Cruise Log 2002

26 October 2001

Today we cast off our lines from Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, Manly, in Brisbane. We have been here for two months, completing odds and ends of work to make Lifeline a finished boat. I've sewn all the cushions and upholstery, made curtains and flyscreens and hatch covers and Philip has painted all the decks and bulwarks. We've also carpeted the cockpit. There are still lots of jobs that need doing (like putting the third and final coat on all the varnish) but they've been relegated to "routine maintenance" rather than boatbuilding. The time has come to start our cruising life for real. The next six months will be spent in the waters of Moreton Bay and the Broadwater, summering away from the cyclone belt and trying out all the gear on the boat. I at least need to get comfortable with handling Lifeline. She is so big and heavy and so is all the gear.

Exited the channel to Manly Boat Harbour and turned for Chain Banks. Overcast and mirror calm sea surface but with some leftover swell from the northerlies yesterday. Abeam. Lifeline rides like a boulder. We just go forward. Not much movement sideways. 1100 RPM for 7.5 knots.

We do rock a little after all. And we've forgotten about tying everything down when you leave port - no matter how calm it looks. We've just lost a length of conduit overboard from the roof, which was lying up against the port toerail.

After seeing two dugongs at some distance, one just dived right under our bow. They are such slow creatures we worry that they won't get out of the way quickly enough.

Dropped anchor at Canaipa Point in 3 metres. This hydraulic anchor gear is a bit different from Tantivy's electric anchor winch. We keep a mallet on the foredeck to bang the gypsy lock open after which the chain runs out. What a racket! Constant light rain all evening and not a breath of wind. Low cloud over North Stradbroke Island and cool temperatures make us think we're in the fjords. We've got our trackies on. 22 degrees centigrade! I think we have become Queensl'nders already.

29 October

We are anchored at Dux anchorage alongside South Stradbroke Island. Last night was spent near Jumpinpin. Too much current running for our liking for an overnight stop, but a lovely sandy bottom after the stickiest mud of Canaipa. I can see a couple of kangaroos ashore - unusual light tan ones. A pretty white sandy beach.

Today is my birthday so I have decided to cook lamb fajitas and make a chocolate mousse - they've just taken my fancy. Tonight I'll set a special table, hauling out the best tablecloth and real glasses, and Philip has fixed up the 24 volt outdoor power plug so we can run the fairy lights. He has also rigged the three sets of speakers from the hi fi so they can be separately switched in the cockpit. We'll be dining under the stars (or at least the fairy lights) tonight. Lynne sent me a bottle of champagne and a straw - it's chilling nicely now.

This morning we pumped yabbies ashore. I have caught a few small bream, but not big enough to be worth eating.

Yesterday we discovered that the fuel line connection between the brand new outboard and the brand new fuel tank in the tinnie are leaking and there is no way we can get fuel into the outboard to run it. Unfortunately both were bought in Sydney six months ago and have never been used. Out with the inflatable and 3.3 HP outboard we bought for those times when you don't want to heave a tinnie up the beach.

But putting the tinnie back on the roof we discover another problem with the crane. (Philip has already made several adjustments and improvements to it to strengthen it up.) This time I notice it is stripping one of the strands of the galvanised wire rope as we winch the dinghy up. On closer inspection it turns out the supports which hold the wheel on the end of the arm in which the wire runs, have collapsed and the wire is being dragged through an opening too small for its diameter.

Both problems can wait until we go up on the slip on November 12. (Thank heavens for the little dinghy.)

1 November 2001

The wonders of modern technology! Our internet access and email by connecting our laptop through our mobile phone works really well. We are particularly pleased because we can do it inexpensively through Optus and Optusnet. In short, Optus gives twenty minute free phone calls after 8pm to other Optus mobiles. Because Optusnet has an Optus mobile dial-in number it means our dial-in is free, provided we don't go over twenty minutes at a time.

We do all our banking via internet now and are able to pay most of our bills via BPAY. Because we have our tenants pay their rent into our bank account, we can also check if the rent has been paid and send receipts etc. And of course, we can exchange emails with Kit in China and our friends as often as we want. (I like it a lot).

