Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
Bundaberg to Sydney - Coastal Cruising at a leisure pace
11 November 2010
We left Bundaberg at first light. The first part of the trip was hard with head winds but when we reached Fraser Island we got protection and the rest of the trip was nice.
We arrived at Kingfisher Bay in Fraser Island with good light and found a good anchorage with good holding and a nice beach. There is a resort there as well but we didn't visit.
Our position: 25.23.00S-153.02.00E
From Bundaberg to Gold Coast
12 November 2010
Set sail early next morning with light winds to get down to the end of Fraser Island. The plan was to spend the night at Pelican Bay and go out to sea in Great Sandy Straight. There was a good window to continue south along the coast the following day.
We arrived at Pelican Bay and anchored in shallow waters with good holding, this anchorage is a bit exposed to the winds, but it was very calm during the night.
Our position: 25.48.92S-153.02.66E
While sailing along the coast we always contact VMR and let them know of our plans. It is a good idea to make them aware of your plans and whereabouts. This time we called them to find out the state of the bar in the morning before we left. They confirmed it was the best time for the bar according to the tides but said no boats have left yet so they didn't know how it was, then they asked us to please let them know how it was after we crossed. Not the best of feelings for our crossing.
There were 3 sailboats, including us, crossing the bar at that time. Facing the bar at the start of the crossing was a bit scary, but as we progressed we found no problems except for the very confused seas in the approach. It was the low tide with a counter current, the shallowest water we crossed was at 4.5 meters.
15 November 2010
On another easy and nice sail day we go a bit further down to Peel Island and anchor in Horseshoe Bay, there is also a beautiful beach here and even though the anchorage is a bit rolly the night is quiet
16 November 2010
Today we need to negotiate the Gold Coast Sea Way, down to the Coomera River to get to Gold Coast Marine Services where we have a booking to haul out Zenitude, sometime tomorrow. We are going mainly with a low tide. In general it is very well marked but there are a couple of places with shoals where there is no water at low tide, we run aground once and almost grounded another time. Marks are confusing in some places. Our MaxSea charts shows in general more water than there is in reality. Finally we are at the mouth of the Coomera River and going thru intricate ways, not long after passing the famous Sanctuary Cove marina and resorts we arrive to our destination.
Our position: 27.52.22S-153.20.10E
14 November 2010
Next day we leave at around 9.00 in the morning and have an excellent day sail with winds ENE at 15 to 20 knots.
At about 3:00 PM we arrive at Tangalooma Wrecks in Moreton island. Ray, who is from Mooloolaba and knows this area very well, told us about this anchorage. It is a beautiful place, quiet during the week. Apparently gets very crowded during the weekend with local boats. We can see why. There is a nice beach and we go ashore for a walk.
Our position: 27.10.04S-153.22.17E
Kingfisher Bay, Fraser Island
The Tangalooma wrecks came about in 1963 as a result of lobbying by recreational boat owners for an artificial harbour. Various disused government vesseles were sunk at the site with the Maryborough being the first vessel of 12 to be sunk in the place which now forms the wrecks as they stand today. Home to myriads of reef fish species and coral formations, snorkeling through the wrecks has become a very popular activity.
17 to 28 November 2010
Zenitude is ready and the people at the Gold Coast Marine Services are very professional.
The yard is very clean and organized. Usually people is not allowed to stay in the boat while the boat is on the dry but we get an exception as we are planning to stay for 3 or 4 days only. Zeni, the dingy, stays in the water and we are able to go shopping and out for dinner to Santuary Cove and other shops near by.
The river is nice and has several branches.
Otherwise there is no much in terms of shops at walking distance.
Gold Coast Marine Centre
From Gold Coast to Sydney
28 November 2010
After leaving Gold Coast Marine we found a good anchorage in the Gold Coast Sea Way not far from the Southport bar entrance and spent a quiet night. There is a more popular anchorage right next to the bar which looks good as well.
Our position: 27.54.41S-153.25.19E
29 November 2010
We left very early. The exit thru the bar was bumpy but it was not bad.
The trip south is going well with the East Australian current helping us to go down at a fast pace. We have about 160 miles to get to Coffs Harbour, it is an overnight at sea. The weather is wet as it has been so often during the past weeks. There is no doubt La Nina is still here.
30 November to 3 December 2010
At around 9:00 in the morning we arrive at Coffs Harbour.
We are now in NSW and happy to be at anchor as more bad weather is coming this way.
Coffs Harbour - The gym crowd doesn't care with cold and rain
We were surprised to find the anchorage space quite tight for this popular place. There is a pier that restrict the anchorage space and we are not sure if it is comfortable on the other side of the pier. There is only a couple of boats so we find a good spot to drop the anchor at a reasonable good distance from the pier.
The bad weather has come to stay for several days and so are we, the anchorage starts getting crowded as boats come here looking for shelter, some anchor on the other side of the pier but it is quite rolly.
