Gladstone

Leaving Pancake creek at 7.30 the seas were slight and the wind barely 15 knots from the south but as the morning progressed the wind grew less and the seas smoothed out.

 

 

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By 10.15am the wind had dropped to less than 5 knots and was fluctuating in strength and direction.
We decided to motor sail although the sails were doing little in the way of propulsion and really did not much more to stablise us.
When 12 noon arrived we were just outside of the boundary of the Gladstone port authority and the tablet Slapper runs his navionics program on was out of battery.
This being the case we anchored up for an hour and a half and chucked out a couple of live whiting.
During our fishing the wind gained direction and compulsion and started to pound across the bay at 25 to 30 knots.
This made our anchorage out in the middle of the bay sloppy and rough but nothing we couldn’t stand for a short while.
Slappers whiting was chased around for a while before being snaffled but there was no hookup.

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My whiting was better at hiding I think as it wasn’t traveling far until it was pounced on by a small shark.
The fight wasn’t anything to rave about and was over in minutes.
Once in the boat my little shark was unhooked, photographed and then released as it was barely 2 feet long and maybe 2kg.
I cant recall the last time I saw a shark so small and its type baffled me.
It clearly wasn’t a school shark or a black tip and it had a very pointed nose much like a mako but it wasn’t that either.

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By 1.30pm we up anchored and notified the Gladstone port authority of our arrival then set course for the marina.
Gladstone is very much a working port and there are large ships of all types coming, going and moored.
I had heard that Gladstone was a dirty town due to its exporting of coal and its importing of bauxite. It is definitely not dirty and the marina is by a large margin the most tidy and well kept marina we have visited so far.
Not only is the marina very clean and tidy but its also one of the cheapest on the Queensland coast.

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The distance from the marina to town is quite daunting but there is a shuttle bus that runs to town once each morning and once back from town each afternoon.
Up on a hill overlooking the coast is the pub where I spent all evening uploading photos.
On the Tuesday evening there was hardly anyone there so I had the full attention of the 3 staff serving the empty bar.
They even turned on the gas heaters to keep just me warm, its a pity I can’t remember the name of the pub as the prices were good and the staff were excellent.
We found quite by chance that the sailing couple that had invited us to the sundowner the Sunday before were on the same jetty as us and only 8 berths down.
So we extended to them an invite to come around on the evening of the Wednesday and share a feed of Spanish mackerel and tuna.

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One thing I saw that was quite unusual was on a boat opposite our berth.
The asian lady living aboard the 30 foot mono had a pet cat that she would walk on a lead like a dog.
I would never have guessed that a cat would tolerate that reduction in liberty.

Wednesdays task before hosting the dinner was to fiberglass the hull of the tender. When Slapper bought Just Jammin the tender was minus an engine and had terrible wear on the bottom of it’s transom.

 

IMG_0935It looked very much like it had been dragged across concrete many times and had worn thru the fiberglass and into the foam core.
The foam had clearly been subjected to a few years of water and sand penetration and was much the worse for it.
The solution was to remove the rotten foam and replace it with a large quantity of fiberglass resin and cloth.
1 hour in and I had sticky fiberglass cloth stuck to all my fingers and was elbow deep in resin.
The cleanup is using acetone and the method is just to soak all the sticky bits and then wash with soapy water as soon after as you can.
Our dinner with Brian and Ann went well with garlic ginger Spanish mackerel and salt and pepper bluefin tuna with sushimi tuna and garlic prawns.
We had plenty of everything but we still polished it all off with Brian telling us stories from his and Ann’s 40 years of cruising the coral coast.
They took us under their wing and showed us many good fishing and mooring spots in the map books we purchased to plot our course along the coast.
Thursday the weather was overcast and threatened rain all day that never quite made it.

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We spent the day preparing to head north thru The Narrows to Great Keppel Island.
We had agreed with Brian and Ann to follow them thru The Narrows and to meet up with them at Great Keppel Island.
The Narrows is a river that flows from Gladstone to Keppel Bay just north of Curtis Island and has a tidal range at this time of year of around 3m.

