19 July 2015
A few gloriously relaxing weeks exploring the water ways, snorkelling, fishing, walking and a little - but very spectacular golf, meeting more people and enjoying friendships in the cruising community. Mixed weather windy, rainy, pure sunshine! The variety is welcome! We enjoyed coming and going from Abell Point Marina - restocking, catching up with other boats and then off to the islands again.
Great walks include the Whitsunday peak. 1 hour and 15 up through the forest to be rewarded with a splendid view - and a glorious day that we did it!
Windy Bay, Haselwood Island.
South Molle - several walks on offer. We walked to Balance Rock, giving good views across to Daydream Island.
Fishing - a great catch on our way to Whithaven from Border Island (outside the marine exclusion zone). We let this one go - enough fish on board!
Windy Bay had us catch the biggest squid ever! Caught unconventionally, it had attached itself to a parrot fish! The squid showed no understanding that there were big threats at hand. After several attempts of getting the squid - no net on board, just a bucket - Geoff grabbed the squid in a gloved hand and stuffed it in the bucket! It cooked up into Vietnamese style stir fry and veggies for dinner.
A couple of weeks later back at Windy Bay, drifting on Ruby, Jen caught a nice sized sweet lip - just enough for dinner. The fish stocks being at zero we were happy to have a fish dinner. On the way into the bay, just on sunset, Geoff had a lure out and off it went! A 110cm Copia Kingfish! What a beauty! Identification of fish continues to be challenge for us. Fortunately a man from the only other yacht in the bay came by and we asked if he knew his fish. He happened to be a marine biologist from James Cook university. We gave home a good bag of fish for his help. What a delicious fish! The freezer is full.
Stonehaven catch of parrot fish and a small red emperor - stunning specimen, but needed to grow a bit more to be a keeper.
Snorkelling - fallen in love with Butterfly Bay - a great place with good moorings and shelter from South-easterlies.
Discovered the small island just off Windy Bay. A drift with the dinghy was very rewarding! Beautiful corals and fis and some large sweet lips that came out of their hide aways under coral caves.
Had a spectacular snorkel at Manta Ray on Sunday 19 July before the tour boats arrived. Mauri wrasse, tribally, queen fish and lots of littlies - stripes, irredescent, bright yellow. Stunning coral - purple, pink, green - swimming in a fairy land aquarium!
A game of golf with yachties from Mackay was a fabulous highlight. Dent Island / Hamilton Island. A ferry from Hamilton over to Dent. An amazing course that is challenging and beautiful. A gusty day with squalls of rain - but nothing to spoil a very special day. It was also interesting learning about Kerry and Sue's sailing adventures and plans ahead. We look forward to staying in touch with them.
Enjoyed having John (Pa) back on the boat for a week of - well, more of the same - fishing, snorkelling, sailing and walking. Ruby is a very comfortable boat - our small home that we are enjoying tremendously.
Ventured to the outer reef for a day trip in convoy with Alconi (from Lake Macquarie). A beautiful morning and early departure from Butterfly Bay. Several sightings of whales on the way and four lost lures! One of the losses was a yellow fin tuna who got away as we were landing it! The outer reef IPAs certainly worth the trip. Snorkelling on the stepping stones - fish galore, beautiful coral and near the mooring were mauri wrasse and giant trevally. Sensational. Crossing waterfall into the lagoon was tempting but looked so narrow! No other yachts were in the lagoon so we settled on just looking! To come a cropper on coral out in the middle of the ocean would be horrendous! We didn't want to do a Captain Cook! It was great to be with another boat, particularly Craig and Jenny who have been to the outer reef previously.
What a magnificent part of the world! Aren't we lucky!
Yeppoon to Hamilton Island
23 June 2015
Blog post for Yeppoon to Hamilton Island
So Rosslyn Bay (Yeppoon) was a great marina to shelter and wait out the weather. It was a longer stay than expected. So we golfed, explored the coast up to Emu Park in the courtesy car, we made friends with the gathering flotilla of cruising boats - mostly from Pittwater. After a week we took off!
The weather hadn't quite improved. After a difficult day of squalls and swell we anquored at Pelican Bay. What a very pretty bay - though not very protected from the swell! A tent on the beach would have been preferable - although the heavy showers throughout the night would probably have turned that dream into a nightmare! I can count that sail and night as one of the worst. I went to bed having applied some sea sickness potion!
Glad to wake and face the next day knowing it was a shorter passage to a more protected spot. Geoff caught a nice whiting from the back of the boat in the morning before heading off. A lovely sail to Island Head Creek. A challenging entry across the bar to the creek which was a surprise - big swells in front and behind! But another very picturesque spot! A nice anchorage, taking care to allow for big tides.
