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Sailing Log Week 9: Dunk Island and Cairns

Sailing Log Week 9: Dunk Island and Cairns

To be honest, I can’t believe it’s already the ninth week living aboard Malaika. To say that time has flown would be an understatement.

This week on the Sailing Log, we departed the Hinchinbrook channel and set course for Dunk Island, located roughly 11 nautical miles from the Northern end of Hinchinbrook.

Olly gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler & adventure photographer for 6 years with 700+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.

Scraggy Point

Our second anchorage in Hinchinbrook was further to the northern end, known as Scraggy Point.

This anchorage was fairly unremarkable in terms of things to do. However, it offered a calm place to lay our heads and admire the untouched wilderness of Hinchinbrook Island. The mud was extremely good holding, and the fishing even better.

Sunset at cairns

Resupplying at the Port of Hinchinbrook

We knew that we were going to spend a fair bit of time at Dunk Island before reaching Cairns. So, we decided it was best to restock our water and fuel at the Port of Hinchinbrook.

Unfortunately, this beautiful port has been neglected of any dredging for some time. In fact, the actual channel dries up to 50 centimeters above water level at low tide!

As a result, we filled up fuel and water and motored it in with the tender. The owners of the Port of Call boating supplies at the end of the channel greeted me with typical North Queensland hospitality, and jokingly asked me to “tell the world!”. So here’s me fulfilling his request.

Onward to Dunk Island

Creeks and rivers in North Queensland are beautiful for sailing and anchoring. However, there’s something about the blue water that makes me miss it, even in rolling nights and howling wind.

So, after a couple of days in the Hinchinbrook Channel, we departed for Dunk Island.

The sail was calm and brief in light winds. After arriving roughly two hours after hauling anchor, we grabbed one of three courtesy moorings and set off to explore Dunk Island!

Sailing and cruising dunk island, australian east coast

Exploring Dunk Island

Dunk Island is a beautiful slice of the Great Barrier Reef Islands. Like many of the other islands that we had explored, there was a derelict and abandoned luxury resort.

Besides the resort, there was plenty for the crew to explore, including snapping some shots at the picturesque sandspit, a round-island hike through thick, tropical rainforest, private beaches, and best of all, free hot showers.

Set Sail for Cairns

After an incredible four days at Dunk Island, we hoisted both junk sails and continued North to Cairns.

We had fresh 20-25 knot winds and 1.5 to 2 meter from our stern, which allowed us to glide and surf all the way into Cairns.

The original plan was to stop at Fitzroy Island, however, this is only a wise anchorage in relatively calm weather. Instead, we sought cover just opposite the Cairns marina, finishing off an incredible week of sailing and exploring the Great Barrier Reef Islands.

Sailing past fitzroy island

SAILING LOG: Reconsidering Plans

Originally, the furthermost northern point of the sail was intended to be the Daintree River. However, after mapping weather forecasts and juggling time restraints, the crew decided that beating back against strong Southerlies wasn’t so appealing after all.

Instead, the new plan was to head to the Low Isles, Port Douglas and then explore some of the outer reef and Green Island, just off the coast of Cairns.

While it’s disappointing to not sail Malaika into the Daintree on this trip, everyone was happy to make the sacrifice in order to spend more time exploring the Great Barrier Reef.

They say that time seems to move quicker with age, but have those people ever lived aboard a sailing boat? The recognition of time as our only true asset has always been the most powerful motivator for me, almost to a sense of fear. Seeing incredible experiences fade away can be a saddening thought, but being thankful for their happenings is what I believe to be a vital step in living a fulfilling life.

As time draws forward, and the present fades into the past just as quickly as it happened, all that we can do is stop and edge the memories into our minds, and keep them there in the locker of life’s great adventures.

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Sailing log week 9


Sailing log week 9 dunk island and cairns
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I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure travel journalist & photographer. Traveling non-stop since 2018, I've published over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. These draw on my personal experience to share unique itineraries, accommodation tips, & fun adventure guides covering hikes, viewpoints, beaches, waterfalls, & tours. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.

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