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Sea Child: Big Cat Sailing Around the World
Tales of our journey around the world aboard our 56' Catamaran, Sea Child.
Pearl Bay to Curlew Island
04/26/2013, 22 09'S:150 27'E, Queensland, Eastern Australia

We spent the night at a lovely anchorage called Pearl Bay, north of Port Clinton. This bay is surrounded by high hills, covered in trees, and a beautiful sand beach. The strong SE trades howled over the hills all night, and at dawn this morning, we pulled anchor to continue our journey north. The sailing has been consistent with winds SE 15-20, seas 2-3 meters, 8-10 knots boat speed with the main alone. The forecast calls for more of these steady SE trades, which is good for us as we make our way north to Hamilton Island. We have sailed 459 NM since our departure from Brisbane, 2 weeks ago, and have reunited with several friends at Mooloolaba and Great Keppel Island along the way. A highlight of this sail north was a visit to the Capricornia Islands, with stops at Lady Elliott, Lady Musgrave, and Fitzroy Reef. Lady Elliott is the southern most island of the Great Barrier Reef, and there we saw giant manta rays just below the surface, within giant schools of trevally and grouper. At Lady Musgrave, we took a dive at the outer reef, where colorful fan & hard corals cover every inch of rock, and again, giant schools of reef fish, damsels and parrot fish and turtles and sharks. We were thrilled at this first dive and hope to find more reefs like Lady Musgrave throughout this journey north. At Fitzroy Reef, the winds were calm and the waters a brilliant blue green. We took a SUP around the reef, and were amazed at the magnificent reef appearing under our feet. The sunset colors of orange, red and purple highlighted a brilliant surf session, and we were very thankful to visit this coral reef, not a speck of land in sight. The winds came up during the night, so we pulled anchor early and set sail for Great Keppel Island, 50 NM to our NW. Provisioning at Rosslyn Bay's Keppel Bay Marina was a treat, as the marina loaned us their courtesy car for 2 hours, just long enough to hit the markets in nearby Yeppoon. A quick 2-day visit to Keppel Bay Marina was just long enough to stretch our sea legs on land and visit some tourist sights such as the Capricorn Caves and the Heritage Village of Rockhampton. Central Queensland Coast has been interesting, and now as we sail north along military areas, our cell service long gone, we continue to enjoy the main-alone sail at 10 knots towards Curlew Island. At this rate we will make Hamilton Island by sunset tomorrow. Hello, tropics, nice to see you again!

Great Sandy Straits
04/15/2013, 25 25'S:152 56'E, Fraser Island, Queensland

Passage through the Great Sandy Srait from the south mandates a crossing of the Wide Bay Bar, near Inskip Point. This bar is made up of sand deposits from tidal activity at the passage between Fraser Island and the peninsular point just above Rainbow Beach. Transiting the Wide Bay Bar takes skill in determining the line of passage, marked on shore with large white triangles and on the charts with position lines. And when the swells are well over 3 meters from the SE, the breaking waves make the passage more daunting. As Sea Child approached this passage, we were under mainsail alone, as the winds had gone light and variable. The swells were another thing, to truly catch our attention. As we neared the passage, we noticed another catamaran coming out of the passage, climbing over each wave with her bows well out of the water. As we were entering the bar, however, the swells were with us, and as we transited Wide Bay Bar, Sea Child surfed down the waves, at one point up to 18.5 knots, as the waves on either side of us broke over the bar itself. Once inside the passage, another set of triangle markers were positoned on Inskip Point, and we aligned Sea Child with them for the 4 mile journey towards the main channel between Fraser Island and the mainland. We paralleled the bar itself, and as the waters were deep here in the inside passage. The water itself was chaotic and sloppy and unorganized. Once we were clear of the rough water, the calm Great Sandy Strait laid out before us and we found ourselves at anchor at Pelican Bay, just around the bend of the Inskip point. We paddled to the shore in the retreating tide, and walked around the Wide Bay Bar beach to the triangle markers on land. Even at low tide, the bar itself broke with an impressive array of waves, and we even noticed other vessels approach the passage at low tide. We transited at high tide, but with local knowledge, it seems that its possible to enter the bar at any tide.

We are now motoring through the Great Sandy Strait toward the white cliffs of NW Fraser Island. Winds calm, seas flat, temps in high 80's. We hope to reach Lady Musgrave Island by mid-week.

Moreton Island
04/11/2013, 27 10'S:153 22'E, Queensland

We arrived at Moreton Island amid the rains and winds that have plagued southern Queensland. Not sure what to expect, we had read about the Tangalooma Wrecks, an artificial reef that consists of sunken ships, and decided to check it out as our first stop on our journey north to Darwin. The weather since our arrival has been rainy, windy, squally and otherwise not so pleasant. The wrecks at Tangalooma, however, were worth the visit in the weather as we had not seen anything quite like this man-made reef, except at Million Dollar Reef at Vanuatu's Santo Island. Our visit was cut short, however, due to the forecast of high SE winds to +40 knots, and so we have decided to head 35 NM north to Mooloolaba for the next few days. Hopefully the weather system will quiet down and we can begin our sail north.

