‘Twas the day before Christmas… and all through the boat… not a creature was stirring… that’s all she wrote (well not quite).
We were in Port Douglas contemplating a Chrissy on our own when we were phoned by the ‘Mad Mac’s’ asking if we had any plans. We didn’t. So armed with an oversized ham and a fresh batch of spiced peaches, we headed out to meet them at Michaelmas Cay.
Michaelmas Cay is really just a small patch of sand and reef, 20nm from Cairns (Queensland). We hooked onto a mooring and marveled at how we had the place to ourselves (I’m pretty sure this not usual, as there were a lot of commercial tourist ferries covered and moored out there waiting for the return of the tourists).
Next morning, I went for what I thought would be a casual morning snorkel around the island with Tracy. For someone with petit feet, that girl can certainly move through the water. Fortunately, John tends to stay back and act as a guide, showing slower snorkelers (definitely me) sea cucumbers, interesting coral growths, nudibranchs and my faves, the clams. John and Tracy are very generous people with their time and knowledge. They even made sure they were at the cay before us to guide us in the previous day; there is a tricky bit of coral to negotiate on the way in.
Peter wanted to check out the keel cooler and hull zincs, so he popped under the boat on the PowerDive unit. The rather fetching long black number he is sporting is his stinger suit to prevent jelly fish stings. October to May is Box Jellyfish season – so pour on the vinegar and painkillers or wear a net one-sie. I have read that it takes a metre of tentacle contact to kill an average person (we are not talking the little Irukandji here – that little sucker is in a league of its own), but who wants to be the guinea pig to prove that?
Tracy has the hostess-with-the-mostess ability to keep the margharita jug filled, which proved to be a problem our first night. Peter and I had snorkeled over to ‘Mad Mac’s’ for evening drinkies and by the time we returned to ‘Opal Lady’ via the Mac’s tender, we were both the worse for wear. There had been much merriment and dancing on the back deck and Peter managed to dance me off a step backwards onto the swim deck. We all thought it was very funny until the next day when I woke up with a huge bruise down the left side of my back, Peter woke up with a headache from falling into the tender for the trip home, John had lost the skin off his shin (Peter danced him into the dive tank stand), Tracy said she felt fine (but I’m sure I saw the wincing of a hangover there) and Bruce (friend of the Mac’s) just smiled and said he had recorded all the evidence on his phone. In the harsh light of day, it didn’t look pretty – and serves as a warning that active drinking on boats can be hazardous to your health (better to find a chair and sit it out).
Christmas Morning and a rain front is coming through – but it is warm. ‘Mad Mac’s’ is visible through the windscreen to the right. Peter went snorkeling with Tracy this morning and after he got back, I just jumped off the back of the boat on the Powerdive for a restful under-the-boat contemplation regarding the state of my liver, before we headed over to the Mac’s for a pleasantly quiet Chrissy lunch.
800gr tin peach slices in syrup
10cm of cinnamon sticks
2 tbsp white vinegar
5cm ginger, peeled and sliced
½ tspn dried chilli flakes
Pinch of salt
4 black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
Put all ingredients into a saucepan. Heat slowly to boiling and then turn off heat. Store in the fridge and eat within a few days (this is not a preserve – any that gets left at the back of the fridge will get furry). Serve with Chrissy Ham.
This is a record of our experiences and is not intended as a recommendation for others. Phone reception on ‘Opal Lady’ is assisted with the use of a CellFiGo booster. We measure our depths from the lowest point of the hull (add 1.6m for actual water level height).
Picked up a mooring at Michaelmas Reef, there is room for anchoring, but check your full swing for bombies at low tide. Take care with entrance to the anchoring area; don’t cut the corner as there is a reefy outcrop inconveniently located there. [Cruising The Coral Coast, A Lucas, 2014, pg249] [Qld BoM Coastal Forecast Area = Cooktown to Cardwell] [Chart AUS 831]