Last stop: Holmes Reef West

We had spent the previous three weeks anchored in front of various islets, always with a strip of land however small to hide behind. This time we were sheltered behind a reef wall with only tiny little sand cays that disappear at high tide and tend to shift with the seasons, so are not even marked officially on charts!

We had a great spinnaker sail to Holmes Reef, the cruisiest of passages and it felt a little surreal sailing with Bluey in the middle of the Coral Sea.

But then you get to your destination and think, right, now what do we do? It is quite spectacular from the air, but sparse at the same time.

The reef felt quite different. There were no birds to keep us company (although the few that were about stopped for the night on Anui and made a mess), no walks ashore unless you count the tiny disappearing cay. The boat moved a lot more at anchor especially at high tide, there was not a lot of protection, and the wind was forecast to reach 25 knots.

Although the Holmes Reefs have a reputation for spectacular dives in the Division Channel separating East and West Holmes Reefs, we wondered about snorkels, especially in the stronger breeze.  But we gave it a go. We found yet again that the reef was in a poor state, grey and barren, except for a few pink and purple patches of Acropora putting up a fight for survival.

  • Sabre Squirrelfish
  • Sea Sponge
  • Barren seascape at Holmes Reef West
  • Dick's Damsel
  • Giant Clam
  • Sea Sponge
  • Ringeye Hawkfish

We stayed at Holmes Reef West for three days in strengthening conditions. The wind was reaching 25 knots at times and the anchorage alongside the long reef was choppy. PredictWind was showing that it would get even stronger and stay strong for 10 days with possible rain. So we knew the end of our Coral Sea Voyage was near. It felt a little like the end of the holiday, except we are permanently on holidays, but you know what we mean!

Final evening in the Coral Sea

On 23 August, after three weeks in the wilderness, we headed back to civilisation, taking advantage of a short 24 hour break in the weather. We crossed the Great Barrier Reef just underneath Milln Reef and kept going to Fitzroy Island for an end of voyage celebration before getting back to Cairns. We had seen no other boat in that time, so we knew it would be a shock to the system. But at the same time, we were ready to get back in touch with our friends and family, read the hundreds of emails that had piled up, update ourselves with world news, replenish the supplies and fall back into a more ‘normal’ life.

We will publish the full cruise story of our Coral Sea Voyage in a forthcoming post. So if you want to get into the nitty gritty of this great adventure and see more photos, stay tuned. Until then, we are still in catch up mode with our posts, so we intend to keep posting twice a week. See you in a few days for some news about what we have been up to while in Cairns.

19 thoughts on “Last stop: Holmes Reef West

  1. Wow, your photos are always stunning! The photo of the Sabre Squirrelfish seems to be staring at me, great photo. The final photo from the Coral Sea is very beautiful! And, that is a huge spinnaker! I remember racing my Laser sailboat every Sunday on the lake as a kid. I have been using the location tracker website you guys mentioned a while back, it works great. Be safe! 🇦🇺

    • The Satellite tracker PredictWind has been great for us and for our followers. Thanks for the feedback on the photos too, John.

      The spinnaker on a Laser would be quite a feat! I remember sailing these as a kid… speedy and very slippery! On Anui the spinnaker is the cruisy sail generally, as long as we drop it before the wind picks up too much, otherwise it’s the divorce sail!

  2. Some stunning colours! Sad how even the remote reefs you’re visiting are depleted.
    Still, high speed spinnaker sailing in 25kts sounds pretty exciting!

  3. Great photos as always, Chris! They get better and better! I see that the adventure continues and you’re getting more pleasant voyages. Keep it like that! Take care dear… 🙂

    • We wish you we’re accompanying us too! Getting ready for that now. Mad rush in Cairns next week to get everything we want done before Wade’s brother and wife join us on Wednesday!

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