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

Apr 052022
rosslyn bay marina

rosslyn bay marina

well there is a lot to catch up on! while we have been making great progress, internet access has been patchy at best so no updates for nearly a week, so lots of photos coming up and some basic commentary to go with it! we left you last at great keppel island where we spent a night anchored in second bay.

the next day we sailed into rosslyn bay marina, the marina servicing yeppoon. we went straight to the fuel wharf and refilled the tank before docking in our berth and meeting our old mate brian ‘livo’ livingtone.

livo used to live in gove and comes up every year for a fishing trip – this years trip was to be a few weeks cruising on lumiel with us! after a quick look at the boat and his cabin, we went and had lunch at the restaurant at the marina. the next couple of days were a mad rush of catching up with brian’s family – penny his wife, cate, his daughter and dave, his brother, all of whom have joined us on the annual fishing trips over the years. it was also a quick provisioning stop and grab a couple of hardware items needed for the boat.

we were itching to get going again so a couple of days later we slipped lines and headed up to island head creek for an overnight before the run out to the percy group of islands.

Stunning sail from 0700-1200h 7-8k mainly, a top speed of 8.3k – broad reach SW of about 10-12k. as predicted breeze dropped and backed all the way, S, SE, E, and NE! We motor sailed a bit, then motored, then a bit more motor sailing when we got to port clinton. 

managed to run aground in island head creek looking for anchorage. luckily it was right on low tide. discovered gear selection on port sail drive had failed again. dave fixed without really knowing what he did! 

the sail up to middle percy from island head creek was the best we have had yet, hit 9k at one stage and only had to motor sail the last couple of hours as the breeze dropped out again. 

on april fool’s day we arrived at middle percy island in the mid afternoon and went ashore to visit the famous a-frame on the beach with all the names of all the yachts that have visited over the years. its become a mecca for cruising yachties on the east coast.

we had a comfortable night anchored in west bay at middle percy island and after breakfast did some exploring of the lagoon in the dinghy and then brian and i headed up the hills for the 2 km climb to the homestead where the new leaseholders, robin and annie, live. its an amazing walk firstly along the edge of the lagoon, and then at high tide, across a fair section of it with only the old poles from the redundant telephone line to follow! after that the path climbs up thru rain forest filled with thousands of tiger blue butterflies which was amazing. 

arriving at the homestead after an hour, we were warmly greeted by robin and annie and after signing up for our membership of the percy island yacht club and having our dog tags printed off on the korean war printer, and presented with a plaque and burgee for the boat, we accepted their offer off a lift back down to the beach in their ute along the long track which takes a different path and has stunning views across the ocean to the south.

we would have loved to stay longer, but we must keep moving and the 2 nights and one full day was really all we could afford.

i highly recommend researching the story of percy island and the lease, its a fascinating one and its good to see the re-energisation that rob and annie are bringing there with kerry’s help.

of course we had to add to the tradition, we settled on using one our gove boat club stubbie coolers as our name plate.

our contribution to the percy island yacht club

our contribution to the percy island yacht club


behind the a-shed there is a treehouse nestled in the side of the hill and it can be rented out as accomodation, its quite an amazing setup with 3 levels, a pizza oven and and escape ladder!

when rob & annie gave us a lift back down to the beach, we stopped to enjoy this view from the top of middle percy looking south.

IMG_3890 2

view from the long track.

after a very happy, if short stay at middle percy we set sail for scrawfell island in the southern whitsundays for an overnight stop before heading on to thomas island for another night which would set us up for an early start to sail up thru the whitsunday passage and up to cape gloucester where we plan to spend a day or two. both scrawfell and thomas islands were stunning anchorages with beautiful rainforest and hoop pines on their steep slopes, unfortunately the camera doesnt do these sort of landscapes much justice!

ok, will post a couple of videos on the end of this post if i keep reception long enough! hope you enjoy.



 Posted by at 9:10 am

Jan 062021


december has been a busy month, some of the highlights were kai spearing a magpie goose while hunting with his mate jacob, they cleaned and plucked it and i grilled it on grillzilla, sal & I had 10 days in darwin and then after christmas we had 5 days on the big boat in the wessel islands while kai went to darwin for 2 weeks to stay with his mates over there for new years & his birthday.

our trip to darwin was also to visit the oncologist for a 12 month followup appointment for sal’s radiation treatment and hormone treatment for breast cancer, everything was fine as we expected and they were very happy with her health.

we treated it as our holiday this year, as we wont be going anywhere else! we rented a very smart apartment in wood st in the middle of darwin, but in a quiet area of the city. it was very comfortable and super convenient with a nice roof top pool on the 9th floor and underground parking. we ate most meals out and visited some old favourites as well as lots of new places.

i had a day out fishing with an old mate, don whyte & a friend of his markus spazzapan out of leaders creek, it was an early start, heading off at 4;30am. while we didn’t have any luck with the elusive barra, despite have a few follows and touchs, but it was a beautiful day and i got to see a lot of new country as well as having a lot of fun with don & markus.

our annual trip to the wessels was not without its dramas, on launching the boat on boxing day i discovered i still had a leak into the engine room that i believed i had fixed when i overhauled the stern drive recently. luckily it turned out to be a leak from one of the trim tabs where the hydraulics comes thru the transom at the water line – so although i couldn’t stop the leak, i knew it wouldn’t get worse and it was just a matter of the bilge pump running regularly to pump out what leaked in.

