Hinchinbrook Channel

Lynn & Mike ..around the world
Mike Drinkrow & Lynn v/d Hoven
Fri 29 Aug 2014 23:29
18:15.49s 146:02.56e   Hinchinbrook Channel
From Fantome island we went to Orpheus island for the night, and I managed to squeeze in a snorkel. The reef is in excellent condition here, with lots of hard and soft corals, giant clams and a good collection of reef fish. Still too murky to take any underwater pics.
Next morning we set off early for the Hinchinbrook channel as you can only cross the entrance at Lucinda at high tide. Just before Lucinda, Mike hooked a 1.8m Marlin, which we managed to release unharmed.   It was a little “hairy” going into the channel, as the sand bars move constantly and the charts are just an “indication”. Lucinda has a long jetty into the deeper part of the bay, for loading sugar, and this jetty area is very popular with local fishermen.  There must have 40 tinny’s, each with 2 fishermen, having a cast. It was a Monday! 
marlin hinch  tinny
The marlin                                                                                                                                    Fisherman off Lucinda Jetty
The Hinchinbrook channel is a deep (after the entrance) channel that runs for 32nm from Lucinda up to Cardwell, between the mainland and the Hinchinbrook Island. This island is the biggest national park island in Australia. The channel is lined with mangroves and has lots of inlets/ creeks, making it a fisherman’s haven. The area is famous for Barramundi, grunter, snapper and crabs!   While it was still a little cold for Barramundi, we had a lot more success with crabs – managing to trap both Mud and Blue Swimmer crabs.
The traps are nets supported by steel rings, with a narrow entrance for the crabs, lured by a bait bag. These nets would be illegal for crayfishing in South Africa as the animal cannot get out. We put them down at low tide in the muddy creeks and pick them up the next day at high tide. While you don't need a license to trap crabs, you do need to check size and also put back the females. But there is no shortage of “legal” crabs. Sadly I seem to have developed some intolerance for crabs, making me feel rather ill – more for Mike!
putting down pots  b o prey hinchinbrook
Heading down a creek to lay the traps                                                                                                       White Bellied Sea Eagle
crab in pot   crab sm
Crabs in the pot – still to be sorted                                                                                           Mud Crab - Big enough for dinner
We spent a few nights meandering down the channel – with Mike spending a lot of time fishing.  We passed very few cruising boats, but did see the magnificent Nordhavn 68, Karajas as she was raising her anchor to move further north.  
n68 karajas   cardwell
Karajas – with her anchor wash at full throttle                                                  Cardwell, a “fuel stop” on the Bruce Highway to Cairns
At the top of the channel we stopped at the metropolis of Cardwell (Population 1250) to pick up some bread and veggies.  You have to anchor about 1nm off the town (due to shallows) and then dingy in, to a rather hectic jetty.  Just south of Cardwell, the beautiful marina development of Port Hinchinbrook was dredged out of a creek and beautiful homes build around it.  Sadly it is now closed due to the destruction of cyclone Yasi, a category 5 (gusts up to 285km) that hit this area in Feb 2011.  Not only was this a catastrophic storm, but the marina was poorly built. The story goes, that the owners did not like the tall pylons holding the floating docks, so they cut them shorter. When the storm surge came, it lifted the docks right off the pylons and the boats all got blown into a pile. What a disaster. While the edges have now been cleaned up and the homes seem to have their docks restored, the marina is still trashed. It is still in receivership and still up for sale. There is a lot of silt that has to be removed and all the docks rebuilt, a massive task..... and who knows when the next cyclone could hit!
This pic comes from the press after Yasi 
We are now heading back south to meet up with Myrtle at Fantome island and then go out to the Outer Reef on a fishing, and hopefully diving, expedition.