04/12/2013 | bruce morse

hi guys, looks like some stormy weather down under. keep your eyes open for sea going crocodiles as you head north, and careful where you swim.
Percy Islands
11/04/2012, 21 39'S:150 14'E, West Bay

Please see this link for sailing stories about our journey south:

Sea Child is currently anchored at West Bay, Middle Percy Island, Queensland, Australia

Birthday in Queensland
10/30/2012, 20 13'S:148 48'E, Sailing from Airlie Beach to Cid Harbor, Whitsundays

Today is October 30, 2012 in the United States. And yesterday it was October 30, 2012 here in Queensland, Australia. A wonderful bonus to sailing down under is the celebration of a birthday two days in a row!! Yesterday, Sea Child was anchored just offshore Whitsunday Sailing Club at Airlie Beach. This club is a delightful stopover for visiting yachties as well as local sailors. Complete with inner harbor/boat ramp, including a nice long dinghy dock, the club also features a wonderful bar & restaurant, mini casino, full services including showers & laundry as well as incredible views. We returned to Airlie Beach because the freezer compressor on Sea Child had failed, and a local cruiser had recommended to us that Able Point Marina had a great refrigeration repair man. Hard to resist the recommendations of local sailors, all Aussie watermen have been spot on with destinations, tides, marinas, etc. So we headed over to Abel Point last week once we discovered our very bi g problem with the compressor and ordered a new one. While we waited for the new unit to arrive from Brisbane, Sea Child returned to the incredible Whitsunday Islands, and we gave special attention to the anchorage at Cid Harbor called Sawmills. On the west side of Whitsunday Island, Sawmills anchorage is quite popular with the charter boats as well as the local Aussie cruisers. When we first arrived there last week, we were kindly invited to a "sundaowner" where we met several other yachties and a couple from Tasmania in the far south. Prepared with bug spray and delicious appetizers, everyone mingled along the sandy beach just below the pines and palms and scrub that covers this national park island and made new friends and contacts as well. It was at this gathering that we learned about the repair facilities at Airlie Beach, a short 16 NM to our west. We enjoyed a tremendous hike up 1300' in about a mile on a rocky, steep trail where the top views were astounding of all the Whitsunday Islands and mainland Queensland in the distance. Whitehaven Beach, Hamilton Island, and the Great Barrier Reef in the distance were marvelous to view, especially after such a strenuous hike uphill. And the next day, we sailed around to the eastern shore of Whitsunday Island to that famous white strand beach of Whitehaven to play on the SUP boards and enjoy the glorious views. Note, though, that the anchorage at Haselwood Island just to the east of Whitsunday was one big pain in the butt. As the day drew long, we headed about a half mile to this beautiful looking island, only to be woken twice during the night with the anchor dragging in the gusty winds of an approaching squall line. So after a few days waiting for the lovely freezer compressor, we finally got the call that it had arrived back at Airlie Beach and could be installed today. So we headed back, with time to drive to Mackay and retrieve our absentee ballots, vote, and celebrate day #1 of the wonderful birthday. Today, our new compressor was installed, (Happy Birthday, Eric!!!) and we now are sailing back to Cid Harbor and Sawmills for another "sundaowner" on the beach! The winds are currently gusty, to 28 knots apparent SE and the seas slight. The main is reefed (single) and the jib is full. After two hot days & two fantastic birthday celebrations, we are beginning the 500 NM journey south to Brisbane with beautiful weather. Happy Birthday Eric!!!

Great Barrier Reef
10/21/2012, 19 44'S:149 11'E, Hardy Reef, inside lagoon

It's almost 5pm now, sunset still an hour or so away. Without Buddy here, we must remind ourselves of the 5:00 alarm that would go off reminding us of cocktail hour. No worries, alone here at Hardy Reef, the compressor is filling the first of two dive tanks, thanks to our first dive at Great Barrier Reef. We finally made it to the reef today, after our first attempt was unsuccessful as the winds on Tuesday were gusting +30 knots. And after arriving today, we realized what a good idea it was to turn around a few days ago, as the winds, though gentlely rocking Sea Child at 12 knots SE, would have turned Bait Reef into a swirling nightmare of whitecaps, swells, and current. Not much to do out here in those type of conditions, so we waited until more favorable winds took hold. And today & tomorrow show the best promise of our visit to date. We overnighted at Hayman Island, a spectacular anchorage just on the west side of this picturesque and charming island. The rocks jut ted out of the deep waters that were well over 100' just offshore, and what appeared to be pristine white sand revealed itself to be pure white coral beaches, not too unlike those we saw at Luncheon Bay at Hook Island. We enjoyed an idyllic dinner as we gazed westward toward Airlie Beach and the mainland of Queensland, Australia. Early this morning we would be dropping the blue triangle buoys that are scattered along the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and headed on a course of 30 degrees to Bait Reef, 16 NM offshore. When we arrived at Bait, there was one other sailing vessel, a large ketch with several dozen people. We noticed the current at the anchorage of Bait Reef, flowing steady toward SE, while the light winds were opposing at 12 knots, Sea Child was literally abeam to both the swell out of the SE and the current out of the NW. Eric took a recon snorkel to layout our first dive at Great Barrier Reef, and found the stepping stones of Bait Reef to be just perfect for today. We geared up, launched the dinghy, and headed a short 200 yards from Sea Child, to drop into the 74 degree water. Our dive route was not that deep, 62' at depth, and the water was almost balmy at 71 degrees. Almost. We cruised around bommies and swim throughs, and took note of the damaged and scattered coral bottom. All along the dive, we found unique fish, and schools of giant trevally. Not as spectacular as Vanuatu or Fiji, our first dive and therefore, our first impression, of the Great Barrier Reef leaves the door open to explore more and find those beautiful deep purple and orange corals that populate the tourist postcards along the gift shops. We have not given up yet, no! We just started our exploration of Great Barrier Reef.

What is interesting to note, however, is the pontoons that are quite large around Hardy Reef, where we are currently anchored. Two barges actually have one blue R-22 (helicopter) ontop of each. Another large structure has a canopy system on its roof, reminiscent of those above Kahumanu Center on Maui. We wondered, as we motored into the lagoon, if maybe we should book a reservation for dinner and literally see what is offered out here at the reef. Nah, dinner on Sea Child is much better. Now, back to that 5:00 alarm. I can hear the ice cubes hitting the cups now.



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