Friday, 11 October 2013

Chillin (or more like frying), Hospital and New Friends

Magnetic Island was our first Townsville destination...a tranquil, laid back type of Island. 
Fifty Percent of the Island is nominated National Park with the rest a residential Island of Townsville (connected by frequent passenger and vehicle ferry).  The crew spent two nights at Horseshoe Bay which is a protected anchorage from the mild South Easterly that was blowing and spent the afternoons ashore walking in the shade of the lovely foreshore and eating at the cafes that dot the shoreline.  Our friends aboard Allusive arrived the next day and they were kind enough to introduce the crew to their amazing friends from Savanika, Al and Linnie - an amazing couple who have sailed around the world together, including time spent in Alaska.  They had just arrived back from two months spent at the outer reef - they are true adventurers, love fishing, are generous with their knowledge of yachts and anchorages and instantly won our hearts. 
Me in our tender (after morning tea on Savanika in the background) - John had to remind me to take it out of forward gear when I wanted to reverse!
Upon meeting this amazing crew, we were kindly invited to a bbq at the 'shack' which is located a short walk from the foreshore on Magnetic Island.  The shack is a lovely home, dotted throughout with memorabilia from their travels with its own wildlife visitors.  The crew had a terrific evening and we look forward to catching up again with the crew from Savanika.
The Strand - the lovely old trees were delightful and shady
 Whilst the crew from Allusive headed North for the Louisiades rally, the crew from Escape Pod headed over to the breakwater marina.  The Breakwater Marina is located at the end of the Strand which is a parkland located on the foreshore (overlooking Maggie island) and is a terrific place to base yourself for a few weeks. 

Al, Linnie (and me) - what an amazing couple!
The crew were warmly welcomed by many helping hands pulling into the berth.  The marina is kind of like a big cruising family and we were greeted by Pete and Lizzy from the lovely steel Roberts, Windana in the next berth, Charlie and Linda from across the berth and Rob located down the next berth.  Soon enough, we were invited to a shaggers club bbq the next evening as honorary guests - in Charlies words, because we seem like nice people (we have now become members by the way)!.
I was expecting the BBQ to be a small affair, but it turned out that literally 30-40 people arrived for drinks.  Many cruisers travel with dogs, so even the dogs were invited and warmly welcomed. 

A croc on the strand foreshore!
The crew met many people that night - the crew from Miri, Wayne and Wendy from Willhelm (the three W's) and Bob, Libby and the awesome Raffy from Synergy.  We had a lovely night meeting people and Charlotte and Lizzy fell in love, and Raffy fell in love with Charlotte and her lead (until that is, Charlotte decided that daily she couple jump straight from the marina into Raffy's cockpit to eat his biscuits - then love became more like suspicion!)

The captain with a nice Golden Trevally caught at Picnic Bay (Maggie Island)
A sweetlip for the Captains Tally

Unfortunately, I had to attend a few doctors appointments over the next week (I ended up having surgery in hospital for a few days but I am fully mended now) and Pete was required to return to Newcastle for a few days work.  That didn't stop the socialising and daily events - I invited a few of the girls to Aqua Aerobics, so every few days a few of us went for a class and then to the café for refreshments, there was drinks on peoples boats every few days, outings to the Sunday markets, shopping with Libby,  Lizzy and I even went to a Moroccan cooking class and of course long walks daily along the Strand.  Other than the surgery and subsequent recovery time, the crew loved the time spent in Townsville.  The people were warm and friendly, the facilities were good, there was lots to do and the weather was well very warm.

