Hope Islands (3rd June)
A lovely sail up with full main and poled out headsail - about 30 miles. Both Tintin and us were lucky enough to get a national park mooring (ok - so I take back some of the negative comments about government departments). Just as we arrived, the wind increased to 30+kts but we were nice and comfortable on our mooring behind the reef with little or no movement. A bonus for a good nights sleep. The sun was shining so we just had to go ashore for a walk around the island.
Interesting, there are crocodile warnings on the National Park sign, even though we are some 20miles off the coast.
Kevin and Jacqui, Pete and myself on Hope Island
It didn't take long to walk around the island - about 20 minutes duration. Schools of bait fish were nearly a meter deep completely surrounding the island, and every few minutes hundreds would jump out of the water being chased by something ....... big!
We also found quite a bit of flotsam and jetsam and lots of left thongs on our walk. Pete tells me that the Southern Hemisphere collects the left ones and the northern hemisphere collects all the rights ones, not sure if I believe him. Whilst walking round the island we came across an abandoned TV.........hopefully we may get some reception so we can watch State of Origin and watch Qld beat NSW!! (At the time of writing the blog..Qld are one game down...still 2 games to go to make it 8 in a row.....watch out John!!
We found the TV but the reception was poor !
We found Cuttlefish on the beach the size of which I have never seen before. Hmm .......... should try some squidding. Unfortunately it is national marine park so the squid are safe.
If only we had a budgie at home ...........
It's off in morning heading where the wind takes us - maybe Cape Bedford, Cape Flattery or even Lizard Island.
Lizard Island (4th -8th June)
A very fast sail saw us get all the way up to Lizard Island arriving mid afternoon. The winds reached 40+kts at times and with a double reef and half a headsail out, we averaged 7.7kts for the 60 mile trip - not bad for an old girl. We surfed down some rather big waves at 12kts and Tintin was right there with us - up and down, up and down. It was an exhausting day and we were tired by the time we had anchored at Lizard Island. Most cruisers heading north would make this one of their stops and we counted at least 20 of us in the bay.
We were so tired, we even had to give 'sundowners" a miss but we have a few nights here to catch up with that. Just as we were tidying everything away from the sail, a tender from the next door boat came over to say hello. Pete recognised one of the passengers as someone he had crewed with years before delivering a boat from Melbourne to Hamilton Island - it is a small world some times. They are also on the rally with us so will be fun catching up later. Half of the boats headed off the next morning but we were happy to stay a couple of days to enjoy the island, the warm water and the snorkelling.
Next day we took the tender across to the small resort to see if by chance they had a bar that welcomed yachties, as it is game one of State of Origin. But alas, their staff bar which did allow visitors was not open due to the minimal number of staff employed at present. So we had to make do with text messages from our dear friend John in Sydney every time someone scored...........too many by NSW! Not sure if this year will make it 8 in a row.
The afternoon saw us hiking up the path to the top of the mountain that overlooks the bay. What a breathtaking view, and with being low tide it showed the reefs very clearly. The most beautiful turquoise water that you expect to see in this part of the coast, and so clear. It was a good hike up and back and ready for a swim afterwards. The rain started mid afternoon so sundowners was cancelled. Oh well, there is always tomorrow.
Next day saw us walk across to the lagoon on the other side of the island, via the airstrip. Again, pristine white sandy beach with aqua and turquoise water.
Us at the lagoon on the far side of Lizard Island
Pete at some amazing rock formations
We found Wilson on the sand & had to take his photo
Back to the bay and an afternoon of snorkelling. Fantastic fish life, loads of giant clams, brilliant blue starfish and no sharks or jellies. We made it to sundowners that evening and met quite a few other rally participants. Nice to watch the sun set on a perfect day with a glass of bubbles and lots of chatting.
Snorkelling was on the agenda again today and we were heading off in tenders with Tintin, Tropical Soul and Calypso to a nearby bay. Some parts were good, others not so good but still very enjoyable. Our last sundowners tonight as we are off in the morning.
Lizard to Flinders Island
Off early with the intent of making Ninian Bay. Strong winds had us making very good time so opted to push on to Bathurst Bay around Cape Melville. The landscaps at the Cape is spectacular with piles and piles of massive granite boulders (the size of a house) randomly strewn along the waters edge. Some of the piles made hills on their own.
It had been a great sail ........ until we reached the cape itself. The wind which had been constantly 20 - 25kts suddenly increased 35 - 40kts. Thankfully we had just furled the headsail prior and only had the doubled reefed main to contend with. Bathurst Bay is very shallow and shoals to about 1 mile off shore. With the wind so strong, we had to get as close to the beach as possible to get out of the very short steep waves. In fact, we were only doing 3kts into the wind closing the shore and had lashes of spray converting the entire boat. Coupled with the wind howling in the rigging, the main sail flapping, drenched at the helm, you could forgive us for thinking we had been transported to e North Sea. This wasn't in the brochure ! Eventually, safely anchored in 3 meters of water, we lay out 60 meters of chain. We were determined we were NOT going to drag. The wind howled incessantly throughout the night and little sleep was had.
Next morning, we contacted another boat that had just left Flinders Island who informed us that their anchorage there last night was quite good. So it is only a short hop of 18miles today to Stokes Bay (all down wind) and hopefully a better nights sleep.
Recommendation to other travellers up the coast - don't stop at Bathurst Bay !