Firstly a bit of geography.
The depth of the water for 30-100 miles off most of the Queensland Coast is 30-50mts, then it comes to the edge of the continental shelf, where the depth, falls away rapidly to 500mt to 1Km. As the sea level has gone up and down with climate change (Ice Ages), the water level over this offshore shelf has gone from zero to were it is now. As it has gone up and down, new coral has progressively grown on top of older coral, forming the Great Barrier Reef.
It is a privilege for me to be able to cruise The Great Barrier Reef.
There was a few days of lightish weather, so I sailed back out to Beaver Cay, and Reef.
Catching a 3.5kg Spanish Mackerel along the way (the freezer is filling up with fish)
I had the cay/reef all to myself, so I took Albert over to the cayand put the drone up
Then it was time for a snorkel
I would have liked to have stay longer, but there was some inclement weather forecast, with 20 to 25kts of wind, so I headed to the western side of Goold Island, which would have better protection than Dunk Island.along the way I hooked up a 7kg Spanish Mackerel which spend the rest of the sail in a bucket, waiting to be filleted after I dropped the anchor I was building up a decent quantity of fish in the freezer, to take down to Brisbane with me, on my next flight down to visit family and friends. A 7kg fish was a lot more than I was anticipating. As I was filleting, a couple were trolling around the anchorage in their tender, trying to catch a fish…..perfect timing…. so I haled them over, to see if they wanted the fillet off one side, which they were very pleased to accept, as they had not caught a fish for a few weeks.
Fresh fish for my dinner
and there is still enough room in the freezer for the ice trays, for the sundowners G&Tthen the rain started this area of the Queensland Coast is not called the Wet Tropics by mistake. It bucketed down with 30kts gusts.
The prevailing wind on the Queensland coast from April to August is a South Easterly
the further north I go, the stronger the wind and the later it is until there is enough east in the wind to sail south. So I have been making my way north slowly, since March.
Last year I got to Lizard Island in September. After waiting 2 weeks for enough east in the wind to get down to Cairns, I gave up, having to tack for 6 days to get there (anchoring at night).
Not doing that this year, so my plan is to get to Lizard in mid-October.
I was ahead of schedule and was planning to spend a week, island hoping the small islands along the way too Cairns. But the weather forecast was showing a strong wind warning (25-30kts, gusting 35-40kt) in 4 days time. I had 2 options hide out, up one of the inlets at the top of Hinchinbrook Island or get to Cairns, put Logic in the marina there.
I chose the latter. Back to Dunk (20 miles) then a 70 mile day to Cairns
going past Bedarra Island with it’s $1,600 a night, up-market resort
the trawlers were anchored up behind Dunk, when I arrived. Heading out to work as the sun was settingI was off at first light the next morning, going past High Island, were I had been planning to anchor and climb to the summit. I was pleased that there was ice in the freezer, to add to the sundowner’s G&T, after I dropped the anchor outside Cairns then into the Marina in Cairns the next dayI have enjoyed my stop-off in the marinas going up the Queensland coast. Bundaberg, Gladstone (road trip to Rockhampton), Yeppoon, Mackay, Airlie, Townsville and now Cairns.
The Marina is just beside the city center with a feature lighting walkway into town.
going past the swimming pool that you see in all the tourist stuff about Cairns I was planning on flying down to Brisbane, Louis Rupert had progressed to standing and walking
6 weeks ago I had to quickly change my return flight, to get back to Logic in Townsville, before a Brisbane lockdown was about to start. There was currently another Covid incursion in Brisbane. I was not prepared to take the risk of getting lockdowned in Brisbane.
It took a bit of ringing around to find a place were I could get my second Covid vaccination (I’m now fully vaccinated, can my world please go back to how it was 2 years ago) .
I was very glad to be in the marina as the Strong Wind Warning came through, gusting 40kts in the marina
One of the stand out attractions of Cairns is Rusty’s Market, to stock up on fruit and vegmy inability to selectively decide, probably had me overdoing my purchasingTime to fill a week, anchoring in the reefs and cays off Cairns.
First stop was Michalmas Cay(25miles from Cairns)It was a great sail in 15kts, aft of the beam, out there. When I arrived there were already 10 boats here, but the 20kt forecast for the next day, had them all leaving the following morning. The forecast was 20kts for the next week, but sunny. The government has installed a mooring here, that is rated to 34kts of wind speed. So I have been tied up to it for the last 3 nights (a bit tricky tying up to it in 20kts (I had to reverse up to it, then quickly ty a rope I had run from the bow, to it)a bit rolley, especially when the tide is up, resulting in the swell, coming across the reef to the east. But I’m on a bomb proof mooring, which makes for unstressed sleep, sunny weather and I’m anchored off a sand cay, which is also a seabird rookery, to hundreds of nesting birds. the brown boobies are still doing some courting or sitting on eggs
The beach is roped off to keep people out of the nesting birds which definitely needs to happen, as there are silver gulls meandering around looking for unattended eggs The Brown Boobies, make a very rudimentary nest out of any flotsam or jetsam they can find, while the Sooty Terns, simply lay an egg on the sand the island is very busy with all the birds coming and going
all the squabbling amongst themselves for the limited space, produces a very noticeable “white noise”, which took me a few days to get use to.It is a pleasure to be on the boat surrounded by all the coming and going
there is Robinson Caruso feel, having this amazing place all to myself, just my footprints in the sand after I pealed one of those pawpaws and threw the skins out the window, there was a resulting lot of splashing outside. This is another green zone, the tourist boats must have been feeding the fish, because there was a big school of the biggest Bat Fish I have ever seen, plus good size Sweet Lip and what appeared to be Red Bass. That will eat anything organic.
5 years ago, a fellow yachty, with a lot more years at sea than me, said “eventually you will get sick of coconut palm fringed sandy beaches”. I still have quite a few more years, before I get to concurring with him.
I do miss the life I was living pre-Covid, the one I am living now is not as filled as it was, But I do appreciate how lucky I am to be able to be doing this. Half of the Australian population is in lockdown, some with night time curfews. Nobody up here is wearing masks. It is not until I see photos of people wearing masks, that I am reminded of the reality of the world outside this bubble.