Monthly Archives: November 2011

Mooloolaba- Southport

After crossing the bar early in the morning we arrived into Mooloolaba in the afternoon after another great sail down in lively conditions.

After tying up at the Marina we had a BBQ ashore with the other Alfreds boats, to celebrate what for some would be the end of their cruise. While it was not quite the end for us, it was the end of a stage. No longer were our thoughts on pretty anchorages and new adventures, for us and for the remainder of our little fleet the focus was now on getting the boat back home.

With a delay again because of weather we enjoyed a couple of carefree days in Mooloolaba, including catching up with Jo’s brother Adrian, wife Anna and Sophie’s Cuz’ William.

With time now a real factor, we had a small window of weather on the weekend to get to Southport. We left Mooloolaba early in the morning and just made it in through the Gold Coast Seaway on Sunset. Luckily friends came in handy again and as we pulled into Southport Yacht Club in the dark Silk Road were there to take our lines. Southport would mean another weather delay, however again we made the best of the situation, enjoying a roast at the yachtclub with Silk Road and walks along the beach.

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Great Sandy Straits

Finally, after waiting and waiting the weather was looking ok to leave Bundaberg. An easy morning departure in company with the ‘Alfreds Armada’ saw us beating into some still reasonably steep seas for a while until we managed to get far enough across to receive some protection from Fraser Island. By lunchtime we were enjoying a nice sail in flat water as we were coming into the Great Sandy Straits.

That night we all anchored in South White Cliffs with sundowners aboard Mix’d Nutz as we discussed our proposed assault on Sheridan Flats the next day. The shallowest part of the Great Sandy Straits it requires spot on timing to take full advantage of tide in order to cross in a keel boat. Given that we had 7 keel boats to get through, and we had heard reports from other boats of possible issues with the marker buoys we were a little apprehensive. With Cariad the shallowest boat going first and calling depth soundings back to the rest of us we all made it through ok and anchored at Elbow Point for early sundowners on Windsong before literally queing up early the next morning to cross the Wide Bay Bar with several other yachts in rolly but otherwise benign conditions.

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Hanging around in Bundy

Within a hour of being at the dock, with the latest weather forecast in one hand and a Gin and Tonic in the other( Storm Recovery) it became very apparent that we would be spending some quality time in Bundy. The forecast predicted various levels of doom and gloom for at least a week.

So we did what cruisers do in such situations. We took our cleverly devised, foolproof plan to have the boat back in Sydney at a certain time and ripped it up all over the cockpit floor, poured ourselves another G & T and launched into an extended period of eating, drinking and socializing. With 8 other boats from Alfreds tied up in the Marina in a similar situation, The Port to Port Rally in full swing, A friendly little Yacht Club, small town charm(and prices!) and a bunch of other cruisers we had met up and down the coast it was an easy enough accomplishment.

Our time passed relatively easily, a trip to the local markets, a BBQ with the Port 2 Port sailors, The Coral Coast Rendezvous dinner, 2 for 1 Steaks at the Lighthouse Tavern with the boys off Cloud Nine…..meeting sailors from all over the world, some who were circumnavigating others who were on their second/third circumnavigation…..sundowners every night with the Alfreds clan……..and talking all the time to everyone about the weather!

Storms, winds and bad stuff

There’s some “weather” coming was the summary of the forecast for the next few days.

So the decision was made to continue to ge as far south as we could be before the big SE winds arrived. The weather forecast also read, as it had done for a few days, isolated thunderstorms, but we had barely seen any storm activity so we made for Burnett Heads (Bundaberg) the next day.

As we left Pancake Creek in the morning you guessed it. A storm smashed us. There’s something about being on the water, in a small boat, in a big sea, with wild winds and a storm coming that makes you realise how little control we have of the world, on land it is easier to get caught up in daily life and feel in control; on a boat: waves, wind, and weather there is little we can do about it.

So what do you do in a situation like this? We’d made preparations and decisions months ago. Plan A: don’t go out in a storm or if we knew one was coming. Plan B: if we were out there anyway and the storm was coming we needed a solid boat with the correct sails and safety equipment, amongst a large list of other items… check. Then more immediate preparations are made at the dock- life jackets and safety harnesses on, all items secured, hatches closed, the boat ship shape, make sure we had the passaged planned out with all contingencies and then all that can be done from there is to keep a weather eye. So as the storm approached we decreased the sail area that we had up and waited…

So storms are a little scary in a small boat,  but the preparations had been made and all that we could do was trust the vessel that we were in and sit through it and hope that our mast didn’t become a lightening rod, panic only makes it difficult to make good, clear decisions.

