A priority for me sailing north, is to get to Lizard Island.
It can be a “lobster trap”, very easy to get to with the prevailing South Easterlies tradewind, blowing up the Queensland Coast, and then a wait, for potentially weeks, for enough east in the wind to sail back down the coast. Around mid-October, the trade wind dies down and the wind has a lot more east in it. Last year I got to Lizard in early September, after 2 weeks of waiting for a favorable wind direction, I gave up and spent 6 days tacking the 130 miles, down to Cairns. Lesson learnt, I was not arriving at Lizard until mid to late October this year.
So were it Lizard Island? a thousand miles north of Brisbane and 130 miles north of Cairns First stop was Michalmas Cay, to see how the nesting birds were progressing with this year’s batch of chicks.
I notices an unusual bird when I went ashore.
A Frigatebirdthey have an enormous wing span, which they use to glide effortlessly. But to make that work they cannot afford the weight of waterproofing their feathers. If they go into the sea, they can’t get out and drown. They use that hooked beak to catch squid and flying fish, when they are close to the surface. after I left last time, there was a strong wind warning with 40-45kts gusts. It had taken it’s toll on the roosting birds (it would have been like a sand blaster on the cay). Where there had been a profuse number of Sooty Terns on eggs there were now Noddiescourting or sitting on a single egg laid on the sandand Brown Boobies on eggs
next stop was Norman Reef (another green zone).
The public mooringwas a 40mt swim from a 10mt drop-off
spectacular snorkelinga negative of anchoring off a reef with no cay, is the seabirds sneaking an overnight roost which necessitates a scrubbing off in the morning, before the guano setts hard
Next anchorage was Mackay Cay
along the way, I caught a “village feeder” sized Spanish mackerel. Way to BIG for me (and I was not in a hurry to fill the freezer and then have to stop fishing). Mackay reef and cay is close enough to Port Douglas for the day trippers to come out for the day. There was a boat full of day trippers also moored off the cay. So I cut off enough of the fish for 3 good feeds for myself and took the rest over to the day tripper boatI bumped into the same boat a few weeks later. The crew cooked up the fish for day trippers lunch. I can just imagine the stories told at their work the week after, about the eccentric yachty that dropped off 10kgs of fresh mackerel for their lunch.
The next day on the sail up to Hope Island, I caught this very pretty, BarracootaBarracoota, are at the top of the food chain and can accumulate a toxin called ciguatera, which is debilitating if you eat one, so back he went.
And then an big Spaniard hit the line, at 9kgs he was not far off “village feeder” size, so I now needed to find a home for him at Hope Island.
Luckily a tinny with 4 traditional owner was going though the anchorage.
Perfect timing it felt like I was back in Vanuatu, arriving at a village with a fish Hope Island is a nesting site for hundreds of Torres Straight Pigeon that have migrated down from the Torres Straight for the breeding season. Every evening they fly the 5 miles from the mainland, where they have been feeding on fruits in the rainforest, to overnight roost on the island.they lay their eggs on the sand, so nesting on the mainland is not an option an enjoyable sundowners vista, with a background noise of a very large pigeon loft I left at first light the next day, with the sun rising behind Hope Island
It was not long before another large fish hit a lurea BIG Barracoota, which by the look of her is a female, full of eggs, back she went
Going past Cape Bedford. The great Dividing Range has petered out by now, so without the mountains to catch the rain, it is lot drier.
Another barracootaall these big fish were taking a toll on my lures bending and breaking hooksand my lucky lure, that had caught me the most fish, (Jessie gave it to me in Melbourne 4 years ago) now did not track straight, due to the bib being bent it was time to put my fishmonger’s Santa hat away and keep the next fish.
Going past the loading wharf at Cape Flattery, were half a million tons a year of silica sand is exporter to Japan then the fishing line went tight“only” a 7kg Spaniard. The people who care about me are now relieved that I am no longer landing big teethy fish, single handed.
