With an Unexpected stay in Mooloolaba
On The Move Again
Monday 2nd March 2009
Once more MrJ and I head AR out of Manly Harbour; on board we now have a new Redback dinghy and a Viking kayak. The first two nights at anchor are spent in Horseshoe bay, Peel Island: known as Teerk Roo Ra (Peel Island) National Park and Conservation Park where certain areas around Peel Island are protected for its natural environmental values such as corals, fish and dugong; mainly on the northern and western sides. Peel Island has a long history dating back through the 1800’s as a Quarantine station, an Asylum and a Leper Colony.
For visit this time, there are only a couple of other boats at anchor which is much nicer and I get to try out my new kayak. Goes really well; I made it to the beach and back, against the current with not much effort and even I did not disgrace myself getting in or out of the kayak. I think I’m clever.................................till the next time and the first tip-over!
Wednesday 4th March is not looking too good on the weather front. We need to be getting further north but where to hide out of the storm for the night? Tangalooma was not looking good! MrJ heads AR into Manly Harbour for a quick pickup of my new computer, which I have only just got up and running, (thanks for the delivery, Melinda) ,then we do a quick turn around and are heading up the Bay. Bribie Island has a southern anchorage; south end of Pumicestone Passage. The Pumicestone Passage is a narrow, shallow estuary with a meandering system of channels, sand banks and islands between Bribie Island and the mainland extending from Caloundra in the north to Deception Bay in the south. This anchorage looks okay for an overnight stay out of the north gale. Even if the wind is hard at least there should be no swell surge in the passage, (I hope!).
We motor-sail between St Helena and Mud Islands catching the wind on the eastern side; now we are sailing, both sail up and pumping along and doing nicely to catch the lead lines to cross the main shipping channel into the Brisbane River. Three ships in the channel and we are getting closer, doing about 9-10kn......flying. There are other motor boats in the same area, either in the channel or crossing.........just gotta get our timing right......................no worries......MrJ canes it and AR is across into safe water and on our way further north past Redcliff and onto Bribie. The weather is closing in as the day is getting on. The northern Bay is turning rough, but AR can handle this,; just as long as we do not get slowed down and make it all the way into Bribie in the daylight. No worries there too; we do make in the daylight; 1710h off Bongaree, but not the quite pleasant anchorage I was hoping for. ...............it’s a bit lumpy in this foul weather..................no worse than we have had before. MrJ and I have been told since that Bribie can be calm and peaceful in the right conditions.
Next morning, 0630h Thursday 5th March, MrJ and I are off and running again. The seas are a bit choppy, a 1.5m swell, 22kn of wind filling the sails. MrJ put the main up to first reef before leaving Bribie and the genoa is on quarter reef; we are still keeping a good 8-9.5kn run. Many ships are passing in the shipping lanes throughout the day. This is the usual for the shipping lanes especially of Caloundra. AR is well out of the lanes this time; much closer inshore, except for the mad dash across the shipping lane right outside of Caloundra entrance at around 0930h. No radio calls either.
The next leg north is just as speedy; the 25kn winds that we were experience off and north of Caloundra died away to a quite 15/18kn by the time AR had come round Point Cartwright. MrJ headed her towards the Mooloolaba Beach, between the Mooloolaba River entrance break-walls and into the river mouth. MrJ and I had AR tied up alongside and ready to put the cover up at 1045h. We had made extremely good time, four and a quarter hours, from Pumicestone Passage south Bribie to Mooloolaba Marina and it was a fantastic lively sail all the way. How great does that make one feel?
Unexpected Stay in Mooloolaba
Friday 6th March, What was to be an overnight stay at the Mooloolaba Marina extended out to eleven nights; not such a fast trip after all! There was a little Scotsman named Hamish bearing down on the coast and it looked as if he may be headed our way.
Friday and Saturday felt real calm with loads of sunshine and hardly a breeze; just what a perfect day at the beach would bring. By Sunday morning the storm clouds were forming and the wind had picked up to a decent 30kn. Great for the surf beach; a large swell and breaking wave starting to roll in onto the Mooloolaba Beach front which brought the keen boardies out in droves. Up the river, sitting on the outside of the marina fingers, AR was also starting to feel the effects of Hamish. MrJ and I put out more fenders, secured more line to AR, holding her tighter to the marina pontoon and took down all the covers.
