Picture shows TC Oma bearing down (slowly) on the SE Queensland coast.
We've been blessed by remarkably pleasant weather since the last big storm experienced in lower Moreton Bay before Christmas, but now the Yang is overcoming the Yin. TC Oma, the same cantankerous storm that savaged Far North Queensland in January is making a direct beeline for South East Queensland.
The movements of tropical cyclones in the SW Pacific are notoriously difficult to predict and Oma is one of the more difficult of the bunch. It started as a storm in the Gulf of Carpentaria several weeks ago, crossed the Far North of the state, dumping shitloads of rain. The Burdekin River swelled at one point to 65 km across. Many tens of thousands of cattle drowned and part of Thuringowa and Townsville were evacuated because of flooding.
Not content with making mischief in Australia, the storm made its way out to sea, headed for Northern Vanuatu and reinvented itself as a cyclone, did enough damage there, then skirted past the Beleps and the North of Grande Terre in New Caledonia. One model has it arriving off the Fraser Coast or even closer to Brisbane or the Gold Coast and then heading North West again and finally tracking across the coast further north. Another model has it skirting the southern coast right down towards Sydney.
Not taking any chances, we have brought both boats up the Coomera River and have them anchored together off a park in Santa Barbara on Hope Island, one of those rather amorphous lifestyle deserts so common all over the Gold Coast. At least we can get off the boat easily, and there's water, rubbish bins, barbecue facilities and a short walk to a booze shop and a Coles supermarket.
Saraoni and Sundari quietly anchored in the Coomera River off Charles Holm Park on Hope Island
It's pretty gusty at the moment, but the shit really hits the fan tomorrow, so we're hoping the anchors hold.
We've done this all before of course, but not with two boats! Cyclone Justin was a memorable cyclone in 1998 when we holed up at the end of Milne Bay near Alotau in Papua New Guinea for 10 days with 40 knots blowing constantly. The cyclone was massive in size and just slowly shuttlecocked between PNG and Cairns.
Also memorable was the appearance of Cyclone Thelma early in the cyclone season in December 1998, east of Darwin. We had only recently bought Saraoni in Queensland and were living on it up a creek in the mangroves on a Darwin City Council mooring when the cyclone appeared. It hovered around for some time before we got sick of the suspense and abandoned Saraoni to the elements and hightailed it into a hotel. The storm decided to veer off and menace the Kimberley instead and we and Saraoni were spared.
And then of course we've weathered many a gale in New Zealand, but they tend to be very short lived at that latitude.
As for what's happening with the two boats. We are making slow progress and at the moment it's more work than pleasure. We are sorting out Saraoni's interior before hauling it out, while gradually installing equipment on Sundari. We now have our solar panels feeding the batteries, although they are just lashed to the deck at the moment. Two nice shiny new davits are waiting to be fixed. We fixed the recalcitrant old echosounder with a secondhand display unit bought at a shop in Coomera. The new wind generator doesn't seem to be working which is a bit of a bummer. (Update Sunday - it is now, just a poor connection. Plenty of wind = plenty of free power!) We had both Saraoni's and Sundari's old liferafts checked and discovered both were ok, so are opting for the bigger one of the two. Sundari has still many mysteries we haven't fathomed out yet. We'll probably be still finding things out in a year's time!
Google map showing our cyclone anchorage up the Coomera River. Lots of birds around and a mob of kangaroos in the remnant scrub across the river.
Update late Friday -it has been very windy all day, although it is quite safe here. Another yacht was anchored not far away yesterday evening, but today no-one was aboard. The yacht, a nice Amel ketch, dragged when the wind and tide were strong and is now leaning over down river on a sand bank. We couldn't do anything as it was too windy and we needed our spare anchors in case the same happened to us. the Coastguard sounded rather weary when we told them as it was unlikely to be the only boat 'gone with the wind!' (Update Sunday - the water police came yesterday at high tide with the VMR rescue boat and managed to drag the ketch off the sandbank, so we are on our own again! The cyclone is now a low and headed back towards Noumea, possibly reintensifying again!)
The Amel ketch down river where it grounded after dragging. Looks like it has just been antifouled at the Boatworks boatyard a mile or so upriver.Probably will need another antifoul, now!