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Sunday, June 10, 2012

June 9, 2012 Sailing from Hope to Lizard Island (63 NM)

Last night not long after we had set the anchor, Avant Garde took off for Lizard Island, making an overnighter of it. We wouldn't do it but to each his own they are veterans and will have a great wind for it. Later that night we looked again at our charts. If we awakened early enough and got a good start picking up the trades, which we could hear blowing with gusto all evening, we felt we would be able to make it all the way to Lizard without stopping at Cape Flattery. At Lizard Island we'll be right in the GBR, which means diving and snorkeling at our doorstep. We set the alarm for 5:30 AM before going to bed.

At 6 :00 AM we sat ready in the cockpit with coffee in hand, awaiting just enough light to pick our way through the reef system out of Hope Island. Departing winds were a bit of a disappointment, but after a couple of hours they began to steadily build allowing us to sail wing and wing again. What a beautiful day for it. There was quite a bit of traffic from big tankers and cargo ships, some of them passing close enough for us to get a good roll from their wakes, and a few barreled down on us from behind confirming why we try to stick to daytime hops. Besides who wants to miss the view? The coastline along this part of Australia is an ever changing and dramatic landscape that few others are fortunate to even glimpse. We sat for hours just watching it unfold, taking it all in like a tonic to the soul. There are endless stretches of beautiful white sand beaches, interspersed among cliffs and intensely green forests. No wonder the Aboriginals treasure it as mystical. It was a perfect day of sailing for Destiny; smoothly gliding along at 7 - 8 knots we hardly felt the movement. Listening to the gentle swish of the ocean beneath us was mesmerizing, almost hypnotic. So much so in fact that we were both nearly lulled to sleep. Oh, wait a minute - Frank was!

On approach to Lizard Island we gasped at the beauty of the surrounding reef and the variations of blue sea. So much color! The resort was tucked away around a point and then just beyond that was Watson's Bay where we counted at least 25 boats at anchor with two mega yachts sitting just on the periphery. It was a picture book setting. Or rather a postcard picture waiting to be exploited. Now we know why so many yachties have told us to get here with enough time to enjoy this little paradise. Frank had inquired into booking this resort for my birthday, but the price for three nights was nearly $6,000! That price did include a 2-tank dive that would have normally cost over $600 by itself. I was quite happy with Thala Lodge, thank you. We anchored adjacent to the "Clam Garden" reef in a mere 4 meters of clear blue water. It was 4:30 PM. We made it here in less than 12 hours. What a day!

We settled in and were immediately hailed on the radio by fellow yachties telling us to go to the picnic tables on the beach at 5:00 PM for Sundowners. We joined the assembled group to find some we knew and some we didn't. The air was abuzz as it always is in anticipation of a big passage ahead. We were back among the international group of cruisers who are embarking on a new quest. We love this life!

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