Review: 100 Magic Miles

100magicmilesLong the only guide worth having for cruising through the Whitsunday Islands in northern Queensland, 100 Magic Miles is now in its 8th edition. This current edition represents the accumulation of knowledge over three decades by its author David Colfelt and illustrator Caroline Colfelt, making it the essential guide, even for old hands cruising the Whitsundays. Which is exactly why it can be found on every bareboat charter yacht (and if it’s not, then it should be!) departing from Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach.

Incorporating the mainland between Mackay and Bowen, the islands between Scawfell and Gloucester Islands, plus outer Hook, Line and Hardy Reefs are all included. Colour and aerial photographs, as well as detailed sketch maps help navigators to understand the topography, with suggested routes a conservative guide to assist those who are visiting for the first time. Even seasoned Whitsunday cruisers regularly refer to the ‘Magic Miles’, simply because there are so many anchorages in the region, it’s almost impossible to visit them all unless you’re a long time local.

Perhaps because of the large bareboat fleet operating in the Whitsundays, the guide has necessarily included the sort of detail that seasoned cruisers know instinctively. In that respect the ‘Magic Miles’ tries to make boating idiot proof, and in many ways succeeds. Handy wind diagrams indicating the sort of conditions each anchorage is suitable for are invaluable to skippers lacking confidence who want to break away from the crowds at the most popular anchorages. The guide also distinguishes between safe day and night anchorages, further assisting skippers to make informed decisions about vessel and crew safety. Though it’s common to see poor seamanship practices in the Whitsundays, Colfelt has done his best to educate and inform the masses. The 100 Magic Miles is clearly laid out and concisely illustrated, making it really hard to go wrong if you follow his advice.

Comprehensive information on the pleasures of the area includes diving and snorkelling sites, walking tracks and camping areas. There’s also a chapter on island resorts, advising which ones welcome boating visitors and which ones don’t. Zoning areas are covered within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, as are nasties that inhabit the same waters that everyone wants to swim and snorkel in. Fishermen aren’t forgotten either with colour illustrations helping to assist fishermen to comply with bag limits. If you have no other guide book onboard for cruising northern Queensland, make sure you have this one.

Verdict: Highly Recommended