Having at last crossed the border into Queensland it was time to take stock and make new plans.
There was a small matter of foul weather that had to be taken care of first, a few days of less than glorious sun drenched weather whilst anchored up behind Wavebreak Island. This proved fertile ground for voicing our displeasure at the so called ‘Sunshine State’.
Once more rested and ‘looking for trouble’ we motored up the Coomera River to visit the famed Boat Works facility. It seemed like all we heard about on our way up the coast was fellow cruisers heading there to undertake major maintenance or repairs.
Thus piqued, we visited the site for ourselves, booking into their marina and spending quite enjoyably a few days catching up with old friends Scott and Sonja, new friends Alan and Anne plus Innes and Steve whom we met at Port Macquarie.
Although we seemed to be doing a lot of socialising there was still time to catch up on some maintenance issues and a long overdue addition to Freespirit’s sailing equipment. More on this later.
Following on from this excursion we basked in some fine weather whilst exploring the archipelago that lies between the Gold Coast and Morton Bay.
This is a fascinating area that just begs to be explored with its sand blows, beaches, rivulets and channels.
It is common to bottom out your keel here, some doing it more than others 😉 however with the bottom mostly soft mud little damage occurs and an acceptance of travelling in thin water tends to pervade after a short while.
After vicariously experiencing our friends on Sagitaire finding bottom a little too frequently we decided not to travel the Canaipa channel between North Stradbroke and Russell Islands, instead we reached Moreton Bay via the usual main channel.
We anchored up that night in a beautiful location next to Russell Island, accompanied by a glorious sunset to finish up the day.
Whilst still at Boatworks and using their much appreciated free loan car service I researched and bought a nice Ukulele down in Burleigh Heads. A sweet sounding instrument that fit my hands and fulfilled a desire to learn more about its charm and ‘good time’ inducing status.
Thus it proved to be each day as I would drag it out and noodle around on. It’s fun by itself but a riot when you put a few of them together and have a good old fashioned sing along. So as the sunset blazed out across the mirror still water it proved another Uke occasion to bash out a few tunes and have a few laughs under the stars.
Our next stop was Peel Island in Moreton Bay and we took our time travelling the 9.3 nautical miles to get there from our overnight anchorage.
For the first time since arriving in Queensland we dined on fresh caught fish anchored in Horseshoe Bay. Dini’s status again restored to ‘Fish Whisperer’ after catching some fine Silver Bream just on sundown.
We had some family business to attend to over the next few days and so moved from Peel Island to Raby Bay Marina whilst this took place. I don’t wish to bag Raby Bay Marina but I wouldn’t recommend it either. Most glaring fault is its complete lack of laundry facilities…. a must have service for any prospective marina.
The shower and toilet facilities were barely acceptable though still a very long way from the casual berths and we were charged an administration fee on top of the safety deposit for an entry/exit key. The office insisted on full payment and insurance certificate when making a booking and when we didn’t have anything digital to send to them we were subjected to the third degree on our insurance status.
We were covered and completely legit of course, complying with all we were asked for but it left a less than happy feeling in my gut. When so many marinas are easy to deal with…. happy for you to show your insurance details when you arrive, have good facilities and a welcoming attitude, Raby Bay Marina fell down badly. The Marina was close to the restaurant district in Raby Bay but with a complete absence of any boating type gear shops or maintenance facilities I felt that this made it a ‘restaurant’ stop only.
Following this we moved a little further North in the Bay to Manly Marina. En route there we flew Freespirit’s spinnaker for the first time. This involves using a number of guys, ropes and one very important item… a Spinnaker pole.
To the uninitiated this is just a big stick that hangs off the mast and pushes one corner of the sail outboard. To the habitual sailor this ‘stick’ is what makes the sail work at all. It must be of sufficient length for this to happen and unfortunately the pole that came with Freespirit was way too short. This put the dampener on any attempts I had previously made to fly it and so the sail sat in the locker languishing until now. At Boatworks I bought the bits and pieces needed to make and finally have a new pole longer, lighter and yet easier to handle.
So, whilst out having a fun sail from Raby Bay to Manly, we tried out the new pole and it was magic. Dini had never seen the Spinnaker flown and with the light breezes pulling us gently along under shy Spinnaker and Mainsail the peace, serenity and the miracle that is sailing in ideal conditions unfolded for her. I think this sail will see much more use in the future when we find ourselves in soft conditions and don’t wish to motor…. 🙂
Now safely ensconced in Manly Marina we are once more awaiting suitable weather to head North. Its a great marina with all services needed by the cruising sailor and easy access to Brisbane CBD via the train network which runs every half hour. Highly recommended.