2014 August – Cooktown to Margaret Bay

Posted by on August 29, 2014


Total Days Sailed : 12
Total Sailing time : 65h38m (3938 minutes)
Travelled distance : 657.651 km (355.103 nm)
Average Speed : 10.02 km/h (5.41 knots)
Peak Speed : 19.61 km/h (10.59 knots) on 2014/08/06

While we had not intended to stay in Cooktown, we decided to make the most of our time by checking out as much of the town as possible. We walked to the James Cook Museum situated in the old Sisters of Mercy convent. This is a fantastic museum with a huge variety of exhibits, from military, religious and personal histories. A must see for all visitors! After having a wander around the exhibits, we were looking around the foyer and a lovely volunteer at the museum offered to drive us around town.

Colleen at the Cooktown Lighthouse

Colleen at the Cooktown Lighthouse

We visited the light house up Grassy Hill and the new ($11 million) category 5 cyclone rated building where the show was to be held the next day, and ended up at the botanical gardens where he left us to wander around the information centre exhibits and make our own way back to the boat.

On Saturday we headed for the show. The Cooktown show is your typical country show with competitions in arts, crafts, fruit and veg as well as baking. We had a lovely Devonshire tea and chatted to some land-lubber couples doing the grey nomad thing. We also picked up some bridle-making supplies from the local fishing shop. David was able to put his new ‘fids’ to good use to splice up the ropes.

2014-08-05 - FROM Cooktown TO Cape Bedford

Trip start : 2014/08/05 11:18:16 (Adjusted Local) (2014-08-05T01:18:16Z GPS (Greenwich) Time)
Trip end : 2014/08/05 14:18:44
Trip Duration : 3h00m (180 minutes)
Start Point : 145.248611,-15.459831
End Point : 145.330581,-15.228550
Straight-line Distance : 27.177 km (14.674 nm)
Travelled distance : 34.200 km (18.466 nm)
Average Speed : 11.40 km/h (6.15 knots)
Peak Speed : 16.12 km/h (8.70 knots)

We were up and ready for our early morning refuelling, but unfortunately we found that the trawler we thought was refuelling and moving off had booked the spot until 1pm. The dock staff assumed we could fit on the dock as well as the trawler however there just was not enough room to manoeuvre with another trawler on the dock next door. With the prospect of having to wait hours we decided to get the jerry cans out and ferry the contents to the tanks.

The fuel tanks only took 30 litres but the water was very low. Unfortunately, it was 11:30am before we left Cooktown behind. We had planned to make for Lizard Island but because of the delays that was out of the question and we dropped anchor at Cape Bedford. Colleen had very little sleep with the boat rolling in the swell and the roar of the wind. David however, slept like a baby!

2014-08-06 - FROM Cape Bedford TO Lizard Island

Trip start : 2014/08/06 07:34:23 (Adjusted Local) (2014-08-05T21:34:23Z GPS (Greenwich) Time)
Trip end : 2014/08/06 12:40:00
Trip Duration : 5h05m (305 minutes)
Start Point : 145.330642,-15.228390
End Point : 145.452453,-14.661021
Straight-line Distance : 64.431 km (34.790 nm)
Travelled distance : 66.530 km (35.923 nm)
Average Speed : 13.08 km/h (7.06 knots)
Peak Speed : 19.61 km/h (10.59 knots)

We had a very quick sail to Lizard Island – our top speed was 10.5 knots, average was about 7, yeeha!! This is a busy bay with something like 15-20 boats at any one time, with someone telling us he was there when there were 64 boats!! That may have been a little crowded.

We did lots of walking around the island both alone and in groups. One of the cruisers organised a group trip to the research station which is on the other side of the island. We went snorkelling a couple of times around the local reefs and saw our first Angelfish in the wild as well as Nemo and his Dad.

