Lady Musgrave Island
Sunday 21st May 2017
Distance run: 105nm
The weather forecast for Thursday was very unattractive so we delayed leaving Kingfisher Bay until Friday. We lifted the anchor after lunch and set off on the 100 nm miles or so to Lady Musgrave Island to time our entry into the pass through the reef with slack tide next morning. We have plenty of experience of reef entries, having crossed the pacific, but with all the time spent here in Oz we are seriously rusty and out of practice, so getting the timing right is essential.
We motored out of the remaining channel of the Great Sandy Strait and into the calm waters of Hervey Bay just as the sun was dipping below the horizon, hoisted sail and with a gentle 15 knots of south-easterly behind us headed out to the islands at the very southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. With no moon until much later on in the night, and with lots of cloud cover, it was a very dark night. As we left the protected waters of Hervey Bay the seas became lively and confused and the first of several squalls hit, with extra wind and plenty of rain. It was not a night for sleeping.
Thankfully it all settled down eventually, and Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny, though the sea was still unruly until we passed into the water on Lady Musgrave’s western side protected by her reef. We entered through the pass at 11:30 as planned, and it was a real treat to have buoyage to guide us safely in before turning to starboard and picking our way into the lagoon using Google Earth KAP files and mark one eyeball to avoid coral bommies. We dropped the anchor in a sandy patch and settled back into a spot with swinging room between bommies. After lunch and a nap, Steve went ashore with Bob & Sue for a walk around the island, while I stayed onboard and chilled in the cockpit.
Lady Musgrave Island, as yet with no hint of the enormous reef that surrounds her.
The electronic chart shows the island in yellow, reef in green. The Google Earth image shows the island reddish brown, the reef grey.
Too late to catch the green flash, but a lovely sunset.
On Sunday we all went ashore with our snorkelling gear to explore the calmer water on the lee side of the island which was reported to have some interesting coral pools. It was just coming up from low water, and too shallow for snorkelling, and we considered trying elsewhere, but the current in the lagoon was very strong because of the sea state outside and the wind wavelets on the surface quite big, so we went for a walk on the island while the level rose. Once in the water, we found a few colourful fish, some orange-tinted stingrays and hundreds of sea cucumbers, but hardly any coral. A little disappointed, we decided to give up for now, and headed back to the boat.
As the afternoon wore on, dark clouds appeared and the wind picked up, and after hearing the weather forecast for the next few days we came to the conclusion that there was little point in staying here any longer. We were glad we’d had a chance to see the island in the sunshine, but this really wasn’t the weather for exploring the reef. We planned our next passage to Port Clinton, about 120 nmiles away on the mainland, and decided to leave with the slack tide tomorrow.
A rather unfriendly sky which very soon dumped wind and rain all over us. Not the weather for snorkelling, sadly.