Sunday, March 31, 2013

Brisbane to Bundaberg 2013

Brisbane to Bundaberg 2013
The big news is of course that Capt’n Willi, that loveable rogue has finally got married. Yes, on the 21st March no less, exactly four years to the day since Rona walked onto his boat and changed his life forever he stood in front of a small group of friends and family and whilst completely sober said I do.  Who could have foreseen that when this blog started all that time ago?
No one would be surprised to know that the honeymoon is to be a sailing trip from Brisbane to Cairns. Those who know Willi would not be surprised to learn that he is taking not only his bride but one of her best friends on the voyage. So this is the tale of the voyage of Capt’n Willi, and Rona and Susan .
The weather in Brisbane had been atrocious. The original plan was to take Dreamagic to Mooloolaba, use her as a floating apartment for friends attending the wedding, and then take her north from there. Unfortunately we had heard such terror tales of the entrance to Mooloolaba having silted over that we decided to take Dreamagic in one overnight run to the Wide Bay Bar , hopefully cross that and carry on through the Sandy Straights, or go around Fraser Island and into Gladstone.
The best laid plans. While in Mooloolaba I visited the Coast Guard who said that the bar was passable as long as we stayed to the Port side. With this in mind we brought Dreamagic up the coast to Mooloolaba and caught up with the last of Thursdays wedding party who still hadn’t left yet. While safely in harbor we experienced heavy rain and thunderstorms but we wisely sheltered in the lee of the bar at The Surf Club until they passed.
Dreamagics journey up the coast was uneventful except for our exhaust which is carrying an unusual amount of steam. The motor doesn’t seem to be overheating but we are blowing white smoke which is a concern, especially given we spent over $3000 on it in Brisbane to fix that. The other issue we have is with the new toilet, or head as we call it. It doesn’t seem to want to flush to the outside of the boat. I think the pipe is calcified and fixing it will be a simple if messy job. However it can’t really be done at sea so I promised to look at it once in a marina.
I make no secret of the fact that I detest the Wide Bay Bar and arriving just before dark with two and a half hours of tide left to run wasn’t going to help my opinion of it  To wait would mean a crossing the dark, to go while it was light would mean a rough trip but we did go over and it was kind to us. Susan and Rona were life jacketed and tethered in, I had a jacket on but we passed over at sunset and opened the red wine to celebrate before finding an anchorage inside the bar.
The next morning we rode the incoming tide the entire length of the straights and arrived at Urangan mid afternoon. I had learned this trick when bringing John Pools boat  “Now or Never” up the straights and it works a treat. At the shallowest part we had the pleasure of watching a 40 foot sailing cat waiting nonchalantly at the mark until someone, Us, could show them the way through. We draw 2 meters, they would draw about half a meter. Always a pleasure to help a cat sailor in trouble.
We called Urangan for a berth and received our first hiccup of the trip. They didn’t have a spare one for us! Rona does what she does best and turned a “No room at the Inn” response to a “We have one berth directly outside the club but with no power or water”. That’s good enough. She also told the fellow she was speaking with that we were short handed, he said he was too, but would give us a hand with our lines if we called when we got in.
True to our word we called Jim who by now was Rona’s best friend, and true to his word he had upgraded us to a much better berth. We reminded him again that we were short handed, he reminded us that he was too, but would be waiting at the end of our dock. And sure enough as we turned into C row, there was Jim leaping up and down to maximize his stature of about 4 feet tall ready to catch us.
What a funny bloke this guy is. He may be only 4 foot in physical height but he is 8 feet tall in my opinion and an absolute credit to the club. He was joking with the girls about being “Short handed” telling stories and generally making us feel very welcome.
If you have read the previous blogs you will know that we have always had a good time an Urangan Boat Club. The food is excellent, the wine is cheap and the entertainment is plentiful. Times must be tough because while the food and wine were good, there was no entertainment either of the nights we were there. We did win the seafood tray in the raffle which was a bonus though, and made for a great lunch on our next leg.
The weather was perfect on the leg to Bundaberg, but not a breath of wind. Rona was up at 5.30 buy ice and milk and had innocently asked if they had any spoon lures. The shop was full of fishermen getting bait and by the time she had listened to the various advice regarding what, where and how to catch fish we were armed with a “never fail” lure and wondering how we were going to kill these monsters of the deep we were guaranteed to land.
We dragged the lure for 60 miles and Rona was considering how to get her money back when I pulled it in to find it had gone, along with half the trace. I would like to think a shark had taken it, or at least that is Rona’s first fishing story.
Bundaberg was very badly damaged in the recent floods and one marina was destroyed. The other marina, Port Marina was also extensively damaged and as a consequence there is an extreme shortage of berths for the boats that are already here let alone find room for visiting boats. Susan to the rescue. Although now London based she is a Bundy girl and similar to Rona doesn’t understand the word “can't”. A phone call to friends connects her with other friends one of whom is up there with the Port authority. A couple of hours later and we can put our boat on the Customs Berth. Now this is a big deal because usually if a boat goes onto that berth it’s been arrested and isn’t coming off again anytime soon.
On approach we called again to confirm our intentions and were given another real berth allocation. Pink 16 looked like an easy berth to get into with another yacht of similar size already on 17. However it was only when we were half way in that I realized that it was going to be tight getting our 4 metre beam in beside her 4 metre beam. With fenders now on both sides of the boat we tentatively edged forward worrying about being blown onto our neighbour. Fortunately he was aboard, and the sight of two girls on the deck brought out more willing helpers to catch lines. I must admit I thought my seamanship at holding her in place was exemplary until I realized we were actually on the bottom and she wasn’t going anywhere anyway. I think I’ll keep that to myself .
Susan’s mother Carol visited the boat, as did some of her friends. Dreamagic turned into the party boat she always has been and we played host to Chris and Kate and their delightful children Meghan, Jack and Annabelle. Finally Susan left the boat and Rona and I spent our second night alone since we were married, now over a week ago.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

We're Back!

Its that time again when the weather starts to turn cold and cruising folk start looking towards following the sun. Our plans are to take Dreamagic to Mooloolaba on the 12th March, park her there for 10 days while we get married, and then sail her North to Cairns via Bundaberg and the Whitsundays arriving at our winter home at the end of April.
A great plan that has been dreamed of and looked forward to for nearly a year. So why is Dreamagic still sitting in her pen at Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron? Because the Mooloolaba Harbour has silted over to the extent that we can't get in there. Speaking with the local Coast Guard their view is that attempting to cross will probably result in the loss of the boat, and perhaps death.
Rona, my bride to be feels that the loss of Dreamagic and a possible drowning may put a dampener on the proceedings so the new plan is to sit here until next Tuesday, when we will drive to the Sunshine Coast, get married up there, drive back and leave around the 23rd for a long stretch straight to Bundy, or hopefully a calm bar crossing at the Wide Bay Bar.
Meanwhile Dreamagic strains at her lines to get free of the dock she has been tied to for the past 18 months. I know how she feels.