Travels in 'Meridian of Sydney'

Southport to Mackay

After leaving Southport on 1st August, we headed up the Broadwater with Peter and Kay in 'Lady K'.  They lived in the area so were valuable guides that showed us the way up through many shallow areas without running aground.  We spend some very enjoyable days with them at Dux anchorage and Canaipa Point.

Eventually we had to set off on our own - across Moreton Bay to Manly.  This was achieved without incident, and we arrived at the RQYS for re-fuelling and 1 to 2 nights stay.  Judy needed to have some medical tests done, so we decided to stay inManly until they were over. That meant staying a week, in which time we managed to take in the "Ekka", or Brisbane Show. Friends Peter and Di sailed with us from Manly to Scarborough across Moreton Bay.

In Scarborough we bought our inverter to convert 12V to 240VAC for the microwave, video, computer charger, vacuum cleaner, etc. That took a few days to organise, and when we were ready to go, Strong Wind Warnings had been issued, so again we were marina-bound for nearly a week.

Mooloolaba was the next port of call northwards, where we were met by Kerry and Marshall. They took us to the lovely home in Coolum, next to the golf course for a great BBQ lunch. More strong wind warnings kept us in there for a couple more days. Eventually we left there at 11pm, 24th August for Double Island Point and the Wide Bay Bar, at the southern end of Fraser Island.

The trip up through the night was uneventful, but with very little wind, we motored all the way. We were a bit apprehensive about crossing the bar, but when we got there a light westerly wind and low tide meant it was flat. The wind picked up as we made our way up the Great Sandy Straits to Garry's Anchorage for the first night. It was to continue blowing quite strongly for several days, with gusts up to 35 knots. We managed to have a few walks ashore but saw little wildlife apart from birds and sand flies.

We met up with friends from Bum's Bay in Southport (Greg and Janice) and met a few more cruisers as well. All of them came over for dinner one night, so we had 10 on board. We took off with them the next day for Kingfisher Resort (Fraser Island), making our way up the Sandy Straits without running aground.

The anchorage off Kingfisher wasn't too good with northerly winds so we only stayed the one night after a brief look ashore. We all took off the next morning for Bundaberg across Hervey Bay, again in North to North-west winds. We saw dolphins swimming across our bows, but no whales.

Bundaberg Port Marina was fairly new and with friendly staff. Its a fair way from town, but they have a courtesy bus. We took Liani the cat to the vet to have her cough checked out on the Saturday, 2nd September. The other boats left on Sunday while a Sou'east wind was forecast. We decided to stay a little longer and go to the markets for fruit and veg. The markets were very good, with great quality food at very cheap prices.

We were surprised to see Barry and Leslie from the Greenwich Flying Squadron in Sydney tie up 'Sea Dancer' opposite us on Saturday. They were on their way back home after taking part in  the Hamilton Island Race week. We spent a couple of enjoyable evenings in their company, one of them watching 'Sea Change' on our colout TV.

Wouldn't you know it - on Monday the northerly winds returned, and stayed until Friday. So on Saturday 9th Sept we snuck out of the marina at 4:30am with light SE wind blowing. It didn't last long so we motor-sailed up to Pancake Creek on a fine sunny day.  Pancake Creek is a pretty spot, so we stayed there for the next day, exploring the beach.

On Monday we left at 6:00am in a fairly brisk Sou'easter of about 10 - 15 knots. Meridian weighs 15 tonnes, and needs a good breeze to make her move, so the engine was called upon to assist once again. We arrived in Long Beach, Great Keppel Island around 4pm and anchored for the night.

The next morning we headed around to the resort for a bit of lunch and shopping ashore. That afternoon we went around to the northern anchorage to get some shelter from the forecast sou'easters at 20 knots.

A 7:00am departure saw us heading north towards Pearl Bay, which we reached around 3:30pm. This is a very pretty location, although it was a bit rolly. We rested here on the following day. We had a visit ashore, taking Liani with us. She was most keen to start exploring but we kept a harness and leash firmly attached - we didn't want any search parties. Another highlight of the day was Judy's first baking of two loaves of bread. They turned out to be very good eating indeed.

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Our next destination was Hexham Island, but as we got there by 12:30, we decided to push on to the Percy Isles. We made it into South Percy by around 5pm. After anchoring almost on top of a coral bommie, we moved, but were still pretty close to a reef. This made us a bit nervous so we
took turns in keeping watch during the night. We were relieved to get out of there next morning and head to Middle Percy Island.

Middle Percy is a highlight for visitors, with an A-frame building on the beach which has been decorated with hundreds of boats' name plates.  We added ours to the collection, then discovered that there are no meals to be had on Saturdays. We did the walk up to the homestead and back which took about 2 hours. The anchorage was quite good in West Bay, so we decided to stay for the night in company with another yacht which is on the way to Darwin.

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Another 6:00am departure, this time for Scawfell Island which is about 30 NM east of Mackay. We had a good anchorage in about 10m of water.  Our anchor snubber broke during the night, so we were awakened by the noise of the chain dragging over the coral.

One of the reasons for moving north fairly quickly (ie bypassing Gladstone and Mackay) was to meet up with friends Larry and Alison before they returned to Sydney. They left Pittwater on their 35'
'Spring Fever' in May and had been in the Whitsundays since July. We were able to talk to them via another friends' HF radio, so we knew that they were heading to Goldsmith Island.

They were quite surprised to hear us on the VHF the next morning, so we arranged to meet at Brampton Island. It was a joyfull reunion when we finally met that afternoon. This was followed by a couple of relaxingdays on the island with walks and picnic lunches.

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Thursday 21st Sept we left Brampton for Mackay. We stayed for about a week, then headed off to join our other friends, Derek and Colleen who are still in the Whitsundays.

In summary, we are just starting to enjoy the relaxed cruising lifestyle after three months of getting the boat sorted, and rushing up to here.  The boat is going pretty well now, but we still need to learn how to make her go under sail. We have been taking it one step at a time, but with the thought in our minds that we wanted to make our anchorage before nightfall, hence pushing along at 6 knots or more with the aid of the motor. From here, we will be able to take our time in short hops and try various sail combinations.

Next:  Mackay to Whitsundays

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