Jun 202023

dolphins playing!

Mid June has not typically been a time of the year we do much boating, the SE trades are generally well set by then and the sea conditions will generally be less than pleasant. One of the advantages of now owning Lumiel, our 14.2m sailing catamaran, is its now viable to use a boat much more at this time of year and travel further afield. As Dave works shift work, 4 on, 4 off, his break between night shifts and dayshifts is effectively 5 days, so we planned a trip where his 5 days off lined up with the 5 days I dont do any NBN work, and last Thursday morning Dave came straight out to the yacht after he finished work and we set sail.

Conditions were better than we expected with a lighter 12-15k breeze, perfect for sailing North, so we set off and decided to just keep sailing and go all the way to Guruliya bay on the North side of Raragala Island in the Wessels group. It is about 72nm so we expected to get to the anchorage about 9pm. Although it was a moonless night we were not concerned as we have been into the bay previously so we have tracks to the anchorage and the actual anchorage saved as a waypoint.

sailing down Malay Roads

We sailed up and around Point William into Malay Roads, riding the flooding tide which helped carry us, then past Astell Island and across Donington Strait with the sails wing and wing, (headsail on one side and main on the other side with the wind directly behind us). We then went thru the pass between Bumaga and Jirrgari Islands, which we have named Stella Pass in honour of the beer we cracked at the time! Its quite a tricky passage, but with light winds, on neapy tides and near slack water its safe enough. We dropped the pick in Guruliya at 9:05pm so pretty well spot on when we had planned. It had been 13 hours of fantastic flat water sailing in perfect conditions, one of our nicer sails in Lumiel!


our anchorage at Guruliya

As you can see its a pretty pleasant scene to wake up to in the morning! We ended up spending 3 days anchored in Guruliya bay, we did plenty of exploring, a bit of unsuccessful fishing an plenty of relaxing and soaking up the beautiful splendour of this part of the world. I took less photos than I should have so this post is a bit light on in that regard! We of course enjoyed some lovely meals and tasty wines to help pass the time. Thanks to Starlink we were also able to watch the Super Rugby Semi Finals and the first Ashes test from Edgbaston!

We did find some stunning fresh water streams, they must be permanent spring fed creeks because the wet season runoff creeks have all dried up already. Very refreshing to bathe in on the nice warm sunny days!

Sunday morning we set off to sail back to Elizabeth bay with the plan being to spend the night there and then do the run home Monday morning to get back about lunchtime. Once again conditions were exceptional for mid-June, about 12k of SE breeze, mostly flat seas and blue skies! We had another spectacular sail down the back of the Wessels, a bit of a bumpy ride back thru Stella Pass and then a cracking sail across to the Western end of Inglis Island, and a bit of motor sailing along Inglis, into Malay Roads and across to Elizabeth Bay where we dropped the pick at about 5:15pm ready for a nice bottle of rose and some local pearl meat as an entree!

Monday morning was once again a beautiful calm start to the day, very light breeze, under 10k. We got under way after a couple of coffees and made our way round Point William and pointed Lumiel towards her home port and mooring, to our total surprise we were nearly able to lay Gove direct, had we wanted to we could have easily sailed the whole way home, with only a couple of small tacks, but Dave was keen to get back by lunchtime so he had a bit of time to organise stuff to start his day shifts the next day, so we decided to motor sail so we could get in a bit quicker.It was still extremely pleasant as the breeze stayed under 10k all morning and the sea was basically flat once we were clear of Cape Wilberforce. We picked up the mooring at 11:15am and so ended up what was certainly the best trip we have done on Lumiel since bringing her home in terms of amount of sailing and perfection of conditions! Absolutely terrific dry season cruising at its best, and a trip I am sure both Dave & I will not forget anytime soon.

Early morning light on cliffs of Point William


 Posted by at 7:54 pm

Apr 302023

Pearl Farm Jetty

After finally leaving Guruliya Bay we sailed down to Firefly Pass between Warnawi and Alger Island, went through the pass and then across Donington Sound to the West end of Inglis Island, along Inglis Island, thru Malay roads and back into Elizabeth Bay. I called up the Pearl Farm on the radio to let them know we were going to stay a few days and also asked if would be able to come over and have a look at the operations, as we have never gone ashore to have a look in all the years we have been coming past!


The darker colour is our track from Guruliya Bay to Elizabeth Bay and the red track is from Elizabeth Bay to home. We spent 3 days in Elizabeth Bay waiting for what we knew would be the best day for sailing back to Gove. On the second day we went over and had a grand tour of the Pearl Farm, its a fascinating business, firstly there is just the absolute remoteness of the location, only 25nm from Gove, but only accessible by boat or helicopter. At the height of their season there are about 40 workers on the farm and Diana, the manager, explained the whole process from spawning their own oysters, right through pearl seeding and harvesting. Since taking over the pearl farm from the previous owners, Clipper Pearls have spent a lot on new buildings and upgrading old ones.

They have quite a large Indonesian workforce as they also own pearl farms in Indo and so its a good source of experienced workers for them and a great opportunity for their workers to come to Australia, and earn extra money for their families. We were also able to buy a couple of kilos of pearl meat from them, which is very hard to get normally.

Cleaning the nets that protect the growing baby pearls on their frames.

We finally left Lizzy bay, yesterday, Saturday, and had a superb sail all the way home, I had not expected to be able to sail it in one tack, but the wind was more Easterly than predicted and we were able to lay Gove Harbour after coming out thru Malay Road and round Breakfast Island. We picked up the mooring in the late afternoon after nearly 3 weeks cruising the Arnhem Land coast, after tidying up a bit we headed into the boat club for a nice long hot shower and a nice scotch fillet for dinner! Its been an incredible trip, we battled a but with the wet weather in the middle but it was super fun and Sal has grown so much in her confidence and ability with all the systems on Lumiel. We are already looking forward to the next extended trip in the future!


 Posted by at 12:36 pm

Apr 252023

We have now been at Guruliya Bay for 6 days, this was never our plan – to spend nearly a week in one spot at the Wessel Islands, but the enormous surge in the wet season this year has put paid to the best laid plans of Rick & Sal! We had already had the wettest wet season on record by the middle of April, and now the last week has just been unrelenting.

We had some sun the first day we got here, since then it has just been wave after wave of storm fronts, typically with strong gusts in front of them (41 knots or 80kmh the strongest), and then driving rain. Every time we think it has cleared we get smashed an hour or so later!

The waterfalls in the picture above only flow when its raining heavily, its purely runoff from the large rocky ‘plain’ on the shoreline closest to us – we are only anchored about 150m off there and the roar when its full flow is incredible! Within 20 minutes of so of it stopping raining there is barely any water flow left! Anyway, that’s what it looks like most times I look out!

We decided to stay put here because its a superb anchorage, 360° protection from the wind and swell and fantastic holding, it also has some good fishing in the mangrove creeks at the head of the bay. The holding was definitely tested the night we had over 40k of wind, but she didn’t drag an inch. Also were we to move we would just be in a different spot in shit weather, with very little ability to do anything outside of the boat anyway.

So there is not a lot of interest to talk to you about! The fishing has been next to non existent due to the weather, the couple of chances we have had we had no success anyway. So there is a lot of Netflix & chill, reading, cooking, eating, and needless to say drinking! Thank god for Starlink!