We finally decide to go to shore even with the rain to see a bit of town. It is a wet dingy ride back. Anyway, not much to do, we are used to tropical temperatures and this feels like winter for us.
It seems that tomorrow will be a good window for a day sail to Port Macquarie. We are ready.
Our position: 30.18.26S-153.09.00E
3 to 6 December 2010
We left Coffs Harbour with first light. There is absolute no wind so far but we hope we’ll get there during the day with the help of the current. But we can't be sure. We call and reserve a mooring at the marina. We are hopefully waiting for the 15 to 20 NE winds forecasted for today. At least it is not raining so far.
The wind came and went, it didn't last long but we did good timing and arrived Port Macquarie with good light.
We approached the Bar and call VMR to make sure it was ok to go in. They gave us the go ahead with some instructions.
Approaching the bar was confusing, it was not very clear to us which side to go, but we finally got it.
It was scary, braking waves all around, but we were in safe and could breath with relief again.
There is a straight channel to go all the way down to the marina, well marked, at one point there is a bend and it is best not to miss the marks as there is absolutely no water on one of the sides.
7 December 2010
Our next leg is Port Macquarie to Port Stevens. The tricky part is that we want to cross the bar with a slack tide after our experience coming in and we want to arrive to Port Stevens with day light as we've never been there by boat.
We have 100 miles to go and need to compromise on something. We decide to leave today with the slack tide at 10:30 in the morning, we know we will arrive in the middle of the night but we decide it is better to slow down at arrival but cross the bar at a good time.
We can't see the bar from where we are but VMR says it is ok to go. It is very calm, there is no wind and the bar is the way we like it, flat. Our decision pays, about an hour later we can hear talk in the radio, the wind has picked up and the bar is angry again.
Port Macquarie bar, the way we like it, flat
8 to 13 December 2010
We do need to slow down at night but the trip is the way we like it, uneventful. We enter Port Stevens as soon as there is a bit of light and go strait to Nelson Bay where there are courtesy moorings. We pick one and look around, it seems we are going to like it here.
We went out to town and on the way back found Zenitude drifting around free from the mooring line. This was one of the few times we didn't put a safety line on the mooring and for no apparent reason she got free (the shackle somehow opened).
Somebody in the beach was frantically looking for us. He saw Zenitude wondering around, almost out of the bay, then he said she came back and was slowly drifting towards the beach. When we came back, rushing in the dingy, Zenitude was awfully close to land on the beach, to me the dingy ride felt like a slow motion ride but we finally got to her before disaster struck. Just a very scary moment but no damage at all.
14 December 2010
At dawn we leave Port Stevens for our final leg, 90 miles to Sydney. We know we won't get there with daylight. The East Australia current is not there any longer and it takes us about 15 hours to do the 90 miles.
At around 9:00 PM we are at the heads. We have sailed these waters many times before and once again for us, although first time for Zenitude, we enter beautiful Sydney Harbour.
It is a calm night and we find anchorage in Middle Harbour.
Middle Harbour and The Spit, Sydney at night
We arrived at the mooring. Another 70 miles down, we are getting closer to Sydney. Stayed in the marina in a mooring. We found a very nice guy managing the place. This is home place for Alan Lucas and his boat was in the marina.
Our position: 31.25.63S-152.54.00E
We are in our way to Mooloolaba with variable winds, changing sails all the time, at the end we motor sail as we need to make it before nightfall. We arrive and find a good and easy entrance in Mooloolaba. On the way in we find a beautiful canal, with very nice houses on shore, at the end of the canal we find a good and protected anchorage. It is a very quiet night and we go ashore for pizza.
Our position: 26.41.25S-153.07.26E
We work hard with cleaning, waxing and bottom painting but unfortunately rains a lot and we need to stay a couple of extra days. Finally all is done and we go back to the water.
We stayed on the floating docks for another 5 days while Gonzalo, Tania and Alicia come to visit for the weekend.
Sandra, from Tutatis, also comes from Brisbane for a day visit and we have lunch together. Its been so much rain lately that we are starting to feel like ducks but we are ready and we must continue our way down the coast.
This nice guy, who was on holidays in Nelson Bay, called police, VMR and water police but they said they do not rescue boats, they are too busy, they only rescue people in distress. That's their policy. I guess a drifting boat is a danger and could put people in distress if nothing gets done, but policy is policy and they didn't intervene.
Murphy's law: If you have a safety line the main line will not get undone. If you don't have a safety line, the main line will.
On Saturday night there is fireworks and Christmas Carols on the beach, the weather is perfect, a beautiful night. This is a nice place to spend time. Boats can stay a maximum of three days in the courtesy moorings but there were not many boats around. Anyway on the third day we left the mooring and went down to explore, it is possible to anchor in other places as well. But we found Nelson Bay was the best place.
Our position: 32.42.97S-152.08.06E