Southport to Mooloolaba

Lindy Hardcastle joined me for the short trip from Southport to Mooloolaba. I flew up on Sunday morning and met up with my uncle, Steve, and my cousin, Sean. The later of which works for Riviera yacht on the Gold Coast. The place was pumping, so much so the yacht club couldn’t accommodate us for lunch and we had to take a short stroll across to the SLSC. As one must, I had to gauge the quality of the chicken parmy, which didn’t disappoint.

It was then back to the boat to start the prep, which was minimal given the rush I was in to get my (delayed) flight back the weekend before. When Lindy arrived we decided conditions were good so there was no reason not to leave that night, seeing I was, once again, shooting for a flight deadline on Monday afternoon. It did mean we would arrive at Mooloolaba on a dropping tide and a quick check of the Notice to Mariners confirmed the last survey of the river mouth was now 3 weeks and one storm ago. Not the best combination but you can always wait for the tide.

Thankfully the yacht club could fit us in for dinner so, after a relatively early dinner we fuelled up (saving over $200 on the price of the diesel if I had filled up at RSYS) and headed down the broadwater.

I can’t recall if it was a new moon or just that the moon had not risen, but it was dark dark. There was maybe a 1-2 metre swell outside which wasn’t too bad exiting the seaway but as I steamed to open water I noticed white water in front of me. Due to the darkness I had no reference for my steering but a quick compass check showed I was heading due east but the soundings were shallowing. The chart showed a theoretical quicker path to deep water to the south east. A quick right turn, over the top of an almost breaking wave, and we were back into calmer waters. I stood offshore until I saw generous double figures under the keel before heading north around Stradbroke and Moreton islands.

As I often do with only 2 on board for short trip, we limited ourselves to only one watch each during the night. Starting at midnight, I would do 12 to 3 and Lindy 3-6. Despite the cold of the watch Lindy does love the sunrise. I seem to recall this was her watch from the 2019 trip with Greg Lake.

With winds in the high teens and well behind us, we poled the jib out and rolled along doing 6-7 knots. There was no hurry because I think we already knew what lied for us at the other end. Around dawn we rounded the top end of Moreton Island and headed west-by-northwest for Point Cartwright, now on a beam reach. We arrived at 0930 and had a quick sounding of the entry. It was going to be tight and I didn’t want risk it on a dropping tide, with waves occasionally breaking across the entry. So we headed to safe water, dropped the anchor and caught up on sleep.

After lunch I was getting impatient, and worried about my 1600 flight back to Sydney. I resolved if I wasn’t going to get in at 1400 I wasn’t likely to get the flight. In order to give myself the best chance we put The Goon Bag (the tender for those new to WDS) in the water and I went to check into the marina. On my return to Wine-Dark Sea I took the opportunity to take some lead line depths to check the shallow section of the entry. I was pretty sure, with another hour or so of tide we could make it.

I was wrong. At 1400, we crept into the channel. Timing our run carefully with a smooth patch in the swell. We got SOOOO close but it wasn’t to be. Having resolved myself to missing my flight there didn’t appear to be any point in hurrying. We may as well wait for ample tide, just before sunset. So we retreated once more to deep water, set the anchor again and waited. Then Lindy had a phenomenal idea. “Was that Gyoza I saw in the freezer?” “Why, yes. Yes it was”. So we demolished a pack of Easy Tiger dumplings while we waited.

Come 1600 and our entry was thoroughly non eventful. The swell had back off even further and we steamed in with half a metre under the keel. Lindy’s sister Annie greeted us and treated us to a home cooked meal, too much wine and many games of Kelly pool. I rebooked my flights for the morning and relearnt a lesson I tell anyone who listens. Don’t rush a delivery.

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