Our anchorage (red curser is boat)

Here a few pics from the moments the sun was out!

One interesting find while the weather was good enough to do some exploring was some graves that a friend had told me about, they are just above the high tide mark and have been damaged by king tides to the extent that some of the bones are exposed. They are clearly human remains. It is not at all the way Yolngu treat their dead so I am pretty sure they are not Yolngu graves. The possible alternatives are probably, Macassan sailors shipwrecked, Japanese airforce crash victims from WW2, more survivors of the Patricia Cam sinking in WW2, Indonesian fishermen shipwrecked, white Australian victims of some sea/air tragedy.

The presence of a few middens of Dhumpala (mud mussels) suggests there were survivors, presumably who then buried the dead, the middens are scattered amongst the 6 or so graves which are marked by small collections of rocks and stones that have clearly been carried to the site as they are not present in the immediate area. Permanent fresh water for the dry season was not obvious to me, plenty of sources at the moment but I doubt any of it is spring fed and persisting into the dry so that would have been a serious issue for them. The creek in the bay would have provided the Dhumpa

la and other seafood. Nearly every bay up here has a little creek in it that could provide food to anyone with a bit of knowledge.

Anyway, for the time being the mystery remains, there are no obvious candidates in terms of missing people, shipwrecks or plane crashes and no evidence other than the graves and middens that I can find.

I am not going to post any photos as it feels a little….disrespectful in the circumstances.

So here are some more photos, of the moments when we felt inspired enough to take any!

Our plans our now to spend another day sitting here in the rain, and then tomorrow we will make our way back down to Elizabeth Bay and hang there for a couple of days waiting for a window of weather to go from there to home. Its looking like that will eventuate Friday or Saturday. This will probably end up being a week less than we thought we might be away, but the persistent poor weather and the likelihood of favourable conditions later this week to sail home have somewhat forced our hands. Also not sure I have enough coffee on board to last another week without rationing!

I will close with a video of the waterfall, you can see this is at a lower tide than the photo at the start of this post, the tide here is about 3.5m range so it makes a big difference.



 Posted by at 10:22 am

Apr 192023

We left Astell Island and motored across the top of Inglis Island and then down Pera Channel into the top of Arnhem bay and an area called Yalakun Sound. It has a river called Slippery’s that is a renowned barra fishing creek and our intention was to spend a couple of days here working it out and hopefully catch a barra or 2!

No wind again so it was an afternoon of pleasant motoring in light conditions and the flooding tide carrying us down into the bay.


Astell to Slippery’s

It was a wild and stormy night the first night, we had massive lightening & thunder storms all around us, but luckily not over us and only light rain. We woke to the realisation that there was a massive weather event over Gove and it was being absolutely pounded – while we had clear weather here. It didn’t rain again here and Nhulunbuy ended up with over 300mm for the 36hrs or so it lasted! We were so lucky to avoid it all by being far enough west.

I went for a flick along the rockbars near the entrance to Yalakun Sound in the morning and was amazed to come around the point and find another tinny sitting there flicking lures! I was a friend from home, Morgs and he had come around from Nhulunbuy early in the morning. He was equally surprised to see me! Anyway it turned out to be a blessing, he is a really good fisherman and knows the area very well, so he basically coached Sal & I into exactly the right spots at the right time to catch some barra and without his help I am not sure I wold have worked the system out and caught fish.

Morgs ended up joining us for dinner and sleeping on the boat with us, I think not having to sleep in his tinny in the creek and the offer of a coffee in the morning sold him!

Sal with the first barra of the day. (& biggest)

Exploring Slippery’s

Morgs trying for a barra on saltwater fly gear, an art way beyond my skill level!

There were plenty of crocs in the system, including this cheeky little guy in one of the gutters we were fishing!

For dinner we had crispy skin barra with rice, i forgot to take any pics so you will just have to imagine how good it looked!

The entree was some trevally I had caught earlier in the day, dry cured served in coconut cream with curry leaf oil and finger lime. It was inspired by a similar dish we had at Ellas by Manoli in Darwin recently, a Sri Lankan restaurant.


Morgan spent another night on Lumiel with us and then headed off back towards Nhulunbuy, we pulled anchor and headed North to the Wessel Islands where we will spend most of the rest of our time away.


 Posted by at 11:07 am

Apr 152023

Motoring past Cotton Island

After a couple of days in Elizabeth Bay we motored around to the western side of Astell Island, we have never explored this island and it has a couple of nice anchorages on the western side that offer a good haven in the dry season. The more southern bay in particular is good as it has a lovely gently shoaling beach that can be used to beach catamarans on to clean hulls etc. So we decided to go across and spend a couple of days checking the area out.

Just before we pulled anchor in Elizabeth Bay, the resident Lemon Shark, Bruce, turned up, so he got a feed of freshly caught whiting I had got in the cast net, for breakfast!

Sal got some video footage,

The run across to Astell Island we were once again without wind, but the current through Malay roads is pretty impressive, these were by no means spring tides but we were doing up to 10.1 knots over the ground at only 5.4 knots thru the water – so over 4.5 knots current with us!

A little video of us motoring down Malay Roads

We have had a very pleasant and relaxing couple of days here, I found a lovely little spring fed creek on the beach that has a shaded pool to bathe in and its a very pretty anchorage.

Yesterday we explored the other bays and found this little guy!

I went and spent a bit of time in a small mangrove creek this afternoon and while i didnt catch any fish, I did get a nice muddie, so that is dinner sorted!

Mr Pinchy!

Tomorrow we will head down to Arnhem Bay for the next episode in our trip!

 Posted by at 4:44 pm

Apr 122023

the view on the mooring!

So Sal has a months long service leave and I have taken about 6 weeks off too, today we have headed out on the yacht, not sure where we are going, not sure for how long, let the journey begin!

It was a bit of a dramatic day in the end, Sal & I loaded up the tinny with supplies for a month and headed out to the boat club, we could see a decent strom coming, but realised we had time to launch the tinny, get to Lumiel, unload all the provisions and organise stuff before the storm hit. 

storm incoming!

This proved to be correct and we sat out an hour or so of rain with some decent lightning & thunder passing just to the south of us. Once it cleared we dropped the mooring and headed north, there was basically no wind so it was to be an afternoon of motoring. Given that we only got underway about 11:30 I decided just to run up to Elizabeth Bay for our first night, a run of about 25nm into the anchorage.

Everything went perfectly well until we got past Cape Wilberforce, and were rounding Point William in the narrow channel between it and the un-named island. The ebb tide was running pretty hard by now as it was about half tide and we were pushing about 2-3k of tide, suddenly the port engine changed exhaust note, I looked over the side and there was no raw cooling water coming out of the exhaust.

I quickly shut down the engine before it overheated and we had to push on thru the rest of the channel on just one engine, but while it was slower, it was not an issue, we just made our way slowly into the anchorage and dropped the pick.

Elizabeth Bay

Once the engine cooled down I went to see if I could work out what had happened, I found the raw water discharge hose blown off the fitting on the head of the heat exchanger! Inside the manifold I could see pieces of rubber from the raw water impeller.

I realised I had to remove the head to clean all the rubber out properly, it must have back pressured the pump and that caused the hose to eventually blow off. I did all of that and refitted the hex head, its not hard, all easily accessible at the top of the engine. 

end of the hex with manifold removed, bit of scaling but thats where all the rubber was sitting.

