Garden Island to Garden Island

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Daniel at Garden Island
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The journey to pick up Daniel
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The journey back

Well today we picked up Daniel from Cardwell. We also did a bit of shopping to refresh some of the perishables as well as get some diesel.  Now Cardwell is an interesting place as it is probably very pretty at high tide it is a mud hole and not very nice at all.  We were advised not to use the jetty as itis covered in barnacles, and indeed this is correct, but let me give you another version, at low tide the mud is thick, and extends a long wayout.  I actually did manage to land on the beach and then sunk up to my knees in mud.  Not a majpr problem,. but I had 50m of this stuff to get to dry land.  Just to make it even mofre fun there were rocks in the mud covered in oysters, so you can easily cut up your feet.  then of course there is the ever present crocodile, which apparently really does frequent the area, so this was so much fun.

So the day evolved as follows.  A great sail for an hour towards Cardwell, then the wind stopped, so as we had some urgency we motored for 30 minutes. We then lowered the dingy to first pick up the food so we motored towards the IGA and luckily this was close to the baot ramp.  We learnt about the mud here, but this was just an introduction.  We got all the food we wanted and took that back to Bush Spirit, and decided then to do a fuel run.

Well the servo we could see was the other side of the oyster infested jetty, so we approached that beach, with the tide now a bit lower.  well that is when it all went wrong.  As we rowed the boat as close as we could, we gave up and after getting out of the boat in ankle deep water and then promptly sinking up to my thigh, I said to Hilary that maybe it was not such a good idea afterall, and that I would go and fill only 20 litres of fuel up.  She should stay with the dingy.  So off I went slogging through the mud till finally I reached solid ground, and covered in mud.  I went to the garage in that state as there was no tap to wash off, filled up my 2 diesel drums and discovered that one of the caps had broken on the drum., so then had to nurse it back through the mud (now I am 20kg heavier) without spilling it or worse getting water in the diesel.  Never mind the crocs right now.   All successfully completed we went back to Bush Spirit with the 20l and waited for Daniel who was arriving on the train.

Well, the train was only an hour late.  Kind of good as they usually only guarantee the day it is arriving.  So we motored to the jetty and was determined we weren’t oing to approach this joint in any other way, despite the barnacles.  Anyway, we managed and all was good, and no great dramas, as the wind and current were such that they pulled the boat off the jetty anyway. It was just on top of the fact that the boat was anchored about 2km away from the jetty.  There was absolutely no water in this bay, so this just added to the excitement to the whole experience.

Anyway, we took our other non broken fuel drums to the servo and found the railway station.  The station was about 30m long so the train had to stop at the right spot so as Daniel could get off.  He was the only one and nobody got on either.  It was probably the highlight of the trip for the train driver.  Daniel arrived and a spot of lunch and filling of the fuel cans up later, we were back on the jetty getting ready to set forth back to the boat.  Well that was not without drama as the dingy was hard to retrieve, and we won’t go into why, then there were rather large waves to contend with to get ot Bush Spirit as the wind had picked up and it was very shallow.  So with the three of us, all of Daniel’s gear, 20 litres of fuel and a few other things we very slowly made our way out to the boat.  We all got wet, but we made it.

Then get me out of this place.  The wind was directly on the nose, but I could not care, just get out of here.  We did some pretty long tacks but we eventually back to garden Island where we started this morning.  The fishing party that were on the island that warned us about the shark and croc were there to welcome us back.  Nice to have friends.

So no pictures really of interest, but later I might be able to update it.  I will also sort out the map later as well.  We are off to Zoe bay tomorrow.

Allan and Hilary

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Coming into Cardwell.  It looks a nice beach from here.
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Cardwell railway station
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Turning towards home, Dunk Island to Garden Island

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Looking from Garden to Goold Island

Today after staying at Dunk Island for a day or so, we turned the bows southward on the long trek home.  This of course is not the end of our exploration as there are many many places we have not seen, but we do have to turn south one day, otherwise it will mean circumnavigating Australia, which is an attractive option, but I think I will need a new wife before that happens…  Besides, we are not ready for that adventure yet.  So southward we are heading.

Today we woke up to grey skys and virtually no wind.  So rather than persisting in the light conditions, we decided to wait till after morning tea before we headed south.  To fill in the time and to make tomorrow less stressful, we decided to get the water sorted.  There is a tap on Dunk so this allowed us to fill up our drums and get all stocked up.  We filled the main boat tanks up with what we had in our drums then in the dingy to the beach from which we carried 170 litres of water back to the boat.  Not all in one go, but still had to lug it across the beach to the dingy, load it up, then unload it onto the boat.  So it filled in a good couple of hours.  We also topped up the main fuel tanks on the boat with 40l from our drums, so that we can top up the drums tomorrow at Cardwell.

After this, we then had a visit from the people next door who we visited last night.  We had a good time last night and today was no different.  He had been a commercial fisherman and had clearly fished much of the state.  We learnt so much about the industry after talking to him.  Clearly when you start to hear both sides of the story with regards to the industry, there are many issues which are not at all cut and dry as some people would have you believe.  It was a really good discussion and have to say it is the sort of thing that many of us should learn about as it will ultimately effect us.  I suppose the main thing is that there is always to sides to any story.