So we got a little wet and it was a lit windy… oh well, no harm done. We battled on through the larger waves and swell, due to the storm, to Bundaberg; glad that another storm that was building had somehow gone completely over us and was all around us at one stage, but that didn’t effect us at all.

Port Bundaberg Marina was a welcome sight, our marina berth was a little interesting, however, the depth sounder showing 1.8m of water and the tide was still ebbing for a little longer… that’s only 10cm of water under the keel! We arrived just in time for Sundowners with the Alfreds boats that were already there to wait out the weather… how long we would be there, who would know?

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Rosslyn Bay

Provisioning at Yeppoon was made a little easier, by the fact that we managed to loan the courtesy car at the marina for a two hour block. Craig was on Sophie duty and I took the beat up old Toyota Corolla Sedan into Yeppoon. Having not driven a car for 2 months and traveling at a maximum speed of 7 knots (land lubbers: 7 knots= 7 nauitcal miles per hour= a little less than 13km/hour) I gained a new appreciation of just how fast automobiles actually go. I was in awe of this new discovery only to look down at my speedo and realise that I was infact only going 40km/hr in a 60 zone… lucky drivers in Yeppoon are patient.

We left Rosslyn Bay a day later than planned as the wind prediction changed, the anchorage we were going to head out to on Great Keppel Island wasn’t suitable anymore and my wrist gave way when it was taking the weight of a full kettle of water. My wrist is now much better with some time strapped up and some rest.

The trip down to Pancake creek started off a little uncomfortable due to rolly seas, the perfect recipe for sea sickness after a few nights in a marina. We faired well, with only a little queasiness, the smell of rotting algae, from all the blooms that had appeared, that we sailed through didn’t help the cause, so we were glad to get into clearer water as we headed south.

Life continues to be good! : Back in the Percys.

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It’s been a while since we have posted, the cruising life is good and we have been distracted 🙂

We left Mackay the day after the northerlies came through, and didn’t we know when they arrived, Mackay Marina became a very rolly uncomfortable “anchorage” for the night.

We first headed for Digby Island as it appeared to have the best protection from a northerly compared to Curlew Island. We caught a fish on the way, another spotted mackerel this one was much bigger than our previous efforts – easily 85cm. After having fish tacos for dinner, we made the best of a bit of a wild night at anchor, but managed to get a little sleep, but left early the next morning for the Percy Islands where it would hopefully be more comfortable.

We anchored for the night in White’s Bay on the southern side of Middle Percy Island with a little excitement as the anchor windlass gave up the ghost for no apparent reason, having worked solidly for the whole trip. We quickly let the anchor free fall and put out as much chain as we had. The winds were strong and we pulled back on the anchor chain all night, but we held securely.

Next morning we wanted to go around to West Bay as the winds during the day were turning southerly and for the evening there would be light north easterly winds. We attempted to up anchor, however the anchor windless was still not working, even after some tinkering in the battery bay the evening before after which we thought that we had fixed the problem. So we began the “fun” task of hauling in 55 metres of anchor chain by hand. We got around to West Bay and had the place to ourselves, we found a nice patch of water and anchored in as close to the beach as we could… maybe a little too close for comfort, as we discovered just before low tide when Craig went swimming about 3 or 4 metres off the back of the boat towards the beach and discovered that he could stand! However after a quick calculation we realised that we would have just enough water under the keel at the slightly lower low tide that was to happen early the next morning. We went ashore to hang the sign that we had made for the A-Frame hut and met up with the crew from another boat who had also been at Digby Island and White’s Bay in the last few days.

We spent the night in West Bay before setting off the next morning for Delcomyn Bay, well a bay near Delcomyn Island that hasn’t been surveyed fully yet, the anchor windlass behaving much better after we fixed it’s battery terminals.

It was a fairly uneventful trip where we experienced that strange VHF phenomenon of skipping where we could hear the charter boat radio scheds in the Whitsundays (150nm to the north) and boats contacting Bundaberg VMR (200nm to the south) when VHF radio is usually line of sight communication only. The charter yacht radio scheds kept us entertained for a while, with all the funny questions from the charterers to the charter bases. We arrived at Delcomyn bay (a lovely protected anchorage in a northerly wind) just in time for a storm to arrive, along with rain and squally winds, turning the breeze southerly for most of the evening, but with lots of anchor chain out we slept soundly.

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