10-October 2011

Lizard Island to Cod Hole - 15 nm

Cod Hole (Ribbon Reef No. 10)

We wasted quite a bit of time, trying to find the Park Mooring Balls, then we happened to notice a Vistors Mooring note on our charts! Duh! We made our way over to the mooring balls only to find that because the wind had shifted to the North the balls were unusable. We would have been on the reef if we tied to them. Why they would put the mooring balls so close to the reef is beyond me. Anyways we grabbed onto a private mooring ball with the help of a tour boat guide and stayed for the rest of the day.

Cod Hole is the most famous dive site of Ribbon Reefs. The star of this site are the Potatoes Cods. Some Potatoes Cods grow to 150kg in weight and 1.5m long. They are very approachable and will gather around waiting to be hand fed. In addition to the cods, we saw Giant Moray Eel, Leopard Moray, groupers, Napolean Wrasse, sea bass, reef sharks, rays and reef fish. The water was so clear and the weather was extremly calm, we had a perfect opportunity to snorkel Cod Hole.

Cod Hole back to Lizard Island - 10nm

We were not ready to leave Lizard Island yet, so we are back!

There is a research station on Lizard Island. They give tours every Monday. You can get to it by going around in the dingy or walking across the island. We decided to do the 2 kilometre walk, it was good exercise. The sun was beaming its strong rays down on us and the sand on the road was up past our ankles so half of the walk was more of a slog then a walk. And the best part was that we saw a lizard or the sand monitor. He was scurrying across the road when we spotted him. Boy he was big!

We were greeted by Mary-Ann the caretaker, then were shown a 20 minute video, then led around to see the different experiments that the current researchers were conducting. There was one container where the kids could pick up the sea creatures as we learned more about them. They have a library where you can borrow books and buy some souvenirs. We don't often buy souvenir t-shirts but we did here, it was just so cool!

Chris had this great idea that it would be fun if the kids slept on shore, they agreed that it was a fabulous idea and were so excited. They were all running around gathering the tent, their sleeping bags, pillows, flashlights, etc. etc, I just tried to stay out of their way and quietly thinking in my corner "I wonder what Australian nasties come out at night?" But there was no way that I could even try to deter anyone so away they went with their freinds on two other Australian boats and they had a blast. In the morning we had all the kids over for a pancake breakfast.

The thing about snorkelling Lizard Island is that you can go anywhere, to any reef and have a great experience and what you will see is different from the last snorkel. We went out with our new Australian friends on Footprints. Aussies are so hospitable. Afterwards we had "tea". They brought us coffee and biscuits all to us right there on the beach!

Thanksgiving 2011. Well this is usually a big holiday for us and as tradition would have it, we celebrate with our Canadian friends on Tyee. Lucie is an amazing cook, she normally prepares the turkey with some gourmet stuffing and we follow the smells and show up for dinner. Well this year, dearest Tyee was 1200 miles away in New Caledonia. However! not to fret, we ended up having an amazing Thankgiving dinner on Footprints. Here is another Lucy who is an amazing cook as well. She put on an abundant spread and we had a wonderful evening which sadly was also our last night on Lizard Island.

After nearly two weeks enjoying all Lizard Island has to offer, we dragged ourselves away. Australian spring is the time of year that the South East re-enforced trades start to diminish and sometimes turn into a northerly so we took the opportunity to head South. Yes you read that right. We are heading South! Lizard Island is our turn around point and will spend the next month cruising the east coast of Australia through the Whitsunday Islands south to Brisbane. Asia will have to wait for some other time.

Tim Tams and other Australian delicacies

Learning about new cultures is always a fun and interesting thing to do. Chris and I are always interested in the food (and drink) aspect of the cultures that we are immersed. One of the best things we have found since leaving Canada over three years ago is an Australian delicacy called the "Tim Tam Smash". Here is what you do:

Take a Tim Tam which is a choclate covered cookie or biscuit as it is called in the Pacific. You can buy a package of Tim Tams at any grocery or corner store.

Make a pot of coffee or tea. Pour yourself a full cup.

