Tweet Manookatoo Adventures: "Lazing" to Lucinda

Saturday, 28 October 2017

"Lazing" to Lucinda

We spent nine days in Townsville, with visits from Kirsty for two nights and the First Mate's parents for a week. It is always lovely catching up with family and exploring a new place makes it lots of fun! We toured the Jezzine barracks and the fascinating (and very detailed) war museum, drove up Castle Hill and along the northern beaches, visited Cotters Markets, filled up with fuel and food (and grog!) and dined out at a few nice venues. We also collect our mail, including a brand new inflatable rowboat! And we bought ourselves some Stinger Suits through Gumtree. All up, it was a great time, and the Townsville Cruising Yacht Club and its Marina is certainly very nice, right in the heart of town. 
Made it! Horseshoe Bay
On Monday, after we bade farewell to the parents, we dropped the lines and headed out of the marina and cruised back to Magnetic Island, returning to the beautiful Horseshoe Bay, where we dropped anchor. We put the new boat in the water and the captain rowed ashore, where we enjoyed a walk right around to the end of the bay, where we felt we had really earned a swim! Returning to the township, we relaxed with a refreshing drink at the Marlin Bar before rowing back to Manookatoo, where we enjoyed pizza on the back deck watching the lights of town twinkling in the distance. 
A rocky climb
Tuesday morning started with exercises and a swim before breakfast, then another row to shore, this time to walk across the ridge to the secluded Radical Bay. We were very hot by the time we arrived, so we really enjoyed the cooling swim before the walk back. Another well-earned swim, then the captain rowed us back to Manookatoo where we lazed the afternoon away! We watched the installation of a stinger net on the beach - November is the official start of the stinger season so they are getting well prepared, and with our new stinger suits we are ready too. 

Upwards to the Forts!
Wednesday saw us rowing to shore soon after breakfast for a bus trip to The Forts walk - 2.2km up the hill and back - complementing our visit to the barracks and museum in Townsville. It is fascinating to learn more about our recent history and experience it right where it happened. The walk was challenging enough for us, without carrying heavy equipment like army packs and such over rocky slopes! Returning to the bus stop, the captain suggested we walk to Arcadia instead of waiting - another challenging 2km expedition!! We trudged up and down the rocky hills, but the swim in the pool at the hotel (almost) made it worthwhile!! Returning to Horseshoe Bay and Manookatoo (by bus!) we had a very restful afternoon, after our very energetic morning. 
The view was worth the climb
Yanks Jetty
On Thursday morning, before the sun peeked over the hills, we raised the anchor to continue north, farewelling one of our favourite spots. Conditions were perfect, with no wind or swell, and we made good time, passing Palm Island and Fantome Island on our way to Orpheus Island. We spotted the empty Yanks Jetty, in the middle of a fringing reef, and squeezed between the poles to tie up, originally planning just to stay for lunch. We enjoyed an antipasto platter on the back deck, supplemented by salmon wraps given to us by friendly Americans staying at the local exclusive resort, who had kayaked around for lunch. Very nice! With beautiful beaches and reefs to explore, and no restrictions to staying on the the jetty, we decided to make this our overnight destination and properly secured the boat before taking a walk and snorkel on the beach. There is a lovely, new campground facing the water, with gas barbecue and hot plates, picnic table and composting toilet, it would be a perfect spot for "getting away from it all". As nobody was there, we were privileged to enjoy a peaceful afternoon. A beautiful sunset overlooking the water and the hills of the Queensland tropical coast followed. 
JCU research station
Friday morning it was time for exercises. Always a challenge on a rocking boat, we tried it on the jetty - a little more stable! A swim and breakfast followed, then we were off, bound north but not too far, passing the exclusive Orpheus Resort on our way. We anchored in Pioneer Bay, close to the James Cook University research facility and went ashore where Ashton, the acting station manager, took time out of her busy day to explain the work of the facility. They are preparing for an onslaught of researchers, coming to observe the coral spawning which is due to occur in the next couple of weeks. It is fascinating to see such a facility, and the large "coral bed" tank with its multitude of colorful corals and fish. We continued cruising along the coast of Orpheus Island, heading for Iris Point, where Ashton had told us the snorkeling was best. Unfortunately the mooring was missing, so we returned to Little Pioneer Bay,  picking up a mooring there and taking the brig ashore. The water is quite shallow for a long way out, but as the tide was rising we had no problems. This site also has camping facilities including a toilet, but no barbecue. We swam and snorkelled for a while, but the coral was pretty silted and grey, even though the fish and stingrays were very interesting. Later we cruised in the brig to explore coral in the centre of the bay - the captain ingeniously tied the brig to his leg while we snorkelled - it was just beautiful, lots of colour and different varieties, just what we've been looking for! High tide meant it was a fair way down, but we loved looking at it. Another lovely, lazy evening on the back deck followed before retiring early to bed worn out by the day's exertions. 

We have recently purchased and installed an opening insect screen on our back door - essential to keeping the inside cool and the insects outside! It's a godsend, however, on Saturday morning, as the boat pointed west and the sun rose, it was like a spotlight in our faces! Hence, we were up early, ready for our morning walk. There are no designated tracks at Little Pioneer Bay, but the first mate had done her research and found out about a walk to the "old shepherd's hut" and the hilltop, following plastic ribbons tied to trees, so we gave it a go. I think the "Shepherd" was probably a "Goatherd" as it is very steep and rocky and I doubt a sheep would survive! But sure enough, we found the old hut, and the view from the top of the hill, back to the bay or across to Palm and Fantome islands was worth the hike. Returning to the beach, we enjoyed a swim before returning to Manookatoo for breakfast. As the tide receded, we donned our snorkels and took our noodles, swimming across to the reef we had explored at high tide yesterday for a better look - and it was sure worth it, with the coral so much closer and the colours more pronounced, plus an abundance of beautiful fish and extraordinary clams. Oh for an underwater camera! By the time we returned to Manookatoo we were worn out from so much exercise, but after a reviving cuppa and another cooling swim, we enjoyed fish cakes for lunch before casting off the mooring to head across the bay. With a stiff northerly breeze it was a bouncy trip! We entered the channel past the 5km long conveyor belt that transports sugar to the waiting ships, eventually passing the terminal at Lucinda and entering the Hinchinbrook Passage, between the mainland and Hinchinbrook Island. With crocodiles in the region, there'll be no more swimming for the next few days, as we continue north.....
Lucinda sugar jetty - 5km long
The Captain's log: Townsville to Lucinda
Distance: 68.6 nautical miles
Fuel consumption: 77.3 litres
Duration: 12 hours 20 minutes

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