10 November 2018
There's a rally from New Caledonia to Bundaberg, Australia, the Go West Rally. One if its prime selling points is that the organisation has tamed the local Bundaberg bio-security and are able to guarantee and cap the fees for inspection and clearance. If you've a boat, especially an older boat with lots of wood, at $50 per inspector per fifteen minutes, double that at weekends, your bio bill can soon mount up to an eye watering sum. To a degree, I feel the organisers play on this Cruiser fear and this year, something like seventy boats signed up. I mean, Bundaberg is quite nice but it's in the middle of nowhere Queensland. It can also produce some quite exciting electrical storms. Exciting as in will the insurance cover the result of a spectacular lightning strike to ones masthead.
However, as old hands, we knew Brisbane bio was fine and, doing it ourselves, we could save a few dollars and more importantly, get a good few hundred miles closer to Sydney. And, we like Brisbane, we know the marina and we know the way in, especially if we arrive in the dark......"
Jeepers creepers. What a different experience this year. All weather entrance it says in the book! Yeah, if your in an RNLI lifeboat. As we crossed from ocean to estuary, from thousands and hundreds of metres to less than the deep end at your local swimming pool, we had roaring breakers right up our chuff and left and right as we threaded our way through the lights marking the sand banks. "Come more left. You're too close to that green."
Left, on Anne's side from what I could see was just a wall of breakers. "No way Jose. I'd prefer ploughing up the sandbank rather than go surfing at this time of night"
And, Moreton Bay is huge. It's miles and miles from the entrance to the marina. I think it was six hours of picking out lights and leading lines weaving through the shoals while seagulls stood up to their knobbly knees on the banks watching us go past a few metres away.
Once into the Brisbane river we had another couple of nerve wracking hours working the blue flashing lights of the leading lines of the narrow channel. It was all quite intense and easily justified an extremely large gin and tonic.
Then, next morning an ear splitting PAAAAAARRRRRPPP has us once again doing the sprint from bed to cockpit to find what the heck is going on. It's our nemesis from last year's exit of the lagoon in New Cal. That's what's going on. The P&O Pacific Dawn pilot has his elbow on the horn as he or she ploughs down, what to us, had seemed like an impossibly tight channel.
Maybe it wasn't so narrow after all. It did leave us feeling like a pair of nervous ninnies.