The intrepid Aqua Crew (minus Libby)

Lizzy - at the cooking class
Tagine and Moroccan Coleslaw - Yummo

The crew then said fond farewells (we had 6 people at 6.30am there to say goodbye and give us a hand to cast off lines!) and headed back to Magnetic to get our sea legs back and catch up with the crew from Savanika.  Again we spent a few nights around the Island, with daily walks and lots of fishing for the Captain and we briefly caught up with Synergy who finally had the motor repaired after an epic adventure.  The original plan was to head North to the Palm Island Group and out to the smaller reefs for a week but a number of events transpired (weather patterns and a leaking through hull fitting) that meant we took the opportunity with a light Northerly breeze to head South with the planned destination Airlie Beach slipway.

Black Sapote a Fruit - Tropical Fruit at the Markets Awesome!

The dreaded provisioning aboard Escape Pod
The crew had an easy sail (and motoring in the light breezes) over two days back to Airlie where the boat has been slipped and repaired, we have reprovisioned and are now heading back out to the Islands with the Newry Islands our planned destination.

The Pod on the Slip for a quick fix up

Catch Ya Soon

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Heading North

The crew are heading North - slowly, relaxed and looking forward to the next adventure.
The crew left Airlie Beach Marina and turned left - the plan is to day hop between anchorages starting with Woodwark Bay with the final destination for this leg Magnetic Island and then Townsville. 
A very short sail from Airlie Beach we arrived at Woodwark Bay.  This is nice anchorage, with a large beach at the end for walking the crew.  The crew arrived and realised that 'Gilly' who we hadn't seen since Digby island many weeks ago, was anchored down a little way, so we took the dinghy over to say hello.  Gilly is now heading South to Mooloolaba where they plan to put the boat on the market and head overland on their next adventure together.
The crew decided to stay only one night at Woodwark as we had a nice sailing breeze the next morning to get to Double Bay our next planned anchorage - again a nice anchorage but shore access is a little limited particularly on low tide.  The captain and I actually discovered this anchorage many years ago when we chartered a yacht and were advised that solitude could be found here - on that particular charter there was 2 boats, this time there was about 15 boats anchored up as the 'Shaggers club rendezvous' was due to take place over the next few days just around the corner!  They are expecting around 200 boats...

Jonah Bay - The captain, catching the aggressive Whiting to be found along the beach
The next day, the crew headed around Georges point into the anchorages known as Jonah and little Jonah bay - wow!  What a lovely place, with sandy white beaches, crystal clear water, a few mangrove areas to explore, a number of resident 'beach squatters' that have lived in very (very) basic camp sites for over 10 years, some good fishing and not a boat to be found (they were all around the corner at the Shaggers doo) so we enjoyed the area to ourselves!
We spent our time, walking, fishing and collecting shells.  We did see a snake on the beach but were advised that it is only a water snake and they often come over from the neighbouring Islands and then head back out to sea - I wasn't taking any chances so we stayed well clear.

Jonah Bay
The crew elected to stay 3 nights at this amazing place, before making the trip through the Gloucester passage to an anchorage behind Gloucester Island - again a nice anchorage but we only stayed one night before sailing further North up to Greys Bay located behind the headland of the town Bowen.  The sail was more than pleasant even though the breeze was a little light. 
The crew did have a very close encounter with a whale and her calf - the old girl guided her calf no more than 50 meters past the bow of the Pod with a little hurry up towards the end as the calf could not hold its breathe for as long, and decided to come up for a quick breath just in front of us.  It was awesome sight for the crew from the bow! 

Greys Bay Lookout
Greys Bay was actually a pleasant surprise as we weren't expecting much other than a place to drop the anchor for the night.  It turned out to be a nice spot to explore with an awesome lookout and a nice little beach to bring the dinghy ashore on.

