Day 23, Year 3: All Work and No Play
Date: Sunday, June 1, 2008
Weather: Sunny Day; Daytime Temps Low 70’s F, Nighttime Temps in the 60’s F
Location: Marlin Marina, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Eating is just way over-rated. That’s my declaration of the day. I spent my entire day shopping for food for the next six weeks and then finding a way to store that amount of food aboard Windbird. This is an exhausting task. Of course, one of the problems is that I have to cart everything back to the boat in a little pull cart with a milk crate attached to it and it only holds so much. So I have to walk, shop, walk, put food away; and then walk, shop, walk, put food away; and then walk, shop,
walk, and put food away. It took three trips today and we still aren’t done. Another problem is that I am storing food and drink for an entire six-weeks into a refrigerator that is about one-tenth the size of most modern day refrigerators and into miniature cabinets. And lastly, the store closest to the marina is not the best store, so of course, I had to walk further to buy some things at a bigger market. So getting food is a hassle, but that is just the beginning. Once you have the food, you
have to spend half your life cooking the food and cleaning up the dishes. When I was a little girl, I was convinced that by the time I was an adult there would be a pill you could take that would replace real food. That would certainly eliminate washing dishes! I don’t think I would miss washing dishes (actually Mark washes the dishes), but I do think I would really miss sitting down to a really fine meal. So I’ll stop complaining. At least I don’t have to shop again until we get to Darwin in
five or six weeks. And that’s a good thing.
Mark spent his day working in a different way. He changed the oil and various filters, did the laundry, uploaded photos to our website, and made one shopping excursion with me. On that excursion, we walked about two miles out to a gas station to buy engine oil for future oil changes and then went on to Bunnings Hardware to pick up miscellaneous supplies-the kind you cannot eat. On our way back into town we stopped at the City Centre to check out a local bookstore and to do some shopping in the
larger grocery stores there. It was almost six o’clock when I returned from my last shopping trip of the day. I just let everything sit while we had Patrick and Margaret over for sundowners. After they left I then spent the evening getting everything put away.
Last night we talked to that grand baby of ours via Skype. We took our computer to the laundry room where we had a better wireless signal. We could have taken our laptop anywhere, but we needed a power supply, so the laundry room was it. When we called last night, it was early morning for our grandson, so we got to watch him as he wound up for another day. Sam is as busy as a little beaver. By the time we ended the conversation, we were exhausted just watching him. Toddlers do have an enormous
energy level and it is a wonder any parents survive that stage of development. This morning we went back to the laundry room to multitask. This time we did the laundry while talking to other family. Our son Justin and his wife Jo weren’t home when we called, so I didn’t get to talk to them. While I went shopping, Mark stayed and finished the laundry and did finally get in touch with Justin. We won’t have another chance to do Skype calls until Darwin, so email communication will be it until then.
We have one more major task to do here before we leave and that is to fill up the fuel tanks on Windbird. We weren’t able to get an appointment at the fuel dock until 9:30 am, so we have had to adjust our travel for the day. We will go to a close island, actually Double Island, and then on to the Low Isles on Tuesday. So on we move up the coast of Australia.
Day 22, Year 3: A Day in Cairns
Date: Saturday, May 31, 2008
Weather: Partly Sunny, Temperature in the Low 70’s
Location: Marlin Marina, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Today was a pink and blue day. That means that the “girls” went one way and the “boys” went the other. Mark and Gerry of Scot Free II spent their morning in local ship chandleries and to Bunnings Hardware, an Australian version of Home Depot. Gerry bought a new outboard engine for his dinghy (a Yamaha 8 hp) and Mark bought and installed a new shower head and controls for Windbird’s aft head. It had gotten progressively more difficult to completely shut off the cold water in the shower, so the new installation should take care of that. That was the “blue” day.
