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Old 09-21-2018, 07:18 PM   #141
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...I'll probably spend a day or two in Cid Harbour, but I never snorkel or swim there. It has some mangrove shorelines. An unfortunate recent reminder to stick with that policy!

https://www.9news.com.au/2018/09/20/...nd-cid-harbour
Knowing your snorkelling exploits I wondered were you near Cid Harbour, it seems you are or will be.
2 shark attacks in 24 hours in one area is a worry, fortunately both look like ending as well as they can, largely due to excellent first aid. As a southerner, are mangrove shorelines known elevated risk areas?
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Old 09-21-2018, 07:41 PM   #142
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I don't know if any particular species of shark prefer those areas or not. Perhaps bull sharks? Mangroves provide good fish breeding areas, and where there are food sources...... Water is not as clear there, and I do prefer very clear water for swimming etc.

But my main aversion to mangrove areas for swimming is estuarine crocodiles. They are apex predators, and although sightings are rare they have been seen around the islands occasionally. Anywhere north of Gladstone is croc country. When up at Lizard Island I was told there had been a slide on the beach not all that long ago, estimated to have been made by a croc of around 2.5m. They are territorial. Their range will continue to increase as their population expands, although open ocean and islands well off the coast should not have a significant issue with them for some time yet.

I'll likely go to Cid Harbour on Monday for a couple of days if the weather is clear as I ought to climb all the way to the peak. It can get crowded, and Sunday's GB rendezvous might accentuate that. Hamish, if you were there I'd join in, interloper or not!
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Old 10-03-2018, 12:18 AM   #143
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Finally there is a break in the weather! I've been chilling in the Whitsunday area for 10 days while the winds have been over 15 kn and often over 20kn. Of course its a great place to spend some time, so no real hardship! I went ashore at Dugong Beach to climb to Whitsunday Peak, elevation 434m. That beach landing adds another 1km each way, and helped ensure that I was pretty stiff and sore afterwards. Knees in particular (sports injuries to both in the past), but also feet. Pics of Hamilton Island (resort hotel centre of pic, just below horizon), and then Cid Harbour looking towards Hook Island. Insequent is in the middle of second pic, closest of the boats to shore.

I also enjoyed Whitehaven Beach for a couple of days, and one of the 14 mooring buoy 's at Tongue Inlet. Both very popular spots this time of year, but large areas so not particularly crowded.

Tomorrow is the start of a week of forecast wind below 15kn, and quite a few days of below 10 kn. So first stop will be Square Reef. Then I'll meander south along the reef, and likely come back into the coast (and internet) around Port Clinton.
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Old 10-03-2018, 04:58 PM   #144
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Brian...another great post, thanks. I am taking careful notes of your passage, as I hope to largely replicate it next year. More often than not, I have to google to find the reefs you are referencing and visiting. What pilots or guidebooks are you using to get info on places to visit?
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Old 10-09-2018, 03:06 AM   #145
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I just got back into internet range this afternoon. After going out to Square Reef (due east of Whitsunday Island) I made the most of the forecast of 5 days of 10-15kn northerlies. In general you want to gain as much southing as you can when the northerlies are present, as bashing into the normal SE winds gets old pretty quickly.

The only issues I had were no phone service and also only intermittent sat TV. My 45 cm KVH really does not work north of Cairns or out on the reef much south of Cairns as the reef starts to become further offshore. If you want TV out there you need a 60cm dish.

Overnights were at Little Stevens Reef, south of Pompey Reef, NE of Storm Reef and finally at Heralds Prong No 2 Reef. Stops along the way for snorkelling.

This section of the Barrier Reef tends to have reef walls on south and west sides (and often on other sides too!), with deep water (well, 30m or so) adjacent. So with northerlies I had to hunt for a bit of protection. For this the satellite images on Google maps (save map for offline use when you have a connection) works very well. The charting is reliable enough, I found, but lacks detail in the southern Barrier Reef area in particular.

As to Guides, Alan Lucas' Cruising the Coral Coast is quite good, but it does not cover much of the reef. He was focussed on the coast, and gunkholing the rivers etc. I cruised many of those areas a couple of years ago, but this time I avoided shallow & murky water as much as possible as I wanted to swim/snorkel. The only other guide I used was the '100 Magic Miles', aka the charter boat bible for the Whitsundays. It is very good. But it does not have much on the reef either.

There is a huge choice of where to visit. What you need is a set of flopper-stoppers (or a SeaKeeper!) as the swell comes over the reef at high tide. This is particularly true for the section I just completed as there was over 5m of tidal range. Earlier in the season, when the SE winds are often 15-20kn it would not be comfortable unless you had neap tides, and perhaps not even then.