Me at the Greys Bay Lookout

Greys Bay nearing Sunset
The next day, the crew sailed up to Cape Upstart for a few nights and again this proved to be very pleasant anchorage.  The wind had been very consistent for the sail up under a poled headsail, and a winged out tri sail and main - I am pleased to say the Pod more than held her own against all the other Mono's and most of the cats (for those not in the know - more than 2 boats on the water constitutes a race even with heavy, old cruising boats!)
We arrived quite late in the afternoon and the bullets really let fly over the land - most of the night we had 30 plus knots but the anchorage was still pleasant and the trusty anchor held without a problem.  The next day was spent exploring the beach and the lovely rock formations.  The crew just about always go for a trip in the dinghy after going ashore, so this time we explored the shoreline, with many houses dotting the shore for mostly weekend residents.  The funniest one was actually the shed converted into the 'Bedrock Hotel' with a mooring rope available for the visiting dinghy's - it was well set up and looked like a fun place to enjoy a cold drink or two!
After two nights at Upstart, the crew elected to head further North with either Cape Bowling Green or Cape Cleveland the destination.  The sailing was in very light winds so we motor sailed most of the way - it didn't stop the Captain making about 100 sail adjustments though! 
The crew decided (once the wind kicked in) to keep heading to Cape Cleveland which is literally a few miles South of Maggie Island rather than anchor behind Cape Bowling Green as it didn't look particularly interesting.  Mmmm - well I can't recommend this anchorage unless your desperate.  Due to the expanse, location and shallow waters the Pod was anchored in the middle of the Bay (seriously about a NM to 2 x NM from the shore) and the swell although not severe was still not a highlight of our trip.  None the less, the crew slept okay and the next morning we sailed over to Maggie Island.
Love it, Love it, Love it but I will leave out time at Maggie for another post .............

Getting Hot Under the Collar...

Last post had the crew returning to the Whitehaven Beach/Hill Inlet area to replicate the fishing efforts of the Captain (not mine for obvious reasons!)

The offending hook

Jason's catch of fish
The crew headed over to Macona Inlet for the first nights anchorage so that we could take advantage of the tide going through Hook Passage the next morning.  A fast moving Southerly enabled us to sail over, and the crew spent a lovely afternoon in Macona which has proven to be one of my favourite anchorages.  There is a reef around the anchorage but other than that the water is lovely and clear with a number of white sandy beaches to explore. 

Macona Inlet - solitude compared to the more popular Nara Inlet
In the morning the crew headed around to Whitehaven and anchored about 50 meters off the beach - it is a lovely sandy beach obviously but needless to say in near perfect conditions, just about every boat in the area is also around there!  The weather was definitely getting warm (the wind had also died) and it was easy to start getting hot under the collar - thank goodness for the Pod's awesome shade covers. 

Perfection in the Whitsundays - from the deck of the Pod
This magnificent weather didn't stop the fish from biting and the captain still managed to catch a few Queenies and a number of Trevally before the Captain set off on the paddle board to explore the Hill Inlet area.  This area is amazing and a haven for all marine creatures - from small fish, good size sharks and off course the stingrays who are about in significant numbers as well.  The captain commented - that this was probably his best day so far in the Whitsundays so this probably better explains the beauty and wonder of the area.

The crew decided to anchor around at Tongue Bay for the night but upon arrival there was  heaps of boats with the same idea, so we elected to anchor in the next bay along, Apostle Bay - this now ranks as my second favourite anchorage in the area.  It is quite a large anchorage, with plenty of swinging room and not another boat to be found.  There was heaps of turtles (around 30 in our bay) who pop there head up next to the boat, take a deep breathe and dive back down. 
Then we spotted a large whale and a very small calf no more than 300 meters away from the Pod just lolling on the water.  I must admit to being concerned at first that the big girl was hurt until we pulled out the binoculars and realised she was suckling her baby - it was one of those moments where you appreciate the simplicity of how nature works.  Upon sunset I wished her safe passage on her long journey with big kisses to her baby calf.

