Mission accomplished – We are in Queensland

We have lots to tell you, so grab a cuppa and find a comfortable spot to sit and read this longer post!

First: fixing things!

No weekly post would be complete without a dose of boat maintenance! You might recall we discovered we had a broken alternator bracket when we got to Coffs Harbour last week. Well, we got our new bracket made by Marcia Street Fabricators, metal work manufacturers who did a terrific job in record time! So we were quickly operational again.

On a public mooring at Coffs while we wait for our part
Coffs Harbour and marina with Anui on its own on the mooring

Following our main halyard failure a couple of weeks ago, we also ordered a new set of halyards and sheets from International Rope Braid, a Queensland rope manufacturer. We learnt our lesson, prevention is better than cure. So we are replacing everything. We have now picked up the lot on the Gold Coast!

We were pretty pleased with ourselves at successfully threading the halyards up. However, while up the mast, Wade noticed the lazy jacks pulleys were looking a bit worse for wear. He was removing them and drilling out an old fitting when a drill bit broke and dropped down… straight onto one of the solar panels. And of course it is shattered! It never ever stops! Guess what we are doing now?

Then: birdwatching

While at Coffs Harbour, we could not resist taking a walk up Mutton Bird Island, to get a view of our surroundings and observe the birds flying. For the keen bird watchers among our followers, here are some images of a few stunning feathered friends! Zoom in to see their beautiful plumage.

Nankeen Kestrel in action: master of hovering
Fluttering and checking us out!
Is that a mouse I can see?
Black-shouldered Kite also fluttering
Superb Blue Wren

Bravely running away!

The next challenges were an East Coast Low weather warning and the concerning developments with COVID cases escalating. We felt we were at risk of getting stranded in northern NSW one way or another if we did not act quickly.

Australian East Coast Lows are intense low pressure systems which cause severe weather with many of the characteristics of tropical cyclones. They develop between 25˚ south and 40˚ south just off the Australian coastline, typically during the winter months. They particularly affect the NSW coast. Although variable in size and intensity, they are characterised by widespread heavy rainfall, damaging winds and dangerous seas… When they are forecast it is time to find a spot to hide!

We hummed and harred about what to do: stay in Coffs Harbour but move to the Marina, sail up to Yamba and anchor in the Clarence River, or push on all the way to the Queensland Gold Coast? What helped make our mind up was hearing of the hundreds of COVID cases in Victoria and the increase in NSW also. We were worried that the Queensland border might close again. So we obtained our border passes and bravely ran away!

Although you hear on the news that Victorians are banned from crossing interstate borders, the regulation actually states that as long as a person has been out of a declared ‘hot spot’ for more than fourteen days, they are allowed entry into Queensland. And yes, Queensland declared the whole of Victoria as a hot spot!

For the permit application, go to https://www.qld.gov.au/. You make an online declaration which is a legal document with heavy fines if you are found to tell porkies! The permit is issued immediately provided you meet the requirements but only valid for 7 days and can be cancelled at any time if conditions change. So it is no guarantee you will get through until you are at the border!

Leaving Coffs… Red skies in the morning!

We left Coffs Harbour on Saturday morning and motor-sailed in light NW winds to Yamba – a 50 nm passage – far from ideal conditions! It was a bit tedious, but we were on a mission. We anchored near Whiting Beach for the night, just past the southern breakwater. We always feel a bit self-conscious when we come into Yamba. This is where Anui was built and lots of people know the boat.

Following another cat into Yamba
Safely anchored… Bengie comes out!

We pushed on to Byron Bay on Sunday for another 55 nm. It was one of those frustrating days when you have the mainsail up, but are for ever rolling the jib in and out, swapping it for the screecher, furling that in and out, turning the engines off and on then doing the whole thing over and over again, all the time also dodging the rain. But we reached our last NSW destination by mid afternoon. We dropped the pick a fair way off the beach in 7 meters of water as this is an exposed, open anchorage. With some swell always present, it is passable in a catamaran but monohulls roll around a lot!

Rounding the Byron Bay Cape

As we looked north beyond Mount Warning, both of us said « Oh look, Queensland… the promised land! »

Mount Warning, 15 kms from the border!

