Daysail to Lady Musgrave Island

After four or five days drying out with every low tide in Wathumba Creek in deference to the crappy weather, I was more than ready to leave. Our batteries were the worst they’ve ever been – they are supposed to always be around 12.40 – and because of minimal sun and our fixed position, I got up in the middle of the night at saw they’d hit 11.05. I had assumed that after that they’d be dead forever (a very expensive assumption) but after we left the creek we cranked the generator and they seemed to come good.

We anchored south of the mouth of Wathumba for the night – a bit of a roll, but enabled us to make some seriously needed water because we were totally out. Turned out that if we hadn’t had a water maker we might have been OK because upon going ashore…

[…the trip involved in getting from Bella Luna to shore included both parents yelling at Smalls, getting to shore, getting the Smalls out on to the sand, realising that we had lost both the paddle board and the kayak in the interim. This meant leaving two dingo-edible people on the beach on their own while M and I fanged back looking for them both. We found them heading north, not too far away, and as an incidental bonus I spied one of Foamy’s oars, that we hadn’t noticed we’d lost. Back on the beach I could have predicted exactly what was transpiring – Small Z trying to stay near her sister, scared that a dingo would jump from a tree and eat them both in one chomp, and Small DB chafing at being ‘looked after’. A secret part of me wished a dingo would appear and look them over. It was that kind of day.]

….we found a little creek and, in an effort to get out of the wind, went exploring. M and Small Z shared the kayak, while Small DB and I had the paddle board. The water was clear, running between muddy banks often full of mangrove roots, resting like sausages. We saw little mango seedlings sprouting roots and bright green leaves under the water, and darting brown fish, startled by our paddles. In some places we had to lie down on the paddle board to make our way under low hanging branches, trying not to break any.

Over on our right as we negotiated a bend, I saw a non-nature thing. Something that was too straight, lying among nature-shaped mangrove shoots. It was a kayak paddle. Huzzah!! Small DB held on to a tree to keep the paddle board in one place and I put one tentative foot on to the muddy bank – it held. I had been waiting to sink shin deep, so this was good news. I picked my way among the mangrove shoots and grabbed the paddle – it was a good one – a light, non-rusting metal pole (probably aluminium) with plastic paddles at each end.

Exploring a creek on Fraser Island

Back aboard, Small DB became my motor with the new double ended instrument, I steered us around bends and out of the way of lurking submerged blankets. Occasionally the land beyond the banks flattened out and the wind blew over us again, but mostly we were protected – sometimes skimming along, and other times inching. When we had almost caught up to the other two there was a bank covered in long grasses, inside of which was the sound of water – like an enthusiastic spring – gushing out into our creek.

“Oh yes,” I said knowledgeably to Small DB, “That indeed must be one of the sources that feeds this lovely freshwater creek.”

Actually, this was utterly untrue. The creek was indeed freshwater, but when we went to fill our water bottles at the spring – it turned out to be salt. What the? Our travails were abbreviated by a tree that had fallen across the waterway and we decided to take it as a sign to turn back – that and the fact that M’s leg disappeared into the mud when he tried to get out and pull the kayak over it.

Going back, as is always the way, was much quicker. While we’d been exploring, three or four more boats had anchored nearby in that herdlike manner that they do – reminding me of when I used to work in a cafe while I was in high school and there would be no customers for an hour and then they would all come at once. Why they decided to anchor nearby was a mystery, because no one came ashore to explore. Very odd.

The next morning we were on our way to Lady Musgrave Island before 4am. M had told me not to get up: so I didn’t. I know he totally relishes whizzing around on deck being SAILOR MAN and who was I to deprive him of that pleasure? The solo activities of anchor retrieval, mainsail hoisting and jib unfurling…

It’s been a while since we had a crappy sail – that’s the joy of having time up your sleeve and doing day-trips – but today was a marathon. Not enough wind left us struggling to make it to the island on time – on time for what? I hear you ask. On time to thread our way through the narrow and coral laden entrance of the reef. We’ve done it twice before, and it probably could be done at night, but… when your boat is your primary residence, it’s better not to risk it.

219/365 • ship. clouds. pinks. it was a very long day •
Ship under stormy pink clouds.

The day seemed interminable – put it this way; I was happy when we hit four knots. Things improved now and again, but basically it was a bloody slog, with changeable winds and various sail configurations. My consolation were the dolphins that appeared very late in the day and cloud formations made fancy by the setting sun.

218/365 • dolphins •
Consolation dolphins on the bow…

We literally missed making the entrance by about 35 minutes and ended up back tracking half a mile to anchor in 60ft of water – something we haven’t done before. Used ALL THE CHAIN and ALL THE ROPE.

I was prepared for it to be a hideous and rocky night, but it was actually fine – the fact that we were also all buggered probably helped too. Up at 6am to take advantage of the tide, we were the third boat through the entrance, and snared the last mooring. A mooring!! Who knew?! There were so many boats here the last times we visited that we didn’t even get close to the area where the mooring area.

220/365 • entrance to Lady Musgrave Island at 6am this morning - had to spend last night anchor ed on the outside because we just couldn’t get up enough speed to make it in daylight • _________________________ [if you’re wondering why I’m posting lots of
Entrance to Lady Musgrave Island. The only way in.

As the day went by, the stupid south-easterly wind that has been buffeting us for a week, continued – messing the surface of the lagoon. Think ruffled aquamarine. More and more boats arrived and the rectangular dive barges – one large and one not so large – ferried tourists ashore.

We headed over as well and the Smalls were on instant cowrie alert – they remembered the rule from last time – five shells each person. Take no coral.

We are allowed to take five of these. And that's all.
Five of these.

We circumnavigated the island on foot – M had a bit of a chat to some campers who said they’d seen us anchoring last night. If you are boatless but want to spend more time on Lady Musgrave Island than just a few hours, you can camp there if you pre-book. It is proper minimalistic camping – you bring your own water, tent, food – everything – but then you can get on a dive barge with your tent and hang out for however long. If the weather’s good – you’d be sorted. An inflatable kayak would be a massive bonus.

Here’s my rubbish haul from our walk – I have always believed the law that states ‘all lost thongs will be left’ – but I’ve been let down on the last few occasions. On Fraser Island I found a matching pair, and the thong I found before that was a right one.

My collection from the beach on Lady Musgrave Island. Weird.

I did also find a pallet in very good condition but had to regretfully leave it where it had washed up because we have no room for a vertical pallet garden on the boat.

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