Looking down the visible length of Hill Inlet - it goes for miles
The crew spent 3 nights in this area and on the last day we walked up to the lovely lookout that has views over Whitehaven and Hill Inlet - this is a lovely walk through the bush with spectacular views from the top.  The water is so clear that you can see the lemon sharks and stingrays swimming around the shallows below. 
With this amazing view in mind, the crew decided to take the dinghy exploring up the 6 or so Km's of the Hill Inlet area - we had a great time as there was no one beyond the first 500 meters of the entry - we simply motored for miles, past small sand passages, into mangrove surrounded areas and marine creatures jumped and swam away as we passed by.  This is a spectacular place for which words probably will not adequately explain.  Some places had the crew so awed we were silenced (a rarity for those that no me!).  I hope the photographs go some way to showing her beauty.  I am glad however that we have the trusty Tohatsu outboard as 'she' worked hard on the return journey, as the tide turns a bit later down the end of the Inlet compared to that of the entry.

Whitehaven and the entry for 'cats only' to Hill Inlet
Sadly the crew decided that we needed to return to Macona Inlet for another 2 nights of perfect weather and then make our way back over to Airlie Beach - the crew had a great sail across to Airlie with 12 knots of wind and the kite flying (no main) at about 7 knots. 

The Pod under spinnaker heading to Airlie
We were lucky to meet Doug for dinner at the sailing club (what a life - Doug was back for another fishing charter!) and spent the next few days enjoying the local markets and the lagoon area for a swim each day!

The captain 'working' - running some new lines
The crew did make one vital mistake - cruising boats are lucky to enjoy the use of the sailing club dinghy wharf for free.  Of course we planned oh so carefully to come in on high tide but misjudged the time we would take shopping/swimming etc.  Upon our return 'Poddyin our tender' was high and dry - oh well, we just sat in the club enjoying a cold drink and then under the shade of a tree to watch the tide eventually roll in!

Poddin - High and dry at the dinghy wharf!
It is now time to say goodbye to the Whitsundays and continue our journey North to Magnetic Island and Townsville.  Its been an amazing time....


Monday, 19 August 2013

Whitsundays - Visitors Week!

I cant help but feel proud that we have arrived in the Whitsundays under our own steam - we are here and it feels great!

The crew sailed from Scawfell Island bound for Shaw Island in a very strong breeze and a nasty wind against tide action for much of the way.  I have made a mental note to myself to be careful where we anchor next time at Scawfell as we spent 1/2 an hour cleaning the thickest and slimiest green weed off the chain before leaving - not such a great way to start the morning!

The forecast for the next few days was a very strong 30-35 knots so the crew elected to anchor behind Shaw Island which has good protection - and blow it did!  For 48 hours it was between 25-40 knots and the 6-8 boats in the anchorage barely put there heads out the companionway except to check on anchors.  I must admit to wondering if the Whitsundays was always 25 knots or above?

The wind slowly eased to 18-20 knots and we motor sailed across to Hamilton Island as we were due to meet Tim and Pam - originally the plan was to pick them up and anchor at various non touristy places but due to the still strong breeze we decided to spend the time at the marina and use it as a base for Tim and Pam to organise their following week of sightseeing.

Tim and Pam preparing for the day

Pam gets the big Aunty's thumbs up however.  Walking down the marina surrounded by very (very!) expensive large boats, Tim asks 'if I owned any of these boats, which one would you want me to have?' Pam quickly responds - 'that one' and points to the Pod....Pam should have been a politician but it earnt her brownie points none the less!

Tim and Pam stayed with us for a few days and then it was time to head to Airlie Beach to reprovision and meet some of Pete's friends who were bringing out their trailer boat for a spot of fishing on the outer reef - whilst using the Pod as the mother ship.  Doug and Jason have been part of the 'crew' who Pete has been on many fishing charters with over the last few years including Fiji, Nomad etc.

The crew headed out to Nara Inlet to anchor in preparation of the teams arrival - we wanted to ensure we had a safe anchorage so that whilst the guys were out fishing I didn't have to re-anchor if the breeze changed.  After such strong weather, the weather gods shone and the second day was a spectacular day of sun and barely any wind.  They had a great fishing day with Spanish Mackerel, Coral Trout and Red Fish caught.  One of the Mac's was tooooo big for the Esky so off came his head!