we had a lovely trip up there with light breezes and flat seas, we arrived at cumberland strait at about lunch time and decided to proceed through and anchor off survivors beach – where the survivors of the japanese sinking of the Patricia Cam drifted ashore. its an amazing story, i am sure most aussies dont know that the japanese bombed and sank an australian ship as well as taking one of the crew captive and then executing him. if you havent read the story here are some links,

Pat Cam 1

Pat Cam 2

Pat Cam 3

Pat Cam 4

we found the plaque on survivors beach that the past masters had placed in rememberance, as well as exploring the surrounding area including some small rock art sites.

it was quite awe inspiring to be at this historical site, and it was hard not to think about the hardships these people faced and the incredible luck that they had picked up narritjan & the other yolngu at gali’winku – i doubt anyone would have survived without their specific local knowledge.

after a fairly uncomfortable night due to swell across wind, we decided to go back thru cumberland strait and visit another important historical point of interest, australian’s bay.

cumberland strait is a scary passage of water between marchinbar and guluwuru islands, its got a hole over 110m deep on the eastern side which comes up to about 6m in a very short distance, like the gulgari rip (hole in the wall), there is an enormous amount of water trying to get from one side of the wessels to the other thru these tiny passages – we tried to time it near slack water but still had up to 8kts of tide under us, its full of tidal overfalls, rips and whirlpools – and thats on calm days with small tides! the australian nautical pilot basically tells you how to navigate the strait and then tells you if you have any other option, take it!

australian’s bay gets its name from matthew flinder’s visit there in 1803, he landed there for the night after deciding cumberland strait was too dangerous to navigate when he arrived in the afternoon having sailed up from malay roads. (his boat, that he was heading to england on was called the cumberland), flinders & his men were ashore cutting up a wrecked makasser prow for firewood when some yolngu came to meet them, flinders gifted them some axes and other tools and in his journal referred to them as  “the australians” – the first time in all the years of his circumnavigation of australia that he called them anything other than “indians”! so his final act on australian soil was to document aboriginal people as australians.


Screen Shot 2021-01-06 at 3.14.02 pm

Excerpt From: “A Voyage to Terra Australis.” Matthew Flinders

we also had some of our best fishing at the wessels this trip, I think we are slowly starting to work it out!

we also saw a pied manta ray swimming round the boat early one morning, I have never seen one this colour before, i have also put on a video of me catching a queeny, some pigmy killer whales balling up bait and a view of australian’s bay.

on the trip up we had developed a small issue with the engine, it was running a bit hot and the temp warning light was on, i decided this was likely a worn impeller in the sea water cooling pump, and on inspection I realised that although i had a spare impeller on board, it was not a job to do at sea by choice as it involved dismantling a fair bit of stuff and then removing the whole pump to replace the impeller, so we decided to limit any further exploring and just stay in australians bay until we were ready to go home.

we left on new years day and had a good passage back most of the way, it was a fresh NW wind but thats pretty well offshore on that course and from the aft quarter so it was quite comfortable.

unfortunately as we approached gove harbour a large storm developed over the harbour and the winds increased to 25kts+ and the seas stood up as the tide had started running the other way against the wind, it was soon a white out in driving rain and sloppy seas so we slowed down to make it more comfortable, suddenly the low battery light and high coolant temp lights came on and I knew instantly that the fanbelt on the alternator and fresh water pump had blown!

this meant i had to stop the engine as soon as possible to prevent permanent damage, so i turned into the wind and nasty seas and dropped the anchor and all the chain – but in 20m+ in those conditions I suspected it would be unlikely to hold, i called a friend who lives aboard a boat in the harbour and told him the situation, we were partially holding and partially dragging, but had probably 2nm sea room from the coast, so i felt I had time to replace the belt and get going again, I asked him to be on standby in case we needed a tow into safety.

in the end I was able to change the belt in about 30 minutes- of course you have to take off the power steering belt to get the alternator belt on and off so it was a bit fraught! anyway, we got it done, restarted the engine, winched up 60m of chain and made our way slowly into port in white out conditions.


about 100m from the ship on the export wharf!


rough track from gove to cumberland


details of where we stayed

11.4 hrs 115nm 265lt 2.3lt per nm.




May 172020


well its been eleventy months since i updated the blog, more than a year in fact. what a whirlwind of a year, sal was diagnosed with, treated for and recovered from breast cancer, kai started playing rugby union and ended up representing the NT, playing two years above his age group, we all went down to melbourne for a relly run and sal & kai went on to tassie as well.

sal and i spent over a month living in darwin while she had radiation treatment.

livo & katie came up in feb and we had our annual week pilgrimage to bawaka fishing and camping.

kai started a school based apprenticeship in carpentry with a local construction company., sadly one of my fathers passed away, bob matches, the epitome of a gentleman, left us in march.

then kai’s beloved rugby coach passed away suddenly leaving another huge hole in his life. snogga had been an absolute legend in our town, not just for his tireless work with rugby but also with the surf club, and as captain of the fire services.

of course we have also had our world changed forever by the impact of cover-19 – we got off lightly here with no cases, but the impacts of lockdown have kept sal working from home for a couple of months and stopped our travel plans for this year.

i have created a movie slideshow of the last year or so, and I will try to post more often going forward!

 Posted by at 1:56 pm