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Visitors On Board & Crossing the Wide Bay Bar

Friday 12th
Tin Can Bay Marina (25*54'40 S / 153*00'39 E)
Alana Rose is allocated a berth on B-Dock (Blue) #22. Thank goodness there is little to no wind, as JJ swings Alana Rose into this berth. It is a tight squeeze and there is another boat on our port side. This other boat, a 36’ Voyager power cat, has no fender over the side and there is no one on board.
It is early morning, too early for the marina office to be open and no one to help. Boaties are always up and about in the early hours, preparing their boat for leaving or heading to the amenities block. This early morning we caught the eye of one such boatie, a lady, who grabbed from me and tied off the forward line, holding Alana Rose thus enabling me to get ashore to secure a spring line. I would really hate to have to try this with any sort of a wind blowing. I would not be able to jump down from our bow quick enough it is too big a drop to the pontoon for my tired old body. At least when JJ backs Alana Rose in her stern is level with the marina pontoons.
Order of the day –to make sure that Alana Rose is secure; this means that all lines are secure, all fenders are secure – not only on the dockside but on the side facing the other boat that has no fenders, another fender is put over the side as a step-up to come on board, top covers are pulled out of the forward lockers and put up, the back covers rolled out and dropped. All this must be done before we can even think about going ashore; it is what happens every time Alana Rose comes in.
The marina at Tin Can Bay has been extended since the last time that JJ and I were here some four years ago when JJ and I had hired a catamaran to learn my sailing. Our chart still show the one entrance but now a number of pontoons have been added to the finger which now extend out past the old entrance and there are two entrances depending on which finger you need to get to. Part of the renovation has been to build fifteen small cottages along the foreshore. I’m not too sure if any of these cottages have been sold as there did not seem to be anyone in them. (????) Tin Can Bay Marina is a very quiet and friendly marina.
Our stay in this marina would last for two weeks where during this time JJ and I were able to get chores done on Alana Rose, meet new people and entertain old friends. JJ had his maintenance jobs, I was busy converting the old bed sheets into covers for the salon lounge seats and we had a visit from dear friends Colleen and Brian and Carol and Mal.

