'Cruising in Company' - Seas less travelled on a Bavaria 45 Cruiser

'Cruising in Company' - Seas less travelled on a Bavaria 45 Cruiser

Greg Luck, the owner of a well-traveled Bavaria 45 Cruiser called 'Curlew Escape' has been stacking up the sea miles since we last spoke to him, with new and exciting sailing adventures. Greg's recent trip took him to Heron Island and Fitzroy Reef, and he wrote the below story on his travels. 

"We have owned our Bavaria 45 Cruiser, Curlew Escape, since 2010. In that time, I have been up and down the coast around 15 times. Many times I have wanted to get out to the reef but the weather wasn’t right, a frequent frustration of the coastal cruiser. I am quite conservative and need reef weather — a period of light winds with no thunderstorms forecast, to head out.

Passage to Heron and Fitzroy

In October 2022, just such a reef weather window opened up. It looked like 5 - 6 days of good weather ahead. We were at Keppel Bay marina at the time reprovisioning.  When cruising for pleasure rather than delivery we like to do day sails. It is 63nm to Heron Island, a bit far, so we planned to stop at Cape Capricorn. However the wind was forecast to go to 15 knots NE, so instead, we planned to anchor on the south side of Hummocky Island. Hummocky has a deserved reputation for being an uncomfortable anchorage on its north side. When we arrived I looked at the satellite photos and spent a half hour slowly moving about creating a SonarCharts Live chart. We found some sand free of rocks and had a very comfortable night. I have added that anchorage to the 2023 edition of Cruising the Queensland Coast, the second edition.

Heron Island

Heron Island 
The next day was a beautiful close haul to Heron Island under blue skies with puffy clouds. 
When we arrived the public mooring was occupied, so we went to the Wistari Reef public mooring. We got some shelter from the island. The next day, we moved to the Heron Island public mooring and explored the island. The water here is very clear and the reef is in superb condition. We walked the reef off the beach, carefully staying on the sand. There are lots of clams, and different types of coral. We saw an Epaullete shark hiding in the coral and even a crown of thorns starfish. 

Heron Island Reef

Fitzroy Reef Lagoon
Our next stop was Fitzroy Reef Lagoon. It lies 16nm east-southeast of Heron Island and 22nm northwest of Lady Musgrave Island. Like Lady Musgrave Island, the island has a navigable lagoon with a northerly entrance. The lagoon is much smaller and less visited by cruisers, the deepwater area being only 0.6nm long and 0.3nm wide. The large reef surrounds the small lagoon, with up to 1nm on the southeastern side, giving good protection.

Fitzroy Reef

There are three public moorings there and plenty of room to drop anchor in clear sand in 6m. The lagoon is relatively clear, with some deep water bommies. There are two main bommies in the anchorage area (shown on the map) including one lined up with the entrance, which we named Luck’s Bommie in Navionics.   
Water visibility is good away from the lagoon entrance and the snorkelling is excellent with a huge variety of healthy coral and small fish. 

We spent three days there in total. The reef here is spectacular. We snorkelled each day. I use a SharkShield and a spear to use as a prodder in case we encounter any sharks. We didn’t. The following week we were at Tackle World in Bundaberg and the locals were telling us about a 4.5m tiger shark that lives there, but not to worry as it is a gentle giant. 

Curlew Escape

Yacht Update - Bavaria 45 Cruiser
The yacht is 12 years old now and still in great condition. Something I did not know when I ordered the yacht, but have been happy to learn about is the closed-cell foam sandwich fiberglass construction. We have had a few knocks over the years, mostly when racing which have gotten repaired and returned the yacht to perfect condition. When the yacht was brand new a skipper blew onto a mooring that had reinforcing rods sticking out, puncturing the outer hull in five places. Water did not permeate radially due to the closed cells. Had it been made with a balsa wood filling, as some production yachts are, water would have travelled along the grain of the balsa and rotted it out, making for an expensive repair rather than just some patches." 

2023 Edition of Cruising the Queensland Coast
Greg has recently published the second edition of Cruising the Queensland Coast electronic cruising guide, which has grown in size to 672 pages. It has the most up-to-date and detailed coverage of the Queensland coast for cruisers available. For more details click the link above. 

Cruising the Qld Coast