Circumnavigating Australia Part 6

Fitzroy Island to Lizard Island

Fitzroy Island to Yorkey’s Knob

Sunday 16/09/2012

(Watching sunset from Fitzroy Island)
(Fitzroy Island)

The last couple of days has been quite good on the social scene and catching up with people. Friday afternoon we went ashore for sundowners at Foxy’s Bar at the happy hour which starts at 1630 hours to 1730 hours. When we arrived and got the first drink we noticed Jonathan’s dinghy anchored off the beach and the surging tide was causing it to crash into the coral beach, I went down to pull it further ashore and notice the anchor was slowly being dragged. I secured the anchor and hauled the dinghy as far as I could up the steep slope of coral beach, the dinghy was quite heavy and I could not drag it up all the way. I returned to my drink and kept an eye on it. Soon after this Jonathan and Joey arrived and joined us for a drink, well a couple of drinks whilst happy hour was on.

(Trawler at rest, ready to set off at sunset)

We returned aboard just at last light and had dinner and a quiet night, Saturday ‘Backchat’ arrived with Jenny and Irvin so we had afternoon tea with them, Jenny knows I like muffins so she baked a fresh batch for us. Irvin offered to check my outboard motor for me so I took him up on the offer.

In the afternoon ‘Muscat 7’ anchored nearby with Brian and Annette, Brian had his sons family aboard and called over for a chat and a beer.

(Heron in the tree)

Sunday, Irvin and Jenny came over and we had morning tea and Irvin and I had a look at the outboard motor, the problem had got worse, it has been out of the water on the stand and it has seized completely since it has been sitting there, so it looks as though it has to go to the Yamaha dealers.

Then this afternoon ‘Walk on Water’ arrived and Martin and Raewyn came over for sundowners they are sailing south tomorrow under the lighter ESE winds.

Monday – 17/09/2012

Today we went ashore for a walk and went over to Nudey Beach and on the way we bumped into Jenny and Irvin off ‘Backchat’ who were talking to a New Zealand couple Jim and Gina off ‘Tiare Taporo III’. Jenny said they had been down to Nudey Beach and there were no nudes she stripped off and went for a swim.

(Looking out from Nudey Beach to the mainland)

Nudey Beach is more coral than sand the southern end has more sand than the main area on the northern side. We walked the whole area and when crossing the rocky area I was confronted by two white pointers, a young lady sun baking and I must say very pleasing to the optic nerve. We walked on a little further to see six young ladies flaunting their breast taking photos of each other and running around giggling. The views are very nice on this island I thought to myself.

(Nancy on the walk back from Nudey Beach)

Fitzroy Island is a very nice island not just for these pleasant sights but for the walks and the resort itself. There are quite a number of day visitors that come over on the ferry each day and there is plenty of water sports to entertain, many just come over and relax on the beach or snorkel around the coral. They have kayaks, jet skies and two yellow submarines. They also have glass bottom boat tours over the coral areas.

(The Ferry and tour boat from Cairns)
(Hire shed and beach where water sport equipment can be hired)

After the walk we returned on board and later went ashore for sundowners at Foxy’s Bar, they have happy hour from 1630 to 1730 hours, a schooner of beer is $4 and a jug (4 schooners) for $11, they also have wines, cocktails and spirits. After a couple of drinks we returned on board for dinner.

(Foxy’ day bar)
(Your truly at Foxy’s blowing the froth off a couple of beers)

Tuesday – 18/09/2012

We said farewell to ‘Backchat’ this morning Jenny and Irvin headed off to check out some of the bays on the mainland around Cape Grafton as the wind was favourable to anchor over there. We stayed as today I wanted to dive on the props and make sure they were clean. I did this when the sun had warmed up. I was pleased with the props they were clean, it is the first time I have checked them since going back in the water when we hauled out at Mackay in June. I coat the props with lanoline grease and this stop barnacles from attaching themselves to them. I have a cotton gardening glove that I cover in the lanoline and when I dive on the props I wipe fresh grease over the props. This is probably the last chance I can do this other than Lizard Island as else where there is the danger of the crocs.

(The brown colour is algae)

After I had finished the props I then went around the hulls wiping the areas around the waterline as we had algae come in on some north winds the other day and this clings to the hulls waterline.

Jim and Gina sent us a text message saying that they would be going to Foxy’s Bar for sundowners so we joined them, Jonathon and Joey also joined us so we had a good chat.