Sunday morning Hamish, Category 5 cyclone, was now 225km northeast of Yeppoon and 310km north of Bundaberg, moving southeast at 14km/h with winds of up to 280 km/h being recorded. Evacuations on the mainland up north were put on hold as it was predicted that the cyclone was weakening and may not even cross the coast, but there was still a 5 per cent chance that Hamish would. No one really knew; who can predict what a cyclone will do? Hamish was still a threat to the coastal and island communities between Yeppoon and Hervey Bay.
Monday they were saying that Cyclone Hamish, located 290km east of Gladstone and 140km northeast of Sandy Cape, was to make landfall Tuesday between Bundaberg and Hervey Bay. Tourists, campers and fishermen evacuated Fraser Island in the fear that Hamish was headed for Sandy Cape and this is where it was expected to hover. The Great Sandy National Park, including Fraser Island and the Inskip Peninsular were closed, all four-wheel drive access had been banned, many guests at the Kingfisher Bay and Eurong resorts were evacuated amid steady rain and gusty winds, the barge services were being cancelled as of Monday, about 10,000 residents from a low-lying “danger zone” between Burrum Heads and River Heads had been told to get ready to get out and go stay with friends and family before local roads are cut. Airline flights were diverted. Airlie Beach was already being pounded by strong winds and heavy rain; evacuations were reported on several other islands, Lady Elliot, Heron, South Molle, Long and the Whitsunday Islands. On Hamilton Island, about 3,000 people were sheltering in the resort’s cyclone-proof hotel. The lucky rich! By Hamish was continuing to weaken off the central Queensland coast, but damaging winds associated with the storm cell and a storm surge of up to 2metres were still expected. Hamish could still change his mind!
So far there are three trawler men missing in waters off Rockhampton and another trawler in trouble off Fraser somewhere.
Tuesday morning, Hamish, Category 4 with wind gusts near its centre are as high as 250km/p/h, was situated approximately 215km northeast of Yeppoon and was moving southeast at 12km/p/h. A Cyclone Warning was extended south to Tewantin on the Sunshine Coast. Even though Hamish was remaining offshore he was still getting closer. Here in Mooloolaba, the wind was blowing anything from 30-40kn inside the river marina area. The wind blew like blazes, so what was the wind force like on the outside? I don’t know but I did go out on the break-wall several times and there were times when the wind was so strong that it was nearly blowing me backwards. The huge tubes of white foaming wave came rolling in round the point and onto the beach. Not only did I nearly get blown away but I was drenched in either salt spray or rain. Got some good photos though!
Wednesday Hamish was now a Category 3 storm about 275km east of Sandy Cape, near Hervey Bay. It combined with another weather system, generating 4m ocean swells and fierce winds of up to 85km/p/h. Meanwhile, the Port of Brisbane was on high alert where at least 10 smaller boats have broken free from moorings in the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay. Hamish is still wheeling some force in Mooloolaba and AR was staying put.
By Friday Hamish is being called “Ex-tropical cyclone Hamish”, still stays off the Queensland coast. Hamish is also now the blame for oil spill/containers overboard incident in Moreton Bay, which the Queensland Polies are calling “as possibly the worst environmental disaster the state has witnessed”. Local gossip has it that the ship dumped its load to avoid rolling in the high stormy sea conditions; it will take a lengthy enquiry to sort this one out. Thank goodness for all the hundreds of volunteers who have helped the Parks, Marine and Wildlife people with the huge clean up.
Meanwhile back in Mooloolaba the rains tumble down, AR’s cover are still off, she is getting drenched and MrJ and me are stuck inside for most of the second half of the week. Somewhere in the middle of all this and before and after the rain came, MrJ and I made up the shade covers for AR salon side windows and front hatches. We did get one fitted before the rain and the rest after.
Cherie lent us her car for the duration of our stay, thank you; she is recovering extremely well after her bowel cancer op. Lucky girl, they got it all, with no Chemo. Rick came and saw us a couple of times, good moral support in times of foul weather. Things were looking better!