Hope Island, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 11th June 2016
Distance run: 164 nmiles
We slipped the lines at first light yesterday and motored out of Coffs Harbour Marina. In the outer harbour we drifted while we tidied away the lines and fenders, all looking a little worse for wear. Then we unfurled the mainsail and headed out past Muttonbird Island. There was a good breeze blowing from the south west and we unfurled the genoa, killed the engine and settled back to enjoy that feeling of freedom that comes when the wind fills the sails and we glide peacefully through the water on our way to somewhere new. That feeling was particularly good today, and we savoured it, as there had been times over the past week when we feared for the safety of our beloved Scott-Free.
As we cleared Muttonbird Island and sailed towards South Solitary Island, we looked back at the breakwater that had been so severely battered by the ocean. Restoration and improvement works would begin soon, but it is difficult to imagine a wall strong enough to hold back the forces of nature unleashed on the scale of last weekend.
Concrete ‘hanbars’ ready for the northern breakwater upgrade. Looking back at the northern breakwater and marina beyond.
We set our course for the Gold Coast Seaway, some 150 nmiles along the coast towards Brisbane. On this passage we would be leaving the state of New South Wales and entering Queensland - bringing the total number of states visited so far to six. We needed to arrive at the seaway, a channel leading into an inshore waterway south of Brisbane, on a flood tide to get the best sea conditions for crossing the bar at the entrance. This gave us a window between low tide at 0730 and high tide at 1330, easily do-able if we didn’t encounter much adverse current, so the plan was to stay close inshore where the current is at its weakest.
The sun begins to rise as we head north along the coast. Looking back at South Solitary Island.
Although forecast to last well into the afternoon, the wind died after only two hours and we put the engine on, with visions of having to motor the rest of the way. As it turned out, though, we were able to motor-sail or sail for about half of the passage, as the wind speed and direction varied along the way. It meant that at least we had regular breaks from the noise of the engine, but were kept on our toes furling in, hauling out and adjusting sails. Coupled with the constant watch needed when staying close inshore, this added up to a busy passage.
We recognised this as Red Rock, the headland we recently visited.
We were not slowed by the current to any great extent, and arrived at the seaway entrance around midday. There was very little wind, the sea was calm with just a low rolling swell, and conditions over the bar were benign. Apart from avoiding a yacht that was tacking across the entrance, our way in was uneventful, though an eagle eye was needed for all the power boats zooming in and out at speed, and the little boats anchored with fishing lines out. It was reminiscent of our entry into Beaufort, North Carolina, though not quite as busy.
The glow in the sky over the land as the sun went down.
The Gold Coast shore as we sailed by this morning.
The seaway entrance, a yacht tacking across the channel. Seaway Tower, home to the Queensland Coastguard and Marine Rescue.
Once inside, we turned right and followed the main channel markers until turning left into the Coomera River. Now we really could have been back in the ICW on the U.S. East coast as the riverbanks were lined with huge mansions with private jetties. We followed the river around several bends, keeping a close eye on the forward-looking sonar as it had not yet quite reached high water and on a couple of occasions the depth went down to half a metre below the keel. The last of these was just as we turned into the channel that led to the entrance to Hope Island Marina, and we held our breath until the bottom dropped away again as we entered the dredged approach to the marina itself.
Posh houses in the Broadwater.
As we rounded the end of ‘F’ pier we could see Brian and Sue from Darramy waiting to take our lines, and in no time at all we were all sitting in the cockpit having a good old catch-up. It was lovely to see them again, and so good to be tied up in a well-protected marina. Tonight the winds are due to pick up once again and the forecast is for at least three days of strong winds and rain. We are so pleased to be here!