Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Clear skies, calm seas - perfect!

Doesn't get much better - at Britomart Reef
There could not have been a greater contrast in the weather between Cristy and Johnno’s visit this year and last year.

Idyllic would best describe the conditions we’ve had so far. Beautiful days, light winds and gentle seas.

We spent the first day exploring a couple of creeks in the Hinchinbrook Channel with both Johnno and Cristy catching a nice selection of bream for dinner.

Day two and we headed out of the channel for the short trip across to Garden Island. This tiny island has a big sand spit jutting out into the water creating a calm lagoon for anchoring. 

This was our jump off point for an early start on the long journey out to Britomart Reef on Monday. Britomart is part of the Great Barrier Reef and is 40 nautical miles (approx 75kms) – or around seven hours for us - from the mainland. The sea was relatively flat with a light breeze so we motor-sailed on one motor and the headsail, arriving just after 1pm, right on low tide (a very low one) so we could see the entry into the reef lagoon.

It was like entering a lake in the middle of the ocean. Waves were breaking over the outer reef but inside it was glass-like – and teeming with fish big and small. A pod of dolphins lazily dipped feeding around the lagoon entry before making their way in with the tide.

Johnno and I manned the front hulls looking for stray bommies. It’s unnerving when one suddenly appears right in front of you – too late to avoid. You can only hope there’s enough water between it and you to sail over the top!
Unbelievable -  the lagoon at Britomart Reef, 40 nautical miles out.

We anchored in 20 metres of crystal clear water and while Johnno stayed on board to fish, Cristy, Royden and I headed off to snorkel the bommies. The fish were amazing in their variety, volume and size. It was like swimming in a giant aquarium.

A bit unnerving was the appearance of several black-tipped reef sharks near the dinghy moments before we went over the side but these are generally shy creatures and, true to form, disappeared as soon as we jumped in.
Snorkelling in the aquarium.
All was going really well until late in the afternoon when the rising tide brought the sea over the reef along with the ocean swell. Alright for some but a sure recipe for sea sickness for others.

With Cristy prone on the back seat and looking green we made the decision at dusk to return to more sheltered waters rather than subject her to at least six more hours of rolling swell before the tide retreated.

Getting back out through the reef on a rising tide proved more tricky than coming in but suffice to say we made it with scraping any barnacles off the boat bottom – just!

It was a glorious sail back to the lee side of Hinchinbrook Island. A full moon, a following swell and a light breeze blowing us in the right direction assisted in Cristy being upright again two-thirds into the trip. We dropped anchor into the still waters off Macushla Beach in Missionary Bay shortly after midnight and all retreated to bed and a sleep-in.
Floating and fishing off Gould Island
With Gould Island on the doorstep of Missionary Bay we decided to float across there on Tuesday and drift around fishing. We spent a delightful few hours lolling around, losing bait but not catching much, before returning to the tip of Hinchinbrook at Cape Richards and going ashore to look at the wreckage of what was once the Hinchinbrook Island resort with its dozen tree housed dotted into the hillside. The resort was abandoned long before Yasi hit and we suspect that vandals have done more damage than the cyclone did. It was quite disturbing and is such a waste.

We returned to Missionary Bay for an overnight anchorage so that we could take this morning's rising tide into one of eight creeks off the bay. The creeks are several metres deep but the entries are inaccessible at low tide.

The creeks run almost parallel with each other and we're currently anchored in Creek #7 which has a boardwalk at the end leading to Ramsay Bay and its extensive beach, which is the beginning, or end, of the 32 km Thorsborne walking track that runs down the east coast of the island.
Number 6 creek off Missionary Bay which links into Number 7 creek and a boardwalk through to the eastern beach at Ramsay Bay.






No comments:

Post a Comment