Sunday, April 21, 2013

Rainbow Reach, Queensland

With Ian and Elaine

We had a delightful sail northbound from Mooloolaba up to Wide Bay with flat, sparkling seas and clear, blue skies.  The first night inside the Great Sandy Strait we spent at Pelican Bay but the next day we traveled south down the Tin Can Inlet and dropped the hook just off the small town of Tin Can Bay.  Since we had been motoring more than we wanted, we were low on fuel and since we're so cheap, we choose to fill our jerry jugs at a regular service station rather than pay the premium at a fuel dock.  This means, though, that we have to lug four 5-gallon jugs around town then schlepp them back to the boat, siphon the fuel into our tanks and then repeat the process until the tanks are full.  While walking (more like waddling when you're carrying jerry jugs) through the small town, a man driving a pickup the opposite direction pulled over and asked if he could help.  He made a u-turn, we loaded our jugs into the back of his truck, he drove us to the service station, waited while we filled them, then took us to the grocery store and then back to our dinghy.

Double Island Point

The next day, a man came by Rutea in an inflatable (he had stopped by the day before as well) and said that if we hadn't seen Rainbow Reach, we couldn't leave the area without seeing it.  He offered to come back in an hour and take us and his wife there in their car.  His offer was quickly accepted by us and soon we were driving south at 100 kpm, the fastest we had gone in months.  Ian and Elaine turn out to be British and very charming; now living aboard their 52-foot Irwin ketch that they bought a couple of years ago - their first boat.  Even though Ian smokes heavily and is probably ten years older than me, he was able to scamper up the steep sand dunes, leaving me struggling in his tracks.  Rainbow Reach was breathtakingly beautiful and well worth the half-hour drive to get there.  Once back in Tin Can Bay, we enjoyed a meal of excellent fish and chips at a trendy little cafe.  We were back aboard Rutea and as the sun was setting, Ian returned again, this time with a gift of a bottle of rum he had made in his on-board still.

Tin Can Inlet in the Background
From here, we're going to sail up the Great Sandy Strait, up Hervey Bay, back to Bundaberg, our first stop in Australia after crossing the Pacific.  From there, we'll be seeing new-to-us territory and waters.  The legendary Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef await us, with their sea-life-filled tropical ocean.  We have officially joined the Sail Indonesia Rally, so we need to be in Darwin by July - a little over 2,000 miles away. Then another 2,000 miles to Thailand where we plan to spend a little time.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Brisbane, Queensland

Unfair Picture of Brisbane!
Our trip north-bound up the east coast of Australia has been graced with brisk southerly and southeasterly breezes, allowing us to sail almost the entire way.  It was especially fun to sail the passage from the Broadwater to Moreton Bay as this was a narrow, inside passage with mill-pond-like conditions, yet we were doing 6 and 7 knots with just our genoa unfurled.  Because its very shallow in places, we had to watch our depth constantly but we only bumped the bottom once - and that was in a place where the chart indicated we had plenty of water!

It was late Saturday afternoon when we steamed up the Brisbane (pronounced bríz´bŭn) River, past the enormous freighter terminals, refineries and concrete plants.  Twelve miles later, the river snakes through the center of Brisbane's CBD (Central Business District), with riverfront walking paths, stores and outdoor cafes.  Our options on where to anchor were somewhat limited and we're still not entirely comfortable with where we dropped our hook.  With lots of ferry traffic going up and down the narrow river and the tide changing directions four times a day, we're either too close to shore or blocking the high-speed traffic.  No one has hit us yet but I think they like to come close to us just to make us feel unwelcome.

Brisbane's City Hall and Museum

This weekend was the grand opening of Brisbane's completely renovated City Hall that now also houses the Brisbane Museum.  It appears that no costs were spared as the building and it's interior are stunning - the new auditorium sports a massive 4000-pipe organ.  The museum was equally well done but the content is lackluster.  There were long lines of Brisbaners waiting to see their new venue.

Inside the New Auditorium in Brisbane's City Hall

Even though it appears to us that Brisbane lacks some of Sydney's cosmopolitan flair, its still no slouch when it comes to being able to offer the finest.  The Queen Street Mall boast stores like Tiffany's, Hermes, Louis Vitton and Gucci.  Of course, we'll never set foot inside any of them nor will we likely patronize any of the fine restaurants.  We did, though, splurge and had an order of spring rolls from a basement Chinese take-away restaurant.  Who says we can't live it up?