Out to the reef we go!
Ever since before owning Nandji, a place we had really wanted to visit was Fitzroy reef. After watching videos and checking it out a thousand times over on google maps, it was one place that I have been itching to go to.
Discovering Wednesday night of last week that I was not needed to work until Monday, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make our maiden voyage out to southern part of the Great Barrier Reef for a long weekend. After a quick weather check, mother nature could not have agreed more with our plan. A good 15-20 knot Easterly breeze on the Thursday to blow us out there, and dropping off that night. A forecast of Gary glass off for the next couple of days and then finally a northerly breeze beginning Sunday and extending through the week for us to return to 1770. Not only were the winds looking perfect for our spontaneous trip, but tides were heading into the neap cycle. Meaning only minor tidal water movement. The visibility for diving should be next level…
With a high tide at 9 in the morning, we rushed around getting a few things in town before crossing the bar and heading out to sea. With the wind as predicted, we should make good time in getting out to our reef lagoon anchorage called Fitzroy Reef. As long as we there after 3:30pm to get the inward tidal flow through the reef channel, but arrive before 5pm so we can still see the reef channel! Everything I have read and all the salties I have spoken to about the entrance into the lagoon, it sounded like we wanted everything on our side.
Setting full sail we began the 40nm trip out to sea. Of course our autopilot had decided it no longer wanted to be an autopilot, therefore we took turns in steering Nandji out to the reef. Not letting this minor problem get in the way of our trip, it was an enjoyable day sailing for such a long distance in a wind chopped sea and strong wind. Nandji rolled over the waves and powered through the white-capped ocean un-phased. The more we sail her, the more I am falling in love with the way she performs. After hours disappeared into the sea mist behind us, the ocean slowly flattened out and the waves dispersed into just minor wind ripples on the surface. With the wind still blowing strong, the outer reefs had started to provide protection. It really is another world out there.
Arriving to the entrance around 4pm, we could not have been happier with our timing. The wind still blowing around 20knots, we dropped sails and motored towards the skinny entrance. All the information I had read about this entrance was there is at least one green marker at the start of the channel but the other markers are often absent. Not really liking what I have read, we continued on with caution. Lucky the books I had been looking at were a few years old and the skinny entrance was well buoyed.
With my new polarised sunnies on, Bonita on the bow and my butt checks tightly clenched, we passed between the red and green entrance buoys. Even with the wind ripple on the surface, the water was crystal clear and it looked scarily shallow. Trusting the depth gauge reading of 5m, we steadily chugged forward. Well, it was to late now to turn back anyways! Clearly seeing the coral reef just breaking the surface on the port side, we stayed close to this edge and followed our nose passing the next two port side markers. A good thing as in the middle of the channel, a bombie protrudes upwards towards the surface. Safely navigating these obstacles, we pass by the inside green and red markers. Yew! We are in! Still cruising at snails pace though, we steadily navigate the onslaught of bombies until we are deep inside the lagoon in our own patch of white sand. Dropping the pick and grabbing a frothy, it was time to marvel at what we had just accomplished.
The wind had finally started to let up as the sun slowly sank on the horizon. Sunsets out on the reef are something else. Dead silence and mother nature putting on a show. The next few days were looking to be some of the best yet.
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