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Today’s travel. You can see it was not technically difficult.

Well the wind had picked up and we said our goodbyes and within 20 minutes we had up anchored, had the sails set and were heading south.  We only were moving to Garden Island which was 28km to the south, which we did in 2 hrs.  Yes it was a fantastic sail, with about 10knots of breeze just on the beam, and the boat got into the groove and sailed itself.  Even the autopilot had nothing to do.  We sort of flew past a number of boats who were sufficiently impressed that they took pictures of us and put them on facebook.  We are trying to get a copy.

Anyway, arrived at Garden just after lunch. It is a small island next to Goold, which has many reports as being very beautiful.  Indeed the reports are correct and it is a very beautiful little island, rock bound and with a sandy beach.  We parked in behind the sand spit and all was great.

Now let me tell you how things unfolded.  First of all there is not a lot of room to anchor here, and we did a good job at picking a spot where we should not hit the surrounding rocks which clearly are there.  The sandy spit was doing an excellent job at protecting us from the waves, until of course the tide came in.  Then it was a bit of a washing machine.  Not to worry we have been in a lot worse, and the tide will go out again, although around here I am never quite sure when.  So we decided to explore the island.  Then we met some interesting characters.  They were locals, and those of you who know Queensland will understand that these guys tell it as it is.  One guy was an indigenous park ranger (retired), the other was a young guy around 25, with a broken arm and the other was a retired boat builder who apparently had his scalp removed to remove the fibreglass dust (probably my problem).  Yes I kid you not.  He was also the same guy that went 15km and back again to Cardwell to pick up a carton of beer and some ice when the seas were not exactly calm.  Anyway, the conversation always reverts to the state of the toilet, the length of the crocs and how many sharks are in the area.  This is the basis for all the signs I assume.  Apparently, the toilet was good, but now comes the wildlife.  He says “see that boat out there” pointing to Bush Spirit, “that’s where a big croc hangs around.  he comes into here as well and criuses the whole area.  This is his territory, you know.  He is about an 18, (18 foot long) and a dingy offers you no protection, (even an aluminium one, ours is an inflatable)”  Ok, nice to know, and then he says “and then there is the big old tiger shark that hangs off the point near that dingy”, pointing to our dingy…. He went on” I wouldn’t go swimming around here, especially as it is getting dark. “, like now.  “He’s about 12 years old (and a good mate I assume) and about 6 ft long”.  Ok, well have a nice night, hopefully we will see you in the morning.  So we went down to the dingy which by now was 20m off the shore in about 2m of water.  Mmm, look out for the croc and the shark in this not so clear water.  All I need to do is swim that little distance.  Hilary was apparently not volunteering to assist.  Seems I was the one that anchored the dingy so far out.  So in I slowly went, sort of stealth like, found the anchor with my foot accidentally, and of course it frightened me to death, and I nearly undertook a religious act of walking on water, but on my return to the water, in a very smooth action, I grabbed the anchor and very quickly moved back to the beach.

So we  motored rather smartly back to Bush Spirit, pulled the dingy back onto it and then closed our crocodile doors to keep out mother natures wonders.  Then it came to dinner time.  I tentatively volunteered to BBQ what was required, which requires me to stand between nature and the crocodile boards with my feet dangling extremely close to mother nature, whilst enjoying the view and cooking.  Well just as I approached the BBQ a very big gasp of air was heard along with a very big splash just about 5m off my feet.  I have to say that was enough fun for the day and withdrew my cooking commitments for the night and we did it on the stove inside.  I have no idea what it was but it was over 1m long, very thick and moved very fast when it saw me.  Though, compared to me it was stopped.   It may have been a turtle, but a strange one.  Maybe it was also freaked out by the croc and tiger shark.

So that was the end of the adventure so far today.  Hopefully, we don’t have anymore.  So yes Garden Island is a fantastic place, just apparently potentially hazardous to ones health.  Tomorrow we go to Cardwell to stock up on some of the perishables and also to pick up Daniel. So we are looking forward to that.

Allan and Hilary

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Looking through the Family Island and towards the south
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Looking back to Dunk as we zoom down to Garden
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Our anchorage at Garden.  Tiger shark on the left, croc on the right and us in the middle, where something else a bit hideous seems to live.  Yes lovely place…
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Walking across Garden Island
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Plenty of places to camp
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Rocks off the end of Garden. This is apparently where the croc roams.
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Sunset of the day. It is clearly getting more humid.

Dunk Island

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View from the top with Bush Spirit in the top left

Today we decided to stay where the calm water, shower and nice walks are.  We didn’t even bother thinking about moving today, although as per usual there was plenty of wind fin the morning, despite the predictions.  So this is going to be short blog as we didn’t do much other than climb the hill on Dunk.

