Hervey Bay

Sailing north from Mooloolaba at a steady 8 knots we towed our so far unlucky lures once more.
As I am somewhat susceptible to bouts of seasickness I had been quite pleased that to this point I had been able to keep my lunch where it belongs.

Unfortunately that wasn’t to last.

IMG_0394While I was head down trying to keep our bait tank water pump below the boiling water behind the cat I lost my composure and turned quite a grey shade of green.

That 15 minutes with my head down and arse up ruined my so far pleasing record of never chucking while sailing.
Not long after that effort I was knee deep in guts.
That which broke me was that queasy feeling in the guts that points to an impending rapid evacuation from one end or the other.
Or as it turned out, both.
Sitting on the crapper both ends gave way at the same time.

IMG_0387Usually seasickness signals the end of what ever ocean top activity I may be undertaking, but I didn’t have anywhere to escape to.
I crawled around for an hour or so before my reel started screaming.
My totally ignored lure had finally attracted some piscean attention.



IMG_0382Wiping some of the spew off my encrusted beard I grabbed my rod and tried to look like I knew what I was doing.
A short fight of 15 minutes ensued and I was the victor, besting an 8kg bluefin tuna.
Slapper took a couple of photos of me holding up my fish and I am fairly sure if you look closely you can still see the chunks in my beard.

DSC_0005Not one of my finest moments, but still better that the fish I was holding.
As soon as the photos were taken my resolve crumbled and I sank down in the pose of the morbidly seasick and prayed for death.

Some 2 hours later I started coming good which was just as well as Slapper had piloted us to the river mouth in Wide Bay.
The sand bars that guard the river mouth are fairly intimidating and on the outgoing tide as we were can sport standing waves of a meter or more.

Slapper made contact with the Tin Can Bay volunteer rescue service and they talked him through the approach into the river and kept an eye on us as we entered the river.
All went smoothly with only a little sweat on the brow and we passed the Frasier Island ferry and motored calmly into the Great Sandy Strait.

The decision was made not to head south into Tin Can Bay despite its reputation as eye candy and motored north towards Hervey bay.
Somewhere round about Mary river we ran out of daylight and carefully motored around looking for a safe anchoring place.
Well, not carefully enough.

IMG_0128Just as the sky turned inky black and the moon failed to show we ran aground.
This was only the second time we had done so with the first in the inland river somewhere west of North Straddie Island.
Our first grounding was partially intentional just to see what would happen and so can hardly be held against the man at the helm.


The second grounding was much more concerning.
Striking ground and holding fast at the top of the tide on the biggest tide for many days we could not have timed it worse.

Much head scratching and map conferring ensued and a plan was agreed on.
Well, Slapper decided that the navionics program that had lied to us and placed us where we were was also lying about our orientation.

IMG_0139In the pitch black we could barely make out what may have been channel markers in a place the map said was not the case.
Slapper made his mind up and we gunned the motors.
To our great relief the hulls came free and we once more had water under our keels.
With that we motored a few hundred meters and dropped anchor for the night.


Morning dawned to show us just off to one side of the channel and in good spirits.
With no wind we had no choice but to motor the 20 miles to Urangan.

Urangan town and marina sits in the south west corner of Hervey Bay.
The marina is nothing to rave about and once again we found ourselves on the bloody hammerhead.

IMG_0514We spent 3 days in Urangan fixing pulleys, damaged ropes and improving our safety equipment with the addition of waterproof 2.5w radios.

IMG_0492I don’t know why anybody would live in Urangan, maybe every other place in Australia is full?
Its maybe not that bad, Hervey Bay was full of whales and if you liked that sort of thing maybe it might be okay.

We went out on the bay on the second day with a drinking buddy of Slappers from Manly, Gary.
We saw some humpback whales several hundred meters way but could see and hear their spouts clearly.
Whales, tick.

It was decided that we would take Gary on the next leg of the trip, from Urangan to Bundaberg.
The wind was from the south at 15 knots with 1 meter of swell.
This made slow but pleasant sailing.

Our lures were once again ignored.


Text by Fingers photos by Fingers and one by Slapper.


IMG_0220On the Monday evening we found ourselves moored on the hammerhead at Mooloolaba marina.
It is a nice enough marina and offered membership for $2 so we both signed up.
3 days was enough though and we begun to sail north as soon as the winds swung around to blow steady from the south.


Text and photo by Fingers.


Upon arrival at Manly we anchored just outside the marinas sea wall.
From this location it was only a short 5 minute commute in the 2.7m inflateable tender.

IMG_0504Powered by an 8hp Yamaha outboard engine purchased while at the marina in Coomera the tender was quite spritely.
However to get the tender up on the plane it requires the operator to let go of the tiller and crouch forward while at maximum revs.


This is no problem while the engine is brand new and the controls quite stiff but becomes more risky as time goes on.
Nonetheless it is the accepted method of getting on the plane and is unlikely to change until we take the spill that is most inevitable.

Quite apart from the beauty of waking up moored in Morton Bay was the pleasure of commuting via tender.
It is so nice to be able to motor thru the marina and tie up to the stairs on the sea wall that runs along the main street of Manly.

IMG_0172From the stairs it is only a walk of several minutes to get to Slappers apartment, IGA or the Manly pub.
All of which we availed ourselves to, frequently.



On Saturday was the farmers market on the grassed area atop the sea wall.
Sunday also saw a market but this was the arts and craft version and in the same location.
Sometimes there was also a movie night were a large inflateable screen was erected and everybody brought their families, chairs and rugs.