We are anchored in "Bums' Bay" near Seaworld at the Gold Coast. Lots of comings and goings for Philip to observe and puzzle over.

Today we ate the blue swimmer crab I caught on my line at Ephraim Island near Paradise Point yesterday. Really good yabby (bait) pumping on the sandbanks there and lots of bream caught. Mostly under legal size but two were worth keeping, which we had BBQ'd whole in foil....Unfortunately not very successfully though. We've forgotten how long we need to cook fish and it was underdone. Must Do Better.

30 December 2001

3.12 am. We're anchored at Peel Island in Moreton Bay. Have had tremendous thunderstorms and rain after days, weeks(?) of northerly weather. It's hot and rolly.

On the 29th we returned to the Bay after Christmasing in Mooloolaba for a couple of weeks. Philip's Mum stayed with Julie and Darryl in a holiday apartment for a couple of weeks and Tim came up from Sydney so we were all able to have Christmas together on the boat. 

Mooloolaba Yacht Club marina has got to be the best place in town. You can fish, walk to the beach or the breakwater, stroll down the road for good eating or a capuccino. The marina is crammed with American yachts summering here from the Pacific. All getting stainless steel work done. With the Aussie dollar worth half an American one, it's a great deal for them.

Tim caught two good fish off the boat whilst in the marina, a good sized Bream and an even better spotted Trevally, both on leftover Christmas pork rind!

We used the stabilisers as we passed the top of Moreton Island on the run up to Mooloolaba. We'd had to turn beam on to a steep swell which was fanning around Cape Moreton in an easterly direction. This was the first time I had seen them work and they really make a great difference. No longer that occasional gunwale to gunwale roll you get when the right wave is in just the right position...

Actually we had both arms out but only the weather side stabiliser in the water.

31 December 2001

We're now anchored between Karragarra and Lamb Islands in Moreton Bay. The hot and rolly conditions at Peel Island only lasted until 5 am, when a strong sou'wester, followed by an even stronger easterly and heavy rain, created surf and put us on a lee shore. We and the hundred other remaining boats in Horseshoe Bay (Peel Is.) up anchored. Just before 7 am a strong wind warning was broadcast for Moreton Bay with 25-30 knot northerlies expected this afternoon. We hightailed it to the only place we could think of with protection from south and north.

We have the stabilisers out now against the wash of the ferries which seem invariably to be taken beam on. Very calm, though I can hear the wind howling already.

3 January 2002

New year's eve was a quiet affair. Philip and I did have a few dances to Shania Twain in the cockpit though.

17 January 2002

We have been anchored in Bum's Bay (aka Marine Stadium) for a couple of weeks. Despite the name it is a lovely place and a great all round anchorage. It is close to the surf beach, a dinghy ride to large shops and it is easy to walk to smaller shops or Surfers Paradise. There are cold showers and easily accessible taps ashore. Even the buses come close, thanks to the proximity of Seaworld Nara Resort. Oh and markets on the weekends!

At last the spell of heatwave conditions and northerlies seems to have abated, with cooler southerlies the last few days. We have pumped some yabbies which seem to be abundant on the sandbanks nearby and I have managed to catch a couple of reasonable whiting.

Because of its proximity to Southport and the protection it gives anchored boats from the wash of other boats and because it has been the Christmas New Year holidays, the anchorage has been chockers. Not only with cruising boats but with local boats as well.

We suspect that because the conditions are usually so good here in the Broadwater and because boaties are so well catered for, it is possible to own a boat on the Gold Coast without ever having to learn how to anchor. The hire houseboats aren't expected to know and they often live up to expectations. But it is surprising when people who have clearly shelled out hundreds of thousands of their own dollars on beautiful boats also put on a show for the anchorage.

Usually more amusing than dangerous, these anchorers can be relied on to drop anchors while going forward, reverse at 10 knots on full throttle (wondering why the anchor won't set), throw out an unknown amount of tiny chain (usually about five metres) and end up 6 or 7 metres from another boat.

