Discovering Hope and Pickersgill

On our slow return south from Lizard Island, we dropped down to an area less battered by howling winds and explored a couple of spots we had not been to before, discovering Hope Island and Pickersgill Reef.

Hope Island East

This little island was a gorgeous stop after a long day’s sailing. With the four moorings taken, we did something we rarely do: we motored past the lot of them and anchored right in front of the island, 100m from the beach.

Anchored right next to the cay

We were ready for a leg stretch so dinghied ashore with sundowner supplies in a basket, walked right around the vegetated cay, then settled at a picnic table no less and enjoyed the sunset, serenaded by flocks of Imperial Pied Pigeons. These were returning to the island after a day’s foraging on land in the rain forest.

Sundowners – thanks Murray
Imperial Pied Pigeons
Pied Imperial Pigeons
Moody sunset

With the wind strengthening during the next day, we left at dawn, rewarded for this early rise with a magic sunrise. We did not have far to go, but wanted to get to our next destination before the wind picked up too much.

The reward for getting up at dawn

Pickersgill Reef and Cay

The next week was going to be a little windy – 15 to 20 knots – so it was a bit marginal at the reef but regardless we decided to check out a spot we had never been to before: Pickersgill Reef and Cay. It is a large reef as shown on the satellite image, with a semi lagoon, not accessible with the big boat, but okay for an explore in the dinghy.

Being only 10 nautical miles from the mainland, the mountain range in the background is quite beautiful. Here is what our anchorage looked like from the air.

Easy anchorage at the northern end of the reef
The cay at the northwest end with the mainland ranges in the background

No sooner had we anchored that we put the dinghy in the water and went to the cay, then snorkelled around the lagunal area at the southern end of the reef as well as the bommies on the leeside. On our second day there, we snorkeled the bommies at the north west end of the reef. There was surprisingly good coral cover, although the visibility was not great which explains the less vibrant images. This whole thing about regrowth even on the inner reefs so close to the mainland has got us perplexed. But hey, we might as well enjoy it, even if it is mainly fast growing and fragile Acropora hard coral species and soft coral. As you will see in this slide show we particularly enjoyed the Giant Clams (Tridacna giga), and little fishes like the Saddleback Toby and Garfish which we don’t often see as well as the more common species. Maree saw a big blacktip shark heading Chris’s way, but Chris was too busy photographing the Toby to notice Mr Sharky!

  • Giant Clam Tridacna giga
  • Giant Clam Tridacna giga
  • Saddleback Toby
  • Saddleback Toby
  • Saddleback Toby
  • Giant Clam Tridacna giga
  • Garfish
  • Lemon damsel
  • Giant Clam
  • Giant Clam
  • Giant Clam
  • Giant Clam
  • Blackback Butterflyfish among the finger soft coral
  • Headband Humbug and blue pullers
  • Tunicate colony
  • Turbinaria
  • Lobophytum
  • Pinstripe butterflyfish over soft coral
  • Soft Coral species
  • Sixbar Wrasse

We ended up staying for two full days, even taking Bengie for a walk on the cay as she was getting better and eating well.

Bengie on the prowl
Walkabout on the cay

It has been particularly nice to enjoy aqua anchorages with the fantastic backdrop of the mountain range just south of Cooktown and all this with the convenience of internet and phone coverage!

As the conditions strengthened and the rolling at high tide got a bit uncomfortable, we moved on. We were not sure where we would end up. In our usual fashion, we raised the sails early in the morning the next day and went where the wind allowed. It was a particularly rowdy sail hard into wind, with lots of splashes, banging and carry on. We made it to Low Isles, just north of Port Douglas and this is where we will see you in a few days.

By the way, a tip for navigation on our website, as we notice that some of you get a bit lost. To return to our home page with all our posts listed, just click anywhere on the header. If looking for information on a particular location, use the Search button at the bottom of individual posts. And there is always the Menu to see other pages such as Cruise Stories or Publications. Happy wondering!

11 thoughts on “Discovering Hope and Pickersgill

  1. So many beautiful views there, guys! I am curious about how you can have internet access ten miles from shore. I’ve been a ham radio licensee since 1980 and understand the physics of radio wave propagation at different frequencies.

    • We often have internet and phone coverage up to 30nm from the coast. We have a modem on board together with a Cel-Fi Go booster, which helps amplify any signal we pick up. Sometimes it is a bit patchy if we are away from inhabited areas like in the far north, but most of the time we get some coverage.

      • Wow, thank you for this, I had a look online at that company. They have some great solutions for coverage, even a directional antenna. Be safe!

  2. Always love a cay so Pickersgill sounds like a spot to visit in the future. Makes for a great aerial shot too. You are certainly making the best out of some strong winds. Well done to you both (& your guests). Enjoying your journey up north!

    • Hi Amanda – there is plenty to explore at Pickersgill, but of course ideally you need less than 15 knots for water clarity and comfort. We have had 15-20 all the way down from Lizard. Never done so much sailing hard into wind and tacking!

  3. I could almost feel the quiet joy of your dawn sailing ….. apart from all the other beautiful creatures, I’m always in awe of those giant clams …. what a variety you captured!

  4. Glad you made it back to Cairns ok. I hope Maree and Murray got home ok and will enjoy reminiscing about their Anui adventures. Stay safe

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