It is 270m high and despite its relatively small height, it was a pretty solid climb for about 1.5hrs. It was also nice and warm at around 30C, although through the jungle it had a nice cool and humid feel about it.  Well we didn’t see much except for some birds and a couple of humans, but the latter were pretty scarce.  The track was used in WW2 as a radar station was located at the top of the hill.  So these guy would trudge up the hill every day to look for the enemy.  Some of the remains of the radar base are still there.

The view up the top was pretty good and some pictures are below.  We sat there for about an hour sucking in all the sights, realizing that as we looked south that was where we were now headed.  As you look over the horizon you start to realise that it is a long way that we have come.  We have done over 1910km which is not a lot compared to many, but for us it is a number of significance.  The straight line distance between here and home is 1300km, so we must have been doing some sort of tacking along the way, also the coast is not exactly straight.

After the walk we had lunch at the only “shop” on the island.  I ended up with a plate of prawns, while Hilary had the calamari.  Well that about completed the menu choices…  There was fish and chips as well and a couple of other things, but the choice was not large but very appropriate for where it was.  I have a picture of it.  After lounging around there we went back to the boat and lounged around there as well.  I finished writing an exel program for Hilary as well as inspected the inner linings of my eyelids.  It was such a hectic day…

Well that’s about it. We are visiting the boat next door tonight after we have our shower (the highlight of the day…).  When Daniel arrives we should have the parts which will fix our shower and hot water system.  So it maybe bliss then, but we will have to worry more about the water.

So tomorrow we will move towards Gould Island, just north of Cardwell so as to get ready to pick Daniel up Saturday, which we are looking forward too.

Allan and Hilary.

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Looking south towards our next couple of days journeys
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The sign at the radar site.
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What remains of the old radar site
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The viewing platform with a viewer
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Hilary with a new t-shirt along the track to the top of the hill
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The view from the top floor of the cafe.

Marcushla Beach to Dunk Island

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Jetty at Dunk Island

We had a good sail from Marcushla Beach to the Family Island, which Dunk is the largest one of.  For 2 hours this morning the wind was a steady 7 knots in the sweet spot direction for Bush Spirit to get up and go, and we sat at around 6.5Knots (12km/hr) all the way to the bottom of the Family Island.  We then struggled up past all the Family Islands with the wind fading and finally it completely disappeared with about 4km to go, so we motored the last bit.

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Now Dunk Island was in the middle of Cyclone Yasi in 2011, another category 5 cyclone with 305km/hr winds at its peak.  So 6 years later the vegetation has recovered and you really wouldn’t know from that perspective.  If the coral was any good prior to Yasi, well it hasn’t recovered.  It is pretty poor, but I managed to get some pictures, but this was not the norm but rather the exception.  The resort here was really nice in its day (hear that one before) but now it remains with most of its roofs off or pealed back and twisted.  Another destroyed resort which is just not worth repairing.  The national park is all recovered and indeed a credit to the locals that bought it back to life.  The beaches are all good as well.

As you can see it was a short journey today and we only covered 36km so we arrived around 0930 and then did a little explore of the place to see what was what.  The big find was a shower with hot water, which was used later.  We walked through the beach park which the locals take significant advantage of with waterskiing etc. Then saw the demolished resort, which strangely had a welcome sign which basically said that we were welcome but don’t enter.  Then we did a walk to another beach were it was apparent that it was spot to do snorkeling, so we thought we would return to that but by dingy.  It was a fair old walk from where we were moored, and it was hot, very hot, sand. The air temperature was about 31-32C ALL day.  Then upon or return we went to the only store at the island and bought ourselves a couple of chocolate milkshakes.  A little indulgent at $8 each, but they were nice…

Then we went in the dingy and went to the bay we had previously visited to see what was below the surface.  It certainly wasn’t exciting and after an hour returned to have a hot shower.  Then that was about it.

One of the wierd things that happened today was the time between high and low tide was 3hrs and there was hardly any difference.  Prior to this it was 9 hrs different.  As some of you might know it is usually 6.5hrs difference.  Anyway, I kid you not, it definitely had me looking at various tide timetables.

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The tides for today. A pretty limited high at 0600

Tomorrow we will stay here (because of the shower), and then turn South.  Yes this is the furthest north we will go, so as of Thursday we will start to make our way home.  There is still lots to see, so it should be pretty good probably until we get to Hervey Bay, then it will be the slog down to Brisbane.  But that is still a long way off.

Allan and Hilary.

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The housing on Orpheus Island (part of the Family Islands)
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Approaching the next anchorage at Dunk Island
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Looking south through the Family Islands over the track we took.
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Dunk Island looking north
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Paradise in the foreground, ground zero in the background. If you look hard there is not a lot left of the building and this is one of many.
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Nice beach, but all the buildings on the right are destroyed
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Same shot, but Hilary in the foreground
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Hilary standing in the shade to cool her feet off.
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A nice tree we found
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Looking West along the northern beach of dunk
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Hilary walking along one of the tracks in her “Red” (its orange, don’t you agree, but somebody doesn’t) shirt with her pink (Red….) hat. Anyway you can see it is pretty thick jungle. Also she only owns one “red” shirt, so yes it needs a clean.
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The southern bay where we are anchored at Dunk Island looking over to South Mission Beach.
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Some of the better coral
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Found a clam
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The other piece of good coral in the bay.
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Well we watched the sunset thinking about our trip, the trip Ross and I had to this place and how thing evolve. As for the sunset, it was as good as the coral, but you take what you can get and from that perspective it was all good.

