Lizard Island to Cape York
It's all a blur in the rear view at this point but here's a run down of the anchorages we chose.
Lizard Island to Ninian Bay: Not much protection from the wind, moderately comfortable at anchor.
Ninian Bay to Owen Channel anchorage, and then Stokes Bay at Stanley Island, both within the Flinders Island group: Stokes Bay experienced less swell than the anchorage in the Owen Channel, despite the cruising guide's assertion otherwise. We sat out three days of 30-knot winds. Stokes Bay is a mud bottom -- two boats dragged, but it seemed to be their own "faults." One because their anchor doesn't work well in mud, the other because they didn't have out enough scope. If you want to make landfall, you have to wait for high tide, but it's well worth it as there are some incredible aboriginal cave paintings if you are willing to invest several hours of hiking.
Stanley Island to Morris Island: Make sure you are anchored between the island and the prevailing swell. At low tide, a big sand spit is exposed, but much of it is underwater during high tide, so strategically choose your spot accordingly.
Morris Island to Portland Roads: Portland Roads was rolly, as we expected, but it was our only option.
Portland Roads to Margret Bay (Cape Grenville): The other option to anchor is 4 miles farther north at Shelbourne Bay. It is not charted well, and a boat a few days previous had hit a rock, so we decided to play it safe with the well charted Margret Bay. It was very comfortable, with good holding.
Margret Bay (Cape Grenville) to Escape River: The cruising guide says you can anchor just inside the river mouth by the pearl farm, but when our friends did the current was keeping them stern to the wind and they didn't trust the holding. The pearl farm also called them on the radio and told them about another anchorage, seeming to imply that they don't want boats anchored nearby. We navigated up the river about 3 miles, winding through pearl rafts. But we anchored in flat calm water and it was a restful, quiet night. Make sure to use your insect screens, though -- everyone experienced a mega bug attack from pesky little flies. They didn't bite, but they swarmed on us by the thousands. The next day we had extreme bug carnage to clean up.
Escape River through the Albany Passage and over the top of Cape York to Red Island Anchorage (Sesia): If you time the tides right, the current gives you an extra push. We timed it perfectly and got a great help from the current all the way from Albany Passage to the channel at Sesia. At one point we were sailing close hauled with no swell or wind waves, making 9.5 knots! The best sail of our lives! The anchorage at Sesia was a bit crowded when we were there, but the current was consistent and everyone swung at the same rate. It was very comfortable, with easy dinghy landing close to the anchorage. Groceries, a BP station, and potable, good-tasting water are all available at Sesia.
This is what a real yacht looks like in case you were wondering ... (SY Swanya - classic 1975 S&S Swan)
Go Mico Go
Actually using our Hasse-built spinnaker!
Close call with a freighter near Hay Island inside the Reef (our friends on sy Moose)
Little ducklings heading up the Escape River
Getting ready to round Cape York
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