2014 July – Cairns to Cooktown

Posted by on July 31, 2014


Total Days Sailed : 10
Total Sailing time : 35h05m (2105 minutes)
Travelled distance : 340.363 km (183.781 nm)
Average Speed : 9.70 km/h (5.23 knots)
Peak Speed : 18.74 km/h (10.12 knots) on 2014/07/01

2014-07-01 - FROM Fitzroy Island TO Cairns

Trip start* : 2014/07/01 08:12:30 (*2014-06-30T22:12:30Z)
Trip end : 2014/07/01 11:52:04
Travelling Time : 2h59m (179 minutes)
Trip Duration : 3h39m (219 minutes)
Start Point : 145.987808,-16.929109
End Point : 145.784484,-16.926139
Straight-line Distance : 21.631 km (11.680 nm)
Travelled distance : 31.798 km (17.169 nm)
Average Speed : 10.65 km/h (5.75 knots)
Peak Speed : 18.74 km/h (10.12 knots)

What a sail! After a rolly night at Fitzroy Island and with the threat of a strong wind warning, we said “stuff it” and headed off to Cairns anyway. The conditions probably rated a second reef in the mainsail, but we powered along under one reef and flew along. There was a FLEET of ferries heading out to the island and the outer reefs, but we doubted the conditions on the day would be worthwhile.

2014-07-07 - FROM Cairns River TO Cairns Marina

Trip start* : 2014/07/07 08:56:23 (*2014-07-06T22:56:23Z)
Trip end : 2014/07/07 09:04:28
Trip Duration : 0h08m (8 minutes)
Start Point : 145.784301,-16.926330
End Point : 145.781982,-16.917480
Straight-line Distance : 1.014 km (0.547 nm)
Travelled distance : 1.172 km (0.632 nm)
Average Speed : 8.79 km/h (4.74 knots)
Peak Speed : 11.67 km/h (6.30 knots)

After a week anchored in the river, this is the day we headed into the marina for a week of ‘luxury’. You may wonder why we have bothered to show a trip of only one kilometre, however this important journey was the first time Colleen had parked the boat in a marina berth. It was a big berth to be honest, but she handled it with aplomb.


We were joined that evening by Colleen’s sister Debbie and the rest of her family.


2014-07-09 - FROM Cairns TO Cairns VIA Green Island

Trip start* : 2014/07/09 08:48:37 (*2014-07-08T22:48:37Z)
Trip end : 2014/07/09 18:16:57
Travelling Time : 4h29m (269 minutes)
Trip Duration : 9h28m (568 minutes)
Start Point : 145.781311,-16.917459
End Point : 145.781219,-16.917490
Straight-line Distance : 0.010 km (0.005 nm)
Travelled distance : 56.487 km (30.500 nm)
Average Speed : 12.59 km/h (6.80 knots)
Peak Speed : 15.41 km/h (8.32 knots)

This was a trip out to Green Island with the Verhoef clan. Bugger-all wind so the motors did most of the work, and we were unlucky enough to approach the island at low tide. With David at the helm keeping an eye on the depth indicator, what could possibly go wrong? Suddenly the crunch and the jolt. Oops.

Surprised, David killed the engines and looked at the depth. 2.5 metres?? Huh?? That would normally have the hull clear by just under 2 metres. Grabbing a mask, David jumped in to check, and found a bommie under the port hull with the starboard hull (where the depth sensor was) free and clear. Bummer. We had managed to lodge ourselves on top of the bommie and no amount of muscle or motor would budge it, so we settled in for a wait of a couple of hours until the tide lifted us off.

Taking advantage, everyone took turn swimming around the crystal-clear water and marvelled. This all took place only a few metres off the pier, so all the tourists were probably wondering what the hell we were doing there, and why the boat was on a lean.

Eventually the rising tide freed us, and we carefully motored around to a clearer area and dropped the pick. A bit more snorkling, and then David took Zak and Saskia out on the tender with a boogie board to see if he could get them up on a plane. Success!

Back to Cairns where Colleen parked the boat again.

On the Thursday, we all took a trip to Kuranda Village. This involved a bus trip out to Smithfield, a trip up the Skyrail, a visit to the village, and then a relaxing trip back down to Cairns on the Scenic Railway.

