Highs and Lows at Lady Musgrave

We have had a week of highs and lows, the highs being our time at Lady Musgrave, the lows being the need to attend to boat maintenance in a hurry to the point where we are going back to Burnett Heads!

The highs: the beautiful marine life

We were so glad to be back at our happy place this last week. We have selected a few images we took when our friend Mikey joined us for two days in near ideal conditions, having caught the «Musgrave Experience» tour boat. It was his first time at the Reef, so very exciting for him. Here are some of his favourite moments snorkeling with us.

Another special experience was coming across two critters we had never seen before.

Have a look at this beauty: a Persian Carpet Flatworm (Pseudobiceros bedfordi).

Persian Carpet Flatworm just settled on the coral substrate

Flatworms and Nudibranchs are the most ephemeral of marine creatures. They are hard to spot being quite small, they are short lived (from a few weeks to a few months) and you never know when or where you will come across them. So there is much excitement when you find one!

This flatworm was quite beautiful as it moved, undulating its body, which is how Chris spotted it, just before it settled on coral substrate next to a pink anemone, becoming much harder to see then. It was about 8cm long. It was very distinctive with its colourful markings. But the surprise was finding out about its mating behaviour. Like all flatworms, it is hermaphrodite (both sexes are present in a single animal) and has a pair of erect pseudo tentacles (top left of the image). These tentacles are actually two penises which it uses to engage in “penis fencing” would you believe, attempting to inseminate another flatworm anywhere it can penetrate its body, while simultaneously avoiding being fertilised by the other critter. How is that for weird behaviour?

And then there was a beautiful but slightly scary Giant Moray Eel (Gymnothorax javanicus), poking out from a dark hole when we first spotted it. We saw it again later when it had moved under a table coral in better light.

Giant Moray poking out of a dark hole

We could only see its head, however as the name suggests it is a large eel, in fact the largest: up to three meters in length. It is nocturnal, hunting at night but siting under ledges and hidden in crevices during the day. At one stage this one had its mouth wide open, receiving a bit of dental care from a cleaner wrasse! Giant Moray Eels have few natural predators, although they may compete for food with reef sharks. While morays may bite if threatened or cornered, they are not usually aggressive. We were not inclined to tempt fate, get close and tickle its chin though!

A bit of dental hygiene happening!
Giant Moray Eel at Lady Musgrave
Giant Moray Eel keeping an eye on us

After Mikey had gone home, we had another glorious day before the wind picked up to well over 20 knots for several days. We decided to go to the northeast end of the lagoon where we could spearfish. Although Wade was not successful at catching us dinner because of one particular white tip shark which was intent on following us everywhere and made the fish skittish, Chris got her kind of shot. She was taking photos of a Cowtail Stingray sitting motionless on the bottom when « that shark » entered the frame. Here they are together. How lucky is that?

The creatures we play with!

And a few seconds later they have parted ways…

The Cowtail Stingray from the side
“That” shark swimming away with its remora

The end of the day was not too bad either: a magnificent sunset in glassy conditions… hard to believe the next day we had over 30 knots blowing!

The end of a brilliant day: wetsuits drying, glass off, orange sunset

Burning hot ripples

A few days later: high winds and water spouts!

The lows: fu$#ing boat maintenance

Would you believe more work is required on the boat… this time it’s the batteries. Is Anui a dud or are all boats duds when it comes to the cost of keeping them running?

Our current battery bank: 400 Amps at 24 volts

We have six AGM batteries, which have been struggling to keep their charge overnight even after a sunny day. Upon testing them Wade found one out of six is dead and the other five are not far behind. We have always said that once the AGMs struggle, we will replace them with lithium batteries and in fact were planning to get that done at the end of the year. So… what to do with the dodgy battery bank between now and then? Wade wants to organize the changeover to lithium now. Chris does not want to miss out on the Swains and as luck would have it, a weather window for them has come up. You can imagine the conversations between us two!

So after a few calls to ascertain whether a stopgap with a new AGM to replace the dead one is advisable (it is not), whether our insurance will accept the changeover to lithium batteries (it will), and how quickly the lithium gear can be sent to us and installed (straight away), we have decided to use that calm weather window to go back to Burnett Heads instead of the Swain Reefs!