Zoe Bay to Marcushla Beach

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This is how you fly a quadcopter in a tropical paradise (Zoe bay).

We awoke this morning to absolute stillness. No point in even attempting to sail this morning so we decided to fly the quadcopter again.  So we took it to the beach and had 20 minutes of fun flying it up and down the beach as well as out to the boat.  it is a lot less nerve racking doing from the shore.  Anyway, you can see some of the pictures below.

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After that we decided to go up the northern creek again looking for crocodiles.  Well that was what Hilary was looking for.  I was looking for sandbanks and logs (which could also have been a crocodile), as our dingy would not suffer a major impact, and with the threat of crocodiles, I have to say it was becoming stressful.  The waterway went on and on and it was actually pretty deep in most parts, and again with the backdrop of these big mountains was very pretty.

So after this fun we were back to the boat and headed north again to Marcushla beach.  Now yesterday was calm, today was dead flat calm. We drifted along and averaged 5km/hr all day, and that average was pushed up because in the last 30 minutes we were doing 15km/hr.  So needless to say it was a long (well actually short, only 35km) slow day.  We did have the internet most of the time thanks to our super high antenna at the top of the mast, so we could book airtickets for Daniel and get Nathan’s flights sorted for their visits over the coming months.

We kept seeing the views of the mountains, but in reality it all sort of rolled into one as it slowly changed from one view to the next.

So not a lot to talk about today, just some pretty pictures.  We are off to Dunk Island tomorrow, with the same weather by the looks of it.  So should be back in communications until about next Sunday.

Allan and Hilary.

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Looking SE out of Zoe bay with Bush Spirit in view
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Looking into Zoe Bay
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The north creek from about 100m
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Looking over the swamps of Zoe bay
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Zoe Bay looking South
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Going up the northern creek
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Northern creek reflections
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An island you would want to avoid
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Cape Richards (the most northern part of Hinchinbrook)
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Here comes the next anchorage at Marcushla Beach on the left
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South Marcusla Beach looking into to crocodile country
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Now the fence is to keep kids or dogs out of harms way, right. Wrong! It is were you camp to keep the crocodiles out while you sleep. Very unique.
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Some nice rocks at Marcushla Beach of which you hope there are no relatives under the waters you travel in.
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Sunset from Marcushla Beach, but pretty poor (1/10)

Orpheus Island to Zoe Bay

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Approaching Zoe Bay from the south. It is around that nob.

Ross and I said in the early 80’s that we would return one day to this area again, but in a bigger boat.  Today that was completed.  We slowly, very slowly at times, sailed the 35km or so from Orpheus Island up to Zoe Bay on Hinchinbrook Island.

The day started out a bit slow.  I was going to go for a swim and take pictures of the coral, but around 0900 the wind was too inviting to let it go.  So the swimming was shelved to take advantage of the unpredicted winds.  So we set out from our mooring and headed north.  About the same time we finished putting the sail up, the wind pretty well stopped, with just a whisper to encourage us along.  So we persisted thinking all the time that maybe we should have gone snorkeling instead.  Well although it was light it was moving us north (or was that the current…) but this changed and at times, well many times we weren’t moving.  Today we weren’t in a rush so we held out from using the motors.  And it was just as well we weren’t in a rush as we drifted up past Orpheus then Peloros and finally past the end of the Lucinda jetty after many hours.  Now this jetty is 5km long and at one stage was the longest jetty in Australia.  I’m not sure if that is still the case.  The reason it is so long is that there is very little water for 5km off the shore.  If you didn’t see it then you would be in strife.  Apparently people have sailed right into it too!  But finally we passed the end of the jetty and we were in reasonable sight of Zoe Bay.

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As you can see from the photos, Hinchinbrook is a very rugged island.  Its peak is about 1000m high.  It is also the largest island national park in Australia.  It is very spectacular as you glide past at about 10km/hr over calm seas.

Zoe Bay was Ross and my first port of call on our adventure many years ago, so return was a bit emotional.  It was different to what I had remembered, just as spectacular, but I thought the entrance to the bay was a lot longer.  Maybe when you are 150mm of the water as we were in our cats, things look a lot bigger.  Anyway, this time Hilary and I sailed right into the bay and in reality used the engines just for comfort.  We pretty well pulled the sails down and glided along a bit then dropped the anchor.  More by good luck than planning, but who is to know.

There was actually a fair swell rolling into the bay, so we choose to anchor in the northern part of the bay to avoid sloshing around all night.  This worked great and we had a really calm anchorage over sand in about 3m of water.