15th Sept
Back to Garry’s
Colleen and Brian tried to sneak in an early visit on the Sunday but I felt that they were coming; arriving just on lunch time while Carol and Mal arrived on the Monday at lunchtime. Colleen was so excited to see us and finally to see Alana Rose and to be able to spend time aboard. As soon as Carol and Mal came on board on the Monday JJ and I cast off lines and JJ headed Alana Rose out of the marina.
Our first night’s destination would be just north of Snout Point off Fraser Island some three hours away. The weather was coming in and the chop on the bay was a little uncomfortable for Carol; Brian lent her a pair of wrist bands with special pressure points attached. The bands were helping.
The tide was going out while the swell and wind waves were coming in; one against the other in shallow waters makes for messy chop. The worst part was as Alana Rose motored across the entrance to Wide Bay; we did a bit of rocking and rolling. The clouds were closing in and there was rain about, maybe even a storm in the air.
To get into the anchorage at Snout Point JJ need to steer Alana Rose up the inside of the sandbars off the island into a narrow gutter that became very shallow very fast. With two meters of water under the boat I dropped the anchor. By now the wind was howling and we had little or no protection. JJ was not too happy with our position; if conditions worsened that we could be stuck here on one of the sand banks. I didn’t want to be in on that one!
Up came the anchor, JJ spun Alana Rose around on the spot and headed back out the way we came in. The weather was getting worse, strong winds, and the daylight hours were running out. Half an hour later Alana Rose was a little further south, just off an area of Fraser Island called The Bluff. There was another boat tucked right in close to the shore line; JJ manoeuvred Alana Rose into about six meters of water and once more I dropped the anchor. The anchor set first time and I than laid out a heap of cable; in unfavourable weather condition it is better to have more cable out than not. The sun was just setting.
Our guests did appreciate the reason behind the change of location and even though it was bit of a lumpy night they all sleep very well, especially after some good food and several glasses of wine. Mind you, I was on anchor watch all night and JJ was the one who got up and down to all the little odd noises.
Early the next morning JJ and I were out pulling in the anchor and moving on, further north and to the better protected water in Garry’s Anchorage. Our guests were up and about eager to see everything. Once inside the calmer waters of Garry’s I dropped the anchor, we were set for the day and it was time to cook breakfast. After breakfast and the girls washed up, everyone found their own kind of relaxation activity.
Colleen wanted to fish, Brian and Mal were in on that, Carol read her book, JJ played on his computer and I sat in the cockpit doing my knitting with a front row seat to watch all the fishing antics and add word of encouragement to Colleen. Mal was the first to pull in a fish, a small puffer fish then Brian then Colleen; all pusher fish or maybe the same puffer fish – Colleen thought it was and said so. More puffer fish which Colleen told Brian to bash the fish so that it would not come back – we all laughed; brave Colleen who had to get Brian to bait her hook and than if she had caught a fish it was Brian who cut the fish loose. Colleen could not stand the slimy touch of neither worm nor fish, let alone carry out all the threats that she had been making to the poor little fish. Worth another good laugh! Ah, but it was Colleen who caught what I told her was the only real fish; a flathead, but way too small to keep so Brian had to use the pliers to release the flathead and through it back.
All this was happening off the stern of Alana Rose, not in close to shore and probably not the ideal fishing location; the boys were not too serious and we all had a relaxing if not comical afternoon. Now with good friendship and good fun comes good food and good wine. Our afternoon was no exception, with a sunset to die for, a plate of cheese and nibbles, several glasses of wine followed by JJ cooking a bar-b-q of our bought meat as no respectable size fish were caught, many stories of what have been caught and what Colleen wanted to do to all the puffer fish in the anchorage and a calm good night’s sleep.
The next morning after breakfast, the boys took off in the dingy to seek out any good fishing spots. I didn’t see any lines go into the water just a heap of exploring along the estuary. After that the anchor came up and JJ headed Alana Rose back to the Tin Can Bay Marina where Carol and Mal had to leave us; Colleen and Brian stayed another night. Coming back into the same berth was not as easy as it had been the first time; the wind was from a different direction and a lot stronger. I was so worried about the other boat without the fenders; I had Mal on the starboard side lines with me and the rest of the crew on the port side to fend us off the offending boat.
That couple of days out went so fast, as did the whole visit; it was great to catch up with friends who will remain friends for a lifetime.

21st Sept
Riviera Party
It was like being back in Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia when the party boats came in from Martinique for the Jazz weekend only much smaller, not as many boats or people and it was only for one night not the whole weekend. The other difference was these people were all wealthy Australians and not the beautiful people from the Caribbean. I say no more!
About fifteen Riviere motor cruisers, ranging in size from 30mt to 70mt, came into the marina on the Sunday afternoon, all wanting to fuel up and a berth for the night. Most went about their business in a reasonable manner without much of a do; one was owned by my daughter Ange’s boss Mark, his brother Steve and their dad. We got the party boats, two of them, directly behind us on the finger. These two Riviere, one a real sporty model, had their stern to the pontoon with the saloon/cockpit doors wide open, bar-b-q food and drink spread out and loud music playing for all of the marina to hear. I was so glad that Alana Rose was bow to the pontoon; JJ and I could sit in our cockpit having our own meal and listen to the music and laughter. People walked up and down the finger, visiting the other boats but our neighbours were the friendliest. Loudness came with friendliness! The loud music and talking really didn’t bother JJ and I as once we had come inside and all the hatches were closed the noise was not so noticeable. Very early the next morning all the Riviera boats motored out leaving a note of dislike in the local air. Apparently the noisy party boats did bother others in the marina as this party night was the topic of conversation for a couple of days after the Riviera boats had left. Oh well, such is life!