We will be going into the marina in the next week or so when the EV Power gear arrives from WA and we have a local marine electrician ready to install our new system! This way couple harmony is restored, we get sorted quickly and don’t make any northings, so we still have a chance to get to the Swains, just a bit later! Oh yeah, and the bank account gets raped again!

27 thoughts on “Highs and Lows at Lady Musgrave

  1. Great photos as usual. Cr#p to the battery cost…we can certainly empathise with the reducing balance in the bank account! ‘Thoughts are with you! xx

  2. Wow, I’m sorry that the batteries have changed your plans from fun to another expense. It is said that a boat is a hole in the water into which one pours money. The sunset photos are absolutely stunning! The sky looks truly on fire. That waterspout is scary stuff, I’m glad it didn’t tangle with you guys. Be safe out there! ☺️🇦🇺

  3. Glad you had some wonderful time at Lady Musgrave before the beautiful but demanding Anui required more attention. There can’t be much left of the original working bits by now!

    • Hi Ann, that’s what we keep saying but we find more to spend our money on! We will be back at starting line for the Swains in a week or two.

  4. Way back I believe I started following you because of the fabulous photos . . . well, today’s must take the cake for the clearest most wondrous closeups ever! What sunshiney clarity!!! . . . And my odd sense of humour just relishes your clothesline in your front yard 🙂 ! . . . The batteries – doesn’t there always have to be something to spoil the party . . . !

    • Thank you Eha for the lovely feedback on the photos… trying to keep improving and keep it interesting for everyone! And yes you are so right about the spoilt party, but we will get sorted, re-join the starting blocks for the Swains and all will be good!

  5. Some great photos there Chris. I’m interested to follow your path on the battery journey. Frustrating as it may be I wouldn’t call Anui a dud, batteries are a never ending source of frustration. I’m still using FLA batteries and resign myself to regular recharging to avoid them dropping out of 20% SOC. Like you guys I’ve always thought when these die I’ll go lithium. Have done lots of research but always interested to hear other people’s thoughts in fact I think I’ve done too much I’m starting to get paralysis.
    Anyway hope it goes well and you’re back amongst the fish in no time with all the energy you need. Cheers guys

    • We hope it all goes to plan, Brad, but we’ll see! We will put a post together on our approach. We had gone through the change over on our previous boat, so understand what has to happen with chargers, alternators, solar regulators etc compatibility with lithium and battery management systems.

  6. Sorry to hear about your forced return , we switch our vessel to lithium last year , batteries built here in Brisbane , Big wei batteries ,
    My wife Sharon and I were all set to buy ANUI but you beat us to the punch , we ended buying a schionning and very happy with that , although fixing boats never stops.
    Hope to catch up with you guys out there on the water one day.

    • Hi John, Anui was for sale at the Boat Works for two years. We hesitated and went to see it several times before taking the plunge. Lots of interest… Good to hear you found yours. What’s the name so we keep an eye out for you?

      • We have a 17.5m Schionning Cosmos called
        Yes we also procrastinated over Anui and showed up 2 or 3 days after the contract was done . You have got a great strong and Fast boat , I hope the journey back out to the swains is fast and uneventful.
        Love reading about your trips , it keeps me hungry to pack up and leave.

      • Voodoo was living in Townsville as a crewed overnight sailing charter vessel , May have raced up there , she is a bit big and bulky for around the cans . We prefer to stretch our legs with some coastal runs , it’s much easier with just 2 crew.

      • Agreed, we don’t race either… unless there is yacht in the distance… then there is a lot of sail trimming happening! We haven’t been passed yet 😝

  7. Hi Wade and Chris
    Thanks again for my first reef encounter and overnight on Anui. Indeed the wildlife was stunning.


  8. Hi Chris, Do you have any estimate of how much more power you will be able to store in new batteries compared to the old ones?

  9. Ahhh!
    The pain and the beauty of boating.
    I’ll remember the beauty that you shared. Your hip pocket … Well, other memories , maybe.

  10. Highs and lows alright …. the magic of those reefs, amazing sunsets, then you have a flat battery! Still, you got to go surfing with your big cat! I was reminded of my own ‘surfing’ experience, sailing down the west coast USA with my 34′ mono, surfing 6′ waves in the moonlight …. so those good memories will always be with you 🙂

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