We, along with another couple, were invited to take a trip on a 59 foot Perry sailing catamaran with the hope of going to the nearby reef and maybe catching a fish. Well, we could not anchor near enough to the reef and the windy conditions (around 30 knots) made it uncomfortable. This was more than compensated in the number of fish jumping on the end of our resident fish catching expert Andy’s line. At times we barely got the one fish on board when the next one was on the hook. In all we caught several mackerel, a coral trout, tuna and a trevally that we sent back. David got a lesson in fishing with a handline as well as how to bleed and fillet the fish from Andy. Once divided up, we had enough fish for around 5-6 meals.

View of XTsea in the bay at Lizard Island

View of XTsea in the bay at Lizard Island

The beautiful but deadly Lionfish

The beautiful but deadly Lionfish

Nemo hiding, whilst his Dad is puffed up to look threatening

Nemo hiding, whilst his Dad is puffed up to look threatening

Another highlight of the bay was the HUGE groper that lived there. We tied a fish frame to the back of a boat and saw this monster rise up and inhale the thing. Incredible size.

2014-08-16 - FROM Lizard Island TO Lizard Island VIA The Cod Hole

Trip start : 2014/08/16 08:23:51 (Adjusted Local) (2014-08-15T22:23:51Z GPS (Greenwich) Time)
Trip end : 2014/08/16 17:10:00
Travelling Time : 6h26m (386 minutes)
Trip Duration : 8h46m (526 minutes)
Start Point : 145.452606,-14.661411
End Point : 145.451919,-14.662820
Straight-line Distance : 0.173 km (0.093 nm)
Travelled distance : 53.580 km (28.931 nm)
Average Speed : 8.32 km/h (4.49 knots)
Peak Speed : 13.31 km/h (7.19 knots)

As the forecast was for light winds, we headed east to the outer reef (cod hole). We had a great sail out, picked up a mooring and went snorkelling. WOW!! The visibility was amazing with the bottom 30 metres below looking like it was only an arm away!

View from below of Colleen enjoying the Cod Hole

View from below of Colleen enjoying the Cod Hole

A shark getting a bit too close for comfort.  Colleen had no idea it was there.

A shark getting a bit too close for comfort. Colleen had no idea it was there.

We then headed back to Lizard Island for one last night in Mrs.Watson’s Bay.

2014-08-17 - FROM Lizard Island TO Howick Island

Trip start : 2014/08/17 07:45:36 (Adjusted Local) (2014-08-16T21:45:36Z GPS (Greenwich) Time)
Trip end : 2014/08/17 15:09:27
Trip Duration : 7h23m (443 minutes)
Start Point : 145.452346,-14.662720
End Point : 144.953659,-14.497100
Straight-line Distance : 56.737 km (30.635 nm)
Travelled distance : 59.399 km (32.073 nm)
Average Speed : 8.04 km/h (4.34 knots)
Peak Speed : 10.63 km/h (5.74 knots)

A slow uneventful trip. The upside to very little wind was that this anchorage is best in light conditions.

2014-08-18 - FROM Howick Island TO Ninian Bay

Trip start : 2014/08/18 08:22:45 (Adjusted Local) (2014-08-17T22:22:45Z GPS (Greenwich) Time)
Trip end : 2014/08/18 12:53:05
Trip Duration : 4h30m (270 minutes)
Start Point : 144.953735,-14.497051
End Point : 144.606918,-14.357311
Straight-line Distance : 40.451 km (21.842 nm)
Travelled distance : 45.364 km (24.495 nm)
Average Speed : 10.08 km/h (5.44 knots)
Peak Speed : 12.47 km/h (6.73 knots)

We set off for Cape Melville around 8:30am. We were travelling OK and were approaching Ninian Bay around lunch time, when we heard a familiar voice on the radio. Erica from Ovedie contacted us from Ninian Bay and we decided to head there to say hi. After hearing Andy rave about the great time he had fishing, crabbing and oyster hunting, we decided to stay and check it out ourselves. We would have to wait for tomorrow’s low tide for the best conditions. We enjoyed a lovely evening sharing sundowners with Erica and Andy.

