Mooloolaba - another dinghy mishap

Tue 3 May 2016 02:29
Evening light on Tangalooma

As soon as we left Brisbane we headed for a quick stop back over in Tangalooma, we’d seen so many dolphins there that it was the perfect place to take our dolphin loving crew. Unfortunately the dolphins had other plans that day, some dolphiny business elsewhere, no doubt, but we took a dinghy over to the wrecks and Phil and Nathalie enjoyed a brief (but chilly) snorkel, seeing a multitude of fish and a sting ray. Next morning we set off at first light to time our arrival at Mooloolaba with the rising tide. We were a little delayed because I came on deck to find about 60 Welcome Swallows had decided we were a perfect place to pitch camp for the night. They were on the fore deck so I did all the below deck jobs and aft deck jobs first, wanting to put off having to disturb them as long as possible.

Welcome swallows checking out the lights of Tangalooma.

We took the North East channel out of Moreton Bay, which takes you alongside a sand bank stretching North of Moreton Island. The swell wasn’t huge, about one and a half meters, but it was breaking on the sand bank in a most impressive way making a very rolly passage. We were motor sailing so our sails provided us with a little stability but we passed another ketch heading South which was rolling terribly, mast swinging like a metronome. Back in Tangalooma folk we’d met in Boatworks were readying for passage. They saw the second ketch heading South and called us on the radio, worried that it was us returning. They thought maybe we’d found the conditions so bad that we’d given up and were heading back.

Once we cleared the sand banks the roll reduced a little but it was still a very bouncy passage for our guests’ first out-of-the-bay trip with us. Happily they proved to have strong stomachs and Nathalie pottered below whilst Isabella curled up and read or snoozed on the pilot berth, the lee cloth keeping her secure.

We had no trouble crossing the bar into the Mooloola River and were soon safely anchored and taking in our surroundings. We were out of the Gold Coast now, just into the Sunshine Coast, but you couldn’t have told the difference. More expensive smart houses with personal docks on which were moored a little runabout tinny or a jet ski, with the occasional day sailer or a bigger motor yacht. A well to do area it seemed. We made an expedition into town, having the same problem we’d encountered in Sydney: the water front is mostly bought up and the Marinas don’t provide a dinghy dock so it can be very difficult to find a place to get ashore and leave the dinghy. Happily the lady in the office at the Marina was very kind and let us leave our dinghy there. 

Back on board we relaxed and watched as the tide swung; it was a small anchorage and quite crowded, wind and tide kept the boats dancing and one catamaran bumped into a pair of boats rafted near us. The rafted boats seemed to be deserted and some sea birds had claimed them for their own: Pied Cormorants and Terns mostly, but an Osprey, although mobbed by a pair of Magpies, was taking pride of place at the top of the mast.

We slept with one ear open in case of any close calls with other boats as the tide turned in the night and around 11pm I woke to the sound of some slight bumping, it seemed to be coming from the stern. A few minutes later an outboard engine started quite close to us. Alarm bells rang!  We’d not lifted the dingy. I leapt out of bed, grabbed my dressing gown and put it on as I dashed up onto deck. There, by the light of the security lamps in the gardens of the smart houses, thirty feet from us two lads with a tinny were making away with our dinghy. One in our dinghy, one driving the tinny. I used my best “Teacher Voice” and yelled at them “Bring that back right this minute!” To my surprise it worked, they looked up guiltily and changed course. I kept up the momentum of shouts at them, making as much noise as I could, because I was worried that if I gave them time to think they’d realise that if they ignored me and headed off there’d be nothing I could do. They continued to head back, “We’re bringing it!” one reedy voice protested. By this time Phil had joined me on deck, adding his threats to mine, this seemed to worry them as they gave up on trying to hand back the painter and, dropping it in the water, made off, leaving our dinghy drifting away twenty feet from us. There was only one thing to do and Phil did it: he dived in, swam to the dinghy and swam back towing it by the painter. 

If we think we’re in a dubious area we lift the dinghy with a halyard so it’s lying against the hull on the side of Lochmarin. In this affluent area we hadn’t thought we’d need to be worried about dinghy thieves. You live and learn.

The next night we lifted the dinghy.