Friday, 20 July 2012

The Hairy Lemon and other weird and wonderful sights

Once again we find ourselves next to the Hairy Lemon.
No it's not a citrus left too long in a dark cupboard nor a quirky restaurant.
It's a tiny yacht anchored, and looking long-neglected, in Trinity Inlet off Cairns city. Apart from being yellow in colour, I wonder what inspired the owner to give it this name.
The Hairy Lemon has become our marker for a secure anchorage in nice, sticky mud. There's mud and there's mud when it comes to anchoring. Some is good holding while in places, like parts of the creek at Port Douglas, it can be a silty, loose substance that your anchor just slips through and refuses to hold. It's trial and error really. Our motto is: when in doubt (of the anchor being secure), do it again - and again and again if necessary.
While Dickson Creek at Port Douglas provided us with a secure and protected anchorage over a couple of strong wind days, the midges finally drove us out and back to beautiful Low Isles.
We left late in the afternoon and made it outside the leads before the mass influx of tourist boats into Port Douglas marina. Daily, around 3.30pm, there is a flotilla of craft coming across the water from the outer reef and Low Isles. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people get to enjoy the reef each day and the management of those numbers, at least at Low Isles, is excellent.
We arrived at Low Isles just before sunset and while it was a bit lumpy on the high tide when the sea surged over the coral, it was much better than in the creek where we were besieged by midges and mozzies every time the wind dropped.
Again the fish were spectacular and numerous and we were also treated to a huge manta ray around the boat which reminded us that this was where Steve Irwin met his death. As we had no intention of trying to get up close and personal with the ray, we figured we were safe.
Bat fish up close
More strange fish ...
Yesterday dawned beautifully still so we set off south to visit the reef just north of Green Island with the intention of overnighting in Turtle Bay or Trinity Inlet, whichever way the weather gave us the best sail.
By mid-morning we had come across the first pair of whales, right in front of the boat. My photos are pathetic compared to the spectacular flashes of body and tail we experienced. Sighting whales never loses the WOW factor but the point-and-shoot camera fails to do the display justice. Besides that I'm too busy saying Wow! and trying to keep my balance while I attempt a photo.
Truly - that's a pair of whales out there.
By late morning we were within a few nautical miles of Upolu Reef but the weather was banging us around. The wind had come up to over 20 knots on our nose and created short sharp waves on top of an increasing swell. It was very uncomfortable and the sea was such a colour that picking out bommies and other hazards around the reef could be hit and miss.
Off towards the mainland we could see more whales, this time a pair breaching. They create such an enormous splash that it catches your eye even from several kilometres away.
We decided this was more interesting than putting ourselves through more chop in a south-easterly direction so turned and headed for Trinity Inlet.
The whales put on their display for another 20 minutes or so. How do they have the energy to lift that bulk so far out of the water?
By the time we reached the Cairns leads, the wind was fierce, pushing us along at over 7 knots - but this time reasonably comfortably. However it was nice to reach the calm waters of the inlet, drop anchor opposite the Hairy Lemon and open a beer while we watched storm clouds gather thickly over the mountains - and then disperse.

The Hairy Lemon - looking towards Cairns city from our anchorage.
Looking upstream from our anchorage in Trinity Inlet. The cloud formations last night were reminiscent of the build-up in Darwin. Weird weather this!


  1. Fantastic editorial Janet! I can't wait.
    P.S. what are bommies?

  2. Awesome pics, though I hope I don't run into that second fish anywhere - looks scary.