In my last post I mentioned we were heading out to sea. We have just spent the last seven days in the Southern section of the Great Barrier Reef, at the Capricorn and Bunker Groups of islands. Why haven’t we visited here before??!! I suppose Lady Musgrave Island counts, but I also think perhaps we are that little bit more adventurous now after our offshore voyage last year and I am certainly a much bigger fan of what’s under the water. This area really does highlight just how good our east coast cruising waters are.
There are thirteen coral cays, some with islands, in these less frequented southern waters. Two islands have resorts, one at Heron Island and one at Lady Elliot Island. Otherwise there is just open water, but wide channels between reefs and hence navigation is not a problem. Our plan was to visit North West Island, Heron Island and Wistari Reef, Fitzroy Reef and Lady Musgrave Island, all a short distance apart. All the islands have fringing reef with Fitzroy and Lady Musgrave both having a secure lagoon where we can enter through the fringing reef for safe anchorage and maybe even pick up a recently installed mooring.
Once we established all our boxes were ticked – several days of calm weather preferably from the north, gentle swell, clear skies and favourable tides – we left Great Keppel Island at daybreak behind Take It Easy. As I mentioned we had visited Lady Musgrave Island a few times but we hadn’t visited the other coral cays so we were very appreciative of TIE’s knowledge and willingness to have us tag along. Cruising in company always adds to the fun too.
We had the most amazing time! We visited each coral cay we planned to. Our weather was perfect. We didn’t want wind. We wanted calm seas. At times we had ‘glass-outs’ including our entrance in to the Fitzroy Reef lagoon at low tide. It was tight but following TIE made it comfortable. Such clear azure water all around us, coral reef on both sides and not a ripple in the lagoon. Watching Manta Rays gliding through the clear waters near The Bossa at Heron Island … wow! Six or more huge Mantas just playing and lingering. We jumped in our dinghy to get closer. It didn’t bother them, they even seemed to gravitate to us. Anchoring on white sandy bottoms where we could see our anchor in depths of 13 metres. Snorkeling until my feet cramped, blisters grew and my nose ran like a tap. Many special memories!
I have decided to dedicate a post to each of the coral cays we visited as I have many photos I want to share. I hope you enjoy following our short journey … and please excuse my photo indulgence!
Here is a map of the island and coral cay hopping we did …