Global Voyage

A Story About Sailing Around the World

Ray & Jenny aboard the ketch Suka

3 years, 35,000 miles, Nov 1982 - Jan 1986

Ray & Jenny Jardine

Chapter 10: The Great Barrier Reef page 71 of 109

Map: Hook Island to Lizard Island

At the first hint of daylight Suka motored out the fjord, gained open water, and flew her cruising chute smartly for several hours - until like a starving python it attacked the inner forestay, and wrapped itself stubbornly many times around the wire. Only after a protracted effort did I manage to dowse the cantankerous beast and to coerce it into its nylon cage.

The tropical sun is the scourge of the yachtsman's brightwork. Inspired by Cheers' bristol, deeply glossed varnish, we spent the morning slavishly sanding the teak skylight, the propane box trim, the companionway hatch, and the cockpit rail - while the little brig sailed merrily of her own accord. The wind freshened, but Jenny was determined to apply the first coat of varnish to the now bare wood. So, attired in a safety harness, and hanging doggedly one-handed to a grab rail, she finished her varnishing as Suka plowed through seas of following white horses.

Cape Upstart

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After sailing 77 nautical miles, two hours past nightfall the brig rounded Cape Upstart. The moonlight illuminated the headland, and the anchor lights of two beam trawlers served as impromptu beacons. While keeping a close watch on the depth sounder (which I had managed to repair), we eased the brig slowly in. The bay was dead calm, and it afforded a splendid night's rest.

After a 4:30 a.m. departure, daylight revealed Cape Upstart far astern. Thus, its mysteries, which had been shrouded in darkness during our arrival, remained so during our departure. We never saw the place.

The morning wind proved mediocre, and Suka's progress was correspondingly laggard. The lack of any real speed quashed our spirits, and what happened next hardly helped enliven the day. A racing sloop, better suited to such light airs, stood astern beneath full sail, eventually passed us by, and within a few hours it vanished altogether in the distance ahead. But by then a trio of dolphins were cavorting at Suka's bow, as if to draw attention from the fact that we would not arrive in Townsville that day, as hoped.

Cape Cleveland

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Reaching Cape Cleveland at dusk, we rounded into its lee, then moved as close-in as feasible, in an attempt to duck the oncoming combers. The bay was so extensively shoaled, though, that although the bower met the seabed a mere 12 feet beneath the surface, Suka stood far offshore. And the gnarly chop was only exacerbated by a counter current, which wrenched the ketch's stern around, and forced her to take the trundling combers on the quarter. The night passed wretchedly, and eventually the abuse became intolerable so we weighed and filled away into the blackness of the pre-dawn night.

Horseshoe Bay

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At dawn Suka rounded Magnetic Island, twelve miles farther, and found anchorage in Horseshoe Bay among a fleet of beam trawlers and several yachts lying quiescent. The setting was untroubled and picturesque.

Reputedly, the city of Townsville lacked adequate moorage for visiting yachts. The alternative was to leave the sailboat anchored in Horseshoe Bay, and to board the ferry from Magnetic Island. Suka's fresh victual lockers were in need of restocking, and the mate was in need of an Australian visa extension (the captain, for some reason, being exempt). In Bundy we had laid-in a few hundred pounds of tinned and dry goods, but we were being provident with these longer-life stores, knowing that the passage across the Indian Ocean would be a protracted one.

Bus and Ferry into Townsville

Motoring the dinghy ashore and chaining it to a coconut tree, we boarded the inter-island bus, bound, so said the coachman, for the ferry terminal on the island's far side. But the driver stopped time and again to collect school children, and in the process he detoured interminably from the main road. Finally, when the bus was practically full the fellow steered it back to the school where the mass of shrieking, youthful energy volleyed into the playground. Then, without acknowledging the needs of his remaining passengers he headed back the way we had come, and near the half-way point he detoured to the bus terminal, of all places. Here, the fellow went inside to trifle away his coffee break, leaving all but the most stoic among us writhing in their seats.

A replacement driver eventually delivered his load of waning excursionists to the ferry terminal, and there the sunshine and the lovely surroundings began brightening our outlooks once again - and this trend continued as the ferry made a refreshingly direct, one hour run for Townsville.

Wandering into the city, we patronized a few news stands, collected a batch of mail, then proceeded to the immigration office. There, we learned that the captain did not need a visa extension, but that the crew did. However, the clerk made it clear that visas are granted to foreigners for a maximum of six months. Full stop. She cut short our further inquiring by stating curtly, "There's absolutely no way we can grant you an extension."