Yesterday, however, we had two squally thunderstorms which didn't last long but which were accompanied by gusts of up to 50 knots. This created havoc in the anchorage with some "personal best" anchor dragging by some of the champions described above.

23 January 2002

Moved up to Tipplers Tavern anchorage on Stradbroke Island for a change of scene. We are expecting lots of people and boats for the Australia Day long weekend and the final weekend of the school holidays.

Tipplers is a low key "resort" cum tropical beer garden. They have a pool, a band which plays on an outdoor stage on Saturday nights and cane toad races! It's a stubbies-and- thongs kind of place where the patrons can rub shoulders with small brown kangaroos.

Southport Yacht Club, Manly Trailerboat Club, Beenleigh Volunteer Marine Rescue all have camping sites together on the island here. There is also a Council camping area and three other "resorts" butting up to each other....All in all, a gathering place for anyone able to get there by water.

27 January 2002

Although Sunday and halfway into the long weekend, surprisingly it has only today started getting busy here. Maybe the strong wind and gale warnings for the area had something to do with it, though it is really very protected from the south east.

The hire houseboats have been very well behaved and put down very good anchors. Once again the anchoring cretin awards go to some of the privately owned boats. And the winner is......A Raft of Three Boats (well of course you would wouldn't you) in a crowded anchorage with a gale warning for the area, who dragged once and were saved by a hire houseboat who tied them alongside and then re-rafted and dragged again. A moving performance.

Today I discovered you can get tennis elbow from casting a bait net. And also that you need to know how to throw a cast net to catch bait.

18 April 2002

I've been a bit slack in my log for the last couple of months. No excuse except having a good time. My fishing has improved. Bum's Bay has yielded a lot of good whiting and I caught a beautiful flathead on a drift through the boats in the tinnie.

Since I last wrote we have been to Thailand for two weeks: Philip to work and me to check out the coastal areas as potential cruising grounds. While away we left Lifeline at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron at Manly. (That is a really good place. Friendly, economical, beautifully kept and close to everything.)

Thailand impressed us both. We loved the people and visiting has given us a bit more confidence about the ease with which we might cruise there and whether we might like it. We are even toying with the idea of summering in either Cairns or Darwin (could we stand the wet season in the tropics?) then cruising the Top End and on to either the Kimberleys or up to SE Asia.

We topped up our front fuel tanks with diesel at the end of January. 764.25 litres at 79 cents a litre. We have motored 102.5 hours since we first filled the tanks. 7.46 litres per hour. That's travelling at 1100 RPM for 7 knots. We are very happy with that!

Finally the drought has broken here on the Gold Coast and we have had several downpours. We got to try out our rainwater collection system one day when our tanks were only about a quarter full and collected about 900 litres in an hour!! We last filled up with a tap at RQYS at the end of February. Since then we have "topped up" with rainwater one more time but only a couple of inches this time.

We have two through-roof fittings on each side of the cabin top overhangs (the "eaves which cover the decks) to which we attach two lengths of hose which go straight into the deck fillers.

It's been about six months since we started living aboard in earnest and are finding the systems we thought so long about before having them built into the boat are working well. The DC fridge is fantastic. The solar panels cope with our power needs wonderfully - and we've had wet, cloudy weather as well as fine while remaining anchored for a month at a time. The tinnie and the crane are now working well.

About the only thing we will have to do something about when we go on the slip in May is the saltwater toilet system. Philip has already had to replace the copper lines which carry the salt water from the pump to the cistern as they had developed pin pricks (He replaced them with high pressure plastic lines). But the saltwater intake fitting seems to be showing some corrosion and the stainless steel holding tank also appears to be "pitting". We suspect electrolysis.

I have been religiously keeping track of all our expenditure and find that we are living comfortably within our budget of $400/week. Slipping to come and of course when we start travelling up north the fuel bill will increase greatly. (But hopefully we will spend less money on "Other" than we do now because we won't be able to go to the shops as much.) 

