August 21, 2011
Horseshoe Bay on the north east of Magnetic Island really appealed to us, and led to daydreams of dirt dwelling and leading an ‘island’ style life, enjoying both the sea and land. Not to be as we have many miles still to sail, so we stored it in our treasure chest of places to re-visit and made for Orpheus Island, to the north of Great Palm Island. With the four blue mooring buoys in the north corner of Orpheus’ Pioneer Bay all taken, we anchored in the south end and it took three attempts to get the anchor to hold. Going ashore was not an option in the prevailing weather and the next day we set sail for the protected waters of the Hinchinbrook Channel. Lucinda, the sugar ‘town’ at the southern end of the channel entry point, has a 3km jetty extending out into the sea and very shallow water on either side. With the tide in our favour we picked our way through the shoals and motored up to Haycock Island, where we danced around our anchor for an hour or two before it all settled down. Rainy and overcast weather spoilt some of the magnificent scenic shots we were going to take (!?!) of the glorious tree clad mountains to both the east and west of the channel. The Hinchinbrook is largely national park, and mangroves make it impossible in all but a few places to go ashore. Added to that is the threat of sandflies and mozzies, so it keeps a lot of its glory to itself! However, it has a dark brooding beauty and is very peaceful. For us, Rebel’s deepish draught made the thought of exploring the many tributaries nerve racking rather than pleasant, so we headed for Dunk Island, where we spent a very rolly night in gusty wind.
Dunk took a direct hit from cyclone Yasi and signboards on the beach say ‘Danger, do not go past this point’ and one can see buildings with missing roof tops. Sadly the internet site says the owners will not be able to effect the repairs needed on both Dunk and Bedarra Islands, leaving their futures uncertain. It will a be real shame see all the hard work and good reputation not continue. On leaving Dunk Rebel’s anchor ‘up’ switch would not work. By the time Ian fixed it, it was too late to head for Mourilyan, so we spent a second night off Dunk in much calmer conditions. After motor sailing in squally weather it was a pleasure to enter the calm shelter that Mourilyan provided, a natural, albeit very small, harbor. From Mourilyan we sailed to Fitzroy for a night. The anchorage either side of the jetty in front of the resort buildings. Ashore there are walks, free showers (hot water…) and lockup lockers for day trippers. The only downside (experienced by our friends on Plan Four as well) was the two small scruffy fishing boats that were anchored a little close for comfort and that ran their generators the ENTIRE night. After a morning paddle over pristine reef we headed for Cairns to catch the fourth hour of the rising tide to ensure we did not run aground in the creek leading up to Bluewater Marina. Our friends Chris and Gilli from Westwind met us at the entrance in an inflatable to show us the way in, and after tying up in our berth diagonally opposite, we caught up on the past two years since we last saw each other.
Before heading off to the Louisiades for two months, Chris and Gilli took us to Port Douglas for the day, It hosts a great Sunday market and apparently chain stores are not encouraged, so there is a great variety of shops that makes browsing pleasurable. I guess the store owners are not that fond of the yatchies who rarely buy anything because they do not have the space for it and realize very quickly they do not need it!!
We have booked into the marina for a month so that Ian can process his application for Australian citizenship. Chris and Gilli very kindly left us their car while they are in the Louisiades, so we will use our time here and the wonderful weather is wonderful to visit some of hinterland and explore to the north and south by car.