My theory in dealing with bureaucrats is that if the first wood chuck won't chuck wood, then perhaps another one will. So after catching the attention of her superior, who came forward, I explained that Jenny and I were sailing en route to Darwin, and that she needed a visa extension. Over his shoulder the clerk dogmatically reiterated her prohibitions.

"Oh no, yachts are different," the boss countered, as he began expediting our paperwork. With that, the clerk raised her eyebrows in mock shock, and gave a searing glare intended to annihilate us - as her superior slammed the appropriate rubber stamp onto Jenny's passport.

Rucksacks bulging with groceries, we returned to Magnetic Island aboard the ferry, and with no little apprehension, we boarded the bus. The driver informed his passengers that he would be taking them on a scenic side-trip at no extra cost ("Oh no," we thought, "here we go again!") to Horseshoe Bay." Against all odds, we had struck pay dirt.

Evening had given way to dusk by the time Suka's crew returned aboard with their cargo of victuals, so the ensuing trip ashore to fill water jugs was in darkness. Indeed, the day had been full.


Big Manta Ray

Setting out early the following morning, the little brig motored earnestly ahead, her genoa outstretched but hanging limp to the running strut. Yet despite the lack of wind, the sea was calm and the sunshine imparted its enlivening warmth.

Pioneer Bay at Orpheus Island

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Thirty nine miles into the day, and by then having lost our inspiration to the calm conditions, we closed Pioneer Bay, at Orpheus Island. Here, a pair of giant manta rays paced us abeam, diving gracefully and reappearing time and again near the surface. I conned us in from the spreaders while Jenny maneuvered Suka into the roadstead, then we backed against the plow in an attempt to set it firmly. But the anchor only grumbled, meaning that the bottom was unsuitably rocky. Weighing, relocating, and resetting the anchor met only with the same results. However, in the absence of much wind the brig required little of her anchor, so we left it at that, and retired below.


Departing at dawn, Suka filled away in an agreeable westerly. The uncommon off-shore zephyr hardly tousled the seas, and therefore it provided marvelous sailing. A schooner stood after us under full press of sail. At the sight of this, the little brig crowded on more sail, and slowly she began out-distancing the schooner, until after a few hours it lay far astern. I only hoped that her crew was being consoled by a few porpoises at their bow. For indeed, this was the first time in Suka's history that she had bested another sailboat, and admittedly we felt grand.




Jenny varnishing the skylight while the self-steering vane holds our course.


North Brook Island

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Busying away the morning, with fine-grit paper we sanded the brightwork, then we brushed on another coat of varnish. The half-hearted wind gradually expired altogether, leaving Suka closing the nearest island and her crew lowering the bower into 3 fathoms, this at the north-western corner of North Brook Island. The anchorage here was not one well frequented, but mooring nearly anywhere was possible in such placid conditions. Ker-splash! A jumbo loggerhead turtle swam nearby. The setting was - ho hum - idyllic, and the island called, "come explore!"

We pulled ashore and carried the dinghy up the beach to a natural barricade of greenery. The absence of flies suggested that the place was uninhabited. At any rate, we strolled along the beach, then thrashed into the forest. Overhead, a canopy of branches and vines shut out most of the sunlight, and created a powerful, primordial and inner-sanctum-like ambiance. Long air roots hung in tendrils, some fastened together with intricate spider webs. The stillness was profound, yet the setting was hardly quiet. Birds of many descriptions squawked, cawed and chirped. The place had a strange, almost mystical aura. We stood in rapture, until suddenly realizing that a swarm of mosquitos had set hard upon their unsuspecting prey. The insects prompted a hasty retreat in a flurry of slapping, and once we had reached the beach, the intense sun discouraged our voracious tormentors.

Wouldn't it be fun, we suggested, to walk the three miles around the island? Soon we were clambering over, under, and around the hundreds of boulders comprising the coastline, until a few hours later the southern flanks hove into sight. The ebbing tide had exposed a vast coral reef, and here loose-footed clams lay by the hundreds, some up to 1-1/2 feet across. Jenny amused herself by gently prodding the open bivalves with a stick; each time they would spew a jet of water several feet into the air while clamming up. And as we threaded cautiously among the tide pools, more than once a lurking eel gestured threateningly, mouth agape.

Walking along a beach, while returning to the brig we encountered a sign declaring the island as a national park.

Suka departed early the next morning in a scant westerly. The day was gorgeous, and we did not mind running the engine to assist the indifferent sails. So while Perkins drummed along, the autopilot manned the helm, leaving the crew free to take advantage of the fine weather. We varnished.


Suka tied between pile moorings at the usually crowed Mourilyan Harbor.