Wednesday – 19/09/2012

Jonathan and Joey on ‘Emma Jane’ left this morning they were heading over to Cairns anchoring at Trinity Inlet, they are not sure whether they will venture further north or start heading south. A little later Peter and Tania on ‘Cassini’ headed out, Peter had a rash on his arm and it was getting worse so they are off to see a doctor.

We had a quiet day I did a few maintenance chores, it was a very warm day, we ended the day with our last sundowners at Foxy’s Bar with Jim and Gina as we will both be heading off tomorrow for Half Moon Bay Marina at Yorkeys Knob.

Thursday – 20/09/2012

Jim and Gina headed out about 0630 hours this morning but there was no wind I thought we might wait a short time to see if the wind kicked in once the sun was up in the sky, by 0730 hours I could see some ripples on the sea away from the island and Jim’s yacht in the distance had a sail up so we headed out. Unfortunately the winds were very light and all we were able to do was motor sail.

It was a great morning as far as the weather but no wind, as we passed Cape Grafton ‘Backchat’ that had been anchored in the bay also weighed anchor and was heading in the same direction of Yorkeys Knob. It was 18NMS from the island to Yorkeys Knob, we checked with the marina to see if we still had the same berth they had allocated to us, it was we are on the end of ‘A’ finger the same as last year.

As we entered the marina Jim and Gina was at the fuel dock they are going up to the next marina up the creek, Blue Water Marina, apparently they have had a fall out with this marina. ‘Backchat is also going to Blue Water Marina as they are leaving the boat for a short time and it is cheaper rent up there and it is cyclone proof, if we were staying for the cyclone season we would have gone there to. The only drawback with that marina is that there aren’t any shops close by although I believe they do have a courtesy car available that you can book for 3 hour periods.

(Heading into Yorkey’s Knob marina)

My first job once we had booked in was to source an outboard motor mechanic to have a look at our seized outboard motor. I saw Don at the local chandlery and he gave me a contact but unfortunately this bloke is very good and like all people that are good at their work they are also very busy. However, after talking to this guy he gave me a few things I could check and he said if it is the engine itself the parts are hard to get and expensive it is cheaper to buy another motor. We really live in a throw away world.

I went back aboard and took the starting mechanism off and I could not turn the engine by hand, I put a spanner on the shaft nut and was able to turn the engine although it was a little stiff, I then drained the gearbox oil and that was clean and then I unbolted the gearbox and lowered it about 100mm and all this rubbish fell out which included salt and one small piece of alloy. However, as soon as I cleaned it out the engine turned freely. I could not get the gearbox completely off without force so I thought I would put it all back together. I did this and the motor turned freely still so I put it back on the dinghy and it started first go and ran well so I thought I will leave it as is until we get to Darwin when I have more time.

Friday – 21/09/2012

The first job I did this morning was load all fuel containers in the dinghy and went over to the fuel dock to fill up with diesel and ULP, the outboard ran well so I was quite pleased although my concern about this small piece of alloy.

After getting the fuel I started the shitty job of the day, the port aft head was leaking dirty water. I knew what the problem would be as I had the same problem some time ago with the starboard forward head. The toilets are the TMC brand which is a good toilet one of the cheaper ones and I have found that the flange where the macerating pump screws on to the toilet bowl is where it leaks and the reason for this is that the pump has a metal flange and the toilet is a plastic flange and the sealing face is very thin between each hole and is sealed with a rubber gasket. Over a period of time the flange with the operation of the pump flexes and creates a leak in the seal face at the top and bottom of the flange and it erodes the metal face. I have found the easy fix is to clean the flanges thoroughly and then use Permatex form-a-gasket. I still use the rubber gasket as it is in good condition and use the form-a-gasket on all mating surfaces. I did this with the other toilet over 12 months ago and it has not caused any other problems. After doing those repairs I had to refit the toilet and hoses. By the time all that was done and everything cleaned up it was time for a cold beer. The weather is nice now and temperature around the 30⁰C which after the cool or cold winter we have had we need to get used to the climate again.

(The maceration motor flange
(Good gasket replacement)

Both Nancy and I had a busy day doing things and it was good to sit and relax have a good meal and crack a bottle or was that bottles of wine, yes I think it was bottles, it was good anyway.

