It just so happened that the northerlies started early September which many yachts took advantage of, including us! Onward and south ward!
We sort of got stuck in a few places with SE blows. Island Head Creek was one....
Urangan Boat Harbour and the Gold Coast another. Whilst the anchorages were great, Urangan turned out to be not so good as the marina pontoons were like a bucking bronco for the last three hours of a flood in any strong northerly winds. Considering we had up to 30 knots.....it got a little scary. We had a few bolts missing off our dock near the post! However, they were painting the rails so the marina looked good! We still preferred it to sitting somewhere down Great Sandy Strait in 30 to 40 knots for the week!
Whilst in Urangan we caught the bus down to Maryborough..more river ratshanging out there. Some beautiful old buildings..but the poor old town has certainly seen better days.
The upside of Urangan was meeting Stylopora's new owners who gave us the use of their pen at RQYS, Manly, Brisbane! We would have stayed there longer (than 2 weeks!) had they not been returning! We waited in the Gold Coast, Bums Bay for the weather to improve further south. A great anchorage, even though a little tight at times.
During our waiting, Peter has done an excellent job finishing polishing all the lights...well much more than polishing as the solid brass lamps have gone from being horribly tarnished to looking like new! I have been writing a few more articles....so we have kept ourselves busy!
We had some great sails with one frustrating evening getting into Hexham Island where the wind came in SE 20 knots after dark resulting in us having our two enemies against us...wind and tide! Hexham is a small, rocky anchorage but we felt ok as we had been in before. Anchor down at 2300 hours ending a long day from McKay. We were in a hurry to sit out the strong winds at Island Head Creek, which we made the next day.....as did 15 other boats. Excellent anchorage!
We did another big hop from Yeppoon to Bundy in 18 hours with good NE/NW winds. Sitting in Pancake Creek in a NW'ly with little protection was not for us! We had great TV coverage at sea so were able to watch our favourite program in the evening. Anchor down at Bundy by 0100 was like coming home!
Late one afternoon, during this sail, whilst waiting for the HF weather update, I was watching the speed; 9.7 knots and was wondering how long Peter will keep the assy up.....a yell from the captain that I was needed on deck....foredeck duty..oh my..I don't do foredeck! It takes two of us to hoist and drop the sock.....a little bit of info Peter picked up by watching the racing yachts at Airlie and Hammo. I hold the sock so it does not twist!
Anyway.....in pulling the sock down in 22 knots I thought Peter was going to do a Mary Poppins on me! With two of us...we managed to get the sock down. lesson 1.....run more square and blanket the sock a little more and get it down before the wind gets up to 22 knots. Peter thinks he is racing and has a full crew!! However, not having the halyards twisted would also help!
Heading south has been a wonderful catch up,time with so many yachties. We spent a few days with Tony and Val (previous Stylopora owners we met in the Kimberly)...Tony now drives the boat to and from 4X island....so we got a little trip out there.
Trevor from Malarkey who just arrived in Bundy, Deb and Jonno, Taka Oa in the Great Sandy Straits,
Deb and Russ, Lady Ann in Mooloolabar, Marg as in the other half of Jules in Tiarre II and Lyn and Nicholas from Shweetie in the Gold Coast. Some of these yachties we crossed the Pacific with. Last but not least we had a great Pacific reunion with Virgos Child, Malarkey, and Condesa. We had a brief chat with Alan from Amnesia, who also crossed with us last year. Aeolus whom we met in Mexico was anchored in Bums Bay, Gold Coast and it was fantastic catching up with them as well.
We were able to anchor outside Kawana Marina, Mooloolabar, which was great as Deb and Russ were there. We cycled a few 20km days up and down the coast!
I was pretty chuffed as I got to borrow my ideal bike!
We have finally got the boat sailing well and 200 mile days, or part there of, are getting to be a norm....pity it has taken us 5,000 nm to work this out...are we slow learners or what! Maybe it's just that we have steady winds now and the assy has made a huge difference, not to mention that we sail 3/4 of a knot faster with the Kiwi Prop. We crossed to Australia from Fiji with Malarkey, a Beneteau 473 who sailed marginally faster than us. We were happy to see that when we both sailed from Mooloolabar to Brisbane, we were faster and higher than Malarkey! We were cruising along and they were trying to sail faster! Malarkey was sold to a Kiwi couple whom we had the pleasure of meeting.
There have been so many pods of whales to keep us company heading south and thankfully we did not have any close calls, although many close encounters! The bar at Great Sandy Strait was a doddle....flat calm so that is one bar under our belt! Anything after the bar at El Salvador would have to be a doddle!
Brisbane is a great city
set up for visitors and people in the city.....free community pool/swimming hole in the centre of town much like Airlie Beach
and City Cycle....bike stations all around the city. For a $2 registration, you can ride for free if you time your route well and swap bikes at the stations. Otherwise it's around $6 for 1.5 hours. A fantastic way to get around. Busses and trains make for easy travel around Brisbane, albeit expensive!
Our trip through Morton Bay was interesting and worthy of further exploration. Due to silting up of the channels, we were advised to stick to the main channel, which was fine at LW of 0.34m. After much discussion with some of the yachties we met, and looking at the chart, we decided to go under the power cables just before Jacob's Well at LW ......with 65 feet from water line to mast head, we had about 1.5 m clearance.....including the VHF antenna at the top of the mast! Being a cooler day, the sag would have been less and there is reportedly a margin of error as well...ie they are higher than officially listed! Which was just as well as otherwise we would have had only 1/2 m clearance! The east west channel from Jacob's Well had been dredged and in exiting the eastern side of the channel, it's best to stay as close to the red marker as possible! Following the charts, we did park here momentarily! We saw 6 dugongs on our way through Morton Bay. Would have loved to have gone swimming with them!
Queensland is certainly set up for visitors and the public to enjoy the great outdoors. Parks along the Gold Coast had something for everyone. Something Perth could learn from. We had to visit Surfers Paradise but would not like to be here permanently.
Certainly fantastic beach culture. The iconic beach looks its part, although getting a little washed away after the last storms in January.
The sun beds that line the walk ways are a treat.....Peter taking in the atmosphere!
Some great parks; if not a little quirky!
Everyone we met in Queensland along the way were helpful and extended us kindness.
Our next destination is Yamba, our first port of call in NSW. We have missed some amazing events in Sydney like the tall ships and Naval Celebration as well as the Opera House's 40 th birthday. We are looking forward to sailing past the great Australian icons of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and just hanging out in the myriad of bays that make up Sydney environs. We have 340 miles to go to the heads!
We managed to escape the big thunder storms that can plague this area. However, they are also present down the coast with the southerly changes. It's late October and we are seeing some signs of changes in weather patterns, however the next 200 miles to Port Stephens will be done quickly to avoid the strong southerlies.