September 2011 - Page 2

The 2011 Cairns Busker Festival

We happened to be in town during the 2011 Cairns Busker Festival. I was surprised at how much the kids enjoyed these entertainers and also at how good they were. In fact the kids even wanted to go see the same performers over again. It was great fun as it was outdoors and relatively inexpensive for a family of five. For some reason we kept being picked as the chosen audience members to participate with the busker! Next time we need to sit farther back. (That is Cari in the blue shirt, throwing a cup, saucer and a spoon to the busker. He was on a 6 foot unicycle and with one foot he was balancing the saucer, cup and spoon one at a time, that he just caught from Cari on his foot, while still cycling with the other foot and tossing the item onto his head!!!)

One other neat type of art that I had never heard of before is called pavement art - and there is even an international pavement artist. Her name is Ulla Taylor. She was on the ground painting with chalk for hours on end every single day. She made beautful pictures but it was kind of sad to think that as soon as it rains, it will all disappear.

After an hour or so of practice. Can you guess? Did the boomerang come back or did it take off and land on the grass. Drum roll please........................The boomerang...CAME BACK!!

Now we just have to practice catching it.

Cairns to Port Douglas - 39 nm

We had a very relaxing sail, north up the coast, flying the spinnaker in 10 knots of breeze. We caught a good sized spotted mackeral, first time we had ever seen this fish. We looked through our fish book until we found it. It had very white flesh and was very delicious. We noticed at one of the restaurants later that night their premier dish was a plate of spotted mackeral with some type of fancy salad for $40.00 Aus ($45.00 Cdn). We probably ate $350 worth of fish just for lunch!! Always saving money, we are.

Standing on the L'Esplanade, Cairns, Australia

We were at low tide, going through the channel markers to enter the harbour, the water went down to 5 feet, we kept going and water got a bit deeper. There was not much place to anchor down the river, once past the pile moorings, there was one boat anchored after another so we called the marina and thankfully they had room for us for a night.

Pic: There is shallow and then there is shallow!

We enjoyed a great walk (actually skateboard/longboard, we never got into surfing, like planned-- so in Cairns, Chris bought himself a new toy - a longboard and it is really fun) into town, past the old court house, stopping to see the Island Point Lighthouse, to the scenic lookout, then down some steps to 4-mile beach. The beach looked like so much fun for surfing and boogey boarding but then I saw this sign. So I wasn't that troubled that we really didn't have that much time to spend at the beach.

Chris and I thought we would take this rare opportunity to go out for an adult dinner, we walked around town, being rejected from each and every restaurant that we tried to enter, without a reservation, we were out of luck. We are here on the busiest weekend of the year. Australians in this area are on school holidays this week and everybody comes to Port Douglas for vacation, to hang out on 4 mile beach and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. We finally found a take-out Thai restaurant where we could get something to eat. Chris ran to the bottle shop (liquor store) bought a nice bottle of Australian Pino Gris and we sat outside on the esplanade watching the crowds mill by.

Two of the restaurants were taken up by wedding parties. We had seen one bride earlier in the day at the classic picturesque church called St. Mary's by the Sea. The bride was looking very fashionable in very high heels and a short white wedding dress.

We were luckily here for a Sunday where they have their famous Sunday market. We got up early and paroused the many stalls selling tropical fruits, handmade arts and crafts, tie dyed shirts, handmade soap, wood carved bowls, hand bags and purses made from recycled items. The only thing we bought was some local Australian coffee and some homemade chocolate. We will see how this coffee compares to our very yummy Tanna Coffee.

Port Douglas to Low Islets - 9.5 nm

We wanted to leave Port Douglas in the early afternoon so we would have time to do our first snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, and also go ashore to have some beach time. We turned both engines on, untied all the dock lines and didn't move an inch. We looked behind and saw just mud being stirred up. We were on the bottom!!!! It was pretty funny. After retying the lines, we headed out for another walk around town. Two hours later, we untied the lines with 3 feet below the depth sounder and headed for Low Islets.

