Passage to Lizard Island

Because of our late start from Bundaberg, and our extended stay in the Whitsundays, we have been moving north at a quicker pace than other boats. We left Cairns on Friday night and sailed overnight 146 nautical miles straight to Lizard Island. Many of our friends stopped in two or three other places along the way like the Low Isles or Cooktown. Lizard Island is most often mentioned as a must-stop location in north Queensland.

We had a good passage overall, a bit of wind at the start soon died out and we had to motor for several hours (using our precious fuel) in order to keep up our speed. The reason we did that is that Saturday night some strong winds would be moving in and we wanted to be in the sheltered bay at Lizard Island by then. But, the winds started building before dawn, and we began sailing again. By early morning, I roused the crew and we set up the spinnaker. The winds were 14-15 knots and they rose only slightly all morning. We were doing 8-9 the entire morning. Around noon they bumped up to the 18-20 knot range and we were doing 9-12 knots (with some surfs on the seas that had now raised up to 2m, but behind us). This was some fun sailing!

As soon as the true wind got up to 20 knots, we dropped the spinnaker and put it away. We then just raised the mainsail in the downwind configuration, and were still doing 8-9 knots in the 20-25 knot winds that delivered us the final 30 miles. We arrived at about 3:30 PM at the sheltered bay of Lizard Island. We ended up parking near our friends on s/v Leu Cat. There are at least 15 other boats here, many of whom are also going to Darwin for the rally.

Lizard Island is a very popular stop with cruisers. It normally has very clear waters with excellent snorkeling and diving. There are turtles and giant clams in the bay. The water is warmer than down south. There is a nice white sand beach on shore. The island provides some excellent hikes, including Mount Cook – where James Cook climbed to search for a way out of the reef (which he found just east of here about 15 miles away). The island is dry and has little vegetation. Aboriginal artifacts were found on the island just a few decades ago indicating they visited this island to perform sacred rites of some kind. There is also a resort here, but they do not open their property to the cruising boats here (except they do take trash).

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