A Mac without his head - still tastes great!

The crew enjoyed the guys company for two nights and a great meal was enjoyed, cooked by the captain, of Mac for entrée and Coral Trout for main.

Coral Trout - one of gods gifts to the kitchen

After saying a fond farewell - the crew has moved around to Stonehaven which is a lovely anchorage and we have spent an afternoon paddle boarding over the coral and zipping around in the dinghy exploring the surrounding beaches.  It was an amazing day of light breeze and clear water.
The crew then moved onto Whitehaven/Hill Inlet as the forecast was for very light breezes for the next week and this is a good opportunity to explore the area which can be exposed to the trade winds when blowing.  Unfortunately after arriving at a mooring, the Captain went off to explore the fishing opportunities.  The fishing was so good (3-4 Golden Trevalley and 2 Queenies in about 15 minutes!!) that being the great Captain he is, he came back to get me so I could enjoy the fishing.  Not such a good move...first cast I caught a good size Queenie, cast out a second time and hooked up just beside the dinghy as I was retrieving...the hook didn't quite set and the hook flung back and went straight into my middle finger. 
Upon first glance the captain thought we could get it out but once we got back to the Pod we realised it was a bit deeper than first thought, so we sailed/motored back to Airlie so I could go up to Proserpine hospital.  It turned out to be a rather long night as it took 4 hours to get back, and hour or so at the hospital and I finally got back around 1am!  No harm done really - a local injection and a good doctor and I have already healed up no more than 2 days later.
So the crew have headed back out again - we will try the same area, because there is fish still uncaught by the captain....

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Bundaberg, Pancake Creek, and the Amazing Percy's

Pancake Creek

With a reasonable breeze forecast the crew headed off from Bundaberg to Pancake Creek as we needed to make up some distance to ensure we were in the Whitsundays for a visit from our Nephew and Neice (in law) Tim and Pam in 2 weeks.

The Pod sailed really well after leaving at 6am to ensure we made the best of the slack tide getting out of the marina and through the long channel of Bundaberg.  Pancake Creek is a wide expanse of water (it is actually a creek) which if you follow the markers has a deep high tide channel that allows boats to enter from the outer anchorage into a larger more protected area.  The outer anchorage has land on one side and a sand spit on the other - it can be a little rolly but generally is quite good.  If you enter through the channel - there is more protection from the swell and wind as well and that is where most cruising folk end up. Due to a fuel blockage (yes again!) literally at the entry we only anchored just inside the headland - we spent two nights here and did a lot of exploring in the dinghy.  This is a well known East Coast anchorage for cruising boats and I look forward to spending some more time there on the return trip - there is good mud crabs here and some good fishing I am told.
Pancake Creek - Second anchorage
Great Keppel Island

With the continuing good breeze (20-25 knots) we headed off to Great Keppel Island.  Originally the crew planned to break the trip up with a different anchorage about 15 NM from GKI but upon arrival the swing to a more Easterly breeze throughout the day meant this would not be comfortable so we arrived well after dark at GKI. A late arrival to a new anchorage (for us anyway) means anchoring outside the shelter of the Island and that means a rolly night at anchor....this is the type of night that cruising people dread!

First thing in the moning we picked up the anchor and made our way further into the bay - what a lovely island this is!  It has many walks over the island and a couple of resident live aboards who have lived on their boats at GKI for years!  The crew did many hours of beach combing for shells and whilst the captain tried to drown the crew a few times getting ashore in the swell we had a great time none the less. 

Percy Islands

After three nights at GKI the crew decided to head off to the Percys as the forecast was for a declining breeze for the next three days.  At 4pm we headed off for an overnighter - arrival mid morning the next day.  Normally most cruisers will break up the trip anchoring over at Island Head meaning an overnighter is not required but the defence forces were having 'war games' and therefore a significant area (including anchorages and some distance out to sea) is closed to all boat traffic...this is definitely on our list for the return trip as it is an amazing area!  Isolated and serene!

