August 30, 2001. With nearly all the jobs done by Wal, we prepared to untie ourselves from the dock at Mooloolaba Yacht Club that had been our home for more than 8 months. A Strong Wind Warning for a few days delayed our departure, but finally at 4:30am we slipped our moorings.
There wasn't much breeze, but eventually we were able to motor-sail for a few hours. The westerly wind meant that the notorious Wide Bay Bar crossing was flat, so no problems there. We continued up to Garrys Anchorage inside the Great Sandy Straits. As last year, north-westerly winds blew for a couple of days. On Sunday (Fathers day) we pushed on through the Straits. We had planned spending some time at the Kingfisher Resort on Fraser Island, but the forecast S - SW winds would have made for an uncomfortable anchorage, so we decided to visit on the way back. We continued on to Bundaberg, again motor-sailing at 6.5 kts to get there before it was too late. As it was, it was 8:30pm when we tied up.
A couple of days of tidying up, buying more provisions, etc and we were off again, this time to Lady Musgrave Island and reef. This is a beautiful spot, about 50 NM from Bundaberg. Again the wind blew while we were there, but we did manage to get ashore for a walk around the island.
Lady Musgrave Pancake Creek Bustard Hd Lighthouse
Sunday 8th September we left for Pancake Creek, back on the mainland. Again, there was little breeze, certainly not enough to sail by, so we motor-sailed the 25 miles. Pancake Creek is near Bustard Head, and about 25 NM SE of Gladstone. We relaxed for a couple of days here, including a walk up to the Bustard Head lighthouse which was built in 1866. While there, the maintenance crew arrived by helicopter for their annual visit. They allowed us in for a look, which was very interesting indeed.
The forecast told us that there would be a southerly change after NE - NW winds ... well the NE went to the north and got a bit fresh, but a bit close on the nose. We wanted to get to Great Keppel before nightfall, so we left at 5:30am. We did sail though, even put a reef in the main and partly furled the headsail, but time was slipping away, so on came the motor again for more motor-sailing at 6.5 - 7 knots. As we passed Gladstone, a friend rang and told us of the carnage in New York; we hadn't heard anything on the radio when we got up. We anchored off Long Beach on the south side in a pretty strong breeze, but we slept soundly. The next morning we motored around to the main resort beach and strolled around.
September 14th. With another forecast of freshening Northerly winds, we made our way to Rosslyn Bay marina near Yeppoon. We needed to get more fuel and supplies, otherwise we wouldn't have bothered. Its not our favourite marina. Refuelling by drums from the service station (much cheaper) gave us a pleasant surprise - only 4 litres/hour, compared with 6l/hr previously. Either the renewed bearings and belts in the drive train have increased efficiency, or the new sail is helping, or maybe a bit of both.
From Yeppoon we headed north again, stopping in Island Head Creek. It was to have been for a day, but strong SE winds kept us in there for a few days. From there we went via Marble Island, then Curlew Is to Mackay where we arrived on Saturday 22nd. We will collect our mail, get some more supplies, have haircuts and other housekeeping chores. Again, there is a Strong Wind Warning, so we may be here for a few days too.
Rest of September was spent getting up to the Whitsundays where we spent a few days in Cid and Shute Harbours.
October. We continued north in mainly light and variable winds, often running downwind with little drive in the sails. Monte's Resort near Gloucester Island was a low-key stop with DIY barbecue and reasonable showers for free. The next section up to Townsville was quite boring - low, flat topography as we made our way via Cape Upstart and Cape Bowling Green. Arrival in Townsville was at dead low tide, with about 1 foot of water under the keel. The marina wasn't bad though, and the nearby park along the waterfront was delightful. We happened to arrive on the first Friday of the month, (5th) so were able to enjoy the night markets on a balmy night.
A frustrating time trying to collect mail - Townsville P.O. is not open on Saturdays, it is open on Sunday morning when the markets are held. So a return trip, walking in the 30 degree heat and humidity on Sunday morning. The Mail Collection centre wasn't open! So a third trip on Monday morning to get the mail before heading out north again. This trip was speeded up a bit more as Larry and Alison had arranged a flight to Cairns to meet us. Overnight stops were at Juno Bay on Fantome Is, then Dunk followed by Fitzroy Is, just east of Cairns.
11th October. We arrived in Cairns Marlin Marina around 11am, just an hour before Larry and Alison touched down. It was a joyful reunion, just over a year since we saw them at Mackay. After the re-provisioning, we headed out to Michaelmas Cay, a short trip from Cairns. Here the water visibillty was great, and the temperature 25 degrees. The cay is home to thousands of nesting terns, and many fish that idly swam by our boat. We spent the night peacefully after all the day-trippers had left.
Michaelmas Cay Judy, Larry & Alison Judy & Paul
Our next destination was to be Port Douglas, but we got an SMS message from friends Derek and Colleen on 'Wyena' that they had left Cooktown and would make the Low Islets that night. So with great jubilation, we altered course, to greet them at 5pm. Naturally, drinkies and BBQ followed. The Low Islets have a lighthouse, with resident ranger. The western island is a cay with extensive fringing reef, while the eastern island is mangrove. This is the only such combination. We spent a very interesting afternoon exploring the reef platform with Colleen and daughter Jackie, who is very knowlegeable in marine animals.
The Low Isles
We wanted to get to Townsville before Larry and Alison had to return, so we bid farewell to Wyena for the time being. A short trip west took us into Port Douglas, a not very impressive sight from the harbour entrance. The major resorts are a little way out of town, not like the marina which is only minutes walk from the main street.
18th October. Larry and Alison wanted to re-visit the reef that they visited last year, but we decided that a Daintree trip would be a pleasant change from the sea-nery (sorry!). As it turned out, we all had a terrific day. We went with a small group, only 6 in all in a Toyota 4WD with a very knowlegeable and friendly guide. The itinerary took in the rainforest walk, Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest comes down to the sea, Thornton Beach for lunch, Daintree Ice Cream Company, Daintree River Cruise with sightings of three crocs and assorted birds, and finally a swim in Mossman Gorge. Meanwhile Larry and Alison had excellent snorkelling in three different reef locations about 30NM east. The day was concluded with an excellent dinner at 'Salsa' restaurant.
Cape Tribulation Mosman Gorge
Here ends the travels north. Time to start Travelling South.