Saturday – 22/09/2012

Had a nice surprise this morning a friend on the FB site that we have tried to meet on a few occasions when they have been sailing or we have been in Cairns and it has never happened was on line this morning so I sent a message to say hello and let her know where we were. Friend Kelly answered and asked if we wanted to go into the markets in town, I said that would be great and she picked us up within the hour and off we went. It was good meeting Kelly after all this time, Kelly run a number of marine colleges, one here another in Gladstone and she looking at another place now.

Kelly took us to the bloke who is a farmer that grows the produce he sells really great bloke we had a good chat with him the vegetables were nice and fresh. Then Kelly took us to a butcher that has very good meat so we are pretty well stocked up with vegies and meat. She then took us home for coffee and we met her father who is also a good old sailor from Victoria.

Kelly took us back to our boat and came aboard for a while and we had a good chat.

The rest of the day was a bit of a lazy day which may have had something to do with the night before.

Sunday – 23/09/2012

Nancy cooked me a very nice breakfast this morning and after that I did the last fuel run getting all the containers filled. I then had to rearrange storage so I could place the fuel in the forward hold area so that I do not have to bend over on the transom step waving my backside at crocs.

After lunch a friend Vic came to visit, we first met Vic and his wife Yvonne in Brisbane when he was getting his Leopard 47 catamaran ready to go to Tonga in the charter fleet, he also has a Leopard 46 in Airlie charter fleet. Yvonne was working so she was unable to visit. It was good catching up with Vic once again, he is bringing his cat back from Tonga next year that would be a good trip. We had a good afternoon chatting about boats and sharing information. It would be great to do the Pacific run again.

Cairns and Yorkeys Knob

It has been a busy time for us in Cairns doing some repairs and maintenance and storing and fuelling ready to sail on Thursday on our big new adventure. It is really north of here that the new adventure really starts as we have sailed up to Lizard Island before but that is the furthest north we have gone on the coast. We have three days sailing to Lizard Island but we will be stopping along the way at Lowe Isle, Cooktown before arriving at Lizard Island. We need winds to save fuel usage although we do have a back stop in case we need additional fuel.

Monday – 24/09/2012

We have hired a car for a couple of days to do all the running around, one of the first things on the list was to purchase an air-conditioner a portable type as we will need one for the months we spend in Darwin during the wet season, we shopped around eventually buying one from The Good Guys, they didn’t event haggle the price the manager came over to the girl that was serving us and told her to knock $100 off the price for us. We also bought a couple of other needed items that were on special. On the way we met up with Yvonne, Vic’s wife who we saw yesterday, it was good to catch up and say hello.

The next was to purchase some flat fenders to go through the lock gate at the marina in Darwin as we believe we do not have that much clearance getting through the gate with our width, I could be wrong but we need to be prepared. We did some shopping at The Deck Store which Brian on ‘Muscat 7’ told us about and we also went to Whittworths for some items that the other store did not have. After that we visited SeaSwift that runs a Mother-ship Service, we registered with them so that if we need fuel or water we can get it from their vessels that will be going to the Torres Straits it is also possible to get food goods or supplies delivered to SeaSwift to be sent to you on your travels, naturally it all has to be timed to their schedule.

(Esplanade Cairns)
(Esplanade Cairns)

The next item was to try and get cables for the Pactor 3 we have purchased so we can send emails via HF Radio, we were not successful with that project so that will have to wait until Darwin. When we had finished the running around we headed back to the marina to unload all the gear. By the time we had finished it was time for late lunch and a relax.

Tuesday – 25/09/2012

It was time for more shopping, we had listed the places we had to go and Nancy was navigator again giving me the directions to get to the different locations. After we had done some running around in the city we went down to the esplanade for an early lunch after a short walk around the swimming lagoon.

(The swimming lake, he has a very tough job)

Then we drove out to the Smithfield Shopping centre to do the grocery shopping and then to Dan Murphy’s to top up the beer and wine supplies, unfortunately we then had to go back to the city because the Chemist did not have all the medication that we needed.

The car was packed with stuff and it took two four wheel trolley loads to get it from the car to boat the only light items were my wallet and the bank balance.

Then it was stowing all the extra stuff trying to balance weight throughout the boat, we finally got it all done. With everything stowed away it was time to have showers and then meet friends Trish and Courtney for dinner at the yacht club here at the marina, Trish being a school friend of Nancy’s and Courtney being her daughter. We had a very nice evening with two very nice people.

