Still in Coffs
Thursday 2nd June 2016
We have been watching the weather over the last few days, and had thought we would leave Coffs on Tuesday for an overnight sail to the Gold Coast. On Monday the boat was ready and the weather looked good – light to moderate winds from the south, low swell, and the tides looked good for getting into the Gold Coast seaway, which ideally should be done on a flood tide.
So why are we still here? Well, the weather forecast for the days after we would arrive at the Gold Coast were not looking so good. A low from inland seemed to be approaching the coast bringing some unpleasant weather with it, and the longer term wind forecasts were inconsistent, showing sometimes 40+ knots and sometimes 20. We are not experienced with Australian weather patterns, but have been warned in the past to look out for East Coast lows, which might possibly be what could be happening now.
On Monday evening we weighed up the situation: we could leave next day as planned and arrive at the Gold Coast Wednesday afternoon without problem. We would then be at anchor for a day or two as we hopped our way up the shallow inland channel that leads to Moreton Bay. Then we hoped to anchor in the Brisbane River for a day or two to explore before making our way through Moreton Bay to Scarborough Marina. That would mean we would be at anchor in strange and shallow waters when it looked as though the weather could be quite unpleasant.
Alternatively, we could wait here until the low has passed. We still have plenty of time before we need to be at Scarborough Marina, so there is no need to rush. We are tucked up inside the inner harbour where we should be fairly well-protected from unpleasant weather. The downside of this plan is the fact that the tides will not be fair for entering the Gold Coast Seaway after the weekend, so we would either have to wait here another week until they are, or leave late afternoon instead of morning and do two nights at sea and heave to until daylight to enter the seaway.
Without a crystal ball it is always difficult to know if you’re making the right decision. We could stay and miss the tides when we may well make it safely and in good time to Scarborough. The weather forecast could easily change for the better. If we don’t go now we may well miss seeing Rod & Mary who are currently preparing Sheer to sail with the next weather window back to New Caledonia for another season. On the other hand, we could leave as planned and get caught in horrible or even unsafe conditions.
In the end we decided to err on the side of caution, and have hunkered down here until the bad weather, which the forecast now confirms is coming over the weekend, has blown through. I’m sure I’ll be regretting the decision on the second round of night watches, but right now it seems for the best.
Synoptic charts for Sat-Mon showing the lows along the east coast.