The next step was to replace the raw water pump impeller, that is a shit of job, I had to take the alternator off first and its all tucked away low on the outside of the engine and difficult to see and access, but to my amazement when I finally got to the impeller, having removed the cover on the pump, it was in perfect condition!

raw water pump impeller

We got the old impeller replaced when we had the engine out of the boat last November, so I was a bit surprised it should have failed, what actually appears to have happened is that at some time in the past the impeller failed, and someone has just replaced it without removing the hex head and finding all the little bits of the old impeller! 

All the rubber and scale i removed.

Anyway, much better news than it might have been, and I just put the cover back on the pump and put everything back together, just have to put the alternator back on tomorrow morning.

Now I am just sitting in the dark, having a cup of tea, while a few dolphins swim around the boat – i cant see them but I can hear them exhaling when they surface! 

 Posted by at 9:04 pm

Dec 312022

This year we decided to head South for our annual end of year trip away on our boat. Firstly, now that we have Lumiel it obviously opens up a much greater range of locations for us, also we had a longer break than usual because we were able to get away a few days earlier than usual and finally given the weather predictions it made more sense to head South rather than our usual end of year destination, the Wessel Islands to the north.

Our loose plan was to make our way down the coast and end up down at the northern end of Groote Island, specifically the North East Islands.

We spent the Friday night on the boat in the harbour and set off Saturday morning, we sailed down past Nhulunbuy and Yirrkala, rounded Cape Arnhem and sailed down the coast to the southern side of Port Bradshaw to a lovely little sheltered bay we have previously visited and picked as an excellent anchorage. We call it Snogga’s Bay in memory of Kai’s Rugby coach, as we spent an afternoon there on the end of season fishing trip for the team which took place just before Snogga died.

Sunday we decided to head down to 3 Hummocks and anchor for the night, this is another place we have visited on day trips, its beautiful snorkelling and has 2 of the islands joined by a sand spit. We caught a stonking mackerel on the sail over to the islands and then Kai spent a couple of hours snorkelling around the islands and picked up a nice coral trout.

It turned out to be a less than perfect anchorage, we were anchored in the channel in the middle of the islands and the current was quite strong, which made us hang stern to wind most of the night, regardless of whether the tide was ebbing or flooding! Anyway it was ok, but its certainly not the best anchorage for a good nights sleep!

Monday we pulled anchor and headed down to a spot we have never visited, but had heard good things about, 6 Islands Bay which is on the Northern side of Bukudal community where I have visited and stayed a number of times by road, but I had never been taken over to 6 Islands Bay. Its certainly a stunning landscape, there are more than 6 islands and its got a bit of everything, fresh water, sand dunes, long beaches, rocky outcrops and coral.

The absolute highlight was Tuesday morning when Kai & I jumped in the tinny to have an explore and we had barely left Lumiel when we came across a pod of pygmy killer whales, we raced back to pick up Sal & my phone to film them and then spent about 15 minutes with them as they swam thru the bay we were anchored in, around Lumiel and then out heading South along the coast. One of the females had a big mackerel in her mouth, we assume she was going to use it to play with the babies and teach them about hunting.

Unfortunately this was to be our last destination on this trip, with the benefit of our Starlink satellite internet we were able to see that there was a severe monsoon trough developing, it was being intensified by the remnants of the small cyclone from last week near Darwin – the tropicl low was moving slowly towards Katherine. Extreme rainfall and gale force winds were being predicted for later in the week, and while I was confident we would find a safe and good anchorage on Groote Island to sit it out if it were as bad as predicted, it didn’t sound like we would be able to do much if it were just raining the whole time. It would make diving untenable, which is one of the main attractions of the North East Islands. The other risk was the weather might prove to be pretty nasty towards the end of the week when we would need to head home for Sal & Kai to start work in the new year. Basically the time we would need to head home would have been when the worst weather was predicted.

So with much disappointment we decided to hoist sails and just run for home, we had about 85nm to get home which meant if we went direct we would get in on the early hours of Wednesday morning, we also gave ourselves the option of stopping overnight and breaking the trip up if we decided that was a better option.

As it turned out the decision was a good one, we had a nice fresh easterly for the first couple of hours, (totally unpredicted!), then a couple of big storms to the west of us generated a fresh westerly wind (also unpredicted!), the edge of the storm caught us and we had about 30k for 10 or 15 minutes but luckily we had already furled the screecher so we just bore off under full main and once it passed the wind dropped progressively until we were forced to motor sail.

We could see on the rain radar that the rain was thinning out ahead of us and we would likely not get anymore rain if we just kept going, and we had some breeze to motorsail so we decided to keep going for home. Again the Starlink service is invaluable in being able to see the rain radar and whats happening with the storms.

What would have been an uneventful trip home was then made a little stressful with some engine issues. It was after dark and we had already rounded Cape Arnhem and were headed along the coast towards the passage between Bremmer Island and the mainland – a narrow tidal passage that we needed both the tide with us and the engines to motor sail thru there as the wind always blows thru the passage which would create a head wind.

Firstly the Port engine started playing up, running roughly, dropping 500rpm every minute or so, then back up to running revs, then dropping again. After a while it just stalled and although I could restart it, the same problem continued. I could find nothing wrong, all the filters are brand new, no alarms, it seemed to be a fuel issue as nothing else really causes these sort of symptoms but I could find nothing. Anyway, all good, we just continued motor sailing with one engine, which we often do anyway so that was not an issue.

But just as we were getting close to the passage, the Starboard engine just stopped, no warning, no alarms, just went from 2000rpm running sweet as, to totally not running! I quickly tried restarting, but it just cranked without firing.

With no engines we could not risk trying to sail thru the passage between Bremmer & the Mainland so we changed course, pulled out the headsail and satrted sailing to go right around Bremmer, which would have added probably 4 hours to the trip.

I then tried to see what had gone wrong with the Starboard engine, but again no alarms, nothing obviously wrong, not hot, nothing to suggest a problem. So I tried to restart it again and it fired straight away and ran perfectly!! So we furled the headsail again and changed course back for the passage. A bit later whike we were in the passage I realised the tide was no longer with us and so I thought I would try the Port engine again, it fired up straight away and also ran faultlessly!

So we were back to both engines working perfectly, they continued to for the rest of the trip home and we picked up the mooring about 02:30h

Our decision to return early has been vindicated with lots of rain and wind since we got home, really we have been very lucky over all the years we have been going away for the end of year trip, and this is the first time where we have had really bad weather in that time. (excluding the storm that we lost our tinny in a few years ago, but that was a one off storm.)

 Posted by at 12:27 pm

Dec 102022

sunset drinks on the foredeck

Having finished tidying up and finishing up a few jobs after our 2 weeks on the hard, Dave and I decided to head out for a few days to put Lumiel through her paces. We had light ENE winds on tuesday morning and so we decided to head north, up past the end of the Brombies, outside Miller Island and across to Australian’s Bay on Marchinbar Island in the Wessels group.

We had a slightly frustrating day of motoring, then motor sailing, motoring again and finally the last hour or so, a nice sail as the wind increased to a sailable strength. The joys of sailing in the build-up!