Wednesday – 26/09/2012

Cleaning day, Nancy went off with the laundry and I scrubbed the boat and filled water tanks and containers then started getting things ready to sail tomorrow. That took all day.

In the evening we went to dinner with my good ex-Navy mate Billy Simpson and his lovely wife Lynette, yes we went to the yacht club again. It is a great place to eat and the views over the sea are terrific. After a good meal and long chats we turned in for the night.

Cairns, (Yorkeys Knob) to Low Islets

We were up before the sparrow passed wind this morning and we did not have that much to do to get ready to sail as I did most things before going to bed last night, all we have to do this morning is top up one water tank to replace what we used yesterday, disconnect the electricity and single up lines ready to slip from the dock. So we had time for a leisurely breakfast and cup of tea, check the emails and the weather and hope the wind is in our favour as predicted yesterday.

We started engines and slipped the lines at 0630 hours and we slowly motored out of the marina whilst Nancy put the ropes and fenders away in the fwd hold. I had the sails ready but there is no wind. The predictions are for SE 10 – 15 knots . We motored with both engines to Double Island then I shut one engine down still no wind. It is 31 Nms to Low Islets and running with the tide on one engine we motor at 5.8 knots (10.4 kph). The winds did not arrive when we were around 8 Nms from the island we had a little wind that I unfurled the headsail which increased our speed by 0.5 knots.

(Wave Rider Buoy, if you see these stay clear, they are what the Met get wave heights from for warnings)

After passing Double Island I put out the fishing line, new stronger line than what we had before having lost one reel, and two lures. It was not long after when we had a hit and it was strong. I asked Nancy to put the engine in neutral as it is not good having the drag of nearly 6 knots. Whatever we have on the line is a fighter it kept diving and then go loose then dive again, after some time we got it to the stage of landing it on board when the lure let go of the fish and there was a big splash and it was gone, it looked like a tuna mackerel. We set the line again and continued on motoring. Later we had another hit and did not fight as hard as the last fish, this one we landed it was also a tuna mackerel of around 60cm a bit smaller than the one that got away I think, I bled it cleaned it and cut it into fillets, Nancy took them into the galley and washed the fillets and cut them into meal sizes which ended up being three meals for us each. So we put the fishing line away and when we have nearly finished these fillets we will troll the line again.

(The one that got away)
(Catch of the day)

We arrived at Low Isle at 1130 hours and entered the anchorage area to find one of the moorings free so we picked that up rather than anchoring. Since anchoring the wind has picked up but we thought we would stay here as with tonight’s predicted winds this will be the better location this side of Cooktown.

Low Islets are attractive islets with coral and nice beach there are many tourist boats that come out from Port Douglas and it is a major stop over place for yachts sailing the coast when going north and returning south. Today though it looks like there are only local yachts as they have headed out during the afternoon for the coast as did the tourist boats.

Just after getting here we were welcomed first by a large bat fish that probably came to get some food from us and then it was joined by a reef shark that had three sucker fish attached to it. The sucker fish keeps the shark clean of parasites. Each time we come here we have the same welcoming committee. Nancy fed the fish some bread and those sucker fish are incredibly fast, they would race away from the shark grab the bread and race back to the shark again. Reef sharks are considered harmless to humans many people swim amongst them here and other places.

(Bat Fish)
(Reef Shark with sucker fish attached and Bat Fish behind)

The anchorage is good holding here and is sheltered for any wind from SW to SE, there are three public mooring buoys and a number of private ones owned by the tourist companies. Although the charts show a 1.8m depth we have 6.6m depth at high tide and around 4.0m at low tide. You do have to look for any coral bommies in some of the anchorage areas and when you go ashore in the dinghy.

(Low Isle)

We will have an early night tonight and get going early in the morning heading for Cooktown some 65NMS to get there so it will be a 10 or 12 hour days sail depending on wind.

