Brisbane to the Keppels and back by RL28, Adina
For the Easter break 2007 I had taken extra leave and my wife Meg and I had organised with my twin brothers and a mate Kevie, to sail to the Keppel Islands (Central Queensland) and back.
Meg hadn’t crossed a bar before and had concerns about the Wide Bay Bar encountered on day 2 heading North from Brisbane, so my brother Stephen came down from Maryborough to join us for that leg and at O dark hundred (about 5.00 am) Kevie’s 36 ft Easy Catamaran, Davoren, and our RL 28 Adina set forth from VMR Sandgate near the top of the tide.
There was no wind and it was glassy as the Sun rose over Moreton Island and we motored towards Skirmish Pt on the SE tip of Bribie Island as we headed for our day’s target of Double Island Point, some 70 Nautical Miles (NM) North.
The day was gorgeous but the wind would not come and at 1900 hours (7.00 pm) we anchored well up in the bay protected by Double Island Pt with the comforting lighthouse just to our NE.
A few congratulatory drinkies were followed by an early night as we readied for another early start to cross the bar at the top of the tide.
Again in the dark we set off having ignored the 7 P’s in regard to our navigational instruments (prior preparation and planning prevents piss-poor performance) we motored, with Steve on the tiller following Kevie, towards the outer waypoint with Meg reading the instructions and me pressing buttons to get the way points into the new Garmin which would put us safely inside the Sandy Straits.
Two hours later we were inside Fraser Island (FI) steaming North with the waypoints 1-5 (otherwise unnamed) in the GPS. We were making for the Sheridan Flats to ensure we got over with enough tide.
My other brother Michael and wife Ria had come out of the Mary River in their Roberts 25 called Shiva in company of Steve’s Patience, a 32 ft Philip Rhodes ably captained by his partner and were waiting for us at Ungowa where Ria had fresh bread with ham sandwiches for all of us. Delicious.
The bar resolved, Steve rejoined Patience and after lunch we went up to Kingfisher bay resort where Shiva and Patience went on to Coongal Pt (FI) while Davoren and Adina slipped across (just) S of Big Woody Is to Urangan for a pleasant night before refuelling early next morning.
Today we had wind and after a late morning tea at Coongal, the swimmers were forced aboard for a run across Platypus Bay to Rooney’s Pt (N tip of FI) in a brisk Sou’Easter. Adina showed the way and was able to advise those following as we went around the Point at last light that there was no beacon on the point.
We anchored for a comfortable night with a number of other boats anchored in the lee of the Pt and the morning’s weather report advised us that the wind we had been so desperately seeking would arrive in 36 hours with a vengeance.
Prudence being the better part of Valour, we forewent our itinerary for Lady Elliot Is that day to be followed by Lady Musgrave next morning, since sitting on the reef surrounding Lady Musgrave lagoon sounded ominous in 35Kt winds – especially on high tide – so we sailed from Rooneys to the Burnett River. By mid-afternoon were anchored off Quay St in Bundaberg where the wind blew hard while we rubber-ducked over to the town, shopping, replenishing, coffee shop visits and even enjoying a pub meal at the Royal where Bundy (Rum) and Coke was on tap by the jug as the pub special.
One night more was spent in the Burnett near the heads to allow an early start for the long run (47NM) to Round Hill -1770.
Rounding the river breakwater just after first light I set the GPS for just outside Round Hill and with the wind strong but easing and a good sea still running, we goosewinged North. I thought the GPS must be wrong since the only visible land was well W of the GPS path but the further we sailed, the more hills appeared and finally Round Hill appeared exactly where it should. 45 NM in 8 ¾ hours of downwind sailing saw Adina turn into wind to furl sails then an unwarranted scary run into 1770.
The tide was falling and the sea was still sweeping around the Head showing white water on the edge of the extensive Sandbanks on the N shore. The S shore below the hill is a mass of rocks and the laterals were singles rather than red and green pairs. I didn’t want to get too close to those ominous rocks and at one stage panicked when I saw white water close starboard and the sandy bottom. A check on the depth-sounder confirmed 9 ½ ft of water – it was just the water clarity and the tide strength which caused the undue concern.
Adina anchored and soon Davoren came in anchoring nearby and bringing us over for afternoon tiffin. An hour or so later and advised by VMR not to come in on the half tide, Patience anchored outside where a 32 Swanson, Olympia was already anchored and Shiva, in spite of having a retractable keel, decided to anchor there too.
A further hour later the gigantic metal power catamaran Spirit of 1770 with about 70 tourists on board motored into the anchorage and we considered the draught and wondered at our compatriots outside as we sat becalmed inside sipping Chardy with our cheese and crackers watching the three mast lights outside lurch heavily from port to starboard (as they did for the rest of the night).