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Thru the shallowest reaches it is close to 2m out of the water at low tide and gives barely 1m of water at high tide.
Just Jammin draws 1.1m and Hybreasail, Brian and Ann’s cat, draws 600mm.
This on paper looks like we might struggle to pass several sections but we had faith in Brian and Ann’s judgement.
On Friday morning we left our berth at 11am and motored to the fuel jetty.
It took around half an hour to fill Just Jammins diesel tank and top up the jerry cans we carry spare diesel and petrol in.
At 11.30am we headed into the channel running north to The Narrows.

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Text and photos by Fingers.

Pancake Creek

Motoring with sails up and lures out we headed west to the mainland.
The motor and sails combination was giving us around 7 knots and that was just fine for Spanish Mackerel.

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The seas were as calm and there were birds working the schools of baitfish boiling on the surface.
It didn’t take long until Slappers reel started to scream.

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A short fight had us seeing colour in the clear azure water and Slapper brought a 6kg Spanish mackerel to the boat.
After quickly dispatching and bleeding it we had the boat underway again and heading west at 7 knots.

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It was only a matter of 10 minutes until Slappers reel was once again screaming.
This time a very short fight had a 2kg stripey tuna coming aboard.
The combination of a Spaniard and a stripey was ideal as the Spaniard is great eating and the stripey is great bait.
An hour elbow deep in guts saw me processing both these fish and filling the freezer completely.

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We are now set for food and bait and life is good.
We motor sailed for another 5 hours and had no further action on the lures so we wound them in at the entrance of Pancake Creek.
Pancake Creek is a wide and shallow waterway with heavily wooded shores and clear clean water.

IMG_0800As we rounded the headland to enter the creek another cat of similar size to Just Jammin slotted in ahead of us.
The two cats followed the creek round the corner to find several cats already anchored up and a couple of power boats as well.
Friday night was calm and warm and well worth a fish.

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The 3m tides caused a strong current both coming in and going out and there was little slack water at either end so fishing was a bit hit and miss.
Slapper caught a few snook and that was about all.
Saturday dawned calm and overcast with a slight chill to the air.

IMG_0841A few hours spent fishing from the back of the boat resulted in a couple of dozen whiting in the live bait tank which were destined to be both breakfast and live baits for later in the evening.
At high tide I had taken the tender over to the mangroves that lined the creek and placed my crabpot in a spot that looked likely to house a few crabs.

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6 hours later the tide had gone out and the line of mangroves I had tied my pot to were high and dry.
I took the tender as far towards the mangroves as I could then beached it and slogged thru the ankle deep mud to the spot I had left my pot.
From several meters away I could see there were no crabs waiting for me, but I was wrong.
The smallest mud crab I have ever seen was backed up against the tuna head I was using as bait.
The crab was barely 5cm across the shell and was doing its best to get a claw onto me.
Even tiny crabs seem to be bad tempered buggers.

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Saturday night saw a rather large squid make an appearance under the transom light.
We used the bait and switch technique by using one of the live whiting we had as mulloway bait to entice the squid to the surface and then swapped it for a squid jig.
Fried squid made an enjoyable second course after the main of salt and pepper mackerel.
Sunday morning was overcast and a little rainy but still, quiet and a great place to wake up.

IMG_0856Slapper spent most of the morning compiling a USB stick full of music from the selection I had on my media hard drive.
His selection made a pleasant change from the inane chatter of commercial radio.
Once that was done we each dropped a live whiting over the transom and kicked back waiting for some fishy action.

 

 

 

IMG_0819Toward the end of the run out tide Slappers rod buckled and his reel screamed but unfortunately he wasn’t able to get solid connection to the fish.
Only 15 minutes later my reel squealed and rod bent over with something fishy taking a hundred meters of line in just seconds. I dialed in some drag but wasn’t able to slow down the fish and seconds later my line parted company.

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Nothing large came by for the next couple of hours so we concentrated on catching some more whiting for bait although they live in the live bait tank so long they tend to become pets.
Finally Slappers reel once again screamed but this time he got a good lock on the fish and a good fight took place over a quarter of an hour.
When the culprit was bought to the boat it was found to be a 2kg trevally which was photographed then let go.

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Several hours then passed before I hooked into a nice sized fish on my 8kg outfit.
A strong but lazy fight that lasted around half an hour saw a 6 foot long shovelnose came to the surface.
Slapper grabbed it by the tail and hoisted it aboard so we were able to remove the hook and take a photo then release it.

