31 Jul Our Lady Musgrave Experience
On July 12, Dick was up at 0420 and I was up by 0450, with a plan to leave our anchorage at the Port of Bundaberg between 0500 and 0600. We had a warm oatmeal and chia seed breakfast. (I find it important to have food in the belly before we head out, to help with sea sickness). We downloaded and took screenshots of the most recent weather forecast, (we assumed cell service would be hard to come by at Lady Musgrave), sent Laurel an early birthday message, called Jean and sang her Happy Birthday. Once we completed the checklist, the engine was on at 0610.
When our “Hanse” neighbor put his anchor down a day after us, we were concerned that we might be a little close (we think this with most boats who anchor near us). However, our concern this time was justified, as we winched up the anchor, we got closer and closer. When we were within 30 feet of the neighbor boat, captain Dick maneuvered Maia around as to not collide with him, put Maia in reverse and pulled the anchor out as we backed away. I was able to continue hauling up the anchor and spraying the chain down, to remove lots of silty mud!
By 0720 we were sailing wing and wing, (main sail on one side of the boat, genoa on the other, with the wind behind us), going a respectable 5-6 knots (though with the weather forecast we were thinking we might need to turn the engine on at some point to reach Lady Musgrave by low tide). The temperature was a comfortable 54, as we sailed away from shore, the winds picked up and changed direction slightly. Dick tacked the genoa, and we were sailing comfortably on a starboard tack downwind.
I went down for nap around 0830. I woke up several times… feeling disoriented and feeling the lumpiness of the seas, hmm only 0950… back to sleep… I heard the genoa being furled… back to sleep… bam bam of the genoa sheet banging … when I fully woke up it was 1130. By the feel of Maia, I could tell we were sailing fast, I asked Dick if we wanted to slow down, he said “no way, not until we are in the lee of the island”. We continued our speedy pace and rambunctious sail.
When I finally came to and went up into the cockpit to take my turn on watch I realized the forecast had been understated for the day. The swell was predicted at 1.1 meters; however, sets were above 2 metres, with wind on the stern. Winds speeds reached up 27 knots. (Dick saw a gust up to 37!) We had the main sail set at one reef, and the Genoa furled in about 3 reefs. Maia handled it well as we surfed the waves.
Our higher speeds continued 6-9 knots, until we slowed down in the Lee of Lady Musgrave. According to Navionics we traveled 59.5 nm in 9hr 14 min, average speed was 6.4 with max speed 12.2 knots!!!!
We reached the Lady Musgrave pass a little before low tide, as we could see the water flowing through the pass, we chose to wait. Fortuitously, a small fishing boat entered, we watched their speeds as they motored through and decided to follow them in. We had a good traverse through with light rain. We’ve arrived at Lady M and Great Barrier Reef!! It was awesome to feel the calm inside the reef to see the beautiful clear turquoise water. As we let out the anchor chain, I could see it laying down on the bottom.
That afternoon we hung about on Maia and took it easy. The wind was still blustery, and we had some rain, we were in no hurry to venture out. On our second day, after we relocated to a mooring ball, we enjoyed an afternoon walk on the Cay, exploring the Forest walk across the island and were surprised to come upon a group of 20 ish in the “camping area”. We heard generators and by the looks of things concluded it to be a group of scuba divers. We decided to walk back to the dinghy along the beach enjoyed our toes in the sand and saw a small shark swimming in the shallows.
After Sunset on the clear nights, we watched the progression of Venus and Mars with a setting moon that was grower bigger each night. (No bugs!!) On July 13, Venus and Mars were in conjunction, and while enjoying the beautiful evening sky, we noticed an object in the sky that made a beeline through the two planets, it was the International Space Station.
On July 16, our day four in the Lady M lagoon the winds were up (as predicated)! In the afternoon we were experiencing high winds averaging 22 knots, with gusts to 26. We were seeing numerous white caps throughout the lagoon, experiencing wind waves up to a meter and were content to be securely tied to a mooring ball.
For the next week we relished our time at Lady M. We came to the realization that if we put a phone up the mast with its hotspot on, we were able to get internet on our other devices. We were connected to the rest of the world and could communicate with friends and family and we able to get complete weather forecasts.