The afternoon was spent having a walk along the beach, keeping a watch for crocodiles (none were spotted - but we did discuss a plan if we saw one on the beach), fishing, and getting drenched with the heavy showers that came and went. Drinks on Mystique (Barry and Margaret from Mooloolaba) and then a quiet, fairly calm night - with more showers during the night. We're ready for pure sunshine!
In the morning Geoff found a real surprise - a fish had landed itself in our dinghy! That's pretty funny - having not caught one in the conventional way! Headed off at 7:00 am thinking destination was Hexham Island. Sun shining, motor sailed waiting for the breeze to set in which it did.
The coastline was very pretty - volcanic landscape and hues of green and blue! A celebration of sunshine. We sailed in convoy with D'euforia (Lisa and Mike Selbie) enjoying side by side sailing at just the same pace! Got to Hexhan Island and realised that there was plenty of time to get to Percey Islands which would hopefully be a better anchorage.
A glorious sail! Approaching Middle Percey Island the fishing line whirred! It takes a moment to realise what that noise is! And up till now we either lost the lure or lost the fish! This time we got it! A fine frigget mackerel (tuna family - big fish!)! Whoa!! What do we do with it? Unfortunately not enough quickly enough. They require immediate attention so by the time we got to it - about 30 minutes later the flesh was dark, dark red ... inedible! What a waste!
Anchored at Refuge Bay. Picturesque. Middle Percey has a leasehold on a portion of the island with a homestead and a two other dwellings. In the morning we walked up to the homestead and were invited in for a chat by the leasee's husband - John. Interesting to hear about the history and the struggles, the most recent being the cyclone earlier this year. At the lookout a wallaby was waiting to greet us - a great picture postcard spot.
Back to the boat to find that the flathead that Geoff had caught just before we went walking had either tipped out of the bucket - it was a bit rocky- or spotted by a bird- there were a few around! I had been thinking about how good dinner was going to be!
We farewelled the Selbie's on D'euforia and spent the afternoon motoring to White Bay. Caught a couple of parrot fish for dinner.
Up early and headed off for Scawfell, 68 nautical miles. We averaged about 6.5nm an hour, so a big day. Motor sailed all the way, with lures out the back. And we got lucky, bringing in a big one - we think a bonito - bigger than we have ever caught. Fortunately we didn't have sails up so we were able to slow the boat. Very exciting landing the beast! And then we did what was required to end up with delicious sashimi for lunch and served tuna for dinner! (It's pretty gory getting the fish from from the sea to the table!!)
Scawfell - another picturesque island, with dense forest and lots of birds and butterflies. The butterflies reflect the colour of the water - teal blue with black - like the shadow of ripples. Captain Cook also noted the abundance of butterflies in the area at about this time of year. Isn't nature wonderful. Coral fringes the island and gave us the opportunity for our first snorkell. It was a good bay for beginners.
Had an easy sail with code zero filled with wind, for an enjoyable passage to Brampton Island. The resort is now closed - would have been lovely in its heyday. Planning to take sheltering the next few days as brisk winds are forecast and possibly more rain.
From Brampton to Shaw Island. More fishing stories with a Grunter (delicious eating) and what we think is a bone fish - looks similar to a whiting, missing a dorsal fin).
The weather very windy - but sunshine is well appreciated!
Shaw Island to Cid Harbour - furled sails, lots of wind, sunshine. Enjoyed the sights including Pentecost - named by Captain Cook. I understand why - very majestic!
Hervey Bay to Yeppoon
10 June 2015
Tuesday 2 June, a crisp, sunny morning we departed Urangun, Hervey Bay, waved off by Karen and George. Destination Bundaberg. Max wind was 12 knots, during the morning which settled to 8 knots in the afternoon. Made for a pleasant motor sail. Anchored in across from the marina at 1645. It seemed an unsustainable place to anchor with lead lights behind us and huge poles with blue lights nearby. It was on advice - so didn't think much of it. Just on sunset Mooloolaba Keith and Ed arrived. They had barely anchored when a pilot boat pulled beside and advised we would have to move to the other side of the river, just before the marina. It was within an hour that two pilot boats and an enormous ship were bearing down on us! There were happy waves from the pilots - we were happy that we weren't in their path - although there was not much room for error! Interesting being in a working port.
An early start on Wednesday. An 0400 darture - destination Lady Musgrave, with lots of daylight hours to get there. A near miss in the channel on the way out. The dredge, Brisbane was chugging along and accelerated as we were going by. So we put our foot down trying to pass. Out of the darkness another yacht appeared. First it was Keith and Ed ducking with us not far behind. We had to bear out of the way, to the wrong side of a channel marker ... A few expletives and an adrenalin rush before we were back in the channel. No idea what the skipper was thinking!!
