Friday, May 10, 2013

Southern Queensland

Red Emperor Fish
Returning to Bundaberg was a milestone of sorts:  It was where we had first made landfall in Australia and after the last 600 miles, it represented the start of exploring new places up the Queensland coast.  The stay at the Bundaberg Port Marina allowed us to re-provision easily and pick up our friend, Mary, who is joining us for a few weeks.  Shortly after Mary was on board, we sailed to Pancake Creek, a secure anchorage even if the holding was questionable.  There had been a forecast for 30+ knots of southeast wind so we enjoyed the calm waters and were in the company of several boats that we know.

Pancake Creek - Photo by Corie
 The winds were light as we started out for Lady Musgrave Island, he furthest south island in the Great Barrier Reef.  Eventually the wind filled in and we had a nice sail for part of the 36-mile passage.  Once inside the lagoon, we were completely delighted as it was everything that we had hoped for.  Even at high tide, when the ocean waves break over the protecting reef, it was calm enough for us.

Lady Musgrave Island - Photo by Corie
Photo by Corie
Some cruisers go wherever they want, whenever they want.  On board Rutea, we tend to travel only when we can find weather that is conducive to our level of comfort.  I take no shame in admitting that we're fair-weather sailors.  When a massive high pressure ridge formed over the Tasman Sea, it meant that we were in for some strong southeasterly winds.  At first, we just hunkered down in the lagoon at Lady Musgrave Island but when it appeared that there wasn't going to be any let up, we hoisted the anchor early one morning and sailed in very squally conditions back to the Australia mainland, making landfall at Cape Capricorn, which just so happens to be right at the Tropic of Capricorn..  Our arrival there was late in the afternoon and in calmer conditions, it might have been a pleasant anchorage.  However, since the wind had been blowing at 25-30 knots for almost a week solid, we rolled badly at anchor and no one got any sleep.  Early the next morning, we pulled into the marina at Rosslyn Bay, just 40 miles north.  I felt a little ashamed but almost the entire fleet that we had been traveling with had done the same thing.  The wind continues to howl.

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