Bit a tiny corner of one cookie, turn it around and take another bite kitty corner to the first bite. Then put one corner of the Tim Tam in your hot beverage and suck the coffee of tea up through the Tim Tam, like you would a straw. (It actually feels and looks like you are doing something totally illegal - I wouldn't try this in Bali).

The moment the coffee reaches your mouth, stuff the whole Tim Tam in your mouth.

The Tim Tam explodes in your mouth and the experience is like nothing you have ever experienced before, I can almost guarantee you this. Go on and give it a try. Those of you in North America, perhaps you can try to order them online?

Another food item of interest that we decided to try was kangaroo. Chris bought a marinated kangaroo roast at the grocery store and we cooked it up one evening for dinner. It was really good. We had some Australians over for dinner that night and I wasn't sure if this was something that they ate on a daily basis. They said they didn't but it is common to see it in the grocery store.

You see croc burgers on the menu at alot of establishments, we have yet to try one. I liked this restaurant menu on Magnetic Island " Crocodile Buger with chips and salad" Eat it before it eats you! I guess they have a point there. Classic!!

One of the best burgers that Chris has ever tried was called an Ozzie Burger. (I refrained for thought of my waist line). I wouldn't recommend this if you have high cholestrol either especially if you order a side order of fries like we did. Here it is:

a beef burger, peice of cheese, peice of back bacon, a fried egg, bbq sauce, lettuce, tomato, sliced beets, and fried onions, all on a sesame bun.

Lizard Island to Dunk Island - 209.7nm

A nice leisurely downwind overnight sail with alot of motoring. But how many times can you go to a destination having a nice downwind sail and go back having a nice downwind sail? It doesn't happen too often I'll tell ya that.

We have not seen any other cruising boats since we arrived in Australia. This has been a huge change for us. We did see our friends on Active Transport in Cairns and were able to hang out with them for a while before they left to head south and us north. Another cruising couple that we caught up with was Laurie and Aninna on their boat Aliisa. We met them in the Society Islands. They have sold Aliisa, are living in Cairns and Aninna is pregnant with their first baby. Laurie is studying to become a meteorologist so he gave us some great weather advice as we were doing our crossing to Australia.

Anyways, back to our overnight passage away from Lizard Island. There were a lot of ships showing up on our AIS system all night long, we were starting to get very close to one ship that was heading towards us, but their boat name was not displying so I even went and got Chris out of bed! Once he came up to have a look, the information finally popped up that it was our friends on Emily Grace! How funny is that? We were hoping to catch up with them on Lizard Island but we missed them by that much{ }. However we did catch up with them over the VHF radio. It was so funny to be talking to them on the radio while watching their running lights go by us in the opposite direction. They are keeping with their plans to head to Asia. Have fun guys!! We'll miss you. That being said, there are alot of Australian cruisers sailing around their great country and they have all been fantastic and very interesting to meet.

We caught a large wahoo on our way and we are hoping it is not our last. We have been told that there is not many fish to be had further south.

Dunk Island used to have fancy resorts and an artisian studio on it. By the time we arrived, it was too late to go to shore. From the boat, it looked like there was not much happening. Cyclone Yasi hit Dunk February of this year and it seemed like it got hit pretty bad. Actually the eye of the cyclone passed right over Dunk. The Queensland Government estimates that winds peaked at 285/km an hour with Cyclone Yasi. (That's why we are heading south, below the cyclone belt!)

The winds were still coming from the north so we wanted to continue south while we could do it peacefully so in the morning we got up early and contined on to just outside of Lucinda.

Dunk Island to Hinchinbrook Island - 47.95nm

We spent the day meandering slowly all through Hinchinbrook Channel. The scenery was magnificent with Hinchinbrook Island to the east and the Cardwell Range to the west. There are alot of subsidiary channels amungst the mangroves, but we left those unexplored. however we were inundated with what looked like deer or horse flies trying to bite us all day. I thought I was back in Parry Sound, in northern Ontario.