The sail drives performed perfectly, the new props are giving us fantastic drive, easily doing 7.5-8k at just under 2000 rpm, so its nice to have some confidence in the engines and propulsion again. We still have an annoying oil leak in the port engine, we should have done more to try to find and fix it when the engine was out but the time pressure to get the work done meant we didnt. That shortcut is something we will probably come to regret when we are bent like a contorted pretzel in the engine room trying to find and fix it!

We had a very relaxing few days in the bay, we only took the deflatable tender so we didnt do any fishing, but I had a spearfish without much luck, we got a big claw off a mudcrab that was walking in the shallows, and a squid off the back of the boat. The muddie lived to fight another day as all I had was an oar in the deflatable to hold him down with, he dropped a claw and then we lost him in the stirred up cloudy water. Still the claw was a nice entree.

We found a lovely Stimsons Python in one of the caves while looking for rock art. They are a variant of the Children’s Python.

We spent a day with a visitor in the bay, we were on the beach looking at the plaque commemorating Matthew Flinder’s visit here on his last night in Australia, and this 50m ship came around the point and into the bay, dropping anchor beside us – turned out it was the True North, the small high end cruise ship that mainly operates in the Kimberly. She was doing some Wessel trips this year on voyage between Darwin & Cairns. They were very friendly and actually asked if we minded sharing the anchorage with them. As we pointed out its not our anchorage, they also asked if we needed anything, I was too slow to suggest a scenic flight around the Wessel Islands in their chopper!

True North

We had to head home Friday morning as Dave had work starting on Saturday, we set off at 5:20 to get home early afternoon, unfortunately there was basically not a breath of wind all day so we had to motor all the way, but I guess it was a good test of the engines and drives! We averaged about 7.5 knots, got home and picked up the mooring at 12:30 so 7h 10m to cover the 54nm

All up 108nm round trip, combined engine hours of 37h, used about 75L of fuel so 2L per hour. Because some of it was motor sailing and some is just running an engine during the day to make hot water and top up batteries, its hard to work out the litres per nautical mile, but it would be around 1L/nm.

 Posted by at 12:38 pm

Dec 012022

on the trailer

We have finally been able to haul out to replace our port sail drive and change out the propeller shaft on the starboard saildrive. The plan was to pull the port engine and saildrive out, tidy up the engine, heli-coil the threads on the bell housing, service and then reinstall with the reconditioned 2nd hand sail drive we bought from Cap Coast Marine in Yeppoon (shout out to Kelly & Josh). We were also planning to pull the prop shaft out of the old port sail drive and replace the broken one on the starboard side.

Other planned work was 4 new skin fittings and moving the paddle wheel log from under the front bunk to under the front cabin floor for easier access, and a full clean and anti foul.

Of course like always with boats, its not quite gone to plan! When we went to remove the sail drive, 2 of the mounting bolts to mount where it goes thru the hull, broke. Without going into all the gruesome details, that was a long and arduous job on Dave’s behalf to finally be able to remove the two broken bolts without having to carry out open heart surgery on the fibreglass mount.

Then we broke the port propeller shaft trying to get the locknut off that holds the prop in place, so we could no longer use it in the starboard sail drive as originally planned. Luckily I thought of getting the broken shaft machined to insert a 16mm thread in the end of it so it would be functional again. We called on the services of a friend, Tommy Niven, who also happens to be a very talented machinist and he threw it in his lathe and had it fixed within a couple of hours!

Next we picked up the engine from the machine shop and when Dave went to put studs in the bell housing, he found that they had not drilled the holes out straight when they fitted the heli-coils, so we had to load it back in the ute and take it back to the machine shop.

Jobs that so far have gone to plan has been the water blasting to prep the hull for anti fouling and the fitting of the new thru hull skin fittings.

Well after a long hard weekend Lumiel has fresh anti-fouling, I put two coats on the waterline and leading edges, as well as a coat above the water line all by brush. Then I rolled on 2 coats over everything – so most of the hull has 2 coats and the high wear areas have 4. It was bloody hard work on my own, 35º and about 90% humidity, and because the anti fouling paint is so thick its physically hard work as well. Anyway, all done now and we only have the port engine to reinstall and we should be pretty well ready to go back in the water. We have been out for 2 weeks tomorrow, which is how long we expected everything to take allowing for a few hiccups.

So today was the day to put the port engine back in, we picked it up from Darkys Mechanical in the morning and then after fitting the new engine mounts we winched it up on the boom and manoeuvred it back into the engine room. Its a huge plus with the Bahia that we can use the boom to winch the engine and saildrive in an out with it, we have a huge 24v right angle drive, milwaukee drill modified to work as an electric winch handle that makes the job easier, but its still a pain in the arse to line up the engine and saildrive in the engine room, Dave the contortionist diesel fitter did all the hard work while I offered useless advice, something i have had years of practice at. Anyway, by the end of the day, the engine was back in, coupled up to the saildrive and one more day of fitting all the ancillary equipment should see us afloat again on wednesday morning.

As predicted we were back in the water Wednesday morning, it was a very exciting moment to be back afloat again and we had no real issues, just a couple of adjustments. It was a great feeling to have 2 engines and saildrives fully operational again!

We ended up being out for 2 weeks and 2 days, which was pretty close to our goal of 2 weeks, especially considering some of the issues we ran into!


 Posted by at 11:53 am

Oct 162022
Lumiel on the mooring

Lumiel on the mooring

Sal & I had a lovely time sailing up to Truant Island for a few days, we were blessed with the weather, a fresh South Easterly to sail up there on the Friday morning and then a light North Easterly from coming home on the Sunday. It was a bit too light at first and we had to motor sail for the first hour or so until it freshened a little.

Truant is one of our favourite spots, because its well offshore, about 32nm North of Gove harbour, it tends to have very clear water and there is lots of beautiful coral reef around the island to snorkel and spearfish on as well as lovely white beaches.

We caught a nice mackerel trolling on the way up so we had fresh fish and we really just had a very relaxing few days lazing about, swimming, sun baking, exploring in the tinny, fishing and snorkelling.

I found the track of a small croc which had come up the beach overnight and gone into a freshwater lagoon behind the beach, a reminder that even this far offshore they are around. Lots of turtle tracks from the nesting season too.

My highlight was going in to the beach where we were anchored at low tide to look for oysters on the rocks, there werent really any decent sized oysters and I walked back out to the tinny and climbed in, just as I was about to pull the anchor in to head back to Lumiel (50m away), a pair of big Giant Trevally swam past, followed by a reef shark.

In a moment of madness that I almost instantly regretted, I grabbed the nearest rod, my little light weight flick stick with a calcutter 100 and a little slice for throwing at tuna. I sight cast the slice in front of the leading Giant Trevally – who immediately inhaled it!

Now I had a big GT hooked up, on light gear, in about 1m of water, anchored so i couldnt move to deeper water, surrounded by reef and with a shark to add spice to the chase. There were a few instantly obvious scenarios, in typical GT style, he could peel off enough line to cut me off on the reef, he could just set sail for the horizon and spool me, the shark could attack and chaos ensue, or the line would break as I increased the drag to sunset on the little reel.

