Thursday, 13 August 2015
The day started in the Burnett River, with very calm conditions after a blustery 25-30 knot day yesterday until around 10pm, when a cold front came through. There was enough rain to wash down the boat, nice. We slept well last night and this morning decided today is the day to leave for Fraser Island. There will be some swell but the wind direction will suit our southeasterly course.
Just as we're coming in to the fuel dock at Bundaberg Port Marina, the winds pick up again from 5 to 15 knots. Once out in the bay it looks like we could have a brisk sail flying just the yankee this morning.
At 10am the Bureau of Meteorology cancelled the strong wind warning. All is well when I decide to make an early lunch of fried rice. We're on a nice even keel. As luck would have it, or not, when I have everything out on the bench and in the midst of slicing and dicing, the wind picks up to 25 knots, peaking at 30. We are smashing into waves at six knots, salt spray flying the length of the boat.
Having only two arms and two hands, and a couple of legs, I strapped myself in the galley and adjusted my ambitions and chopping skills to meet the heel of the boat. A rice-strewn galley and two decent sized bowls of fried rice later I dragged myself into the cockpit, only to witness at that moment a dramatic decrease in wind strength. Talk about a bad sense of timing! At least the eating position is a lot more vertical than the cooking position. We're still making some headway and life is good again.
We use our 3 water tanks in rotation. I filled the two empty ones at the fuel dock earlier so I'll switch over to the biggest aft tank now. I filled it back in Rosslyn Bay and we've had it in reserve. Huh? There must be a lot of air in the pipes, it's taking a while for the water to flow freely. Robert takes a look and we figure out we've drained the aft tank over the course of the past two weeks. The valve has not been completely closed and the water slowly drained into the tank in use.
We've been assuming we've improved our efforts at conserving water because we've only just emptied the smaller forward tank. That plus the supreme confidence we left Bundaberg with 3 full tanks, well, I'm remembering now what AssUMe means. Running out of one of the three essentials, fuel, food, or water would severely restrict our movements. Now we will really need to watch the water usage until the next opportunity to refill.
We're sailing along nicely after lunch. It's time for a hot drink. What is up with this gas jet? It's been playing up a bit lately. It won't work at all now. I keep the stovetop spotlessly clean and the gas jet seems clean. We think we need to replace the regulator. I give up. I'll sit in the sun and drink water. But I won't let this thing beat me. A bit of poking at the jet, a wipe, a readjustment and hey presto, all jets firing. I must remember to apologise to the helpful brother-in-law who suggested cleaning the outlet jet.
I'll take something out of the freezer for dinner. Those couple of fish fillets will be great for fish cakes. What the heck? This fish is almost defrosted and I thought the freezer had been working so well. There's no knowing for how long, but the switch has been set at fridge instead of freezer. Something must have bumped the switch from 4 to 2. The contents are still frozen enough that we won't loose all the frozen food we need until the next opportunity to provision. I dare not look at anything else. I'm afraid it's not my day.
Around 2pm the wind completely dies, just like that! From too much to nothing. We'd ideally like to anchor before dark. Now we're motoring. It's the 13th of the month. It's a Thursday. I'm a Thursday's Child with a long way to go. At least it's a warm, sunny afternoon. Life is indeed good, but I gotta say... It's been just one of those days!
Wednesday, 12 August 2015
|Early morning Town Reach Bundaberg on the Burnett River|
|Sights along the way|
Along the way we pass obvious signs of the floods; the occasional washed up boat, wrecked docks, dead trees, eroded riverbanks and destroyed retaining walls. There are also signs of recovery and some large new homes alongside tired old ones. Once we've anchored at Town Reach we see a great new boardwalk with sturdy new docks. No sign of the fuel dock or the Midtown Marina. No, it was all washed away in the last flood. There are no services for boats at the town end of the river, apart from the public dock.
It's Robert's birthday. He's had a look through the online reviews of local restaurants and decided on Indulge Bistro Cafe for "linner"; late lunch/early dinner. It turns out we are in luck. Maybe I've been on the boat too long but I've fallen in love with this place. From the wildly botanical wallpaper to the exciting array of unique desserts presented in the case, they are really speaking my language! Even the menu itself is written like an enticing, beguiling guide to local produce. I can't get enough of this. It might be Robert's birthday but I'm having all the treats.
Bundaberg is a beautiful city to walk around because so much of it's history has been preserved in its architecture. If the grandeur of the city's churches are an indication of Bundagerg's significance as a rural centre then there's no denying sugar has historically been good to the region. In fact Bundaberg Sugar is the largest sugar grower in Australia and Bundaberg is of course home to the famous Bundaberg Rum. We past the distillary and the sugar processing mill on the river just a short distance from town.
