Lady Musgrave Island, 13/09/2008

This day will remain memorable for two reasons:

  • the diving; and
  • great dinner with Kevin on his boat.

Kevin took us around the fringing reef and showed us a great spot to dive. We motored over and dropped the anchor about 50 meters away.

We first went snorkeling just before low tide. Then, at low tide, I donned my scuba gear and we went back, me with scuba and Yvonne snorkelling. As I was scuba diving alone we stayed inside the lagoon in water up to 5 meters deep, always within easy snorkelling depth. It was great to stay down below though and I have lovely photos taken with my el-cheapo underwater camera from Hong Kong (I love EBay!). The photos speak for themselves – I need to do some research to add names to the fish…

Entrance to the hole in the reef where we snorkeled
Entrance to the hole in the reef where we snorkeled

Angelfish (and others) on reef
Angel Fish (and others) on reef

More fish...
More fish…

Trumpet Fish in warm water at the reef edge
Trumpet Fish in warm water at the reef edge

Awesome experience... more fish!
Awesome experience… more fish!

Rosslyn Bay to Lady Musgrave Island, 12/09/2008

We’re now at Lady Musgrave Island after a perfect overnight sail from Rosslyn Bay.

We had bought some cooked prawns and dressing as well as those lovely hot chips and aeoli from the Rosslyn Bay Marina restaurant – awesome dinner! I sailed through until 1AM when I woke Yvonne to give me a break. The autohelm (must think of a name) steered all night, but you still want a pair of eyes on deck! Just before I woke her I had signalled a fishing trawler that appeared to be on a collision course. I check his bearing with the hand-bearing compass over a period of about 15 minutes and it stayed nominally the same, so I flashed my head torch at him. He flashed back to acknowledge he’d seen me and turned onto a parallel course until we’d overtaken them (thanks!)

The rhumb line from Rosslyn Bay to Lady Musgrave was also not without obstacles, so we had to thread our course carefully. You couldn’t safely do this in the dark without the chartplotter and previous experience of the area, both of which served us well.

We motored into Lady Musgrave lagoon at around 11AM. I was tired but happy!

Lady Musgrave Island coral quay at sunset

Yvonne was speechless at the beauty of the place. That afternoon we went for a walk on the island. Note to self: take shoes next time! The beach is almost all coral shards: razor sharp and hell to walk on!

The beach at Lady Musgrave Island - take your shoes!

We saw amazing things while walking around the quay. The vegetation is unbelievably lush – very unusual for Australia. We also saw sharks and turtles as well as the Strawberry Land Hermit Crab (Coenobita perlatus) in the photo below.

Strawberry Land Hermit Crab (Coenobita perlatus) on Lady Musgrave Island, Great Barier Reef, Australia

Our neighbour in the anchorage, Kevin, kindly came out with his dinghy (and outboard) and towed us back to Sunny Spells.

Pearl Bay to Rosslyn Bay, 11/09/2008

Nor’ easterly breeze at last! We raced down to Rosslyn Bay today, flying the asymetric kite all day!

Anna has decided to jump ship and fly back to Brisbane as she can’t risk not being back for her next flight training course (she’s a student pilot in the RAAF). Yvonne was about to do the same but once she’d been able to make some phone calls she decided to stay at least until Hervey Bay.

We made Rosslyn Bay early enough so we could re-provision and we’ll be off before sunset for an overnight sail to Lady Musgrave Island, making full use of the fair winds blowing our way…

Rosslyn Bay Marina just before departure

Pearl Bay, 10/09/2008

Well, today was a short passage indeed! I weighed anchor at around 5:30AM and motored out through Strong Tide Passage at the turn of the high tide. As it was spring tide it was the ideal time to make the passage and it turned into a complete non event.

The south-easter was still blowing though and I was glad we hadn’t tried to make Pearl Bay the previous night.

My self-satisfaction was soon shattered however, when the starter-motor kicked in to the accompaniment of a very expensive howling noise. I killed the motor immediately and bore away under sail for Pearl Bay. There was no way we could sail straight into the south-easterly or enter the marina at Rosslyn Bay without an engine.

We sailed into the anchorage at Pearl Bay and dropped the anchor under sail – a very satisfying experience! Anna took the helm while I directed from the foredeck. We had ideal conditions for it, but it was still a great feeling to sail into the anchorage under full main and part furled genoa, turn into the wind, heave to and drop the hook while she drifted slowly astern. Our neighbour Graham, a yachtmaster/instructor was impressed enough that he came over in the dinghy later to invite us to drinks!

Pearl Bay anchorage, visited under duress, but enjoyed!

I took the opportunity to lubricate the ignition switch, which had swallowed a lot of sea water with all our beating into the breeze, and also replaced the transmission shift cable as it had become increasingly difficult to select reverse. I also installed a new alternator drive belt, just for good measure (the old one came with the boat…)!

I looked at the secondary diesel filter and, while I thought the colour of the diesel was pretty dodgy, I couldn’t get the little drain cock open, so ignored it.

We have just returned from a great evening sharing drinks with Graham and his two Hebrew backpacker crew, Ari and Ben. Ben and Ari wasted no time getting to know Anna and Yvonne, while Graham and I shared sailing war-stories…

This evening I used my new Degen 1103 HF/SSB receiver to listen to the HF weather and receive a weather fax – what a great setup for less than $80! The girls nattered on (as you do…) and we all felt rather at home!

Home away from home!