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 76 of 109

Lost Mummy Cave

Drowsiness aside, we were reluctant to sleep on such a glorious day. Suka would soon depart, but Flinders Island beckoned her crew to come and explore its mysteries. So within the hour we commenced the long dinghy ride around Stanley Island and across the Owen Channel. Carrying a bottle of drinking water, lunch, camera, chart and a machete, Suka's intrepid crew set off afoot in search of the lost mummy cave.

The afternoon was spent thrashing about the higher regions. The gun sight notch on Stanley Island stood as an obvious landmark across the way, but the island rose sharply to both sides and obscured any view of the off-shore islet. By mid afternoon the quest was beginning to seem futile, but at last the islet hove into sight, peeking over Stanley's slopes, but a considerable distance up-slope of the gun sight. This indicated that we were too high on the hillside. More bushwhacking through thickets and skirting rocky escarpments eventually worked the distant islet into Stanley Island's ravine. Reaching the spot where the two features lined up perfectly, we discovered the mouth of a cave secreted in the bush.

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Visiting an Aboriginal grave site with pictographs on the wall. We wondered what these people were like, and what stories they would have told.

The rock shelter appeared naturally formed, with a spacious but low entrance. And because it was shallow, flashlights were not needed. We crouched low and waddled in. The walls were painted with small pictographs, effaced by time. On the dusty floor, fairly well preserved, lay the mummies.

By custom, the Aborigines did not bury their dead in the earth. Instead, they desiccated them in the hot sun, then wrapped the dry bones into a small basket of pounded bark, and placed them into a burial cave such as this one. Lying here were three ancient baskets, only two of which contained bones. We did not tamper with them, nor did we feel inclined to linger.

After the long return hike and dinghy ride to the anchorage, we found that San Michelle had departed. Her amiable crew intended to work their way slowly northward, to round Cape York, then to steam south-west into the Gulf of Carpentaria from where they would embrace the prawning season. In her place lay four yachts surrounding Suka. Joggins, Quark, Tenacity, and Crypton had each completed a pair of extended day-sails since their confinement in Cooktown.

The following morning the brig departed well before first light, leaving the crews of her companions to explore these fascinating islands for themselves. The sea lay flat calm and a lack of any wind dictated using the engine. Once, in total darkness, we passed close by a beam trawler dragging its nets.

Hannah Island


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The sun had now risen over the quiescent sea, and the lack of wind was hampering progress, so it seemed prudent to steer for and anchor behind Hannah Island. Approaching, we could see a trawler lying there, this a certain indication of the anchorage's viability. Then a familiar voice spoke over the radio:

"San Michelle calling Suka." I answered Jim's call. "Yeah," he replied, "we heard you were headed this way. Merril said he was sitting there reading a book when he looked out and saw this little green light go by. Figured it must have been you guys. We're anchored here behind Hannah Island."

We anchored near our friends, who were by then catching some sleep, emulating the nocturnal lifestyles of the critters they dredged. Later that afternoon a pernicious wind sprang to life and Suka began rocking dramatically in the chop, prompting a relocation farther around the island where the shelter was better. The rough weather thwarted further socializing, and Jim and Hannah regrettably had to request a rain check on the pizzas Jenny had baked.

Late that afternoon the South Africans aboard their home built sloop Tenacity arrived and anchored nearby. "Arriving home the first time," Keith had related, "we asked ourselves, 'now what do we do? Why, let's go around again,' we thought, so that's what we're doing."

San Michelle departed for the night's occupation, and that was the last we saw of her hearty crew.

Suka departed at dawn, with Tenacity bowling along behind with 15 to 20 knots of wind broad on the beam. I spent some of the morning studying a book about sail trim, and adjusting Suka's running rigging in an attempt to better empower her sails and maximize her speed. For example, easing the halyard slightly helped shape the mainsail a little more like a scoop, and adjusting the outhaul tension moved the sail's draft aft. And I was surprised at how much more ably Suka plowed the waves in response to her trimming.

