After spending our first two weeks at the Reef inside protected lagoons, Greg and Ann were ready for more exposed reef anchorages. So without further ado, here is your weekly dose of reef images both above and under the surface. We have coral, fish, birds and aerial shots for you!
This satellite map shows where we have been during the past three weeks.
Anchoring next to a reef with the only protection a coral cay just a few meters high above the ocean or sometimes only a reef platform at low tide means more movement, with the current running along the reef. The snorkeling is also a little more active. This week we spent time at a few of these reef anchorages.
First, maintenance on the go
After a couple of days at the Keppels for provisioning and laundry, we decided to head back out to the reef. We had an active sail from Great Keppel Island to Mast Head Island: strongish breeze, lots of waves washing over the boat, then it lightened to near nothing. We had reduced our mainsail during the windier part of the trip but managed to get our single line reefing caught somewhere inside the boom, unable to properly reef or get the mainsail back up again. Sad thing! Single line reefing is great until it gets stuck somewhere inside the boom and you can’t get to the problem area. We made do with a sloppy reduced main and as the breeze eased, crawled our way to Mast Head.
Wade and Greg spent an afternoon trying to fix the problem. In the end they set up a work around: back to slab reefing! Not as tidy as single line reefing, but a lot simpler and manageable. That system will do until we can figure out how to get to the pulleys inside the boom!
Another week of reef hopping
Every year the Great Barrier Reef faces greater challenges from coral bleaching to coastal pollution. It is easy to lose hope as we witness these problems. However we want to look for beauty and wonder. We also want to inspire others with photographs that highlight what is at risk and where the resilience of the reef is evident. We really hope our seascapes, aerials and underwater images do just that. We will continue sharing stories that celebrate the reef’s magic.
Special time at Mast Head Island
It is quite special being the only boat at a reef. We had Mast Head to ourselves for a couple of days. Mast Head Island is a lenticular cay with vegetation of sheoaks on the outer edge and Pisonia trees in the center. The island is surrounded by reef flats which gently slope into gutters, but there is no defined reef wall. The water was clear, the visibility good for snorkeling, even if the weather was very chilly.
Other Reefs and Cays
From Mast Head, we hopped to a few different spots, spending a day at each: Erskine Island, Wistari Reef, Heron Reef, Wilson Island and finally North West Island. We were the only boat there at all of these anchorages. At some we just walked around the coral cay, enjoying the birdlife, at others we also snorkeled. In general we found the reef was not in a good state, with evidence of bleaching, crown of thorn attack, and very degraded coral, particularly at Heron and Wistari Reefs, although the fish life was abundant. But in our usual fashion we made the most of our hops, had fun and stopped at a couple of places we had never been to before. We also tried to give our friends a variety of experiences. The highlight for them was a drift dive along the western edge of the Heron Reef. We all jumped in the water and drifted with the current over shallow fields of mainly Acropora corals with the dinghy tied to Wade’s ankle, and ended up at the wreck of HMS Protector, a really enjoyable spot where the marine life is totally unafraid and lets you come close.
Here is a slide show of some of the highlights.
With the wind strengthening, it is time to sail back to the Keppels for a few days, re-provision then head north. Stay tuned for the next phase of our adventures with Greg and Ann on board.