Friday, 30 October 2015

Holding on Herald

Royden's just about got the big cast-net conquered.

Clear, clear waters off Orpheus Island and plenty of sea life to go with it.

Orpheus waters again.

There's always new anchorages to discover - particularly when the weather gods are feeling benevolent and sending light breezes and smooth seas our way.
After a couple of relaxing days on Orpheus Island we hoisted the sails and headed south, making our way along the Palm Islands then down past Havannah and Acheron Islands to Rattlesnake and Herald Islands where we're now anchored.
With an average of 10 knots of breeze (sometimes 12, sometimes 4!) coming from the east then slightly north-east, we managed to maintain 4 to 7 knots. A very relaxed and peaceful sail. 
Both Herald and Rattlesnake are used for military training and are largely denuded of vegetation. When planning a trip through here, sailors must first check that there's no training exercises - if there are, there's usually a five nautical mile (or more) exclusion zone.
Our usual course towards Townsville takes us via Horseshore Bay on Magnetic Island but with the present conditions (and no bombing planned) we thought we'd pay these isles a visit.
Despite their barren-looking state (except for magnificent white sand spits and extensive reef), a decent colony of curlews exist on both islands along with the odd coucal pheasant. Their calls echoed across the water last night. It was beautiful.
When we arrived we must have disturbed the entire turtle population as turtle after turtle came up around the boat to have a look at us. There would have been at least a dozen, possibly more. Then they all moved away and we didn't see another.
The fishing is also rumoured to be good - but up to this point the catch has been small in number and too small in size.
Herald Island sandspit with Magnetic Island in the background.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Tasty morsels

The two week stopover for Sea Piper in Dungeness (two road-hours north of Townsville) worked a treat with the usual October hull-growth thwarted by the fast running tidal flows in the Herbert River.
It also worked as a great option for our recent visitors, Julie and Keith, who flew back from Victoria with us to spend a few days sailing.
With sea sickness blighting most of Julie's trips on water, spending the first two nights in the calm waters of the channel (even though the wind was blowing over 20 knots at times) paid off and we were able to take advantage of the lighter winds on Saturday to sail up to Dunk Island for an overnighter and enjoy a walk to the lookout on Mount Kootaloo and a little of the Sunday music session on the foreshore before taking the rising tide and light easterly back towards Hinchinbrook Island to anchor at Garden Island for Sunday night.
We dined on fresh fish on three out of the five nights - bream, trevally and shark. All delicious.
Sand flies/midges found our visitors delicious also despite them donning long sleeve tops and long pants along with the burning of numerous mozzie coils around the cockpit. Luckily Sea Piper's insect screens kept the little wretches from inside or I'm sure we'd all be itching.

One fish ...

two fish ...

My fish ...
... your fish.
 We farewelled our visitors in Dungeness last night and this morning motored across to Orpheus Island in millpond conditions. In fact the crystal clear water is beckoning me for a snorkel and swim around the coral reef here so this is the end of this blog.