Southport Yacht Club was a peaceful spot to spend the next 3 weeks repairing leaking portlights, drying out the boat, making numerous repairs and enjoying a break from the rigours of the Tasman crossing. The morning beach walks a must to get our legs back in shape; while the local cafes and restaurants were much appreciated when our appetites returned.
Tim introduced us to the Broadbeach Blues Festival, which he attends annually with a group of mates. Such a relaxed atmosphere with people of different ages enjoying the great music in the pubs, restaurants and streets of Broadbeach.
We celebrated with Andrew the opening of the restaurant at the Waterlea development, near Ipswich and on which he had been working for the past few years.
Ali and Bron came to visit and a day on the water – Ali seeing Sea Cloud for the first time.
As the weather wasn’t the best for moving north, we spent a few lovely days at O’Reillys, in Lamington National Park. The weather was perfect for hiking, birdwatching and relaxing.
We finally left Southport on an overnight passage to Fraser Island rather than via the Inland Waterway between Southport and Moreton Bay. We knew Sea Cloud’s draft (& air draft) were going to limit us in Aus.
The crossing of the notorious Wide Bay Bar into the Great Sandy Straits was fairly tense. Even though the swell was moderate, heading towards breaking waves and very shallow water kept us focussed!
We knew moving north inside Fraser Island may not be feasible with our 2.35m draft. However, once inside we discussed the depths and upcoming tides with a very informative Volunteer Marine Radio (VMR). A very helpful volunteer explained the combination of tides, current and wind determined the 2 hour window of opportunity to cross the tricky central section of Great Sandy Straights – but that we’d have to wait nearly a week to get the right spring tide to do it in daylight (a night time attempt was out of the question).
As we needed to get to Bundaberg quickly we took the alternate, much longer and rather unpleasant route outside of Fraser Island. Our conditions were good, but the effect of the south flowing current, the ebbing tide and the shallow reef extending 30 miles to the north of the island made for a very unpleasant overnight sail.
Safely into Bundy, I had a quick flight home to visit mum. A Covid breakout had just begun in Sydney, so I only stayed overnight. Ian was terrified I’d be stuck in Sydney and he’d have to manage Sea Cloud by himself.
Our great sailing buddies Alex and Diana (SY Enki) arrived just in time the next day, hours before the NSW-Qld border slammed shut at the end of June. The initial plan was to sail to the outer reef. Unfortunately, the weather and sea state didn’t cooperate, so we had a wonderful few weeks of brisk sailing up the very long Queensland coastline to Airlie Beach in strong SE winds.
We had long days of terrific sailing, some rather ordinary weather, great meals and lots of laughs.
With strong winds predicted, we sheltered in Roslyn Bay Marina in Yeppoon, enjoying visiting the town and meeting other yachts heading north.
The Blue Tiger butterflies – Percy Islands (en route during their annual migration to New Guinea).
Finally some good weather!
Being close to Mackay and the big tides, St Bees was the first place we really experienced the current and its interplay with the winds – the mix makes or breaks a comfortable night at anchor.
Visit to Mackay Marina with its enormous piles and breakwater. Best fish and chips and a very lively pub.
Walks on Lindeman Island – magnificent 3600 views of the Whitsunday Islands from the peak.
Kayaking around Dumbell Island (remarkably sheltered anchorage for a tiny island)
We docked at Coral Sea Marina, our periodic base for the next few months. The plan was to have friends and family spend time with us on Sea Cloud. Covid changed the plans for us and so many others.
After we dropped Diana and Alex at the airport for their flight home to lockdown in Sydney we drove 150km to Mackay for our second AZ vaccination. Our plan was to enjoy the Whitsunday Islands, maybe going as far north as Magnetic Island and Townsville.