Lizard Island anchorage (Paradise)
I must I was a bit gutted when we left Cairns. Why would anybody want to leave that debacherous paradise with a party 24/7 and a nice comfy (albeit extremely expensive) slip in the marina? However, am I of the school of thought that, 1. paradise is a state of mind and, 2. you never know who or what you will find in the next port. And consider that we are in fact cruising up the Great Barrier Reef, you know there are some treasures to behold. One of those treasures is Lizard Island, where we have been for the past five days.
I had heard good things about Lizard Island, but I set my expectations low so as not to be disappointed. After staying the night at Cape Flattery we had a short sail to the island in the morning and arrived by midday, greeted by more than ten boats in the anchorage. After we got settled somebody called us on the radio and informed us that there were sundowners on the beach at 4:30. Keeping that in mind I launched the kayak and paddled into the beach.
YES. YES. YEESSSSS.
The water was crystal clear as I entered the sandy shallows, a few rays darting away from my shadow. As I pulled the kayak up on the sand I noticed how incredible perfect the sand is here -- powdery fine and bleached white. It is this white sand that gives water that dazzling aquamarine color, and the anchorage varies from this to deep blue to dark over the coral reef.
I walked the beach and hiked up to get a bit of perspective on the layout and decided that, yes I like this place very much and would consider moving here if I decided a life in the bush was for me. Of course, I could always pop into the 5 star resort on the other side of the beach if I needed a hot shower... Or a helicopter to fly in and out of the island. Lizard island is pretty remote but still accessible if you are either wealthy enough to fly in or salty enough to sail. Regardless, it is a stunning place that is well worth the trip, whichever way you decide to come. Anyway, I kayaked back to the boat to get ready for sundowners (get beer) and noticed the crew on the super yacht anchored next to us going for a swim. I smiled and waved, and headed into the beach with Mom and Dad.
We also went on a badass hike but I forgot to mention that.
Most cruisers are in the 50+ crowd, and not that I don't like the 50+ crowd, but sometimes it gets a bit lonely out here. I always make friends in ports with other young people (Carins, Sydney, etc.) but out here the population is much more limited. Regardless, I can shoot the shit with anybody and had a nice time conversing with a German couple about their broken radar.
A while later Mom introduced me to a (younger) guy, Jase, who grew up at Shipwreck bay in New Zealand. He and I talked about the perfection that is Shippies and New Zealand in general. It ends up that his buddy, Gary, is the captain of the super yacht we were anchored next to, and is a keen diver. I told Gary how I had never dived the GBR, as shameful as it was. He, being as Aussie, said that was unacceptable and proceeded to invite me to dive with them the next day. "Aw mate, we could probably take you out for a dive and bring you back before we head south again.." Gary told me. "Really?! You would be willing to take me out diving on your sweet-as yacht?" I couldn't believe my luck.
Two Angels -- My dive buddies!
Sure enough the next morning I saw Jase and Gary having coffee on the bridge of Two Angels and I kayaked over. After a cup of coffee and a tour of the boat -- it is about 30 meters -- they told me to go get my dive gear and they would come pick me up. I kayaked back to Rutea and pulled out my dusty dive gear (had not dived since Chesterfield Reef!) when Jase came to pick me up. They decided to tie up their super tender to Rutea while we went diving so that they wouldn't have to use the crane to stow it, and as reassurance to Mom and Dad that they would actually bring me back.
I met the crew of Two Angels and was given breakfast as we pulled away from Lizard Island. We headed out to North Island where Gary said is as good a reef as any up here. At this point you have to realize that I was on top of the world. I went from not having any friends or dive buddies around to cruising out on a super yacht with six cool people to dive a secret spot. Not only that but the dive spot was south, which is the direction Two Angels was headed, except that they would have to go back up north to drop me off. Why would they go out of their way like that, just to take me diving? I am still baffled.
The dive was great. It was really, really nice to get back underwater, to "suck a tank of air." We saw massive coral fans, big fish, little fish, sharks, rays, barracuda giant clams the size of bathtubs and other crazy creatures. The water was fairly clear, probably 50 feet of visibility, which is respectable for an island. After the dive we went back to the boat where two of the crew -- native of Indonesia -- made us a delicious fried rice and curry lunch. We all sat around and chatted as we headed back to Lizard Island.
Giant clam so old that other coral has grown on it.
Within an hour I was back on Rutea watching Two Angels pulling away from the anchorage. Easy come easy go. I sat back reeling and reflecting on the morning. I had to laugh -- you couldn't try to make something like that happen. You couldn't plan it. It just so happened that I was in the right place in the right time. And there were very generous people at the time. I felt a little low watching my new friends leave but as the cliche goes: better to have loved and lost than never loved at all; all I could do was chuckle at how ridiculous my life is sometimes.
Alas, after an epic snorkel around the anchorage with my friends on Mystic, we are leaving the lovely Lizard Island tomorrow. From here on out I doubt there will be much swimming, so its a good thing I got my fill here.