Tuesday 20th: Once again MrJ and I are ready to head out, across the Wide Bay Bar and south to Brissie. Before getting away there is the little matter of getting some more diesel for AR’s two fuel tanks. The usual trick is to take your boat alongside the fuel dock and fill from the marina bowsers. The lady at the chandlers office, the chandlers have the rights to the fuel dock, informs MrJ that they may not have enough fuel in their tanks and no one has dipped the tank as yet that morning. You get that “real old country feeling”; something like “island time”. Not to worry us, MrJ and I load all our Gerry cans into two trolleys and cart enough fuel back to AR; 194litres to be exact. And they said they did not have much fuel!
Time to move; water on the ebb tide is getting away. We can use this ebb tide to get us out of the Tin Can Inlet and all the way to Inskip Point where Mr J and I will anchor AR for the night while waiting to cross the bar.
Gosh! It’s not very hard to see that the holidays are still with us; just look at all the pleasure craft on the water today. Not only the usual hired houseboats and some, there are doted everywhere, small sail boats, little party boats and of course, noisy jet skis. Holiday people are taking advantage of the beautiful warn sunny QLD weather and the glorious waterways of Tin Can Inlet, Wide Bay Harbour, The Great Sandy Straits and Hervey Bay.
Inskip 2 Mooloolaba
Wednesday 21st: Hide tide was at 0516h this morning at Waddy Point, which is on the south eastern side of Fraser Island and is the tide reading for the Wide Bay Bar. To cross the bar at the Coast Guards recommended “better time”, which is one hour before high tide. MrJ and I were up at 0315h; before the alarm went off which was set for 0330h anyway. I helped MrJ pull the covers down and stow them in the forward locker then while MrJ was checking the engines, instruments and electronics, I had the kettle on for a welcomes cup of tea, some bread in the grill for early morning toast, closing hatches, securing any lose items that might go flying during our passage and preparing the log and chart work for the day. I don’t even know if I was fully awake; the body was working on auto.
The morning’s sunrise was not as early as the last time that AR had made this crossing; only a month ago, the morning was still dark. The weather called for N/NE wind 10/15k increasing to 15/20k off shore later in the morning with a 1.09mt swell.
0435h: In the dim grey light of the early morning dawn AR slipped out of her anchorage into the rolly waters of the Wide Bay Inlet; light rain was falling and Nancy was very nervous. No longer half asleep but on full alert!
0515h and AR was at the inside waypoint (W3). The water was not so calm for this only our third crossing; the swell came in over the bar creating 1mt rollers through the inlet which AR was heading into. At this stage there was enough dawn light for MrJ to see the water’s surface and to be able to tell what changes were happening on that water surface or in the distance where the swell had hit the solid mass of the sand bars and was breaking with great rolls of foaming white surf. During the past few days, the bar had been unpassable, with the weather condition steeping the seas and making a real mess over the sand bars and through the inlet. This was the first reasonable day for a crossing. 0540h; AR was passing the middle waypoint (W2); the swell rolled in at the same consistency, a little higher and several of the wavelets were standing up to form little breakers. AR ploughed through and sometimes up and over but my tummy was not acting up. Maybe it was the toast?
There were two other yachts and a small motor boat doing the crossing with us this morning. Of the two yachts, one was a smaller and much lighter racing type boat and the other; would you believe it was the ketch that backed into AR up near Kingfisher. Both these yachts were heading into the breaking swells, their bows would dip way down in the white water only to reappear a few moments later out of the water. It looked probably much worse than what was really happening on board; the yachts seem to be making better time than AR through the crossing as MrJ was timing how AR hit each wave as not to throw us of balance at the wrong moment so we were progressing a little slower and AR was handling this very well. (And for once, so was I).The motor boat disappeared through “Fisherman’s Gutter”, a pass through the sand bars on the south side of the bar just past W2.
0555h: AR passed the outside waypoint (W1); at 0600h I was able to raise Coast Guard Tin Can Bay on the radio and we were on our way south.
The wind was still from the NE, maybe more to the NNE and the sea was still up and making our passage very lumpy. MrJ and I pulled out the genoa; AR was rocking too much with the messy swell to put up the main as the motion of the boat would rock the wind out of the mainsail. Sometimes we would be under sail alone, sometime we had to motor sail; it all depended on the strength of the wind which varied from anything from 5-16k.
AR had rounded Double Island Point by 0730h; I tried to have a rest some time later then taking over the helm at 1030h for MrJ for him to get a rest which didn’t really happen. Who can sleep on a lumpy sea?
I was watching another small yacht coming down the coast behind AR; he was under full sail power and doing short tacks all the way. This yacht did not seem to be doing any better than AR but then again she was not getting left behind. MrJ thought that this might be a good plan that we could also try. First the genoa had come down before we could hoist the main; with me on the helm and MrJ on the main halyard up she went, all 50foot of her. MrJ and I once again rolled out the genny and AR was on her way again heading for a new course for a starboard tack. We spent two hours doing short tacks, starboard to port, before the wind died and the one of the motors had to be started to give AR a push along. When AR was about a hour out of Mooloolaba MrJ and I brought in all our sail to motor through the breaking swell as we enter the break-wall at the entrance to the Mooloolaba River and our safe haven for the night. Coming over the surf rollers into this entrance is very daunting, especial with the surf beach so close, or to me it appears to be extremely close.
Once inside the entrance to the Mooloolaba River you would think that we would be “home free”; but this was not to be. It was our intention to drop our pick up stream from the marina, Mooloolaba and Wharf, around the bend from Minyama Island, which would put us just outside the official harbour limits. Hum...............................................!
Every other buggar who does not choose to go into a marina, for whatever reason, has done the same. With me standing “on guard” at the bow, MrJ wanders AR around and through this maze of boats, some of which have been anchored here for a long time. We drop the pick in about 2mt of water, this highest level that MrJ can find but it is near on high tide and that means that AR will be sitting on the bottom at low tide. Not liking this! And neither was MrJ so I haul up the anchor, which is so hard to do (not!) as AR does have an electric winch and we move off. There are no other deeper holes, they all have been taken; we cannot or should I say “I will not” put back to sea, I am too tired and could not stand a night passage. I need my sleep!
The only thing to do is ring the marinas and beg for somewhere to tie up for the night. Good on the Mooloolaba Marina; thank you, thank you, thank you, for coming to our rescue. Mooloolaba Marina had one no show, and only that one space left for our size boat. After coming alongside you could that this was true, the marina was full to the brim. I ran around deck like a chook with it head cut off getting lines and fender out of locker and getting all secured while MrJ had to negotiate AR back down the river through incoming late afternoon boating traffic; not just a few boats but people on kayaks and in tinnies. All just in a day’s work!
AR had the outside berth on the end of E (Yellow) finger; MrJ and I found it and with the help of Bruce, who we had met last time in, another yachtie on the same finger, and a bit of hassle with the wind blowing AR off the pontoon,; again and again and again, as I watch other boats coming precariously close as they came up the river, we were in for the night.
My only thoughts then turned to a nice long cold shower, food in my tummy and a good night’s sleep!