Townsville to Lizard Island
(Steph) We sailed overnight to Fitzroy Island where we took the new/old outboard to shore. We reunited with our friends from Beyond and shared cold drinks at the small bar there. Then it was back to the boat to prepare for the next day's departure for Lizard Island, where we hoped to catch up with some of our other friends.
A lovely day and night of sailing followed. We were traveling in the shipping lanes, which was terrifying but unavoidable in the reef-strewn Coral Sea. When we see ships approach, we always try to hail them on the radio to make sure they are aware of our presence. Very rarely do they respond, and usually the next 30 minutes are spent in sweaty, fearful anticipation while we find out whether we have to change course to avoid their thundering advance. But here, in the extremely narrow shipping lanes between coral reefs, even the big ships are nervous, so everyone responded to our radio calls. For being pretty high traffic, it was pretty low stress.
We arrived at Lizard Island and quickly put the boat away. We had managed to finally catch up with our friends on Mystic Rhythms and Moose. We were just in time, because Richard, on Mystic Rhythms, is an avid diver and was coordinating a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef for the next morning. He invited us along, for which we were extremely grateful -- we weren't willing to take Mico so close to the reef, but if it's someone else's boat, well then sure, count us in! It was actually a once-in-a-lifetime chance; we hadn't been sure we'd actually get to snorkel or dive on the Great Barrier Reef while here in Australia, despite its proximity.
We set out the next morning for a spot called the Cod Hole, named for enormous potato cod that inhabit the area, with nine of us in company. We arrived at the reef with everyone biting their nails, but Richard expertly handled his boat and we were soon comfortably tied off on a mooring. Woj and I were planning on snorkeling because we don't have any dive gear, so while everyone else was getting all their gear together, we jumped in and started exploring. The snorkeling was spectacular, and we spent about 45 minutes exploring the walls of the reef and little crevices and caves within (from above, of course). We went back aboard the boat for a rest, and were offered the use of others' dive gear. What an opportunity! With gear donated from a number of friends, we jumped back in and got to see the reef from a different perspective -- right down in it! Richard took pictures that he has allowed us to share.
Looking out at the edge of the Great Barrier Reef -- you can see the breakers
Woj, Irene from Moose and Anne from Mystic Rhythms, enjoying the downwind sail back to Lizard Island after our day of diving the reef
The following underwater photographs are the work of Richard Clack.
Clownfish hiding amongst the anemones
Irene of Moose
Duncan of Moose
One of the potato cod that make the Cod Hole famous. They are very curious and are not shy. They let us pet them
The size of a man!
Begging for scraps
The next few days were spent hiking the various tracks around the island, including the one to Cook's Lookout. Captain Cook, on his first visit to Australia, became trapped between the mainland and the Reef. They stopped at Lizard Island, which has a relatively high peak from which he hoped to view a pass through the reef. He spotted one from there, and the rest is history. We climbed to that same lookout, and despite the fact that we were shrouded in cloud and couldn't see the view to the reef, we were still awed by what Cook had achieved here.
Cook stood here!
One of Lizard Island's namesakes
A group hike to the other side of the island, to the Blue Lagoon
Getting shower water from the only fresh water source (available to cruisers, anyway)
A blue-spotted ray we saw from the beach
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