Mackay to Brisbane

So, the news over the Xmas break is that Emily got a stewarding job based out of Brisbane! This means that our 2019 plans change a bit and we will be living on the boat in Brisbane for 6 months with Emily doing flying work. Bob will take some casual work from COVA that can be done remotely and we’ll do some weekend sailing around Moreton Bay.

Emily started on 10 Jan, so Bob flew up to Mackay to get the boat ready for a ‘delivery’ trip down to Brisbane. Stu came up to crew and have a tropical holiday with, as it turned out, a break from the Tassie heat and bushfires.

It was nice to find that the boat wasn’t at all musty or smelly. The preparations worked well. And thanks to Darren for stringing CDI up with extra mooring lines after we had departed.

25 Jan: Headed off after re-fuelling, early start at 6am, motoring out through the bulk carrier anchorage field off Hay Point. Winds 20-30 degrees on the nose.

Initial destination was to be Middle Percy Island if we could make it,  but the headwinds and sea slowed us down.

We headed to our ‘reserve’ anchorage plan at Curlew Island. That proved to be quite a nice spot with only a little roll on the pick from an Easterly swell.

26 Jan: A long day from Curlew Island to Island Head Creek. Still pretty choppy and headwinds, so motoring all day again.

On the AIS, we spotted the HMAS Shepparton hanging around Hexam Island and that got me wondering whether there might be some military exercises going on that I hadn’t realised. Luckily, after a google search with rather slow connection speed due to poor coverage, we found out that the HMAS Shepparton is an underwater survey ship and is unarmed. Stand down, business as usual!

We had a friend on the powerboat “New Moon” join us for the last hour or so motoring along and into the anchorage (alao our neighbours again at Inskip Point too).

We decided to take a different route into the entrance than when we stayed here on the way up, along the Southern side. This proved to be a much easier, deeper channel and I’d recommend it to the Northern route that I think is (or was) suggested in the Lucas guide books. (red route = North side, black route = South side)

27 Jan: Was a bit like a washing machine coming out of the heads, with a stiff Easterly wind, swell and tide running out.

Conditions got better late morning and as we rounded Cape Manifold to a Southerly heading, we got the sails up. Had a nice sail across to North Keppel Island, then motored in to anchorage off Monkey Beach. Listened to the last 30 or so songs of the hottest 100 countdown – man there were not many good ones in the top 10 this year.

28 Jan: The mooring proved to be quite good with tide in one direction and bloody awful with tied the other! Had 3-4 hours of bad roll during the night and not much sleep. Still, off at 6am, long day ahead past Gladstone down to Pancake Creek.

The swell had eased and we motor sailed under the jib once rounding Cape Capricorn. Dodged some moored tankers off Gladstone and met an ore carrier coming out the shipping channel. We could have crossed in front of it, but decided the safer option to do some circle work and let it pass first before crossing. Was interesting to see a helicopter come and land on the moving tanker’s hatch cover to pick up the pilot before leaving again at the head of the channel.

The entry to Pancake Creek proved to be fairly shallow and Stu was a bit nervous seeing clearances under keel of only 1m. As we had used this anchorage on the way North, this was expected and so not a big drama, for Bob anyway. Took one of the four moorings inside the creek and shared it with 4 other boats.

29 Jan:Glad to have a calm night for some good rest.

The swell was just awful going out of Pancake Creek and rounding the rocks. Worst so far I think. After turning South-East the running was better, but still sloppy until after Seventeen Seventy, when it flattened right off and we had a much more enjoyable motor down to Bundaberg. Still had wind on too shallow an angle to sail unfortunately.

There were lots of schools of fish around so Bob put the trolling line out. A couple of times we went right past them, but no bites. I think we have the wrong lure and I was tempted to just cut the line and let it all go – useless! Must have been something in my thought power because when I went to wind the line in just off Bundaberg the wire trace and the lure had both gone. Saved me the trouble of throwing it away I guess.

Note to anyone planning to stop at the Port Bundaberg Marina, check the tides when you go in. There is a nasty shallow sand bar just off the Black colour berths (the seaward side of the seaward arm). I think we were lucky to have high tide when going in and then only 1m clear under keel.

Quite nice food at the marina restaurant, pity about the mosquitoes – they had a good feed on us too.

30 Jan: We needed to re-stock on supplies and a rest day seemed a good idea, so took 2 nights in the marina at Bundaberg.

Took the bus into town for some touristing and food shopping. Stu got a new pair of $10 sandals as he had a ‘blow-out’ with his pair the previous night when they caught on the transom.