Philip is working for most of May so we leave at the beginning of June. I can't wait!

16 September 2002

I can't believe it is five months since I last made an entry into this log. Our "real cruising" has started ..... All the great things we've been doing and I haven't written about any of them. So, where will I start?

We left Brisbane on 14 June after spending over a month at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron marina. Philip was away working for three weeks of that and I spent 10 days down south renovating a flat and putting in a new tenant. But the rest of the time we worked our butts off. It's amazing how we'd had 6 months to prepare the boat for open water cruising yet there were still so many "last minute" jobs we hadn't got around to. Things like:

The day before we were due to leave we found out our Furuno plotter needed a new motherboard and was going to cost $7,000 to fix. We'd toyed with the idea of getting PC based nav. software so that made the decision for us.  Within hours of getting it and puzzling over some tricks with its installation,  our new neighbour arrived into the berth next door from a trip to New Zealand. He turned out to be a computer guru who used the same software. He needed a car for six months and we needed our nav system to work. He installed our software and got it working with the GPS and we loaned him our car. Another worry off our chest. A win win win all around. The next day we left.

We did an overnighter to Wide Bay Bar, arriving at 6.30 am. Our first overnighter in Lifeline was black. Black sky, no moon, black seas about a metre high and so a clear need to get familiar with the radar quickly. This was the first time I had ever used radar and, while I was impressed with how it helps you tell how far away lights and the shore are, I realised I needed to know how to read the images, get rid of clutter etc. When Philip was asleep was also the first time I had to pay attention to using the autopilot properly.

The navigation software worked wonderfully. A bright clear image that showed us exactly where we were in large, small or in between scales. I continue to log our position every hour but no longer plot it on our paper charts.

We'd crossed Wide Bay bar several times before, always early afternoon after travelling from Mooloolaba. Not once had we ever seen the leads. Seaspray and weak lights combine to make this a common occurrence. But we did see the leads this time. In the early morning light they stood out boldly.

Wide Bay Bar, at the bottom of the Great Sandy Straits inside Fraser Island, has a reputation for being difficult. It's a long bar and it zig zags. For Queenslanders heading north it's the first and one of the only frequently used bars on the coast that is subject to the full force of the Pacific. Fortunately it has a Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) group devoted almost entirely to it. They even provide three GPS waypoints so you can zig and zag over the bar (even if you don't find the leads). They also radio bar conditions and rescue those who get into difficulty.

The Queensland Coast is littered with VMRs (or Coastguards as some of them are known). And they do a stirling job. Though on some parts of the coast there are so many of them they trip over each other, or at least guard their territory.

Overnight Philip had discovered a diesel leak so as soon as we crossed the bar we were looking for mobile phone signal to ring the diesel mechanic. The leak had happened because a couple of bolts had to be "nipped up" after about 50 hours motoring. Philip did that and the leak disappeared. This was our shakedown cruise after all.

After sleeping off our "overnighter" our first stop was Garry's Anchorage, a pretty little spot tucked in to the side of Fraser Island, where we caught a few reasonable fish, walked barefoot some of the black and white sandy trails ashore, didn't catch any mud crabs and watched dingoes on the beach.

Five days later on 21 June we moved to Yankee Jack Creek caught our first mud crab and quite a few sand crabs.

Fraser Island and the Sandy Straits

On 24 June we headed for the bottom of Platypus Bay in the hook in the middle of Fraser Island. which forms the western side of Hervey Bay. A Brief stop at Kingfisher Resort before picking our way through the shallows around Mooan Point and up the Hervey Bay side of Fraser Island, following the five metre depth contour. The official charts don't show a channel this way, but there is plenty of water for boats with 1.8 metres draught on a high and rising tide. We use "Brownies' Beacon to Beacon" as a guide.

Unlike the Great Sandy Straits, the water here is clear over a sandy bottom. Our first night was spent just north of Coongul Point, our second at Wathumba Creek. On Fraser Island you can walk miles and miles and miles along hard white beaches if you want to. At low tide every couple of hundred metres is a fresh water creek running from out of the sand to the sea. The water was so clear we could see a large star fish crawling along the bottom in 5 metres even after sunset.