Sheraton Islet


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By late in the afternoon Tenacity stood far astern, mainly because hers was a shorter water line and therefore had a slightly lesser maximum hull speed. When the day was nearly spent, the South Africans left the shipping lane to anchor behind Night Island, while we continued another 12 miles to Sheraton Islet. This was not a conventional stopping place as recommended in the guide book. But a trawler lay anchored there, so I climbed the mast steps, and from the spreaders gleaned a spectacular view. The sandy islet was situated at the leeward end of an extensive submerged and colorful reef, which stretched far away to the south-west. The trawler rode to her anchor embedded in a sizable patch of white sand, which appeared to offer safe holding. So with 54 miles on the day's sum log we set the bower within a stone's throw of the prawner, and slept through much of the night.

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Anchored in the lee of a patch of white sand.

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Since grounding in Round Hill Creek, we've learned to pay close attention to the tide charts.

At dawn the following morning the brig brandished her trappings to the trades and recommenced following ever northward the shipping lane. Tall towers marked the channel here, and as the former disappeared over the horizon astern, the next would soon appear ahead. Navigation was greatly simplified by holding a chart-specified compass bearing to the particular tower in the distance, ahead or astern.

One could only marvel at Joshua Slocum's feat of sailing single handed through these reef infested waters, back in 1897. How he managed to navigate Spray among these ubiquitous reefs, while sleeping belowdecks at night, utterly defies the imagination. Either his success is attributable to uncanny, super human perspicacity, to sheer luck, or perhaps to outright misrepresentation. Those who have sailed this passage have little trouble noticing the various oversights and incongruities in the venerable captain's writings.

Portland Roads

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Moored bow-first to a fuel barge, Ray fills Suka's diesel tanks.


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Suka entered the bay at Portland Roads and steered for a solitary fuel barge. As we hove near, coming from its windward side, Jenny stood on the sprit and tossed the barge keeper a bow line. Taut against this, the wind held the ketch bow-to. The barge keeper cast his line across the gap, and with this I hauled aboard a fuel hose. After topping Suka's diesel tanks and returning the hose, I drew aboard a plastic water pipe. Then I tossed the fellow an envelope containing the appropriate payment for the fuel, the water being free of charge, and he cast off our warp. Suka drifted away, then we powered to the nearby anchorage.

With the recent advent of calm conditions, the swell that reputedly worked annoyingly into the bay was largely absent. Donning face mask and snorkel, I jumped overboard and with a putty knife, scoured from the propeller an inch-thick layer of algae, which did not figure into my prop efficiency calculations. Then after indulging in piping hot showers we ventured ashore to stretch our legs, and to apprise the ramshackle, shore-side settlement.

After our precipitate, pre-dawn departure, we noticed the sails of Tenacity appeared far astern. The wind was slight, but it gradually increased throughout the day. The shipping lane was exceptionally busy; big freighters and container ships traveling at 12 to 15 knots passed by, steaming in either direction.

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Catching a big fish is aways fun, especially when hungry.

Near Piper Reef Jenny hooked a tuna, but after wrestling it close to the boat it shook free of the lure as I was about to gaff it. Earlier, I had lost one of my best lures, presumably to the maws of a large shark that had regarded my 200 pound-test wire trace as minimal restraint. As Cloughley wrote, "We still had not learned that a white rag made fast just ahead of the hook worked just as well as the expensive lures."

Margaret Bay


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As Suka rounded Cape Grenville the wind and seas increased, as expected. Carefully steering clear of the notorious Bremner Shoals, she motor-tacked the two miles into Margaret Bay, while battling a grisly 40-knot head wind. The anchorage provided perfect shelter, though, as we lay close in against the headland.

The American sloop Joggins arrived later, her skipper mumbling disparaging remarks about his folding propeller's inefficiency at powering into stiff head winds.

Jenny and I ventured ashore and climbed the hills for a rewarding view encompassing mile upon endless mile of green, bushy interior - remote, desolate and seemingly untouched. The view away to the south-west, out across the sea was not encouraging; a darkening scud portended worsening weather.

Returning to the shoreline, I collected a pail of black-lipped oysters with which to augment dinner.

The story has 109 pages. This is page 76.
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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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