Welcome to Zenitude’s blog where you can follow us while we travel slow in our Lagoon catamaran. We update this blog frequently when we are cruising to let family and friends know where we are. Check the complete story of our adventures that started in 2006 when Zenitude became our home and cruising our way of life. Graciela and Oscar

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Traveling North in South Queensland

From 30/09/2017 to 08/10/2017 - Gold Coast to Fraser Island

It was the last day of September when we finally untied Zenitude from the marina docks in Coomera and started our trip north along the Queensland coast. We’ve been pondering for almost a week, while watching the forecast, whether we should take the course out the Seaport Seaway directly to Mooloolaba in open seas or should we do the inside channels through to Moreton Bay.

At this time of the year most people had already started their trip south, this is the season when the usually constant SE winds disappear, giving way to the northerlies. We were not with the southbound crowds, we were going north and hoping for a late arrival of the northerlies, predictable, as soon as we decided we are ready to leave, the northerlies arrived. 

The weather became quite unstable, the forecast models wouldn’t agree between them and most of the time they were completely off . The result was that we were changing our minds twice a day on what route to take, over analysing forecasts just after each new forecast was issued. Hopelessly weather obsessed. At the end we decided to ignore forecasters and stick with the inside route, which would give us more options to react to changing forecasts.

Leaving Coomera and sailing up the river we headed north thru the winding, sometimes shallow channels. It paid to leave at dawn as it was all very quiet. By early afternoon we arrived at our first stop, the Tangalooma Wrecks, where we decided to spend the night. It was just motoring for this trip and Zenitude did well with the new engines. The anchorage was packed, which was totally expected, after all that preparation we had finally left on a Saturday of a long Queensland weekend, but then we found a good spot to anchor and were happy to be finally “on the move”. 

Coomera River - Leaving Gold Coast City Marina after a long stay

Tangalooma Wrecks on a long weekend

Sunset at Tangalooma Wrecks

Moreton Island beaches
After a quiet night, it was another pre-sunrise start when we left towards Moololaba. Early in the morning of this long weekend we could see boats at anchor all along Moreton Island, we realised then that there are many anchorages protected from easterly winds, even though you need to be ready to raise anchor and go if a strong westerly turns up, sometimes making a sudden appearance just before sunrise. Of course the same can be said of Tangalooma where the wrecks had been strategically placed to create a protected ‘harbour’, however the wrecks don’t really stop the havoc created by the westerlies, the outcome accomplished, apart from interesting snorkeling, is to make it harder for a vessel to leave in a hurry.

Passing near the tip of Moreton Island we were curious to have a peek at Cape Moreton. There is an anchorage called Yellow Patch, which we were considering as a night stop if taking the ocean route. We couldn’t find much information about it with the locals at Gold Coast, nobody had been there and now we could see why, it looked very exposed to the weather, in a day when everyone was in the water, that anchorage was empty. We quickly scrapped it from our list of safe places. 

The early start paid off again and we arrived in Mooloolaba just in time to have a quiet lunch at anchor. We had no wind for the trip, and motored happily with the new engines that where giving us around 2 knots more than the old ones without much effort.  The wind did arrive a little later but from the wrong direction. The stormy weather kept us at anchor in the Mooloolah River with not much to do, except resting (no complains) and checking forecast twice daily. The next leg was tricky as involved crossing the Wide Bay Bar, which requires calm weather and careful timing for the right tides if you want to avoid an exhilarating surfing experience while attempting to enter the harbour.  

Oscar chose the weather window as I was catatonic with indecision. We left again before sunrise 3 days after our arrival. Sadly we couldn’t catch up with Eduardo and family as our stop was not long enough to manage meeting them, so we said good bye over the phone this time. The skies were full of clouds but weather was very calm. There was a 1.5 meters northeasterly swell, which made for an interesting exit thru the shallow bar at Mooloolaba .  

The swell kept diminishing slowly during the morning and it was quite calm when approaching the bar at the southern end of Fraser Island. Throughout the years shoaling in the bar keeps moving around, with the result that entry waypoints were not helping much any longer. This year the waypoints have been updated following a long lasting survey of the shoaling. 

We found the conditions quite reasonable, with current, wind and swell running in the same and favourable direction, pushing Zenitude fast and steady, at least torture was short lived. Low tide had been at 14:34, we entered with the flood at 16:30, the lowest mark on our depth sounder was 4.00 meters and the swell was just about 1 meter with no breaking waves to be seen. After so much worrying from my part, the bar crossing was quite reasonable indeed, Oscar could be seen with a happy smile having chosen the right window. 

Once inside we decided we would anchor in Pelican Bay for the night and visit Tin Can Bay next, as we’ve never been there before. It was time to visit the resident dolphins. But this is a story for next blog.

Arriving at Pelican Bay after crossing WBB
Pelican Bay 

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