The Low Islets were named by James Cook in 1770. It was the first place to have a scientific study of the reef in 1928. The lighthouse has been here since 1878. For a family of five to take one of the catamarans out to Low Islets from Port Douglas would cost us $500.00 so we do save money everyday!! Unfortunatley, by the time we got here and found the last remaining mooring ball it was too late to go snorkelling and visit the beach but the kids had a hoot feeding these huge fish after dinner that came up behind the boat. I think they were long-fin spade fish. They were so eager for some of our pita bread that when they stuck their head up the kids could pet them!

Low Islets to Hope Island - 42.39nm

There was no wind today, so we motor sailed with the spinnaker the whole day - too bad, but it was still a lovely sunny day.

We motor-sailed by the Endeavour Reef, named because during its voyage, Captain Cook’s Endeavour was damaged when it struck this part of the Great Barrier Reef in June 1770. In an effort to float it off the reef by

reducing weight, Cook ordered six cannons and other heavy items thrown overboard. On the charts he made, Cook recorded the location of this incident (possibly for later recovery or perhaps simply because he kept detailed records of all aspects of his voyages). In 1969 researchers used a magnetometer to scan the reef in the area shown on Cook’s charts. The six cast iron cannons were discovered very close to where Cook had indicated, invisible under two centuries of coral growth.Underwater explosives were used to free the cannons from the coral. The cannons are on display at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Both of the parks mooring balls had already been taken we anchored in very clear water. We were finally going to have our first swim in Australia, and on the Great Barrier Reef to boot, so putting crocodiles, poisenous sea snakes, box jellyfish and sharks out of my mind, we all dove in and swam over to the reef.

We finally replaced our Olympus underwater camera with a new Lumix Panasonic so we were able to take some underwater pictures. Hopefully this new camera will not leak the first time we use it.

Hope Island has 3 camping sites on shore, we walked around the island, played a game of bocce ball and enjoyed the white sand beach.

Hope Island to Lizard Island - 45.45nm

We had a beautfiul downwind sail, inside the reef with no waves but just wind, perfect conditions.

We were eager to get to Lizard Island and hike the to Cook's Lookout. The first European to explore the island was Captain Cook, who anchored in one of the island's bays and climbed to the top of the hill now known as Cook's Look. There he surveyed a suitable passage away from the island. Cook saw numerous lizards (Gould's sand monitor) on the island which led him to write: "The only land animals we saw here were lizards and these seem'd to be plenty which occasioned my naming the island Lizard Island."

We chose a great day to do the hike as it was super windy and therefore cool. The views along the way and at the top were magnificent. There was a book at the top with a visitors book in it.

There is lots to do on Lizard Island. Besides hiking, playing on the beach, snorkelling and meeting up with neighbours at the picnic tables on the beach at 1700 every evening. There is a luxury resort next door and they do "allow" cruisers to join in at the Marlin Bar on certain evenings during the week. They also have garbage disposal with is a great service.

One snorkelling spot is the reef right in the anchorage. It is called the clam garden. There are lots of giant clams scattered about and beautiful, colourful, very alive coral. However, we did spot two crown of thorn starfish. We have been going crazy with our new underwater camera and so far so good.

We met another lovely Australian family with three kids aboard. One day we all went out for the whole day. We circumnavigated Lizard Island in the dingy. Our first stop was to snorkel out past the research station. There were a ton of fish and some beautful coral. We spotted some red fan coral which I had not seen before. Then it was on to Coconut Beach to eat our picnic lunch. Sadly there was a ton of plastic trash on this beach. Where is it all coming from? What can we do to clean it up? Next we stopped at Mermaid Beach for more excellent snorkelling. Then back to the anchorage for tea on Juniper - an Australian sweet treat "Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce and Cream" How does it get better than that?