Is the captain under the weather?

Miss Molly 4
Bob & Peggy Wilkerson/Geoff & Merel Pettifer
Thu 9 Dec 2010 10:07
27:57.03 S
153:25.33 E

Hello dear all,

It has been a while, quite a while! No more hiding now, so here we are. Where? Well Southport in Queensland Australia, just South of Brisbane, where captain Geoff started his sailing career more than 20 years ago.

We have been on board for 5 weeks now and the main reason for not wanting to start up the blog again was the dreadful weather. First we've been hanging around the Whitsunday's for 2 weeks, awaiting a reasonable weather window that did not have any Southing in it's wind forecast. In the mean time we managed to experience many monsoon like downpours. In the dry spells we caught the odd yellowfin tuna. Not all that bad!

Then we managed to sail for 4 days and motor the 5th to make it to a marina in Yeppoon. Just in time before another major weather system barred our progress South. 8 days we were stuck with first torrential downpours and 30+ kts winds and towards the end of that week just the winds without the rain. We managed to make the best use of that downtime by working in our friend's workshop in Rockhampton, sorting out the creaky davits - they needed servicing badly. Also a good area for provisioning and more boat improvements.

When the wind died down as well we motored to Gladstone, caught some delicious Spanish Mackerels on the way to Bundaberg and had a SAIL to Fraser Island, the biggest sand island in the world and listed on the World Heritage List. We managed to get ashore for a half hour walk, hampered by the steep tides, a heavy dinghy and the threat of lots of bities just before sunset. Wanted to try again the next day, but wanted to wait out another downpour first. By the time the rain stopped the tide was so low that we could not land the dinghy anywhere safely so that was the end of the great exploration plans for Fraser Island. Hence we did not get a chance to see the purest strain of dingos in Australia.

We had to time it with the tides going through the Sandy Straits on the inside of Fraser Island. This meant heaving anchor mid afternoon after our aborted exploration. An interesting piece of navigating rushing past the buoys going with the tide! The skinniest bit of water we had to negotiate was where we had 0.5 meters under the keel. We anchored in the dark just on the inside of the infamous White Bay Bar, getting ready to negotiate it the next early morning.

Very early, it was still dark at 4 a.m., we sneaked out of the anchorage. It would be high tide at 5:15 and as tide and time wait for no man we had to go for it. By the time we came to the entrance it was daylight. We might have preferred the darkness, as we would have been spared witnessing the turbulent waters. Lo and behold - the captain even made us wear life jackets! A first ever on Miss Molly! Not good for the nerves of the crew. We had obtained waypoints from the local coast guard and with those we managed to safely get through those boiling seas.

On we went to Manly, just South of Brisbane. time to haul up in yet another marina as there was another high pressure system threatening to play havoc with blissful sailing. Met a Dutch dock captain who was in charge of a beautiful sloop owned by a wealthy tug boat builder/yard owner also from Holland. This captain also had a car and he happily drove us around wherever we needed to go to get more upgrades for Miss Molly. And that's how we left after 4 days with new sheets for genoa and mainsail and more lines that kept the captain busy with splicing. Also got new bath towels - finally matching sets on board! Thank you, Mr. Bellatrix!

Anchored off the massive beach of Moreton Island for the night. On the beach plenty of 4x4's driving around. To what purpose, we thought. We found out when we took a walk on the beach. There are camp sites and people seemed to have set up camp for the whole summer. All their toys spread out around their tents - kayak's, fishing gear, cricket sets, and of course the barbecue, better known here as the barbie. Now we are stuck with the question how they got all that stuff there in just one car rather than using a house moving company.

The next day was downright fluky. A sunny start and the wind even filled in without a Southern component in it so we could sail. Still bumpy seas though. Then the clouds came, the wind changed direction and the rain set in again, squall after squall. Motoring again. Quite a trip heading for Southport, surfing the waves into the entrance between the breakwaters. Inside calm waters with sand banks just outside the channel and Miami- like high-rises nearby. We had reached Southport, a.k.a. Surfer's Paradise. Geoff truly felt as if he had completed his sail around the world.

More boat shopping to be done, so off we went again in the very popular and busy town of Southport. With the shopping done we planned to leave at first light today, but the captain woke up not feeling well. He is suffering from a "pain-in-the-butt" bug that has made him feel like a wet rag the whole day. The captain is definitely under the weather, whereas the weather for once was sunny and with a nice Northerly blowing, would have been great for heading South today, but alas! According to the boat next door who had the same bug a few days ago there is no escape so Merel is now awaiting anxiously whether she will be lucky enough to not undergo the same fate.

Cheers from your crew,

Geoff & Merel