07 July 2015 | Lizzard Island, Australia
Arrived at Lizzard Island after a 24 hour overnighter and found a beautiful anchorage in an historic island. Captain Cook visited this island and named it for all the lizzards he saw. Today it is strategically located because it is close to argurably the best diving in the Great Barrier Reef archipelago. There is a famous dive at Cod’s Hole where they chum large tame fish and I arranged to do a 2 tank dive with the commercial dive operation that operates out of Lizzard Is. Resort. It is one of the few places along the coast where the risk of encountering a crocodile is remote enough to not avoid going into the water. The water was very clear but it was extremely windy. The first day there I dived on the boat and cleaned the prop and some other areas that were fouled with marine growth. I noticed the zinc on the prop was quite eaten away and the next day I went overboard again with the compressed air hose to replace it. I found the water colder than I liked and even in skins I got cold. I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t like diving that much. I dislike getting cold and I find that after I get out of the water I’m usually pretty fatigued. I canceled out on the Cod’s Hole dive. A two-tank dive for me is just too difficult. Instead the next day, we took a strenuous hike with a group of cruisers up to Cook’s Peak which provided spectacular views of the outer perimeter of the Barrier Islands and signed our names in the book at the summit.
We had a nice get together with old and new friends on Always Saturday and decided to leave the next day to start our several hundred mile journey to the very most northern part of Australia where we have been planning to depart for Indonesia.
We didn’t want to do any more overnights if we could avoid them so we got up at 0500 and left the next day. Our sail was magnificent with 25 knots of wind on a broad reach in reasonably protected water. We averaged about 7 knots and covered about 80 miles before dark closed in on us. The next 5 days we arose early each morning and sailed all day, anchoring along the way behind reefs or up rivers. One day we had a 10-hour spinnaker run with about 10 knots of wind which was delightful. We did have one long day where we motored 60 miles and were happy when the wind came back.
On the day before we were to arrive at Horn Island while we were under sail with the engine on and about to enter a shallow river we smelled smoke and opened the engine room to find it filled with smoke. We killed the engine and ascertained that the recently rebuilt alternator was on fire. After we cut off the alternator belts with the engine off flames broke out of the alternator and we had to scramble to find a fire extinguisher to put out the fire. We did kill the electrical switch to the engine and I think that probably saved the fire from recurring and possibly sinking us. We were very lucky that the fire did not spread to a small puddle of diesel fluel lying under the engine. Had we been a gasoline powered boat she would have been lost to flames. Once we were out of danger we sailed into the river and had a stiff drink! That night I replaced the burned out alt with our spare. I suspect that our “stray current” that almost silently destroyed our maxprop may have come from the windings of the alternator that finally shorted out causing the fire. We’ll see.
The next day it was business as usual and we arrived in the early afternoon to a very remote fishing town immediately adjacent to one of the largest shipping channels in the world….The Torres Strait. We needed to time our arrival to be with the 6 knots (at times) current.
From the Crew of Always Saturday