Friday, 29 July 2016

Tweed to Fraser or losing the plot to sledging

We left Tweed Heads in very calm conditions heading North.  As I've said before, there's a catch 22 in living on a sailboat.  When you want to move, you wait for a weather window head off.  Sounds easy but....

Our definition of a weather window is fairly strict.  For the duration of the planned journey, we need the predicted wind not directly on the nose and less than 20 knots and if we have a bar crossing, add swell less than 2 meters.  There are other considerations like if there is a blow coming later, do we have a plan B if it comes early etc but that's our basic thinking.

In practice, this means (with a bar crossing) we leave a day or two after a blow with the wind well behind the beam at 5 to 10 knots.  The catch 22 is that these conditions normally end up meaning not enough wind to actually sail.

Venture will do cruising speed (5 knots) with 12 knots of wind anywhere from about 45 deg through to 120 deg off the bow but the wind always seems to be 140+ deg and around 8 knots so we do a lot of motor sailing.  Caution always wins the prize but it can be a pain in the neck.

We motor sailed up to the Gold coast seaway and anchored overnight in Bums Bay.  Our plan was to get up to the north of Morton Bay and hang there for a good window to get through the Wide Bay bar into the Sandy Strait with enough time to get up to the resort on Fraser to meet up with my cousin Ian and family visiting from the UK (well he's currently living in Bahrain..).

Some strange sights on the Gold Coast

I kept wondering if there was anyone driving!

Just after we left Tweed, our main navigation aid (Raymarine C80 plotter) started playing up.  The screen would start shivering and percussive maintenance no longer fixed it.  Eventually, it wouldn't boot at all.  The first backup worked fine with a tablet and Navionics so no real panic.  The second backup (paper charts) we've never had to use so far (luckily, there's lots of wood here in the cockpit) and they are well packed away somewhere.

So we headed up to Boatworks in the Broadwater to get it fixed. As percussive maintenance had fixed this in the past, I was pretty sure it was just a bad connection somewhere but I wasn't keen on opening it up myself.

Overnight at Boatworks was very nice.  Lovely people, lots of help around and a nice setting.  I'd recommend it to anyone!  And the Raymarine guru fixed the plotter for cheap!

We headed off from there up through the Broadwater into Morton bay the next day and anchored overnight behind Peel Island. There are two very shallow spots up around Jacobs Well.  We always slow down in the dodgy bits so when we touched ground on the first one, we were not all that concerned.  We were on about half tide rising so we know we could get off. Anyway after the first "bugger, time for a cuppa" she kept moving (very slowly) and eventually found deeper water after about 200 metres or so of sliding along the bottom.  At one point I hit on a brilliant commercial idea equal to post-it-notes I think!  A retractable undercarriage! I'm looking for investors if anyone is interested!

Just before the next shallow bit, there's a new sign "Very shallow, area, less than one metre ahead".  They were right!  We did another 10 metres or so sliding on the silt and then though and on our way.

We had a nice quiet night anchored off the beach at Peel Island and made for Tangalooma the next day.  However, the plotter failed again (constant rebooting this time) when we started it up.  I was just thinking that maybe "cheap" may not have been "good" when I decided to try a factory reset,  something I didn't want to do as all our tracks, waypoints etc were in NVRAM and our backup is a year or so old.  How is it that you can give everyone sage advice and then fail to follow it yourself??

One of the wrecks at Tangalooma with some superstructure left

The reset fixed it anyway so "cheap" worked.  The guru at Boatworks tells us that the plotter is about 4 hardware generations old and suggested we start saving for a new one.  But that would mean replacing the radar unit too (not compatible) meaning something like 6 boat units cost.  I let that one through to the keeper and kept smiling.  No doubt it will turn to a grimace at some time in the future.

Tangalooma was as we remembered it minus the superstructure of all the wrecks.  A piece fell off one of them a while back and so a decision was made to chop off anything that was suspect meaning everything higher than 2 meters or so from the low water level.. That's a bit disappointing but a large chunk of metal falling would give one of the thousands of visitors to the wrecks a real headache and proactive beats hindsight every time!

We left Tangalooma early and made for Mooloolaba.  Another pleasant motor sail up the coast and another grounding in the anchorage there!  The sand bank to the north-west is a real gotcha, we grounded there in the dinghy last year so we really should have known better!  We hit it quite hard this time, coming to a halt and it was a falling tide so just a bit of panic..  Reverse gear and some wiggling pulled us off all right though and we set the anchor in deeper water.

There for one night and off to Wide Bay.  This was an overnight to catch the tide over the bar early (dawn) the following day (sorry Terry..).  We managed to sail for a few hours this time as the wind was just behind the beam and Terry stuck with until about midnight!  Sailing at 3 knots some of the time but we had plenty of time so that wasn't a real problem.

We crossed the bar in fine weather and headed directly for Gary's anchorage where we stayed for a few days relaxing on the boat.  The anchor dragged at one point (25kts of wind and a strong current) moving us about 30 meters into the channel which was a bit disconcerting.  But we moved and it was otherwise uneventful.

Highlights were sledging in a 38' yacht and a nice night sail up the coast.  Lowlights were sledging in a 38' yacht and losing the plot for a while.