Amazingly not of these scenarios played out, instead he pretty much stayed over the sand and while he fought hard for 10 minutes or so, I finally got him to the boat and lip gaffed him so I could release him. While I was battling the GT I had hooked up, its mate behaved in typical GT style – it swam over to the tinny and swum around under the boat the whole time. Part of the reason that I released the one I hooked.

I was yelling and carrying on like a pork chop during the battle and eventually Sal came up on deck to see what all the fuss was about so she caught the last couple of minutes on video.

All in all a fantastic weekend, great sailing, we didn’t break anything and it was lovely just the two of us having the island to ourselves for a few days. Of course we also enjoyed some delicious meals

The sail home was made all the more special by a small pod of dolphins joining us and playing in the bow waves.

 Posted by at 11:28 am  Tagged with:

May 122022

about to leave restoration island

we sailed off the anchor at about 06:10h and headed north on our route to Cape York, i had created a route with all the required waypoints to follow all the way up the inner reef shipping channel, across the top of cape york, thru endeavour strait and into the start of the gulf of carpentaria. we had a lovely sail with steady breeze from the south east of 15-20k all day and thru the night. we had to time the run to take advantage of the strong tidal currents around torres strait and avoid having to sail against them. this was definitely the trickiest part of the remaining trip with no engine power if we got in trouble. luckily the strength and direction, of the wind meant we were able to maintain good boat speed and not worry about it.

as we headed north towards the end of the first day, right on dusk, i caught another nice spanish mackerel, my 3rd for the trip, and the only ones caught on the boat – i must win the inaugural lumiel fishing comp i think!

it was a busy night on watch as many of the legs on the edge of the shipping channel were short and the changes in direction required frequent gybes, so it was with great relief that we rounded cape york at dawn and slipped down and out thru endeavour strait and by late morning we were in the gulf of carpentaria with about 310nm to home! 

that afternoon the breeze dropped out to very light and we struggled to sail at anything over 4k, which was frustrating as it was much less than forecast. then suddenly near dusk it sprung up and just kept increasing – until about 9pm on sal’s watch we were flying along with 30k gale and very confused and wild seas. 

i reduced sail until we just had a tiny bit of headsail out and we just slowed her right down got her comfortable and spent a long, tough night bouncing our way into the gulf slowly.

today,tuesday, we waited till dawn then put some more sail out and cracked on, breeze still around 20k and a big swell, straight down wind so surfing and sailing!

wednesday was another mixed bag, becalmed at times, 25k at other, rain squalls, but we steadily ticked off the miles towards gove and thursday morning at sunrise we were abeam of nhulunbuy and then sailed in between wirawawoi and bremer island towards gove harbour. the last few miles was a hard slog as a 15k south easterly sprung up and we had to tack all the way into the boat club anchorage.

at 11am, and after 1810.74 nautical miles and 2 months we were finally home with lumiel!

the joy of arrival was tempered with the devastating news of the passing of my malu, just the day before i got home, here is my tweet as we sailed into gove harbour.

“My happiness with arriving home is offset by the tragic news that my malu, (father), D. Gurruwiwi has passed. Arnhem Land & the world will mourn the loss of the Galpu clan leader, Yidaki master, husband to Dhopiya, father of many and an inspiration to all. Nharma yalala, malu.”

 Posted by at 4:02 pm

May 122022
lizard island

lizard island


next off we headed out to lizard island, another famous place in cook’s trials and tribulations. its here he climbed to the 380m peak and was able to at last see a passage out of the great barrier reef, a passage he named providence passage. so again dave and i climbed in cook’s footsteps to the peak, thankfully he had painted white arrows and carved steps in the steeper parts of the track which made it a bit easier.


lizard is also home to a very exclusive resort, so cook would have had somewhere nice to have a beer after the climb. its a stunning island, one of the prettiest on the queensland coast, 2 very safe anchorages to suit all conditions, lovely white beaches, stunning coral and fish life and stunning scenery. we only really had time for 2 nights and a full day, we easily could have spent a week or so here. all the outer ribbon reefs are close by too and places like the cod hole so there is plenty to occupy the time. anyway, we have to press on in order to get home when planned so we are off again tomorrow headed to cape melville.

Conditions were so favourable we decided to sail on thru the night and head all the way to restoration island, home of david glasheen for the last 30 years, named by bligh after he made landfall in his dingy having sailed from tonga after being thrown adrift following the mutiny on the bounty. it was as we made landfall ourselves that a tragedy befitting the great mariners of the past became apparent, we started the engines to motor in and drop anchor and discovered we had no drive from either engine! 

we managed to sail in close enough to drop anchor and assess the situation, a quick dive over the side into the crocodilian waters revealed the starboard propeller was gone, worse still the thread on the end of the shaft for the lock nut had been sheared off. we can only assume we hit a lump of semi submerged timber with the prop and it was torn off. so the spare props we have were of no use.

things then got worse when dave checked the port engine, me having confirmed we at least still had that prop intact. the sail drive had come apart from the flywheel housing on the back of the engine, disconnecting the drive from the engine. we knew these threads were in poor shape from the work we did on this sail drive in brisbane, but this was an unexpected disaster. presumably the sail drive on the port side had also taken a severe bump from something in the water, forcing the separation. 

our initial belief was that neither side would we be able to repair an engine and saildrive to working condition, leaving us just with sail for propulsion. this seemed a totally untenable situation so our thoughts turned to trying to arrange a tow back to cairns so that we could haul the boat out and fix these issues. aside from the potential expense, the thought of being towed hundreds of miles south, against the tradewinds and then trying to organise everything in cairns was depressing to say the least.

we went ashore and met dave glasheen, we had an introduction from our mutual friend bruce davey, owner of wildcard and i had emailed dave to let him know we were headed his way. after telling dave our woes he suggested we talk to the skipper of a prawn trawler, cape moreton, that was also anchored in the bay as he might offer to tow us or know someone who could. 

we borrowed dave’s tinny to try to tow lumiel to a better anchorage, more out of the swell and closer to the beach. we had some success, but dave’s tinny was just too small to manoeuvre us where we really wanted to be

later in the day when phil, the skipper woke up, we had a brief chat about our dilemma and he said he might be able to help, but he wouldn’t be heading to cairns for a couple of weeks. exhausted after our long overnight sail and all the dramas upon our arrival we had probably a couple too many wines and collapsed into bed!


the next morning brought good news on two fronts, further investigation by dave had revealed that the port engine was not as badly damaged as he had initially thought and that maybe it would be feasible to get it back together and available for emergency use only. the second part was that meanwhile i had studied the charts and realised we only had about 160 miles to go and we would be round cape york and in the gulf of carpentaria. this meant we could consider the possibility of setting sail, with the port motor in emergency use mode, and we only had a bit over 24 hours sailing, with the south east trades behind us, and we would be in the gulf and just 2 or 3 days sailing in open waters to be home.

so that became our focus, work out the tides, currents, times, speeds and routing to safely sail up the rest of the queensland coast, round cape york and into the gulf and home in one go. it would be around 4-5 days total non stop, but easy going once we were in the gulf and save an enormous amount of expense and logistical problems with a tow back south.

that morning we saw a jet ski and big tinny arrive from portland roads and land at dave’s house so we went ashore to see if they might help us move lumiel to where we wanted to be anchored so that the boat was sitting in calm waters while dave did all the work on the engine and sail drive. jason and katey were the owners of the jetski and boat and had bought 2 couples staying in their guest house in portland roads, over to the island for breakfast on the island with dave. they were cooking up a feed for everyone on the biggest paella pan i have ever seen, over an open fire! it was an impressive bit of bush cooking.

jason was more than happy to help us move, so we quickly had lumiel anchored in the best possible location, the middle of the channel between the beach on restoration island and the mainland.

we spent a lazy day with dave today, roasted a chook in the morning and took it in for lunch. sal and i took our heavy screecher in and got the twists out of it and re-rolled it, the sail had got tangled up on our trip up from lizard. sal also mowed some of the ‘lawn ‘ around dave’s house, otherwise we just hung around talking, eating and drinking a little wine. our departure for the run home is in the morning and we returned to the boat late afternoon to discover the 240v inverter has died now! keeps tripping on a high temp alarm as soon as it starts so that is the end of the coffee machine! 


