Saturday, 18 June 2016

Drop the lines. We're heading North.

22-28 May 2016

The day had finally arrived for us to actually cast off the lines for our great adventure to Papua New Guinea’s Louisiade Islands. Despite a fairly big night enjoying a farewell dinner and drinks with our neighbours Bob & Lyn aboard Whoosh, we were up in the pre-dawn making our final preparations to get underway. When we dropped our marina keys in the returns box it all began to feel very real. Berth A11 at East Coast Marina, Manly was no longer ours. We were leaving with no return date planned.
The farewell dinner with Bob and Lyn aboard Whoosh could have almost scuttled the early departure plan.
We were thrilled that a small group of fellow yachties gathered on the marina finger to farewell us despite the early hour.  Our Dreamtime eased off the dock and to the sound of foghorns shattering  the dawn calm we made our way down the channel towards the harbour entrance. Mooloolaba was to be our first port of call just for an overnight stop before continuing North.
Ready to slip the lines at last.

It was so nice of these friends to be up early to wish us bon voyage.

On our way.

Farewell Manly Boat Harbour
With only a gentle breeze blowing we motor-sailed across Moreton Bay, slipped through the Pearl Channel to the southern end of Bribie Island and along to Caloundra. Here the wind picked up a bit and we were finally able to silence the engine and enjoy a nice, leisurely sail to Point Cartwright at the mouth of the Mooloola River.
Manly Harbour to Mooloolaba – 52.4 Nautical Miles – 9 Hours 12 Minutes
Average Speed 5.7 Knots – Max Speed 8.3 knots
By mid-afternoon we were anchored up in the Duck Pond upstream from the marinas, surrounded by multi-million dollar waterfront houses. Live-aboard cruisers are restricted to only a few days anchoring in the river due to the occupants of these houses complaining about grotty yachties spoiling their views. Instead they have ended up with numerous uncared for boats in filthy, near derelict states everywhere. As no one lives on them they are legally anchored. Go figure.
Our friend Rod lived on Misima in the Louisiades for a number of years and dropped by for a catch up in Mooloolaba
Long time friend, Rod Arthur, was soon on the banks of the river with cold beers in hand to say Hi so he was soon aboard enjoying a catch up over sundowners. After dropping him back to shore we debated whether to leave the dinghy in the water or lift it up onto its davits as we were by now feeling very tired.
Chile Lime Chipotle Pork Ribs for dinner cooked all by themselves along the way in our Shuttle Chef.
What a godsend at the end of a long day sailing. Recipe at Our Galley
Our anchorage at Mooloolaba surrounded by McMansions

It was a very good thing we pushed ourselves to get it up and secured for an early morning departure as we awoke before dawn to discover the yacht beside us had their dinghy stolen overnight. Through the excellent Women Who Sail – Australia Facebook group, Karen later found out there has been a rash of dinghy thefts from boats in the river recently and even some from the marinas. Hopefully the Police will catch up with the lowlifes responsible before long but we suggest care is exercised here.
We managed a pre-dawn departure from Mooloolaba for the run to Double Island Point.

On the way out we passed Rob's cousin's boat Eagle Spirit on the pylons.
The wind was light again for our trip up to Double Island Point and we motored-sailed all the way. We did detour off the rum line and ran along closer than usual to the beaches which made the day far less boring at least.
Passing close by Noosa Nationals Park

Despite the lack of wind a decent swell was splashing up against the rocks of Noosa.
The sails contributed a modest amount on the way to Double Island.
Passing by the huge sand blow north of Noosa.
We were joined by a small pod of dolphins on the bow as we rounded Double Island Point
Mid afternoon we anchored behind Double Island Point in sight of the coloured sands of Rainbow Beach in perfect conditions for a good night’s sleep before our Wide Bay Bar crossing planned for early next morning on the last of the incoming tide. A strong Easterly change was predicted to blow through the area about lunch time so we wanted to be well and truly up into the Great Sandy Straits before that appeared.
Mooloolaba to Double Island Point – 57.9 Nautical Miles – 7 Hours 59 Minutes
Average Speed 6.0 Knots – Max Speed 7.9 knots
The anchorage at Double Island Point was on its best behaviour.
We enjoyed a magnificent sunset over Rainbow Beach.
We had planned to follow our previous GPS tracks in across the bar but on checking in with Tin Can Bay Volunteer Marine Rescue we were advised that the sand had moved further north and they recommended we give the inside turning mark 70 to 100 meters clearance compared to our previous crossing just six months ago. The VMR here do a great job and as we approached the bar next morning we contacted them to let them know we were about to cross. We were the first for the day and the radio operator on duty followed us on AIS all the way in keeping an eye on our progress. We got our timing perfect and had another smooth crossing never seeing less than 4.8 metres at any point.
We experimented using Google Earth image overlayed on Open CPN for the first time. Here's our track over the bar.
We plan on using this system extensively in the Louisiade Islands where charts are notoriously inaccurate.
After a thank you to the VMR it was then just a simple motor up the Straits to Gary’s Anchorage on the inside of Fraser Island. Well apart from a few nervous moments sneaking over the shallows at its entrance that is.  We then sat and relaxed for a couple of days while the strong wind blew past. That’s what cruising is about isn’t it? We did get energetic enough to catch some sand crabs for Karen to whip up some yummy crab cakes though. You can find this and lots of Karen's other recipes on the Our Galley page of the blog.
Double Island Point to Gary’s Anchorage – 27.8 Nautical Miles 4 Hours 29 Minutes
Average Speed 6.2  Knots – Max Speed 7.2 knots

Kicking back after our arrival in Gary's Anchorage.

It really is a delightful spot that turns on awesome sunsets nearly every night.

Our favourite time of day

A very large but quite shy Dugong swam around the anchorage throughout our stay.

A very large but quite shy Dugong swam around the anchorage throughout our stay.
Despite our best efforts we could not get a photo of his/her head.
On Friday we carefully ran with the incoming tide up through the narrowest and shallowest section of the Great Sandy Straits to South White Cliffs, better known as Yankee Jack Anchorage. This was a nice spot to spend another day doing a whole lot of nothing before making for Bundaberg on Sunday.
Gary’s Anchorage to Yankee Jack Anchorage – 12.4 Nautical Miles – 2 Hours 36 Minutes
Average Speed 4.8 Knots – Max Speed 7.1 knots
Yankee Jack Anchorage - Fraser Island

Karen was inspired to make some cocktails for sundowners in Yankee Jack Anchorage.

Karen's Thai Prawn & Peanut Noodle Soup was awesome. Recipe at Our Galley
We could get used to this hectic life. Good night from Fraser Island.
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  1. Lovely to read Karen and Rob. Wish we were with you! Will follow your trip from Greece!

  2. Thanks so much Jane. The support of people like you and Andy is why Our Dreamtime is so low in the water with essential goodies for the people of the Louisiades. Have a ball sailing Greece.

  3. Living aboard is an experience I will not ever forget. All the experience, the feeling and excitement were all still in my mind. It is really a wonderful and most memorable experience for us.

    1. Yes sailing is truely a beautiful lifestyle ... Cheers Rob and Karen


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