Morning found Shiva’s fridge had dragged the single circuit battery system down beyond power to start the diesel. Ice was picked up from the fisherman’s co-op and it and Adina’s Jump Starter were passed (in spite of the difficult swell running) from Adina to Shiva and the 4 boats with a 5th Olympia made a shorter comfortable run to Pancake Creek (Bustard Head).
Adina moving progressively further N of the others, rounded the Northernmost of the Outer Rock formations while Davoren with local knowledge led Shiva and Patience between Middle and Inner Rocks shortening by 2 NM the distance to be covered.
Turning SW, Adina broad-reached across to the waypoint off Clews Pt, arriving well ahead at the creek entry with Meg complaining “Why do we have to find the way into every night harbour?” I advised it was simply the RL’s capacity which had consistently outsailed our company. It certainly wasn’t our sailing skills.
Pancake Ck proved a paradise. Accessible only by sea, it was a dream, and this was especially so for those who’s spent the rolly-polly night outside 1770.
All boats’ crews joined company in the afternoon for beach tiffin followed by nightly beach BBQs, washed down with an appropriate assortment of beverages. I played guitar, Kevie (drummer in our Geriatric Brisbane Rock Band) played bongos with Meg on Tamborine. All of the well-lubricated voices rang long into the nights before we decided that the Keppels beckoned.
Shiva and Patience believed they were in paradise and opted to stay longer before heading home, so in company of Celeste (French 40 ft Beneteau), Olympia and Davoren, Adina headed for Gladstone past innumerable coal ships anchored off-shore.
The marina off Auckland Creek was superb and very reasonably priced. It was also a short walk to the delightful Gladstone Yacht Club and town wasn’t much further. The guitar and bongos came out and we were invited to join Gladstone’s live-aboard boaties weekly BBQ in the marina’s excellent shore facilities for a raucous evening of camaraderie and song.
We eventually extracted ourselves from this yet another ideal setting and headed inside Curtis Island to Black Swan Ck below the Narrows, catching muddies overnight. Next morning we navigated through the Narrows at high water and out into the open water past Sea Hill in robust wind and sea reaching Great Keppel for a late lunch anchored in the bay E of the resort on the NW face, comfortably sheltered from the SE wind. Kev arrived later, after dropping off his temporary crew (Brother) at Rosslyn Bay, with the muddies – COOKED – and fresh bread. Fresh cooked muddie on fresh buttered bread – gastronomic delight.
We visited the resort, various beaches and snorkelled on the reef at Olive Point and then it was time for home for us while Olympia and Davoren continued N to the Whitsundays.
By this time Meg and I were confident in Adina and following a night in Rosslyn Bay marina where they provide a car for a trip to Yeppoon to replenish, which we found of great assistance since the major supermarkets and cryo-vaced meat from the butcher was available there.
Driven by tide times at the Narrows, we left the Marina in the dark after sorting out the visibility of both inner harbour and harbour entrance laterals – we didn’t hit the rock wall which was between an outer red and an inner green. We made off to the Narrows very shortly after high tide and rode the southward ebb holding 10 knots on the GPS broad-reaching with the Easterly and no sea. I expect that the tide was giving us an extra 3 knots.
We made it into friendly Gladstone intending a one night stay but were prevailed upon to stay a second night and guitar at the live-ons’ weekly BBQ. Night 1 - Dinner at the Yacht Club. Night 2 - BBQ with the Marina Yachties. Does life get any better?
The next day saw us through the Anchored Coal Fleet and down to an afternoon rest at paradise (Pancake Creek). Then, forgoing a run out to Lady Musgrave Is., we did the Darkness Start and sailed through all the way to the Burnett River, this time anchoring in the little boat harbour just inside the mouth.
Then was done a day run in wind which came and went, requiring us to do some motoring, and we made it back to Urangan for two marina nights – one with a great dinner at the Hervey Bay Yacht Club.
A pleasant day down the Sandy Straits to Gary’s Anchorage for an overnight, then a night in Tin Can Bay visiting Coastguard friends, Des and Ina.
We crossed the bar with Meg confident as we reversed our as yet unnamed 5 way points and made Mooloolaba that night where son Douglas and partner came up to the Wharf Marina were we had a delightful meal at the Tavern overlooking the harbour.
The following day had us out of Mooloolaba and back to Sandgate where my VMR crew were on duty and gave us a hand with the recovery to the trailer. To our pleasant surprise, the journey home unaccompanied by other boats proved easy and safe, and left us very confident about future sailing.
Our 4 week voyage was over, but the wonderful memories and experiences of our longest journey on the trusty Adina, live on. It is little wonder that the 9th Edition of Beacon to Beacon feature an RL28 in its early pages. What magnificent machines they are.