2014-08-19 - FROM Ninian Bay TO Bathurst Bay

Trip start : 2014/08/19 13:17:48 (Adjusted Local) (2014-08-19T03:17:48Z GPS (Greenwich) Time)
Trip end : 2014/08/19 16:39:59
Trip Duration : 3h22m (202 minutes)
Start Point : 144.607147,-14.357291
End Point : 144.479949,-14.194480
Straight-line Distance : 22.707 km (12.261 nm)
Travelled distance : 33.660 km (18.175 nm)
Average Speed : 9.99 km/h (5.39 knots)
Peak Speed : 16.00 km/h (8.64 knots)

Before we headed off to Bathurst Bay, David went fishing while Colleen decided to bake some bread. David was back an hour or so later without a fish. He said he could see the buggers but could not entice any on his line. After a fortifying cup of coffee, David once more went out this time oyster hunting. He did not come back empty handed this time but with a container load of the biggest oysters we’d ever seen. By the time we left not only were the oysters and bread sorted but Colleen had made some lunch, and yogurt as well as done the dishes.

We had an uneventful sail to Bathurst Bay and settled in for the night.. after a feed of oysters of course.

2014-08-21 - FROM Bathurst Bay TO Denham Island

Trip start : 2014/08/21 08:20:00 (Adjusted Local) (2014-08-20T22:20:00Z GPS (Greenwich) Time)
Trip end : 2014/08/21 12:24:47
Trip Duration : 4h04m (244 minutes)
Start Point : 144.480209,-14.194810
End Point : 144.244308,-14.223211
Straight-line Distance : 25.623 km (13.835 nm)
Travelled distance : 29.871 km (16.129 nm)
Average Speed : 7.34 km/h (3.96 knots)
Peak Speed : 10.43 km/h (5.63 knots)

We left today in search of an internet connection. We had been informed that under the right conditions we might get some service near the Rocky Islets, but today was not one of those days.

We had arranged to meet Ovedie at Denham Island for some more oyster hunting at low tide. We arrived and launched the tender straight away to check out the oysters. WOW!! There were oysters a plenty, although they were not as big as the ones at Ninian Bay!

Unfortunately, in our oyster hunting haze we clipped the tender on a sharp rock and put a small hole in it. As this takes a while to repair, we decided to stay at Denham for the night and enjoyed Erica and Andy’s company once again for sundowners.

Our tender ready for repair on the foredeck.

Our tender ready for repair on the foredeck.

2014-08-22 - FROM Denham Island TO Flinders Island

Trip start : 2014/08/22 09:33:13 (Adjusted Local) (2014-08-21T23:33:13Z GPS (Greenwich) Time)
Trip end : 2014/08/22 10:52:13
Trip Duration : 1h19m (79 minutes)
Start Point : 144.244491,-14.223340
End Point : 144.248382,-14.163721
Straight-line Distance : 6.642 km (3.586 nm)
Travelled distance : 9.521 km (5.141 nm)
Average Speed : 7.23 km/h (3.90 knots)
Peak Speed : 9.87 km/h (5.33 knots)

We headed towards Flinders Island under a light wind. Once in the Owen Channel we followed Ovedie into a small channel through the reef. Once the boat was secured, we set about our tasks; Colleen doing the washing and David filling the water tanks (this took most of the afternoon).

This spot will go down in history as the place where David caught his first unassisted legal length fish that we could eat!!! Unfortunately, we were so excited we forgot to take a photo. It was a nice Blue Spotted Coral Trout, and it was delicious!