Hinchinbrook Island is Australia's largest island national park and is home to the famous Thorsborne Trail which only allows 40 people on the trail at one time. It is recommended that you book one year in advance. However as I kept reading this Thorsborne Trail sounded less and less inviting. Is it just me?? Read on: "The highlight is the Thorsborne Trail, a 32 km coatal track from Tramsay Bay to Zoe Bay and on to George Point. You'll need to wear a layer of insect repellent, protect your food from ravenous rats, draw water from creeks and be alert to the possibilty of crocs being present" Sign me up, not!

We were not sure when we came to the southern end of the channel if we would be able to pass because it was low tide and it's shoal bar. We tried but because the winds had really picked up and it was starting to get rough, we turned around and decided to spend the night outside the sugar port town of Lucinda.

We took the dingy into Dungeness and walked into town but there wasn't very much to see. One interesting thing though is that Lucinda has the worlds longest bulk sugar-loading jetty, allowing enormous carrier ships to dock. This sucker was 3 km long and went on forever, I couldn't even get a decent picture of it. I wonder how long it took them to build it. Pretty amazing.

One other interesting fact was that the Hinchinbrook Channel used to be seen as a deep water port with just one entrance (from the north) for ships visiting Lucindas sugar loading facililties. Molasses tankers used to use the channel until one collided with and seriously damaged the wharf and the whole operation had to be shut down.

Hichinbrook Island to Magnetic Island - 53.89 nm

We left early in the morning, the weather had calmed down and we were on a mid rising tide so exiting the south entrance of the Hinchinbrook Channel was easy. However, a thick fog then decended upon us as we motored in no wind and no visibility for the next several miles. Thjese pics are when the fog started clearing. Beautiful!

We anchored in Picnic Bay. The ferry wharf was severley damaged in Cyclone Yasi and so they moved the ferry over to Nelly Bay. This was good news for us as Picnic Bay is a great anchorage in north winds. However, I feel bad for all the business owners in the bay who are hurting pretty badly. To add insult to injury we went to the Picnic Bay Hotel for a cold one and was told that their whole beer tap system exploded and they lost all their beer!! It is going to cost approximatley 2 million dollars to fix the ferry dock. If they fix it, will another cyclone come along and trash it again?

Magnetic Bay was named by Captain Cook when he sailed by here in 1770. As he sailed by this island his ships compass went off and so Magnetic Island was named. We took the local bus for a tour around the island (the mini mokes and topless cars looked even more fun but not too family friendly!). We got off at The Forts Walk and enjoyed the view of all the bays as we went along. On the way up there are two gun emplacements, one either side of the track. The guns were a precaution that were ready but never used. There are some koala bears living here but we didn't see any and fortunatley we didn't see any of the death adders that live here as well. Stay on the trail, children!!

We continued our walk to Horseshoe Bay and spent some time walking up and down the beach. Then it was the bus back home.

Magnetic Island to Bowen - 105nm

We had one of the most beautiful overnight sails tonight. There was a huge full moon, the winds were 10-15 knots, and there wasn't much wave action. Bowen is a good spot to provision as the IGA will deliver your groceries right to th dingy dock which is a great service. At the same dock inside the harbour you can bring your boat alongside. It is free for the first hour and there is water on the dock.

Bowen is a small town and is a laid back spot to relax. There is a skate park, swimming pool, play park along the waterfront. Bowen claim to fame is that for three months in 2007 the movie "Australia" was filmed here. I asked the young women at the info booth if she had met Hugh Jackman and she said that she saw him at the yacht club where he was dining with his family but she didn't want to bother him and left him alone!! Australians are so thoughtful!

We hung out at the air-conditioned library for a few hours which the kids just loved. There was a quilt hanging on the wall that depicts the Whitsundays Regional history and attractions. It took 1426 hours of combined stitching by the group and reflects the diversity of the regions industries, its historical buildings, tourist attractions and local flora and fauna. For example you will find the Post Office, Court House, fishing industry, tug boats, beaches and the production of salt to name a just a few. (I put this in here for you to see


There are 25 murals displayed around Bowen's streets focussing on the historical aspects of the town and guess where they got this idea? Yes you are correct. A former Bowen resident visited Chemainus in 1988 and was mesmerised by the town's history painted on walls. We only saw a few but they are very interesting to see.

