Not all the adventures of our contributors are pond related, but this one is definitely aquatic!

Nan and Dave Bailey
Sail North Queensland's
Gorgeous Coast

by Nan Bailey
Kuranda, Queensland, Australia
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After Upollo Cay we went farther south. We were going to stop at the Frankland Islands, our old stamping grounds, but seeing it was so calm, we went right down to the bottom southeast corner of Hinchinbrook Island to Zoe Bay. Coordinates are 18° 23' 09.34" S, 146° 19' 46.28 E.

Hinchinbrook Island is a large very mountainous island and Zoe bay is only accessible in really good weather as it is exposed to the southeast trade winds. It reminded me of the mountains in the "Lord of the Rings" movie. There is a loooong sandy beach edged with trees, with these magnificent craggy mountains ringed around. We got there in the late afternoon so I photographed Mt. Bowen with the evening light behind it.


Next morning we went ashore and walked the beach to the southern creek. You couldn't swim at the beach as there were huge jellyfish there, and a salt water crocodile had been sighted around the mouth of the southern creek. There is a big swimming hole and waterfall about a kilometer in from the beach. 

On the way, you pass through a small patch of palm and rain forest, then through schlerophyl forest. The walk is over a kilometer long.

The waterfall was almost dry due to the prolonged dry weather, but would be a raging torrent in the wet season. It was lovely, cool and refreshing. There were ropes to swing from and lots of fish.

The wind had picked up quite strongly by afternoon so we left before it got worse. It was a lumpy trip south around the bottom of Hinchinbrook Island. We surfed in to Lucinda with its super long jetty and shallow water, going in the protected waters between the island and the mainland. There were storms in the night, but we were safely anchored in a well protected place.

Our next stop was Port Hinchinbrook Marina, on the mainland near Cardwell at the top end of the Island. Here we were able to do some washing, shopping, get ice and have a nice hot shower.

The next morning we toodled around to the fuel jetty to top up our diesel, as we had done a bit of motoring. This incident was a highlight in our trip, as the poor fellow rushed out, grabbed the hose for the fuel, but when David said, "I would like 15 litres please", he nearly fell off the jetty. He stared at us and said, "YOU'VE GOT TO BE JOKING. This pump puts out 100 litres a minute !!!!" I had to keep a straight face in case he got really cross with us. Anyway, he directed us to the fuel bowser out the front. He was used to the big fancy cruisers coming in with big hungry engines, not little yachts with 6 horse power diesels. We had actually only used 10 litres in the 2 weeks, but we bought an extra 5 as backup. 

Main beach at Dunk Island

Then we headed for Bedarra Island and Dunk Island. We stopped at Dunk, and went ashore so I could post mail and we met up with some other cruising sailors there. That was a very rough night. We had anchored for the northerly winds, but in the evening when it was too dark to move a nasty southeast squall blew in. We were up all night with the motor running as we were on a lee shore then. The anchor dragged a bit, but it all ended well. The rain was so heavy we couldn't see 50 feet around us. We are very pleased with how our yacht and little diesel handled in the very rough seas. 

The sea birds fish for the small bait fish, and so do the Mackerel and Tuna. We saw lots of flocks of terns fishing in the area north of Dunk Island.


Next morning we headed north. The monsoonal trough was heading south and it was time to head for home, before the northerlies got strong and the cyclone season arrived. On the way, we put the trolling lure out and caught a four foot Spanish Mackerel. They are great eating, but such a big one was a concern. We had to stop for ice at Mourilyan Harbour, which is a sugar terminal.

The harbour has a good area for boats to safely anchor in all weather because of the mountains and narrow entrance. Large sugar ships fill up here with cane sugar processed at the Mourliyan and Innisfail sugar mills.

After a good night in this really protected harbour, we once again headed north. By this time the wind was very light, and kept shifting direction, so it kept David busy, trimming the sails to get the best out of it. We reached the leads in to Cairns by about 4:30 pm, but had to go a little further north as we wanted to go in to Blue Water near Yorkeys Knob, which is one of the northern beaches of Cairns. There is a calm safe anchoring basin up the Moon Creek, where we could safely leave Iceni for a few days while we came home to get the trailer and see to business. We had a final sail and took her out of the water.

Because we have to drop the mast for her to travel on the road, it takes a few hours to get ready for the drive home, but at least we know she is safer in the cyclone season that way. Also, if we want to sail somewhere where is a slog against the wind to get there, we can trailer her there instead. David is very pleased with how she handles, and being a light boat, when the winds are good, she will sail speeds up to 15 knots. We often average 8-9 knotts in fairly light winds. She sails well close to the wind too, and will do a 360° turn which many yachts will not.

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