Monthly Archives: April 2013
Just a quick blog to post some photos of how we finished April.
Finally got away from Fraser island 19th April and headed for Lady Musgrave island, our first island in the Barrier reef. It’s an atoll with a little island in the middle surrounded by beautiful turquoise water and coral heads. Unfortunately it’s been commercialised with a permanently moored pontoon in the middle of the lagoon next to a large coral reef. Every morning at about 10.00 a catamaran carrying 100 +/- people arrived to moor up to the pontoon giving it the appearance of something out of the film Waterworld. The surrounding water filled with swimmers very quickly, some of them standing on the coral; an absolute no-no.
We landed on the island and walked across the beach but it had far too many foot prints for our liking. Fortunately the day trippers left at 3pm leaving the lagoon in peace and enabling us to go snorkelling. There were some nice fish and a fair bit of coral but nothing to compare with Fiji yet.
Monday 22nd found us in Pancake Creek, a lovely little spot tucked up inside the creek. At low tide we were surrounded by sandbars, which was good because we sat out a blow there.
On the 23rd we landed on the beach with Jack and Zdenka off of ‘Kite’ for a walk to the lighthouse. We had a wonderful walk to the top and down the other side to the beach for our picnic. The views from the top were outstanding.
The lighthouse had been lovingly restored and we enjoyed chatting to the old caretaker who still lives next to the lighthouse, although it’s now fully manned. It seems there used to be quite a community up there in the 1800s.
The little cemetery still contained some old graves which are now protected by pretty picket fencing.
Back on the beach – but it’s windy again!
We left Pancake Creek late on the 24th for a night sail to Great Keppel Island. During the night we passed Cape Capricorn, which is situated just above the latitude of the Tropic of Capricorn. Which means we are back in the tropics where we’ll stay, apart from our trip back to the UK by plane at the end of the year, for the next 2½ years. The next day we landed on the beach for another walk. Great Keppel is known for it’s sandflies, not wanting to be bitten again I arrived prepared.
We had a lovely walk. The island has lots of butterflies attracted by the long spear-like plants. It was magical walking among them, I haven’t seen so many butterflies in one place before.
We continued up through the bush onto the ridge of the island and continued right along to the lighthouse, where we sat and ate our picnic on the edge of the helipad.
On the other side of the helipad were some goats and if you look closely at this photo you can see a little white one in the foreground which had been born that morning. It was wobbly but seemed well.
On the way back to the boat we found this little resting place overlooking one of the bays. The chairs had been painted to blend in with the surroundings and cemented in place so that some joker couldn’t through them over the cliff. It was a beautiful spot.
Sunday 28th saw us sailing to Island Head creek alongside our Canadian friends Jackie and Gary on Inspiration Lady. Jackie and Gary had stayed with us on Camomile in Sydney for Christmas while Inspiration Lady had stayed in Brisbane. They were now joining the great exodus heading north for the Indonesian rally in July. It was nice to have some company.
After an overnight in Island Head creek we sailed to the Percy islands the next day. Jackie and Gary went to Blunt bay and we anchored off of South Percy. It was very remote, even though it’s only about 40 miles from the mainland, and very very dark in the evening.
The next day we went for yet another walk (the islands are quite small and each one has different features). South Percy was totally uninhabited so there weren’t any tracks to follow. The grass was only ankle deep but spiders and snakes kept running through my thoughts. We reached the top of the hill to be rewarded with a wonderful view across the bay and Camomile sitting in the middle waiting for us.
Looking down the other side there were some delightful little bays but they were exposed to the strong winds.
Through the middle of the island there had been some sort of land slide exposing the rich red soil underneath.
We walked back down the hill onto the beach, completely untouched except for the ‘crab art’. The little crabs collect balls of sand as they burrow into it and push it out onto the beach creating amazing pictures which get washed away at high tide. The hole beach was covered in their artistic patterns.
We walked right along the beach enjoying the solitude before getting back on board for a night sail to Mackay for my birthday.
The first week in April brought strong winds that delayed our departure from Moreton bay until Saturday 6th April when we were able to sail to Mooloolaba, I love that name. We spent the weekend anchored in the harbour. Monday morning we contacted the marina and got a berth for 2 nights. It was great to use the showers, washing machines, etc. The marina was also close to a huge shopping mall so we were able to restock the boat. Lawries boat services was next door to the marina and after talking to Kieran the manager, we arranged for Camomile to be lifted at 3pm and held in the slings overnight on the Tuesday. While Bill jet washed the hull I scrapped the little barnacles off. Bill scraped and greased the prop and also managed to get a coat of antifoul on the keel. The hull still has the Cuprotec coating, which seems to be holding up although Bill has had to repair it in places. We don’t have any photos because we had to work quickly before it got dark plus it rained most of the time we were out. Kieran arrived at 7.30 in the morning to put us back in the water for our second night in the marina. More rain.