Bowen to Nara Islet, Hook Island, Whitsundays - 41.40nm

Nara Islet was a beautiful fjord-like inlet. Hook Island is mostly national park. There are aboriginal cave paintings at the far end of Nara Islet. We went over to have a look. Nara Inlet

is the site of the oldest evidence of Ngaro settlement.The Ngaro People were a seafaring Australian Aborigine group of people that inhabited the Whitsunday Islands and coastal regions of Queensland from at least 7000 BC until 1870. Ngaro society was destroyed by warfare with traders, colonists, and the Australian Native Police.

The painting of a hashed oval shape is often presumed to be a sea turtle shell, a prominent food source for the Ngaro and Australian aborigines of the mainland. However it may represent the fruit of the panda.nus plant and its seed. However, the meaning of these paintings remains a mystery. The ladder-like paintings are an engineering drawing or map showing how to build a ladder to reach caves higher in the cliff which are the burial sites of prominent Ngaro elders. To some it appears to be the curved trunk of a palm tree, perhaps even a plant species that was important to the Ngaro and is no longer present in the region or extinct. The "ladders" might also represent the spine of a man.

There were a lot of boats in Nara Islet which wasn't a big surprise, the weather had turned and it was blowing 25-30 knots from the SE. Nara Islet was a great sheltered anchorage. Also the Whitsundays is a very popular area for charter boats so it is a busy place. We noticed that nobody was swimming so we went around to some of the other boats to see if they had any information. One lad said his guide books stated that Nara Islet is a breeding ground for tiger sharks! So we skipped the swimming and found other things to do on the boat.

As the sun was setting, we had a couple of surprise visitors. Two white cockatoos (at least that is what I think they were) came to our bow. I think they must be used to being fed. We fed them bread and crackers and we felt like we were living in the wild kingdom. It was beautiful.

Nara Islet, Hook Island to Cid Harbour, Whitsunday Island - 8.24nm

Cid Harbour is one of the best sheltered anchorages in SE winds. We were going to be hiding out here for at least a few days. The forecast is calling for a high wind warning with winds from 25 - 30 knots. The anchorage was very busy but we managed to find ourselves a nice little spot. We did the small 2 km hike over to Dugong beach. We brought our pastels with us and did a family drawing class. It was really fun. On the way back Dad, Andrea and Ryan walked along the beach and climbed over massive boulders to get back to the dingy. They say they sighted a monkey! Not sure about that one, will have to look up wildlife on Whitsunday Island. There are dugongs who live in the bay but we didn't see them but we did see lots of big turtles. (Do you think the first picture looks anything like the second picture? Well it was my first pastel lesson!)

We caught up with our American friends on Active Transport and one morning we set out on a hiking "field trip" up Whitsunday Trail. This was a 2.5 km trail up, up, up to a great lookout. In the evening we all got together on Stray Kitty with another Australian family and had spagetti with Chris' famous sauce and Shawn brought his famous chocolate chip cookies.

Cid Harbour to Airlie Beach - 14.80nm

There are some funny names around. We were just deciding we had to go around one island because to go between them seemed not possible, the chart stated "unsafe passage." After reading the guide book, it turns out that is the name of the channel! Weird.

Airlie Beach is the hub of the Whitsundays. All the charter boats are located here and it is a busy, fun place. We happened to arrive just as the Whitsunday Reef Festival was starting, we had great seats from the cockpit for the fireworks on the first evening. Good timing.

Downtown there were a few rides, well actually there were only two - we went on the Scrambler and Bumper Cars - it was really expensive so it was a good thing there were only two! There were bands playing and a parade where most floats threw candy and Telstra water bottles. The kids loved that part. A parade where you don't just stand and watch but run around after small wrapped candy, what fun! We went to the market, skated along the boardwalk, swam in the lagoon (which is like the one in Cairns but I think it was bigger) found the two for one pizza place and generally had a great time. We met up with Somerset Cat, another Australian cat with a family on board and chatted with them at the yacht club.