 Posted by at 3:49 pm

May 122022
hope island

hope island

after port douglas we decided to head north to hope island, a local yachty in port douglas had told us it was one of his favourite anchorages on the east coast, its a small island with a large surrounding reef, the snorkelling is very good and the little island very pretty. we managed to pick up a mooring as we were once again the only boat there! i had some reasonable success with the spear gun so fresh fish tacos were on the menu! it was a peaceful couple of days, swimming on the beach on the island, snorkelling, fishing and generally relaxing. sadly the weather wasn’t the best with frequent showers, particularly at night.

hope island

hope island

the trip from port douglas to hope island took us past cape tribulation – my home nearly 50 years ago, it was a sentimental moment for me, so many happy memories from so long ago. i had been back by road, but seeing it from the sea was special. 

so the rain continued and the move further north from the hope islands to cooktown did nothing to help clear it up! we did have a rollicking sail up, 20-25k south easterly with a rolliing sea, so at least lance and cheryl got to enjoy a day of champagne sailing. we were fortunate in being able to tie up to the fuel jetty at cooktown and stay there for the 3 days. 

they say cooktown is the windiest place in australia, and it certainly reinforced its reputation while we were there, along with frequent and heavy rain storms. 

for me it was a very humbling experience, to follow in the sails of two of the world’s greatest navigators and seamen, cook on the endeavour and slocum on the spray, they both visited cooktown – cook to repair the endevour after she had run aground on the reef and slocum during his solo circumnavigation. 

cooktown from cook's lookout

cooktown from cook’s lookout

dave & i walked up to the top of cook’s lookout above the harbour, where he tried to make sense of the labyrinth of reefs and foul ground to plot a course out of the reef. we also visited the museum which has a canon and an anchor recovered from the reef where endevour ran aground, they were dumped to lighten the boat in an attempt to float her off.

for sal revisiting cooktown was very nostalgic, she had lived here nearly 40 years ago as a young woman, helping to build a house with her boyfriend, rakam, and his parents. she was able to catch up with all of them and revisit the house. 

its a funny sort of place, and the weather made it hard to really enjoy it. I am reminded again, that while we live in an extremely remote place, its much more cosmopolitan and sophisticated than most similar sized places in rural and regional australia. cooktown just felt really backward, little things like a number of businesses that didn’t have eftpos, a post office/comm bank that couldn’t change money, a lot of closed businesses and a general feeling that life was pretty tough for a lot of people. 

overall i enjoyed the few days there and i am glad we stopped there, we had a couple of nice meals and it has always been somewhere i wanted to visit for its vital part in australia’s white history. the bonus was i helped a trawler tie up on the public wharf and scored a box of huge U10 tiger prawns from the skipper, rob, so that was much appreciated.

we also met a couple sailing on another fountaine pajot, theirs was an athena which is the 38’ model, but built around the same time and very much a smaller model of ours, so it was fun to have a look over her.

fountaine pajot athena in cooktown

fountaine pajot athena in cooktown

lance and cheryl also left us in cooktown, so its back to just the 3 of us for the rest of the trip! it was fabulous having them with us and i think great for sal to have some female company! we will miss them.


the main street of cooktown, 7:30pm saturday!

 Posted by at 3:24 pm

Apr 252022
personal water feature, innisfail wharf.

personal water feature, innisfail wharf.

water has been very much the feature for the last week or so, while queensland has had a dry wet season this year, it decided it would have a late attempt to get up to speed and has been dumping huge amounts of rain all over far north queensland.

as i posted in the last entry, we headed up to innisfail from dunk island, after negotiating the entrance to the johnstone river we wound our way up to the pretty old town of innisfail and dropped our pick about 100m off the town jetty which runs along the foreshore right in front of the shops, its a very picturesque setting.

our track up to innisfail

our track up to innisfail

the first couple of days we were anchored just downstream from the bridge, in the middle of the river, but as the rain started one of the locals told us that we would be in trouble if there was significant rain as the anchor chain would become fouled with debris floating down the river and we would drag. he suggested we just go in and tie up on the jetty along the foreshore, behind a commercial fishing boat as it would be out of the main stream and protected from floating debris in a flood.

we asked who we had to get permission from and he said, “no one, the council dont seem to care.” – he had tied up for 2 weeks while he was doing some work on his boat. this was sort of confirmed by the fact that the trawler we tied up behind was actually on the public jetty that had a big sign saying ‘2 hour limit’ – and he was there the whole 4 days we were in innisfail and who knows how much longer!

we did the laundry, some provisioning, explored the town and its lovely old buildings and sampled some of the local restaurants. we also had a surprise visit from some old gove friends, brian had been speaking to them on the phone and they decided to drive over and visit. vernon ‘skin’ chessels, his wife di, paul davies and his wife tanya. they all live in the region now having left gove.

after a tour of the boat we all headed out to dinner and had a great night, it was a lot of fun to catch up with them after so long – paul & tanya in particular i hadnt seen for about 15 years.

we spent 4 days in innisfail and then decided it was time to make the run up to cairns, our friends lance and cheryl thomas were flying up from the sunshine coast to join us for a while, and sadly brian had to depart and head back home. we had hoped brian might be able to do the rest of the trip with us he has been great company and an excellent breakfast chef!

with lance and cheryl getting into cairns midday on the friday, and us needing high tide to get out of the johnstone river and a rising tide to get into the tricky moon river entrance to the bluewater marina north of cairns, we set off at 11:30pm and motored the whole way.

it was very light breeze with some dry patches but mainly drizzle thru to heavy rain at times, we had a strong current pushing us along tho and made very good time, in fact we had to slow the boat down in order not to get in too early.

we slipped into yorkey’s knob and fuelled up before tackling the scary entrance to moon river, the channel is shallow and very narrow, winding, with breaking sandbanks either side of the boat. it appears to be only a couple of metres wider than the boat and is the most challenging bar entrance i have ever attempted in a big boat. to complicate matters the dredge was working in the channel so we had to stop and go round in circles while we moved to one side to make enough room for us to squeeze by!

we only ended up spending one night in cairns as bluewater marina is miles from anything so no shopping or eating out was really feasible, and after lunch on saturday afternoon we decided the rain and wind had eased enough to make the dash to port douglas. so we said our goodbyes to brian as he headed home to yeppoon and sal drove us out through the scary moon river entrance and we had a cracking sail up to port douglas, avoiding nearly all the rain squalls and getting into our marina berth and tied up just before the heavens opened and washed us away!

we have been here a couple of days and the weather continues to be miserable, at least there are more restaurants close by here! although being school holidays most are booked out, so we have actually struggled to get into some of the old favourites. i went for a walk on 4 mile beach yesterday and it looked forlorn, covered in sea weed, grey, wet, miserable, beach closed for swimming and almost no one on it.

we are getting sick of being tied up in marinas or on wharfs, while it rains and blows rather than being out sailing and exploring, so we will probably head off tomorrow and go up to hope islands, south of cooktown. hopefully the weather will improve and we can get some snorkelling in on the reef.