We've enjoyed our time in this charming rural city, population around 100,000. Strong winds are forecast for the next couple of days. We need to move on towards Fraser Island but first we'll anchor overnight close to the mouth, keeping an eye on weather conditions, and fuel up in the morning at the Port.
Monday, 10 August 2015
|A catamaran at Pancake Creek|
|Leaf and charcoal dust creates a landscape on the sand.|
Monday, 3 August 2015
Fog is wet! Water droplets are raining down from the spreaders and rigging. All the lines are dripping wet and soon so are we. I've put an old canvas hatch cover over Daisie and we snuggle close. We're feeling the cold despite Robert and I wearing our wet weather gear.
Our visibility is down to one boat length. With one eye on the radar we sound the air horn to alert any vessel that is close by. There's one brief moment of clarity around 6:00am with the first hint of sunrise. Then we enter another wall of dense dark fog. We're still in good time but we won't be able to enter and navigate The Narrows in these conditions.
The Captain thinks otherwise! We're keeping a constant look out for anything in our path, me on the foredeck and Robert at the helm. Just at the most opportune time the fog lifts. We're picking up the markers now by sight as we enter The Narrows.
There are a couple of sailboats motoring well behind us and we can see some others anchored along the way, probably waiting for the tide to turn in the other direction. Most of the boats we see are powerboats heading north. As we get closer to Gladstone Harbour we see just one or two sailboats motoring north. They may have to anchor along The Narrows and complete their passage in two days if the current runs against them.
Our timing is actually perfect today, in line with tides and currents. We had a 3 knot current with us going in and only a slight adverse current going out. It is very shallow and there's very little room to move, not much room for error. We've maintained the speed needed to get through to Gladstone Harbour around midday. We didn't get breakfast because we needed all eyes on deck so I'm preparing a salad for lunch while we are still on an even keel. Robert has some prawns he picked up yesterday at the seafood shop over near the fuel dock.
I'm kind of excited to enter Gladstone Harbour. I find the industrial landscape very interesting and photogenic.
While the couple of sailboats following us through The Narrows have peeled off to anchor, we carry on towards Pancake Creek. We don't want to waste the favourable wind (NE) and current we have going for us this afternoon.
As we leave the busy part of Gladstone Harbour behind, we have 12 kts of wind. We hoist the sails, turn off the engine and we are making 9.7 kts speed over ground. Our maximum hull speed is 8 kts, so this is good. As the wind picks up to 17 kts we peak at the magic 10.1 kts SOG with 4 kts of current assisting us. Woohoo! We might just make it to Pancake Creek before dark.
Sunday, 2 August 2015
When we make land we always have a long list of gotta dos; re-provisioning, laundry, buying boat stuff, etc. Marinas are typically far from town, supermarkets, etc. and rarely is there a good bus service. The Kepple Bay Marina at Rosslyn Bay takes our award for the best we've visited.
Their courtesy car goes a long way to making the cruising life a lot easier when on land. Thanks Kepple Bay Marina, you're a smart and super-friendly business. We can feel the love!
We couldn't have timed our arrival in Rosslyn Bay yesterday any better. Boats are arriving in the Brisbane to Kepple Tropical Race and the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron's Kepple Cruise Rally. We've found some of our RQ friends here. The Kepple Bay Marina does a great job hosting the party. We're enjoyed the live music although we retired early, around 9pm, cruisers' midnight.
Today has been non-stop getting all our jobs completed before we take off in the morning. We made an early dash for the supermarket, took BR over to the fuel dock to fill our 3 tanks, topped up our 3 water tanks, etc. etc. Daisie even got her shampoo and trim in the cockpit. Good girl, she never complains about my lack of dog grooming skills.
I've also given the decks of Bristol Rose a good scrub and put a piece of beef and vegies in the oven. Robert needs to run to make the 5:15pm bus into Yeppoon to pick up some wine and beer from the bottle shop. It's been a dry ship these past couple of weeks and I fear the Captain may himself mutiny if he can't have a nice red with his dinner.
The alarm is set for 3am. Time to get some sleep. Ahh, the Cruising Life!
Saturday, 1 August 2015
Soon we're sailing close hauled for Cape Manifold with the wind from the east and a knot of current against us. From Cape Manifold we set our course due south for Rosslyn Bay which puts the wind on our beam. Our boat speed is 7-8 knots in 15 knots of easterly wind. A ketch loves to sail on a beam reach and it feels good.
It's all fun until the wind turns southerly. Now we're heading for New Zealand. Noooo! At this rate it will be a late afternoon or perhaps an evening arrival at Rosslyn Bay.
