The anchorage at Rocky Point was sufficient but not comfortable. Whilst out of the main tide, we were still more affected by the tide than wind, despite a 10-15 knot southeasterly. This set us as stern to the wind-over-tide activity which was not pleasant. In addition, the wake from the passing tugs sent our stern leaping out of the water, to crack down with a wave that swept the whole lazerette area. During the night, we were sitting beam on the wind, with our small awning almost inside out with the pressure, so we dismantled in quickly in the dark, stark naked, which made for a very quick return to the cosy warmth of bed! Needless to say we were up early, checking the weather to see what our next move should be.
Our main weather sources are the BOM and Seabreeze, and usually by looking at al these have to offer, you can work out around 48 hours ahead with some certainty. Add PredictWind, and we generally have a rough idea of what the next 4 days will look like. The present situation was not as simple as this. BOM and Seabreeze had completely different forecasts 24 hours ahead. None of the 4 models in PredictWind synchronised for more than 24 hours. From a synoptic point of view, we could see the huge high pressure system sitting over SE Australia, with further highs behind it, and a trough off the QLD Coast. Because troughs are generally unstable and not terribly predictable in their development and movement, this was causing the various discrepancies in the all the forecasts.
Given the discomfort of our current situation, we knew we had to move on. However, the choice of where next wasn’t so easy. We still really wanted to head out to the reef before going too much further north. If we went north now, then chances are with the prevailing southeasterly, getting back to the reef would be difficult or uncomfortable, or both. From our anchorage, we could go back to Gladstone, head around Curtis Island to Hummocky Island (north), or go south the Pancake Creek again. Not keen to head back up steam to Gladstone, making everywhere we wanted to go further away, we decided to head back to Pancake Creek, as it was going to be cloudy for the next 2 days with possible rain. we knew we would be sheltered in the Creek, and were in easy reach of the reef should the forecast play ball, and present us with 2-3 days of clear skies and light winds.
As the ebb set in, we weighed anchor, called VTS Gladstone, were told to look out for 2 gas tankers coming in as we exited the fairway, and pointed south. On the AIS we could see the first tanker with pilot on board, entering the fairway with his 2 tugs. After our evening entertainment of listening to the port activity on the VHF last night, we felt we knew Rocky and Jimbo the tug drivers intimately and we watched with keen interest as the two enormous tankers passed us, Rocky and Jimbo in the 2 tugs helping them round the corners! Once out of the shipping channels, it was a quick motor the 10 miles down to Pancake Creek.
As we entered the channel into the Creek, there was a dude fishing in his kayak, right in our path. He moved as we approached, then as we were getting ready to set the anchor, he let out a huge roar – he had hooked and landed the most enormous fish! Hard to say what it was from where we were, but we later heard it was 1.08 meters! He was with a bunch of dudes swagged on the beach, and they headed a shore to clean the fish and we hope they cooked it in their beach fire they lit on dark! Of course with this activity going on, Pete could hardly wait to get the anchor set before getting his line out! Lucklily we had chorizo chicken parcels for dinner, from Butcher and the Chef in Manly, as Pete was not successful in his fishing!
The anchorage was pretty busy when we arrived, and continued to fill up until just after dark. It was a still night though, so there was little movement, and of course by morning, most of the boats had either left, or being shallow draft, had moved up stream. Despite a little overnight rain, the morning was pleasant, though overcast. We had a few showers, but nothing that warranted full boat covers. As Pete got some work done, I sat and watched the activity with the beach dudes packing up and towing their kayaks behind a couple of tinnies, and the remaining anchored boats sending out dinghies for fishing.
Whilst the weather is still a little uncertain, we will check again tonight, and if the cloud cover clears, head out to the reef tomorrow. If not we may just wait here a day longer, and go exploring up the Creek in the Goon Bag.