that can't be bought!
I had heard
of Middle Percy way before our first trip up the coast but knew
little in depth. Our old friend Tyrone of SV "Sahara"
had told us of his visits when he was a skipper of a prawn trawler
back in the 70's. Until I started investigating the whole story
there was really very little published of this drama. So, here
it begins as printed in issue # 2 of TCP as a destination piece.
Middle Percy Island
By Bob Norson
IN calm weather, we motored mostly east
from Curlew Island, where we had spent the previous night at
anchor in a small bay on the west side of the Island. Doing a
casual 5 knots we were overtaken by a powerboat as we brought
the Percy's in sight. We exchanged smiles and waves as they planed
by on a similar bearing.
For years I had heard the Percy's mentioned by yachties, trawler
skippers, and fishermen. A favourite place to all. Besides being
in a convenient spot on the North-South boatie migration route,
there is good fishing, reasonable anchorages, and charm. Mountains
Our first stop when we arrived that day was West Bay. Though
the anchorage has a generally vile reputation, we caught it in
perfect conditions. With our 6.5 ft. draft, we anchored well
off the white sand beach and rowed ashore for a look. In its
natural state the bay would have been attractive, but much work
planting coconut palms and building shelters rendered a special...
Besides the coconut palms, the first thing to greet the eyes
is the A frame. Not far away to the left is the "phone"
hut. As I understand, the original structure. Both places are
covered in signs and souvenirs from passing boats. A rich history
of boating is revealed. Given time to sort through the lot, I
found signs from boats I had read about years ago. No boat can
pass into legend without staking out a niche at "Andy's"
The A frame has the feel of a funky
children's clubhouse. Swings, hammocks and other devices of entertainment,
along with benches, tables and huge pit BBQ, suitable for roasting
whole beasts. And everywhere
the signs. Some painted and
decorated with great care, others very casual, but everywhere
the names of passing boats and crews.
A short distance away is the tree house, which takes the children's
clubhouse theme a step further.
Arranged on a hillside, the view from
the "upstairs" bedroom is a beaut.
The effort that was put into the place to provide some comfort
and fun for passing boaties is unique, I think. Which brings
me to the point. Failing health and personal causes induced Andrew
Martin to leave his Island several years ago. I understand relatives
have assumed the lease, and though apparently tolerant and friendly
to passing boaties, the "clubhouse" was Andy's project
and is quickly falling into disrepair.
A boating icon is being consumed by
time. The time to go to the Percy's is now, while it still stands.
You don't want to compromise your future legend status, do you?
Have I been back since the first time?
Oh yeah, and will again the first chance. There is a lot more
to appreciate there, and I would like to meet the new lease holders.
Have I left a sign? Dumb question! Look for "White Bird"...
At about 21°40' S and 150°15' E,
Middle Percy may be the most visited of the group. As mentioned,
West Bay can be a rollie anchorage. There is an inlet on the
north side of West Bay, with a tidal entrance that gives access
to a hole probably suitable even for a cyclone.
For northerlies, I prefer Whites Bay. The shelter is good and
few hazards. Rescue Bay has northerly cover, but I wouldn't without
good light for spotting coral and rocks.
South Percy has a variety of anchorages when the southerlies
are in, but most consider North East Island the better shelter.
Tides in the area are strong, especially the channels between
the Islands. To plot direction of the current I refer to the
Broad Sound as the destination for the flowing water on the flood,
and as the source of the current on the run out. As you would
expect, a wind against tide can create wicked seas. Boaties using
only a compass bearing for navigation around here can find themselves
well off course quick smart.
Small motor boats leaving Sarina or
St. Lawrence should make their approximately 55 NM trip in 2
or 3 hours. Normally you wouldn't advise a small boat to take
this trip, but with settled weather and the fact that there are
strategically placed Islands for shelter along the way, it's
tempting. Bring plenty of water and fuel.
Though care has been taken to be accurate in this information,
"Bob's Mud Map" is no substitute for a proper chart.