 Posted by at 9:41 am

Apr 182022
Lumiel from half way up Mt Kootaloo.

Lumiel from half way up Mt Kootaloo.

after leaving fantome island we had a great sail over to hinchinbrook island where we just stopped the night in the mouth of second creek in missionary bay, before heading off to dunk island where we planned to stop a couple of days. on the way we passed by the longest jetty in australia, the lucinda jetty, nearly 6kms long! its so long the jetty had to be built with a curve to allow for the curvature in the earth’s surface over the long distance.

sal cooked up a smashing chicken biryani for our first night here. its a nostalgic visit for me because i came here about 25 years ago with michelle when we chartered a cat out of cardwell. we also anchored here and went ashore and ate at plantations, the resort restaurant after drinks at the famous spit bar on the sand spit. all of the resort, bars and even the foreshore were destroyed and devestated by cyclone yasi in 2011. sadly the resort has laid idle ever since despite a couple of attempts to rebuild.

today, dave, brian and I went ashore and did the walk to the peak of mt kootaloo and the long walk around the island – a bit over 10km in total which took us 3 ½ hours. in the morning i prepped a goat curry made with the legs of wild goat we got from rob & annie at middle percy island. i made a couple of masalas the day before, cooked up the basic curry and added them in. dave is making dhal now and we will have goat curry, rice, naan & dhal for dinner! tomorrow we head to innasfail for more supplies and refuel before picking up our friends lance & cheryl who will join us for a week or so.

enough curry & dhal to last about a week!





 Posted by at 6:07 am

Apr 152022


still at fantome island, headed out for a dive this morning and shot a spotted sweetlip and a blue bone, again the corals were just astounding, some of the best i have seen anywhere. distinct lack of big fish for the table though. knocked up a guac and had fish tortillas for lunch with a cheeky french rose.

after lunch we headed into the lock hospital site and explored that, the cemetery was much smaller than the lazaret one, but a couple of proper headstones. the stone walls are incredible, 1.3m wide and 1m high creating both paths and pens for horses, pigs & cows. the amount of labour to create the rock walls is almost unimaginable – and presumably slave labour by the aboriginal inmates. there were less ruins and remnants than the lazaret but it was still impressive in its scale. the eastern beach looks across to palm island and the community there can be clearly seen.


layout of hospital site, we are anchored off the top left hand side of the picture.

hopefully this video gives some sense of the scale and size of the walls and pens.


again, click on the ‘i‘ for captions, and read the wikipedia article for details about the lock hospital, HERE

the eastern beach of the hospital site looks across to palm island and the community there,

thats it for fantome island for us, after an amazing 3 days we are heading off to hinchinbrook island tomorrow.

 Posted by at 5:54 am

Apr 142022



Lumiel at anchor at Fantome Island, taken from the top of the hill at the leprosarium.

we spent most of today off lumiel, we packed the dinghy with all our dive gear, water, cameras and oyster collecting tools and after breakfast headed into the beach on the north west tip of fantome island. there is a basic camp built by palm island residents that we could set up in, shaded by big trees, a big firepit, a little mooring for the dinghy, reef for snorkelling accessible off the beach and oyster covered rocks a short walk down the beach!


after unloading our gear we set off to explore the lazaret or leprosarium using the wikipedia article (link) as our guide to finding the elements. as i said in the last post, this site is a stark reminder of australia’s institutional racism, but its also such a picturesque site so there is a certain conflict evident while walking the ruins.

i will post some of the commentary for the photos from the article below,


The remains of the lazaret hospital are located 53 metres (174 ft) west of the main lazaret pathway. The beginning of the complex is marked by a low dry stone and coral wall extending perpendicular to the beach front. The remains of the hospital buildings include: numerous timber building stumps and a rectangular concrete pad which was part of the hospital’s septic system. Two concrete sets of stairs survive – one set climbs to the north, suggesting that these were rear access stairs to the hospital complex and the second set is located towards the far west of the hospital complex and climbs to the east to a position that closely corresponds with the known location of the laboratory. At the rear of the hospital complex are two concrete pads. One pad contains the remains of a stove, fridge, and concrete wash tub. These pads are possibly remnants of the hospital laundry and medical sample collection site.

The remains of St Mary’s Catholic Church are located adjacent to and immediately west of the main lazaret pathway. The remains include a large concrete pad. A low wall with a small square recessed section on the outer side, presumably for the placement of a plaque, is located on the end of the pad. In line with and south of the church building pad is a circular concrete feature with a rectangular plinth at its centre.



“The remains of the sisters’ quarters are situated parallel to the north beach front and immediately east of the main lazaret pathway. An extensive scatter of building rubble is found across the site, particularly asbestos fibro fragment, CGI sheets, galvanised iron, steel pipes, and some bricks. The most intact remains are those associated with the nuns’ changing rooms. The site is marked by a concrete pad which is recessed into the ground, with raised concrete surrounds. Internal spaces can be read through the presence of the bases of room dividers, marked by concrete strips. Two iron bath tubs are situated side by side in the centre of the floor area. Adjacent to and east of the changing rooms pad, is a CGI water tank and timber stumps representing a collapsed tank stand. An iron pipe runs from this tank and parallel to the beach front towards a second set of concrete pads. These pads contain the remains of an iron stove and system of concrete spoon drains. Their location set back from the access track and behind another, since-removed building suggests an ancillary use such as a kitchen or laundry.”

“Located east of the visitors’ quarters are the remains of the grotto. The grotto is accessed by a stone-lined path that leads off the main path in front of the remains of the visitors’ quarters. The grotto contains a large shrine consisting of a tall mound of local stone. The shrine features a statuary platform close to the apex though a statue is no longer present. Adjacent to and to the north-west is a concrete altar. The face of the altar is marked with three arched shallow recesses. The largest central arch features a rough outline of Australia that has been constructed of small shells applied to the surface. The path to the grotto terminates at the site of a small steep pyramid-shaped shrine constructed of stone. The shrine has a flat concreted top section probably for a statue, though a statue is no longer present.”

approach path to grotto

“Located at the southern end of the main lazaret pathway are the remains of multiple structures that comprised the supply centre for the lazaret. The supply centre complex consists of a cluster of attached concrete pads comprising: office and store, sewing room, oil room, butcher, and open-air cinema (between the sewing room and the office/store). Immediately east of this complex are the remains of a vehicle garage. Remnants include a concrete pad with a short ramp on the northern end. East of the garage are the remains of the lazaret’s school. Abandoned and partially deconstructed machinery (generator) is bolted to school building pad.”


