Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Random ramblings

Despite the best intentions the blog updates continue to be sporadic, but here's an entry to cover the past few weeks.
After the anchor drag episode in Trinity Inlet we tucked up in Bluewater marina to re-gathered our courage.
There's always plenty to be done around the boat and the time was spent   improving/replacing some of the cooling system to the starboard engine, putting a new speaker on the radio/CD player so that we could listen outside, covering up the hole left by the rusty old speaker, finding and patching the air leaks in the dinghy tubes and re-sewing some rotted stitching in the dinghy cover.
It was great to be in Cairns last Wednesday to greet (brother-in-law) Keith and the rest of the crew from the catamaran AlexandrA that Keith had helped sail across from Tahiti.
He'd been gone from home for six weeks and six days. (Royden's sister) Julie made a surprise trip from Victoria to Cairns to greet him which pretty well left him speechless for a few seconds when he spotted her.
We met up again on Thursday night for dinner by which time we had picked up Rob and (sister) Leigh from the airport and arranged for (brother) David to join us as he happened to be piloting some flights out of Cairns that week. It was a fun night.
With heavy heads but a promising five-day weather window, we set sail first thing Friday morning for Turtle Bay. It was a gorgeous morning and the land breeze gave us the opportunity to sail south at 7 knots.
Turtle Bay was as inviting as ever but a couple of trawlers were anchored tightly into the bay so we were left to anchor further out in a rather heavy swell - all the time hoping that the trawlers might leave and go fishing.
Turtle Bay
But alas, they stayed put.
Although we had a long walk on the beach it wasn't enough to offset the swell (and the effects of the night before). In short, noone wanted to even think about dinner and we were all in bed by 7.30pm - some hours earlier. Rob's statement next morning made us all laugh: ``I haven't gone to bed that early since I was three!''
Off to check the anchor - and the coral.
Colourful creatures on the way to the Fitzroy Island lighthouse.
During the night the swell lessened and we were all a lot brighter by the morning. As the trawlers looked pretty well entrenched, we set sail across to Fitzroy Island anchoring in the sheltered northern bay close into the reef. It was delightful as we could don snorkelling gear and dive in off the boat to explore in crystal clear water. (A quick dive also allowed us to check that the anchor was well locked in. We think we may be a bit paranoid about this at the moment!)
We spent a lazy two days at Fitzroy, snorkelling and taking a walk to the lighthouse (the ugliest I've ever seen) from where we spotted a couple of whales a fair way out. There's been reports of minke whales around this area at the moment as well as reports of Migaloo the white whale around Port Douglas.
Yesterday morning we set off north to Low Isles. The light tail wind supplied some oomph to the Code Zero early on but we had to employ an engine about half way through the eight-hour trip to boost our speed.
Happy fishermen.
Mind you we slowed down a number of times to haul in mackerel! We had two keepers and naturally had fresh fish for tea last night.
We dropped anchor in the sandy lagoon at Low Isles initially as the three public moorings were taken but the big cabin cruiser on the innermost mooring headed back to Port Douglas in the early evening so we quickly upped anchor and moved Sea Piper across.
Reef sharks, bat fish and a giant black trevally gathered round the boat as we pulled up. We also spotted a giant turtle making its way along the sandy bottom.
Today we spotted two whales (one off Cairns and one off Port Douglas) but each was a long way off.
Low Isles is a beautiful spot with its traditional red-roofed (circa 1878) white lighthouse (quite unlike the 1970s white-tiled model on Fitzroy) on a tiny raised sand spit surrounded by reef and with a nearby mangrove island (hence the plural `Isles'). The lighthouse still operates (automatically) and the island is home to researchers studing coral and marine life. It's also where Steve Irwin came to grief - but I think I mentioned that once before.
Royden, Leigh and Rob did a circuit of the island this morning before the tourist boats arrived while I stayed on board to make some olive bread for lunch. The delicious smell of it is wafting through as I type. Won't be long now!

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