On the trip up on the Skyrail, there are a couple of stops where passengers dismount and can take the opportunity to move through the rainforest on a boardwalk. There is a discovery centre and lookouts, and it was nice and cool under the canopy among the trees.



When we got to the village, we wandered through the tourist-trap shops and resisted most efforts to lighten our wallets, however couldn’t resist the temptations of the lolly factory where they make all sorts of sugar-based treats. After a quick coffee, we went off to the Butterfly Sanctuary while the Verhoef’s visited the wildlife.


Butterfly’s are one of Colleen’s favourite little miracles, so she loved seeing the huge numbers of butterflies and moths. The Verhoef kids had some great photos taken with the Koala! Really nice.

We had a quick lunch on the grass, and as the time for the last departing train (3:30pm) approached, the village quickly thinned of people and we had to make a move to make the train. The train featured older carriages and travelled down the historic rail line at a leisurely pace. The efforts of the builders of the line were epic as they tunnelled and built a fantastic route with very basic equipment.


2014-07-15 - FROM Cairns Marina TO Cairns River VIA Fuel Depot

Trip start* : 2014/07/15 10:12:18 (*2014-07-15T00:12:18Z)
Trip end : 2014/07/15 16:21:28
Travelling Time : 0h28m (28 minutes)
Trip Duration : 6h09m (369 minutes)
Start Point : 145.781204,-16.917400
End Point : 145.784362,-16.926179
Straight-line Distance : 1.032 km (0.557 nm)
Travelled distance : 2.548 km (1.376 nm)
Average Speed : 5.46 km/h (2.94 knots)
Peak Speed : 11.08 km/h (5.98 knots)

Back to the river. Less noise but more mozzies.

2014-07-21 - FROM Cairns TO Double Island

Trip start* : 2014/07/21 10:53:29 (*2014-07-21T00:53:29Z)
Trip end : 2014/07/21 14:51:29
Trip Duration : 3h58m (238 minutes)
Start Point : 145.784255,-16.926359
End Point : 145.677398,-16.726669
Straight-line Distance : 24.947 km (13.470 nm)
Travelled distance : 38.915 km (21.012 nm)
Average Speed : 9.81 km/h (5.29 knots)
Peak Speed : 13.42 km/h (7.24 knots)

Finally after the better part of three weeks, we started off again. David had been waiting for a part for the anchor winch but we finally became sick of waiting and organised for it to be posted to Cooktown.

2014-07-22 - FROM Double Island TO Low Islands Reef

Trip start* : 2014/07/22 09:17:41 (*2014-07-21T23:17:41Z)
Trip end : 2014/07/22 16:17:10
Trip Duration : 6h59m (419 minutes)
Start Point : 145.677581,-16.727069
End Point : 145.562362,-16.381149
Straight-line Distance : 40.377 km (21.802 nm)
Travelled distance : 48.743 km (26.319 nm)
Average Speed : 6.97 km/h (3.76 knots)
Peak Speed : 11.99 km/h (6.47 knots)

David actually managed to land a Spanish Mackerel on this leg, but it was a baby and we had to toss it back. He hooked a bigger one, but it bit through the line just before getting to the boat.

Low Islands is a tourist-stop about 7 miles north-east of Port Douglas. At least three boat-fulls of tourists turn up every day to snorkel around. (We found out later that on one boat at least, they pay $250 each for the day!)

We had a great snorkel ourselves, although after seeing some sharks circling the boat the night before, Colleen was a bit nervous.

Bravely we hit the shark-infested waters…


And saw and swam with a turtle!!


And “calmly” watched as a shark swam right by us.


There was actually a much bigger shark that slipped by as well, but David was too slow on the shutter.

2014-07-25 - FROM Low Islands Reef TO Port Douglas

Trip start* : 2014/07/25 08:32:27 (*2014-07-24T22:32:27Z)
Trip end : 2014/07/25 10:20:07
Trip Duration : 1h47m (107 minutes)
Start Point : 145.563705,-16.382200
End Point : 145.455871,-16.494180
Straight-line Distance : 16.950 km (9.152 nm)
Travelled distance : 18.177 km (9.815 nm)
Average Speed : 10.19 km/h (5.50 knots)
Peak Speed : 12.79 km/h (6.90 knots)

We sailed across to Port Douglas and found a place upriver to drop the pick. The mozzies immediately swarmed aboard and were absolutely feral! Flyswat and flyspray in hand, we eventually cleared them out but the bodies were scattered all over the boat. All the time, tourist punts were going past, and even a small paddle-wheel punt packed with tourists gave Molly something to bark at.


