Sailing… Cruising Queensland, Australia

Tis a pain. We thought sailing the Queensland coast would be; well, a piece of cake. The nice warm trades pushing up along the beautiful coast. Turns out it is not, a piece of cake. Two plus years ago we arrived in Bundaburg; Bundy they call it here, and proceeded down towards Brisbane. Referred to as Brissi. 🙂 Aussies like to add an, “I”, “ie”, or “y” to much of their descriptive nomenclature.

The trip south was for the most part a pleasant 100 mile sail. There; in Scarborough, we sat out Covid completing a heaps of boat projects. We played tennis, made new great friends and renewed our friendship with a couple of Aussies that once had lived in Florida.

All was well, but two things forced us to move. Two more than anything else. Bureaucracy and weather. Bureaucracy was forcing us to move. And so we’ve been moving. Returning to Bundy again wasn’t a rough trip. From Bundy N, the trip has not been pleasant. We planned on visiting Lady Musgrave. The wx didn’t cooperate. We headed N. North to the warmth we say. The following week became cold and really, really, windy.

Mother Nature decided this year she was going to freeze out those living in Queensland, (QLD). That included us. When we left Scarborough we rid ourselves of the comforts of marina life, an electric heater and an AC unit. While it is cold on land, on the water it is even colder. Colder because the water is colder. We dressed in layers, slept under several blankets and hid from the wind as much as possible. We were sailing north every day we could. We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and it was still cold. We ducked into the first good marina along the way, Gladstone. Oh, that was sweet.

Gladstone Marina had large fairways for manuevering the boat and we slid easily into the slip. They had a complimentary taxi to local shops, and even had piped in classical music for the restrooms and showers. Restaurants and some shops were a lovely walk down the sea wall. We thoroughly enjoyed that marina, walking to shops and recovering from the cold. In Scarborough we gave out heater away thinking we wouldn’t need it since we were going N. In Gladstone, we bought another heater at Bunnings. 🙂 Warmth. It is not overrated!

From there we tracked N again. And a new adventure began. Along this coast civilisation was beginning to disapper. The first place we dropped the hook was Pt. Clinton (not related to POTUS Clinton). This was a military exercise chunk of land and only when they are not shooting are we allowed to drop in for a stay.

Here we found what the chart calls “Tidal Overflow”. There is so much water in the port that when it rushes out the entrance and sometimes in, there are rapid like conditions In the water. The boat actually moves off course as it transits various moving chunks of water. For us it wasn’t dangerous as long as we paid attention. It was; however, unnerving. At anchor we didn’t sit to the wind. We hung to the current and the chain would run in odd angles from the boat. Thus the wind wasn’t blowing as we like from the bow but at times from the side, then the stern and then the side again. Island head creek was the same. A mess.

Studying up on what was happening we saw that the huge tides were aided by Broadwater Bay. In this huge bay water is funnelled into and builds up to 10 m (30’ high). After building that high, the water then rushes back out. All this water creates noticeable currents in the surrounding area. These currents are found 100’s of miles away from the bay and may during Spring tides, be up to 3 knots! Our preferred boat speed is 6 kts, having a 3 kt current against us will impact the distance we travel in one day.

That and discovering over falls out of sight of land! Whew. Traveling to the southern Islands in the Whitsundays we came across one wild overfall. Of course the winds here add to the adventure. When they are against the current the waves don’t stop, they build up larger and become closer together. They have a steep front and sailors refer to them as “Square waves. Here the waves squared up and marched towards our stern; curling, frothing and foaming as they lifted our boat up and slid under us. This lasted for about 30 minutes then settled back down to normal. Normal for this area. To say the ride was uncomfortable would be an understatement. We were glad to anchor behind an island for a good nights sleep. The “good night” was not part of the sleep.

Behind the southern islands in the Whitsundays we found most places had a wrap around swell. The wind created waves would bend as they approached the shallow water and curve around the island tips. Then in the anchorage a wave would roll by us side on. That doesn’t sound bad. What is bad is that it now creates a roll in the boat. So we roll every minute from 5 degrees one way to 5 degrees the other. Most often, because we have 1,000’s of lbs of lead in our keel, most often there is a smallish jerk at the end of the roll as gravity pulls on all that lead. It is NOT like rocking in a hammock! On top of that roll the locals describe the winds building and flowing over the island

Nice Wide Fairways, Lovely people, Great Vibe

as “bullets”. An apt description. So for a minute or two it is nice and calm, then there is a huge gust of wind that barrels down the mountain and smothers the boat. So much so that hanging out in the cockpit and reading is not comfortable. The comfort level of the anchorage ended up being next to zero. We do carry flopper stoppers that reduce the roll and do make life bearable. As we were only staying one night (no desire to stay longer in a weird windy spot) we left them stored. We slept, We didn’t sleep well. We moved the following am.

The next am up and out of there we were. On to Curlew where we hid from the wind for a couple more days. The wrap around was moderated a bit in this anchorage but that was dependent on the tides. As soon as the winds eased enough we made a run to Townsville. There we got a good nights sleep, in another marina.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long