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Old 06-04-2021, 02:59   #11
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Re: Whitsundays and Hook Reef

A nice day out there..

Second photo is the entrace on an ebbing tide...
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Old 06-04-2021, 02:59   #12
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Re: Whitsundays and Hook Reef

As mentioned, Bait Reef has six moorings and five of them can be used by private boats all the time. The remaining one somehow is given over to a tourist operation if they want to use it. If they are not there, you can use. This one is the furthest one in to the right after you enter the lagoon. You are not permitted to anchor in the lagoon. Outside is fairly deep.
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Old 06-04-2021, 03:04   #13
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Re: Whitsundays and Hook Reef

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Originally Posted by clownfishsydney View Post
As mentioned, Bait Reef has six moorings and five of them can be used by private boats all the time. The remaining one somehow is given over to a tourist operation if they want to use it. If they are not there, you can use. This one is the furthest one in to the right after you enter the lagoon. You are not permitted to anchor in the lagoon. Outside is fairly deep.
Ridiculously, the moorings in bait reef have a 4 hour time limit! Which nobody observes.
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Old 11-04-2021, 01:49   #14
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Re: Whitsundays and Hook Reef

Thanks everyone for the information
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