Orpheus Island 18 35.980S 146 29.159E

Mike and Liz Downing
Sat 20 Jul 2013 12:56
After a couple of days on Magnetic Island (pictures to follow) it was time to move on as we need to get to Cairns by the middle of next week for a scheduled appointment with Immigration to renew our visas. It was only a short trip today of 42 miles and just as well as there was no wind. We left on the hope that we might get 10kts or so from the southeast, but the best we got was 7kts from the west. That gave an hour of sailing at 4 1/2kts and a couple of hours of motor sailing, but apart from that it was motoring across a glassy smooth sea, with very little swell. We can't remember when we last saw the sea so flat, certainly not in Australia! Our first passage across Lyme Bay to Lyme Regis way back in the early 1980s comes to mind. It was our first time round Portland Bill and the heat haze was so great that most of the passage across Lyme Bay was out of the sight of land - our first offshore passage! The sea was like glass and we motored the whole way. But in those days it was all dead reckoning - no GPS or Decca and even our RDF (radio direction finder) came later - we were over the moon when Lyme Regis appeared where it was supposed to be! Although no wind today, it was a beautifully sunny day - the hottest day we've had so far with barely a cloud in the sky. Even the clouds that are almost permanently resident over Hinchinbrook Island with it's high peaks (one over 3,500ft) disappeared and it was clear as the sun went down. It was a great day for wildlife spotting, but apart from one dolphin for about 20 seconds, no wildlife turned up to be spotted!
We're anchored in a Pioneer Bay on the northwest side of the island, a well known picturesque anchorage, but fairly remote and surrounded mostly by mangroves and what looks like rainforest clad hills . No sooner had we got the anchor down than a Police Patrol boat arrived alongside. There are 5 other boats in the anchorage and the Police boat, that had come 40 miles from Townsville, was carrying out safety checks - making sure boats had lifejackets, flares and EPIRBs and they were all in date. Like New Zealand, boats venturing more than a certain number of miles off the coast in Australia have to have safety gear by law. Having renewed our flares and EPIRB just before we left Sydney, they were happy all our safety gear was in order and went on their way.