Day 31, Year 3: Cape Bedford to Lizard Island
Date: Monday, June 9, 2008
Weather: Beautiful Day; Winds ESE 25-30 Knots
Air and Water Temperature: 74 degrees F
Latitude: 14 degrees 39.693 minutes S
Longitude: 145 degrees 27.122 minutes E
Location: Watson Bay, Lizard Island, Queensland, Australia

What a great day! We had a romping six-hour sail from Cape Bedford to Lizard Island with 25 to 30 knot winds and two-meter seas. It should have been a downwind run, but the winds were actually coming a little more from the east so we were on a beam reach most of the day. We sailed with a double-reefed headsail and the full staysail. This is when Windbird performs her best. She is steady in the heavy winds and we made great time. We were actually anchored in Lizard before one o’clock. This
is a small island with one very exclusive resort and a research station run by the Australian Museum. No one lives here other than those running the resort and the research station. But it is famous as a great anchorage. It is always windy here, getting the nickname of Blizzard Island because of the wind gusts that rage through the anchorage, but the water is always calm. Certainly Cape Bedford last night was not a calm anchorage, but Lizard is absolutely flat even with the gusts of wind.

After having lunch, we launched the dinghy and explored the bay. We met the folks on the boat next door, Katane, out of England. They had helped us find a good anchoring spot when we arrived and they were very helpful in telling us about the island. They had a map of the island that they had gotten from the resort here and they gave that to us since they are leaving in the morning. They then outlined the way for us to explore the bay. There is a huge reef area in the middle of the anchorage
with what we are told are VERY LARGE giant clams. We couldn’t see the clams from the dinghy, but we could see lots of coral. We then explored the north side of the anchorage where there is a fringing reef that is supposed to have lots of sea life. We will be in the water early in the morning and have a better report on what is under the water at that point.

After doing our survey of the bay, we went ashore. We were greeted by Natasha and Matthew. These two youngsters, probably ten and eight years old, with Natasha being the oldest, invited us to see their “clubhouse.” Just behind the beach, these guys have made a “secret” path leading to the clubhouse hidden under beach bushes. They have gathered old wood on the beach and put shelves in the clubhouse for their shell collection. Natasha talked her father out of an empty aluminum bag that once held
wine and they use that for a mirror. In the bush next door to the clubhouse, they have used old pieces of wood to fashion a toilet. It was all very cute and we really enjoyed meeting the children. We went on for a walk on the island, but we promised that we would return and meet their parents later in the afternoon.

There are a number of great walks on this island, but we just took the shortest one for starters. This took us by the remains of a stone building that was built to store and dry beche-de-mer (sea cucumbers) in 1860. This industry did not survive, but in 1879 Robert Watson and his wife Mary from Cooktown moved to Lizard Island and remodeled the stone storage building as their home. A year later their son was born, but soon tragedy struck. Robert was away on a hunting trip when a group of Dingaal
aboriginals came to the cottage. This island is sacred ground for the Dingaals, so they were not happy with the Watsons for moving in. Mary saw them kill one of the Chinese servants, so she and her son, and another of the Chinese servants, crawled into an iron boiling tank left from the days of the beche-de-mer industry and floated away. Mary kept a diary which tells us of this story. She and her son died of dehydration when the tank they were in floated up on a nearby island. They were later
found and are buried in the cemetery in Cooktown that we visited this weekend. This is one of the stories that I wanted to share from our cemetery trip in Cooktown. There were other stories, and I will incorporate them in future logs as they apply. But now I will go back to talk about our walk today. After we walked past the stone structure, we came to a boardwalk that has been built over the mangroves here. It winds around the mangroves and then ends, but the walk continues. We walked through
wetlands and ended up in an area that looks like an African savannah with pandanus trees growing throughout. The path leading here had informational markers all along the way, and we found it most informative. We wanted to keep walking, but it was getting late so we made it back to the beach and met Natasha and Matthew’s parents, David and Allison. They have been here two weeks now, and they have “built” the Lizard Island Yacht Club. This is just a patch of sand under the trees, but they have
fashioned a sign and invited yachties to go find a cuttlefish bone and decorate it with the yacht’s name to hang in the tree. This evening the “yacht club” was hosting Happy Hour on the beach and we met most everyone in the anchorage. Most everyone here is traveling to Darwin for the Sail Indonesia Rally, so in addition to having fun here in Lizard with snorkeling and walking, we are getting connected with some great folks that we will be traveling with for the next few months. Can’t think of a better way to spend the next few days.

080609 Day 31 Cape Bedford to Lizard Island
Day 32, Year 3: Beautiful Lizard Island
Day 30, Year 3: Cooktown to Cape Bedford