Day 38, Year 3: Morris Island to Lloyd Bay
Date: Monday, June 16, 2008
Weather: Mostly Cloudy Day; Winds SSE 15-20
Latitude: 12 degrees 50.825 minutes S
Longitude: 143 degrees 25.626 minutes E
Location: Lloyd Bay near Lockhart River, Queensland, Australia
Total Trip: 52.65 nautical miles
There’s a moon out tonight, coming up on full, as I sit here in a dark cockpit at a temporary anchorage not far off a wharf in the Lloyd Bay. This is the middle of nowhere-about as isolated as it gets in today’s world. I’m sitting here alone on boat watch because Mark took Margaret and Patrick to shore in our dinghy and then he went with them to the clinic. The clinic is in town, wherever that is, and the boat ramp where Mark went ashore is like a boat ramp in a third world country, not like any
others we have seen in Australia. Mark took the handheld radio so we could communicate, but he must be out of range as I can’t reach him any longer. We ended up here because the Coast Guard said this was the only place in this part of Australia where Patrick could get medical attention for his hand. Lockhart River is an aboriginal community and they have a clinic with a nurse. If you need further attention, either you are flown out or a doctor is flown in. We had to sail about 53 miles to get
here and we couldn’t leave Morris Island until the young man who helped Margaret and Patrick last night returned to dive on his bottom this morning. Luckily there was no damage from the episode on the reef yesterday. There was hardly anything but a few scrapes on the bottom, so that was a very good thing. The same young man helped Margaret and Patrick get the anchor up and away we went, Aqua Magic, Windbird, and Scot Free II, to Lloyd Bay to find medical help for Patrick. Paddie and Carolyn Mitchell
on Christiane were so helpful last night and today. They used their satellite phone to call the clinic in Lockhart River and arrange for someone to meet us at the boat ramp around 5 or 6 in the evening. We were in the Lloyd Bay anchorage by 5:00, but we didn’t make it to the boat ramp until 6 pm. Unfortunately it is a full five miles from here to there. We all anchored in the only safe anchorage indicated on the charts and then we launched our dinghy, brought Patrick and Margaret to Windbird,
pulled up anchor, and motored the five miles to the boat ramp. It would have been a murderous trip in a dinghy, so taking the boat here was the only option. I have to stop here as I just got a call from Mark. He is headed back to the boat.
Continued . . . Mark returned to Windbird safely, but without Patrick and Margaret. The people at the clinic didn’t want him getting into a dinghy at night and climbing aboard boats, so they provided a place for Patrick and Margaret to stay in town until the doctor arrives at 10 am in the morning. He will either be able to deal with the problem or they will fly Patrick to Cairns. If the latter is the case, we will all sail to Portland Roads tomorrow afternoon and secure Aqua Magic there. Patrick
and Margaret will have to find a ride back to Lockhart River for the flight to Cairns. So tomorrow around 11:00 AM we will motor Windbird the five miles back to where we were anchored this evening near the boat ramp and wait for a radio call from Margaret.
Now I get to tell you the “exciting” part of the story. An aboriginal brought Mark back to the boat ramp from town tonight. He said he would leave his car lights on because the beach where the dinghy was sitting is “crocodile country.” Mark asked if he thought he might see one tonight and the guy replied, “Probably.” This was most reassuring to Mark. He walked very carefully through beach grass to get to the dinghy trying to avoid hidden crocodiles, and then tried to launch the dinghy. But
the tide was coming in and the waves were crashing on the beach and Mark couldn’t get the dinghy out. So he had to wade in up to his waist, still trying to avoid hidden crocodiles, in order to pull the dinghy out far enough to get off the beach. Then the motor wouldn’t start. So he had quite a scary experience, but finally he successfully headed to Windbird. I was waiting all this time, not hearing a dinghy engine and wondering what in the world had happened. Finally I heard an engine and soon
Mark was aboard safely. At least when we go back to get Patrick and Margaret tomorrow it will be daylight and we will be able to see.
So one way or another, by tomorrow night we will be about eighteen miles north of here in Portland Roads. Then on to Margaret River and the Escape River, and then over the top of Cape York. Our trek up the east coast of Australia is nearing an end.