The breeze completely died overnight and we motor sailed the last half of the leg.  The crew arrived to an almost glassy anchorage known as Middle Percy.....ahhh the serenity!  This anchorage is a very well known place for cruisers and is a number of Islands literally in the middle of no where.  It has a long maritime history that includes a very large A frame which passing boats for decades have left their memorabilia.  The captain recalls his parents doing the same about 23 years ago!  Some of the memorabilia is very elaborate and often has 3-4 different dates on the same plaque as boats come back year after year. 
Middle Percy - The Serenity of a Beautiful Anchorage
The Big A Frame
The fishing was amazing - literally in a few feet of water there was Spanish Mackeral chasing huge schools of Gar Fish in beautiful clear water.  I kept the crew of a cat entertained when we motored into a large school being chased and the Gar Fish were hitting the side of the dinghy and nearly jumping aboard to escape the Mackeral - needless to say I was head down, screaming trying to escape the jumping fish to the great delight of the cat beside us!  We did enjoy a lovely evening with some new friends on the yacht Gilly who we have passed a number of times at different anchorages.  The crew also enjoyed walks along deserted beaches and a few paddles along the edge.
Gilly anchoraged at Digby
All wonderful things can not last - and we decided to head off for a quick day sail to Digby Island and then onto Scawfell Island whilst a small breeze was forecasted - mmmm there was no breeze for both legs but we did enjoy both anchorages very much.  Digby had some good fishing but alas the captain with his sprained hand just couldn't get them onto the boat (it was night as well which didn't help!)
Sailing to Digby - Breeze - what Breeze?
The last leg has now seen the crew arrive in the Whitsundays proper (also known as the Cumberland group) just in time to meet with Tim and Pam.

Plenty to write about on the next post...

Until then


Monday, 5 August 2013

The Sandy Straights and Running Aground....

My apologies to everyone for my tardiness on providing updates on our recent progress..

So the crew left Mooloolaba very early Thursday morning with a steady wind and swell wasn't a perfect forecast for the 'mad mile run' but the crew all agreed that the pod could handle those conditions without a problem. 
In actual fact there was very little concern until one of the boats about an hour ahead of the Pod reported that they had been knocked down by two rogue waves on way point 2 - the poor fellow was very distraught when reporting into the VMR.  This particular boat reported they would need to spend the next few hours mopping up water and putting their boat back in order. 
The VMR did report that the second way point should be taken about 50 meters to the North of the marker as the bar had moved around a bit further since it was put down - unfortunately this boat may have taken the waypoint a bit to finely as there was significant swell and waves breaking on both sides of the Pod when we entered.  The crew even took the precaution of putting in the storm boards and of course all the crew (including Miss Charlotte) put on our life jackets just in case.  We navigated the bar without mishap and the Pod handled the confused seas like the gem that she is.

The crew studying the 'cruising bible' for the best anchorages after the Mad Mile 
Note the life jacket

The crew then spent the next few nights at an anchorage called Pelican Bay - I particularly like this anchorage as the water is clean with a nice sand spit for exploring and there is many boats coming and going to peruse from the cockpit. 

