Welcome to our second post in the series about the Capricorn and Bunker Group, part of the stunning Southern Great Barrier Reef. As soon as we unclipped from our mooring at Lady Elliot, the spinnaker went up and we had another cruisy run for 20 miles to the second link in the chain of reefs: Lady Musgrave.
We had been there before, but thought it was well worth a return trip. Along the way, we passed close to a few frolicking whales looking pretty relaxed, flipper and tail up!
If you have never sailed into a coral cove, Lady Musgrave is a must. With a large navigable lagoon, it provides protected conditions for anchoring and snorkeling and with the island as well it means it is quite popular. We counted eighteen yachts plus the cruise ships that make their daily trip from Bundaberg with their load of tourists. But even with that many vessels, you can explore the reef and lagoon without feeling it is crowded as it is extensive. Here is an aerial view to give you a better perspective. We have highlighted the lagoon entrance and where we were anchored.
The entrance to the lagoon is a bit daunting at low tide. Although deep enough – we had 6 meters under the keels all the way in – it is quite narrow, especially in a catamaran. We got there at close to low tide with the water rushing out of the lagoon at about 6 knots! But at least we could see exactly where the edge of the reef was! We crawled in doing about 2 knots forward speed and once inside the lagoon, meandered our way through the coral bommies.
Having the sun high in the sky is important to see where to go and avoid the coral outcrops. We were going to anchor but with all 8 of the new public moorings vacant, we thought we’d hook on to one of them to start with. We did anchor a couple of days later. One thing about anchoring near a reef or in a lagoon, is that you really need to pull back hard on the anchor to ensure it is properly set. Dragging anchor and ending up on the reef is the last thing you want. You also need to be settled in daylight as moving at night or with poor light is a recipe for disaster.
Once settled, there is a lot you can do to entertain yourself: a walk ashore on the little coral island, some kayaking, and of course lots of snorkeling. The island is covered with pisonia trees and provides shelter for a variety of nesting birds. Here are a few images of the locals:
The snorkeling at Lady Musgrave is amazing. Lots of dainty fish like Damselfish, Moorish idols, Butterflyfish, colorful Parrotfish and Rabbitfish to name just a few species. Here are a few of our favorites:
Sea turtles were frequent sights too, one even swimming next to Take It Easy, checking us out…
Now this is what we signed up for! The weather is beautiful and we have spent a few leisurely days there. We even caught up with Karm, the mono we met in Bundaberg, for roast dinner. Thanks Darren and Kris!
We are taking advantage of calm conditions to move on along the chain of reefs. All coral cays, reefs and lagoons are quite different, with diverse types of fish and corals. You can’t stop at all of them, as some are out of bound scientific research areas. But we decide to leave Lady Musgrave on 15 July to sail to Boult Reef for a day or so, then onto Fitzroy Reef. We will tell you about these in our next posts. Just as a reminder, here is the chart of the coral cays.