Departing Yamba with a reasonable forecast for the leg to Southport Seaway we entered the Clarence River through the hole in the wall and found ourselves in the middle of a combined Water Police and Volunteer Marine Rescue training exercise. Helicopters, police boats, VMR boats and VHF radio traffic were the order of the day. Where the Clarence meets the sea was a far different place to when Lyn and I arrived, just some small green speed humps to denote the crossing.
The sum of rhumb line distances a safe distance of headlands and hard bits from Yamba to Southport Seaway is 97nm so reckoning on a bit of adverse current and a steady breeze 19-20 hours of sailing should see the job done. That is until Mr Murphy's law is applied to the calculation. His arithmetic is a little different to mine and generally the more accurate. The only difference really is like the old maths books where you had to go to the end of the book (voyage in this case) to get the correct answer which turned out to be 153nm.
How can this be? Simple really as always. Variable winds + periods of no wind + EAC x 3kts = Mr Murphy's constant. An earlier employer of mine estimated time to do a job with unknowns by averaging three guesses then doubling the answer and adding two. He was related to Murphy.
Slight seas are good Lyn, glassy ones even better. We had these for most of the passage as Lyn predicts this for times when she isn't aboard. Trawlers, up to twenty were counted within a mile of our position during the night mostly off Evans Head and Point Byron where the most easterly light house shines on all who sail within it's range. How hard those fisherman work in poor conditions and how they tolerate the current is a credit to them. Prawns are cheap. The gloom of the lights from other trawlers working even further out to sea would indicate another twenty. A keen eye kept us clear of them with only one coming close to my safety radius.
All through the night we sailed when there was enough wind and motored when there wasn't finally seeing old Sol rise up as we passed Brunswick Heads. Huey the wind God was completely exhausted from his efforts to scare the lovely Lyn and many others off sailing over the past several weeks. All that fuss and water and waves he was kicking about finally settled down into almost a mirror like surface as we motored past my first SCUBA diving site, Cook Is off Fingal Head. Turtles and rays came to the surface close by as we passed between Fingal and Cook Is and had our first glimpse of Queensland and the start of that most famous of recreational strips named the Gold Coast. The Queensland wind being a much nicer affair than it's southern counterpart set up a particularly pleasant broad reach for us along the coast line about a mile off shore. Old Sol lit up the beach strip and high rise buildings like a postcard photo as we closed on the Southport Seaway.
Entering the seaway across the infamous Southport bar was a pretty benign affair sailing under full main and jib about 100m behind a monohull who chose to motor in ahead of us. We gybed the sails across as we turned north and held the one sail set all the way up the Broadwater along the inside of South Stradbroke Island until the last 2 miles before the "Bedroom" at the northern tip of the island near Jumpinpin. (It is a lovely place thank you Arlette. We had been here several times before in another life.) That wonderful BBQ produced another great steak, egg, zucchini, potato and carrot dinner washed down with a rum. Naturally. A Pacific black duck swum up to the transom shortly after we anchored and stepped aboard up the steps like he lived here all his life and stayed for at least ten minutes. I told you it was a good life.
After a night here we left earlyish back to my old habit of going just a bit further before stopping for breakfast. We motored up to another old favourite anchorage where the old sand mining jetty used to be on North Stradbroke Island across from Caniapa Point. Cornflakes consumed we motored out past Macleay Island and hoisted sail finding the going much to our liking. Past Coochiemudlo Island, then Peel Island then St Helena Is off to port we passed several other catamarans and monohulls on our way to Tangalooma Point on Moreton Island just south of the resort. Finding a quiet place to anchor 300m of the beach in very clear water we dropped all sail and secured a good grip on the bottom with the anchor for the night. A small pod of dolphins welcomed us one leaping out equally as happy as us to be here.
Tomorrow we will head across to Scarborough where Truansea will spend a few days before the final leg of the trip home to Noosa. Bevan and I will return home from here by car with one of his old girlfriends. I'll have a chance to catch up with friends and relatives who have indicated a desire to take a look over the little ship when I return to Truansea on Saturday. Please book early to avoid disappointment.
Fair winds, Brian.