Low Islets to Cooktown

Friday – 28/09/2012

Well I said we would have an early night to get going early and we did. I was up before 0400 hours but when I went on deck there was little wind so I put the kettle on and made the heart starter cup of tea and whilst the kettle boiled went out and got things ready to go. After the heart starter we started the engines switched on navigation lights and instruments, hoisted the mainsail and slipped the mooring. We now had around 10 knots of wind from the east as soon as we cleared the shallow bay we unfurled the headsail and then shut the engines down, the wind got stronger and as daylight approached I could see why. A rain squall was coming from the southeast, I normally have a reef in the mainsail when we sail at night but this morning was that close to daylight and the winds were light I did not bother I hoped now that I was not going to regret that. As the first squall approached the rain came then strong winds up to 26 knots we sailed along at 7.5 – 8.2 knots. It was good to get the wind and sail at a good speed.

As soon as the first squall left us there was another one, then I ended up with three squalls around us one passing ahead of us one behind and another to the east abeam of us. These squalls caused a lot of work as the wind kept changing from SE to SW so I was changing sails from one side to the other on a regular basis. The squalls headed toward the coast and left us with sunshine and SW winds but not enough now to use sails alone. I also noticed once the squalls had gone that there were two other yachts behind us, one very large schooner that was motoring and a Seawind catamaran that had full sails up but obviously motor sailing. I motor sailed with one engine and the headsail because the sloppy seas caused by the squalls was rocking the boat causing the mainsail to slap side to side which only damages the sail. A little later the winds came back from the SE, this had happened whilst I had a nanna nap and Nancy was on watch the different movement of the boat woke me and when I went out to the cockpit Nancy had changed tack to suit the wind. After checking everything we decided to hoist the mainsail again having first to furl the headsail then turn into the wind to hoist it. Once back on course and full sail we cut the engine once again. The schooner left us as we passed Hope Island as it turned in to anchor with other yachts there. The Seawind catamaran suddenly got more power and passed us, I think they may have started an engine. We seemed to reach Cooktown a lot earlier than expected so we must have done well as far as sailing.

We headed into Cooktown and dropped sails just outside we had sailed 63 NMS so we averaged around 6 knots which under the conditions was quite good, Cooktown is not an easy place to find an anchorage especially near low tide which is where we are at. The guide books show two anchorage areas one close to shore which is now full of moorings and the other following the leads (I say leads the front lead is missing there is only the frame that it used to be mounted on left there and has been like this for some years), anyway follow the leads right the way through then pass the first on its starboard side where you cross a sand bar which is not possible until you have some tide over it.

(Cooktown Harbour, possible anchorages, arrow shows front leads))

We ended up anchoring just passed the turning circle yellow buoys opposite the docks in a depth at the time of 2 metres, we calculated that at the very low tide at 0249 hours in the morning we would be close to touching the bottom. The fact was with the wavelets coming in on the change of tide we kissed the bottom as we turned, naturally I got up a number of times to check all was well and a short time after the tide change we were OK again.

Saturday – 29/09/2012

(Cooktown Harbour)

(‘Pychy’ This unusual sailing vessel came into Cooktown just ahead of us, there are six crew that I counted and if you look at its flag it is from the Federation of Russia, They are lifting the anchor by hand here just before leaving harbour)

I slept in until daylight this morning unusual for me but I did have those awake times during the low tide at around 0200 hours this morning. We had breakfast and I started on these scribbles then once the breakfast had settled I topped the fuel tanks up with fuel out of the containers then we went ashore with the two trolleys and containers and walked to the fuel station to top the containers up. Took them back on board and stowed them then went ashore again for a look around and lunch.

We had lunch at The Sovereign Resort Cafe-Bar it appeared busy with locals so we assumed it would be the better place to go and it was good. The meals were very nice and well presented. We got talking to some of the people there and probably stayed longer than we should have and just maybe had more beers than we intended but there you go, it was enjoyable.

(The Sovereign Resort)

This place has a lot of history as it was here that Captain Cook landed, in fact he beach HMS Endeavour on the steep beach on the 18th June 1770, to carry out repairs after hitting the reef and doing serious damage to the timber hull. In the 1870’s began the gold rush where the township grew, many of the aboriginal tribes were wiped out by white settlers. Then years later Cooktown played a major part in the second world war with some 20,000 Australian and American troops were stationed here, the civilian population were evacuated along with aboriginal people that were relocated in the Palm Islands, many of these also died which was related to them being moved from their known home place. They have a brilliant museum here with all the histories, but be warned the building where the museum is housed used to be an old convent and there are some that say when they visit the feel the presence of ghosts.

(Cooktown Museum)
(Bark Endeavour’s anchor)

We returned on board for a quiet evening, I cooked some nice steak on the barbeque.