Now Zoe bay is a place of beauty.  It is a massively wide and long sandy beach surrounded by huge jagged mountains.  On the southern end of the beach is the best waterfall and swimming hole you will find.  I do not exaggerate (well not this time).  On the northern end is a reasonably deep creek leading to miles and miles of swamps with lots of waterways, leading right up to the highest mountain on the island.

So we dropped the dingy into the water and off we went down the beach (through the swells) to the southern end of the beach, where Ross and I actually got stuck for 4 days as a cyclone went past.  It was considerably more swelly then!  But I do have to say that the communications between Zoe bay and anywhere else have NOT improved since we last visited.  There was none.

Anyway, of to the end of the beach and found where we had previously stayed, gave it our respect and then off to find the waterfall.  Previously, this was not so obvious, but now the track through the jungle is well defined and marked where it gets a little less obvious.  When we arrived, we were of course the only ones there and we just had to have a swim.  It was pretty warm air temperature (around 31C) but the water was cool, but not as bad as you might think.  It was crystal clear and had fish running around everywhere.  The water was tumbling down the falls because of all the rain we had the other week.  I have to say it was great to get rid of all of the salt, but it was just great in any case.

So back to the dingy, then off to the northern creek and found our way in.  I reconed we could get Bush Spirit into it at high tide, but you would want to be desperate!  There are plenty of rocks and its not exactly deep everywhere.

Then that was about it for the day.  We settled back to a nice calm evening, with no phones radio or anything to annoy us so we watched one of our movies.  I also had a good look at the stars again last night, and that was pretty good too.  So in all another full day, albeit, very quiet to start with and as there was no other boat with us, it was a very quiet night as well.

Allan and Hilary.

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Leaving Orpheus
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Hinchinbrook in the distance.
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Lucinda Jetty (it goes all the way from the LHS to the RHS of the photo, if you missed it)
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Yes it was a little calm at times, but we sailed through it
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Hinchinbrook slowly getting closer. Zoe Bay is around that nob in the foreground
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Me arriving at Zoe Bay. Autopilot is still operational…
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Ah yes, one of these visited as well. It was about 2m long and definitely not a dolphin…Swimming was less of an option around here.
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Finally got around that nob (Hillcock pt)
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As we entered the bay we had company as well, which soon moved on. We must smell too much.
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Panorama of Zoe Bay
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Anchor spot is directly in front
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The waterfall
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The top waterfall.
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Me at the waterfall after a swim
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Hilary after her swim
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The creek downstream of the waterfall
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The usual sign, but a bit disappointing to read after you have arrive by boat.
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Panorama taken from the south looking north
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Same place (yes it was sort of spectacular)
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The sunset was a bit different, but it was the noises in the bush of all the birds and animals that made it special.

Orpheus Island

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Aerial view of just of the stern of the boat

Today we decided to stay at Orpheus Island.  It was a very interesting day indeed.  This is a most beautiful island with lots of surprises.

First thing this morning I decided to put the quadcopter up into the air. This was a little nerve racking as I hadn’t flown it for a while and I had to take off from the deck of the boat in a slight wind.  I have to admit I was glad to get it back.  Anyway, at lift off,  the wind got hold of it and moved it about 1m from where we took off, in the direction of the boat of course. There is a new god I have not appeased yet.  Anyway, I managed to get it away from the boat and we did a quick circuit around the boat and decided that would do for a first go.  Bringing it back in was ok, I got Hilary to catch it and after a bit of juggling we managed to get it in past the rigging and within her reach.  I assume one day this gets easier.  Anyway, you can see some of the screen shots below.  We did another flight after breakfast, but the wind was a bit more and we nearly again hit the boat as we took off, so another quick lap and a lot higher to see if it makes much difference, and then after about 10 minutes we bought it home.  Landing (rather catching) was a lot easier this time, despite the wind (just a matter of confidence).

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The boat from above
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Coming into land with the precision they require on an aircraft carrier and with the catch crew ready and willing (and trusting)

Then after breakfast we decided to go to the Giant Clam Garden.  These are giant claims that were introduced by James Cook Uni (Townsville) so as to preserve them. Some of them have since been removed and transported to other areas for regeneration.  I think the breading may got out of hand as they are fairly prolific in one area.  We were told by one of the other boaties where to look and after a little effort we found them.  I had the GoPro with me and took some pictures.  The water was reasonably clear, but there was not a lot of coral around this part of the bay.  Plenty of fish.  Anyway there are a few photos to look at.  The claims were about 500mm long, and some were much bigger.  They were of every colour you could conceive of and many of them had spots all over them.  Well it amused us for 30 minutes or so.

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Some of the giant clams
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Another one about 500mm wide
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The seabed is covered in them
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Some of the coral, but not a good picture
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An accidental selfy, but then a selfy for sure.
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Mermaid Hilary, well maybe dugong Hilary :).
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Some more coral, well it was better than this depicts.
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Hilary and boat whilst snorkeling

Then we were back to the boat to warm up, as it is still pretty cold in the water.  It is around 24C, but a wetsuit is still needed. It helps protect you from the stingers as well, although we never saw them.  One assumes it provides little protection from the sharks or crocodiles, but we haven’t seen any of the latter, not so sure about the former.