We will spend a couple of nights at the Kepple Bay Marina. We need to do laundry, dispose of trash, take on fuel and water, re-stock the food lockers. We will be busy. Daisie needs a bath and she probably thinks we stink too for dragging her on this watery ride. She'd like a nice patch of dirt right now.
It's a low low tide when we reach the marina. It's a typically narrow entrance however there are few marinas we have entered wondering whether there is enough water under our keel. One boat ahead of us turned back out exclaiming "it's shallow". It's late afternoon, there's no wind. We see 6 feet on our depth sounder at the entrance. Our draft is almost 1.5m (5 feet) so we take it slowly knowing it's soft mud/sand on the bottom. The other boat has followed us in, encouraged by our bravado and offering us up as a sacrifice. In our slip on the blue dock we are resting on the bottom, 4.5 feet! It makes tying up easy! We're happy. Robert goes to check us in and I go straight to the laundry and walk Daisie. We have a busy day tomorrow.
Friday, 31 July 2015
As expected it's a bumpy ride, wind from the southeast, in our face, and we're motoring. It could always be worse so there's no complaining.
The calmness of the Port Clinton anchorage is a welcome relief this afternoon. I've made an easy lunch of fried rice which we enjoy sitting in the sun in the cockpit. We can hear the turtles breathing on the surface close by.
Tonight we watch the blue moon rise over the mangroves in a calm, peaceful anchorage. A blue moon happens when two full moons occur in one month. It's positively blissful.
Thursday, 30 July 2015
Thursday arrives and it's not a good day to sail. Gusty winds, rain, chop; it's a good day to polish some stainless steel fittings in the main cabin. Satisfied I've achieved something we accept an invitation to a get together on the beach.
|We're all getting cabin fever.|
Our new acquaintenances tell us they are members of the "Shaggers Club". Mercifully, before I embarrass myself by asking if the club is inspired by Austin Powers, it's explained that the club is supporting the Prostrate Cancer Foundation. The proper name is Shag Islet Cruising Yacht Club. They are all headed up to Gloucester Island for the club's annual rendezvous. Warwick tells us we are heading in the wrong direction and should be sailing north with them. Yes we know, but we've had our fun early in the cruising season and need to get back home and pay for our sins. I'm thinking about how tall the weeds will be by the time we get there!
Wednesday, 29 July 2015
|Island Head Creek|
Overnight we registered 32 knots here in the creek where it's protected. We felt it! Just have to wonder about the conditions out on the ocean. The forward berth was too uncomfortable with the hobby horse, sometimes bucking horse, action as waves rolled up the arm of the creek, current in the opposite direction, putting us broadside to the waves. We each took up a seaberth in the main cabin and slept quite well, waking occasionally to check on how we were holding. It's sand and mud here. All good!
I'm grateful for small mercies. With the wind in the high 20's all day the bouncing has been nothing compared to what it would be outside. We will wait and see how things look tomorrow morning before deciding when we leave for Rosslyn Bay. Hopefully we can get a weather update from someone as boats continue to come into the creek. Once the wind dies it will be another couple of tides before the sea calms down.
Tuesday, 28 July 2015
Monday, 27 July 2015
We have no connection by phone and also no weather updates by radio but we've learned from another boat the Bureau of Meteorology has this morning issued a strong wind warning, winds expected to reach 35 knots. The winds have picked up from nothing to 19 knots since this morning. We will be here another 4 days, till Thursday or Friday.
We have a good little "hole" here to wait it out and there's time to explore a little and do some fishing before the winds really kick in.
Sunday, 26 July 2015
At 10am we enter Island Head Creek. Low tide is 11:30am. I have to keep a look out, watching the depth closely as Robert steers his way around the shoals. It's so clear I can see the sand ripples under 15-20 feet of water. The Lucas guide "Cruising the Coral Coast" provides soundings for anchoraes along the creek but our copy is old and shoals may have shifted over the years. We can't take anything for granted just because it appears in print.
There are three boats anchored just inside but we want more protection than that. The most promising arm we think is much further up the creek. Slowly motoring Bristol Rose in from the main channel we find 8 feet of water under the keel. No, that won't work at low tide.
|Daisie waits patiently.|
We drop the anchor back down the creek near an arm we had earlier dismissed as too difficult to navigate and Robert takes the dinghy through to take soundings. He's found a way in to a "hole" with sufficient depth and enough swing room. We are confident this will work for us to ride out the high winds we're expecting to arrive either late Monday or early Tuesday.
Saturday, 25 July 2015
It's slow going through the day but we are making progress motor sailing. We are joined by pods of dolphins which race over to ride our bow wave, weaving from starboard to port side, back and forth, back and forth. I can't think of anything more delightful! The sailor's companions. They bring an instant smile and seem to smile back as they turn their heads skyward. Are they looking at me? I feel they accept our presence in their world and want to have some fun with us for a while.
