Bloody weather! It never cooperates. With our new crew on board (my parents Juliene and Allan), our intention was to set sail from Hervey Bay to Lady Musgrave Island to spend a few days anchored in the lagoon. But a low weather system off NSW creating a bit of havoc (and making the weather hard to forecast) killed that plan. We headed back to the relative shelter of Fraser Island to sit it out. The low was generating northerlies, so our options for anchorages were limited, but we were able to tuck away at Moon Point, and inside Platypus Bay at Wathumba Creek and Rooney’s Point. We largely had the place to ourselves, save the resident crabs, stingrays and birds of prey.
We were sitting at Moon Point having our first sundowner when a big storm started to gather on the horizon. A closer look at the storm cloud revealed a big ominous face!
Then dawn broke with a blazing red sunrise. As the saying goes, “red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning”…! So the signs weren’t flash for improving weather conditions. But it was dead calm and the frolicking pod of dolphins that woke us up didn’t seem too perturbed.
In any case the forecast revealed a small break in the weather, so we decided to go for it! It was a 1am start out of Rooney’s Point and we set sail with a single reef in and the wind on a beam reach. Despite the two metre swell, we were averaging 6-7 knots. The drive-by of Lady Elliot Island signalled that we had officially entered the Great Barrier Reef!
“Land ho” was called again with about 8 NM to go when Lady Musgrave Island rose up from the sea shimmer. (My) Nerves were peaking as we commenced our first navigation of a reef lagoon entrance. We had to dodge a few bommies but found a good patch of sand to drop the anchor. (Phew!)
Although the weather still wasn’t flash – the rain storms followed us and the wind gusted up towards 30 knots at times – the island and its surrounding lagoon (the largest navigable in the Great Barrier Reef) absolutely lived up to our expectations: fantastic reefs to snorkel and dive, and really interesting shore excursions through the forested bird rookery. We did encounter a few little thieves while parked in the lagoon: a school of remora who kept stealing our fishing bait, and a little black noddy that broke in through the galley window.
We logged our first dives for the trip and observed all the usual suspects: green turtles, reef sharks, anemone fish (nemos), nudibranchs, colourful reef fish, wily coral trout, starfish, clams, etc. The southern Great Barrier Reef is in good nick.
With more nasty weather approaching, it was time to set sail back towards the mainland. A little gang of brown boobies (we think) escorted us out of the lagoon and away from the island. One even hitched a ride for a bit!
Bucket list item no 1, Lady Musgrave Island – tick. And shout out to the sea-cumber that laid the biggest turd EVER! 🙂