Thursday, April 21, 2011

The lap around Australia begins

As with all great adventures there is a beginning. I can't remember a clear date when the idea first occurred to me except to say that it was a very long time ago. It may have been in my sub teens circa 1960 when I would stand near the sailing club at Shorncliff and watch the dinghy's being rigged and set off for an outing on Moreton Bay. Riveted to my vantage point to shy to approach my mind unconsciously and  indelibly etched with a desire to sail. From that earliest memory I certainly knew there was a difference between boats, rigs and crew numbers and that the participants were enjoying themselves. Through my teens and twenties swimming, surfing and rugby league dominated my sporting interests but sailing interest was always there evolving slowly. Lyn and I purchased a second hand sailfish in 1972. A sailfish is a plywood dinghy designed by Jack Carroll for a crew of one. Length 11'6", Beam 2"6" and a single sail of 65 sq ft. We put on the best amateur sailing show on the canals behind Surfers Paradise in the those days and did a lot of swimming. Scuba diving followed which meant a skid boat to get offshore to Cook Island, the Palm beach Gravel Patch and ripple reefs off Kingscliff. A 16' Oceancraft with a 60hp Johnson outboard filled the need for those years until it had to be sold to help finance that little acre of land we had at Lake Macdonald for 23 years. It was there we built our house and raised our two daughters and eventually paid off the mortgage. During that period we bought a Sabot and a Topper and the girls had sailing lessons. I crewed on friends boats during races on Lake Cootharaba on a 125 and Careel 18 before we bought our own trailer sailer. We went to Coffs Harbour to look at a Trailer Tri 720 and came home with a Sonata 7. We sailed the Sonata at Noosa, Lake Cootharaba and The Sandy Straits before selling her and buying an Farrier designed OSTAC Tramp. This was to be our first foray into multi hulls apart from some off the beach catamaran sailing on Cobra's, Surf Cat and Hobie cats. The little tramp is a 20' trailerable trimaran of foam sandwich construction with basic i.e. 2 bunks, accommodation. This would have to be one of the best inshore sailing boats ever made. Perfect for beginners to racing enthusiasts. An extremely capable boat and an absolute delight to sail being very efficient on all points of sail and so easy to handle both on and off the water. We had almost 10 years of  enjoyment with the tramp. My yachtmaster day skipper theory was completed in the early 80's and many offshore miles on Queensland's sail training schooner South Passage between Sydney and Gladstone a 40' charter catamaran delivery from the Gold Coast to Airlie beach for a friend and other passages along the Queensland coast as crew clocked up several thousand miles of coastal experience as crew, watch leader and skipper.

And now if you have been following the blog you will know that the time is nigh for that evolution to mature into the reality of that long held desire to circumnavigate Australia in our Australian built sailing catamaran Truansea.  

Double click on the photos to enlarge

Woods Bay Noosa and the course to exit the Noosa River
Woods Bay Noosa our anchorage for the last 3 months while we wait for the monsoon trough to retreat north enough and take with it that most serious of weather threats to any sailor, cyclones, is our departure point. The first challenge is to cross the Noosa bar safely and then sail north around Double Island Point. After overnighting in Rainbow Bay it will be on to the Wide Bay bar crossing the second challenge. These are the last two dangerous bars we will need to cross until we get to the central West Australian Coast. With any luck I will be able to avoid any dangerous bar crossings until the entrance to Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania's west coast.

Crossing the Noosa Bar
Credit to Bevan for this pic
Departure from Noosa on the morning of the 16th April was watched by a few relatives and friends who were nice enough to see us cross the bar. Uneventful enough which is how we like it but a very slow and rolly passage to Rainbow Bay behind Double Is Point where Lyn and I spent the night along with another catamaran who chose to anchor almost on top of us just after dark despite the 5square miles of empty anchorage. Makes me nervous especially when they anchored direct to windward of us.  Next morning they followed us across to the Wide Bay bar but overtook us near the bar and entered before us. The bar crossing was again uneventful so I was pleased to have two notorious bar crossings completed without drama. We anchored in Kauri Ck one of Lyn's favourites from earlier days and had a nice rest. On Sunday we moved up the Sandy Straits to near Stewart Is and spent the night there before motor sailing on up to Kingfisher resort. Here we went ashore and had coffee, lunch and a beer at the day bar and a nice hot shower. Kingfisher resort is one of those real gems that everyone should experience at least once. We have been there several times and always enjoyed it. Fraser Is is unique and Kingfisher resort provides a great stay along with  an education and fantastic experience. 

Double Is Point - Lyn's pic

Speaking of experience we had one of our own. We took the tender ashore for our visit and pulled it up clear of the water on arrival knowing that the tide was dropping and also aware that the tide goes out a long way. Now would be a good time to tell you that the weather had been really SHITTY since leaving Noosa rain followed by torrential rain even to the point of a white out as we sailed passed Ungowa and our little sojourn to the day bar at Kingfisher saw one of the heaviest showers deluge the place. So we stayed a little longer than planned at the day bar and as we all know time and tide wait for no man or woman and when we returned to the tender we were faced with a long drag through the sand and mud to reach the water. Remember now we have had a nice/luxurious hot shower and lunch etc at the day bar and anyone who has ever tramped through the mud for a couple of hundred meters with or without dragging a tender will know that it is not the most pleasant occupation. Lyn was exhausted by the time we reached a small drain where she could sit on the tender while I dragged it to deeper water. My saving grace was that she hadn't changed into clean fresh clothes. Back aboard for another rainy night and then a motor sail over to Urangan Harbour.

Kingfisher Bay - Lyn's pic

Pleasant enough trip and fortunately a couple of chaps helped us dock at the Fishermans Wharf marina as it was pretty windy. Sharyn and Henry met us there as it was planned for them to take Lyn back to Noosa. We had a nice lunch at the Hervey Bay Boat Club and I did a couple of boaty things whilst the others went to the supermarket for a couple of things for me before they left. 

A calm night spent in the marina brings me to today where I set out on my first solo sail on Truansea. I left the marina at 0730 heading for an anchorage just inside the Burnett River at Burnett Hds near Bundaberg which is  a few miles further upstream. What a wonderful sail it was SE winds early were 10 knots and strengthened to 15 knots during the day. I ran under main and jib to the fairway beacon and then set the spinnaker and carried it right across Hervey Bay to within 2 miles of Burnett Heads gybing only once. That was a great run averaging 7 knots with the wind almost square behind. Dream stuff really. Apart from a few  fishing types around the beacons there were no other vessels until I reached Burnett Hds. 50.9 nautical miles on the log. 

Tomorrow I'll try for Pancake Creek just south of the entrance to Gladstone Harbour and from there to Great Kepple Is the following day via the outside of Curtis Is and Cape Capricorn that way I'll avoid the Brisbane to Gladstone fleet clogging up the harbour and marina at Gladstone. 

 Fair winds.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on achieving your dreams Uncle Brian! I'm thoroughly enjoying reading about your travels. Have a lovely Easter on Truansea! Love Claire, David and Baby Winkle