Next day we took a bus trip to the Mossman Gorge. Another excellent rainforest experience, with comfortable well-made trails. We both took a swim in the gorge, and although a bit cold, the water was clear (and sweet-tasting!).


2014-07-27 - FROM Port Douglas TO Cape Tribulation

Trip start* : 2014/07/27 08:31:59 (*2014-07-26T22:31:59Z)
Trip end : 2014/07/27 14:31:24
Travelling Time : 5h10m (310 minutes)
Trip Duration : 5h59m (359 minutes)
Start Point : 145.456192,-16.494209
End Point : 145.472259,-16.073690
Straight-line Distance : 46.791 km (25.265 nm)
Travelled distance : 54.133 km (29.229 nm)
Average Speed : 10.47 km/h (5.65 knots)
Peak Speed : 16.01 km/h (8.64 knots)

Arriving at Cape Tribulation, we could see that the swell was definitely going to be an issue, however with no better option we decided to tough it out. A heavy hand on the throttle combined with some really solid sand saw us snap our bridle-rope, but not an expensive thing to fix and would give David a chance to try out his new splicing fids waiting for us in Cooktown.

We booked a session on the Jungle Surfer, but unfortunately had to wait until later the following day for an opening. We spent an uncomfortable night on the boat, and had to get off early the next morning before we lost our breakfast. We sat on the shore and happily read until lunchtime when we walked into town for lunch. Another spot of reading as we waited for our transfer.

The Jungle Surfer was fantastic. You start off by being lifted into the trees by a device called “The Human Hamster Wheel” using people-power.


Then you move through the forest on five or so zip-lines. Everything is super-safe and the staff are well-drilled, and after going up the mast on the bosun’s chair, it was a doddle. They even had a line where you were encouraged to do it upside-down, and everyone on our tour managed it.


A MUCH calmer night followed on the boat.

2014-07-29 - FROM Cape Tribulation TO Hope Island

Trip start* : 2014/07/29 07:54:38 (*2014-07-28T21:54:38Z)
Trip end : 2014/07/29 12:16:20
Trip Duration : 4h21m (261 minutes)
Start Point : 145.472183,-16.074029
End Point : 145.456375,-15.729560
Straight-line Distance : 38.340 km (20.702 nm)
Travelled distance : 43.673 km (23.581 nm)
Average Speed : 10.03 km/h (5.42 knots)
Peak Speed : 15.34 km/h (8.28 knots)

We left early for the run to Hope Island. The passage between the east and west island looked tight on the chart, but in reality was no trouble at all. Approaching the anchorage with all eyes on the water ahead as there were a lot of coral patches around. Anchored securely, David enjoyed a quick snorkel and discussed his hopeless fishing skills with a couple of fellow-cruisers. Lex and Jennie popped over later with a barracuda, and we joined them on the beach for sundowners with Annie and Ron.

The following day was pretty slack, however we spent a nice evening on the island as the sun set and the stars came out. It’s a tough life as a cruiser.

2014-07-31 - FROM Hope Island TO Cooktown

Trip start* : 2014/07/31 07:34:19 (*2014-07-30T21:34:19Z)
Trip end : 2014/07/31 12:21:04
Trip Duration : 4h46m (286 minutes)
Start Point : 145.456100,-15.730530
End Point : 145.248641,-15.459771
Straight-line Distance : 37.418 km (20.204 nm)
Travelled distance : 44.713 km (24.143 nm)
Average Speed : 9.38 km/h (5.06 knots)
Peak Speed : 13.50 km/h (7.29 knots)

Another early departure saw us get into Cooktown just after lunch. Cooktown is the last town before the cape, and we had some mail to pick up, top up the tanks, and get ready for an even higher level of self-sufficiency. There were lots of four wheel drives and big RV’s in town. Possibly this is the end of the line for many of the RV’s as it’s dirt tracks from here on.

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