Nice quite anchorage at Flinders Island

Nice quiet anchorage at Flinders Island

2014-08-26 - FROM Flinders Island TO Morris Island

Trip start : 2014/08/26 06:38:48 (Adjusted Local) (2014-08-25T20:38:48Z GPS (Greenwich) Time)
Trip end : 2014/08/26 17:33:44
Trip Duration : 10h54m (654 minutes)
Start Point : 144.248458,-14.163970
End Point : 143.721603,-13.492441
Straight-line Distance : 93.870 km (50.685 nm)
Travelled distance : 111.769 km (60.350 nm)
Average Speed : 10.25 km/h (5.53 knots)
Peak Speed : 18.01 km/h (9.72 knots)

With a strong-wind warning promised, we lifted the anchor early to make the long trip to Morris Island. By about 9 o’clock the wind had dropped away to only a zephyr, and our trip planner had us arriving at Morris Island at 6am the following morning. The iron mainsail was turned on and we motored for a couple of hours.

Sails flapping.  Strong Wind Warning?

Sails flapping. Strong Wind Warning?

The wind eventually started to pick up and by the afternoon we were sailing along at 7-8 knots. We arrived at Morris Island around 5:30pm and went for a walk around the island.

2014-08-27 - FROM Morris Island TO LLoyd Island

Trip start : 2014/08/27 06:16:54 (Adjusted Local) (2014-08-26T20:16:54Z GPS (Greenwich) Time)
Trip end : 2014/08/27 15:02:48
Trip Duration : 8h45m (525 minutes)
Start Point : 143.721588,-13.492361
End Point : 143.394348,-12.756370
Straight-line Distance : 89.181 km (48.154 nm)
Travelled distance : 98.790 km (53.342 nm)
Average Speed : 11.29 km/h (6.09 knots)
Peak Speed : 17.04 km/h (9.20 knots)

We had another early morning start and thanks to the winds from late yesterday staying strong we had a very pleasant sail. We were about half way when David caught a fish!!! Molly was as excited as us and was barking madly. Colleen tied her up while David set about bleeding and then filleting the fish. We did remember to take a photo this time!

Spanish Mackerel. 110cm. Yum!

Spanish Mackerel. 110cm. Yum!

At Lloyd Island we found that we had phone and internet connection!! We were not sure how long this would last, so we caught up with as many family and friends as possible (as well as this blog).

2014-08-28 - FROM Lloyd Island TO Portland Roads VIA Lockhart River

Trip start : 2014/08/28 08:03:24 (Adjusted Local) (2014-08-27T22:03:24Z GPS (Greenwich) Time)
Trip end : 2014/08/28 13:29:29
Travelling Time : 3h14m (194 minutes)
Trip Duration : 5h26m (326 minutes)
Start Point : 143.394165,-12.756421
End Point : 143.406753,-12.594640
Straight-line Distance : 18.040 km (9.741 nm)
Travelled distance : 36.441 km (19.676 nm)
Average Speed : 11.27 km/h (6.08 knots)
Peak Speed : 16.01 km/h (8.64 knots)

Lloyd Island is only a few miles north of the Aboriginal settlement near the Lockhart River. We were running low on a few things such as dog food and coffee (!!) so we motor-sailed over and David road his bike the 2-3 Km to the settlement for supplies. He returned with 3 bags of groceries costly the princely sum of $100! Wow, glad we didn’t need to fully restock.

Our sail to Portland Roads was uneventful and we arrived with plenty of daylight. This was fortunate as the anchor winch was giving us some issues. David had it pulled apart, serviced and reinstalled it well before dark. We will see if it is fixed when we up-anchor.

2014-08-31 - FROM Portland Roads TO Margaret Bay

Trip start : 2014/08/31 08:31:33 (Adjusted Local) (2014-08-30T22:31:33Z UTC)
Trip end : 2014/08/31 16:08:05
Trip Duration : 7h36m (456 minutes)
Start Point : 143.406967,-12.594611
End Point : 143.207214,-11.960420
Straight-line Distance : 73.783 km (39.839 nm)
Travelled distance : 78.521 km (42.398 nm)
Average Speed : 10.33 km/h (5.57 knots)
Peak Speed : 16.00 km/h (8.64 knots)

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