Mourilyan Harbor

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At noon we entered Mourilyan Harbor, dubbed "Hole-in-the-Wall" for its remarkably narrow and steep-to entrance. This port is infamous for its overcrowding and poor holding, so we were pleased to find only two of the 12 pile moorings occupied. The place was nearly deserted. Between two piles, Suka soon stood securely to her bow and stern warps, with a scant 18 inches clearance between her fragile bowsprit and the pile at one end, and the same distance between her equally fragile self-steering rudder and the pile at the after end.

After paddling ashore we walked along a road until a truck stopped and the driver offered us a lift into Innisfail. This was a quaint little town, where coursed the Johnstone River, being rather shallow but navigable. Had not Suka been on the move, here would have been a fine place for her crew to linger.

After hitchhiking back to the harbor we returned aboard, and spent the night pestered by mosquitoes.

Making a precipitate departure, Suka filled away at first light, initially across a flat ocean. The winds gradually freshened throughout the day, though, and by the time the Cairns leads hove into sight, 58 miles farther on, the white-crested waves were throwing a lively hoe-down to which the yacht was reeling heel and toe.


Dolphins at the bow as Suka sprints toward Cairns.

The story has 109 pages. This is page 71.
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Page Links
GV 001: Title Page
GV 002: TOC
GV 003: Dedication
GV 004: Preface
GV 005: Prologue
GV 006: Beginnings
GV 007: Work Done
GV 008: Making Ready
GV 009: Departure
GV 010: Sailing Credentials
GV 011: First Lesson
GV 012: Sextant Navigation
GV 013: Safety Harness
GV 014: Murphy's law
GV 015: Spirit of Adventure
GV 016: Holding On
GV 017: First Big Storm
GV 018: Storm Intensified
GV 019: Rolling Violently
GV 020: Mizzen Sleeping Bag'sl
GV 021: Freeing the Propeller
GV 022: Visits by Birds
GV 023: Crossing the Doldrums
GV 024: Nearing First Landfall
GV 025: Land Ho
GV 026: Fatu Hiva
GV 027: Trek Inland
GV 028: Anchor Watch
GV 029: Passage
GV 030: Hiva Oa
GV 031: Skin Diving Circus
GV 032: Almost Like a Jungle
GV 033: Polaris Missile
GV 034: Taiohaie Bay
GV 035: Cascade Hakaui
GV 036: Taipi Bay
GV 037: Cyclone Lisa
GV 038: Cyclone Nano
GV 039: Passage of Patience
GV 040: Tuamotu Archipelago
GV 041: Tahiti
GV 042: Cyclone Reva
GV 043: Secret Sharer
GV 044: Moorea
GV 045: Cyclone Veena
GV 046: Aftermath
GV 047: Good Weather in Papeete
GV 048: Huahine
GV 049: Raiatea
GV 050: BoraBora
GV 051: Rarotonga
GV 052: Tonga
GV 053: Fresh Air
GV 054: Tongan Feast
GV 055: Excursion to Maninita
GV 056: Mariner's Cave
GV 057: Fiji
GV 058: Ndravuni Island
GV 059: Mara Island
GV 060: Aneityum
GV 061: Noumea
GV 062: St Elmo's fire
GV 063: Breakwater Reef
GV 064: Bundaberg
GV 065: Life on the Burnett River
GV 066: Engine Sabotage
GV 067: Flying
GV 068: Aground in Round Hill Creek
GV 069: Gladstone Confinement
GV 070: Tropical Queensland
> GV 071: Trip into Townsville
GV 072: Cairns Sojourn
GV 073: Cramped Cooktown
GV 074: Lizard Island
GV 075: The San Michelle
GV 076: Lost Mummy Cave
GV 077: Land's End
GV 078: Darwin
GV 079: Christmas Is
GV 080: Passage
GV 081: Cocos Keeling
GV 082: Crossing the Indian Ocean
GV 083: Rodriguez
GV 084: Mauritius
GV 085: Reunion Cirque de Mafate
GV 086: Reunion Cirque de Salazie
GV 087: Passage to Africa
GV 088: Kruger National Park
GV 089: Richards Bay
GV 090: Durban
GV 091: Port Elizabeth
GV 092: Cape Town
GV 093: Storm Passage
GV 094: St Helena
GV 095: Passage to Brazil
GV 096: Fortaleza
GV 097: Passage to Caribbean
GV 098: Bonaire
GV 099: Passage to Panama
GV 100: Panama
GV 101: Panama Canal
GV 102: Medidor
GV 103: Costa Rica
GV 104: Passage to Acapulco
GV 105: Acapulco to Cabo
GV 106: Baja
GV 107: Home Port
GV 108: In Retrospect
GV 109: Next Time
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 1981 Baja8 Ed 
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