You need to keep an eye on the weather because the west coast of Fraser Island is untenable in anything without east in it - and it's forty miles across to the other side of Hervey Bay into the wind if you cop westerlies.

Most northerly migrating cruisers don't come here, opting for the safe coastal route via Burnett Heads instead. 

26 June

With a little light puff of west in the wind from time to time in the afternoon and a forecast a few days away of 20kns and 30kns we decided to leave Wathumba Creek at 8.15pm to do an overnighter to Lady Musgrave Island Lagoon (83 nm). We reckoned that leaving at that time would put us at Lady Musgrave at the right time in the morning to be able to see the reef. 

For the first two and a half hours our log records dead calm and bright moonlight. Gradually the wind increased until we had 15-20kn and 1 m seas from the south west right on our beam and 2m lumps from the south east. We had both flopperstoppers in but were still rolling 10 degrees with occasional 15 degree rolls.  Not unpleasant but unnerving as the wave foam lit up in the bright moonlight.

Arriving at Lady Musgrave the next day, we picked our way through the bommies and dropped anchor in the lagoon in 9 metres at 9.30 am.

3 July - 24 July

Pancake Creek, Gladstone (Re-fuelled), Hummocky Island, Great Keppel Island, Island Head Creek,

We are not fond of the stretch of water from Island Head Creek in the south to Mackay in the north because of the big tides (6 - 8 metre range) and consequently the awful sea conditions you can strike. Anchorages are also notoriously rolly in anything but the calmest of conditions and that matches our experience. So even though there are some lovely islands en route, we try to get through this section of coast as expeditiously as possible, using the tides and weather to our advantage.

24 July

The log of the approx. 50 nautical mile trip from Island Head Creek to Middle Percy Island records, "Delightful trip. Calm. No sea. Sparkling, cloudless sky". Travelling at 1150RPM we motored for 7 hours. I'd forgotten what a pretty place Middle Percy is with its white beach and coconut palm line shore. Queensland National Parks people have gradually been removing all the coconut palms from the national park islands because they are "not native". They might not be native but they are historical. 

As soon as we entered the Bay we were invited to a beach barbecue at the hut with a couple of dozen yachties already in the bay. Swathed in long sleeves and pants against any sandflies that might be lurking, we took our "Lifeline" name board (newly crafted from an old bleached piece of turtle shell(?), which we'd found on the beach and carved and buffed with brown shoe polish) to hang in the hut near the sign for our old boat, "Tantivy". 

The "hut" or "A-Frame" was a tradition started in the 1960s by the original lessee of the island. In deserted island style, the hut provided a barbecue, water, sleeping quarters for visitors to the island. Home grown honey or other produce was sold there using an honour system. A twisting black pipe provided a hot water shower. In return, visiting boaties would hang a plaque or memento with their boat's name whenever they anchored there.  Over time the A-frame has become a de facto museum to Australian cruising with thousands of offerings ranging from the artistic to the ingenious which are often quite witty.. Boaties still stop there and leave their plaque but the place is no longer being maintained and is clearly going down hill.


25 July

At 6.50am we woke with a hangover after a big night at the A-frame barbecue. Fortunately our trip from Middle Percy Island to Scawfell Island was blessed with oily calm conditions, cloudless skies and a dolphin that sat with his tail right on our bow stem for over an hour! In the clear water we could see every scratch on his back, every time he caught a fish as we sped along together. What we couldn't see was how he propelled himself. Not a muscle or a fin appeared to move as we looked at him over the bow not 6" under the water.

27 July

We woke up to a perfect sunny day and dinghied across to explore the Beach. I discovered I love Scawfell Island. In past years we have used it as an overnight stop only and have never gone ashore. We now found a sandy dinghy channel through the reef to a lovely beach and lagoon like water. Apparently the channel was blasted through the fringeing reef to get Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ashore when she visited in 1954.

