Thursday, April 15, 2010

Back @ Keppel Bay Marina

Well we sailed into Keppel Bay Marina this morning. Winds still howling out of the SE, but it wasn't a bad run across! We're here because we have a road trip ahead of us. Off to Sydney for my graduation! Then visiting some relatives further South. Also catching up with our daughters on the way back. This blog will be quiet for a few weeks, as we are on land ( terra firma).
Cheers

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Time to move on

As I mentioned there is a weather change coming. We have decide it is time to move on and with the appending weather we think it's best not to travel along the reef areas. Heavy winds and seas are coming (in the next few days) and we wouldn't be able to move through the area without stopping for a night or two. We are on our way back to Kepple Bay area as this is where our cars are stored, and we have a road trip to do. We set off to move towards the mainland for Pancake Creek for the evening and then make our way along the coast north with a stop or two planned (anchorages). At 11:40 am the updated weather forecast is broadcast on the vhf radio, and now there are talks of strong wind warning for the following day. Not wanting to be holed up in the creek as we are on a time schedule we look at our situation, and make a decision to travel through the night to Great Kepple Island. The conditions were calm seas, clear skies, and picture perfect day except we had wind on our nose so we were motoring. We called the Volunteer Marine Rescue service to log on with them for our overnight passage. As mentioned in earlier post we are not fond of overnight passages, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do given the conditions. Well as the sun was starting to set the clouds started to move in. I made us some dinner early on as I knew I had the calm conditions at the time, and didn't want to deal with cooking later in the night. Needless to say it was a night FULL of ADVENTURE, and experiences we hadn't yet encountered!
First we had shipping encounters that were too close for comfort with not just 1 ship but 3 and we were the monkey in the middle. We were being sandwiched by these ships and we needed to think quickly for a way out, so with full throttles and a drastic change of course our only option where there wasn't a ship we moved due west, and just made it out of harms way! Our hearts a PUMPING we are back on course now.
Next encounter was a wicked weather change as it turns out a trough moved through our area giving was gale force winds and whipping up the seas. Which luckily wasn't too bad for us as we had the winds on our port quarter, (left rear side), so we just surfed along with the seas. The skies are very dark not just because we are in a new moon phase but because with this trough is rain clouds as well.
As we got slammed with this weather so did a lot of other boats and a few of them were close to the reef. TOO CLOSE, as we are listening to the radio, as we do, a MAY DAY ( a vessel in grave & immediate danger) call is made. We responded to the call as the boat was calling for the Coast Guard office that was closed, and we gave him the correct contact station and Coast Guard, and we also took down his co-ordinants in case we needed to relay to the Coast Guard. At the same time another vessel grounded itself on another reef further South. Okay now I'm wide awake and nervous about our passage through the channel that is border by rocks.
We managed to down the sails in the heavy seas, and make our way through the channel to the leeward side of the Island. We found a spot and anchored the boat. Glad to be out of the seas, and wind. We arrived shortly after 2 am. We did a bit of a tidy of the boat and hit the sack! We will remain here for a few days until weather clears and we can make our way into the marina.

Weather changes coming






Well we thought we would have a few more days of good weather, but the radio today tells us of a change coming. We decide to make the best of this spot as we would waste underwater time to move on today. Once again we have another days explore, and once again the spot turns out better then the one before! Really appreciating the fact that we are here, because in a few days time we know we are going to be on the road traveling South. Today we only spot one black tip shark and it was after our snorkel. We were only seconds in the dingy when it came cruising past, so my guess is that it was most likely there in the water with us as were taking in the beauty of the place.

day 3 at Musgrave






The weather is still looking good, and we have a choice of moving on, or staying here to explore some more. If we move on today we won't have the time to explore once there and will miss a days snorkeling, so we decided to stay. Once again in the dingy we go with our snorkel, and dive gear for a few more hours in the magical world of underwater reef!! This time we find another area to explore and on our dingy explore around we saw sharks! The first one not sure of the type, but it was about 8/9 ft. or nearly 3m long, and the second one was a black tip reef shark. Okay with butterflies in my stomach I put on my gear and over the side we go, with camera in hand cause if I see a shark in the water I want to photograph it!!!! I have to say there is always that thought in the back of your mind that there could be a shark in the water, but to get in the water after spotting 2 of them, well thrilling is one word that comes to mind, or crazy! Anyway I always get so involved with the beauty of the reef that I soon forget all about any sharks around. They really don't like the tastes of humans anyway. hahaha It turned into another beautiful spot each snorkle/ dive becomes better then the one before. Loving it!!!!!!!

Weather arrives






The predicted weather arrived a day late, but so worth the travel. The first day we just relaxed and caught up on some rest, as the conditions were not favorable to for an explore with choppy seas and rain, but the following day the seas laid down, and the sun came out! Magic! We were just itching to get in the water for a snorkel, and a dive! after my morning yoga and breakfast off we went. We spent hours in the water. For us this is what the cruising is all about!!

Arriving at lady Musgrave

As I mentioned the timing was good for our arrival, but the conditions well they were very wild. Right before entering we encountered wild winds from the North/ Northwest with heavy squalls. Not very good conditions for seeing coral heads! We made our way into the lagoon with Bruce on the helm and me up on the cabin top looking for coral heads. Just after entering the weather cleared to drizzle with a slight crack of sun just enough to give me sightings of the obstructions. THANK YOU ANGELS!!!!! We found a spot to drop anchor, but the first attempt didn't hold. We moved up a bit more into the lagoon, and had a successful anchoring. Tired but relieved to have arrived.

Cruising season 2010 has begun!

After saying our farewells and see ya soons to the family we prepared the boat to leave the following day. Looking at the weather maps over and over again we see a window of opportunity to travel North via the reef! Tuesday morning has us setting sail for one more anchorage in Platypus Bay. This time only for a few hours as we plot our course for 1st stop Lady Musgrave Island/ Lagoon. We anchored up for a few hours while I prepared a meal for the evening sail, and Bruce plotted our course and rechecked the weather. Looks like we have the right conditions to go! We are not fond of night time sailing, but the only way for us to arrive at the reef and be able to see properly with the sun high enough to see the coral bommies after you enter the lagoon we needed to leave Fraser at 19:00 hours, which has us sailing 14 hours averaging our speed at 5 knots (nautical miles) an hour. Our timing was good, but the weather well it gave us a bit of a curve ball as it does! What was meant to be 10/15 knots turned into 20/25 knots with nearly 3 metre seas!

Easter Weekend





We lucked out this year and had some pretty good weather. Usually here is Australia it is known to rain most of the Easter weekend. With Joanna, Mitch and Samantha on board we had a great sail back out to Platypus Bay to the top part of Fraser Island. We encountered dolphins, turtles, dingo's, weird creatures washed ashore (photo attached with one of them), and a rainbow on Easter Sunday morning!