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We didn’t put the lie detector on it but it had to be at least 35kg and so my biggest fish of the trip so far.
Around 2.30pm a dingy from one of the other cats motored up to the back of the boat and called for our attention.

DSC_0116It turned out that the couple on-board were inviting us and the occupants of the other boats to join them on the exposed spit of sand towards the entrance of the creek.
Being a Sunday it was a Sundowner being organised so like minded water-bound travelers could swap stories and advice over a few drinks.

IMG_0854I was focused on catching dinner and so declined but Slapper took the tender to the spit.
After several hours Slapper returned having had time to have a good chat to other cat owners about their experiences sailing up and down the coast.
I had not caught any dinner fish while he was gone and so Slapper cooked a bacon omelette and watched all 8 episodes of Bad Cop Bad Cop.

IMG_0856Monday morning was clear and crisp and promised a sail-able southerly for our trip to Gladstone. Before we could leave Pancake Creek I needed to retrieve my crab pot from the mangroves lining the shore. There was nothing in my pot.
As I had set the trap during a 3m high tide and we were leaving on a low tide the rope I had tied to my pot and to the mangrove was almost out of my reach.

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I barely got my fingers onto the knot and retrieved the pot by the skin of my teeth.
Upon returning to the cat I loaded the tender on the davits and raised the anchor then we were under way.
A southerly of around 15 knots was ideal for a spell of sailing and so we raised the sails and headed west.

 

 

Text and photos by Fingers.

Lady Musgrave Island

Wednesday morning at 4.30am in the pitch black 2 hours before the dawn and with a stout northerly blowing we left the harbour and motored north towards Lady Musgrave Island.
The swell of only about a meter or so wasn’t too unpleasant and the northerly while stout didn’t kick up any sort of serious whitecaps.

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Slapper and I settled in for an unremarkable push towards the island.
Around 1.30pm we sighted the island and motored up the north side of the coral reef towards the rather small channel into the lagoon.

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On the maps it looked at least 20m wide so we had room on both sides.
We arrived during the incoming tide and noticed the channel boiling with water movement and the coral reef on each side barely a foot under the surface.
Slappers cat is only 6m wide so we had a few meters or so to spare on each side and slipped thru the channel as fast as we dared.

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Once inside the lagoon we found a nice patch of sand in which to anchor and made sure to let out a few extra meters of chain to ensure we wouldn’t drag during the night.
There were 5 other cats and 1 trimaran along with 10 or so yachts and motor boats.
Even with so many boats moored in the lagoon the was heaps of space to spare.
During the afternoon we took the tender for a quick troll and managed to scare up a small Potato Cod.

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The Cod was too small to eat and I think may be protected so we let him go back to the reef he came from.
We had several other strikes but no further hook ups.

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After a delicious dinner of garlic and ginger baked flathead we chucked some whiting heads over the back of the cat and caught a pair of red throat emperors.
We had a couple of other hook ups from what felt like larger fish but no luck bringing them to the boat.
Thursday morning we both had toast and coffee and decided to visit the island for a look around.

IMG_0705The reef surrounding the island is alive with fish and coral and very pretty to look at as you approach the beach.
The beach is comprised of layer upon layer of dead coral bits washed up after every storm.
There is no sand on the beach but crushed shells and more coral.
Once ashore there is a canopy of pandanas and pisonias and a wandering track of which to follow.

IMG_0721The track meanders thru the center of the island and Noddies, a ground dwelling bird similar to the New Zealand Kiwi are to be seen everywhere.
I tried to get some pictures of the Noddies but they are a little shy and tend to blend into the undergrowth.
On the center of there is the cleanest and most stink free composting pit toilet I have ever used.

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It was very convenient as I don’t have a storage toilet on my side and its not permissible to release brown fish into the lagoon.
On the island Slapper met a sailing instructor he had trained under and said hello.
Alex the sailing instructor had arrived at the lagoon at 7am and then swum the 500m from his boat, which by chance had been moored right next to us, to the islands beach.
As we explored the island Alex began the swim back to his boat.

 

IMG_0715Half an hour later we left the island and began the motor back to the cat.
We came upon Alex about half way to his yacht and offered him a lift.
He accepted and I am not surprised.
We took him back to Just Jammin and Slapper showed him round the boat.
They caught up over a couple of cigarettes and a can of coke.