Friday 26th
Leaving Tin Can
The time has come for JJ and I to make a move, we have been in the marina long enough and there is a need to be in Brisbane before the 6th of October when Carla, Corey and girls, Isabella and Olivia are coming to see us.
The wind, the swell and the weather has been a bit ordinary; JJ has worked out that there is a good weather window for crossing the Wide Bay Bar and skipping down the coast to Mooloolaba for Saturday the 27th. The early morning tide at 0640h would be in our favour for a bar crossing on a flood tide the hour before high tide and this crossing time would give us plenty of day time to travel down to Mooloolaba, getting there in late afternoon daylight hours.
The plan was to leave Tin Can Marina early Friday morning before the wind had a chance to pick up as it usually does around mid-morning, sail or motor sail out to Inskip Point, drop the anchor in Pelican Bay for the night and cross the Bar at 0600h Saturday morning. This we did with relative ease; there were a couple of other yachts already anchored and by late afternoon there would have been at least fifteen boat all anchored in Pelican Bay waiting for the morning Crossing. The next part of this plan was that our good friends Ric and Lou were to join us, driving up from Mooloolaba to the vehicle parking place at Inskip where JJ would pick them up in the dingy to bring Ric and Lou on board. Ric would do the Bar crossing and the trip down to Mooloolaba whilst would be staying onboard only for one night, returning by car to Mooloolaba after being dingied back to the car park at Inskip at 0530h Saturday before we sailed.

27th Sept
Bar Crossing
Ric dingied Lou back to the beach while JJ and I readied Alana Rose for our Bar Crossing and day passage south; covers down and stowed in the bow lockers, anything that was not tired down was stowed in a locker somewhere, life jackets were brought out, charts out, final check on instruments and engines – the waypoints JJ had already put into the Garmin Plotter- the last thing to be made secure was the dingy once Ric came back on board. Most of the other yachts had already made a move and were heading out in front of us. That fine by us, JJ and I are never in a hurry, it’s not a race we do not have to juggle for position, and we are happy motoring out at our own pace watching out for our own safety.
The sun had just risen in the East spreading a glowing path along the top of the water for us to follow as Alana Rose heads into the channel. The brown silhouettes of the other yachts in front of us shine in the early morning sun’s rays.
I am feeling a little nervous, a little excited and very alert as JJ stears Alana Rose onward. I am expecting a rough ride or at the very least quite a bit of wash and some breakers across The Bar. The tide is in its last hour before the peak which means that it will not be rushing in as hard, a gentle breeze is coming from a north easterly direction and the SE swell is calm. All this is defiantly in our favour for a good crossing.
There are four sections to The Wide Bay entrance, referred to as “The Mad Mile” for when the conditions are not the best it can be a real washing machine effect. On the inside or going out, the first is an area of water before the entrance which is known as Inskip Point, a narrowing where the barge ferries cross from the mainland point to the southern end of Fraser Island. The next three sections are all part of the bar crossing; they are three separate exact passages following from one way-point to the next in a zig-zag pattern through the water and out to safe water on the other side of the Bar. The water underneath does shallow out but not to a great extreme; the shallowest I saw recorded on our crossing was about 5meters.
The washing machine was on quarter speed this morning and except for the breakers on the sand bar itself there was little turbulence through the water, this made me feel more comfortable. The big motor launch that had been anchored near us in Pelican Bay had finally made its move and was now charging towards Alana Rose. This launch came up very fast behind us, passed with its bow cutting through the water and motored out over the Bar leaving us for dust; leaving everyone for dust. A small fishing boat seemed to being going off the track. I knew that there was another place to get over the Bar called Fisherman’s Gutter but this particular crossing spot was very treacherous and only attempted by the locals in extremely good conditions. My thought was to checked the chart and I was right, he was taking the Fisherman’s Gutter crossing. After watching this little fishing boat appear to be going straight for the breaking surf on the sand bar and surrounded by breaking waves, I’m glad that we are taking the safer path out to the open sea.
Wide Bay Bar Crossing WP2 - 25*47'368 S / 153*06'604 E

Posted by nancyjean 18:42 Archived in Australia Tagged boating

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