Australia, Blog

Waltzing with the weather to Lady Musgrave Island

Cruising life is just one long waltz with the weather. Get your timing right and simple movements can create harmonious beauty. Get it wrong and you will soon have a stiletto through your toe.

Bobbing at anchor in the Burnett River, we had been waiting for the music to begin for over a week. Our itchy toes, impatiently tapping, ready to navigate the open floor. If only we had control of the stereo. The cyclone festivities should now be over, making way for the more mellow tunes of the consistent trade winds. Instead the only music we hear is the wind howling through the rigging; creating an erratic rhythm, impossible to follow.

The weather dictates not only where we go and when, but how much we enjoy a place when we get there. Beautifully wild places require beautifully, un-wild weather. With only a fringing reef for protection from the waves and no shelter from the relentless trade winds, Lady Musgrave Island, the destination we were waiting for is certainly beautifully wild. Yet how long do we wait? Every day spent waiting is a day we will have to miss on the islands further north and a day more in the Burnett River. The rhythm of the weather is not always to our liking. Often we have to go slowly when we would like to pass through a place quickly or rush through somewhere we would love to slow down and take our time.

Tired of our surroundings, each morning had us pouring over the weather forecast, longing for an improvement. Yet the forecast was constantly changing. Predicted calm periods were immediately filled with more relentless high winds on the following forecast.

The hint of a lull in the wind had us making a spur of the moment decision at 9pm on a Saturday night. Luckily our life easily allows for wild abandon and spur of the moment decisions. No need to tell anyone of our plans or organise much, just pull up the anchor and leave. A 1am departure would have us arriving in good daylight and at slack tide in the pass.

The relief at having made it onto the floor was immense. We were finally leaving Bunderburg behind and heading for the unexplored (for us) horizon once more. The last few months had been spent re-tracing our steps back up the coast from Sydney. It’s hard to express how much we have missed the excitement of new, unknown places, despite the uncertainty and trepidation they can bring.

A fast sail through the night and our timing at the pass to the lagoon was perfect. Good light and slack tide gave us a smooth, easy approach. But now the question, were we in or out of sync with the weather? Would the predicted lull in the weather actually materialise?

Anchored within the lagoon, life aboard soon became more uncomfortable. Nothing dangerous, just uncomfortable. As Florence pitched on the waves, we retreated to sleep in the saloon (the middle of the boat), where the motion is reduced. Daylight was best spent off of the boat, either ashore on the small island, or in the water, below the chop.

Time ashore was worth the wet dingy ride in, as the other side of the island held a beautiful sheltered beach. The island itself was teeming with bird life. Black Noddy Terns nesting in the trees, so close you could touch them. Shearwater chicks hiding in the burrows built by their parents. Sea Eagles soaring above the lagoon and countless other birds competing to make them selves heard over the wind.

A Nesting Black Noddy Tern 

Usually frequented by tourist trip boats, the island was empty other than the birds and a few hardy campers. The windy weather had caused the tour boats to cancel their trips on all but one of the days we were there.

A rockpool on the sheltered side of the island
The calm beach on the leeward side of the island
A good setting for a haircut

The real reason we had been so keen to visit Lady Musgrave was to see the reef. Many people had told us that the coral here was in much better shape than the Barrier Reef further North. We moved Florence over to some big coral heads by the lagoon entrance and swam straight off the boat to some of the best coral we have seen. Ever. Huge, bright, healthy coral heads of such variety, swarming with reef fish and the occasional turtle. It was such a treat to back in clear, turquoise waters.We would have loved to explore the outer reef in the hope of finding bigger fish, sharks and rays but we didn’t feel comfortable doing so in the windy conditions we had.

Our anchorage by the coral heads we swam to within the lagoon.


We focused on filming the reef at Lady Musgrave and so our limited go-pro photos unfortunately don’t do it justice.  Hopefully the video will do.

The crackly weather forecast over the VHF radio reminded us we must remain light on our feet. The rhythm is changing. It would be a dream to slow down here but we must move quickly. Onward we promenade to The Kepple Islands, 94 miles up the coast…



12 thoughts on “Waltzing with the weather to Lady Musgrave Island”

  1. So glad you took the time to visit Lady Musgrave. So sorry about the weather but at least you got to experience one of the nicest atolls on the GBR. Take your time with the rest of your trip up the coast – plenty of divine, isolated places to visit. Love the posts. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for another wonderful post. Have been following you guys from the beginning (how long ago is that)!

    By coincidence, we are in Baiona today on the Galicia coast, where you guys past was it two or three years ago! You’ve achieved so much since then. Really proud of you.

    Fond regards

    Bruce&Anne Stewart

    That’s Illa de San Martino of the background in the Illas Cies group of Baiona.

    Sent from Bruce’s iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a lovely part of the world. We have very fond memories of that area, glad to see you enjoying it. It’s coming up to 3 years since we left England!
      Best wishes,
      Amy and Matt


  3. Hi guys I am Misu Predescu and I’m a rya skipper too…Love your amasing youtube channel, great to follow your posts. Watching the last one ( Florence presentation) I noticed Amy’s anchor moment…she was saying that you changed the anchor engine recently; then I realised that you was anchored but there was no “tension wrope” to the chain. This is a simple trick to remove the chain tension from the anchor engine and to protect the mecanism ( I attach a picture). Once the boat is on achor, the chain tension is been taken by the rope… when you want to go, just a short rotation to tension the chain and to relase the wrope to remove it. I think this little trick could save lot of money with the anchor motor maintenance. Greetings from Romania and good luck guys. Misu Predescu

    În lun., 20 mai 2019 la 05:57, Sail with the Flo a scris:

    > sailwiththeflo posted: “Cruising life is just one long waltz with the > weather. Get your timing right and simple movements can create harmonious > beauty. Get it wrong and you will soon have a stiletto through your toe. > Bobbing at anchor in the Burnett River, we had been waiting f” >


    1. Hi Misu,
      Thanks for your message.
      We do have a rope snubber on our anchor chain, it’s just hard to see on the video as its off one off the side cleats so we could open the locker. We use it all the time and fitted a rubber snubber to further reduce snatching.
      Fair winds,
      Amy and Matt


  4. Very nice analogy with music and choreography! I guess the wild weather is close to metal or hardrock maybe? 🙂 Stay safe, keep posts and videos coming!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Amy and Matt
    I grew up sailing dinghy and skiffs on Sydney harbour. But I did a sailing and scuba trip from great Keppel to lady Musgrave and heron island. It truly changed my life. I went home a quit university. And left AUS to travel for many years. So it’s quite a trip down memory lane to see your photos. 35 years ago the whole barrier Reef was like that. It’s heartbreaking to think of the damage the over heated water has done. Anyway I just ordered an oyster so maybe you should call the company and see if they want to sponsor you in some way. Florence is clearly very seaworthy and it show on the video’s. Let me know if I can be of help with that. Kind regards Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind comment Michael. Wow, a new Oyster! Good on you. We hope you have her on the water soon and that our paths cross when you do. Where will you sail her? Which design did you go for?
      Kind regards,
      Amy and Matt


      1. The hull will go into production next month.
        And takes 18 months to complete and launch. So it will be a little while, however that timing is perfect for me. Not sure where we will go but seems like the med would be obvious place to start. Oyster has a world rally planned for 2022 starting in the Caribbean. When do you leave Australia.?


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