Monday 3rd July 2017
Distance run: 143 nm
We slipped the lines mid-morning yesterday after a last coffee and cake at 'Mooz' by the marina with Bob and Sue - quite possibly our last in Australia. We were leaving on the final leg of the journey up the east coast and around the very northern tip of Australia, Cape York, before checking out of the country at its northernmost Port of Entry/Exit, Thursday Island. Then we would be continuing our journey west to Indonesia and beyond.
This trip was to cover 143 of the 470 nmiles or so to TI, and our destination was Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef, from whose lookout in 1770 Lieutenant James Cook was able to observe the outer reefs and identify what is now called 'Cook's Passage', his way out of the treacherous, uncharted reefs and into clear, deep water. He left behind a reef named Endeavour, upon which he had months before foundered and nearly lost Her Majesty's Bark of that name, along with untold numbers of other place names which bore witness to the navigational trials the Great Barrier Reef afforded him - Cape Tribulation, Cape Lookout, Weary Bay, Cooktown (where Endeavour was repaired), Thirsty Sound...
The wind forecast was for 15-20 knots, we had 5. We motored for a couple of hours till it finally filled in, then unfurled the twin headsails and ran downwind at a respectable speed. There was very little moon overnight, and it was just a little scary steering between reefs in the very dark, using the electronic chartplotter as our guide and the depth sounder and lighthouse/beacon/buoy lights as reference points. Thanks goodness for GPS, eh? Wouldn't have wanted to do that with paper charts! And definitely not with no charts at all, which is what Cook had until he made his own.
We stayed on the edge of the shipping lanes for the most part, our AIS ensuring the big boys knew we were there, and arrived at the anchorage at Lizard island just before 1100 this morning. The wind was howling down the hillsides into the anchorage, but the water was calm, and we were soon settled in a good spot. After catching up on a couple of hours' sleep, we decided to relax onboard today and leave exploring the island until tomorrow.