Gladstone is a quiet place at 4pm. The one Main Street looks prosperous enough and is tidy and well landscaped. There is a theatre and an art gallery and some good shops, quite different from the usual high street ones. A RM Williams shop with a great sale keeps us all occupied for a while and finally we find Woolworths and hoof it back to the marina with more food.

That evening John is deep in calculations as we plan to go through the ‘Narrows’. This is an area of about 6 miles between the mainland and the northern part of Curtis island. It is famous for its cattle crossing – halfway along – which dries to 2 metres at low water. A high tide, preferably high spring tide, is needed to enable a safe crossing. John has always wanted to do this and in Selene it was just too risky. He assures me that with the high spring tides it will be fine! He calculates everything so carefully – timing is essential and the following morning we head off, not too early as we will have to wait for the tide to be at a certain point. We arrive at the beginning and anchor for a half hour or so until the appointed time. With the help of Alan Lucas and the plotter and John’s careful calculations we progress towards the crossing. To see the cattle race disappearing into the water is somewhat sobering, but the lowest depth the echo sounder gives us is 1.3 metres.

After 2 hours of concentration, we are through with no bumps and we find an anchorage for the night just inside Badger Creek (which should be known as Sandfly Creek!). It is a quiet still spot, but for Peter it is terrifying as he is being nibbled at.

The sunset and sunrise at this place is totally gorgeous. We have experienced so many beautiful sunrises and sunsets, but this one is spectacular. No lights anywhere to distract from it. The next morning a heavy dew covers all the outside areas and stuck to most of it are a zillion sand flies – revenge is sweet!

Another calm and sunny day ???proceeds the spectacular sunrise and we head for Great Keppel Island. With the strong SE winds still blowing, the northern anchorages are ideal and we settle down in Second Beach for a few nights. The SE winds keep everything just that bit too cool and I am surprised to see no-one swimming. The water is just over 20o, whereas Lady Musgrave Island lagoon was 23o. What GK Island did have to offer was lovely walks and varied bird life. Right across from us Peter spotted an osprey nest and two adults. We watched as they swapped places and saw off any birds that came to close and speculated that they had eggs or chicks. The beach is beautiful, the bush is home to masses of blue butterflies and the sea is crystal clear – what a paradise.

But time ticks on and by Sunday we have to leave and make our way 15 nm across to Keppel Bay marina. The SE has really got going and it is about 20 knots and concerns about entering the marina are laid to rest by Molly who gives us a large berth with no one alongside! This marina has been enlarged since we were last here and there are lots of spaces. The facilities are good and the Waterline Restaurant serves excellent food and live music at lunchtimes. They also have a hire car system which is just such good news as the following day we have to take J & P to Rockhampton airport for their flight home to the UK.

End of Part 2 of cruise.