Monday, 3 August 2015

Rosslyn Bay to Pancake Creek via The Narrows

It's an easy exit from the marina, in darkness but with no wind to speak of.  The waters all around Yeppoon are shallow (about 30 feet) for miles and miles and a few boats with deeper drafts are anchored just outside the marina at Rosslyn Bay.  Sunrise won't be for another three hours.

First light in a very dim fog.
Today will be a motorboat ride.  We're immediately steaming into a thick fog, a real pea souper.  We don't see fog like this very often when we're sailing.  If we want to make it through The Narrows today we'll need to motor at around 5 knots to time our entry and exit in line with the tides.  The Narrows is shallow, shoaly and of course the current can either help or hinder.

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.

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