You also need enough rode to anchor in 30m depths, although I was not over 20m depth often. And all chain rode is best. You think you have found a flat bottom, but no idea whether is is deep reef or sand. Given there might be a wind shift, you put out good scope. Then you swing in gentle winds and later discover the rode has snagged on a patch of coral rising up 5m or so off the bottom that you did not know was there. That effectively gives a much steeper catenary (but still secure), and can give a lot of noise transmitted up the chain to the bow roller. Anchor recovery is usually quite easy - just go up to where the chain is vertical above the coral patch, take up the slack and the bow moving up and down a bit will shake the chain off the coral. But you would not want to have rope down there for that!
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:10 PM   #146
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Brian, if this is not your first reef visit, from your snorkelling experiences can you comment on the condition of the reef compared to past visits?
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:38 PM   #147
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Two years ago I went as far north as Otter Reef, east of Cardwell. At that time the northern areas had some bleaching, and fluorescent-coloured (stressed) coral. It improved as I went south.

This time, when at Lizard Island the Research Station people were saying that over the past four years they had had two cyclones and two bleaching events. And yet the coral was still fair, and obviously recovering reasonably well. It seemed to improve, in terms of abundance and diversity as I went south, until getting towards the Whitsundays where cyclone Debbie really smashed it. Still, apart from a lot of coral debris in the shallower areas it was also resilient. This time one of the best areas of coral I saw was at Trunk Reef, east of Hinchinbrook Island. It was amazing diversity and abundance.

I had an interesting chat with the Bosun at Yorkeys Knob Boat Club. He has lived in the Cairns area all his life, and has been boating the whole time. He said that it seems to go in 10 year cycles. One area might be smashed for one reason or another but 10 years later is outstanding. And the poor/good areas are not necessarily that far apart and are not that extensive at any time. My own visits are very much 'limited random samples', but I think he may be right. Of course if the frequency of cyclones and bleaching increases compared to historical levels then things might start going downhill big time. At present, with a bit of local knowledge, I think you could pretty much visit anywhere along the length of the reef and see areas of healthy coral.

Resort infrastructure on the other hand is very hit & miss. Only a few have fully rebuilt, some are still building and not yet open, and some have not even started to clean up the debris from the cyclone damage.

What is apparent is that the greenies screaming 'the reef is dead/stop global warming/stop coal mining/ban farting etc' have absolutely no idea. They did a lot of damage to tourism in particular by ignoring the truth, not doing any real research or fact-finding and just pushing their own agenda.
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Old 10-11-2018, 01:09 AM   #148
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I'm going to spend a few nights now in the Keppel group. I am glad I retreated from the outer reef when I did. The northerlies became brisk, but tomorrow very brisk SE winds and storms are forecast! So I'll relocate from S side of North Keppel to the W side of Great Keppel for a start but then move to N side of Great Keppel once there is no further likelihood of northerlies. The various weather models are conflicting at present. So after some maintenance was completed I thought I should add some more pics!

First is a screenshot of the Storm Reef area. With N to NW winds forecast, and most of the water depths near the reef being over 40m, so there was no obvious perfect anchorage. But then I looked at Google maps (offline) satellite image of the area (pic 2) and noticed there was a semi-enclosed lagoon in the patch or reef to the NE of Storm Reef. I found 20m depths inside, mostly flat bottom. It almost glassed-out for a while, but wind did pick up to 10 kn later.

Pic 3 is looking NE from where I anchored, about 45 minutes before low tide. At low slack there was about 0.5m of reef emergent. This is the area I snorkelled. Pic 4 shows the reef wall from surface down to about 10m depth. The other pics show a bit of the reef and the small fish in the area.
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Old 10-11-2018, 01:54 AM   #149
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I'm going to spend a few nights now in the Keppel group. I am glad I retreated from the outer reef when I did. The northerlies became brisk, but tomorrow very brisk SE winds and storms are forecast! .
Let the rolling begin

Keppels were one of our favourite cruising spots ever........when we had a boat that could float on a heavy dew.
Now we draw 6ft it didn't work as well for us and I never really noticed before how far out the shallows go.

Stay safe in the storms, BOM called and got tornadoes today........in Australia.
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Old 10-13-2018, 11:16 PM   #150
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Brian, There are some nice hidey holes in those Storm Reef surrounding reefs.
Good entrances and pretty safe inside.
Bur as usual they take some time to scout out and try.
Looks like you have had a great north cruise.
Did not even leave Moreton Bay this year, first time in 25 years.
Sounds like everything is working well.
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