Muddy Bay – Often crowded, but a great stop for provisioning
Reviewed Jun 2016
Muddy Bay, off the little tourist town of Airlie Beach, offers secure anchorage in mud. Approaching from the east, either inside or north of Pioneer Rock, keep an eye out for squalls coming out of Funnel Bay. Otherwise the approach is clear from all directions.
The downside of this clear approach is that Muddy Bay is only sheltered from southerly component winds. It's wide open to the north, and not safe in anything more than a light breeze from that direction. The masses of yachts wrecked there in various storms were all victims of their owner's reluctance to move them to a safer anchorage when northerly winds arrived. However, in southeast tradewind weather - the prevailing winter winds - Muddy Bay is quite secure. It is often rolly, sometimes inexplicably, but comfortable enough to be a very popular anchorage.
As the only allowable place to beach a dinghy these days is in the little harbour at the sailing club, it makes sense to anchor off the club. There are many moored boats in the bay, and often a host of visitors, but it is usually possible to find a spot.
Once ashore you'll find Airlie is a backpacker haven, but there is a sprinkling of more sophisticated entertainment and eating places. For the visiting boatie, the Woolworths supermarket behind McDonalds is handy, as is the walking track to the shops at Cannonvale. Buses run to the shopping and industrial centres further back. Pretty much all services are available these days. Top off your shore excursions with a drink or meal at the Whitsunday Sailing Club, on the veranda with the best view in town.
Only sheltered from southerly component winds