First, dealing with frustrations
We have had a very frustrating week leading up to Christmas:
- Windy, stormy weather with heavy rainfall, flooding waterways, all demanded alertness and multiple anchor resets. We have felt rather uneasy and stranded at our anchorage at Crab Island. But at least we had room to move!
- After several months with problems, Chris’s laptop finally died – a fried motherboard. With a three year old computer that has spent its entire life in a salty environment, we opted to get a new one. Fortunately we have found a capable technician – Lance at Computer Repairs Hope Island – who was able to recover the data, advise us on the best replacement and will handle the transfer of software and data to the new laptop when it arrives at his office. Lance made the whole saga far less stressful. It is well worth the fee! We will pick up the new gear when we come back to the Gold Coast at the end of January – an updated and souped up version of what Chris had, a Dell XPS 15.
- Oh yes, that is the other thing: the reason we are coming back to the Gold Coast is because Anui needs more engine work done – replacing the coupling between the starboard engine and the gearbox, the reason for the clack, clack, clack sound we get every time we turn the engine off! We are booked in at The Boat Works in a wet berth. The team at 143 Boat Building will be on the job.
- And while we are back at Paradise Point, both of us need some dental work, so it is scheduled for that week too… oh joy!
- Finally the picture would not be complete without the border closures due to the resurgence in COVID cases. This put a damper on many people’s Christmas festivities. We feel sad for those affected, but it confirms we have made the right decision to stay in Queensland in the wet season. What troubled times we are going through!
But at long last on Wednesday with everything organised and the southerlies returning, we escaped from the Gold Coast, headed for Fraser Island.
As we sit quietly at anchor under very grey skies and reflect on the challenging year 2020 has been right till the end, what better thing to do but to look ahead at brighter times to come.
We have been plotting our cruising activities for 2021. No prize for guessing they are focused on Great Barrier Reef explorations! After cruising with Anui over the last two years, we know she is a strong, stable and comfortable vessel even when we are sailing in lively conditions or anchored at a choppy anchorage. So it gives us confidence to do more in 2021. Here is the plan!
Fraser and Southern Reefs
As weather and circumstances allow this Summer, we intend to spend time around the Fraser Island region and at the Southern Reefs. We know from our experience at the Capricorn and Bunker Group in 2020 that there is still a lot to see, and that using the Lady Musgrave or Fitzroy Reef lagoons as a base allows us to stay out there even in stronger conditions with relative protection.
Once the cyclone season finishes (end of April) we would love to atttempt an expedition to the Swain Reefs. The Swains are a labyrinth of some 270 patches of reefs. The sheer distance from the mainland – 120 to 150 nm from Gladstone – and the complex structure of the reef deter most people from cruising through the area and consequently there is little information available.
We have been doing a lot of research about these remote reefs : collecting charts, reading material, consulting blogs and talking to people who have been there, all this to compile a list of possible anchorages. It will take weeks to tour through these and probably multiple trips! To us it is a new frontier, a chance to explore, discover and stretch ourselves.
As Winter and Spring come (June to November) we will make our way to the reefs offshore of Townsville, Cairns and Cooktown. We saw only a small sample of the northern reefs and cays in 2019, and missed out on a return trip up there in 2020 because of the challenging year it was, so we are super keen to explore, discover new spots and return to favourites. This part of the GBR is particularly appealing because it is close to the mainland – only 30 to 50 nm – so quicker and easier to get to as well as to return back to the safety of the coast when needed. We also want to go further north than we did last time. We would particularly like to spend time at the Ribbon Reefs and Lizard Island.
Of course it is only a rough sketch and you know what they say: “cruising plans are written in sand at low tide”. And all this is entirely weather dependent. We have moved into La Niña phase in the tropical Pacific. As our meteorologist friend Phil warned: «this usually means stronger more persistent easterly trade winds, more frequent wet or cloudy weather along the east coast of Australia and probably some flooding events.» So we will see how things pan out!
Whether you are a virtual crew member through this blog, close friends planning to join us on board for a section or cruising buddies on your own boat, we can’t wait to share with you the wonders of this life and of our precious Great Barrier Reef.
Best wishes for a less arduous 2021 from us on Sv-Anui. We hope it is a year when we all dream big, plan how it will come true and can then make it happen!