Monday, 13 January 2014

Made it to the Gold Coast

At the bend in the journey called Jacobs Well.
We couldn't go any further until the next day because the tide was way too low.

Saturday morning we woke early.  Today was the day we were going from East Coast Marina in Manly QLD down the inside passage - which becomes the Broadwater - to Southport Marina at the northern most tip of the Gold Coast.  A cursory glance at any map makes this trip look easy but looking at a marine chart shows a much different story. 

George had organised men from the surrounding boats to help us get out of the extremely tight marina berth.  All three showed up at 7am, right on time, and made easy work of pulling Southern Belle around facing the right direction and out we went.  George said later, "wasn't that easy!".   Yes, things are always easier when there are more hands to help .. and not just my little freckled ones.

The first task was to find our way across Morton Bay to the start of the channel down.  This wide expanse of bay isn't what it seems ... there are lots of sand banks and submerged islets ... and any sea craft has to keep to channels.  Some marked well and some not.  We spent time the night before writing down a list of 8 waypoints for the GPS to help us get across .. all worked perfectly.

The channel is marked by red and green poles which should be hugged otherwise
you quickly - and I mean quickly - run out of depth.
 It looks big but mostly its a little bit of water over a lot of sand.

The trip to our half way point at Jacobs Well took most of the day.  We ran aground a few times and got confused twice.  So not a bad effort. 

There was one place where it looked like we could be in trouble.  I wish I had taken a photo.  The green marker was almost on the beach as we approached and George even stopped the boat while we thought about it.  I said it looked impossible - and it did.  The Captain checked the tide time and the chart again and declared we should "just" make it.  As the boat moved forward and passed the pole the depth gauge showed 0.2 metres of water under the keel.  Holy Shit.  George revved our wonderful 75hp engine ... (there have been so many times on this trip I'm glad we got the larger engine for, as George says, "extra horsepowers") ... and the boat pushed ahead.  For what seemed like an eternity she scraped on through the bottom sand with the gauge now reading 0.0.   With no room to manoeuvre or turn around there wasn't any other choice.  I held my breath and the look on George's face told me he was holding his as well.  Then she broke free.  Gradually the gauge rose to 0.3, 0.5, and then 1.0 - one glorious metre of water to float in!  Hooray.

We had to stop at Jacobs Well because the water was almost at its lowest point.  The night was clam and lovely but the mosquitoes were ravenous and I have about 15 itchy bumps to prove it.

The next day wasn't as stressful.  We still had to get up at the crack of dawn to make the most of the tide down to Southport but it was far less dramatic.  As we got closer to our destination we passed lots of canal estates with HUGE homes. 

We're now snug in our berth at the Southport Yacht Club.  Yesterday, Sunday, was hectic.  The Gold Coast is like an Australian Miami ... a destination for tourist and a blue water playground.  There was no peace to be had with jet skis, helicopters and sea planes making an enormous racket until dusk.  But, with all that, its exciting to be here.  I'll be here until The Captain decides to move the boat on down the coast to Sydney and home.  Our friend John will come up to help and I'll go home to Molly.

This is the view today - and a lot of days - on a boat.
There's always something to do, check on or adjust so the cushions come off and the Captain has his head down a hole.
Our fridge which has been so good has decided to stop working.

Tonight we're going to explore the area and I've been promised a night out!

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