Tomorrow we stay here as the winds are not too strong as they will only be around 5 to 15 knots so we will sail on Monday where we should see 15 to 20 knots of wind from the southeast. We have to be very mindful of sailing to save fuel as there are not that many fuelling stops along the way from now on.

(The spot Endeavour was beached in 1770)
(The landing place 1770)
(Captain James Cook and Nancy)

Sunday – 30/09/2012

I was awake very early this morning probably due to the anchor chain rattling against itself as the change of tide. After daylight I topped up the water tank with the water containers I have as spare, it took the whole 80 litres, I then put the containers in the dinghy and headed ashore to fill them up. There is a tap with a long hose near the boat ramp so as it was high tide it was possible to take the dinghy all the up the left side of the boat ramp where the tap is located and fill the 20 litre containers without having to lift them in and out of the dinghy.

(The perceived Russian Invasion)
(The cannon)

After returning to the boat and stowed the water containers we had breakfast and then I worked on this blog, scribbling and selecting photos and of course listening to Macca on the radio (Australia All Over), after this we readied to go ashore, I filled the little generators and the outboard motor fuel tanks with the ULP so I could fill the fuel container. It was when I was doing this that I opened the gas locker where I keep the measuring cup for the oil/fuel mix for the outboard when I noticed the gas bottle in use was empty. Ashore we went with trolley, fuel container and empty gas bottle, I asked a local where I could get the gas filled he told me the Caltex station the end of town. It was a very long walk and when we got there the lady on duty was not trained to do gas bottles, she said the other fuel station will do it, the one half way back the way we came. So away we go again and when we get there it is the same story. So to make sure we have enough gas I had to purchase one of the exchange gas bottles at a cost of $74. I blame myself I should have topped it up when we were in Cairns.

With all that done I took it all back to the boat and then returned ashore for lunch, today we had it at the RSL Club, also very nice meals. After lunch we went for a walk, as if I really needed it, I was already worn out. We returned on board had a nice cup of tea and a nanna nap.

Another yacht came in and it was low tide and the skipper was bringing her in appeared to be confident of where he was going so I said to Nancy this bloke might be a local I may watch where he goes because I may learn something. He followed the docks round close to the boats on the dock heading in the direction of the boat ramp. Just as he neared the boat ramp some bloke ashore yelled out to him saying he will run out of water and to go back. The skipper put the boat astern quickly and when in safer water he called the Coastguard but no answer. I called him up on the VHF radio and gave him some advice on what I would do and that was to anchor in the turning circle in deeper water. He did this and then came over in his dinghy to say hello and ask why he could not have dropped anchor where he was originally heading. I explained that the boat ramp is there and there is not much swing area for anchoring and at present being low tide one can’t cross the sand bars to the deeper anchorages. He thanked us for the advice after introducing himself and said he was also sailing tomorrow for Lizard Island and we can then catch up.

So we will have a quiet night aboard and sail in the morning.

Cooktown to Lizard Island

Monday – 01/10/2012

It’s funny the eve before a sail I wake up a number of times during the night probably not wanting to sleep in and be late leaving in the morning. Last night was the same I probably got up about three times. Well I got up at 0400 hours and there was no wind so I went back to bed, up again at 0500 hours I put the kettle on there is a little wind so I checked the latest wind charts on the net, they say 15 – 20 knots E-SE that will be good.

After I made the tea and took Nancy’s tea to her in bed, got to look after the Admiral. I had my tea and then started to get things ready to sail, Nancy got up and helped. Looking out of the harbour it looked a little crappy with storm clouds and a few rain squalls on the horizon, looks like we might get wet today.

(Nancy securing the anchor as we head out of Cooktown Harbour)

We started the engines and weighed anchor then motored out of the harbour to an area we could hoist the mainsail this complete we set course for Lizard Island and unfurled the headsail and shut the engines down. I had put a reef in the main due to the squalls ahead and I was pleased I did as the winds picked up to 22 plus knots and we set off at 8.2 knots to start off with, I thought this was good as we have 63NMS to get to Lizard Island. Nancy asked if I was going to troll a line, I said I think we are going a little too fast for that.

