Wednesday 27 July 2016

Cairns to Horn Island (Thursday Island)

 This is a brief of our trip from Cairns to Horn/Thursday Island – all passage planning is worked on 5nm per hour. In total we will travelled 587.6 nautical miles (nm) in 10 days and only motored 16 of those miles.  Sailing in behind the reef was a dream. Over the course of the 10 days we had one lay day, so it’s pretty full on and felt tired by the end of it. The weather/wind was brilliant with one day of low winds. We really didn’t want to run the engine using precious diesel as its very expensive to buy at either Horn or Thursday Islands, but topped up the little we had used in readiness for the 700 nm’s to Tual – Indonesia. All the anchorages below where excellent and no rolling!

July 3, Sunday: Cairns to Low Isles. 32nm over 8hrs. Anchored at: 16.22.79S & 145.33.66E. Magnificent place with a very cool lighthouse on it. The Isle is a very popular day stop with the tourist boats from Cairns to snorkel etc.

Low Isles lighthouse
July 4, Monday: Low Isles to Cape Bedford. 76nm over 15hrs. Anchored at: 15.13.75S & 145.18.69E. Nothing special here, but a huge body of water.

Friends leaving at sunrise from Cape Bedford
July 5, Tuesday Cape Bedford to Cape Melville (Bathurst Bay). 102nm over 17hrs. Anchored at: 14.12.24S & 144.27.55E. Again, nothing special just a massive bay.

Amazing rock formations at Cape Melville
July 6, Wednesday: Cape Melville to Flinders Island. 12nm over 3 hours with a deviation. Anchored at: 14.10.48S & 144.13.76E. As we went to leave in the morning to potter over to Flinders Island, Reef VTS (Vessel Tracking System) reported over the radio that a vessel had set off their epirb and where in distress. It just so happened we were in the immediate area but El Gato got their first so we left them rescue to the vessel. A little bit of excitement for us! Those on board the distressed vessel where fishermen whose engine has given up and they were drifting, so El Gato towed them to shore. Flinders was lovely and we got to go ashore here with our new friends and had a few sundowners enjoying the chit chat.

Flinders Island
July 7, Thursday: Flinders Island to Morris Island. 62nm over 10hrs. Anchored at: 13.29.50S & 143.43.24E. A very cool place (Google it) a little island out in the middle of nowhere with a sand spit that extends for a couple of miles. As much as we wanted to get off Matilda and go for a walk the lonely island is the home of a well-known 5 meter male crocodile – so no walking for us. On the way up we had an escort – a black tip reef shark stayed by our side for over 6 hours swimming close, going under our keel to the other side and back – it was wonderful watching him – we had never seen that before. Bruce thinks the shark thought we were a trawler and was waiting for scraps. (Loads of trawlers up this way). On the trip we also caught a spotty mackerel. We had a 3rd of it for dinner with Bruce chips,,,,yummo.

Black tip reef shark

Morris Island
July 8, Friday: Morris Island to Cape Grenville (Shelburne Bay). 116 nm over 18hrs. Anchored at: 11.54.29S & 143.04.73E. Huge bay with the whitest of sand we have ever seen. Again we can’t go ashore – crocodile country. But the sand is pristine white – Bruce said they sand mind here for the sand as its silica sand. On the trip up today we had 2 pods of dolphins on our bow swimming in our wake. They are magic to watch, I love every second of watching them.

July 9: Saturday: Lay day. Need a break from sailing to catch our breath. Got a few things to attend to and need an afternoon nap. Going to cook Chicken A’la King for tomorrows night’s dinner as it’s a big day tomorrow and tonight we are doing a lamb roast with loads of vegies.

July 10: Shelburne Bay to Escape River (Sharp Point). 69 nm over 11.5 hours. Anchored at: 10.58.75S & 142.39.82E. Interesting history here, and full of pearl farmers. It took us 1 hour to motor in to the anchorage – very calm inside. Stay in the middle of the channel.

Friends at anchor in the Escape River
July 11: Escape River to Cape York (THE TIP OF AUSTRALIA). 27.4nm over 5.15 hours. Anchored at: 10.41.25S & 142.31.45E. We anchored just west of the Cape York Island and walked up to the sign which says: ‘You are standing on the most Northern tip of Australia’ for a photo. We took 4 attempts at getting in past the sand bar which we kept hitting. You must go very hard to the island and turn hard to starboard as you approach the sand spit. Look out for the resident crocodile on the rock there.

Crocodile Rock!

Cant get any further (the land behind the sign are two islands)

Matilda entering the Albany Passage
July 12: Cape York to Horn Island. 22nm’s over 4hrs. Anchored at: 10.35.76S & 142.14.42E. Horn is right beside Thursday but we can’t anchor at Thursday due to the winds putting us on a lee shore. This area is renowned for its crocodiles and sharks so as clear as the water is, there is no swimming here.

Horn Island has loads of dogs.

High tide at Horn Island

Low tide at Horn Island

Quite a few of the fleet's tenders.

Customs House - Thursday Island. All checked out.

The S2I fleet, waiting for departure.

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