Bundaberg to Brisbane Day 3 - Arrived 27 27.287S 153 11.412E

Mike and Liz Downing
Thu 1 Nov 2012 14:19
Arrived at Manly Boat Harbour, Brisbane, just before high water slack this morning, at 10.15, as planned. The total distance of the passage was 275.1 miles. The approach is across shallow sand flats and we needed at least half tide to feel comfortable that we wouldn't hit the bottom. Being springs, the tide range is about 6.5ft, so it makes a difference. Manly is on the coast and not far from the mouth of the Brisbane river. The city of Brisbane is situated on the banks of the river about 15 miles upstream. They have pile moorings (mooring between 2 posts or buoys) in the city centre, but one of the reasons we are here is to have the engine checked out and we'll want to do sea trials. The Brisbane river flows out into Moreton Bay - a very large area of sand flats with a mixture of depths, but plenty of water if you go in the right places. So we'll be able to leave the Boat Harbour and check things out without the need to come down the river each time. Visiting Brisbane by train seems to be the quickest and easiest way of seeing the city. The Boat Harbour is on the scale of Brighton marina in terms of size (huge!), but it's squareish rather than long and thin, and there are 4 different marinas inside.

We arrived at the main Brisbane shipping channel (which goes on for about 40 miles twisting and turning through the sand flats and bars) at 2 in the morning. The channel is dredged for shipping and it was quite interesting going along it (actually just to one side of it) in the dark - we had a Panmax (960 ft) Maersk container ship pass us to port followed by a 300ft coaster that passed us to starboard (even further out of the channel than we were). But the communications between us all were good and neither came too close. The full moon helped a lot - it was almost like day at times last night.

Talking of the moon, the moon rise last night was one of the most spectacular we have ever seen. It started as an orange glow that made it look like a fully lit cruise ship was coming over the horizon. Then it appeared that the cruise ship was on fire, the lights were so orange. As it continued to grow we suddenly realised what it was. When just above the horizon it was a huge blood-orange ball. It got smaller and changed colour to yellow as it rose in the sky. It was one of those occasions when only the 'A' word will do - Awesome!

Moreton Bay is full of jellyfish! They were everywhere. Interestingly they were white in the shipping channel, but blue as we approached Manly. We were
a little concerned to see so many as we sucked up jellyfish in the sea-water strainer of our generator twice - once in Tonga and once in New Zealand.
Both times it overheated and stopped and it was a really messy business extracting goo from the strainer. It also meant that we had to change the impeller both times. So we were praying for it not to happen on our main engine as we ploughed through them. Perhaps all the jellyfish came up because it was a full moon.

We sailed through the night with the moonlight glinting across a flat sea with not a cloud in the sky. That's always a bit special. However, it was not helped by the light wind going from SE to NE. When it's light it helps to go into it as the apparent wind increases and we go faster. NE put the wind almost directly behind and even with the big outer genoa poled out, we often didn't make more than 3 1/2kts. Luckily we had a good 1 to 2 knots of current going south, so we kept going with a SOG of around 5kts, all we needed to arrive at high tide this morning. By the time we got to the shipping channel there was no wind at all and the sea was glassy, with just a hint of an underlying swell so we motored the 40 miles through it, often having 2kts of current with us - getting the timing right for tides and currents can make a huge difference in speed over the ground.

In Fiji we struggled to find an anchorage with less than 50ft of water. Here it would seem that you struggle to find water as deep as 50ft. It's all very shallow, and most rivers and harbours have potentially dangerous bars to cross. Having the very deep ocean rapidly shoaling as it closes the coast results in very short, sharp seas when the wind blows. These seas can break dangerously on the bars and you have to get your timing right to cross them. It doesn't help that the bars shift with time, so you have to call the local Coast Guard to find out the latest position of the bar and it's current state. So we have 3 new pilot books for Australia and are doing our homework before every passage. We expect to be here at least a week, but depending on what we find with the engine, it could be quite a bit longer. We also have very good internet access here, so there will be pictures in the next update. In the meantime, we need to wash the boat down again. Although the winds were light, the swell at the start of the passage was big enough to find it's way on deck as we went into it, so there's a load of salt to get rid of once again!

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com