(Chart showing track from Cooktown to Lizard Island)

Unfortunately as we approached Cape Bedford we started to lose the wind and eventually we were glassed out with the sea being almost waveless other than the swell. I had to start an engine and motor sail. I then set the fishing line and as we passed Cape Bedford we had a strike, it did not seem to put up much of a fight, when I landed it, when we identified it was a tuna mackerel but undersize so we released it. I set the line again and we did not have anything for a while, however, the wind came back after passing Cape Bedford and we were under sail again the wind was not as strong as before so I went up forward and took the reef out of the mainsail so we had full sails. We had come a fair distance without any fishing action and I was going to pull the line in as we only had 1NM before entering a no fish zone when we had a strike. I had to get Nancy to change the course to take the wind out of the sails to slow us down as we were sailing along at 6 knots, the fish on the line was heavy. It took 25 minutes to get the fish onboard it was a 85cm long tail tuna also known as a blue fin. Well after I filleted it and Nancy washed and packed it, it will give us both five nice meals. So we won’t fish now until that is nearly all gone or we find more freezer space. We don’t fish for sport or just to see what we can catch we fish for food needs only and more so this voyage because we are going to be far away from shops from now until we get to Darwin. There are a couple of places one in from Seisia and another at Gove but that’s about it.

Once the fish was aboard I had to stay on the helm as we were now entering the shipping lane as we have to cross a junction where the lane splits into two and we have one merchant ship ahead coming towards us and another behind also coming towards us.

The ship behind is a lot closer than the one in front, however, it will be the one ahead that we will have to deal with first, both these ships are underway at around 13 knots, I am now sailing at 7 – 7.5 knots so the approaching calculated speed of approach for the ship ahead is around 20 knots the one from behind is around 6 knots, simple maths.

Stronger winds kicked in as we sailed but not too bad but it did pick up the seas slightly, now with the ships out of the way I had to fillet the fish it is not fun when the boat is rolling on the sea but the job was finally done and then it was clean up the mess. I must say that it was a good benefit putting in the saltwater tap in the galley so we save on our freshwater.

(Passage between Lizard and Palfrey Islands)

We arrived at the beautiful Lizard Island at 1430 hours which I thought was good going with the couple of slowing down times we had. We anchored in Watsons Bay there are quite a few boats hear not as many as last year though, but I know a lot of yachts have been and gone, over the last few days of sailing we have seen yachts heading south.

As I said before this is really where our adventure starts because so far the places we have sailed we have done before what lies ahead we have not sailed ourselves before. The next leg is from here to Darwin which is 1232 nautical miles (2,217.6 kilometres), the first part of this leg will be from here to Seisia which is 365NMS which will be done in 7 days sailing time and sailing during daylight hours then from Seisia we cross the Gulf of Carpentaria to Gove 354NMS continuous sailing 3 days 2 nights.

Lizard Island

About the island-

Lizard Island was a sacred place for the Dingaal Aboriginal people and the island was known to them as Dyiigurra. It was used to initiate young males and for the harvesting of shellfish, turtles, dugongs and fish. The name Lizard Island was given to it by Captain Cook when he passed it on the 12 August 1770, he said that the only animals they saw on the island were lizards and there were plenty of them. Cook climbed the peak here to chart a course out to sea through the many reefs and this peak is now known as ‘Cook’s Look’.

(Cook’s Look)
(The Peak of the mountain is where Cook’s Lookout is, the wetlands in the foreground.)
(Looking down at Watson’s Bay from Cook’s Lookout)

By the 1860’s sea cucumber fishermen found that the waters had substantial quantities of this creature that was a delicacy in Asia. In 1879, Captain Robert Watson and his wife Mary and baby son plus two Chinese servants modified an abandoned cottage to live in. Robert Watson was also a cucumber fisherman and was often away from the island during his absence Aborigines from the mainland killed one of the servants. Mary who was known for her courage and endurance fled with her child and the other servant by using an iron pot (large rectangle tub) used to boil the sea cucumber in hope of reaching the mainland. The vessel floated away from the island and it drifted to Howick No 5 Island where nine days later they all perished from thirst. Their bodies were found 3 months later along with the diary that Mary kept. In relation to the attack and expedition was mounted against the Aborigines but it is almost certain that they were the wrong Aborigines that suffered.

(Mary’ legend)

In 1939 all the islands in the group were declared as a National Park. Today it is still a national park but it does have a luxury Resort that is very exclusive plus there is the Australian Museum’s Research Centre.