It left 45nm to cover on Monday to get to Southport. It was another motor-sail in light winds and threatening skies… way more motoring than we like, but we were still on a mission!

Leaving grim looking NSW in our wake
We are now in Queensland… you can see the Gold Coast high rises!

Whales were particularly active around Tweed Heads. A loud whoosh sounded just off our port side and Anui suddenly felt rather close!

We were across the NSW/QLD border by 10.30 am and a couple of hours later we reached the Gold Coast Seaway, the main navigation entrance from the Pacific Ocean into the Gold Coast Broadwater and southern Moreton Bay. A few friends were obviously tracking us on Marine Traffic; we received messages as we were reaching our milestone. Thank you all for thinking of us.

Motoring to the Seaway, now in bright sunshine!

Also tracking us were Queensland Maritime Safety (MSQ) and the water police! The procedure for maritime entry into the state was thorough. We were contacted by the Gold Coast Seaway Tower via radio and by MSQ by phone before we crossed into Queensland. As our voyage was tracked on AIS (Automatic Identification System) they had evidence of the main ports we had stopped at and an official record of the dates. All this proved we had been out of any « hot spot » for more than two weeks. We were asked to email our border passes, travel log and ID and ten minutes later we received confirmation we had permission to enter Queensland. Maritime Safety also sent a photo of Anui, its registration and our entry permits to the Seaway Tower, the QLD Health Department and the Water Police announcing our authorised arrival! Very comprehensive, as it should be. And then they sent a pod of dolphins as the welcome party!

Yippee!

We are safely anchored at Paradise Point, pleased to be escaping the East Coast Low nastiness and relieved to be in Queensland at last. Mission accomplished! But we must admit it feels a bit surreal to be back in the very spot we left eight months ago: Wade bound for Melbourne, Chris for France! We went through so much in that time and yet it is as if these eight months have evaporated. But hopefully we can now look forward to an easier and more enjoyable phase in our adventures.

Anui anchored at Paradise Point – photo by Trish Ebert on Sengo
Fiery sunset at Paradise Point

For those of you who are not totally familiar with the Australian East Coast, here is a map showing our voyage to date. We left Melbourne in mid March, were in lockdown for two months in the Gippsland Lakes, and have been slowly coming north since the beginning of June. The orange line shows our main hops, the blue line is the direction we are intending to take: towards the Reef! We are not certain how far north we will get, since we are already three and a half months into the tropical cruising season, but we are sure to find beautiful areas to explore.

26 thoughts on “Mission accomplished – We are in Queensland

  1. So many beautiful photos, wow!! I’m glad you guys made it safely to your destination. I’m amazed at how many people know just where you are, and where you’ve been! Be safe!

  2. Well done and welcome to Queensland – weather is just beautiful in Cairns a bit cool at 9 degrees in the morning! I am not sure if you are on Facebook but there is a cruising Queensland Facebook page which is really helpful – let me know if you are and I could connect you – travel safe PS loved the bird pictures

  3. Congratulations on making it safely to Queensland, Chris, albeit not without the usual drama related to maintenance and weather. I am in awe of your kestrel shots. Smaller birds are nice, but there really is something extra special about raptors and that kestrel is spectacular. Your other wildlife shot were wonderful as well, including the whales, dolphins, and, of course, Bengie. Thanks for including the map of all of Australia with the major sub-divisions and the detailed annotations showing place names that I recognize from postings over recent months. You deserve to kick back and relax a bit, perhaps with a glass of red wine.

    • Hello Mike, I was lucky with the kestrel, which was hovering just next to us. That island is well known for them, so we always climb up there camera in hand! We had a glass or two of bubbly when we arrived at Paradise Point, shared with catamaran friends!

      • The angle of view on the kestrel really drew me in. So often when I am shooting birds in flight, I capture only the underside.

  4. That’s a nice shot of the wren, it’s often the little things in life that offer the greatest value.

  5. Oh you are a brilliant Chris! Your pictures are a joy! Thank you and congratulations on your entry to Queensland. I can’t wait to see your next batch of underwater shots on the reef.
    Reminiscing every day with fond memories of sailing with you,
    xx

    • Thank you Lisa, it is a relief to have made it here. Having a few days now at Paradise Point while the surf is roaring… and doing more maintenance for a change! We are so looking forward to the Reef, but we will be very rusty! It was lovely to have you on board… always nicer when we share the wonders!