We've seen quite a few Humpback whales since we started this ourney over a month ago. They are calving in these northern waters at this time of year.
Through the night we get a few hours of north easterlies which compensate for the earlier slow speeds we've been making. That was a nice surprise and could help put our arrival at a good time for the tide.
Friday, 24 July 2015
We're in luck, we make good time and we settle in for the night at Keswick. We are constantly monitoring weather forecasts on Windyty.com, windguru.com and the Bureau of meteorology site and we're aware that strong winds 25-30 knots SE are expected to hit late Monday 27th, lasting three or four days. We can't sail or motor directly into those kinds of winds and need to find a safe anchorage to wait it out.
Considering all our options we decide that Island Head Creek will be our best option, about 110 nautical miles to the southeast. In favourable conditions we could sail 6-8 knots/hr, making it a 14 hour passage at best. We could do it in stages leaving tomorrow, Saturday, sailing only in daylight hours and arrive on Monday morning.
Light winds are forecast for Saturday, Sunday and most of Monday, reducing our chances of making good time. Motoring and adverse currents could reduce our speed to 3 or 4 knots per hour, or worse. We'll sleep on it.
Thursday, 23 July 2015
The season is really only beginning for many cruisers to the Whitsundays who take advantage of the south easterly winds through winter to travel north. The northerlies kick in around October/November so we are a bit out of sync with the prevailing winds but we have a chance of picking up an occasional northerly or south westerly that could help us. The Coastal Cruising Club of Australia has a helpful rundown of weather patterns by Roger Smith on coastalcruising.org
Leaving Airlee Beach late in the day we made it to South Molle Island as the sun set.
Wednesday, 22 July 2015
|"Resonance" by Bonnie Bombach|
We found that our propeller should be replaced, a legacy of the damage back in Panama.
While in Airlie Beach I've done quite a bit of polishing and cleaning. And you thought it was all cocktails at sunset!
Sunday, 12 July 2015
|Bristol Rose anchored at Line Reef, Great Barrier Reef|
Saturday, 11 July 2015
Anchoring even in the designated areas is tricky among the coral bommies but here it's absolutely out of the question as much for protection of the coral reef as for preservation of boat and crew. Bareboat charterers are not permitted to sail themselves to the outer reef.
We find a suitable sand patch to anchor off Hook Reef for some fishing. Fishing is allowed in a (yellow) Conservation Park Zone, under certain restrictions. The sight of the coral and large reef fish was some consolation for the fact we caught nothing we could keep.
In very calm conditions and with the latest edition (2014) of the cruising guide "100 Magic Miles" in hand we otor over to Hardy Reef intending to anchr inside the lagoon for the night. The guide indicates that with our draft (1.5m) we could enter at a gap in the reef aptly named "The Waterfall". We don't know how long it has been since the author hs tried it himself but we would not dare!
We have navigated some challenging waters in the "Dangerous Archipelago", the Tuamotus but this lagoon "entrance" has to be seen to be believed. We would not risk taking our inflatable dinghy through the narrow gap at high tide. The marker pole can be clearly seen below the surface, lying atop a bommie.
The anchorage at Line Reef is our best bet for the night with the bonus being that we can fish the less restricted blue "Habitat Protection Zone" classification.
Friday, 10 July 2015
Crossing an ocean in a sailboat is one thing. Paddling a kayak across the ocean, even island to island in the Whitsundays, is entirely different. These adventurers have my utmost respect. I wonder about the little things such as comfort levels, energy levels, keeping well hydrated and managing basic bodily functions over long periods of time. Best not to think too much about it!
We can check the boxes from one exotic location to the next but travel is more than the sights. For me it's about the people we meet along the way and the experiences shared. Spending even a short time with someone who looks at life and the life around us from a different perspective can broaden our horizons. I love how travel presents opportunities to meet some amazing people along the way.
Thursday, 9 July 2015
In any other place Chalkies would be deemed magnificent but here, this special spot plays second fiddle to another. We are watching the tourist boats spill hordes of day trippers on the opposite shore. Everyone wants to walk along this iconic beach, to check it off their list of gotta sees. I can't say we are any different. The fine, powdery silica sand beach stretches seven kilometres along the South East of Whitsunday Island. It's the truly magnificent Whitehaven Beach. Soon the white sand is littered with people walking, lying, playing. It's the classic picture of a fun day at the beach. But this is the beach dreams of made of; reputed to be the most photographed beach in Australia. The sand really is that white, the water that blue and that clear.
Tonight we pay the price of anchoring in such natural beauty. Bristol Rose rocks and rolls all night as the currents move around with the change of tides. Small price to pay really.