Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bundaberg to Lady Musgrave Island.

Late Tuesday afternoon and the anchor winch was finally repaired.! It had been a frustrating week of delays and let downs at Bundaberg. The forecast for Wednesday and the rest of the week looked perfect to sail out and stay at Lady Musgrave Island.

Not our photo, but this is Lady Musgrave.

This is a coral cay, a true tropical paradise. For 30 or more years I've dreamed of the day when I could drop anchor in the aqua lagoon waters of Lady Musgrave Island. The challenges of anchoring in a coral lagoon is that at high tide the reef is covered and the vessel is literately anchored in the middle of the ocean. Lady Musgrave is over 36 nautical miles from any other safe anchorage so knowledge of the forth coming weather is essential. The forecast was promising with a 20 to 25 knot south to south westerly to leave, with winds decreasing through the afternoon with calm conditions promised for the rest of the week.


We set sail at about 7am Wednesday and the wind was blowing as per the forecast. I put one reef in the main sail and turned north expecting to arrive at the lagoon around 3pm. Sea Trek III loved the lively downwind run with an average speed of around 7 knots and we all enjoyed the ride. Three other yachts had left Bundaberg that morning as well: Ocean Child with Dennis and Jenni, Tribal and Plum Loco (the latter 2 being catamarans). They left earlier than us and we could make out their sails a mile or two ahead in the morning glare.

The sailing was perfect!

We had one interesting experience and a first for us in our time of sailing. It was around midday when Jen (ever alert and keeping a good and proper lookout) noticed a large container ship on the horizon to our south east. As large as it was, the ship only appeared to be a curious side view of a small thing. No threat to us we thought, but within minutes it's side profile continued to grew bigger and bigger, and at a fixed angle to Sea Trek III. In no time at all this enormous cargo ship was beginning to bare down on us from an acute side angle. We were on a collision course! Evasive action was required fast. (even though under the Collision Regulations engine power gives way to sail.) Just as I began to slow down to alter course I picked up the hand held VHF radio. I wanted to establish that the vessel could actually see us! The radio then crackled to life: "Sailing Vessel, Sailing Vessel, this is ship Celine C, Celine C, do you copy?" I answered in my most official maritime voice "Celine C, Celine C, this is Sailing Vessel Sea Trek III, Sea Trek III: copy" . "Sea Trek III, Sea Trek III, Do you mind if we maintain our course?" I quickly replied "Celine C, we have already begun to slow down to accommodate your course. Sea Trek III: out" As you can see from the picture below he was very close and I wasn't going to argue with a ship of that size!

Care to alter course Sir?
The wind had completely dropped by 1pm and we motor sailed the remaining miles. It was uneventful except the occasional visits from two groups of playful dolphins. We needed to have ST3 moving through the narrow entrance before the sun dropped too low in the sky. Sun glare makes visualising the shallow coral bommies difficult; a real danger when entering a lagoon. This was our first visit to a coral cay and we were both nervous and excited.
Love at first sight.

We arrived at 3pm and were surprised at how narrow and shallow the entrance was. In we charged with ST3. The in-rushing tide swept our speed 'over ground' to 8 knots.

Jen's view after the big rush.
Jen was on the bowsprit pointing and shouting directions about which way to steer. After a couple of close shaves and a bit of excitement we were safely at anchor in the pristine waters by 3.30pm.

We admired the anchor.


No comments:

Post a Comment