The last of our Reef hops

For our last reef hopping this season, things did not quite go to plan. We had hoped to do this with our friends on Bossa Nova, but their schedule did not work with our weather window and we left the Keppels alone. We also had hoped to anchor at a series of reefs we had not yet been to in the Capricorn & Bunker Group, but we did not do so well on that front either! The weather was a bit iffy, with moderate northerlies, overcast skies and a SE change on Sunday 20th October.

A useful Map of the Capricorn & Bunker Groups also showing the typical reef formation. Produced by Luke Nothdurft, Queensland University of Technology

There are not many protected anchorages in northerly winds unless you go inside a lagoon such as Fitzroy or Lady Musgrave. Any of the other reefs are exposed unless the conditions are very light, which of course they were not!

We did manage one new to us reef: Broomfield Reef, past North West Island.

Anchoring at Broomfield Reef
Anchoring at Broomfield Reef

It was an attractive reef even though the conditions were quite lively: 15 to 20 knots NW, some current and some chop. Here are some images. Click on the first image to view in full screen slide show.

The plan was then to move to nearby Wilson Island, but after an uncomfortable night at Broomfield, we passed on the idea of an overnight stay there. Although the NW was below 15 knots during the night, the current running alongside the reef meant we were beam to the swell – not pleasant, even for us, and it would have been the same off Wilson Island.

With two more days of moderate northerlies and a SE change half way through the third day, we made another plan: we stopped and snorkeled on the SE side of Heron Reef – first time for us and definitely worth a stop.

We then sailed at snail pace under screecher to Fitzroy Reef where we have been many times but which assured us of a calm night. We snorkel there and moored overnight.

We must admit to being a little saddened by the state of the reef at Fitzroy. It seems to be deteriorating at every visit. The corals are losing their colour, there is rubble, storm damage and algae… May be we have been spoilt with the vibrant marine life up north and look at the southern GBR with different eyes.

A Harlequin Tuskfish swimming above a patch of dead coral, covered in algae

Then it was off to Lady Elliot on Saturday. We did not leave until we could see the narrow entrance which meant that despite a nice screecher sail, did not get there until 4pm, a bit late for a snorkel, and the mooring was not protected from the NW.

Lady Elliot Island

So reluctantly we did a right hand turn and continued on to Rooney Point, Fraser Island – another 45nm south and got there by midnight. We sailed at a good pace with the wind on our tail, witnessing an impressive light show from the thunderstorms in the distance. It went on for hours. As we got closer and the wind picked up then dropped to nothing, we hurriedly rolled the sail – just in time for a huge downpour!

It felt a bit sad to leave the Reef, disappointing also to miss out on a last snorkel! But we sailed all the way and had a comfortable night. Had we stopped at Lady Elliot overnight, we would have had to motor all the way to Fraser Island on Sunday morning.

At least one mission was accomplished: we are out of the cyclone season with 11 days to spare!

Sunset on Reef Hopping!

It is time to turn our attention to “maintenance” issues: medical overhaul for both of us and boat works for Anui. More on this in another post!

6 thoughts on “The last of our Reef hops

  1. We wondered how you were going there on the reef as it has been blowing hard here at GKI. Our memory travelling through the southern reef with TIE last year is a special one. Those ‘perfect’ conditions are so rare aren’t they?! Hopefully we’ll do it again. Enjoying a snorkel here at Monkey before this evening’s blow. Bossa

    • Hi Amanda, we had mixed success, and as you say perfect conditions are rare. We still had fun even if we did not do as much as we hoped, and are now safely down at Fraser Island.

  2. Hi Chris, It is a pity you didn’t get to spend time in the Bunker Group – I don’t feel quite so jealous now, having not really got there ourselves. I love the contrast of Harlequin Tuskfish pic.

    • Hello Trish! Well, we had a few days there and made the most of the conditions. Maybe we should have waited at the Keppels longer, till after the current blow, but we were over the crowds there and the sitting around not doing much! There is always next year!

  3. Sorry you missed some highlights on your way south, next time eh. Love the tusfisk. Hope all goes well with the doctors.

    • Yes, not really looking forward to any of that! We are hoping Wade can escape the biopsy. My doc won’t be happy with my levels… one of the hardest thing with life aboard is getting enough exercise. We desperately need to do something on that front!

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