Monday July 7

Said goodbye to Cairns and Colin and Anne from Annacol

Fuel dock appointment at 9.00am then off to explore Green Island and some of the outer reefs before heading to Port Douglass to meet up with friends on the weekend. Passed Golden Shadow on the way out

She is the support boat or toy box ( shadow boat in supper yacht lingo) for her owners personal motor yacht. She is number 60 in the worlds biggest private boats and her mothership is number 30. She carries all the bigger water toys and dive equipment including a hyperbaric chamber. Her owner is a Saudi Prince.

The breeze filled in half way out so we had an easy sail under Genoa. We went into the jetty and lagoon area but didn't like it as too many dark patches of coral. So we motored out again and went right around the north side and worked our way in through the coral heads to a lovely area of clear sand but still quite a way off the island.

Spent the afternoon lazing on the beach and wandering around with all the hundreds of other tourists. There is a nice resort hotel on the island and lots of day trippers.

Tuesday July 8

Quite a rolly night as the wind went to the west. Waited for the sun to get a bit higher before leaving as it is hard to see the coral heads when the sun is low. Fortunately the tide was up. We headed for Mickealmas Cay only 15 Nm away through Lugger Chanel , a narrow buoyed Chanel through the reefs.

Caught a nice Spotted Mackeral on the way.

Good karma today, a yacht left a public mooring at Mickealmas Cay just as we arrived so we picked it up. The weather was calm and beautiful over the next 2 days so we enjoyed lots of snorkelling and paddle boarding.

The Cay is a bird sanctuary with a small beach area roped off for humans. The birds seemed to understand this and become quite territorial if you venture into their space. Under the boat we had regular visits from the resident Bat Fish. The Spotted Mackeral was a bit of a disappointment as it was a bit mushy. Lovely late afternoon light.

Met David and Andrea off Diomedea a Van de Stadt 48. Great people with a wealth of cruising experience. They joined us for Sundowners which extended to dinner, as it does. They have recently circumnavigated NZ and are now heading to Indo with the Sail 2 Indonesia Rally if it ever gets organised.

Thursday July 10

A light SW was blowing as we departed Michealmas Cay and headed for Low Islets 26 Nm away. We had only cover 10 Nm when the wind died out completely. Motored in and found a vacant public mooring again.

Nice sheltered little bay with a classic tropical island which has a white lighthouse with a red cupola in the middle, green tropical Forrest surrounded by white sandy beaches.

Once settled in we were checked out by the resident Bat Fish again but this time we also had a visit from a large reef shark.

We took the SUP's to shore and paddled over 4 more of these sharks. Suddenly snorkelling didn't seem so attractive any more. Cute little island with a weather station, historical info boards and 2 houses used by volunteer caretakers.

Bad news came in via email. Darwin's Cullen Bay Marina only had a berth 7.1m wide available. Bummer! We are 7.3 m. That stuffs up everthing, but does it? Pulled out the file of boat drawings and worked out that maybe due to our hull flair we might just fit into 7.1m. Emailed Cullen Bay to hold the berth untill we had a chance to do some measurements in at Port Douglas Marina.

Friday July 11

Happy 82nd birthday Dad!

Strong wind warning today so we will sit tight and have a book work and BAS day. In Lea's words ” not only do we fix the boat in exotic locations we do boring, frustrating, shitty book work in exotic places”.

Once my BAS was done I got on the phone to ring around Darwin looking for hardstand alternatives with no joy. Sent an email to the Kimberley Coast Cruising Yacht Club with a request for help re berthing. We know there are lots of private berths in Cullen Bay but how to find them?

We also discussed and agreed on Plan B which was to return to Nellie Bay Marina on Magnetic Island by early September then fly to Darwin to pick up Karen and John's vehicle as planned. The downsides of this plan were a difficult fight back South against the SE Trade Winds and then running the gauntlet with possible cyclones next year to get to Darwin early enough to fit in our Kimberley trip as well as join the Sail Indonesia Rally.

Saturday 12th July

Up early to move into Port Douglas Marina. Away by 0730 and had a good sail under reefed Main and Genoa hard on the wind in 15-18 knots SSE. Drove along nicely around 8.5 knots untill the wind died and swung around near the land and so we had to work hard for the last few miles.

Arrived at Port Douglas at high tide and rush hour. All the tourist boats were heading out as we made our way in to the little river. Had a bit of a cruise up the river for a look see then went and parked in our allocated berth.

Once tied up we washed the boat then pulled out the tape measure, grabbed a suitable 4m long piece of wood that happened to be lying around the marina and a plumb bob. After half an hour we reckoned we were between 6.8 and 6.9m maximum width at pontoon level. Unfortunately not enough to allow for fenders and plunging in a storm. Too much risk of damage. No go! Looks like Plan B.

Went for a walk

We both fell for Port Douglas. Happening little place with great restaurants and cafe's everywhere. Back at the boat we found the tide had gone out, leaving GL and many other boats sitting in and on the mud.

This is the first and only marina we have been into that leaves you on the bottom at low tide. We were not even warned so when we got back all the ropes were drum tight as the boat had not dropped with the pontoon. We measured the water depth at 1/2 meter. Not happy Jan! At least we were better off than some of the monos with fin keels who were starting to lean over. Admittedly these were the highest and lowest tides of the year due to a new term we learned ” super moon”. Where the moons orbit brings it as close to the earth as it ever gets.

The marina had just been dredged too. I don't think I'd be very happy with the contractors as they had not dredged out the pens only the access lanes.

Met up with Jim and Chris for afternoon drinks onboard then off to try out one of the many restaurants in town followed by some live music at one of the pubs.

Sunday July 13

2 loads of washing and a trip to the market for fresh vegies all completed by 0830. The market was great with lots of high quality crafty stuff.

Met up with Jim & Chris and drove up to Mossman Gorge. Very well set up and we thoroughly enjoyed the walking tracks.





Then off to Daintree Villiage for lunch. The Daintree river was quite disappointing and not what we expected

Across the Daintree River heading for Cape Tribulation

Lookout over the Daintree River Mouth

We went as far as Alexander Bay before turning around.

Monday July 14

Went for our first run since Townsville. Lea's Achilles all ok. More washing then fill the water tanks and flush out the saildrive legs in case any mid was stuck in them. Off for a final coffee with Jim & Chris. Picked up some pies for lunch on board to satisfy another of Lea's cravings. Back at the boat we said our goodbyes then headed back out to Low Isles to rendezvous with Annacol. Very boisterous and bouncy ride out.

We had had numerous emails from KCCYC members as they tried to wrangle things around to get us a berth but nothing suited our needs. When we got an email back from Nellie Bay confirming a berth at a great price ($6000 cheaper than Cullan Bay for 6 months), we resigned to take it. Not 10 minutes later, as I was drafting our acceptance, another email came through from Cullen Bay Marina; a catamaran berth owner had decided to go sailing for 12 months and wanted his berth let and so it was ours if we wanted it. Horrible price but beggars can't be choosy. So Darwin is all back on again subject to acceptance of contracts. Yea! I was really dreading the sail back south.

Annacol turned up late afternoon so we headed over for celebratory drinks.

Tuesday 15th July

Lay day at Low Islets as a strong wind warning is current. As it turned out the wind died off and sun came out and we should have gone. But there's always tomorrow and at least I've had the time to get the blog up to date and clean up the port bilge after overfilling the deisel tank.