Leapfroging the Bugs in Morton Bay, Bongaree, a cinch at Skirmish Point, and a great sail up to Mooloolaba

Fri 27 Nov 2009 03:15
24th November 2009
Position Mooloolah River, Mooloolaba 26:41.40S 153:07.221E
Well, we finally broke out of Manly Marina, with the promise of some easterly wind for a while. Last weekend was extremely hot - 33 degrees - despite the strong northerlies. Still, some nice walking along the shoreside of Morton Bay. The shallow warm water makes an interesting ecosystem: there are the famous bugs, and the protected and prehistoric looking dugongs, together with a large number of turtles and rare shark species. Talking of bugs, I have discovered that sand crabs taste twice as good, are easy to dissect, and cost half as much! I will sorely miss these fresh seafood shops. For some tide and current reason the sand is all offshore: it is what Moreton Island is made of: just a big sand dune. There is no sand against the mainland: just mangroves, and where these have been cleared, red mud. The water is discoloured by this, so in the southern part of the Bay you can't see the bottom until you hit it! Mangroves are really very interesting: to cope with living in seawater they excrete salt through their leaves, and at low tide they can breath through their roots. Useful if you have to take part in a pub quiz perhaps. And on the subject of trivia, but an area close to my stomach, I had an encounter with the owner of the Fresh German Bread Stall, at the Manly Market on Sunday Morning. This is a weekly affair, stalls set up on the seafront, fast food, 'Gourmet food' (terrible american term, or do the Aussies claim it for themselves, I also hate 'Boutique Hotel' for the same reasons) and tourist junk. Anyway, I say to the fat Australian stall holder 'Do you fly it in then, on the space shuttle?', and this does not get things off to a good start, because what I'm really interested in are her almond croissants, next to what are called Marzipan Croissants. Now the Marzipan croissants are instantly recognisable as Costa Coffee almond croissants, but the German Almond croissants look rather like real almond croissants: French ones, the sort you used to be able to buy in Costa. Are you following, so far? So I ask, whats a marzipan croissant? A croissant with marzipan inside it, she says. So then I say, 'and an almond croissant?' Ah, she says they are made with almonds. Yes, good, I say, but how are they made with almonds. She squares up to me: 'look I sell them, do you want to buy one or not?' Well, I did, and the almond croissant wasn't bad, and I think that they put ground almonds into the pastry dough, but I still chase the dream of baking my very own french almond croissants, or better still persuade Costa to restock them.
I'm in no hurry now, and the next trip, to Mooloolaba, can be broken down into two daytime sails, with, obviously, an overnight rest, and with the additional bonus of carrying favourable tidal streams as they run in and out of Morton Bay. I set off at noon yesterday (very hot again), and the predicted easterly wind did indeed set in shortly afterwards, and we sailed around the Islands off Manly (noteably St Helen's Island: yes, they did put another jail there: to keep the really bad prisoners away from the other prisoners on the mainland!!), and then across the main shipping entrance to the Brisbane River and into the Northern part of the Bay. Despite the shelter my stomach informed me of a nasty short chop, which we pounded into on a close fetch. Now that we understand the grey charts, and have learned the difference between red and green buoys, we found water beneath our keel at all times, or maybe I've eaten all the bugs now! Anyway we made it without incident (just as well on a falling tide) to Bribie Island, where we found shelter for the night in the Pumicestone Passage off the setlement of Bongaree: a poor write up in the Pilot Book, but actually very pleasant, lots of room to anchor, good holding, and scenic to boot with the Glasshouse Mountains in the far background.
Next morning my bioclock woke me in the predawn (it is curious how this happens, I don't have an alarm clock, but can usually wake up when I need to) and by 04.30 we were steaming down the Pumicestone passage to catch the tide around Skirmish Point. The tide flows very strongly here, and I wanted to catch the ebb to carry us round, and to give us a push up north along the east coast of Bribie Island and out to sea again. The water is shallow here too, no doubt why the tide flows so fast, and the navigation marks are new, ie not on my maps. You have to learn to trust the marks, not your instincts. That is why the marks have been put there!! Again all went according to plan, and apart from some more heavy traffic off Caloundra (where the big ship lane does a Z turn to keep in deep water) it was a plain sail, on a close fetch, up to Mooloolaba.
Although our entrance here was timed as usual for the fourth hour of the flood tide it was very easy going indeed, and quite picturesque. The river itself was narrow, and just inside the entrance the old trawler harbour, and beyond it the early 'seaside town' holiday developement, wooden buildings on wooden piers, was very attractive. In recent years there has been the usual high rise developement, and much of the river's foreshore has been sold off to housing developement: millionaire homes with I must admit some striking architecture, and off course the obligatory but ugly mooring pontoon at the bottom of each garden. There are several marinas, but an anchorage as well, although a bit upstream. Anchorages are free (they will soon catch on to European ways!!), and with no need of marina facilities this is where I go.. Ashore are the usual well tended public facilities with showers and loo paper! This is a very first world country!! The easterlies are due to fade away before the end of the week, so just a day here, and we shall try to get up to Wide Bar Bay: back to Bundaberg, bar the shouting.