With light winds forecast we seized the opportunity to head to the reef, stopping first at Green Island. We had very little wind on the way over there but just enough to put up our spinnaker (‘monster’) for an hour or so before the wind completely died in the @r$e. We haven’t ever used the spinnaker before mainly because its a tad too big for the boat, it wouldn’t be very good in winds over 10 knots and we haven’t ever really sorted the deck fittings out for it, though Damon resourcefully created what was required.
Arriving at Green Island, we anchored on the northern side in a sandy spot at the reefs edge. Although it wasn’t forecast, we had quite a steady south easterly breeze lasting all evening which added some chop to the anchorage and overall it was pretty bouncy. We thought we wouldn’t stay there another night, however; after some time ashore we decided we would take it easy as the wind had dropped right out. The second night, was very calm, the complete opposite of the night before.
Trips ashore at Green Island taught us that possibly 1000 people visit this tiny sand cay turned island every day. The boats arrive, the people get off; the boat arrives, the people get on. It was chocka-block. The 20ft, 100 year old crocodile is $20 to see, which we did not. The reef at Green Island is further away from the beach with the resort ferrying people out in their pontoon boats; compared to Fitzroy Island where you will find reasonable snorkelling right off the beach. For a ‘green zone’ there was a bit of rubbish on the beach including broken glass old washed up bottles, some netting, and rubbish that most likely day trippers had left, which of course we picked up. The water though, was crystal clear with white sand and an abundance of marine life; postcard perfect.
While at Green we came across the #KitetheReef team; a group of passionate Doctors and Scientist currently kite surfing from Green Island to Cape York to raise funding and awareness for Motor Neurone Disease (MND). They are aiming to complete this trip in 10 days, which at the time they were waiting for the wind the blow up, which it has now delivered. You can head to kitethereef.org to check out where the team are up to in their trip and to make donation to find a cure for MND.
From Green Island, we headed over the Vlasoff Cay. Without a doubt it was absolutely stunning, crystal clear water, you can see straight to the bottom with big sandy patches easy to anchor in clear of bommies. We headed ashore, to where a helicopter had landed for some very fortunate people to have a picnic lunch. According to the pilot, who Damon had a chat with for quite some time, while Cid attempted to get inside the Helipcopter and flick switches, keeping his mum very occupied; Green Island and Vlasoff are under their flight path as they aren’t able to fly over Michaelmas Cay due to the bird nesting grounds that are there. We had seen and heard many helicopters while at Green Island, but it didn’t particularly phase us as this was a novelty for Cid who loves pointing to them and yelling “car” or a sound similar to “plane” (he’s getting there) however; due to this and another cruiser on a power boat we bumped into who thoroughly complained about the helicopter noise, we decided to move on to Michaelmas Cay and check that out since we had only one night left of good weather before it was forecast for a 30 knot change.
We got into Michaelmas around 3.30pm and instantly heard the raucous that was going on ashore. As soon as we had picked up a mooring; massive bat fish, trevali, and some others that looked very edible approached the boat. Obviously the tourist boats that go there each day keep them well fed. We headed ashore to the roped off area you are allowed to go; Michaelmas is also a green zone due to the bird nesting area. Once ashore, we read the sign which stated you are not to enter the beach past 3pm (clearly we weren’t aware); so we had a quick look at the birds and headed back to the boat.
Come sundown, I said to Damon… “surely these birds will go to bed soon…” umm.. no they didn’t. Let it be known that the birds nesting on Michaelmas Cay, squawked, screeched and quarreled with and at each other all. night. long. As amazing as it was to see the birds nesting and watch as they changed shifts to protect their eggs… we were actually quite happy to leave early the next morning, where we stopped off at Upolu Reef on our way back the Cairns.
There was lots of sand around Upolu, though fairly shallow. The Cay had only just come out of the water when we anchored and for a bit of sand that stretched 20 meters it became fairly busy fairly quickly. When we arrived at the sand there was another family of four there, by the time we left, the family were still there plus three other small groups who arrived by power boat and a yacht with what appeared to be a charter of 7 backpackers plus the three people on the boat; so it became a little crowded. Cid had a play with the kids from the first family we met while we chatted with the parents; before getting back on board ocelot and motoring all the way back to Cairns due to their being very light wind and on the nose.
Overall, we had a great few days and can’t wait to get back out there again to explore more reefs. The contrast between being anchored in Trinity Inlet and being at Fitzroy Island or Green or the cays is astounding. The change in water colour and quality is amazing and literally takes your breath away. It is such a treat to be so close to the Great Barrier Reef and be able to arrive there after a short sail or motor; it truly is a natural wonder that we should all strive to protect for the future.