A Step Backwards
Position: 19 06.8 S 146 51.5 E
Our explore ashore of the Cape Cleveland lighthouse station yesterday afternoon proved to be a lonely affair. Like most lighthouses, the Cape Cleveland light had been converted to an automatic solar powered affair many years ago. While the cast iron structure was original, the light was no longer a kerosene affair that required a keeper to winch a weight to the top of the tower every 75 minutes in order to keep it rotating. Another sign informed us that the area was now managed by a caretaking couple but when we wandered around everything seemed desolate and abandoned. There were two utility vehicles at the bottom of the hill, one was looking pretty rusty with flat tyres so presumably had not moved in a long time while the other looked more of a going concern. As we wandered around the station a small black helicopter buzzed around us and touched down on the landing pad. We were fairly close to the helipad and clearly its occupants could see us but after idling for about a minute the machine powered up again and took off. Very strange, we thought.
Back down the hill to the beach we did a bit of detective work. There were fresh tyre marks on the beach and they must have come from the one serviceable looking vehicle parked part way up the hill as there is no access to the beach from anywhere else. There were also some mooring buoys a short distance off the beach and a stout rope secured to a large rock with a wire strop that had been led carefully up the beach. Presumable there had been a boat of some description that had been loaded or unloaded with the vehicle, the vehicle returned to its parking spot and then the caretakers must have taken off, presumably for Townsville. We wondered whether they merely visited the station on a regular basis or lived here more permanently. Certainly, it looked a desolate lonely spot with nary a sign of much in the way of human care. No garden, not even a pot plant, and no curtains to adorn any of the many blank windows. It was all quite bit depressing, so Kate and I gladly made our way back to Sylph to her more intimate surrounds.
Back on board, the anchorage was still quite rolly so we decided to try moving into Cleveland Bay a bit further where hopefully the swell might have dissipated somewhat. We anchored near a small fishing trawler in water as shallow as Sylph’s draught and the tide would allow. It was an improvement and we settled in for a quiet pizza and movie night.
At four this morning, I arose to the alarm to check the weather. We hoped to be able to continue on our way to the next cape, Cape Bowling Green, against a lighter morning breeze, but when I got up the wind was still very fresh and not at all conducive to pleasant sailing so I returned to my bunk.
Later in the morning, after breakfast, we further assessed the situation. It seemed that it was unlikely that we were going to get conditions suitable for continuing south until at least Friday. So, not wishing to remain at a lonely rolly anchorage for another couple of days, at 1000 we weighed anchor and sailed back to Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island. We have since been for a walk to Balding Bay, had a swim, a shower and a mineral water at the pub. Now tis time for another pizza—much more satisfactory.
All is well.