Charlotte attracts attention at Pelican Bay on the Stand Up Paddle Board
(as she does at the Lake) - the crew are never allowed to leave without her aboard.
Due to the high tide times (early morning and latish afternoons) we decided on the spare of the moment to proceed down the straights (this is behind Fraser Island) late one afternoon headed for a very popular anchorage known as Gary's Anchorage.  We had planned only to stay the one night before continuing the journey through the straights, but a very slow moving morning fog prevented us from leaving for two days.  Gary's anchorage is very well known for the Mud Crabs that can be caught but alas we didn't have mud crab for dinner that night - however we did enjoy the two nights free of midggies (the other thing this anchorage is well known for!)
So this is when it got interesting - due to the fog in the morning the crew decided to run the gauntlet on the afternoon high tide.  In order to get to the next anchorage (White cliffs) before dark we would need to leave Gary's about an hour after the turn from low tide (tides run roughly in 1 x 12th in first hour, 2 x 12th second hour, 3 x 12th 3rd hour and then it reverses itself for the 4 to the 6th hour to give you some idea)
All was going well until faced with a buoy that is a bit odd on the GPS and due to the water clarity not possible to visually confirm - so we ran aground.  The Pod was very high and dry on a -.7 feet reading on the depth sounder.  The crew put the anchor out to prevent the Pod from coming adrift onto the buoy as the tide rose, but it didn't take long before we were afloat again (about 45 minutes) - the problem however was it was now very, very dark and finding your way through the sandy straights in the dark is...well interesting to say the least!  Eventually the Pod found the anchorage but we decided to stay out wide as judging the lights on other boats at night is actually quite difficult.

The crew running aground - only kidding I will explain this later!
The next day the crew sailed out to Platypus Bay.  Now this is what I signed up for - a very long stretch of sandy beach, crystal clear water and a turtle or two to keep us entertained. On the second afternoon, the crew decided to meander down the beach a bit further to find an anchorage called lagoon anchorage.  After a little while - the captain says...
Captain: That mast you can see down about 1/2 a mile must be a boat in the lagoon. 
Me: Mmmmm...looks more like a small catamaran pulled up on the beach to me
Captain: No cant be - it has two spreaders - it must be a bigger boat
Out come the binoculars - imagine our surprise when we realise the boat in the picture above and below was very, very high and dry on this magical expanse of sand.  I have googled the yachts name to find out the story behind the grounding but have yet to find anything.  The boat appears to be approximately 35 foot long, a centre cockpit ferro yacht(cement for those not sure what that means).  It is actually really eerie as there is still a main sail attached, a furler for the headsail and when you look inside there is buckets and life jackets just sitting on the sand inside!

This was certainly a different way to spend our last afternoon in Harvey Bay before heading over to the Port of Bundaberg.  The crew headed off mid morning with a heavy weather forecast of 30 knots plus in the next 24 hours - we needed to provision and refuel so Bundaberg was the preferred port of call.
Bundaberg - is quite interesting both for the setup of the marina and for the history relating to the flooding experienced twice in the last 2.5 years.
The marina itself is quite a long way from the town of Bundaberg so we hired a car to do the provisioning (and the captain had sprained his wrist so a quick visit to the hospital for a check up were on the cards as well) but also enjoyed a delightful meal at the dog friendly café/restaurant located in the marina building.  It was very interesting to talk to the shipwright and other locals regarding the damage the floods have caused - in the hardstand area, we noticed that there was heaps of boats just sitting there not being worked on.  Upon investigation, the vast majority of the boats are sitting there severely damaged after the floods - they are divided into two groups - those insured and those not insured and most are up for sale.  Certainly if you are after a cheap boat to rebuild this is where you should head!
After a few days at Bundaberg waiting for the front to go through (and again enjoying a sunset with the crew from Allusive) we headed off to Pancake Creek....but you will have to wait for that instalment till tomorrow


Monday, 1 July 2013

We've been everywhere man...

Okay maybe Slim Dusty has been more places than the Pod and crew recently...

Last post found us having recently entered Coffs Harbour.  We spent a few days washing and enjoying the sights of Coffs before making our first foray out of the harbour.  The plan was to leave Coffs early with a forecast for a 2m swell and a 15 knot south/south west breeze - this is the conditions the Pod loves.  Once we got outside, it was obvious the ground swell was much larger than forecasted, so the crew made the decision to come back in as we were concerned that a further building swell might present a challenge for entering Southport bar.