We met some fellow power boat cruisers on the beach who had a steel Roberts Waverunner we had been interested in buying before it was quickly sold. Faye and Morris had lots in common with us, including an interest in travelling over the top of Australia and maybe to SE Asia. But we had to leave to make the tide. But first just show Faye and Morris our navigation system and just find out about their fishing exploits and make arrangements to connect in Airlie or Mackay later etc etc etc. We were sorry to have to leave straight away.

The trip from Scawfell to Goldsmith Island became Scawfell to Brampton Island. In 15-20 knot SE winds and choppy seas the going was made uncomfortable by leaving Scawfell too late to get a favourable tide. We managed to have wind against tide and beam on. NOT HAPPY JAN. We put the windward stabiliser in the water but it didn't seem to help much. Decided to collect our email as we entered Brampton anchorage as we had phone signal - the first for ages, Philip turning and maneouvring to give me time to disengage the navigation software from the laptop and fire up the email software.

About 2 am that night Philip woke me up to ask if we'd got the mackerel line in. At five past two we discovered el nudo by torchlight that, golly gosh, in the excitement of getting our emails we had forgotten and it was now securely wrapped around our prop. (Fortunately easily recoverable the next day when Philip went over the side.)

3 August

A few nights anchored at Pioneer Bay to go to the Airlie Beach markets, clean, wash and prepare for the arrival of Philip's Mum on 10 August.

11 August

Philip's Mum flew into Hamilton Island yesterday and we hired a buggy to pick her up and show her around the resort. Spent some time browsing in the shops - a treat when you don't do it often.

22 August

Took Mum to the airport at Hamilton. We weren't able to get a berth at the marina because of Race Week but they kindly let us have a berth for a few hours. We'd spent a relaxing couple of weeks reading, whale and turtle spotting, feeding the Bat fish at Blue Pearl Bay, socialising and going to the markets at Airlie.

24 August 

A couple of nights in Abel Point marina to provision and prepare for the visit of our friends, Helen and Leon. Followed by a couple of weeks of snorkelling, swimming, reef walking, kayaking, fishing and walking. The weather had been OK but a bit overcast and windy. We wanted sun sun sun. 

And once again we were lucky. After a couple of days of gusty overcast weather spent in Cid Harbour where we climbed Whitsunday Peak we struck a wonderful patch of about ten days of calms and light northerlies - perfect for ending up in Mackay 60 nautical miles south. 

But before that we were able to play golf at South Molle's palm fringed golf course and take one of the beautiful walks there as well as the seafood buffet and South Sea Island Revue. We had mirror calm conditions to stay overnight at Bait Reef where we snorkelled and could hear the whales singing under water. We fished and caught a fat red and blue spotted coral trout and some coral cod. 


And fed and patted a giant maori wrasse from the swim platform. The water clarity was crystal: we could see the bottom clearly in 15 metres. 

We snorkelled at Blue Pearl Bay at Hayman Island among the greatest variety of reef fish I have ever seen in one spot. Then on the way back to Cid Harbour rescued a stranded charter boat that was aground on a reef.

We walked Whitehaven Beach and dinghied as far as we could go up Hill Inlet over silicon white sand and lagoon green water. Dodging hundreds of brown rays sunning themselves in the sand.

We walked over Lupton Reef, watching parrot fish and a turtle in a metre of crystal water. Then swam at Windy Bay on Haslewood Island. And we managed to stay on the northerly anchorages of Thomas and Goldsmith Islands in near perfect oily calm conditions. 

5 September

We tied up in Mackay Marina with just a day to get Philip ready to fly off to Thailand for three weeks to work. Helen and Leon stayed a few more days to help me see the sights of Mackay and its hinterland. After which I settled back to enjoy the solitude and do a few boat jobs for the next few weeks.

4 October

Anchored just north of Burning Point at Shaw Island. At last we have left Mackay. Three weeks in a marina was about two and a half weeks too many, although I did enjoy having the boat to myself! It doesn't seem to matter how well you get on or how large your boat is, togetherness is all the sweeter after a little separation.

