|Probably about 4.45am, anchor's up, nav lights are on and we're underway. Pelorus Island, at the north end of the Palm group of islands, is the one on the horizon.|
With the forecast of an east/nor-easter, similar to the beginning of our trip south, we decided to leave the lovely Hinchinbrook channel and head towards Townsville, with the alternative of ducking over to Orpheus or Fantome Islands (part of the Palm Islands) if the said wind didn't eventuate.
We made the decision on Wednesday and moved Sea Piper a little further along the Hinchinbrook channel towards Lucinda, anchoring in Sunday Creek. It was a little more exposed here but again gave us the opportunity to soak up a different set of craggy peaks - and to listen to the croc barking that night, which seemed to come from the mangroves adjacent our boat.
The bonus of having more exposure to the wind was a massive reduction in the number of midgies trying to join us for dinner! I don't think I have ever used so many mossie coils as over the past few days - but they worked and that's the main thing.
We hauled up the anchor just before high tide around 4.30am yesterday and headed off.
It's a beautiful time of the day to be on the water. The dawn colours were just seeping over the horizon and there was half a moon up lending a welcome splash of illumination to our navigation. Actually it was much easier to see the lit channel navigational markers at this time than in daylight.
|The Lucinda end of the Hinchinbrook Channel has a huge wide bay but it is notoriously shallow. The passage out takes boats and ships very close to the jetty then along it for a couple of kilometres.|
A quick call to the Townsville coastguard confirmed no military activity in the area we wished to sail through (there's a military zone in Halifax Bay north of Townsville that is no-go during operations) but National Parks were shooting feral animals on Orpheus and Fantome Islands so they were out of bounds.
The wind picked up a little once we had cleared the influence of the Palms but was still in the right direction so we swapped the Code Zero for half a head sail and continued to hold a steady six to seven knots.
|Our sailing buddies from yesterday. We've no idea who they are and couldn't make out the name of the boat but we kept apace of each other from the Palms to Townsville.|
However we agreed that a patch each side across the hole would give the sail added strength to resist puncturing against a cross bar any time in the future.
|Rattlesnake Island - the name itself would deter visitors but it's also in the middle of the military training area. The island has warning signs everywhere about the dangers of landing there, citing:`unexploded ordnance'. Ewww!|
As usual a marina staffer was there to help us tie up making the job easy.
Within minutes our friend Carolynne was also alongside ready to share a welcoming champagne. There was no resistance our end!