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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It 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.
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.
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.
Text and photos by Fingers.