Thursday 11th we went back to anchor out in the harbour to find our friends Dave and Jacqui on Jackster had arrived. It was great to catch up. They were interested in hearing about the storm as Jacqui had been a tower of strength texting me throughout our ‘ordeal’. With more rain falling we took the bus to Maroochydore, another lovely name, for a mooch around the shops and Bill found another big toolbox, this one had a beer fridge!!
There were strong winds blowing all week but on Sunday evening it was forecast to drop so, after a fantastic walk along the beach in the afternoon, we motored out of the harbour at 9pm with Raven I and Far Star for an overnight sail to Fraser Island. It was an uneventful passage, we managed a couple of hours sailing before the wind died completely. It’s been such a problem travelling up this coast, there’s too much wind for 6 or 7 days then it drops completely for a day or two before building up again. We have to watch the forecast constantly and as soon as there’s a weather window drop everything and go.
The entrance to the Sandy straights leading to Fraser island has a notorious bar across it called the wide bay bar. To avoid it would mean a 24hr passage at least around Fraser island so we called the VMR to check the condition at 9am. They were reporting rough conditions but no breaking waves so, after taking the entry waypoints from them, decided to cross it. The bar itself was fine, although we had 3 metre waves around us; the worse bit was travelling along the inside of it. As it’s name suggests it’s a wide bar and it’s very important not to cut the corner off and we followed the waypoints the VMR had given us but there were hugh waves breaking across the shallow part of the bar making the passage feel like we were in a washing machine. It took half an hour to reach the calmer water inside when I was able to radio back to Far Star and Raven to let them know what it was like. As they are both single handers they were brave to come over but we all survived and proceeded to motor up the Sandy Straits to Garys Anchorage. There wasn’t a breath of wind there but unfortunately it enabled the dreaded sand flies to fly out to the boat and Bill and I were badly bitten overnight.
The next day, Tuesday 16th, we motored up the Sandy Straights to Kingfisher resort, a favourite of ours with its yachtie friendly facilities of a pool, shower and nice café that sells delicious lunches. We stayed there for 3 days waiting for the start of the wind to take us north to our first island in the Barrier reef.
A bit late but this is the story of our Easter Adventures.
Good Friday we motored out of the Brisbane river and sailed across Moreton bay, which is about the size of Poole harbour, to Sandy Hills on Moreton Island. Already anchored there were Chris and Cate with their teenage daughters Grace and Sarah in their yacht Equinox. Chris has been our guru on every thing to do with the Australian coast so it was great to be able to follow them around for the weekend and have him show us some nice spots in the bay. We invited them over to Camomile for sundowners.
On the Saturday we dinghyed over to the beach and took a walk over the sand dunes. Moreton Island is largely undeveloped and most of the island is national park with walking trails. It’s hard work walking over the dunes. Drinks on Equinox in the evening.
Easter Sunday, after Lindt bunnies for breakfast, we spent all day sailing south further into Moreton bay where Chris led us into a nice little anchorage off of North Stradbroke Island. In true bank holiday style it started raining, which turned into an evening of thunder and lightening.
The next morning the rain had stopped and we took the dinghy into the little village of Dunwich on the island. Between the waterfront and the shops was a cemetery of great historical interest, for Dunwich was one of the first settlements in Queensland (then still New South Wales), receiving pine logs that had been floated down the Brisbane river for shipment to Sydney.
We wandered around the shops and stopped for coffee before heading back to the boat. On the way back we came across this ‘Garden Ornament’ shop displaying this amazing assortment of gnomes, statues and figures for the garden!
We spent the afternoon sailing north back up to Moreton Island but this time we anchored further up by the Tangalooma wrecks.
The anchorage was formed by the scuttling of workboats on a sand bank. There are 15 vessels ranging from dredgers to barges. Having been there 50 years they are now just rusty hulks but some coral has formed on them and there was abundant fish life. We spent a couple of day’s there swimming and snorkelling.
A resort has grown up near them, we walked around it but it was the closest thing we have seen to Pontins since leaving the UK. While we were sitting drinking our over priced coffees most people disappeared into the dining room for their full board lunch, which they queued for like school dinners!
Tuesday evening we had a combined BBQ on Equinox and said goodbye for the last time. Cate, Chris, Grace and Sarah headed back to the main land the next day. With another goodbye and not knowing whether we’ll ever see them again we said our farewells but we’ve learnt to say ‘never say never’ when you’re sailing. It was great to know you guys.