... waiting ...
18 September 2023
Stephen and Kristina Hall
On August 30 we left Airlie Beach with the first light of day. We didn't know where and when we would anchor next time as we were determined to make some ground to the south. It turned out that we had a fairly good sail all the way to Brampton Island but as the wind died we anchored there for the night. Although the walks there are quite nice, we didn't go ashore, it had been a long day and we wanted to get up early again. At 4am the following morning we got up and left Brampton Island. It was full moon and therefore one of the brighter nights.
The wind on August 31 was often very light - Steve suggested that we eventually try the new asymmetric spinnaker, but the wind then blew right on the beam and dropped off so we took the sail down after a short while.
As we were sailing along quite nicely, we decided to do an overnighter so on 1 September in the afternoon we arrived at Great Keppel Island. The wind still blew from the north, therefore we dropped the anchor at Sandy Beach on the south of the island. The forecast predicted a wind change for the following day with it turning to the south in the late morning. We left after breakfast at around 7:30am but the wind had already changed. We had decided to go to Hummocky Island 16 nm south of Great Kpppel. It took us more than 5 hours and the log said, we sailed 23 nm; we had to tack a lot (good practice for me) and had up to 2.5 kn tide against us. But Hummocky Island once again gave us good shelter and it is a neat little bay. We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon in the cockpit.
From there it was another long day of sailing to Pancake Creek. Steve wanted to get the tide right as there are some pretty shallow patches to Pancake Creek so we set the alarm for 3am. We had no winds to speak of so motored most of the time and arrived just after 2pm at the anchorage. We witnessed something quite extraordinary as we were coming into the anchorage, a small Manta Ray jumped out of the water just next to Torea, when we had passed the last shallow patch.
The following day we walked to the lighthouse and then further to Jenny Lind Creek.
Last time we were here, there were far more boats - you could see far more masts in the anchorage. We had a lazy rest of the day because we knew we would have to get up early again.
The alarm on September 5 went off at 3am again, that allowed us to pass the shallow patches in the dark with more than sufficient water and arrive at Burnett Heads at a reasonable time. I hoped for a shower and easy access to a washing machine in the marina, but again we were not allowed to get a berth in a marina because of the lack of insurance. We anchored about 2.5 nm up the river, close to a small beach. The first day in the port of (our) emigration we stayed on board, tidied it up and relaxed. I had grown successfully a sourdough starter and I baked the first sourdough bread on Torea. The question what we'd have for lunch was therefore quickly answered. The following day we went to the beach and walked into the town of Burnett Heads. It was a bit gloomy, nothing much to see or do in Burnett Heads, despite the harbour where ships clear in and out and quite a number of people come to Burnett Heads. I had expected a more bustling town. Steve had heard about the sail maker, his craftsmanship had a good reputation. We popped in the workshop and after all of Steve's question had been answered, we went back to Torea, where Steve immediately started calculating how many cm the third reef should be moved by.
The following day we expected our friends from the Clarence River to arrive, resulting in a cheerful and boozy afternoon and evening! The following morning it was hard to get up early though - but we wanted to take the mainsail to the workshop for 8am. Steve carried it all the way, about 2.3 km which was quite hot work. Fortunately nature cooled us off with some heavy rain - but honestly, we were not so happy about it... We had decided to get rid of the full length battens for tail battens, put a larger third reef in and change the batten pockets so the battens wouldn't stick out the back, catching the reef lines every time we pulled the sail up.
On Saturday, September 9, we motored up the river to Bundaberg. Our friends joined us on Torea, together we held our breath when the depth sounder said that we had only 20 cm left under the keel.
Once we had dropped the anchor, we sat in the cockpit with a beer. And a bit later we went ashore to check out the pub across from the public pontoon until it was time to say farewell. And through this farewell I realized that our departure nears. To me, it was quite emotional.
So far we spend the days with checking the weather forecasts, slowly get the boat prepared/set up for the offshore passage (fill the water and Diesel tanks, balance the food, a new carpet, Steve changed the oil, we will experiment with a water catcher, ...). One day, we went to the Botanical Garden but I have to admit, that I was a bit disappointed, it seemed a bit unkempt. Maybe the gardeners are starting to get it ready for spring and summer. Bundaberg was founded in 1870 and is famous for its Bundaberg Rum but now has a lot of homeless people in the city. The many churches and charities seem to be very active providing meals each day and other services. That may explain, why the city appears on the one hand a bit tardy, on the other hand though, it is pretty neat and I am amazed, how many health food stores one can find in Bundaberg. We haven't gone for a distillery tour yet and I doubt we will.
Steve had some of his friends from New Zealand visit us briefly since they were in Brisbane so we explored a few more of the Bundaberg pubs.
It was fantastic that they came and visited us for a night. With friends coming, waiting can be very pleasurable.
As they had hired a car, they offered to pick up the main sail. The battens are shorter now and the third reef is placed way better than it was before. But to be able to say whether the sail now suits us much better we will have to sail and try it. Hopefully in about one weeks time we will be able to find out. In the meantime we watch the weather as the trade winds continue to blow too hard for a comfortable(ish) trip.
(photo: Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam" alienated in a pub)