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Date: 23 Nov 2012 13:04:00
Title: Manly to the Gold Coast

Weather windows to head south have been few and far between, but the next stop was only 45 miles down the coast to the Gold Coast. The passage is through the inland waterway and the navigation channel threads its way through a maze of channels between a vast array of mangrove clad islands and sand banks. The water is not very deep and in quite a lot of places very shallow, so you have to work the tides to go over the shallow spots close to high tide. We're currently planning our next passage - 400 miles down to Pittwater, just north of Sydney - and have defined around 20 waypoints. For the trip of 45 miles through the inland waterway we defined 125! We didn't need to as the passage is generally well buoyed and you can go from buoy to buoy, but it's nice to have it all in place and as it's generally a motor boat ride (most of it is too narrow and twisty to sail) we put the autopilot in charge and just took it off when negotiating the really shallow bits, which we did very slowly. This worked well most of the way until near the end, when we found all the buoys had been moved! This whole coast of Queensland is sand and the sand shifts over time, so the channels move. We thought we might not be able to get through due to a power cable crossing the channel at one point. On the chart it gave a clearance of 20.3 metres. Our mast above the waterline in 18.75 metres and we have a 1.1 metre VHF aerial on top of that, so 19.85, giving a clearance of only 0.45 of a metre, or about 1 foot 5 inches. Not a lot when it's an un-insulated power cable! However, the clearance was taken at the point of greatest sag in the middle and by going under as close to one of the pylons as the depth of water would allow, and going under close to low water, we had plenty of room. The alternative would have been going back north and out to sea around Moreton Island and that would have put an additional 100 miles on the trip. Timing the passage to go under the pylon close to low water, yet over the shallow sections close to high water kept the navigator on his toes! For those back home, one of the shallowest parts is through Jacobs Well!
The Gold Coast is Australia's playground. It's a cross between Las Vegas, Miami, and the Florida theme parks. We are now anchored just outside Sea World. Not too far away they have Movie World, Wet and Wild, Dream World and Cableski World. But the most impressive sight of all is the skyline. We thought Brisbane was impressive, but it pales into insignificance compared to this. The buildings are high (very high!) and packed close together. Some must have 70-80 floors and the architects clearly had a field day, creating all manner of shapes and designs (or perhaps they just had too much Bundaberg rum!). The main section of the Gold Coast is Surfers Paradise and it's full of the high rise buildings with shopping malls here, there and everywhere. Australia is definitely full of shops! Oh, and the beach at Surfers Paradise is not bad either! 
The scenery as we start down the inland waterway.
Wide open spaces and mangroves everywhere.
Some of the narrower sections have developments of mostly very posh houses along the banks.
And some with very long jetties to get out to the deeper water.
The overhead power line is in sight.
We squeeze under the power line as close to the pylon as we can get, and thankfully had
plenty of clearance room.
Anchored at the end of the passage next to Seaworld. The sand banks all cover at high water.
The amazing skyline of Surfers Paradise, taken from the anchorage.
More high rise buildings further up the Gold Coast, again taken from on board.
A walk around the streets of Surfers Paradise. It's all so big!
Were these curves in the design, or had the construction team been on the rum?!
We never did manage to count the number of floors!
Think this was the Hilton.
Weird - big, very big, but weird!
Almost boring by comparison!
Sea World across choppy water - it blew 20 to 30kts for a couple of days when we arrived.
Above and below - we were quite taken with being at Surfers Paradise!
And yes, there is a beach there, and on good days they surf!
Walking through the streets of restaurants and shops across from the beach, with Jake from
American yacht Hokulea.
One of the best chicken burgers ever, ..........
.......... and the ice cream wasn't bad either!

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