  6. So glad to ‘have made’ this journey with you and thank you for the beautiful photos. You sailed past a part of the world which was home to me for many years . . . first near Brunswick Heads in the Northern Rivers and then a more than a half-score on Mermaid Waters on the Coast . . .Cape Byron, Mount Warning and Paradise Point are all far more than names. Do hope the days to come will bring fair sailing weather, peace, enjoyment and fun as you traipse northwards . . . always with a camera in your hand . . .

    • Hi Eha, you have lived n a very nice part of Australia. If we ever give up permanent life on Anui, we would very easily settle in Northern NSW!

  7. Fantastic photos! Great views, superb flying birds, etc. Bengie looks so pretty, I was impressed with your shots of the Kestrel. I’m glad that thing are going well. Take care my friend! 🙂

    • Hello HJ – I was thinking of you and Mike Powell when I photographed the kestrel. He was just a little higher than us, but really close, and very busy watching for preys although glancing our way from time to time. It was one of these special moments and gave me the chance to get him at a different angle.

  8. Hi Chris and Wade,
    Glad you have made it to QLD and have avoided the East coast low. We have had some pretty wild weather , cool temperatures and significant wind chill down in Port and big seas so I don’t think CH would have been very comfortable. We have just snuck over the border at Numinbah ourselves to visit friends near Springbrook and are enjoying the sunshine.

    • Hi Meredith – we can hear the surf roaring from Paradise Point where we are anchored, but we have got off lightly. Not a lot of strong wind and no rain. In fact we have had brilliant sunshine for days, so doing a few boat errants as usual! Have fun!

  9. We were all smiles as we drooled through your wildlife photos, especially the Superb fairy Wren, one of our favourites! Kestrel pics are amazing Chris! Claire wants to know what lens you are using as our zoom lens is starting to play up.
    And Wade, dropping that drill bit and shattering a solar panel ….. we’ve all been there, ie one job being done leading to another …. happy sailing (and less motoring) guys!

    • Hiya Elgar and Claire. We were thinking of you at Coffs! The birds were a treat. The lens: Tamron 18 to 400, the perfect lens for me because you go from wide angle to big zoom without needing to swap it and risk dust and salt in the camera. Not perfect in full zoom especially on a moving boat without the possibility of using a tripod, but good enough. The camera is a 7D mark II, fast for wildlife shots. Just about all my shots are taken with that combination.

      We just got the new solar panel today and will be putting it on AFTER Wade has finished fiddling around with the halyards and the lazy jacks at the top of the mast! The whole saga has kept us busy at least while we wait for the swell to abate. 8 meter swell is a bit too much for us! We can hear it roaring from Paradise Point! Take care, we miss you but it is nice to get your comments each week.

      • We did feel a strong sense of nostalgia seeing your Coff’s shots …… thanks for the lens info, it may be a good investment for us mere landlubbers photgraphing critters and birds. Amazing how sharp your pics are zooming from a moving boat …. must be the operator as well as the lens methinks!
        We look forward to imbibing on your further adventures, from ‘the other side’ …..

  10. Great shots of the Coffs birds. I was up there four days ago watching a raptor (it looked peregrine shaped in wing profile but could have been a kestrel) it was blowing hard (the east coast low was in full swing) and the bird was able to stay on station without flapping or hovering. Then it would raise up and get blown away to leeward. Next time I will take the camera and the lens, but it probably won’t be blowing and the raptors may not be there. Thanks for the info on Queensland. My son is taking our boat up in a few weeks and I hope the border is still open then. Cheers Phil

    • Hi Phil. The raptors have been up on the hill every time we have been there, blowing or not. So hopefully you will get a chance to photograph these beautiful creatures! And the border… it is hard to tell, but the COVID developments are concerning!

  11. What a journey but you have arrived. Well done, now you can set sail to the reef and have even more fun. Photos were beaut, especially the wildlife and Bengie. Take care and go well.

    • Thanks Sue. Can’t wait to get going again… Getting close to being able to go (more wear and tear issues to deal with). Aiming to be at the Southern Reef at the end of the month or early August. We will miss you on board.

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