Thursday, April 30, 2020

Return to Lady Musgrave

[Kyle]When Friday came and we realized there would be no more mail until the next Tuesday, we decided to get a change of scenery for a few days. We left at 2am for the long sail back to Lady Musgrave Island.

{Maryanne: On our last visit we hadn't gone ashore at the island (we'd anchored much further out). It was time to fill in those gaps!}

This time, we picked up a mooring much closer to the island so that we would be able to go ashore instead of just snorkeling. The very tail end of the turtle hatching season was still happening and we were hoping we would get to see a few of the little hatchlings making their first trip to the sea.

We went ashore, where we found lots of birds and a few overgrown park signs, but no sign of turtle hatchlings other than a few fresh tracks in the sand {We were right at the very end of the season, and hoping for a few stragglers}. Knowing they preferred to make the dangerous trip under cover of darkness, we went ashore for the pre-dawn high tide. No luck.


Ashore at Lady Musgrave Island. The last two pictures are mutton bird nests (some still had large chicks) and baby turtle tracks

We went back for a nap and spent the remainder of the day snorkeling, where we found lots of adult turtles, including a few who even followed us around and let us rub their shells.


Snorkelling - we hit 3 different areas that we hadn't snorkelled on our previous visit

We went back to the beach again at sunset and stayed until well after the end of astronomical twilight. We sat on the sand in the area where we had seen the most tracks and watched the stars come out. Even after the birds had long stopped their nightly chatter, there was still no sign of any turtles. We must have missed the season.



Holding out hope to see turtles - and enjoying sunsets and sunrises

Still, it was great to be the only two people on the island, sitting on the beach watching the stars and not being bitten.

That bug thing really made a difference. Snorkeling was nice, walking on the beach looking at the antics of the birds was nice, but knowing we would not be getting any itchy bites to screw up our sleep was amazing! We left the hatches and doors open the whole time we were there, except for a few brief rain showers, just because we could. No bugs is really one of my favorite things about being way out to sea. They can just ruin a nice spot.


There were PLENTY of birds to see on the island too

We snorkeled, walked on the beach, aired the boat out and gave her several good cleans. Then the wind shifted to the north, which would be our only hope of getting back to Bundaberg in one day, so off we went, back to the land of bugs and (hopefully) mail.

Thinking of going yourself? We found the following useful to research and download beforehand (no internet/cell phone signal at the island)

  • Coordinates and details regarding the public mooring balls are available at GBRMPA - note - Note Lady Musgrave is part of the Capricorn/Bunker Group of islands)
  • Dive site maps and info available at LadyMusgraveExperience.com.au
  • Dive sites may also be listed at WannaDive.Net

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Return to Bundaberg... Again...


Sailing back to Bundy - a wealth of skies!
We had a interesting storm towards the end too.

[Kyle]Back in Bundaberg, our long awaited mail had still not arrived. We went ashore every two days to check, only to return home disappointed. To fill out the day, we would walk to the IGA market in Burnett Heads to reload on perishables {Maryanne: Kyle means we went there to get some exercise as an excuse to grab an ice cream}. There was never more than three other customers in the store when we were there. Then we would get a pair of takeout burgers from the place that used to be the restaurant at the marina complex – one fish and one chicken – our preferred two items on their truncated menu, combined with saving a load of dishes, that seemed worth skipping a home cooked meal. Then it was back to the boat again for a couple days of light repairs before repeating the whole cycle all over again.

{Maryanne: While in the IGA supermarket Kyle noticed on the overhead signs one of the isles had 'Manchester' available.  It took a while but we eventually worked out that 'Manchester' is household/bed linen - that was a nice bit of side entertainment for us and the staff at the store.  Yes, things were getting a bit dull for us stuck in Bundaberg.}


Sunsets, and ANZAC Day preparations in town

The anchorage is convenient, but a bit dull. The worst thing is that at the end of the day, when things start cooling off a little and the setting sun starts to turn everything orange and pink. This would be a perfect time to hang out in the cockpit and enjoy the sunset, except that's when all manner of biting insects descend upon us to feed, driving us inside where it's hot and humid. Oh, how nice it would be to open a hatch to let in some airflow or even go out on the trampoline to enjoy the stars. Not here!


We did our best to keep occupied, fixed a few hatches and such

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Fitzroy Reef

[Kyle]We were pretty sure the snorkelling at Lady Musgrave was not going to get more interesting, and there was one more reef we wanted to see before returning on to Bundaberg - so we decided to carry on further to Fitroy Reef. Fitzroy is a lagoon with no island and a narrow entrance that looks impassable on our nautical charts. Commercial tour boats also don't go there. We were hoping for a little more solitude and possibly a more diverse ecosystem. The reef is one of the few open to fishing so a lot of locals come here to fish (fishing is still allowed per the current Covid19 pandemic regulations in Queensland) so we were not sure exactly how busy it might be.


An easy sail, and the pass into Fitzroy was straightforward and well marked
We were soon anchored in tempting waters and eager for a swim

We arrived to find just one other sailing catamaran there and picked up one of the two free public mooring balls behind them. They were a local couple from nearby on the mainland who come here all of the time. From what we could tell, they spent from sunup until sundown fishing in their dinghy while we loafed and snorkeled away our time.

Our first day, the snorkeling was pretty much the same as back at Lady Musgrave: Lots of coral, lots of little reef fish, a whole lot of water, not much else. Our big finds of the day were a little yellow box fish and a big, well camouflaged nudibranch.

{Maryanne: Generally we are finding the coral not in the best of ways, certainly not as good as we saw back in Lord Howe. There have been 5 major bleaching events in the last 3 years along the great barrier reef, and even at this southerly tip they have not escaped bleaching events. Things are seriously not looking great given that global warming is expected to continue, and temperatures on the rise for some time to come}

The moon was now in its third quarter, rising at midnight, which left the early evening skies dark and clear. It was perfect for tracing out the constellations of the southern sky while seeing how many satellites we can spot gliding through them.

Much more extensive swimming the following day finally revealed one nervous manta ray and one nervous turtle for me and one curious shark for Maryanne. {Maryanne: We had a beautiful calm day and decided to venture out and swim through the pass and a nice circuit along the outside wall, a false pass and inner reef wall}




Hanging out at Fitzroy Reef

A low pressure trough passed through, briefly reversing the trade winds. Since we were still awaiting mail and news on our visa status, we took the opportunity to race back to Bundaberg under spinnaker to check on things. Most of the day was pretty good, but we weren't quite fast enough and the trough beat us there. Ten miles from the anchorage, we got hit with strong winds, pelting rain and more thunder and lightning than we have seen in years. Apart from worries about frying all of our electronics, it was pretty cool. The moon wasn't up yet and, of course, we had 35,000 feet of cloud above us. That made it really dark between flashes and as bright as a sunny day during the flashes. They were maybe about a third of a second out of every two and from every direction, which made for some pretty jumpy shadows.

When it passed, we had a pretty gentle downwind sail to our old anchoring spot across from the marina. Time to hook back up to the ol' internet and see how the world is doing.

Thinking of going yourself? We found the following useful to research and download beforehand (no internet/cell phone signal at the island)

  • Coordinates and details regarding the public mooring balls are available at GBRMPA - note - Note Fitzroy Reef is part of the Capricorn/Bunker Group of islands)
  • Dive sites may be listed at WannaDive.Net