If I recall correctly Paper Planes was the movie featured on the night we attended, I may have been a little drunk so my memory is a little hazy.

Being a pleasant commute by tender and a very short walk to the pub along tree lined streets has the unfortunate side effect of making it very easy to just have one more drink.
This is not helped by the inviting beer garden and laid back locals.
I may have been quite drunk most of my time in Manly.


We spent several days moored outside the marina catching all manner of sea life and some of them very tasty.

Towards the end of the week we decided to move to a marina berth so we would have access to mains power and fresh water.
While we didn’t need mains power for much other than charging camera, phone and laptop batteries it was a nice extravagance.
The fresh water on the other hand we needed most desperately.

Slappers habit of using fresh water to wash the decks of the cat had us chewing thru water very quickly.
At that time we didn’t have an alternative when it came to washing the boat.
That would be rectified a few weeks later.

IMG_0157Living moored in a marina apart from being crazy expensive wasn’t the the ideal place to be.
Needing to take a morning after dump often meant a frantic and definitely too long run from the berth to the toilets on land.
There were several days when I made it with less than seconds to spare.

Then as now we have a knack of getting the berth furthest from the toilet/shower block and somehow constantly rocked by boat wakes that no one else seems to suffer.

IMG_0278Aside from adding to the coffers of the Manly pub our priority was to clean and prepare Slappers apartment ready for rental.
Somehow we managed to drag that out for a week and that week has left me feeling quite attached to Manly.
On the Friday before we were due to head north Slapper extended an invitation to his sister Peta and her husband Grant to come for a cruise around Morton Bay.

IMG_0205Peta and Grant were eager to see some of the Dugongs reputed to live on the north east side of the bay.
So our plan was to sail to Tangalooma and spot for Dugongs on the way.

Friday dawned clear and still.
The bay on Friday morning was smooth and free of ripples end to end and therefor impossible to sail across.


This being the case we motored at 7 knots from the marina at Manly to a bay somewhere near to half way along Morton Island.

Peta and Grant took the tender from our anchor point to the shore and went for a secluded wander for an hour or so.


Slapper and I set out a few baits and bagged a few whiting while watching a largish shadow cruising around the back of the boat.
Slapper grabbed his bait caster and got half a pillie out into the path of the shadow.
The shadow barely hesitated as it engulfed the bait and took off for the horizon.

IMG_0155Several frantic minutes saw Slapper losing line from his bait caster at an alarming rate.
I suggested we hop in the tender that Peta and Grant had just returned in and chase the shadow to maybe regain some line before the spool ran out.
With all the grace of a cow on a bike we mounted the tender and took off after the shadow.

Some skillful coaxing saw slapper regain all his spent line with just the leader between him and the shadow.
It was then that we saw what the shadow was.
A 5 foot long Shovelnosed shark, not too bad considering it would have weighed at least 25kg and Slappers line was only 8kg.

IMG_0585While Slapper and the 8kg line was up to the challenge sadly the rod was most definitely not.
With a thumb fingering the spool to coax every last kilo from the line the Shovelnose finally came fully to the surface.
Both Slapper and I were congratulating each other on some fine chase work when the Shovelnose gave a last surge towards freedom and Slappers rod exploded into 3 pieces.

I couldn’t help laughing.
Lesson learned, never use heavier line than the rating of the rod, but then who hasn’t done just that?


IMG_0118Saturday dawned crisp with a moderate breeze from the south west and a meter or so of swell.
This being the case we were able to set the sails and get some free miles in.




Text and photos by Fingers.


The sail from Manly north was uneventful and covered some miles free with wind power.
Several hours north from Manly on Morton Island is the resort called Tangalooma.

IMG_0480I am struggling to find something nice to write about that place.
Ah, got it.

IMG_0339A mile north of the resort is a line of wrecks constructed from dredges and work boats that were sunk in several meters of water on Sholl Bank some 30 years ago.


The wrecks lay only a couple of hundred meters off the shore and is a popular snorkeling site.
We had a go fishing there but we were plagued with bat and zebra fish, both species I detest.

The resort is a mecca for Chinese and Pom tourists, I can’t figure why.


IMG_0343On the day we arrived we moored just south of the wrecks in 5 meters of water.
We took the tender south to the resort and swapped and arm and a leg for a few beers.
Sitting out on the beer garden perched on the beach wasn’t the worst way to spend a few hours, I guess.
Slapper named it a poor mans island resort and I think he nailed it.


That night we decided to head north at sparrows the next morning.
Sparrows the following morning was accompanied with a meter and half of swell from the north and a blustery northerly of at least 25 knots.
As Slapper has been known to say often, a gentleman never sails to windward.
So we didn’t.

DSC_0003We remained moored that day in rain and stormy northerlies.
And the night that followed.
It was quite uncomfortable and not at all dignified but we endured.
The morning of the third day saw rain and crappy swells but the wind had changed to a cold and dispiriting south easter of 20 knots or so.


IMG_0432We motored south to get around the sand bars that collect offshore from the wrecks and then set sail heading north.
We both threw a lure into the wake and settled in to grind as many miles north as we could.
Just before dark that night we came into sight of the rock walls guarding the river into Mooloolaba.


Our lures had tempted no fish.

With dusk rapidly settling into dark we dropped the sails and motored into the marina.
Once more we found our mooring on the hammerhead as far from toilets and showers as it was possible to be.


Text and photos by Fingers.