Cruising the Coral Coast  

Author:  Alan Lucas

Anybody who has had the pleasure of cruising the east coast of Australia would be aware of Alan Lucas and his untiring efforts to produce informed, accurate cruising guides.  First written in 1964, and now in its eighth edition, Lucas’ first QLD guide embraced what was then known as the Coral Coast: the region between Gladstone and Torres Strait.  Since 1973 however the book has been expanded to include the entire east QLD coast.  Lucas carries out all survey work from his own vessel with partner Patricia.  Initially surveying the eighth edition on their 9mt ketch Renee Tighe in 1997, plans to build a new vessel postponed the much-anticipated revised edition.  Onboard his new vessel Soleares, Lucas surveyed the entire QLD coast again from 2000 to 2002 in order to produce the current edition.

For those heading beyond the usual coastal cruising route that terminates at Lizard Island, there are also notes on Torres Strait, the Gulf of Carpentaria, plus an in introduction to the Arnhem Coast towards Darwin.

Cruising the Coral Coast comprehensively covers the main cruising route in detail.  But Lucas also includes interesting facts, historical information and a few thoughts of his own along the way.  Known amongst the cruising fraternity as ‘uncle Alan’ for his wealth of knowledge and conservative advice, he has a dedicated following.  Deservedly so, as he has seemingly spent a lifetime exploring the waters he discusses.  While naturally, safe navigation relies on the Skippers calculations and observations, cruisers who consider Lucas’ advice when approaching an anchorage are unlikely to find themselves in trouble.

Good detail is included in individual large-scale anchorage maps, as well as many overview maps, which delineate the coastline up into eight Coastal Notes sections.  Though the dark green colours of the maps initially take some getting used to, one can only assume this colour was chosen to provide good contrast between sea and land. As with any sensible cruising guide layout, it is chronicled in a logical route, in this case from south to north.  It is natural some passage makers will travel in the reverse direction, making it slightly confusing working from the back of the book to the front.  But it’s a minute inconvenience that is unavoidable, and more than compensated for in tough binding and an easy to read layout.

Lucas’ attention to detail is to be admired, and the guide is well indexed, ensuring an easy process to find location information. Currents, tides and weather are all discussed in detail.  Consideration is given to alternative anchorages, such as when the predominant SE trades change to a northerly aspect. Some of his terminology causes much empathetic amusement if encountering challenging conditions as described in some chapters.  In describing one ‘last resort’ anchorage as abominable, Lucas is usually on the money: expect a rough night at anchor.

Verdict: Highly Recommended
Review by Fiona Harper

Purchase from
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Updated June 2010

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