After a hot chocolate to warm up, we went to the beach to seek a track across the island, and after about an hour discussion with one of the other people moored here, we found the “track”.  Well we followed it up past an old stone house, or what remains of it.  It is called Pioneer Bay, and I assume that this is the pioneers hut.  Then we bashed our way along the track (actually wasn’t that bad, just got lost a couple of times), till we got out of the bush onto a grassy and significantly hotter hill, which we ascended to reveal the most amazing and spectacular sight I have seen of the coast so far.  A nearly shear drop 200m to the ocean below and a view which was breathtaking.  Deep blue sea, and a sky to match, a gentle cooling breeze, looking down on a green fringing reef and rocks.  The water was crystal clear.  Yep not bad at all.

Then we walked back for lunch and some rest.  But the reef behind the boat was calling.  Mind you the two small sharks swimming around the back of the boat trying to catch some small fish were dampening the calling.  Also the occasional very big splash about 50m from the boat also kind of telling you there are few rules here, but big teeth and a desire to feed oneself, seems to dominate the outcome.  But we decided to go snorkeling anyway.  This time the water was pretty clear and we we could see 20-30m, so we snorkeled and dived down along the reef fringe, where it went from a depth of about 1m to about 20m, very quickly.  Now the coral here was pretty good.  It was like a garden down there, with every colour of coral you could imagine.  Now you have to believe me because I forgot to take the GoPro.  Hopefully we will get back here next week when Daniel comes up.  I have to say the coral was one thing, but it was in amongst deep cannons of large colourful coral full of all sorts of colourful fish, small large and frighteningly large, and more clams small and big.  What was also interesting was the water got a lot colder about 2m down.  It was certainly refreshing down there. They tell me the outer reef is much better, and hopefully we will get there with Daniel.

So after an hour we sadly removed ourselves  back into the dingy, which is always interesting.  Hilary gets in first with much flapping of flippers (fins for those who are professional divers), mostly to attract sharks etc whilst I remain in the water and also a good excuse to hit me in the head with her very hard flippers just to make the job of the sharks easier.  Then it is my go, but as an engineer, I have rigged up help, as I don’t have a head to push on to get into the boat, like somebody else.  I have made a ladder out of rope which I tie to one side of the boat and drape it across the boat and then sort of walk up into it.  Well more crawl, struggle and squirm my way in.  Hilary provides a helping hand, mainly at the end by giving me a giant pull which ensures she can bury my head into the floorboards of the dingy magnificently disguised as she does with the hitting me in the head with her flippers.  Then we freeze like anything as we go back to Bush Spirit.  At this point you have to choice of freezing a little but for a long time by going slow, or freezing a lot but over a short period by going fast.  I chose the latter, as it is more fun anyway.

Tonight we are preparing for some guests to share the sunset.  They tell me last nights was pretty good actually.  Well I missed it.  Maybe tonight.

So tomorrow we leave Orpheus to head for Zoe Bay.  Most of you know the story about how Ross and I sailed these waters in our two 14ft cats in Nov. 1981.  We tried to get to Orpheus on our first night out (we were sailing for 2 weeks), but we got pushed back by the weather.  So being at Orpheus has completed a mission we started 26 years ago. Now Hilary and I are about to retrace that path again, one that Ross and I said we would return too one day, but with a bigger boat…..

So let’s hope we make Zoe Bay tomorrow.

Allan and Hilary.

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Pioneers hut
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The walk from Pioneer bay
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Now looking uphill. Note the distinct track….
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The view from the top of the hill looking north
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Looking south
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Looking west. We are anchored somewhere on the left.
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Me enhancing the view, some might say.
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Hilary and looking over Pioneer Bay
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Looking down the cliff.
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Going back to the boat
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The beach at Pioneer Bay
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The boat anchored at Pioneer Bay
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The sunset. I was a little late…. 3/10 for the sunset, 0/10 for the photographic efforts.

Magnetic Island to Orpheus Island

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The end of the day at Orpheus

Today we went from Magnetic Island to Orpheus Island (well we did it yesterday, but I am just catching up).  It was a magic day of sailing.  Despite the various forecasts of only very light winds, although it was pretty light at times, we had wind all day except for about 10minutes behind Palm Island when we were in the shadow of its mountains.

We left at 0700 and set course for Palm Island, actually the western end of Palm and go between Palm and a bunch of islands off its west coast.  They were a long way away (about 45km) from Magnetic at the start of the day, but bit by bit they became more and more distinct.  It was very calm most of the day and we saw a fair bit of wild life, but no whales, despite what people say.  It was a very nice passage to the west of Palm, then we passed a number of Island which are all very attractive and inviting to visit as we sailed our way to the northern end of Orpheus Island.

