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Published: January 6th 2014
Well we had only been off the boat for a few days before we were now crewing on another!... delivering Naomi's parents' boat back from Bunderberg to Yeppoon. Delivery sounds a bit business like, it was really a nice cruise along some of the lower Great Barrier Reef islands over a few days.
Drove down to Bundy on the Friday and slept on the boat in the marina. Early next morning (21st December) we were joined by another crew member, Wayne, who is Naomi's mum's cousin's husband...if anyone knows what relative that makes him to Naomi please let us know. Cheryl (Naomi's mum) cast us off and headed back to Yeppoon alone in the car, while we headed down the river and out to sea. It was a clear day, with a light easterly breeze and swell from the northeast which gave us a bit of a rolly ride as we headed dead north. Alex fell asleep in the lounge floor early on and I later caught some zzz's which was good to kill a few hours as there wasn't much to see except for water.
Early afternoon the thin line of Lady Musgrave came into view on the
Alex takes the helm
approaching Lady Musgrave
horizon. An hour or two later we rounded the island and the circling reef to find the narrow gap that leads into the lagoon. Once squeezed inside we worked our way towards the island again, avoiding shallow areas of coral, and riding over dark patches which would have normally scared me but did not effect the depth sounder. I enjoyed not being in the more stressful position of helmsman as we approached our spot to drop anchor.
Had lunch and then headed over to the island. It was a rocky approach as the tide was low. I went for a snorkel and found some patches of colourful coral, and teams of fishes. In some areas the water was dense with huge clouds of small fish in their hundreds.
Back on the island, took the walk through the Pisonia forest to the other side with Naomi and Alex. It is a creepy morbid fairy-tale-like wood with sparse undergrowth except for the scattering of birds squirming in their last fits of life. Apparently the Black Noddy Terns start building nests on the island just when the trees start to form sticky seeds. The birds become so encumbered with the seeds
in the Lady Musgrave Lagoon
sticking to their feathers they eventually cannot fly, fall to the ground, die, decompose and nourish the ground the trees are standing in... another tragic circle of life.
We walked back via the beach, cruised the coral from the tinnie and back to the boat for dinner, sunset and a peaceful moonlit night.
The next morning, knowing that this could be our flattest anchorage we had the bacon & eggs and set off soon after. Back through the narrow gap in the coral and headed north. We stopped at Fitzroy Reef for morning tea. This is a similarly shaped reef lagoon as Lady Musgrave but with no island and a slightly trickier gap in the coral to squeeze through. We were alone in the azure blue lagoon and Naomi whipped us some delicious scones. After this we left and headed northwest, on a smoother run now that we were protected by some reef patches, and drove up the gap between two large coral areas, the right one attached to Heron Island which is where we stopped offshore for lunch. There's a resort here that does not welcome passing boats, so we watched from afar as tourist
flew in, got ferried around in reef watching boats and languished on the pretty beach.
After a couple more hours we were rounding NorthWest Island, came across a bunch of about 10 tinnies on the beach and guys fishing off the reef, but we turned back toward the western side to get out of the swell. Once anchored we were treated to a turtle mating display just off the side of the boat.... exhibitionists! As the tide was low the coral was surfacing so we couldn't visit the beach. It was a much more rolly night which made sleep a little more uncomfortable, especially for Don who made is bed up in the fly-bridge to spare Wayne his snoring.
Keen to escape the motion we left early, heading west. Slowly more features of the mainland rose their heads over the horizon and we were treated to a solitary dolphin display off the boat's bow for about 20 minutes. Came into the Keppel Islands and anchored at Monkey Bay. The clear water, bright sunshine, red tinged rocky shore and loud drone of cicadas was reminiscent of a quiet island somewhere in the southern Mediterranean. We were joined
by Gavin & Andrew (Naomi's brothers) on Gavin's fishing boat after a mediocre morning's catch. Gavin had dragged the boat down from Cairns for his Xmas stay in Yeppoon and we hadn't seen him since he took off around Europe for the last few months with his now fiancée Anthea. Ater lunch we made the final short leg across Rosslyn Bay and into the marina. Don had problems with the steering as we came home but it was still working just enough to guide Neesea into her home berth, with the help of Cheryl who was waiting for us on the dock.
A couple of days later and Christmas Day had arrived, which was the usual big family gathering at Naomi's parents' place, and lots of presents for Alex to open. Did do some kite boarding with Gavin & Anthea when some strong northerlies arrived. The second day I was going really well until I crashed and twisted my strings. I pulled the safety cord as the kite was out of control, which depowered it but I was a fair way out. I swam for what felt about an hour and didn't seem to be getting closer
to the beach as I got more and more exhausted! Fortunately Gavin came to my rescue and towed me in.... then I had about another hour of untangling my kite strings!
Boxing day we all went out on Don & Cheryl's boat with a total of 13 on board to the Keppel Islands. First a stop at the resort beach and we all swam ashore to let the kids play on the beach. After lunch we went around to the north side of Great Keppel where some climbed and ran down the sand dunes, some fished, and some snorkelled. There was a large Shovel Nose there when we arrived. As late afternoon arrived we cruised home into the sun, everyone tired from a fun day out.
Another New Year rolled in and many of the family have gone on their separate ways. Most days we have been going to the boat in the mornings to try and get some of our list of 45 jobs done, before resting from the heat in the afternoon. The last few days its been getting up to the high 30s C with 100 % humidity which makes for very sweaty
work couped up inside a boat. As usual the list is very hard to diminish. One day we set about refreshing a little sealant around the kitchen counter, but Naomi found a leak and by the time we had finished all the taps and sinks were out! Now waiting on parts before they can go back in. The other major job has been servicing the raw water pump to stop it leaking, and had a lot of help from Don with this. Along with this is cleaning up the engine mount that was in an appalling rusty state thanks to the leak... it should probably be replaced but I shudder to think what could go wrong with that huge job so will cross our fingers it lasts.
This year should bring lots more cruising for us, starting in a few months. I see Jimmy Cornell is organising a round the world rally that passes through the Gulf of Aden, so maybe that a viable route now since piracy has lessened there (could be because no-one goes that way anymore).
Wishing you all good fortune this year, Luke
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