Last minute provisioning in Cairns

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June 5th 2014
Published: June 5th 2014
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Strange cloud creeping up behind us on way to FitzroyStrange cloud creeping up behind us on way to FitzroyStrange cloud creeping up behind us on way to Fitzroy

actually brought light rain and little else.
We came out the gap in the cliffs that makes Mourilyon Harbour expecting swell and little wind as we had become accustomed to. Well we were half right, the swell was quite mild, hardly noticeable, so much so I didn’t resent the fact we had to motor again as at least it was comfortable. Stable enough I could fry up a healthy bacon & egg sandwich.

We had left intentionally late after 9 am so that we use the wind that usually builds up in the afternoon. We were heading for Fitzroy Island - a place we passed twice before but never stepped onto, so as the wind free morning bore on I was wondering if we should have left early resolved to motor so that at least we would have the afternoon to enjoy on the beach. However the wind slowly built and we were able to turn off the dirty motor. Our course was almost dead down wind so we then tried goose-winging the main and gib for the first time on Luna Ray and it worked beautifully- really felt like we were coursing through the water - we’ll have to do this more often.

Came around the west side of Fiztroy Island in the late afternoon and couldn’t see the public moorings so anchored out from a couple of other boats in about 13m of water, the wind holding us head into the little swell so we were quite comfortable. The only thing that had us on edge was when a guy on an old catamaran cruised into the bay shortly after, dropping his anchor under himself very near to us. With our 65 m of chain out he was definitely in our swing circle but fortunately we never actually swung, the bullets of wind held us all the same way all night. He certainly didn’t appear concerned as he disappeared into his boat to not be seen again - the advantage of local knowledge I suppose.

Early the next morning I couldn’t resist seeing a little of this popular tourist island so rowed ashore alone. Secured the dinghy to a tree just near the front of the resort and took the 2 short walking tracks through the rainforest to the “Secret Garden” and “Nudey Beach” - bitter disappointment at the latter as it lacked any nudists, in fact it was deserted. Made a horseshoe curve rowing back to the boat as I fought the wind/current and we left just after 9am. The wind started early this day so had a nice brisk sail around Mission Bay and False Cape with wind mostly on the beam, and motor sailed up the shipping channel into Cairns.

We just spent two nights at the Marlin Marina, a 3 day mixture of frantic organising and then relaxing to socialise as we met up with Naomi’s brother and fiancé Gavin & Anthea, and last night stayed up at Kuranda with our friends Pippa & John, and kids Charlotte & Banjo. Both groups supplied an excellent taxi service to help with our various errands - thanks again guys!

One job was refuelling and times are limited so we were not able to just go over to the fuel jetty when leaving the marina, and I was a bit wary of returning to our pen as the wind was quite strong blowing us onto it which makes it hard to steer. $450 later, when we did come back I guided us into our slot OK slowing our forward movement with some heavy reversing but the wind blew us sideways and the 3 large fenders did not quite hold up to the pressure leaving a scuff line from the jetty which fortunately had a rubber trim. Naomi commented that the fenders must need pumping up, whilst I reminded her that my previous recommendation of using more fenders would have also worked.

We were meant to be getting on and sailing to Port Douglas today but as a late start was inevitable we decided on staying up the river and then we could put on the bracket for our TV ariel that had been delivered. When we left at midday the wind today was a little stronger today and getting out of our pen was a struggle to avoid scraping Luna Ray up the side of the berth. It was even overpowering our bow thruster so I still couldn’t get the nose around to reverse the direction I wanted to as we backed up out of our pen. Letting the boat swing the way the wind wanted for a while I regained control when I was back in forward gear and then noticed we had left our step behind on the jetty! Not being keen to repeat entering or leaving our pen I thought about how much we really needed this old milk box, and then steered us into an empty pen on another finger which into the wind and therefore much easier.

While Naomi and a bearded stranger sorted out the ropes I ran around to collect the step. The bearded stranger was actually the skipper of Coomera, a boat that we had seen off and on since we sailed into Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island together. It gave me the chance to ask how he repeatedly had been able to beat us, often with less sail up and he admitted he often had his motor running.

We had seen several other boats we recognised from our travels up the coast in this marina, including one I returned the ropes to who had left them on the jetty in Airlie Beach, and many more international boats. For us and many others this was the last marina before Darwin in 1200 miles so the last place to get bulk supplies. We have just noticed a small engine oil leak into the bilge but I cannot see where its coming from but stocked up on 10lts as we were completely out.

We dropped anchor outside the entrance to Smith’s Creek as we have several times before but never in so much wind that it was making white horses, but the holding seemed good. Naomi advised, as it would be my first time up the mast, that in this wind and bobbing a little in the chop would make the aerial repair difficult, so best we avoid it for now. Very considerate of her…. coincidentally this then left her free to have an nap that she badly wanted while I put the washing out to dry.

Its about 5pm, Naomi & Alex are rousing, the winds dropped off a little and our only concern is the number of ships coming nearby as we are right on the edge of the channel. Time for a pina colada, some rest as the next few days up to Lizard will be long ones.

This part of the trip is featured in this video "Whitsunday to Cairns" at



6th June 2014
Strange cloud creeping up behind us on way to Fitzroy

Stormy waters
What a life you have. What an experience.

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