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The overall picture of today’s sail. About 72km in all over 8 hours
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Detail of our track through Palm Island group
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Well the track from Magnetic to Palm. It was all done by the autopilot, and as you can see it did a pretty good job. The fact that the direction the wind didn’t change sort of helped as well

When we arrived, we got onto a mooring buoy, which was good for this bay as it is pretty deep and I suspect plenty of bombies around.  If we hadn’t managed to get a buoy we would have to had gone back a few Km, which was no real big deal as we arrived around 1500, and there was plenty of wind.

On arrival we notticed a boat that we had first seen at Cape Upstart, and he did a good job at beating us all the way to Cape Bowling Green, but I took some solitude in the fact that we caught him at the end of the day.  Even the next day he did well and kept up with us, and it was a boat of the same size as ours, but one which was not really renowned for being faster than ours, well actually it is more in the class of a caravan.  So clearly, this was a real issue for me!  Not that I am competitive or anything, just perfecting my sailing skills (which by the way they are getting better as a result of such showing up).   Well, the story continues as they came over towards us in their dingy, but not actually to say hello but moreover to check out the coral.  Anyway we introduced ourselves, and the conversation quickly turned to how well his boat goes.  His wife then smiled and said, “yes especially with the motor on”.  But I said that I looked to see if this was the case, and I could find no evidence of it, and moreover, the sails were well set and it looked like he just was a better sailor and had a better boat.  But no, it was further revealed that the sails were  and are always set properly and the motor was just sufficient to keep a few things going.  So, my honour has been restored.  In fact, their words was more from the other side indicating that “that boat” is doing pretty well as they haven’t got their motors on and are under sail and we are struggling to catch it…  Who says it’s not a race….

Well we had a great evening sharing raw tuner for a big part of the night and then finding our way back at night to the boat.  We took a torch this time, which sort of was no use, but made us feel good.

So the next day we will stay at the island and have a look at the coral, big clams and do a bit of bush walking.

Allan and Hilary.

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A pretty average sunrise as we left Magnetic Island
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A new approach to the boom flopping around in the light conditions. It actually gave us a more consistent speed and less of a headacke from the constant banging around
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Approaching Palm Island (for about 6 hrs)
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Hilary decided to do some knitting in the shade
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Approaching Palm a few hours later. Hilary using the binoculars, looking for the end of a slow (but quiet) day.  You can even see we have the hatch open to cool things down a bit.
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Finally made the western end of Palm. You wouldn’t want to hit it with the boat….
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Palm Island community
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Looking south through the passage west of palm island.
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Looking south along Orpheus from our anchor point.
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Well a bit of a below average sunset. But there you have it (1/10)

Magnetic Island

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An enthusiastic people observer on the way to the Fort.

Today we stayed at Magnetic Island to get some food, though not much, but moreover, we wanted to see some of the sights of this island.  It is a very pretty place and it is serviced by good transport.  The Bus ran across the island every hour or so. so we figured we could fit in a few things along the way.

However, last night was interesting.  We had a party boat beside us and they decided to party on until about 0200.  Now the music was not bad and the noise was not too obtrusive, the only problem was the owner loved the Eagles and would keep repeating songs he liked.  We had four renditions of “hotel California”, one after the other, then the Beach Boys and well it went on and on and we only heard about 3 different songs in the hour.  One of the guests was leaving for about 2hrs, then he finally went swimming! I am not sure if that was the intended approach to his leaving… He asked the other guests to join him, which came with a resounding no!  They had read the sign about the crocodiles, sharks and marine stingers that frequent the place.  But that act was the final act which did sort of stop the party, except we had to hear for one more time “Hotel California”.  I use to like that song….

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The travels for today. Blue is by bus, yellow is walking.

Anyway, back to the road trip on the bus.  The first stop was the Fort.  I came to the island over 50 years ago, and I vaguely remember visiting something like this whilst here.  However, I am yet to confirm that this is the case.  Anyway, the Fort was indeed a fort which was set up in WW2 to defend the entrance to Townsville.  It was very large and quite complex.  A lot of it has gone now, but there is still plenty to see.  It is located on top of a reasonable mountain (250m) and the views are outstanding.  There were an enormous number of tourists walking up the track, but this did not detract at all.  I recon we heard about 10 different nationalities as we walked up the rather hot and dry track.  There were Koalas in the trees, which were very easy to spot because of all the cameras pointing in one direction.  The track took us a couple of hours to get back to the bus stop where we again waited for the bus.  It was packed when it finally arrived, but we managed to find a seat.

The drive then continued to Arcadia, which was the next beach on the Southern side of the island.  Another spectacular beach, with a fairly steep and a little concerning ride down the hill to it.  There was some comments about the lack of seatbelts on the bus, but then there seems in general a lack of any motoring sense on this island.  It is also the place where all the mini-mokes of the world ended up as well as Suzuki Sierras and now they hire them out as the transport, along with the many scooters which struggle significantly over all the hills.  This is all mixed up with lots of people, buses, 4 wheel drives and tourists who can’t even drive on the LHS, on roads that don’t look like they have been attended to for about 50 years.