(End of another day)

Tuesday – 02/10/2012

Watson Bay is a good sheltered bay during the regular high winds, the wind is not stopped but there is very little fetch on the sea, naturally the closer to the beach you anchor the less wavelets you will experience. We are away from the beach by choice as we have phone and internet service although not great we can check the weather, emails and keep the blog up to date.

(Watson’s Bay Lizard Island)

Although on occasions there are strong winds one can still go ashore the closer you get to the beach the calmer it becomes, head straight into the wind with the weight at the back of the dinghy so the bow sticks up and add a few good revs on the motor and you will stay dry for the trip in.

We went ashore this morning for a walk and get rid of the garbage, yes the island takes your garbage. There is a large bin near the beach by the Marlin Bar where yachties can take their garbage for a donation, there is a honesty box on a post to place your money.

The Marlin Bar is open from 1700 hours Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I am not sure but this bar is not as luxury as the resort and I think it is designed mainly for the staff use. They make a good pizza there and there are a few meals on offer for a good price.

(Marlin Bar)

The island has a number of walks including the Peak itself to see ‘Cook’s Look’, I know my friend Mark is itching to visit this island to do that climb. We did it last year and with the weather conditions at the moment I don’t think we will do it this year. They say the best time to do it is in the afternoon on a calm day so the sun gives you the benefit of seeing the reefs in the north and east. I would grade the walk as a hard walk/climb it was a 2 hour time to get to the top last year and you will need to take some drinking water with you. (Pictures above)

(Watson’s Bay from Chinaman’s Hill)
(Nancy on Chinamans Hill Watson’s Bay behind her)
(Resort Beach)

There is a walk that you can do right around the island but you have to do it at low tide or you will have a lot of rocks to climb over. There is the Research Centre walk passed the airport and they do conduct tours of the centre.

(Research Beach)

On the walks you may or may not see the many lizards here but you will see hundreds of their tracks on all the walks.

On our walk yesterday we stopped to look at the well pump and was surprised to see that it was broken. The cast iron bracket that assists in giving the pump action has broken off. The water from this pump they advise to boil before you drink but I feel that is a liability issue, I have tasted the water and it is fine. Talking to another yachty about the broken pump he assured me that the resort will let you top up your containers if you have a need. I would have probably topped up here but we are close to full and it will probably be easier to get water at Seisia.

(Well water pump broken)

We walked to the resort from Watsons Bay beach and took the garbage, it is easier to dinghy straight to the beach near the Marlin Bar and then go back to Watson’s Bay Beach, (the Marlin Bar is on the north end of the resorts beach).

This is a beautiful island and is as good as what we have seen when sailing the Pacific but it is not commercialised other than the resort and that is off limits to yachties/boaties, so you have to have your own provisions, I have covered the water issue and I would say if National Parks fix the old pump the resort will stop filling the water containers. Mail can be sent to you through the research centre who do it out of kindness so do not demand services from them. If you plan a long stay it is wise to register with Sea Swift in Cairns and have someone get and deliver your needs to them for delivery to yourself when the barge comes here, they do have information on the internet.

There is a great diversity of land and vegetation here and beautiful different blue coloured seas. For those that don’t mind roughing it there is a camp ground but you need to obtain a permit from National Parks although I am not sure where the camper can get water from now the pump is broken because that’s where campers used to shower by use of a shower bag filled from the old hand pump . People can fly in here from Cairns and some people just come for a day visit flying here in the morning and back in the afternoon . The campground has tables in each campsite and four large poles where a tarp can be rigged for shelter from the sun and rain, there is also one twin burner gas cook top made available for campers. I noticed a barrel that has odds and ends a camper may use with a log book to record your visit.

(The shower bag for campers)
(The camp ground)

Wednesday and Thursday

We have stayed on board with the high winds, the winds have not let up at any part of the day and night it has howled in the high 20 knots and no relief in sight until Sunday. We may still sail Saturday because although the high winds the seas between here and our next stop Howick or Ingram Island, not decided yet, the seas will only be 0.5 metres due to the protection of the reef. However, between there and our next anchorage with these winds is between 3 and 4 metres, although I have sailed in these conditions before I don’t choose to if I don’t have to.

The other big problem we face is when the wind reduces we have three days of good sailing conditions then no wind at all. Joys of sailing.

(Got to love those sunsets)

Now waiting to go onto the next leg.

(End of another one)