As the sun rose we had a few dolphins happy to play. A good amount of wind. With jib poled out we got up to 8 knots and a few bursts at 9 knots. As we approached Lady Musgrave an alarm went off we sent us into a bit of a spin. It was a distress signal. I could see a yacht and two motor cruises ahead. I thought maybe someone was overboard. Geoff was quickly trying to access information of what we should do - with the alarms continuing to activate every minute or so. We were puzzled until we realised it was our alarm. Geoff's individual MOB alarm had activated in his bumbag when he lent on it getting stuff out of a deck locker! Another boat rang us on the radio to see if we were fine - or just 'testing' our device! We learn in embarrassing ways at times!! Good to know that it works!
So Lady Musgrave sat there just as described to us. An atoll in the middle of the ocean. The Dolphins arrived, dancing around the stern, and a large turtle greeted us. Lots of advice was to look out for the 'bommies' - small coral mounds that rise like chimneys from the ocean floor. Nervously we entered the channel with a tide ripping past! So little room for error- out there in the middle of the ocean! A happy story with no incidents to report. Just a bit more adrenalin in the system! Anchored at 1315.
An afternoon walk around the island. Unfortunately not the clear blue sky and stillness that I had hoped for. Cool breeze, overcast.
The next day the weather was worse. Keith and Ed decided to depart. We had a quiet day. Geoff persevering with fishing .... One parrot fish, and I had a quiet day of reading and wishing the sun would come out!
Wish was granted on Thursday morning. The island glistened as the sun rose, the water was deliriously aqua blue and clear and Geoff's fishing dreams started to come true. Two good sized fish caught before breakfast - a yellow fin bream and a snapper, possibly a long nose emperor - we're still deciding what type! But confident that at 45 cm it was well within legal size limit!
After breakfast we departed for Pancake Creek - back to the mainland. So following our track back out through the channel, on watch for bommies. Released when we got through - slightly white knuckles clutching the wheel.
A westerly wind required motoring for most of the passage. Anchored at Panckae Bay at 1615.
A gobsmacking sunset and Baked bream for dinner.
Living by the weather means need for flexibility. Whilst our desire was to hang around Pancake Bay for a couple of days the wind was forecast to blow and the sea to rise. On waking we both came to the decision that we should 'hot-foot' to Yeppoon / Rosslyn Bay marina. So off we went - a great breeze in the morning with Code Zero up, charging along up to knots! The breeze eased quite a bit during the afternoon. Crossed the Tropic of Capricorn. We were quietly reflecting on Captain Cook's passage and marvelling at his seamanship and navigation skills!
Arrived at Rosslyn Bay at 1730. Hard to get bearings in the dark! Were greeted by Lisa and Mike Selbie of D'Euforia.
And the weather is making us sit tight!
A game of golf at Capricornia Resort, a walk to the top of the hill, country and western at the town hall and goat races at the Yeppoon Show - and buying at auction, half a fruit cake.
Tin Can Bay to Hervey Bay
31 May 2015
Departed for Garry's Anchorage at 1010 on Sunday 24 May with Steve and Kim on Wilparina. Quickly found depths were once again an issue with Wilparina touching the bottom a couple of times. An enjoyable sail once out of Tin Can Bay. A squall of rain hit us just as we entered Garry's Anchorage. What a pretty spot.
We thought we would stay a couple of days but realised that the next leg through Sandy Straits was very shallow and a good tide tomorrow would be advantageous. So only one night.
Went for a walk following a fire trail hoping to get to Garry's Lake. We were only able to view from a distance - saw an echidna on he way. A pretty walk.
Back to the boat and off we went leading Wilparina out of the bay then turned right. The sections we thought would be the shallowest weren't as we got there on rising tide. Earlier on, with less tide the depth showed as 2.1 - which is our draft - we breathed in - and quickly there was greater depth. It was a bit of zig zagging to find our way, eyes pealed on the iPad and the depth contours. Misty rain for most of the day - beautiful colours. It was like looking through a fine voile curtain and such a low, flat landscape.
We anchored at.South White Cliffs. The rain cleared enough for us to go for a potter up the creek in the dinghy and then for a drift. No luck with Queensland fish -yet! The only thing we have caught is a smallish fish that is as ugly as sin; looks a bit like a flathead with a head like a snake. We have learned that they are called 'grinners'. I think they are the cockroaches of the sea - hideous!
Tuesday 26 May
Up anchor the next morning with a little more blue in the sky. Destination Kingfisher Bay. Another very pleasant anchorage for two nights just north of the jetty. What a delightful spot! We ventured to the resort late afternoon before retiring to our cosy Ruby. The walk up and over the hill the next morning was delightful and the catch of eight whiting encouraged Geoff. So good to eat fresh, fresh fish. But doesn't quite fulfil Geoff's expectation of catching 'the big one'!
