Day 26, Year 3: Low Isles to Hope Isles
Date: Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Weather: Overcast Morning, Partly Sunny Afternoon; Winds SSE 18-20 in Afternoon
Latitude: 15 degrees 43.833 minutes S
Longitude: 145 degrees 27.276 degrees E
Location: Hope Isles, Queensland, Australia

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. We arrived in the Hope Isles in mid-afternoon at low tide and although it was a little scary maneuvering around the reefs to get in here, it was worth it. There are two islands here, both uninhabited. West Hope is the larger of the two and the closest to the mainland. East Hope is a tiny little sand cay with lush jungle-like greenery in its middle and a little sandy beach encircling it. But at low tide, you can see the reef stretching north, east, and south almost
as far as you can see. We entered between the two islands and then went a little north of East Hope and then headed south to anchor on her west side where the reef does not extend out from the island. We knew there were two National Park mooring balls here, and as we entered good friends that we haven’t seen since last season called us and pointed out that the one of the mooring balls was available. The friend that called was Runae of Blue Marlin (Norway). He was on the beach with one of the
twins, Hetta. Idunne and the other twin, Maretta, were on Blue Marin as Maretta has a bad cold. Runae had his handheld VHF and it was so funny to see him emerge onto the beach from the jungle in the middle while talking to us on the radio. Blue Marlin has often traveled with Cam and Arnie and their two girls on Jade (Hong Kong). But Cam and Arnie are headed to New Caledonia this year and Blue Marlin is traveling north with Marianne and Kay on Nabob (Sweden). The other boat we know from Sweden,
Christina, is getting ready to cross the Gulf of Carpentaria and will spend six weeks sailing Australia’s north Kimberly Coast before heading across the Indian Ocean and around South Africa. We had hoped to see Christina and Jan in Darwin, but they will be long gone by the time we get there. We wish them well in their journey home.

I’ll regress a bit to the beginning of the day before I get back to singing the praises of the Hope Isles. The sailing today was the same as many other days recently. There was very little wind in the morning, so we motor sailed. Then around noon, the wind piped up to 15 to 20 knots out of the SSE. We already had our headsail poled out to starboard, so we pulled the staysail out to port and sailed downwind wing and wing for the next three hours. We put a fishing line out early this morning and
had one nibble but lost that fish. Just before we started our run between the two islands, however, I heard the fishing line whirring away. We landed a 28-inch spotted mackerel (according to Runae). We have all sorts of fish identification guides onboard, but none are for game fish. This fish looked incredibly like the 54-inch wahoo we caught in Fiji last year. So is a wahoo really a mackerel? If anyone knows, please let us know. The one thing I do know is that we just finished eating some
of the fish for dinner, and it sure tastes good. The other thing that happened that was a little different today is that we were sailing in the shipping lanes for the first time. We had a bit of traffic in the morning, but the afternoon was quiet. The only activity happened when we caught the fish and then almost immediately entered the deep channel between the two Hope Islands. Once we reached our destination and attached Windbird to the National Park mooring ball, Mark hurriedly filleted the
fish and put it in the freezer. We then launched our dinghy and headed to shore. We could see from the anchorage that island is home to hundreds of birds, so I was anxious to get to shore to say hello to Runae and Hetta and to get some photos of those birds. We got ashore and talked with Runae and Marianne and Kay of Nabob. Hetta showed us her “pet” sea stars before she put them back in the water and then Mark went out to get Donna and Gerry of Scot Free II. It was our turn to do the dinghy
transport on this island.

Blue Marlin and Nabob are headed to Cooktown in the morning and we discussed the difficulties of getting into the Endeavor River there. You are only supposed to enter on a rising tide because of a very shallow sandbar, but there is no rising tide during daylight hours this week. Blue Marlin and Nabob are leaving here very early in the morning and plan to enter the river at high tide in the morning. We are going to stay here for tomorrow and Runae is going to email us and let us know the situation
once he is in Cooktown. If all seems okay, we will head over the next morning. There is a festival this weekend marking the anniversary of the date when Captain James Cook brought his damaged ship, the Endeavor, into the river at Cooktown for repairs in 1770. I don’t have the exact date, but I think he must have arrived in Cooktown between June 10 and June 12 of that year. I’m looking forward to visiting Cooktown, so I hope it works out for us to make this stop.

We walked all around West Hope late this afternoon and watched all the wonderful birds coming in to roost for the night. This island is an important nesting site for pied imperial-pigeons and we did see two different varieties of pigeons roosting. We are going to assume one of them was the pied imperial. Tomorrow we will have more time for bird watching, so I’ll give a more detailed bird report in tomorrow’s log.

080604 Day 26 Low Isles to Hope Isles