Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Episode 2 Cairns to Port Douglas


Paul’s Dad George and Family friend Keith Guthrie flew into Cairns late on Monday 31st Oct.  We spent the night doing last minute provisions, a visit to the grog shop and showing them around the boat.
We sailed out the next morning enroute to the Low Isles off Port Douglas. It was a rough trip and George was sick. We stayed there for 3 nights and the weather was perfect. In that time we walked on the island, kayaked and snorkeled heaps. The island is terrific with a lighthouse and heaps of birds flying around.

On the 2nd day we managed to get 5kg of fresh prawns off a local prawn trawler for a great price and that night had drinks and prawns on the beach for sunset. We kept the heads and shells for the next day on purpose….

For the entire time we were there we had a few bat fish and a large black trevally under the boat feeding off our veggie scraps. So on Wednesday Morning we decided to take turns in feeding them the prawn scraps while the others jumped in on snorkel with the u/w cameras. After about 20 minutes we had 8 black tip reef sharks, 2 big GT’s, the black trevally and about 6 bat fish all competing for the food and it was a hoot. Dad and Keith had a great experience. That arvo Keith and Lisa did a big paddle on the kayaks around the island and up into the mangrove areas.

Thursday we up anchored and had a great sail in 10 knots of wind and wandered north to St Crispin Reef.  On the way we sailed very close to Undine Reef and caught a trevally while trolling.

St Crispin is the infamous reef where American Divers Tomas and Eileen Lonegan went missing in the 1990’s.
Paul went up into the crows nest and we managed to find a great anchorage surrounded on 3 sides by some great bommies. We snorkeled and spear fished on these on Friday and blew Keith’s mind with the water clarity and amount of fish life. We managed to knock off 2 Coral Trout while spearing and had a very yummy fresh dinner.
On Saturday we took George to a remote pinnacle we spotted on the way in. It was about 1.5nm from Lorelei’s anchorage and it had deep water all around it. The spearing was great and we saw a stack of big fish action and sharks which George thought were great. Keith thought this was a bit extreme and sat this one out.

While at St Crispin Reef we managed to get some fishing from the boat too. We all had a blast - especially Keith…

On the Monday we decided to head further north and packed up ready to sail. Paul went to turn the engine on and click-click - nothing happened. We spent a few hours fault finding but quickly came to the conclusion that the starter motor was dead. It rained all afternoon so on Tuesday morning with better winds and weather we had no option but to sail to Port Douglas. The sail was actually great and we managed to sail right up to the channel entrance. Paul then jumped into the RIB and started towing Lorelei in. The Marina organized an easy entry berth and the guys from the slipway came out in their boat to assist in the tow and barging us into the marina berth. All went well apart from a few frayed nerves and we were in.

Tuesday was also the final day of the Port Douglas Marlin Challenge and that afternoon and evening we were surrounded by the Game Boats in the Marina and we went up to have a look at the presentation and Trophies.

That night Paul cooked sushi for us all. We didn’t realize but Keith had never had it before and he loved it. It was a funny night and Keith is kicking himself that he did not try it years ago.

The engine diagnosis was correct and we managed to finally source a new starter from a company in Brisbane which funnily enough is only 75m from where Paul used to work at Adreno!! Getting the old one out of the engine bay was an absolute mission and Paul had to use the angle grinder in some very tight spaces to cut it out. Dad and Lisa sat at the ready with the power switch and first aid kit!!

While waiting for the new part, we spent the time sightseeing and enjoying the area. Lisa, George and Keith hired a car one day and went to Cairns for a shopping run and Lisa took them to Crystal Cascades for a swim at our favourite swimming spot.

We went fishing up the river a few times and croc spotting also.

We also went to the beach and Paul tested his new 12m Cabrinha Kite out for the first time.

On the corner of the Marina overlooking the Charter Boats, Lorelei and the Inlet is a great open air restaurant called Lure.  Every night from 5-6 pm they have cheap drinks, $1 oysters and an awesome $7 salt and pepper calamari main. Its an absolute bargain and the meal is fantastic. We keep finding ourselves there every second night.

On the weekend the Bally Hooley Steam Train runs and departs Marina Mirage for a 1 hour round trip. The operation is staffed solely by volunteers so its great to have a ride and support them. Dad loves the old steam trains so Paul, George and Keith went and had a blast – literally on the horn!!

Our Starter Motor finally arrived on the Monday morning and with a few minor modifications, Stewart managed to get it fitted that afternoon. Finally!!!! We decided to stay in the marina that night as it was 20-25 knots out at the Low Isles.
We are leaving on Tuesday morning super early for a 60nm run up the reef with our first stop being Ribbon Reef #3 and Paul’s good old Spirit of Freedom Dive Spots like Steve’s Bommie ( Australia’s best Reef Dive…), Flare Point and a few others. We plan move from there to Ribbon #5 for a few days then #9 and #10 before arriving at Lizard Island. The weather is offering fantastic conditions for the Outer Reef with 10-20 knots of SE for the next 8 days at least. So it may be at least a week before we get to Lizard.
Our next blog will probably be at least 3 weeks away (around 10th Dec...)as we shouldn’t be back in phone range for at least 3 weeks. Hopefully…!!!

Chow for now. 
Paul, Lisa, George and Keith 
onboard the now healthy ship Lorelei.

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