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 77 of 109

The following morning the conditions proved as vigorous as they were uninspiring, and because the shelter here was exceptional we declared a day of rest. Tenacity and Hasardeur had arrived the previous afternoon, so the four sailboats shared the spacious and sheltering Margaret Bay. Twice now Jenny and I had encountered the green hull and orange topsides of the sloop Hasardeur, but not until this day did we realize this was the same cutter we had met at sea while en route from New Caledonia to Bundaberg.

Suka's crew adventured ashore for an extended walk along a white sand beach, which stretched far off into the imperceptible distance. Flanked above the high water line was a paralleling and unending tangle of mangroves. Along the way we came upon the carcass of an old airplane, nearly buried in the sand and sheathed in black-lipped oysters. A closer inspection revealed the engine to be a V-12, so the plane must have been a World War II Spitfire that had perhaps run out of fuel and made a forced landing.

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A World War II Spitfire that had perhaps run out of fuel and made a forced landing.

By the following morning the weather had settled, so at 5 a.m. Suka sailed out of the bay in the company of the other three yachts. Together we were a string of masthead lights threading the darkness.

During the ensuing 48 mile crusade to Bushy Islet, another fishing lure fell to the maws of some shark.

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Note the quick draw attached to my harness. Before leaving the cockpit, I reach out and clip the quick draw to to either of the two jack lines, shown here.

Tenacity and Hasardeur ducked into the shallow Escape River, but Suka's 6-1/2 foot draft compelled us to press on to Bushy Islet.

Bushy Islet


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Once anchored behind Bushy, Jenny and I gamboled ashore. The tide was near its low, and the colossal reef lay exposed. Ranging far afield, we fossicked knee deep in the expansive tide pools. Among other interesting shells noted were two bailers, remarkable for their size and bright colors. The mollusks were alive and thriving, and after receiving a thorough admiration close at hand, they regained their freedom.

Also, we came upon a miniature shark, 1-1/2 feet in length. It lay on the bottom in only a foot of water, with its forebody secreted in a clump of seaweed like the proverbial ostrich with its head buried in the sand. Teasingly, I gently pulled its tail, expecting a little explosion of fury. But surprisingly it did not resist, and when released it only ambled back to the clump of weed and wiggled in soporifically. Such profound indolence deserved being let alone.

“As a shark charged toward us, Jenny climbed onto my back. She was not about to allow her legs to be bitten. Thus burdened, I found myself hindered of movement. The jagged coral reef was difficult enough to walk on, let alone to run on while carrying another person.”

At the outer reaches of the reef, several hefty black-tipped sharks were foraging industriously among shallows, as indicated by their dorsal fins protruding well out of the water. We approached them, while wading in water only a foot or two deep. My hurling a clump of coral in their direction caused the sharks to suddenly scatter, but instantly they turned back to where the rock had hit, perhaps thinking that whatever had caused such a splash must be a tasty morsel. Finding this amusing, I lobbed a few more rocks into their midst, and each produced an increasingly frenetic reaction. Soon, my volleys had the creatures thrashing aggressively in every direction, and when one of them charged toward us Jenny climbed onto my back. She was not about to allow her legs to be bitten. Thus burdened, I found myself hindered of movement. The jagged coral reef was difficult enough to walk on, let alone to run on while carrying another person. And as I waddled her chivalrously to a safer distance, she insisted that I leave the sharks alone.

Back aboard we watched in dismay the protecting reef slowly receding into the depths, as the rising tide swamped the islet and exposed the ketch to the brunt of the oncoming combers.

Departing Bushy Islet before daylight, we set out on what was to be our final day's sailing inside the Great Barrier Reef. Cape York, the top end of the Queensland coast, stood near at hand.

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With the wind blowing light from astern, we have the mizzen boom hauled forward to enable the sail to catch the most drive.


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The wind blew light from astern. So later that morning, while traveling abeam of Joggins, Suka flew her cruising spinnaker awhile. Hasardeur traveled in our company, but while short-cutting through the Albany Passage, behind Albany Island, she lost her wind, and emerge several miles behind us.

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As we neared Cape York, the motorcycle inner tube shock absorber snapped taut, and Jenny hauled in a hefty mackerel.

“The brig rounded Eborac and Yorke Islands, and for the first time in six months, headed west.”

The day was one of blue skies and warm sunshine, and the coastline hereabouts was alluring. As we neared Cape York the fishing line snapped taut against the motorcycle inner tube shock absorber, and Jenny hauled aboard a hefty mackerel. The timing seemed to suggest that the catch was our reward for reaching the continent's top end. Indeed, at that moment the entirety of the great Coral Coast lay aft of Suka's taffrail. And with that, the brig rounded Eborac and Yorke Islands, and for the first time in six months, headed west.

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Jun 24, 1984 Bushy Is. to Possession Is. Photo by John Houk "Joggins."

Possession Island


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Curiously, the wind remained astern during the sail around the great cape. The ship passed from a northerly heading, through west, and eventually proceeded toward Possession Island on a south-westerly course, all on a dead run. And after a 12-1/2-hour, 56-mile day, her plough sank its beak into the sandy seabed fronting Possession Island.

John and Virginia Houk, the crew of Joggins, joined us aboard for a fish dinner and a bottle of champagne to celebrate our momentous rounding of Cape York.

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Another milestone in our journey, Suka has reached land's end at Cape York, the tip of north-eastern Australia.

In the two months since departing Bundaberg, we had sailed 28 days, and had covered some 1,250 nautical miles. We later learned that by consensus our fellow sailors regarded this passage inside the Great Barrier Reef as wildly unpleasant. Jenny and I had found it wild, but far from unpleasant. In fact, this leg was one of the more challenging and rewarding passages of our circumnavigation. Yes, we had forfeited our sea legs during the six month tenure in Bundaberg. And having softened to the amenities of city living, while making sail at the beginning of this leg we had felt neither comfortable nor particularly safe. But as the distance had reeled beneath Suka's keel, mile at a time, we had cultivated a new form of personal security: one born of the ability to address adversity - as opposed to avoiding it. As the weeks had passed, and as we had begun adapting to the rigors of the tasks, we no longer suffered the abysmal discomforts and apprehensions. The farther we traveled, the more our minds, bodies, and spirits attuned to the quest. We had become explorers of sorts, and migrators, ever on the move.

Many of those days had been chocked full of lessons, of new problems that required solving, and of unforeseen challenges. The navigation had been intricate, often requiring constant vigilance. Oftentimes the seas had been scabrous and the winds fierce. And sometimes the mandatory anchorages were inhospitable. But we considered the toil and discomforts along the way as but inconsequential prices for how the journey had enriched our lives.

The story has 109 pages. This is page 77.
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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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