I had an obviously aged and/or sick Noddie, join me for sundowners I left the next morning for the last 17miles to Lizardthe anchorage is on the North Western side of the Islandthere were a number of other boats already anchored there the weather forecast had the possibility of a northerly in a few days, in which case I will need to move around to the anchorage on the southern side of the island. It was too far to take Albert, so I walked it (track 1) along the beach, then behind the rock outcrop to the airstrip walking beside the airstrip ending up on the southern beach
there was plenty of room over the sandy bottom close in, that has 1.5mts of water, so I will have no issues finding a spot to anchor here if required, due to Logic only needing 0.9mts, unlike most other boats.
There was a trailable motor boat, hard and dry, way up on the beach, when I got back to Watson’s Bay. A couple of the people onboard were sleeping in the camping ground ashore. The previous evening they had come in, in the boat to unload the camping gear, forgetting it was the top of tide, and got caught as the tide went out. They almost floated her on the morning high tide. The evening high tide was 150mm higher and after that they were getting progressively lower. The 8pm high tide was their last throw of the dice for a few weeks. When I told Reece that I had a shovel onboard, it was as if I was a deity. I went back to Logic and returned with the shovel (when I put Logic on a sandbank to work on here, I needed to dig out below the propellers) Reece and Nelson went to work with the shovelthen we sat around drinking beer, waiting for the tide to come in.
At 7.30 Albert pulled them off the beach, much to their relief.
They came back to Logic, for feed of chili, I quickly threw together.
The next day after we hit the bar at the resort for sundownersthen they came back to Logic and cooked fish (coral trout) taco, for dinner. A lovely trio of mid 20s country tradies.
The next day it was time to do the walk to Cook’s Lookout, 340mts of up. Walk 2.
It is quite a scramble getting up to the ridge the cyclones that come through every 5 years or so, have shaped the eucalyptus then the walk across the flat to the final ascentmade it spectacular views the umbrella trees up here were in flowerthen for the walk down Lizard has a lot of bushes that are covered in fruits that look like Christmas baubles.(that is a bulk carrier loaded with sand in the background, on it’s way from Cape Flattery to Japan)
The fruits starts of as a yellow flower when the fruit is ready it dries out and releases seeds cover in fluffy down the is dispersed by the windwhen I got back to the paddleboard I had left on the beach, it had wilted after blowing a seam in the heatit was a 300mt swim back to Logicin 27.5C water. as clear as gin.
The crocodile they had put up the sign forwas living in the creek, that came in at the other end of the beach. Depending on who was telling the story it is either 4ft or 2mts. Crocodiles do not come out in the middle of the day, so I was very unlikely to encounter it
The forecast was showing the breeze getting a bit of east in it, in 3 days time, time for me to leave Lizard at first light overnighted at Hope Island,
going past Cape Tribulation the next dayback to the high mountain range, creating the rain to produce the rainforest.
A bulk carrier went past, carrying a load of bauxite from Weipa to Gladstone, were it will be turned into aluminum(Logic is made of Aluminum).
Overnight anchorage at Low Isles
Then back out to Michalmas Cay to see how this year’s action at the seabird rookery was going.
The Noddies are still here, sitting on their eggs, but no chicks yet the Sooty Terns have a few chickswhich they keep in the middle of the flock to minimize the chance of the ever present gulls, charging in to grab a chick there were a couple of large Brown Boobie chicks cover in white down and I fluked this series of photos of a featherless Brown Boobie chick stick its head way down it’s parents neck to get a feed.
It made me think of the way my daughter Kate is bonded to my grandson Louis.
In a previous blog I wrote of how since March, I had been going north from Brisbane slowly, using the South Eastly tradewinds. Well that is now changing, with summer approaching the water in the Coral Sea is warming which is changing the wind to an Easterly, then getting more north in it , as the weeks progress this is the wind pattern that will get me sailing back to Brisbane. An Easterly to get down to Townsville. Then as I get further down the coast the more north, the easterly wind will get.