Thursday 28 May
Next morning off to Hervey Bay. Have Karen's Uncle George, who we met earlier in the year who would love us to drop in- he is President of Hervey Bay Boat Club. So off we set not realising how much fun we were going to have.
Arrived in Hervey Bay and were greeted very warmly. George and Lynne Duck. We booked ourselves in to sail in the annual Hervey Bay Charity Race. Confirmed that Karen also is flying in on Saturday morning (Ruby twilight crew).
So, a good few days in Hervey Bay. A great crew on board for the race. Very warmly welcomed and acknowledged as visitors - and $500 raised for the club and Rotary for our entry. We have enjoyed a game of golf (well, Geoff enjoyed the game of golf and I couldn't believe why I was bothering!) and a couple of walks to the pier. As with all travel, it's always good to know some locals and get a feel for a place.
So we will reprovision, refuel, Geoff might catch a fish with George, and then head off on Tuesday morning.
A most enjoyable stay.
Mooloolaba to Tin Can Bay
22 May 2015
A safe crossing of Wide Bay Bar with relatively calm conditions. We heeded the advice of the Coast Guard and took a wide berth of the given waypoints. Waves were breaking on the shoals and we saw the boat in Tin Can Bay boat yard that apparently didn't avoid the waypoints - it rolled and was dismasted! What a frightening disaster!
The Rainbow Beach sand cliffs were impressive and the early morning clouds were stunning. A westerly wind brings chilly and clear air.
Motored up to Tin Can Bay. What a little gem! Boats, sparkling water, estuaries - pristine!
Played nine holes at Royal Tin Can Bay golf course in the afternoon. A pretty, country golf course with pro-shop being a small tin shed. We caught the town's one and only taxi there and back. Even though the meter indicated the fare should be $13.40 we were charged $10.00. Others we have met also were also charged $10.00. We've come to think that it must be the KIS principle - keep all fares at $10.00!
The fish co-op was a great find with a fantastic variety of fresh local fish and bugs! Moreton Bay bugs and mackerel for dinner! Delicious!
Saturday was a clear day with a very fresh wind. The forecast was for rain and wind. Did a walk on the town's circuit - wild flowers, birds and nice views. Walked out to Crab Creek - several kms in all. A quiet afternoon sheltering from the wind then dinner with Steve and Kim on there lovely Bavaria 50.
Gold Coast to Mooloolaba
17 May 2015
A change in weather forecast with blustery winds and showers. Decided to mosey through the inland waters.
First stop South Stradbroke Island - Tipplers Passage near Dux Anchorage. It was a bit of a nightmare getting the anchor to hold in strong breeze and currents and shallow and narrow channels. A very pretty spot when the sun was shining.
Sunday 16 May Made our way with great attention to tides through the waterways passing Woogoompah Is, Kangaroo Is, Steiglitz, Redland Bay and picked up a mooring at Dunwich on the west coast of North Stradbroke Is. Our attention is closely given to the tide with very shallow anchorages. Perhaps we cut it a bit fine with the keel very close to the soft bottom of the bay!
Dunwich has an interesting history of once being a leper colony and having a quarantine station. It was one of the first settlements in Queensland but not such great news for local Aboriginals who were hostile. There are a number of heritage listed buildings - a good cause for hopping in the dinghy for a bit of an explore.
Set off to Moreton Island. A pleasant passage of only a few hours. Anchored off the island at Sandhills. Very pretty in the sunshine. A good anchorage. After lunch set off in the dingy to pump for yabbies and then to catch a big one! But not many yabbies to be found. Armies of soldier crabs, some very squishy worms and starfish. Could have spent hours exploring, but had to keep an eye on the incoming tide and getting back to the dinghy. Gorgeous light on the Sandhills as the sun set.
A nasty change in wind direction meant an uncomfortable night, although the anchor held well.
Set off the next morning - destination Mooloolaba in very overcast conditions. Misty rain and heavy cloud hung over Moreton Island. Dolphins accompanied us as we navigated our way up the eastern shipping channel past Tangalooma. We wouldn't go that way again as it was a bit too close to breaking waves over nearby shoals. No dramas, just a bit close for comfort. Locals have since told us they never take that route!
A pleasant afternoon motor sailing. Mooloolaba bar had a bit of a swell and a moment of anxiety as a small boat did a hairy manoeuvre in front of us. Beginners fear - all fine and motored up to the Wharf Marina to be greeted by a nice community of boaties.
Enjoyed two days in Mooloolaba - hired bikes for an afternoon, played golf at Twin Waters and reprovisioned the boat. To get to Wide Bay bar on an incoming tied we planned the departure at 2200.