Section 5 Section 5

Travels in 'Meridian of Sydney'

Whitsundays to Mooloolaba

The time spent in the Whitsundays went quite quickly, even though we don't seem to have done much.  We lazed about some, swam and snorkelled a bit, worked on the boat ...  We spent some time with Derek, Colleen and Jacquie in Shute Harbour and other places.  Other times were spent with Wal and Robbie on 'Annwn'. 

For instance we went up to Double Bay on the mainland, west of Airlie Beach and spent a week there reading while the rain poured down.  When it wasn't raining, we sanded and scraped and oiled the teak woodwork on one side of the boat.   We also spent a pleasant couple of days on Hamilton Island, lazing by the pool like regular tourists.

Eventually we decided that we should make a break southwards if we were to get to Mooloolaba (for us) and Brisbane (for Annwn) before Christmas.  There had been strong 20 - 25kt SE winds blowing for quite a while, and we weren't the only ones getting anxious.  Finally on the 28th November the forecast was for E - SE winds 10 - 15 kts.   Well of course it didn't happen, and we motored from Cid Harbour on Whitsunday Island to Burning Point on Shaw Island right into the teeth of 25 knot winds.  It wasn't pleasant and we were pleased to get our anchor down for the night.  We had left the front vents open and the green water over the deck found its way below, saturating cushions and putting quite a lot in the bilges.

The next day, (Wed) the forecast was similar, ie SE - NE 10 -15 kts.  It actually was like that, so we motored on to Goldsmith Island, then decided to go on to Brampton Is.  By this time the wind had strengthened to about 20 knots, again right on the nose.  We left early next morning (5:15am) for Rosslyn Bay near Yeppoon.   This took almost 36 hours of mainly motoring, with some sailing in the morning (Fri).  During the night we passed the Percy Islands where we had stopped on the way north.

Rosslyn Bay was a good respite after the long trips before.  The forecast SE change of 25 - 30kt arrived on Saturday, so we were pleased to be securely tied up in the marina.  We finished up staying until the following Tuesday when the forecast was more reasonable.  We then did a short hop out to Great Keppel Island for an early departure.

3:30am Wed, departed for Pancake Creek.  We had considered going to Lady Musgrave Is but decided against it, as it about 90 miles SE from Keppel.  A long way to motor against the wind.  So we motored to Pancake Creek, arriving around 4pm.

Again we thought about Lady Musgrave, now only 40 miles east, but with the forecast of NE winds, we thought we should make the most of them and continue south.   Again we motored for several hours before the NE then NW wind came up sufficiently for us to actually sail toward Bundaberg.  As we arrived at the port at 6pm, a thunderstorm came through with gusty S winds and driving rain.  We made our way into the river following the leads, and expected the marina to soon come into view.  Alas, the storm had caused a blackout, so all was in darkness.  Fortunately, Lee from the marina was still there, and 'Annwn' had arrived 10 minutes before so we had plenty of assistance to dock.

Again we spent a few lazy days including a trip to the markets to buy some fruit, veg and other essential items.

Tues 12th we slipped out of Bundaberg at 8am, making our way across Hervey Bay to Fraser Island.  The wind came up quite fresh in the evening, but we had a secure anchorage and slept soundly.  The next morning dawned fine and clear and windlass.   We made our way down the Great Sandy Straits, past Garry's Anchorage and on to Inskip Point, just inside the infamous Wide Bay Bar. 

The next morning we were part of a convoy of 6 boats heading out at 8am.  The NE breeze was up, but the bar crossing was uneventful.  We sailed for a while but when we changed course southwards, the breeze died, so the motor came on once again.   Mooloolaba entry was made at 6pm, and we were soon tied up in the Yacht Club marina.  This will be our home for the next three months or so while we get some work done on the boat.

Things like getting some shade over the boat for a start.  The helm is exposed to the sun and the only defence so far has been wide-brimmed hats. We are getting Wal from 'Annwn' to come back in January to put in extra hatches, and rearrange our storage space to make life a bit easier.

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