Rugby World Cup. The Rugby World Cup final game France vs. New Zealand was playing at a restaurant in town and along with an Ausralian family on board Paws we all went to watch - I really wanted NZ to win, they have had such a hard year and they could really use this win for the country. It was a great game and they did beat France 8 to 7. Yeah New Zealand!!!

Airlie Beach to Stonehaven, Hook Island, Whitsundays - 15.29nm

Stonehaven on the north western shores of Hook Island was a beautiful spot to stop for lunch and a swim/snorkel. We took a parks mooring ball and took in the beautiful surroundings.

Stonehaven to Butterfly Bay, Hook Island-4.40nm

After a quick motor over to Butterfly Bay at the top end of Hook Island, we hooked another park mooring ball for the night. It is very beautiful and quiet and serene.

Butterfly Bay to Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island - 17.80nm

We had to see Whitehaven Beach. It is a pristine silica sand beach and stretches over seven kilometres along Whitsunday Island, the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays. We jumped off the boat and swam to shore, the sand actually squeaked under our feet. The tide was receding and we didn't have too long before Stray Kitty would have been on the beach herself. After a nice walk and having some fun making sandballs, we took the current and drifted back to the boat. It was time to push on south with the north winds. But we will remember Whitehaven Beach, it was truely gorgeous.

Whitehaven Beach to Great Keppel Island - 207.1nm

While we were playing soccer on the beach, we met a family from Sydney who was renting out the whole eco-resort. They invited us for a beer and we had a lovely evening getting a tour and chatting with everybody. We met the owners of Svendsen's Beach Eco-Resort. Lyndie Malan moved here 17 years ago and is an artist. Her husband Carl Svendsen has lived on the island his whole life. They are very environmentally aware and their resort is really nice.

The island is the largest of the eighteen islands in the Keppel Group the islands were named by Captain James Cook in 1770 after the then First Lord of the Admiralty, Admiral Augustus Keppel.

The island is not without its controversay though, there is a vacant property which backs onto Svendsen's Beach. Right now the resort that was there has closed down. However, GKI Resort Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of the privately owned Australian company Tower Holdings, unveiled a $1.15 billion revitalisation plan for the Island. The plan, which has been declared a "significant project" by the Queensland Government, includes a 300-room resort hotel, 300 resort apartments, 1700 villas, a 560-berth marina and ferry terminal, a championship golf course, yacht club, sporting ovals, childcare facilities, chapel and cultural centre. Let's hope that doesn't happen.

Great Keppel Island to Bundaberg - 139.7nm

This should be our last overnight sail for a while. Once at Burnett Heads we motored up the river to Bundaberg and found a spot to anchor. (There is a very tiny sign by the rowing club that shows you where not to anchor, if you do anchor in the no anchoring zone, you will be asked to move). You must go up the river on a rising tide near high tide, or you will be left high and dry. If you are anchored close enough, the town provides free wi-fi that can be accessed on the boat, a nice plus for sure. In the early evening and morning, while sitting in the cockpit it is nice to see and hear all the different

bird life along the river.

Bundaberg is nice enough, but in a very old-fashioned and country way. It wasn't our favourite spot, let's put it that way. The town is surrounded by sugar cane fields and this is where the famous Bundaberg Rum Disterilly and Bundaberg Gingerbeer factory are located, tours are available but pricey. We went out for dinner at the Old Bundy Tavern which is in a beautiful old building that takes up a whole corner. While the meal we had was very bad, the company we had was very entertaining. We met some locals who run a couple of restaurants in town and chatted with them most of the evening.

Halloween is upon us for another year. Unfortunatley, there was nothing happening in Bundaberg, so we had to make our own fun. There was one other foreign yacht around so the kids dingyied over to Active Transport and were rewarded with a big bag of gummy worms. Then it was trick and treating on the boat. Below is cyclops#1, scary scarecrow and cyclops#2.

Happy Halloween!!