Story and pictures copyright © 2000 Julia Hazel
Islands, Reefs and Rivers - Page 4
August - November 2000

After several trips back and forth between the Flinders Group (page 3) and the Normanby and Bizant Rivers (page 2) it was time to turn back and face, reluctantly, a slow beat into still persistent south easters.

The first day was an easy one, from Flinders Island to Cape Melville, where strange geological processes have created steep hills covered in piled up giant boulders.

After upgrading Froggo to first class for the night (a bigger bucket with all the frog comforts I could provide) I took him ashore to find a new home in a tea tree forest near Port Douglas.

Then the rain set in, in tropical deluge fashion. Hmmm, looks like the next sailing adventure will have to wait awhile.

A monument here commemorates a dreadful cyclone in 1899 which destroyed the entire pearling fleet anchored in this remote bay, with the death of over 300 people. A stark reminder that it would be unwise to linger here with the next cyclone season already looming close.

Jeshan put in a couple of long days with too many tacks to count, to get back to Lizard Island, but two days later I was sure the slow slog south had been well worth while -- that elusive calm spell finally eventuated and we were in the right place to make good use of it.

No time to waste, anchor up at dawn and straight out to the Ribbon Reefs, then great diving every day for the next four days -- wonderful!

Finally a freshening northerly breeze stirred up choppy seas and sent us on our way south with a fair wind. Eureka III quickly disappeared over the horizon, but I headed in towards Cooktown for a quick visit with good friends there, and to collect snail mail and email for the first time after being out of reach of normal communications for months.

Meanwhile the promising northerly fizzled out and was replaced by very light variable winds. They made for a slow drifting sort of trip from there on, with almost total calm at night and the smell of flowering rainforest trees wafting down the steep slopes of the coast around Cape Tribulation.

The faint and flukey breezes dictated more slow zigs and zags. These included lots of diversions from our original course, taking in a bit of snorkelling at Undine Reef, a night of thunderstorms at Cape Kimberley, more snorkelling at Low Isles and the opportunity to refresh my memory of the Daintree River's many sandbanks.

Somehow a little stowaway from the rainforest came aboard undetected while were were up the Daintree. I only discovered him as we sailed back out to sea and had to hastily convert a bucket into a frog cabin, to ensure Froggo the Treefrog didn't suddenly leap overboard without knowing there was nothing but salty sea water for miles around.

Story and pictures copyright © 2000 Julia Hazel

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