We have made it back to Queensland! The weather always dictates how enjoyable passages are and our trip into Southern Queensland was a mixed bag but it was a good milestone to reach.
Bound for the Gold Coast
We left Port Macquarie on 1st May and three days later we were anchored at the Gold Coast.
Our first hop was an 80nm motor sail from Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour. The engines were on the whole way… tedious! We really get bored motor-sailing and the motion is not very pleasant in lumpy seas. The reward for persevering was reaching Coffs at dusk, a spectacular time to arrive, with the breakwater standing out like a rampart against the setting sun.
At dawn the next day, we left, initially bound for Yamba, a 55nm hop. After a few hours of nil wind, the SE picked up enough for us to launch the spinnaker. It was then a faster and more enjoyable run. But we were watching the wind speed like hawks; the spinnaker is as old as the boat and could tear at the smallest provocation! We have been nursing it, hoping it does not blow out, so we are quick to bring it down if the wind strengthens. We even gave all the measurements to our sail maker for him to make us a new one at short notice when needed!
As we neared Yamba by early afternoon, the tide was low… the worst time to cross the bar into the Clarence River! We opted to keep going to Byron Bay, another 50nm further. We were still under spinnaker when the wind suddenly picked up to 20 knots and simultaneously we reached a huge area of run out water from the Clarence River. It was like a pot boil as far as the eye could see. Panic stations: the spinnaker had to come down! It made for some exciting fast moves as we turned the engines on, dropped Bluey and veered away from the pot boil all in a matter of seconds! Disaster averted. Bluey is still in one piece, but we should have anticipated the runout in hindsight!
We altered our heading and continued sailing all the way to Byron Bay, this time with main and jib. We got there by 8.30pm, well after dark. Byron Bay is always a rock and rolly anchorage, but we typically stop there to avoid an overnighter to the Gold Coast. We coped remarkedly well, sleeping like logs in 2m swell! Ah the beauty of a big wide cat with beds oriented athwartship rather than fore and aft!
Our last 50nm hop from Byron to the Gold Coast was a breeze. We made water underway then sailed under main and jib, yahooing as we crossed the imaginary border into Queensland.
We reached the Gold Coast Seaway by early afternoon, again arriving at the wrong tide and fully expecting to get slapped on the backside with a following wave, but we got in unscathed.
We anchored next to Crab Island and stayed there for several days while the wind was light.
We had a bit of fun in between lots of appointments, with Wade going for a few surfs and Chris flying the drone. Wade is easy to spot on the orange board!
A few days later, with severe weather forecast, we moved to Currigee, off South Stradbroke Island… doing the Gold Coast shuffle. We were wondering why we were dragging. Check out what we brought up as we re-anchored!
And here is a special find we came across during one of our beach wanders: a rarely seen Atolla Jellyfish, also known as Crown Jellyfish. We found it washed up on the sand at South Stradbroke Island! It is quite large: about 20cm in diameter and bright purple. This jellyfish is typically found in the deep ocean and rarely sighted near the shore let alone on it. But with the strong winds and ocean currents, a few are being reported along the coast. Lucky us! We have logged the sighting with the Atlas of Living Australia.
Body and Boat Maintenance
We had our first few days at the Gold Coast organized like clockwork, hoping to be gone by the weekend: social catch ups with cruising friends, flu shots, dental and physio appointments, however the big one, getting our screecher to our sailmaker, did not quite go as hoped.
You might recall we needed the correct size terminals to be fitted to the sail to attach it to the new furler we bought after our old one failed in the Gippsland Lakes.
We also wanted the sail checked by Mike Sabin, from Gold Coast Sailmakers, as it is another one showing signs of wear. Dunking ours under one hull when the furler drum failed did not help! The verdict: the sail is still good for a few more years, however we needed a new blue UV strip sewn on to replace the existing worn one. We now have the sail back, but it has been raining a lot and blowing hard for days, so we are still stuck on the Gold Coast!
The extra week’s wait was an opportunity for Chris to schedule several appointments with the physio as her back and neck are giving her grief. And poor old Bengie had been over grooming her side, giving herself a bold patch. Although her fur is starting to grow back we got the local vet to check her out just to be safe. She did not mind the dinghy ride, but vet visits are definitely not her favourite thing! Lots of screams and growls! The vet visit ended up being more for our peace of mind than for her wellbeing. She is all good, it’s just the sequels from the infection she had in Melbourne a couple of months ago! Now we don’t have to worry.
So there you have it: more waiting, more foul weather, but we are making the best of the situation. As always, living afloat is about going with the flow! We are hoping to leave the Gold Coast early next week.