From the cockpit of Maia, we enjoyed whale watching, seeing the beautiful creatures outside the reef, spouting, and occasionally breaching and diving or splashing back into the sea. We met a few of the fellow cruisers, had several wonderful snorkeling escapades, and some amazing low tide walks on the island. We saw a beautiful green flash sunset and one afternoon as we walked through the camping area, we could see the group was packing up. It was a scuba group from Canterbury, and they had goodies to give away, cucumbers, apples, oranges, rice cakes, wraps and milk!!! What a score!
While living the cruising life, lots of people come into and go out of your lives. When we were at Scarborough Marina over the hot summer, we became good mates with a Kara and Levi are a young Australian couple, who have a wonderful dog, Dora “the explorer’. They decided to get into sailing and cruising after they met another young couple who were into the live aboard life. Kara had seen a little of it growing up as her grandparents had a yacht, but Kara and Levi had very little big boat sailing experience. They saved money and bought “Tobyrruff” (a 40-foot steel sailboat that was a proven ocean cruiser but needed some tender loving care). We bonded with them once they started visiting the marina, then moving aboard and living four boats away.
We first met Dora as we saw her wandering the deck barking (saying hello) as we were walking by. Being a dog person and starting our sailing journey with our salty dog Ellie, it was a connection that was meant to be. With our openness and sharing of knowledge we somewhat became mentors to them. The interesting thing is that Levi and Dick are a lot alike. Both amazing with their abilities to fix, install and figure out all things having to do with boats. Dick was able to guide Levi with project after project. We were able to help them stay positive when things became overwhelming.
We said our farewells back at Scarborough and then saw them briefly once they were out in Moreton Bay. We had stayed in touch and were hoping to meet up sooner than later once they sailed North. We connected with “Toby” when they arrived in Bundaberg, which meant we were only 50 nautical miles, an 8-hour sail away. We were preparing to leave Lady Musgrave and they were planning on sailing up the Coast. We messaged and said we would wait in Lady M for them. On July 25 it was exciting to see them as they entered their first coral atoll. They rocked it!!!!
Once anchored we got together for a toast before they took Dora into shore. Then we gathered for an afternoon snorkel in “the pools”. It was ok, although it seemed a little cloudy. (Why? late afternoon sun? Tide going in / out?) As we headed back toward Maia, I rowed the dinghy as Dick swam. I was excited to see a ray jump out of the water and slap back down. Dick saw turtles and a big school of fish. Our hot showers were lovely once we got back home to Maia. The crew of Tobyruff came over and we had an enjoyable evening aboard Maia snacking and catching up. Lots of boy and girl separate chit chats going on.
Monday donned a windy morning! Levi took Dora to shore, and as they dinghied back, we could see them getting thoroughly soaked with the wind waves. The winds had calmed by 1500 and we met up, three of us for a beach walk and Levi heading out to spear dinner. The walk was lovely, throwing sticks for Dora and enjoying hanging out on the island. As we approached the “camping area” we saw a huge whale outside the reef, it was a spectacular sight. We also saw people snorkeling, it looked like they walked & swam through the “boat pass” and then snorkeled on the other side of reef! We had a fab dinner aboard Maia with two fishes from Levi and a bunch of veg and quinoa.
On July 27, after 16 days at Lady Musgrave our was on engine at 0620, we said see ya later to Toby and we were the third boat out of the pass. We were heading for nearby Fitzroy reef. We entered at high tide, were the first boat in and had the pick of the three moorings. Boats seemed to pile in after us and by evening we had 20 some boats anchored nearby, with 8-10 small powerboats joining us for the night.
Our best snorkel was across the reef where Mischief had given us the waypoints. Day 1 seemed a little shallow, as we could not get into specified spot, only nearby. However, Dick did see a large (3 meter?) reef shark. The next day was super calm and a little after high tide we checked out the closer bommies but ended up back at “the spot” at an approximate 6 ft. tide and loved swimming on top of reef and seeing around the sides of the coral. We saw several schools of smallish fish swimming by, and a smaller white tip came to visit. It was super cool! The coral was beautiful, though the water a little cold near the edge of the reef.
By July 30 the southeast winds had picked up and it was time to sail further North. Great Keppel here we come.