The married quarters are located immediately adjacent to the single men’s quarters and include huts, two communal kitchens (one later converted into accommodation), a garden area, cess pits, a midden, and general laundry buildings. Former structures are marked by concrete pads. East of the married quarters and 160 metres (520 ft) along a small creek line, are the remains of several wells and pumping equipment. The area includes four circular concrete wells, one rectangular timber-lined well, the remains of a single piston water pump, and a scatter of steel water pipes.


“The cemetery is located on the southern bank of a tidal creek 60 metres (200 ft) from the married quarters. Positioned within a small bend of the creek, the cemetery is bordered by water to the north and east with resulting erosion problems, particularly at the northern end. The cemetery is marked on the east side by an incomplete line of timber fence posts. The individual graves are orientated east–west and are organised into six rows running north–south. The total number of marked graves is 120. Many of the graves are lined by stone surrounds, however, according to the oral history of a former patient these are possibly later additions and may not accurately reflect the number, size and/or location of all the graves. There are some timber crosses marking graves but none of the extant markers retain the name of the deceased; many of the timber crosses now also lack the horizontal member.”


our exploration of the lazaret took a couple of hours and we were glad to return to the shade of our camp site and the fresh water in the esky! after a rest we went snorkelling on the beautiful coral gardens around the north west tip of the island, full of stunning soft and hard corals and many small fish varieties, turtles and sting rays. the tides are pretty big here, about 5m at the moment so the current rips thru the narrow channel between fantome and orphelia islands making for a fast and furious drift dive!

after snorkelling it was back to camp, build a fire and collect oysters to cook. green casuarina fronds provided the smoke to achieve the extra flavour for the oysters!

after pigging out on oysters it was back to the boat for pre-dinner drinks and sunset, todays special was mojitos!


a long and amazing day, we were all deeply impressed, but in quite different ways, for sal the highlight of the day was finding the grotto and the powerful feelings it evoked about what life might have been like for the unfortunate souls incarcerated in the lazaret. for dave the confrontation of the cemetery and it’s stark statement about the horrors of fantome island was his main takeaway. brian was struck by the sheer scale of the site – its much bigger than we expected and sprawls over a large tract of the northern end of the island. it was obvious it must have been a significant population in total.

being a more shallow and simpler soul, my highlight was collecting, cooking and eating the oysters on the beach. for me that connection with country and environment of wild food collection and cooking is always an emotional high.

tomorrow we will explore the lock hospital site and see what we find there.


 Posted by at 4:41 pm

Apr 122022

breakwater marina, townsville.

its been a hectic week since the last update from cape upstart, we had a rollicking sail up to townsville, we left at 11.30pm and sailed thru the night arriving in the marina in townsville at about 10;30am, 73nm in 11h averaging nearly 7k. we had 3 days in townsville and really enjoyed it, ran around in the marina courtesy car re-provisioning and getting a few things we needed for the usual running repairs on the boat. our berth was literally right on the strand so it was definitely like a waterside apartment.

we had some great meals, found a wonderful brazilian restaurant, a really good vietnamese and finally had a long sunday lunch at shorehouse, the nearest townsville has to fine dining!

we left monday morning (11/4/22) and refuelled on our way out of the marina before sailing over to magnetic island, we were going to anchor the night in horseshoe bay, but there were about 20 yachts there already so we headed round to maud bay, which is actually prettier and we had it to ourselves for the night. there are a couple of fishing camps on the beach here, they are only accessible by boat and are surrounded by national park.

after a pleasant night we pulled anchor and set sail for the palm group, our destination was fandome island, the former leper colony and lock hospital site. we were recommended the anchorage by a yachtie at the marina in townsville who rated it one of his favourite places anywhere.

the history of fandome island is one of horrific institutional racism by the bigoted queensland government, its barely believable that this sort of sordid racism existed as recently as the mid 1970’s. its a blight on our country and a stark reminder of the scale of the horrors of the genocide waged on aboriginal people. you can read more about it here,


ironically its also the most beautiful place with some of the best coral reef in queensland, huge oysters, mud crabs, loads of fish, crayfish, manta rays, turtles and stunning scenery. we are going to hang out here for a couple of days.

while we were sailing past havannah island today, a tiny bird landed on the cabin top, he found a better perch on the sheet and stayed with us until we were passing brisk island when he flew off again!


 Posted by at 8:01 pm

Apr 072022
rob smart's lovely photo of Lumiel in moonlight bay, cape upstart

rob smart’s lovely photo of Lumiel in moonlight bay, cape upstart

so just a quick post with an update on cape upstart! we decided to stay an extra day and head off at midnight the next night to sail all the way through to townsville, this would avoid having to anchor at cape bowling green, known as cape rolling green for a good reason! when i woke up this morning i had a new comment on the blog from a robert smart suggesting we should walk up shark bay creek to the fresh water rock pools. he posted his phone number and so i texted him to thank him and ask what else he knew about the community.

turns out rob lives here, is 82 years old and has fascinating history of his life in england and then australia. he told us to come ashore and he would show us around. dave and i went in and he walked us through a couple of the beaches and filled us in with a lot more info about the amazing little community here, we also met a few other residents.

rob had taken a beautiful photo of lumiel at anchor this morning, as you can see above, he took it from the beach with a big telephoto lens and then searched lumiel, gove nt and stumbled on the blog, hence his comment and offer to show us around!!

we brought him back to the boat for a look as he had built and sailed a wharram cat in the uk, he had done a lot of interesting sailing and his whole life sounded like an amazing adventure. his father had made a number of well known films in australia after a career with the raaf filming for them.

so despite our initial fears about intruding on the locals here in their little paradise we found a very warm reception.

sal’s archilles tendon is still a bit sore so she stayed on the boat while dave, brian and i climbed up the massive water course to the fresh water rock pools. its hard to imagine what the torrent of water must be like in the wet season, but the boulder strewn waterway gives a fair impression!

 Posted by at 3:24 pm

Apr 062022
the money shot!

the money shot!

we had a lovely motor sail up from thomas island, through whitsunday passage, past airlie beach and up through gloucester passage to drop anchor 50m off the beach beside the gloucester resort. although we had to motor sail due to the direction and lightness of breeze, we still averaged 6 knots for the 55nm trip. we picked the achorage not just for its suitable location but also for the chance to have a meal ashore at the resort which was a nice change and no one had to do the dishes!

we had a very pleasant sail in the morning up past the abbott point coal loading facility, until the wind gradually died and we had to motor the last couple of hours, rounded cape upstart as we enjoyed lunch and dropped anchor off some of the beach houses.



cape upstart is an amazing community, dozens of houses on the beach, many quite large and elaborate, but there is no road access! everything has to come in by boat. named by captain cook, painted by edwin augustus porcher in 1843 and then settled by burdekin residents in the 1920’s, somehow converted to freehold at some point and now surrounded by ocean on one side and national park on the other.

beach huts

beach huts

most of the houses are not permanently occupied, beach houses you need a boat to use! i think there are about 60 permanent residents. it has a strong outlaw feeling and a bit eerie. we almost expected someone to come out and shoot at us.

gawd knows what it would cost to build here, everything would have to be barged from bowen i imagine.

you can see there was even some sort of camp there in 1843!

edwin augustus porcher

‘cape upstart’ edwin augustus porcher

i tried looking online but there is very little info about cape upstart and its odd little community!

 Posted by at 3:52 pm