THE ALLIKAT ADVENTURES BOOK II
CHAPTER 3 JUNE 8 – JUNE 24
After counting down the days to the long weekend in June, we were finally winging our way north to Queensland and Allikat at her berth in Hope Harbour. We had unexpected visitors that weekend – Kate, Amalie and Josh, who had come to Queensland for a wedding. Now Amalie is on two feet, life has become much more interesting! She climbed all over the boat, and John at one stage had her tethered to a spinnaker rope as she tried to bounce on the trampolines. The boat offered many new explorations for her.
It was time on Tuesday to head for Coomera and the hardstand. During the regatta, Lightwave had a section called “Take me there” – photos of idyllic moments. We have found a new category, not mentioned in the glossy brochures for boat owners – called “Don’t take me there”, otherwise called antifouling. After a day of sanding the hulls, John looked like a miner emerging from the pits, and the next two days were spent applying highly malodorous black goo – terrific fun all round. Lightwave also repaired the starboard minikeel, that we had damaged on our grounding at Tin Can Bay last year. During this time, some minor repairs were effected with the rig and we finally had a resolution to our inverter charger dispute with the installation of a new IC. It was a pity that it took three months to achieve this. We also found some sizeable oysters in the engine leg where the rubber covers had broken away – didn’t realize we had these extra passengers! It was with a sigh of relief that we relaunched the boat on Saturday and began our journey north for an overnight anchorage off Macleay Island.
It rained quite heavily overnight, but the morning came with chilly temperatures, lighter winds and clearer skies. Like all prepared sailors, we had a man overboard drill – but this drill wasn’t a practice, it was for real! By the afternoon, the winds had died right down and we decided to gull the sails. A rope had become tangled at the end of the boom, so John went on the cockpit roof to free it – a sudden change of wind swung the boom out, with John hanging on to the end, but when it stopped, John’s momentum kept him going – splash into the water. You can imagine how he felt in the water, four layers of clothes, long pants and shoes, totally unable to swim because of the clothes, watching Allikat disappear to the north under sail! You can also imagine Pam still aboard frantically trying to remember what had to be done! Fortunately, she managed to get the main down and motor the boat back to the bobbing head in the water. It would have been difficult to see him had the swells been any bigger. Needless to say, we now agreed to have a more refined procedure. We then continued our journey to Mooloolaba.
We continued to have millpond anchorages, staying a couple of days in Mooloolah River, before heading for Double Island Point. The winds varied throughout the day as rain squalls moved in and out, but we made good time, anchoring in the calm waters around the point. Again there was heavy rain overnight, before we crossed Wide Bay Bar safely and continued through the channel markers of the Great Sandy Straits. These channels are constantly moving and there are unexpected sandy shallows, especially where the two tidal streams, from the north and south, meet. The shallowest point we registered was only 1 metre on the depth gauge. The outgoing tide gave us a good drift sail under screecher to Whitecliffs, just south of Kingfisher Resort, where we anchored and stayed for two nights, in very still conditions and beautiful warm days. On Friday there was a very heavy fog, and we later learned that it was a record, covering much of southern Queensland.
The weekend saw us on a berth at Urangan Boat Harbour and we met up with the Tazewells and Lawtons for lunch – great to catch up with all the news. We also met up with Trevor and Lisa from Jalun, who are also looking to head north in the next weeks. The stay allowed us to top up the stores, fuel and water before we headed towards the Whitsundays. We had an excellent sail to Bundaberg in steady 15 knot winds, reaching up to 9+ knots, before anchoring in the river overnight. We are seeing increasing numbers of dolphins coming in to surf the bow waves as we head to warmer latitudes.
The winds had strengthened overnight, so we had a brisk sail out to the reef, deciding to swap the screecher for the jib when the boat speed topped eleven knots. A very early start allowed us to make our arrival at Lady Musgrave Island in good time to navigate the coral outcrops to enter the lagoon with little difficulty. The entry channel is very narrow, and the outflowing tide was running at over three knots, but the lagoon is extensive, so the anchoring options were numerous. Four other yachts were anchored overnight, and the tourist cats and power boats arrived the next morning. The winds continued from the south east overnight and were still at over 25 knots in the morning, causing chop on the lagoon, but the anchorage is quite pleasant.
We plan to continue north following the reef for the next few days, before heading back towards the mainland, winds permitting.