We did indeed decide to leave on Sunday, with a good forecast, it was the right decision, as the weather coming through after Sunday was going to be atrocious. After a full day of rest on Saturday, assaulted by the sound of jet skis, subjected to loud 80’s music blasting from hen party cruisers and bucks party cruisers with naked women serving drinks, we prepared for departure on Sunday morning at 6am.
It was a rude shock when the alarm went off at 5:30am (can’t remember the last time I had to get up to an alarm!) but we got out of bed and prepared to weigh anchor. With 40 meters of chain out, we have to lay the first 20 m pulled up, in the anchor locker to avoid blockages in the last 20m, so with Pete on deck lifting the anchor and keeping a watch on our position, I manned the laying of the chain, which is through a watertight bulkhead in our cabin. At 20 meters, I headed on deck to steer as Pete lifted the last 20 meters and cleaned chain and anchor with the deck wash. By 6 am, we were on our way out of the Broadwater, with every fisho on the Gold Coast. As it was just on high water, the Seaway was relatively calm, but with the SE swell still running high, there were surfers and body boarders crossing the Seaway along with every size of fishing boat in existence. With the sun not yet up, it was very hard to see the surfers and we narrowly missed one as we exited the sea walls.
The forecast had promised sun, but there was a lot of cloud as the sun heaved itself over the horizon and treated us to a beautiful sunrise. Though the wind was light as we headed north, it built very quickly and settled in to about 15-17 knots almost without variation. We went again with 2 reefs in the main and a poled out headsail, which we had to live with as the first reef untied itself. Later Pete complained that we should have had a full main, but with the reefs, the boat was really comfortable and easy to steer.
Even though the autohelm was now fully functioning again, we hand steered most of the day because it was so pleasant. By 8 am the cloud had cleared, leaving a blue sky, a very constant breeze, and a balmy 25 degrees which felt more in the full sun. After about midday however, the sun was behind the sails, so we had shade for what would otherwise have been a very hot day on the water.
Checking Facebook periodically, we realised that one of our crew, Sandy-Bob, was on a work jaunt on one of her cruise ships, Carnival Spirit. They were parked at Tangalooma, in Morton Bay as we were sailing past the seaward side of Moreton Island. We made contact by phone as Sandy was heading ashore for an excursion, and located the Carnival Spirit on AIS. The photo shows how close we passsed, but how far we were from each other! We are the little black boat shape on the right with the green line coming from its front!
After this bit of excitement, things died down until I happened to look behind and saw a huge container ship about 5 miles behind, but heading in the same direction. AIS showed he would pass within .2 of a mile from us, heading into the Brisbane channel, so we called him to check if he wanted us to take avoiding action. He asked that we just hold our course until he passed us. He ended up about a mile away, but as we watched him go by, we could see dolphins leaping out of his wake, high into the air! We watched fascinated, until we couldn’t see the wake anymore, and then as the sun began to sink a huge pod of dolphins came to join us. 🐬
There must have been around 50 in the pod, as they surfed the waves around and with us, we took turns to stand on the bow and watch them. The show was amazing and went for about half an hour as the sun sank, and the light house at Point Cartwright got closer. It was a spectacular way to finish what had been a beautiful days sailing.
As dusk fell we were slightly high of course, so ended up putting the sails away and motoring in. The coastguard had earlier told us of a silting along the lead centre line of the channel into the river, with a depth of 2.1 m at LAT (lowest astronomical tide). As we would entering at high water, which would be 1.6 m above LAT, we felt that we had enough water. Had we checked the notice to mariners earlier than the following morning, we realised that we could have taken a different line altogether to avoid the silting, and the stress of seeing just over 3 m on the depth sounder with a swell running which could have easily had us hit the bottom!
Notwithstanding this, we entered the river and found our marina berth, booked earlier in the day, and moored comfortably stern to, despite a fairly substantial tidal flow. We decided to leave the boom bag and boat covers til the morning, had the last of the pea soup for dinner on deck with a glass of wine, and had an early night.