Tuesday 31 July '07 (10am)
What a great sail I'm having just now!! Perfect beam reach in bright sunshine passing Cooktown off to port several miles away. Doing just over 7 knots with full canvas in ESE 16-18 knots of breeze, although losing a bit to current, so making only 6-6.5 SOG. (There seems to be a fairly constant S-going current so far, losing me a good knot at times.) Makes a nice change from last two days when I had to motor or motor-sail a lot to make the anchorages before nightfall - I'm hoping to make Lizard
Island well before sunset if the wind keeps up. Hopefully, it'll stay up for next two days, before lessening a bit around Friday, according to my grib weather files.
Low Islets, Sunday's anchorage, was interesting and quite busy, being so close to Cairns. As are so many islands & reefs here, it's a Marine Park & is where Steve Irwin was fatally stung by a large stingray not so many years back. I gather he pulled the sting out of his heart which then bled massively - likely he would have died from the sting anyway, even if he hadn't pulled it out - they've got pretty potent stings! No way I was going to get in the water there or anywhere else on my way to Darwin.
If it's not stingrays, it's crocs or sharks or stingers (even out of season, as it's supposed to be now, there are a few of those jellyfish around) - all can be rather terminal! I cooked myself a good meal on arrival well after sunset - prompted by the smell of another boat's 'barbie' as I passed by on my way in to drop the anchor!!
From there, I had to push with the motor, motor-sailing most of the day with only an hour-and-a-half's sailing in peace and quiet just before arrival at Hope Islands. It was low tide and the reef areas were nicely exposed, including a reef joining the two islands - makes it much safer for anchoring when you can see where the reefs are! A float-plane was the only sign of life on the islands and that took off not long after I got there - then I had it to myself. Lovely full moon...
I spent quite a time passage-planning, trying to avoid really long hops between anchorages so I can get a reasonable amount of sleep each night - it's OK to leave in the dark when you've seen the area in daylight on entering, but not so good coming in during darkness, when you not been to a (reef-strewn) place before! I'll have to leave several places really early to be sure of arriving at the next anchorage in safety - preferably without needing to motor too much. I was up at 5.30 a.m. this morning,
to leave by 6 a.m. - well before sunrise hereabouts. (It's winter here, as they keep telling me.... & I'm amazed that I'm feeling it & having to wear fleeces from time to time - despite being in the Tropics!!)