Fitzroy Reef, Australia
 August 5, 2017     |      read entry >

April 2017 blogs



Top Wear
Love our new Aviator Guardrails. Mahalo MJ!

Dream Time with Dolphins

Read our August/September story in
Cruising World Magazine

August 5, 2017 (day 3,719)
Quick Fix: 23° 36.8 S / 152° 09.7 E
Conditions:  Wind: 12/SE Sky: Clear

We're cruising the Capricornia coastal waters on the southern Great Barrier Reef, drifting northwest through a spectacular constellation of uninhabited sandy cays, twinkling lagoons and drop offs within the deep sapphires of the Coral Sea. We're in full cruising mode - kayaking, spearfishing, snorkeling and exploring, I'm also carving again, an emu egg, a new medium for me and regionally appropriate as it's Australia's national bird. Inspired by Aboriginal art, this carving, entitled Passages, represents our voyage around the world. The larger circular designs symbolize the islands and regions we've visited, significance paired to scale, with major routes traced by our rhumb lines. The emu egg is a delicate canvas with a natural palette of color: a dark outer shell, a central turquoise, and finally a vibrant white inner layer which, I discovered more than once, is only paper thin. Now the real challenge - where to store it.



August 3, 2017     |    Fitzroy Reef, Great Barrier Reef - No land in sight here just a natural lagoon, a protective ring of coral reef, and whales, lots of whales, all around.




Day 3,715 - Lady Musgrave Island, Queensland
19:24hrs - August 1, 2017
Worth the Wait

In 1994 I sailed past Lady Musgrave Island as crew aboard Aphrodite, a 44-foot cutter rig bound for Italy. Behind schedule and with a daunting 11,000 nautical mile voyage ahead - the Indian Ocean, a Red Sea passage, Suez Canal transit and a late arrival which promised to put us in the Mediterranean during cold stormy wintery months - we had half the globe to cross and an itinerary that couldn't accommodate such luxurious distractions. So we sailed through the night with nary a glimpse of the southern Great Barrier Reef's most idyllic and serene anchorage.

Many Australian mariners consider Lady Musgrave a bucket list destination, and it's easy to see why. The lagoon offers some of the healthiest coral and marine life on the southern reef; the uninhabited sand and coral island provides a convincing castaway experience; water is clear and offers all the lustrous shades and hues of the tropics; the anchorage is safe and protected in all but the wildest of conditions; and right now, during whale season, humpbacks splash and frolic in calm waters whilst lazily circling the lagoon like seafaring sentries.

Lady Musgrave rests about forty miles from the Australian mainland in a region where offshore forecasts should be observed, unrestrained swell is felt under your keel, and the steady reassurance of land is, at some point, completely lost to the horizon in every direction. Too far for a return day sail and a lagoon littered with keel-crunching bombies, a keen watch, good light and an early arrival are all necessary. These are mild seafaring challenges for sure but for first timers, at least, a voyage to Lady Musgrave offers a taste of tropical cruising and, when the anchor has settled safely into sand, a pioneering sense of excitement and accomplishment that comes from a lagoon anchorage completely surrounded by the sea.

We may have sailed over thirty thousand nautical miles to arrive here from New York, but our visit and the last week at Lady Musgrave Island has been no less rewarding. The weather has been perfect - clear skies, light and fluffy wind, calm seas. The outer reef has provided us with a steady supply of coral trout (grouper). Catherine has explored every inch of the lagoon by kayak and spends her afternoons floating across the glassy surface in the company of friendly sea turtles. And today I swam with humpback whales in water so calm and clear, colossal sting and eagle rays could be seen gliding along the sandy seabed eighty feet below. Mirroring their behavior, diving headfirst and spinning underwater, brought two adult whales towards me. Nothing is more humbling than a forty foot humpback swimming directly at you. And blowing short bursts of bubbles through my snorkel ten feet underwater magically brought them closer still. They swam around and underneath me, twisting together in slow motion, watching me with curious eyes before rolling away to play with a pod of dolphins in deeper water. Magic.

It took me twenty-three years to finally experience Lady Musgrave Island, and it was worth the wait.