We had planned to have the tide with us and more importantly in the same direction as the wind. Wind against tide conditions are never great in the Mackay/Whitsunday vicinity but in spring tides the range is 4 - 6 metres. A calm and fast trip. At 1125 RPM we averaged 8 knots. Caught a 50cm (just legal) Spotted Mackerel just before rounding Burning Point. Only our second this trip.

10 October

We have been anchored in Mays Bay alongside Whitsunday Island for a few days. The wind has been mostly 10-15kn  from the east -  south east. Everyday they predict north easterly seabreezes and everyday it has blown from the south. That's OK with us....maybe we'll get the right weather to take our son and his friend out to Bait Reef while they are with us next week.

The turtles are thick here and remain floating on the surface for long periods. We thought it was because they were mating but they seem more often to be on their own.

Yesterday I took my cast net ashore and caught a few small Bream-like fish for bait. I had to work fast to beat the tide which advanced up the shallow beach threatening to overturn my bucket if I didn't get back and move it in time. We spent a couple of hours fishing from the tinnie but caught only a couple of sharks. Both, fortunately, eventually broke the line, but not before a bit of excitement bringing them to the surface on light rods.

Homestead Bay on the western side of Cid Island was also a pretty anchorage with panoramic sunsets over South Molle Island. Highlight of the trip from Shaw Island was making 10.3 knots at 1000RPM coming through Dent Passage.

25 November 2002

Back in Moreton Bay again. Such a sparkling few days. The sandbars glowing lagoon green. The sandhills so white. The rusty old wrecks at Tangalooma surrounded by fifty boats big and small, enjoying the weekend. We wonder why we bothered going up north. Paradise is here!

But I've been saying that far too often lately. We need some contrasts. Some gales, some hail and leaks....we need to pay our dues for our incredible luck this year.

First there was Bait Reef- forty miles offshore at the Whitsundays. Not once but twice, we managed to get calms so we could see 12 metres into the water to the bottom from our boat.  A metre long Maori Wrasse (and his retinue of Trevally, Batfish and small reef fish) ate bread from our hands as we knelt on the swim platform. Nearby we caught Coral Trout and Sweetlip.

At Lady Musgrave we saw big mother turtles dragging themselves up the beach, digging massive holes and laying their eggs. And caught some big Parrot fish.

And Fraser Island, wild horses galloping along the beach and dingoes howling in the mornings. Fresh water streams flowing out of the sand and running into the salt water of Hervey Bay.

Our bar crossing at Wide Bay was safe but would have been quite unpleasant without our stabilisers in the water. As it was we pitched in the mean, steep 1.5 m waves coming from every direction, but many of the other boats exiting at the same time were rolling unmercifully. With a beam sea the whole way to Moreton Bay we used the stabilisers the whole trip and they were the difference between a rolly, uncomfortable, anxious trip and a pleasant one. Definitely stabilisers of some sort are a must. We lose about 0.3 - 0.4 of a knot with each stabiliser but, when the conditions are crappy, it's a tiny price to pay.

Tangalooma, at the end of the north west channel into Moreton Bay, is a jewel on Moreton Island. The anchorage there is formed with the island to the east and sandbars to the north and west. A dozen sunken wrecks which are always half exposed form a visual barrier between the anchorage and the rest of Moreton Bay, though they don't actually provide much extra shelter if the wind swings away from the SE, E or NE. But what a wonderful place. The wrecks teem with fish and because they are surrounded by sand, snorkellers can anchor just metres away.

We went across to the resort one evening to watch the wild dolphins come in to be fed. In less than half a metre of water, they seem to rub their bellies on the sand, then roll over and scratch their sides. Or were they just positioning themselves to look up at the hundreds of spectators?

Tonight, with NE - NW winds predicted we are anchored in Horseshoe Bay at Peel Island. Tomorrow we will phone and have our mail sent to Russell Island for collection and try to confirm our marina berth for the Christmas New Year period.






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