Cruising – Cape Gloucester to Cairns (Great Barrier Reef)
We left Cape Gloucester after Rendezvous 2014, with several other boats all going north. Our first stop was Cape Upstart where we all anchored and went ashore and cooked dinner over the fire with the crews from The Tardis and Irish Mist.
We moved on the next day to Cape Bowling Green where we had dinner aboard The Tardis with Helen and Graham. From there we went to Townsville. We got a good sail, catching and overtaking all the boats that left the bay before us! We eventually had to put a reef in the main sail as we were over powered and it was getting a bit uncomfortable.
We went into Breakwater Marina at Townsville and as we were berthing at the fuel berth our motor stopped. We managed to secure our lines and then we discovered the problem was a headsail sheet that had somehow ended up over board and wrapped around our prop… tight! We thought Dwayne would have to dive in to free it and were assured by the staff there, “that there were no crocs around… because all the sharks had eaten them!” Ha ha ha… only one not laughing was Dwayne. We cut the rope to take the pressure off and then we were able to get the rope free without anyone having to swim.
We stayed two nights in Townsville. We did some shopping, found a good deal on some clean skin wines, did the washing, put the good head sail back on, packed away the spare sail and had a schnity at the pub with Helen and Graham.
Breakwater Marina had a welcome barbecue for SICYC members that were heading north from the Rendezvous and we had a free burger and met some nice people. Some of the regulars were there also…. Helen, Graham, Irwin and George.
We left the following day after a glorious walk along The Strand at 0530.
We were very impressed with The Strand which has a hardwood boardwalk, local artwork, fitness stations, an old fort, plus an Aboriginal Trail with heaps of interpretive signage. There was so much information regarding the military and Aboriginal history of Townsville that it would have taken me all day to read it. It was fantastic.
Next stop was Magnetic Island where we anchored and went ashore for a look around and a drink at the pub. Great little place, instead of going directly back to Thorfinn we took the dinghy around to the other side of the island and found a nice beach for a swim. Dwayne once again gorged himself on oysters and I discovered it was a nudist beach! Lol
From there it was a short motor-sail to Orpheous Island where we put the dinghy in and had a snorkel.
Dwayne decided he wanted to keep moving to get to Hinchenbrook so he could put in the crab pot. There was no wind so we decided to tow the dinghy. We ran aground at the beginning of the Hinchinbrook Channel and Dwayne threw the boat into reverse, forgetting that we were towing the dinghy.
BANG! That is what we heard. Looking around we discovered the dinghy floating off with a big hole in one pontoon. Grabbing the boat hook Dwayne managed to get a hold of the dinghy while I went for a halyard. We tried to connect the halyard to the motor to stop it sinking. However, with the tide flowing at two knots and the boat hard aground and, going up and slamming back down, it was impossible to get the halyard attached so Dwayne had to jump in.
The dinghy overturned and the motor sunk. In the end we managed to get a couple of halyards on the dinghy and winched it aboard with only the loss of the motor cover [Bugger]. But the drama was not over yet. When we had ran aground the dinghy painter had wrapped around the prop pulling the dinghy under the yacht, hence putting a hole in it; we had to get under the boat to free the rope from the prop shaft… Dwayne had to jump back into the crocodile infested waters to cut the painter free from around the prop shaft. This was not simple in the murky water with a two knot current running and the boat aground slamming up and down. It took Dwayne about 20mins of diving down and cutting, diving down and cutting; finally the prop was clear.
Damaged dinghy and drowned motor aboard and the prop free, we pulled out the headsail and waited for the tide to come in enough for it to take us over the sandbar we were stuck on. It didn’t take long and we were on our way again.
We anchored about halfway up the channel. It was so peaceful and absolutely beautiful. We were surrounded by mountains on Hinchenbrook Island and the main land.
The following day we tried to get into Cardwell, hoping to get a repair kit to patch up the dinghy. Entering the channel we soon ran out of water and just managed to turn around and get out. The area is still silted up from the last cyclone. We were disappointed that we would not be able to go ashore at our next stop which was Dunk Island. We arrived at Dunk Island; it was a picture perfect Sunday and we discovered that everyone was ashore at the beach bar enjoying themselves.
So Dwayne and I poured ourselves rum and contemplated how we were going to get ashore. We could swim ashore. OK… I thought, it’s not that far, I’ll just get my snorkel gear on and swim like buggery. So we got in our bathers and readied our dry-bag with some clothes and our money. Just as we were going to take the plunge we saw someone returning to their boat. Dwayne hailed them and they generously dropped us to shore. Yay party time!
The resort had not reopened from the last cyclone and The Sunset Bar was literally a bar on the beach, under a marquee. (There was a food van doing great food). After a drink we had a walk and a look around.
The resort still displayed the damage that had rendered it useless.
We then headed back to the bar for the awesome prawns (they were the size of small crayfish!) and a couple of drinks. While I waited for our order Dwayne set off to befriend some yachties, with the hope of catching a ride back to our boat. He met Ross and Narelle off the catamaran ‘Alexis’.
We enjoyed a few drinks with them, most of them being the “last one” until the bar closed and they dropped us back to Thorfinn.
We decided to keep heading to Cairns because there was little we could do without the dinghy. It was another beautiful windless day (we had to motor) so we went out to Sudbury Cay.
We anchored there and went for a snorkel. It was beautiful. After a snorkel, we upped anchor and went to spend the night anchored off Fitzroy Island. We were disappointed we could not go ashore for a walk and a look-see, so enjoyed the view instead.
Finally we were in Cairns. Thorfinn’s homeport. This is only the second time Thorfinn has been home since she left sometime in the early 80’s. I will tell you all about our visit next up.
Travel Notes (updated August 2016)
AUD – Australian dollar written as $
The Strand is a 2.2km beachfront promenade of walkways and cycle paths, playgrounds and picnic spots, a water park and safe swimming areas. For more information about The Strand and the opening hours of the safe swimming areas visit the City of Townsville website – The Strand (Note: water park closed until end of 2016)
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