Saturday, October 19, 2013

Curlew Island and Hunter Island (not a National park).


A day prior to ST3 leaving Mackay Marina we said farewell to the crew of the Astrolabe I .She is a beautiful steel yacht with a well thought out design. Kim and Ian have owned her for 15 years while running a business in Kettering, Tasmania. The crew of John and Keiran will assist in the voyage that will include a visit to the Louisiades. Their ultimate destination is Japan for the snow season. Fair winds; we'll be following your progress with extreme interest. (I just love the wild and adventurous Tasmanians, and they are vey well represented in the sailing community, such a friendly bunch).

Off to the snow fields of Japan!
Glenn always wakes up at first light. We sleep in the V berth at the front of Sea Trek III, under a large clear window (escape hatch). No daylight saving in Queensland and summer is on the way. Our passages are commencing earlier. It's a terrible curse for me to be an "evening person" when on a voyage. I need to wake up long before my brain is ready. To ensure that my essential boat tasks are completed prior to "anchors up and away", I have compiled a list written in large black font. I can read it easily incase I can't think how to find my glasses. Strangely the list seems to be growing. It's a case of the more I know, the more i realise that i don't know.
We left Mackay Marina without incident and once again we needed to travel through the maze of moored container ships off Hay Point. Glenn enjoys the thrill of getting up close and personal to these giants. We counted 34 neatly moored ships in formation plus four more inshore. Red Seto was parked right in our path, and we were trying to sail! The end result was a marvelous photo of a crew member looking down at us.

Right in the middle of our plotted course.

You are looking at him, looking at me.

Curlew Island beckoned. We had enjoyed the overnight stop here some weeks ago in the delightful company of Ocean Child. A large tidal sand bank made for an interesting lagoon. We had the idea of doing some exploring this time in the extended daylight. This is the only benefit of rising early that I can find.

The tides here are more than five and a half metres ( plus) and it was a full moon again. We timed the dinghy ride out to the bar to coincide with the slack-water either side of the low tide by 30 mins. The bar was " high and dry". We know from experience that we needed to keep a very close eye on the dinghy because lapping waters charge in and out very quickly.

The sand bar looked unimpressive when we anchored.

By the time we had anchored and refreshed ourselves it was time to head to the sand bar. The wind was picking up as often happens in the afternoons, and we were drenched by the short chop before we arrived at the bar. The sand bar was a visual surprise. (We didn't see any of the promised stranded prawns, Bruce). The sculptured patterns left by the tidal flow that had previously rushed out were spectacular: A moonscape or the Grand Canyon comes near the strangeness of these firm mud/sand formations.

Giant steps are what you take, walking on the Moon...

Magical layers.

The next destination on our journey heading south was Hunter Island, in the Duke Island group. There are many choices here for anchoring to suit all weather conditions, and SE winds at 15-20 knots were forecast. We knew that we would be staying put for a couple of days. Our references informed us that the island is not a National Park, but rather "grazing lands". Permission is required to step ashore above high tide mark. (No phone reception so there goes that bit of honesty). Farm stay holidays happen way up the other end, out of our sight.
We went ashore. A faded sign alerted us to penalties for shooting on this property. No problem for us. I thought that perhaps rabbits might have been a pest here once, or that illegal "Jolly Swagmen" were looking for sheep to steal, before jumping into a billabong. I wasn't expecting to hear from other cruisers that deer culling was the reason for the notice.
The Island had patches of Hoop Pines, but was basically bare and rocky and recently selectively burnt to ?reduce weeds.

I am fascinated by the contrast.
The beauty of the water around these islands was in stark contrast to the degraded lands. This is what all of the Great Barrier Reef islands would look like if not for protective legislation.
Plants don't flourish here.

A struggling Pea plant.

Evidence of a few ground nesting birds successfully hatching eggs on the ridges.

Just look at the incredible sea scape: we saw large old turtles and schools of tiny and medium sized tropical fish, as well as frolicking dolphins.

So much contrast. Thought provoking. More about our Hunter Island experience soon...


1 comment:

  1. Hi guys,
    Great blogging! Personally, I have trouble removing myself from the here and now to reflect on what I just experience. That, and I have a hard time getting Burney off the computer. ;-)
    But I digress. For you enjoyment, herewith are some lyrics I just penned.
    (Hint: Think of the Eagles)

    Percy Island Hilton
    (Am) On a blue tranquil ocean, (E7) cool wind in my hair
    (G) Long way from the mainland, (D) full day to get there
    (F) Up ahead in the distance, (C) I saw a shimmering light
    (Dm) The Pine Island lighthouse, (E7) I had to stop for the night

    (Am) West Bay is so pretty, (E7) takes my breath away
    (G) Palm trees, sand and water, (D) make me want to stay
    (F) A-frame stands so proudly, (C) with signs, plaques and things
    (Dm) Spirit of yachts come before us, (E7) invite us in as we sing

    (F) Welcome to the Percy Island (C) Hilton
    Such a (E7) lovely place, what a (Am) magic place
    (F) Plenty of room at the Percy Island (C) Hilton
    Any (Dm) time of year, stay a (E7) while right here

    (Am) T’was as I remembered, (E7) through the mist of time
    (G) I was a young man then, (D) in nineteen seventy-nine
    (F) The crew of our good ship, (C) are fewer now, but
    (Dm) Found the sign for ‘Shiseido’, (E7) in the telephone hut

    (Am) Met a bloke called Andy, (E7) he wore nothin’ but togs
    (G) Tried his wine at the homestead, (D) but the hike was a flog
    (F) He liked to keep it simple, (C) he didn’t want fancy things
    (Dm) Kettle whistle it got lost, (E7) too much noise when it sings

    (Am) It’s a rock ‘n roll anchorage, (E7) from the north or the west
    (G) Had to sleep with a lee cloth, (D) just to get some rest
    (F) But using the dinghy, (C) it was really the test
    (Dm) Could we get from the aft deck, (E7) and time our step for the crest?

    (Am) Last thing I remember, (E7) After eating goat stew
    (G) And having a few drinks, (D) of our best home brew
    (F) The tide had gone right out, (C) no water in sight
    (Dm) But strong hands to help us, (E7) push us out to the night