Donna and I hopped on a bus to the far side of town to visit the Cairns Botanic Gardens and Centenary Lakes and the Rainforest Boardwalk that connects the two. The Botanic Gardens had a collection of tropical plants, both native to and imported to Australia. There was an orchid house, a fernery, an Aboriginal section that featured plants and their uses, as well as beautiful walks through lush tropical forest habitats. There were also a few exotic birds here and there. You have to imagine two women running like children through the shrubs and trees all afternoon trying to capture pictures of elusive birds. It’s amazing how many hours you can spend chasing birds!
Tomorrow is a shopping day and later tonight and in the morning we will make Skype calls back home. Then it will be time to get ready to leave Cairns and head for the next stop.
Day 21, Year 3: Mourilyan Harbor to Cairns
Date: Friday, May 30, 2008
Weather: Mostly Sunny Day; Winds S to SW 15-20
Latitude: 16 degrees 55.213 minutes S
Longitude: 145 degrees 46.879 minutes E
Location: Marlin Marina, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Today we had one of our best sailing days yet as we work our way north up the coast of Australia. We were safely out of Mourilyan Harbor by 5:30 am and had to motorsail until 8 am, but then the winds filled in nicely and we were able to sail all the way to Cairns. We got an early start as we had to go almost sixty miles, but we were entering the channel leading into Cairns just after 2 pm. The winds were out of the south and southwest and we sailed on a broad-reach most of the day. About an hour
out of Cairns the winds switched to be more behind us and we sailed wing and wing the last little bit. It was a fast, calm sail all the way.
So here we are in a marina in the city of Cairns. Cairns is just a little smaller than Townsville with a population of about 130,000. But the defining feature of this town is tourists. They are everywhere. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most popular dive sites so that alone draws loads of people. From here you can take dive trips out to the Great Barrier Reef, visit one of the many continental islands close to here, tour the nearby rainforests, go inland to the Atherton Tablelands,
or do any combination of these things. And you can buy just about anything “Australian” in this town-either made in Australia or in Korea. Pick your price. And for us, this is the last bit of “civilization” we will see for another month, so we are taking advantage of the fresh food markets and stocking up for the trip to Darwin. They found room for us in the marina for an extra day, so we will be here until Monday morning. That way we can spend Saturday and Sunday shopping and enjoying some
of the sights in and around Cairns.
By the way, even though Mourilyan was not the most beautiful anchorage we have been in, it was certainly a quiet one. I don’t think Windbird moved all night. That was very different from the night before in Shepherd Bay on Hinchinbrook Island. It was beautiful there, but we rocked and rolled all night long. And now we are a dock, so we should have three more very quiet nights.
Day 20, Year 3: Hinchinbrook Island to Mourilyan Harbor
Date: Thursday, May 29, 2008
Weather: Mostly Sunny Day; Winds SSE 15-20
Latitude: 17 degrees 36.148 minutes S
Longitude: 146 degrees 07.322 minutes E
Location: Mourilyan Harbor, Moresby River, Queensland, Australia
As we look back on yesterday, we think Hinchinbrook was just magic with its tall peaks shrouded in mystical clouds, its lovely white sand beaches with a rainforest backdrop, and the birds. We always love the birds. Today is a different story, however. After a great sail, we entered Mourilyan Harbor. This is a working harbor with no white sand beaches and no friendly birds to greet us. This harbor exists to serve the sugar industry and there is a very long sugar and molasses storage shed and
a sugar loading wharf. The harbor is shallow once you get out of the working basin. It is so shallow that Scot Free II went aground when they arrived. Luckily it was approaching high tide so a little time and patience set her free. Actually when you look southwest there are the crests of Bellenden Ker and Bartle Frere (just love the names so I had to include them) in the distant coastal mountain range. The view that way is pretty, so not all is lost.
