Monday, 19 November 2012

Segment 51 : Sheridan Flats ( half way down inside Fraser Island ) to Surfers Paradise

Segment 51 : Sheridan Flats ( half way down inside Fraser Island) to Surfers Paradise
Wed 14 November 2012 170 NM.

We were all up early for the second half of the passage south behind Fraser Island then across Wide Bay Bar and on to Mooloolaba.

Capt Barry had done his research the day before and wanted to get under way about 6.00am.

The key aspects were;

1. getting to Wide Bay Bar to do the crossing no later than 9.15 am , as it was high tide at Wide Bay Bar just before 9.00am.  Capt Barry did not want to cross the bar more than about 30 mins after the high tide there, as he did not want to take LAST WORD over the bar with what would then be an outgoing tide against an incoming swell and NE wind, as that may cause the waves to stand up and make the bar crossing more dangerous than need be.

2. LAST WORD  still had 22 NM to go to cross Wide Bay Bar, and that was against the incoming flood tide , so it would take about 3 to 3.5 hours to get to the bar , without planing.

3.   it was not high tide at Boonlye Point - 3.5m ( just south of Sheridan Flats   ) until  9.29am. So to make Wide Bay Bar at the desired time , LAST WORD needed to be under way about 6.00am , which meant navigating the shallowest parts of the inside passage at about half tide, ie about 2.2 m at Ungowa, and slightly less , 1.9 m , at Boonlye Point.

The weather pattens were changing , with Buoyweather predicting 5 to 10 kt winds from the NE and 1.2 m seas at 11 secs, and BOM predicting winds of 10 to 15 kts rising to 20 kts from the NE and seas up to 1.7 m.

LAST WORD lifted anchor at 6.15am and was under way to navigate  the shallowest parts of the inside passage.

The waters behind Fraser Island were very calm, It was a beautiful section of water, very serene and enjoyable.

it does not get much calmer and prettier than this. The water way looks very broad, but do not be fooled, as much of what you see is less than 1 m deep, and it is a 2.0 m tide.

Almost as if they had been waiting for a challenger, several other motor and sailing yachts  lifted anchor just after LAST WORD, and followed LAST WORD , at a respectable distance.  Capt Barry suspects they hung back a little  to see if LAST WORD  found a safe passage.

BIG BUD and some other vessels falling in behind whoever went first through the shallow waters

Merilyn was stationed on the bow , trying to spot any shallows that did not show on the charts , and to point out close sand banks  as LAST WORD  slid by them.

Peter and Capt Barry paid particular attention to the markers and way points and there was debate on several occasions about whether to shave a way point or two.

 It took an hour to get to Cyprus Creek, and with  the worst of the shallow parts behind us, we were able to relax a little more and enjoy the scenery even more.

We saw 0.8 m on the depth sounder at three locations , meaning 0.8m under the props.

Against the incoming tide LAST WORD  only made about 7+ kts, so, to keep to Capt Barry's schedule,  Capt Barry opened the throttles to 17 kts for the wider, southern passages, where there were no other boats , and LAST WORD arrived at Tin Can Bay , just before Wide Bay bar at 8.30 am.

LAST WORD  picking up the pace, to arrive at Wide Bay Bar on time , and leaving some of the other boats behind

Capt Barry then checked in with VMR Tin Can Bay to check the  most current way points (which had not changed since the trip north ) and was informed that the bar was fair, but  with  confused water between way points 2 and 3.

Capt Barry logged on for Mooloolaba with VMR Tin Can Bay  , then crossed the bar at 10+ kts , which took about 12 mins, as it is quite a long shallow bar.

Half way over the bar Capt Neil motored BIG BUD past LAST WORD, doing about 15 kts, , and radioed to apologise for the extra wash he had created,  and explained that unlike LAST WORD, which he said  sat well in the rougher stuff over the bar, BIG BUD was all over the place and needed some speed for better stability and ride comfort, and to get over the bar more quickly.

Capt Neil radioed again,  15 mins ater,  to say that he had decided to head straight for Surfers Paradise seaway, and bypass Mooloolaba,  as the seas were not to bad , and there was a wind coming later that evening.

Capt Barry discussed the options with his crew, and we decided to continue for Mooloolaba, and anchor there overnight.

While crewman Peter made many cups of tea and prepared several more servings of mangos, Capt Barry  did some paper work , share trading and made telephone calls to family and friends , and to  confirm LAST WORD'S  berth at Marina Mirage ( if required that evening onwards ) and sent emails and made more calls to chase up a replacement stabilizer fin.

