Our first stop out of Cairns was a bit of a bouncy night on a public mooring at the Low Islets. Above is the Low Islets lighthouse established in 1878 and not automated till 1990.
On our way sailing north we passed close by the Pickersgill and Endeavour Reefs (the two green spots on the center right above). Captain Cook (who at the time was a lieutenant, but Master of the ship Endeavour) came past this way in 1770. He was sailing inshore and saw the Hope Islands ahead late in the day. To avoid them he started out to sea as night fell. His men were continually taking soundings. They would throw a weighted line overboard near the front of the ship and walk back with it as the shipped moved forward. The line was marked every fathom: 6 feet, about the length of a mans out stretched arms. The weight at the end of the line had a hollow in the bottom with tallow shoved in it. This allowed the type of bottom to be determined: coral, sand, mud, etc. When the bottom could not be detected by the depth line the ship was said to be off-soundings.
Some time after dark the shallows were briefly detected. This was probably the NW corner of Pickersgill Reef, near where the yellow light symbol is on this chart. The waters got deeper and the crew relaxed a bit. They they ran square onto the reef now known as Endeavour Reef. After jettisoning much of their supplies, canons and ballast they were able to free Endeavour from the reef. Badly damaged they headed into the shore.
We didn’t stay in Cooktown as the depths were just not conducive to us having a good sleep while on anchor. So we continued north and spent a decent night tucked behind Cape Bedford.
The next cape north is Cape Flattery. Here is yet another bulk carrier getting loaded with silica off the Cape. It is pretty amazing how much of Australia is being dug up and sent overseas. In return, lots of cash gets sent back to Australia and the standard of living is pretty high, with an especially strong middle-class. Cook named Cape Flattery because he felt when he initially saw it it would offer Endeavour’s way out of the reefs and back into the ocean. Unfortunately he was only being ‘flattered’.
This brought us to Lizard island. Can you guess why Cook decided to call this Lizard island? I think I’ve deduced it after hiking around. This little guy was close to 2 foot long. The island has a really nice anchorage along with high end private resort. Cruisers are only allowed to visit the bar and that’s only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings—otherwise known as pizza, hamburger and taco nights.
Tomorrow we leave Lizard island for about another week of travel to get to the top of Oz, at Thursday Island.