For the second day in a row, we sailed wing and wing with the headsail poled out to starboard and the inner staysail pulled out to port. We put a snap shackle block on the toe rail and bring the staysail line down through that to pull the sail back and hold it down. This system is working nicely with the wind dead behind us as it is everyday-no matter which direction we sail! Aqua Magic has two headsails and two poles, so Patrick and Margaret can pole out each sail and made great time going wing
and wing. Scot Free II used the same system as us today but they move a bit faster than we do. So we are the slowpokes but we are enjoying it more. There are advantages to being last. We can learn from the mistakes of others. But we weren’t dead last getting in today. The catamaran, Rendezvous Cay came in right after us. The problem is they sailed the entire length of Hitchinbrook, in addition to the distance we sailed today. Cats are surely fast.
As I read about the next few anchorages today, I found out that there is a great fresh fruit and vegetable market in Cairns that is only open on Friday and Saturday. We were planning to go part way to Cairns tomorrow and arrive on Saturday afternoon. We have decided to speed things up a little and sail all the way to Cairns tomorrow. That is a fifty-eight mile run, so it will be an early start. Rendezvous Cay has a telephone, so they called the city marina for us and reserved a berth. So if
all goes well, tomorrow night we will be at a dock in Cairns. We will enjoy the city on Saturday, but we have to leave on Sunday morning as they only had room for us for the two nights. There is another marina north of town where we can go if we decide to stay longer, or we might just be on our way Sunday morning to the Low Isles. As always, we have to be flexible and make decisions as we go along.
Day 19, Year 3: Orpheus Island to Hinchinbrook Island
Date: Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Weather: Partly Cloudy Morning, Sunny Afternoon; Winds ESE 15-20
Temperature: Air 72 degrees F; Water 73 degrees F
Latitude: 18 degrees 14.013 minutes S
Longitude: 146 degrees 15.104 minutes E
Location: Shepherd Bay, Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland, Australia
It was another fantastic day as we slowly work our way up the Australian coast. Hinchinbrook Island is one of Queensland’s treasures. It sits just off the coast but remains “one of the last untouched tropical wilderness island left in Australia.” I take that quote from a guide book we are using called “Going Troppo.” The island was made a World Heritage Area in 1981. There are wonderful walks on the island, but you must register with the National Park Office and gain their permission to be on
the island. There is one eco-friendly resort on the northern tip of the island, but that is it. There are no roads and no one lives here except at the low-key resort. We left Orpheus early this morning when Hinchinbrook was still veiled in clouds. We motored across from Orpheus to the southern end of the island and then sailed wing and wing up the eastern coast. We got a good look at the very long jetty at Hinchinbrook’s southern end. The next sight was what looked like a very big waterfall.
As the clouds began to disperse, the beauty of Hinchinbrook became apparent. It has jagged peaks draped in lush greenery that reminded us of islands in the Marquesas. We sailed by Zoe Bay with its white sand beaches and sand dunes and then by Little Ramsey Bay. We could then see Cape Richards at the top of the island and Shepherd Bay that was our intended destination for the day. We were here just after noon and spent our afternoon onshore walking the beautiful beach with Donna and Gerry on
Scot Free II.. The southern end of the beach was lush rainforest and the remainder of the beach was backed dunes covered with a green grass that looked sun-bleached. The color was a grayish-green.
The big attraction of the afternoon was a pair of Beach Stone Curlews. They did not appear to be very happy that we were walking on their beach, but we were delighted to watch them and listen to their call. These birds are also called Beach Thick Knees and they do have knobby little knees on their long legs. They are very distinctively marked with white stripes on the head and shoulder and they have very stout, longish beaks. Mark called them “roadrunners” as they did run up and down the beach
making sure we didn’t wander back into the bush. They seemed to be protecting a nest, but maybe this is just their behavior. As we watched, we realized that they stop and bow as they call out. We felt privileged to share their beach with them today. While I was video-taping the strange bowing behavior, I head the call of a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. By the time I spotted him, he has flying away, so I have no photo of him, but we also saw a pair of Azure Kingfishers sitting on the top branches
of an old dead tree and I did get pictures of them.. Their yellowish-orangish breasts were shone off in the sunlight and their azure blue backs were just beautiful. Another beach attraction was the tiny little sand-colored burrowing crabs. They are so camouflaged that they are hard to see, but the little balls of sand that they produce when burrowing covered the entire beach. It is very obvious that they keep very busy from tide to tide. We arrived about halfway between low and high tide, and
it was hard for us to believe that all of those millions of sand balls had been made in only three hours. These little guys really do keep busy. By the time we got in Scot Free II’s dinghy to head back to the boats, high tide was coming in and the wind had picked up. We had a wet ride back to Windbird and Donna and Gerry had difficulty getting back to Scot Free. We thought we were going to have to launch our dinghy and go rescue them, but they finally made it back. Their outboard engine was
overheating, so Gerry will have to check this out when we are in a calmer anchorage. In the meantime, they can hitch a ride with us.