Capt Barry is very surprised at just how difficult it is to organise a replacement stabilizer fin. It should be simple, and you would think that the fin manufacturer would go out of their way to make the replacement seemless and painless ,  but no, the customer has to do all the work, and there is only one supplier, unless you want to make your own ........something Capt Barry is seriously thinking about doing, ( and if he does, Capt Barry will also making a spare).

Capt Barry also kept an eye on the changing weather , particularly the winds , as  BOM and the VMR stations started to broadcast  strong wind warnings on the hour.

Capt Barry organised another round of tea (with lamingtons and mangos)  and a crew discussion about LAST WORD's options , which were.;

1. keep to the plan and arrive at Mooloolaba  early afternoon and anchor for the night, knowing that   LAST WORD  may be caught there for several days due to the expected 25 to 30 kt NE and NW winds, and the  2 to 3 m seas  being predicted  for the next two days.

2. keep going past Mooloolaba and  into Moreton Bay, anchor for the night then proceed down the inside passage to Surfers Paradise. This was an option Capt Barry liked as he had not made  that passage, However, Capt Barry did not have the latest charts for that passage and Merilyn and Peter ,who had done the passage , were a little unsure about the  depth at one particular point, and said we may need to wait for the tides and to get some local knowledge, and

3.  put the hammer down and settle on a speed that would make the Gold Coast seaway just before  sunset , which was an ok tide as well , and berth LAST WORD at Oceanus, Marina Mirage about 6.45 pm,  and have her nestled in by the time the bigger winds and seas arrived.

It was midday, and LAST WORD was about 100 NM from the Gold Coast seaway, and Capt Barry calculated that we could make the seaway, about sunset , (  6.15pm  ),  if LAST WORD averaged 16 to  17 kts. This was discussed and Capt Barry said we would try that speed for about 30 mins to ensure it was comfortable in the current sea conditions on one stabilizer fin, and if so , go for the Gold Coast sea way option.

This plan was implemented, and Capt Barry took LAST WORD   to 1850 rpm , averaging 16+ kts and 170 l/hr.

LAST WORD sat and  travelled very comfortably at this speed in the rising seas , which were about 1.5m and we had the current and rising wind behind us most of the way.

Off  Mooloolaba , Capt Barry changed VMR guardian angels and logged off with Mooloolaba and on with  the VMR for the Gold Coast seaway tower.

Capt Barry telephoned his brother , Graeme , to advise him of the change of plan, and organise for Graeme to shoot some footage of LAST WORD  coming through the sea way, and to join the crew for dinner at Marina Mirage.

LAST WORD arrived off the seaway entrance at 6.10 pm and Capt Barry slowed a little, to 13 kts and took her straight through, careful to miss the usual stupid fishermen that insist on fishing in the middle of the sea way channel , even in the failing light , ( and keeping out a wary eye for any  boogy /surf board riders crossing the seaway ).

After entering the seaway, and turning to port, Capt Barry handed the helm to Peter to take LAST WORD south down the seaway so Capt Barry could  organise the ropes and fenders.

We were soon at Oceanus, Marina Mirage and berthed by 6.35pm, in  15 to 20  kt N gusting winds.

Capt Barry suggested Peter and Merilyn remain on board LAST WORD for the night, ( as we were supposed to be at Mooloolaba ).

As a show of their appreciation for the invitation and opportunity to make the passage south ( and contrary to Capt Barry's objections which were overruled )  , Peter and Merilyn shouted Capt Barry, Graeme and Andrea to a fabulous dinner at the local Italian restaurant with a  great bottle of red.

After dinner , it was agreed that Graeme , would get a lift home with his friend  Andrea ,  and leave his car for  Capt Barry , and that Capt Barry ( with Peter and Merilyn ) would collect Graeme the next morning , and drop him off at Pindara Private Hospital , for his knee and left leg operation, then drop Peter and Merilyn off, at their  boat,  berthed  at Hope Harbour, near Sanctuary Cove.

Over the next week or so, Capt Barry planned to  attend to a few fix it items  on LAST WORD ( the replacement of the missing stabilizer  fin being one of them ) ,  and to  move into Graeme's house,  on the Isle of Capri, to assist him with his post operation recovery.

TRIP:   170 NM,   12.5 HRS,   1427 L, averaging  13.5 kts and 114 L/HR

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