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In the evening, we wandered across to Burnett Heads for some dinner at the pub. The IGA shuttle bus felt sorry for us walking in the rain showers and gave us a lift – thanks guys! Wasn’t raining on the way back so we legged it for a quite nice evening walk.

(Edit – TBA)

31 Jan: Refuelled and headed off early on the high tide. Had motoring again, with the winds continuing to shift onto a more oncoming heading (now SE’ly) and only light anyway. Saw a pod of 20 or so dolphins playing near the Northern entrance to the inside Fraser Is passage, including a few young ones. Stu spotted two jumping stingrays.

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We anchored at South White Cliffs to wait for the high tide in the morning for the shallowest part of the passage. This is a very picturesque part of the QLD coast.

1 Feb: Made the Fraser shallows passage from 06:00 – 10:00 and had the rest of the day for relaxing at Inskip Point. Was a bit of breeze there, but not uncomfortable.

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2 Feb: Off early again for the Wide Bay Bar crossing on the 07:00 high tide. Actually, this turned out to be the easiest part of the day, as the seas were not that large (1.5m) and our only complaint was a rain shower that hit just as we were crossing he bar. Afterwards, we had a nice rainbow to see us off.

The other trials of this epic day were as follows:

  1. Pulled up a 4m long length of corroded steel wire rope on the anchor at Inskip Point
  2. Met the ‘washing machine’ seas at Double Island Point. Wow, this was really rough and short seas, reflected off the point.
  3. Stormy squalls coming through on multiple occasions during the day. 30 kt winds and rain (at least it is warm).
  4. Multiple floating log hazard in the water off Mooloolabah. There were 25 or so 2m long, 300×300 square bits of timber that would have made quite a thump if we hit them.
  5. Negotiating the Mooloolabah bar. Unfortunately our arrival time was about half tide and we knew the keel clearance was going to be pretty small, only 1-1m.5m. There is also a side swell across the entrance to the bar and a sand shallow encroaching from the Northern breakwater. We saw 0.6 clearance and I am glad I was wearing the brown underpants!
  6. Navigating into the berth at Mooloolabah marina. We were allocated a berth a fair way up in one aisle and the tide was flowing pretty strongly pushing us straight  into the berth pen, with a 45 deg. cross breeze pushing us off the dock, into the boat next to us. We abandoned after one failed attempt and parked up on the end of the pier instead.


What a day! We certainly enjoyed a couple of beers on the boat and then wandered via the walkway along the beach side to “The Wharf” for dinner. As it was Saturday night, the locals were dressed to the nines and we felt a little underdone, even in our clean shirt / shorts combo.

3 Feb: Last day! Had a sleep-in as the high tide was not until 07:30. The outwards bar crossing was a lot better than the inwards one, with 1m more of tide. Only problem, we had to steer around the Mooloolabah locals who were out on their surf skis / SUP’s / outriggers, surfing on the end of the breakwater and crossing the channel right in front of us. Managed not to run anyone over (just) and also avoid the others paddling off the point.


Still rough seas and very windy – consistently 25 kts, gusting to 30 (forecast was 10-15 only). Bob had the helm out the bar and down to Caloundra. The turn into the top end of the shipping channel was interesting to say the least. The turn downwind in 30 kts & 3m seas had us surfing along at 11.5 kts of boat speed. Then at the last minute I hear Stu yell “boat! – turn right NOW”. And we missed a fisherman on a jet ski by two boat lengths. I had not even seen him until we passed. What the hell he was doing out in that awful swell and weather I have no idea.

Thankfully, the weather eased and we had a relatively nice motor down the shipping channel in to Moreton Bay, past the various sea birds on the channel markers.

We navigated the sand bars off Bribie Island OK and followed a yacht race around the marker off Scarborough. We knew the entry was going to be at low tide, but the Scarborough Marina guy had given us some dud information about the depth of their channel. As we entered, the keel clearance read 0.0 – far from ideal!!!!!!! Then, after a 10 day, 600 NM trip, we actually got to within 150m of the marina berth pen and as were were idling up the aisle in reverse, Bob noticed that we were no longer moving. Stuck! A burst of forward got us off and we tied up on the end of the pier, which was luckily vacant.

Emily arrived shortly thereafter and we relaxed with the last of the cold beer, blue cheese and bikkies, waving to the yachts coming in after their race.

We waited till 21:00 to relocate in the dark into our allocated pen on the high tide. Thankfully, this went really well and no dramas at all.


So, that’s it. CDI is now at Scarborough Marina a f the foreseeable future. We’ll be taking her out for weekend sails and a few overnights at Moreton Island / Stradbroke Island no doubt. If you are in town, give us a call – we’d love to have visitors.






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