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Slapper lent him the tender so that he could ferry his student to the island, as to miss out on a stroll around the island would be a waste of the journey there.
We spent the rest of the day just kicking back and wetting a few baits.
Slapper caught some very pretty reef fish but nothing worth eating.
Later in the afternoon we wired up a transom light to attract fish and squid to the back of the boat.

IMG_0754We had mixed success as the light only attracted very pretty but largely uninteresting fish with the exception of a rather large shark and a monstrous flathead.
We had no luck catching either of these.
Friday morning dawned clear and still as we prepped the boat for the next leg of the journey.

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After the now obligatory coffee and toast we upped anchor and headed for the channel.
The tide was nearly full when we crossed the channel and it was easy and calm.
Once on the seaward side of the lagoon we sent out a couple of lures and raised the sails although there was only about 3 knots of breeze.
With the motors running and a tiny amount of wind assistance we made 7 knots, just ideal for trolling for Spanish Mackerel.

Text and photos by Fingers.

Bundaberg

Right on dusk we anchored in the mouth of the Burnett river with several other cats.
It was a calm with a light southerly and a safe anchorage and we had an unremarkable night.

 

IMG_0593The morning that followed was fine, calm and perfect for catching a feed of whiting.

Over about an hour at the top of the tide we caught a dozen whiting and that was all we needed for a feed.

Once the bite ended we motored up the Burnett river about 10 miles to the township of Bundaberg

IMG_0617.From the river Bundaberg is very pretty and has plenty of space to anchor up and take the tender to a dock and stairs that lead up to the center of town. From the river Bundaberg is very pretty and has plenty of space to anchor up and take the tender to a dock and stairs that lead up to the center of town.

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The stairs are very pretty and promised a lovely town.
At the top of the stairs is a cafe and steel lungfish that is quite arty.
Then there is a very unremarkable street running parallel with the river.

We wandered over the road to the Bundy pub, a 2 storey colonial building that looked like it might be a good place for a counter lunch.
It wasn’t.
The lunch I got was totally without love and a massive let down.

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Annoyed we returned to the cat and worked out what we needed to purchase to top up our provisions.
Conveniently there is a chandlery and fishing tackle shop very close to the top of the stairs.
Once we were back on the boat Slapper chucked out a line and caught a soapy, an immature mulloway that he kept as a pet overnight then released unharmed the next day.

At lunchtime on the second day, a Saturday I think, we went to another other pub and hung out in the beer garden uploading some 500 photos I had taken on the trip so far.

It was great that the pub had quite fast wi-fi but even so it took both of us nearly 6 hours to upload all the photos.
Slapper had taken 8 of them.

IMG_0636By this time we were knackered and a little drunk so it was decided to take advantage of the Chinese take out around the corner.
They were offering all you could eat for $17 and we thought we could heavily dent their bain marie.
Sadly the tiredness and drunkenness proved to be too much of a hurdle and the best we could manage was 2 plates each.
It was quite good food, nothing to rave about but not bad either.

IMG_0638Sunday dawned beautiful like the days previous and looked to be a carbon copy.
However Slapper caught a banded grunter of about 1.5kg and a couple of others that were whole lot smaller.
My crab pot was baited with half that tuna head and was totally unmolested by crabs for the whole 3 days.
I suspect there are no crabs in this river.

IMG_0653Then there were our mates the ducks.
Each morning we have been visited by a pair of Black Ducks that are really quite brown and have been hanging around the back of the boat.
One of the ducks we have named Greedy Duck and the other one is called The Other One.
Greedy duck is first to claim the pieces of bread with The Other One a few meters behind and usually going hungry.

IMG_0649Our little mate Greedy Duck is not a big duck but he is both inquisitive and quick and quite able to scoff both the slices of bread Slapper has allocated for that purpose.
I have been wondering what our bread fed mate Greedy might taste like with an orange sauce and a light roasting but luckily for Greedy his cuteness has outweighed his culinary appeal.

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Monday morning saw Slapper up the mast to fix the radio aerial that has been causing us grief for some weeks now.
At some point lately the aerial had gone from vertical and working to horizontal and not.
The fix was both to replace the mounting point and to convert the connector to something better.
It only took Slapper half an hour or so to fix but I bet it felt longer to him as the top of the mast is some 17 meters above the water and anything but still or steady.

