Thursday 15th June 2017
Distance run: 59 nm
An early start this morning for the 50 nmile or so journey to Fitzroy Island, just south of Cairns. It seemed to take forever to get light, so it was 06:30 by the time we were motoring past Mawari towards the channel out of the harbour. We slowed and waited a while as it was obvious they were having problems with their windlass, and eventually Bob had to hand winch their anchor up. Thank goodness they were in shallow water!
The first part of the passage was very pleasant with a good wind and flat seas, and we made fast progress. Around late morning, however, the wind picked up to 25-30 knots and with it so did the seas. Although we were inside the protection of the Great Barrier Reef, so there was no ocean swell, the wind waves were quite steep and choppy, making the ride quite uncomfortable. The wind and seas were now coming from the south, and we began to have doubts that the anchorage on Fitzroy would offer sufficient protection.
Quite a broody sky, even before the wind and seas picked up.
As we approached Fitzroy and entered the channel between the island and the mainland, it was like being in a washing machine as a very confused sea pushed us this way and that. Before we could even see the anchorage we knew it was going to be untenable in these conditions, and a quick chat with Bob and Sue confirmed they had reached the same conclusion. With only an intermittent phone signal we tried calling Marlin Marina in Cairns, where we were booked in for arrival next day, and fortunately they were happy for us to arrive a day early, so we pressed on towards Cairns. Once we were around the headland, the wind and the waves calmed considerably, and we made our way up the main channel and into Trinity Inlet.
Our first glimpse of Cairns, nestled below the broody hills. We shared the shipping channel with a dredger and a ferry.
We called the marina again to confirm our arrival, and were met at our designated berth by Andy who took our lines, welcomed us to the marina and came aboard to complete all the paperwork. All done, we settled the old girl properly in her berth, had a bit of a tidy up and sat back to enjoy an anchoring beer and the fact that we were not in the Fitzroy anchorage. Tomorrow we begin the task of final provisioning and boat preparation in readiness for the next leg of the journey – to South East Asia.