Scot Free II and Windbird are rocking from side to side this evening as this anchorage does have swell from the southeast, but it was such a special day that we will endure the inconvenience. Aqua Magic couldn’t get their anchor to set here, so they went on around Cape Richards to the west side and anchored in Macushla Bay. Tomorrow morning at 6:30 am we will all head forty miles further north to the little sugar cane port of Mourilyan. Winds should be stronger tomorrow, so we might have another
short sailing day.
Day 18, Year 3: Magnetic Island to Orpheus Island
Date: Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Weather: Overcast; SE Winds 10-15
Temperature: Air 75 degrees F; Water 73 degrees F
Latitude: 18 degrees 35.989 minutes S
Longitude: 146 degrees 29.326 minutes E
Location: Little Pioneer Bay, Orpheus Island, Queensland, Australia
It was yet another motor sailing day. We keep getting reports for 20 knot winds, but we seem to be getting only 10 to 15 from directly behind us and that is not enough to push Windbird forward without a little boost from the engine. We would move forward without the engine, but not fast enough to get us to our nighttime anchorage. So we motor on. I think Australia is definitely a country of extremes. We either have too much or too little wind. Or maybe that is the definition of sailing most
We moved north about forty miles today up through the Palm Islands to the little island of Orpheus. We picked up a public mooring in Little Pioneer Bay and then put our dinghy in the water to travel to larger Pioneer Bay and the James Cook University Research Station. Since we only had to travel forty miles today, we got in around 2:30, did some planning for tomorrow, and listened to the weather on the radio before heading to the research station. At low tide, there is an extensive drying fringe
reef that keeps you from going ashore, but we were lucky that high tide was at 3:30 this afternoon. When we neared the shore, a young woman and her eighteen month old daughter came to meet us. Louise is a research assistant at the station and lives there with her husband, Lachim, and her daughter Siara. It was a quiet afternoon so Louise had time to show us around. There was a big round coral reef tank with examples of various fish and reef life, the temperature controlled research labs, a classroom
that accommodates about fifty students, a dry lab with all the microscopes and camera equipment, and then the housing units for staff and for students and researchers. Louise didn’t say, but in terms of staff it seemed that there was just housing for the director and his family and Louise and her family. We thoroughly enjoyed the visit and especially enjoyed meeting little Siara. Louise and Lachim have just purchased a 40 foot sailboat which was sitting out in the harbor. In a couple of years
they plan on doing a circumnavigation, so we had lots to talk to about. Unfortunately, the tide goes out quickly here, so we had to get going. We had to paddle out for a little way as it was, but we were certainly glad that we made the visit.
Tomorrow it is on to Hinchinbrook Island. It is only about twenty-two miles and we can see it easily from here. In fact, tonight we can see the long jetty that protrudes out of the east side of the island. Louise told us it is the longest jetty in Australia and it is for loading sugar cane on ships. Tomorrow we should get a closer look as we sail up to Shepherd Bay at the top of Hinchinbrook. Orchard Beach in this bay was the location for the recent Jodi Foster film, “Nim’s Island.” We will
stay in Shepherd Bay, weather permitting, or if it gets a little too windy, we will move around Cape Richards into Missionary Bay and walk over to Orchard Beach from there. Either way, it should be an enjoyable visit to another beautiful island in Australia.