IMG_0656A quick test with the tender going for a run up river demonstrated both the now working aerial and the range of the hand held radios we bought for both convenience and safety.
It was a good thing they worked as hauling Slapper up the mast had me groaning and wheezing like a man twice my age.
This was not the first time I had hauled Slapper to the top of the mast but it was marginally the easiest as each time I am getting slightly fitter.
Oh so slightly.

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Tuesday saw us getting last minute items for both the larder and the boat.
After that we spent a few hours and a pile of pennies on doing the laundry we had a crack at the Chinese restaurants all you can eat lunch and fared about the same as the previous time.
Maybe we can’t eat as much as we used too.

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Around 4pm we lifted the tender on to the davits and headed down river to the marina at it’s mouth.
It took a little over an hour and a half and was buffeted by a blustery 25 knot northerly that just happened to be a head wind the whole way.
Once at the marina I had a crack at mooring the boat at the refueling jetty with that same 25 knot northerly now blowing us onto the hammerhead.

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It took one aborted try and a much better second go for me to moor quite proficiently with a gentleman in a neighboring boat impressed enough to comment as much.
I went from quite worried to quite pleased.[/brag]
Slapper put $150 worth of diesel in the tank and we filled the water tank partially as well.
Unfortunately there was a queue of boats waiting to get fuel so we left the marina with less than half a tank of water.

IMG_0621From the marina we motored around the corner to a relatively quite temporary mooring, the same one we overnighted at when we arrived in the Burnett river.
It was fairly rough and not very pleasant as the wind was blowing once again from the north and trying to ground us against the sea wall.

 

Nonetheless we anchored up and watched a movie.
The plan was to get up at 3am and head round the corner to the refueling jetty and finish filling the water tanks.

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Once the tanks were full we sprang off the jetty and headed into the shipping channel.
It was 4.30am and pitch black with a strong northerly and a meter or so of chop.

 

Text and photos by Fingers.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Text by Fingers photos by Fingers and one by Slapper.

Mooloolaba

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.

Manly

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

Tangalooma

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.

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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.

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Text and photos by Fingers.

The worlds longest fishing trip

Coomera – the beginning of an adventure as told by Fingers

 

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On the night of 20.7.15 I arrived at Brisbane airport.
Meeting Slapper at the airport we drove 40 minutes to Manly to spend the night at Slappers new apartment.

Sleeping in the newly constructed but unfurnished apartment on a pair of inflatable mattresses the first night of the trip began with a few quiet drinks and a couple of cigarettes out on the balcony.

At sparrows fart the next morning we drove south from Manly to Coomera, 1 hour away on the Gold Coast.

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Waiting in a pen at The Boat Works in Coomera was Slappers new boat, Just Jammin.
At 36 feet long and 18 feet wide and only 5 years old it is a bright and shiny production catamaran almost ready for the trek up the East coast.

There was a list of modifications that needed to be done prior to setting off that included upgrading the solar panels and adding batteries to provide ample electricity for nights of drinking and days of living off the grid.

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Changing all the halogen lights to more efficient LEDs was also a high priority.
Making the above modifications took the best part of a week and required that we stay in the marina for that week.

Several pens over from Just jammin was a boat called Driftwood.
Driftwood is a 30 foot ex fishing boat constructed from the best of Tasmania’s hardwoods and inhabited by an old fart and his wife.
The old fart John and his wife Dawn were living aboard Driftwood and having a fine time eating their way thru the marinas stock of Black Bream and mudcrabs.

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At last count he had caught and eaten 41 muddies and goodness knows how many bream.
John and Dawn have many years experience living onboard Driftwood and were a good font of information regarding said living.

Every night a school of bream would congregate under the transom of Driftwood, attracted to the light mounted there for that purpose.

Predictably every night would see Slapper and I standing around the transom of Driftwood fishing for the bream.
Most of the bream were a little small for eating but some persistence saw a few nice size ones caught.

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Come the end of the week it was decided that Saturday was going to be the day of departure.
Saying our goodbyes to John and Dawn we motored north up the Gold Coast inland waterways to Manly.
Cruising at 7 knots and towing a couple of lures the trip was uneventful bar the spotting of a Dugong doing its thing near a sand bar.

No fish were caught trolling.

Entering Morton Bay by the inland waterway to the south we motored up to the Manly marina and anchored just outside the sea wall.

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Text and photos by Fingers.