What do you do when your reef hopping plan does not work out? Enjoy what you can: zooming around in the dinghy between the sandbanks at 1770, cleaning the hulls, enjoying a few pub meals ashore, doing some sightseeing at Pancake Creek, all the time keeping an eye on the weather forecasts in the vague hope we might be able to sail to the reef.
We must say that despite not being able to reef hop, we have enjoyed some lively passages. Phil hogged the wheel and had a ball getting to know Anui. He is impressed, we are all having fun sailing, and Wade and I are relishing these days when our boat shines after giving us a lot of teething problems. As one of our sailing friends says: Let the good times roll!
A glimpse of a coral cay
Even though we would not normally venture towards the reef in persistent 20 to 25 knot winds and lumpy conditions, we could feel Phil’s disappointment and decided to sail to Masthead Island anyway, the closest coral cay to Pancake Creek, about 30 miles away. We figured we might be able to lob onto the public mooring recently installed there, so we would be safe and if it was untenable once we got there, we could turn tail and head to the Keppels.
We enjoyed a great sail and although the ocean was quite rough, Anui handled beautifully. There were some sunny breaks as we arrived. Phil can now say he has sailed to the Great Barrier Reef. We picked up the public mooring and stayed for the night. Phil got to walk on a coral cay, see the graduations of colours so typical of the reef, spot a few turtles, see rays leaping out of the water, shovelnose sharks in the shallows and beautiful noddies flying around us like a welcoming committee.
We fished, Phil caught four bream for dinner. We would have loved to snorkel, but the ocean was too agitated for that. It blew all night and we rocked and rolled in the chop. We were safe, just uncomfortable. And Anui did not stop creaking! All the internal panels moved and groaned… we did not get much sleep!
Back at the Keppels
So it goes without saying that we were not enamoured with the prospect of spending another one of those nights at a different coral cay! We instead sailed to the Keppel Isles on Wednesday, and what a good sail that was, peaking at 14.9 with just the jib as we surfed a few waves. We went straight to our favourite spot at Monkey Bay, had a brief snorkel, but the visibility was poor. So no underwater photos to show.
We will hopefully be able to show Phil a few of the beautiful anchorages around the group before he flies home. But the weather forecast is for more of the same conditions for days, the effect of the cyclone further north, so we doubt that the snorkeling will be any good.