The NSW nasty weather did the crew no favours for the next few days, with a breaking entry to Coffs Harbour, even though the sun was shining and generally very nice. The Pod did however end up in the berth near our sister ship (so to speak) Aratika 2 - the crew of Aratika are Robb, Emma and their two lovely littlies.  They are on a year long, family sabbatical from Tassie - we hope to see more of them further up the Coast as it is nice to compare boats, however I suspect they may need to watch the Captain because he may unbolt their bow sprit if they arent careful and install it on the Pod.

Aratika 2 - our sister ship

Anyway, the crew settled in for another few days and between watching the weather forecast, the Coffs entry, the boats that dived in for shelter during the night after rough nights at sea (including the Young Endeavour), we finally set sail to the Gold Coast.  The sail North, was awesome!  The pod started in some really light breeze and an angle (to make it past the solitary Islands) that meant we motored, but a few hours before the sun set the forecasted Westerley came in (literally you could see the line of breeze in what was a becalmed sea) and the Pod shook herself off and we sailed for the next 20 hours between 6-8 knots in 15-20knots of breeze.  The swell was still up, but the Pod just gets into her groove and it makes for fantastic sailing.

Coffs Harbour - Breaking Entry to the Harbour!

We arrived into the Gold Coast seaway with only a slight swell on the entry and promptly set the anchor, in the lovely anchorage known as Bums Bay...this little anchorage has sandy beaches on all sides, massive boats entering and exiting the seaway, huge high rises and there in the midst of it all sits the boats heading mostly North and a few 'liveaboards' who transit out for a day or so every 30 days!

Young Endeavour - Seeking shelter

The crew were keen to move further North before the next weathern pattern arrived (due end of the week) so a few days later we set off for Double Island Point/Tin Can Bay - we started in a sloppy sea and very little wind but soon the breeze kicked in about midway along North Stradbroke, and we sailed with 18-20 knots from the south east - again the Pod loved it and we were sailing at 6.5-7.5 knots of speed.  The 4pm forecast by the BOM suddenly had a change of forecast, with a now forecasted 2.5m swell with 25-30 knots of breeze for the Double Island Point area, which resulted in a change of plans.

The Pod - Safe and Sound
  For those that do not know this bar, it is considered one of the worst entries in a number of conditions for the East Coast - mainly because it is fairly long entry and most yachts can expect to be in the bar area (particularly waypoint 2-3 which is called the mad mile) for about 40 minutes which means each boat will see a number of swell roll in.  Add shallow waters and this can mean breaking waves if the conditions are rough.  Tin Can Bay VMR do a fabulous job in monitoring the conditions and tracking each entry - they ask each boat to radio in twice to ensure you enter safely past each way point and are awesome if you call to get advice on the prevailing conditions.  Our first call to them had choppy seas with an occasional white water breaking, but a rating of 6/10 for conditions.  The second call had the VMR monitoring and hoping that a boat that had tried to enter and turned around due to breaking seas' would arrive into port safely...whilst the bar can be benign, this is a serious bar and not to be undertaken lightly if the conditions arent great.

Stewed Rhubarb with Porridge - The crew eat well!
  So, discretion being the better part of valour, the crew made the decision to come into Mooloolaba with the view that we might leave early the next day if things settled down...alas that is not to be, as the next day had wind observations at 30 knots or greater on Double Island Point, which has continued since then.  The crew arrived at Mooloolaba at 3am and successfully navigated the channel and marina berths in the dead of the night.  

To our great delight, the crew aboard Allusive arrived a few hours later and we have since caught up a few times.  We have learnt a number of new anchorages and options for future trips already from the Allusive crew, as well as scoring a cuddle from the pups Mac and Tillie.
  The crew plan to explore a little more around Mooloolaba (we really like it already), and head up to the mad mile possibly Thursday or Friday weather permitting.

Catch you at the next Port