31 August 2015
I am at risk of falling too far behind on the blog and giving up, as I did last year. So let me say that today we anchored off Green Island with a couple of friends on board. The conditions are so calm and the water so clear that we could see the anchor chain in a circle of the seabed 10m beneath us. The night has come and the full moon has risen over the calm sea, so we are able to look out on the tropical cliche.
This is much better than Saturday night at Marlin Marina, Cairns, where we went to top up water and buy some provisions. We were the closest boat to the restaurant and bar, which blasted on until 2am. Not to mention the tourist helicopters repeatedly taking off during the day 100m away. We forewent our second night there and fled up the inlet for the calm and quiet we had had for the previous two nights.
In future posts I will bring you up to date with our earlier visits to the Low Isles and Michaelmas Cay, and will get some photos up.
Upolo Reef. Port Douglas.
24 August 2015
Can it really be 4 weeks since we last posted? Of course, two of those were in cold old Melbourne. On coming back, we waited for conditions that were calm enough to see the bommies. This opportunity came on Friday, and we made the diversion to have a lunch stop at Upolo Reef en route to Port Douglas. A very pleasant sail ended with Jenny on the bow signalling this way and that as we zigzagged in. Very impressive water colour and clarity. But where was the permanently-above-water cay shown on the chart? It started to appear only as we were leaving.
The wind allowed us to sail at 5 kts, but we wanted to enter Port Douglas in daylight, so we had to use the engine as well. We really enjoyed going in our own boat into a place that we had entered on tourist boats a number over times over the years.
28 July 2015
We lashed out on breakfast at the resort, and then left Fitzroy Is for Yorkey's Knob near Cairns. The forecast was for 20-25 kts, so we undertook this 20 mile trip with a sense of duty rather than anticipated enjoyment. But it turned into a cracking good sail, especially after passing Cape Grafton and crossing Trinty Inlet at 8 kts. The two multihulls which left Fitzroy Is shortly after us became mere distant dots astern. Very satisfying. But our fast passage meant we arrived closer to low water than expected, so we had to wait an hour for the tide to rise before dicing with the shallow entrance channel into the marina. Next stop, home, to mow the lawn.
To Fitzroy Island.
28 July 2015
After a night of mediocre sleep, we set off on Sunday to Fitzroy Is, about 47 miles north, doing watches. The wind was less than 10 kts from astern, so during the morning we had to motor to keep to our day's required average of 5.5 to 6. At lunch time, the wind improved a bit, and veered, and we hoisted main and spinnaker and got our 6 kts with sails alone. This is what we occasionally use the spinnaker for - just to get up to our necessary average speed when conditions are light. But then for the first time we deployed the asymmetric on a pole, to cope with the wind moving back to dead astern. This worked well and gave us 7.5 kts - above our normal conservative range, but we weren't going to drop it. Later, the wind direction changed again, slightly to the lee side. We were going to have gybe sometime to lay Fitzroy, but just before we do that, let's bring the pole back to get rid of that flapping. The wind strengthened at this time to 20-25 and we took off doing over 9 knots, towing a dinghy, and trying to remember those lessons about avoiding Chinese gybes and broaches. It was exhilirating for while, but conservatism won out and we dropped the kite altogether in favour of the genoa and a gybe. Given how fresh the breeze had become en route, Welcome Bay at Fitzroy Is was a surprisingly settled haven to sail into. The overcast conditions had denied us a scenic trip, but the sailing had been great. Day's required average speed? No problem.
Photo: Colourful spinnaker, grey scenery. In the distance, Queensland's highest mountain, Mount Bartle-Frere (we think).
28 July 2015
We set off on Saturday, and given the light conditions, we decided to make the short trip to Kent Is, motoring for the three hours. It is as picturesque, and as rolly, as the cruising guide says. The guide keeps mentioning places that are not suitable in developed trade winds, so we almost never have the opportunity to see them. It was good to be able to take this one.
Orpheus Is and Dunk Is
28 July 2015
Townsville having made a positive impression on us, we sailed to Orpheus Is on Wednesday and then to Dunk Is. on Thursday. The sailing was superbly relaxing and scenic. Wind was generally about 12 kts from astern so we did the distances well within daylight. The sun was out and made for good viewing, especially Great Palm Is and Orpheus Is. We had no time to stop and explore; we hope to do that on our return south. The anchorage at Orpheus has a few public moorings and we spent a very comfortable night there.
We holidayed on Dunk over 20 years ago, and it was good fun to return as sailors. The resort has still not reopened since being damaged by the cyclone in 2011, but there is still the cafe for day visitors and campers. We stayed there on a very calm Friday and would have stayed another day but the weather forecast turned sour and we need to get to Cairns by Monday to avoid the strong winds arriving after that.
Photo: Notwithstanding cyclone damage, Dunk Is has made genuine efforts to keep up the standard of landscaping.
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