We then traveled to the old port for the island and went to a museum which was centred around an old resort located on the island.  When I was here last, I am sure we must have went to see it, but I don’t remember it.  A picture is provided below at about the same time we visited.  I do remember the bus that we had in those days, and that was an open side thing, which I vaguely remember a picture off.  It was confirmed by one of the old standing locals at the museum.  Then back on the bus to the IGA store to pick up a few veges and fruit, then on the bus again to go back to the boat.

It took us most of the day, but it was a lot of fun.  Moreover, the dingy was still there when we returned.  I anchored it way out in the morning, which mandated a swim this morning to get back to the beach, but when we returned at low tide it was almost on the beach.  It looked like a 3m tide today.  I suppose I should know, but when you don’t have too, you don’t want too!

So back to the boat where we decided we should stock up on water, so back in the dingy with the empty cans (40l) and filled them up at a tap in the park, dumped our rubbish and transported the water back to the boat.  I then decided to have a nice swim as it was pretty warm today (around 30C) and we fixed a shackle up on the anchor bridal.  We are a bit more paranoid about these things now.

Tomorrow the weather is light winds, but we will go north and maybe we will make Orpheus Island, but may not too.  We will just have to see how we will go.  I’m not too keen on another day of motoring, as we could not pick up fuel here.  The bus terms and conditions of use did not specifically say that you couldn’t carry fuel drums full of fuel on board the bus, but I somehow think there was a line we might have been crossing by doing so…  I think the groceries were ok, but 20l of diesel may be interesting….  So as a result we only have the fuel we picked up at Airlie Beach hence, I don’t want another big day with motoring, especially as the whole next week looks very light winds.

Allan and Hilary.

 

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The munition store on the way to the fort.
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The sign at the gun. It gives you a bit of history.
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The gun emplacement.
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Looking south to Cape Cleveland, where we motored passed yesterday. Cape Bowling green is 65km to the south, and you can’t see it.
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Looking down into one of the many pretty bays on the island
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Horseshoe bay from the Fort
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Townsville from the Fort
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Panorama from the Fort looking SE
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Another picture of Horseshoe bay, including some of the houses
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Part of the Fort
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A pretty flower in the midst of a dry hot track
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Me on the walk.
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A picture of the first guesthouse on the island, about the same time I visited it in the 60’s.
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Well the sunset was not brilliant, but still acceptable 3/10

Cape Bowling Green to Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island

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Around 0700 from Cape Bowling Green

Today was a perfect day for wateskiing.  Not a ripple for 12 hours.  We sort of knew it was going to be pretty calm, but we were expecting some wind.  The wind we got was the normal SW in the morning, which is always there, but never predicted.  We picked that up for about 2 hours and got about 15km, until I had to give in and start the motors.  You will see on one of the photos we were traveling at 0.0km/hr in 0.0 knots of wind.  We had to do 65 km, so we pretty well motored all the way.  We were teased a couple of times when the wind picked up to a bit more than 5knots, but after stopping the motors it quickly faded away.  After about the 5th tease, I gave up and resigned myself to motoring all the way.

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I have to say that when it is that calm you do tend to see a lot of sea life.  We saw something that was very big which was air breathing and I assume a mammal, or a really large turtle, a yellow snake, which was about 1m long, about 50mm thick, but it did not have a flat tail like a normal sea snake (and it was not within sight of land), a lot of large finned fish, a shark that was about 1.5m long, maybe a little bigger, and various birds.  So excitement everywhere….

We got to Horseshoe Bay around 1400, and I decided to scrape the rudders as they were building up in slime.  It was not a big deal, but it was an ideal opportunity to do it.  We then went into the town.  It is something out of the 1970’s, with a few shops, holiday makers (it is school holidays here) and about 30 boats.  We ended up having dinner out at the pub tonight and both agree next time we only need to buy one meal between the two of us.

My observations are Cape Bowling Green is flat and green, Cape Cleveland (the next one north) is rocky and very mountainous, and Magnetic Island is as rocky as they come and showed no sign of a magnetic deviation as we got close, as Caption Cook claimed.

Tomorrow we will explore the island.  The weather is a bit more windy, but not a lot.  After that I am not sure where we will end up but will move north as far as the wind will take us.

And no sunset today as we were in the pub when that happened.

Allan and Hilary.

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Morning at Cape Bowling Green
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The final point of Cape Bowling Green. We anchored just inside it.
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Motoring north from Cape Bowling Green
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The tablet tells you the speed of the boat in km/hr (and it reads 0.0) whereas the instrument at the bottom tells you the wind speed relative to the boat in knots, and it also reads 0.0. Basically you can conclude there was not a lot of wind.
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Cape Cleveland
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Magnetic Island with about an hour to go.
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Horseshoe Bay is just around that first point.
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Some of the rocky outcrops on Magnetic Island
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Horseshoe bay looking west
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Horseshoe bay looking East
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The main street, albeit the town centre is at the end of the picture
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A pretty bird we saw
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Looking north from were we are anchored at Horseshoe Bay
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A panorama view of the bay
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Now I am not sure why the toilets are part of the general warnings, they weren’t that bad.
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The beach side park at Horseshoe Bay