Cairns to Morris Island

Post date: Jun 22, 2011 4:15:34 AM

2 weeks, 4 islands, 4 mainland anchorages, 2 towns . . .

coral reef snorkelling, mountain climbing, bushwalking, crocodiles, whales, repairing the boat in exotic places

Port Douglas 38 miles

Refuelled here at Fishermans marina at a fraction of the price that Marina Mirage were charging around the corner. Very sheltered anchorage upstream but full of mozzies and sandflies. It looked the perfect place for crocodiles but we didn't see any. Very quiet, very beautiful. Passed the Daintree area where the “Forest meets the Sea” Stunning scenery

Hope Isles 48 miles

Good sailing to get here although quite calm. Very small coral cay, our first. Moorings in the bay which we picked up. Quite calm and sheltered. 2 other yachts here we knew so we had a bit of a chat. Walked around the island in ½ hour. Looked at coral from the safety of the dinghy. Could have stayed longer but further north was calling.

Cooktown 23 miles

3 yachts headed for Cooktown to re supply. Fast sail quite windy. Biggest challenge here is where to anchor. We finally decided opposite the fishing wharf would be the best place but we were not far from the channel. Good facilities here, a laundromat right on the edge of the river. Comprehensive supermarket but it's a bit of a walk, although we saw the site where Captain Cook repaired his boat.

On the weekend following our visit there was to be a big festival where a re-enactment of his arrival was being proposed. Cooktown seems very proud of its place in Australia's history.

2 days here.

Lizard Island 46 miles

arrived at sunset. Good sail in quite stiff wind. 12 other international yachts here – most heading for Darwin like us. Spectacular scenery. Climbed to Cook's lookout. He climbed this mountain to look for a way through the reef to open ocean. Cooks Passage is 19 miles away. Low cloud patches covering the top of the mountain meant we could not get a clear view, but we were lucky we could see through in patches, other walkers waited for hours to see the view. Went snorkelling around the large coral patch in the middle of the bay (the Clam Garden) magnificent amazing, wonderful watching all the fish at work. It was like being a spectator in the CBD of a big city. Some of the clams were enormous!! Saw fish we'd only seen in aquariums. I could have stayed here a week or more. This is the usual end of the road for coastal cruisers – their destination before heading south again.

Flinders Group, Owen Passage 87 miles

Left Lizard at about 8pm in order to get to destination in daylight. Auto helm kept mis-behaving and beeping that it had gone off course. Don't know why but it made for an anxious night where we got little sleep. In the end we hand steered to anchorage after avoiding 2 ships in the narrow shipping channel. Owen Passage was serene and calm. Rather beautiful and quite dry. Evidence of crocodiles here. We had a visit from the Fisheries Patrol here to talk to us about rego, safety equipment and fishing zones. They were very friendly.

Morris Island 64 miles

started windy, wind eased to almost total calm. Had to motor most of day. It was a beautiful day. The alternator stopped working. The wind resumed as the sun set and we were only 9 miles from the island. There were boats there already. We arrived after sunset with a full moon which made it easy to see where to anchor. This is another coral cay. It is the first island we've seen with a palm tree on it. It is a significant landmark. The reef behind the island is enormous. A gap in a rocky shelf between the anchorage and the beach allows dinghy access. There is a rumour that a crocodile lives in the island. We saw no evidence of him. We went for a walk on the beach and were appalled at the amount of rubbish (plastic) on the beach here. Much of it is fishing rubbish, rope, nets, floats etc but thongs, bottles and other rubbish washes up here too.

We stayed here 2 nights while Greg tried to fix the alternator. He replaced it with a spare which seemed to work.