|After weeks of great sailing weather it turned to crap for our planned departure day|
You see the second rule of cruising is, if the forecast is crap just don’t go. A forecast of 30 knots winds from the North, the exact direction we needed to go, certainly qualified as crap because the third rule of cruising is try to avoid sailing upwind whenever possible let alone directly into a strong wind. We would NEVER deliberately try to sail straight into 30 knots of head winds and associated waves working together to break our boat and spirit.
|Flat seas and mild winds as we set sail from Manly|
The wind did as predicted and picked up quickly to high teens and occasional low twenties. The wind strength and angle with relatively flat sea were tailor made for a Whitby ketch. Before long we were scooting along at just over nine knots. We even caught and overtook a catamaran that had left port ahead of us. Happy days.
|Very happy to finally be underway after so long land bound|
|Topping nine knots in high teens gusting just over twenty impressed us.|
|Two boats on the water means a race and we won this one.|
As we crossed Moreton Bay to the southern end of Bribie Island we were further off shore. The waves grew larger and the wind grew stronger. Karen questioned if we should reduce sail further which called into play another rule of cruising. The time to reef your sails is immediately you even THINK you might need to. It’s a lot easier to shake a reef out later if the wind drops than put one in when the boat’s overpowered and behaving like an angry rodeo bull in car wash.
|Reefed down on a square reach and flying with minimal heel|
Before long we reached the lee of Bribie Island. Its low terrain did nothing to slow the wind which maintained both strength and direction. However, the sea state did moderate considerably from the rollercoaster we had just experienced across the bay. This saw the boat pick up even more speed breaking into the ten knot region which astounded us.
|Bribie Island's low profile didn't hinder the wind but did calm the sea state a bit for us|
We skirted the main Port of Brisbane shipping channel, sailed by the beaches of Caloundra and rounded Point Cartwright all in relative short order. The motor was started, sails came down and we entered through the breakwaters guarding the mouth of the Mooloolah River. We had originally planned a night in the Mooloolaba Marina but decided to anchor up river instead. We had no trouble finding a suitable spot and were soon doing our post passage tidy up with a cool drink in hand.
|Rounding Point Cartwright at the end of our wild ride.|
When we do our passage planning, we factor in an average speed of 5 knots in good conditions. We were more than a little surprised to be anchored up so early and downright amazed to have averaged around 8.5 knots over the 55 nautical mile distance from harbour mouth to harbour mouth.
|There's nothing better than a cold beer and warm food after any passage|
It had been a wild sleigh ride that had us both buzzing with excitement about our boat. Once the adrenaline drained out of our systems we realised how exhausted we were and both collapsed in our bunk before seven.
|It's a good thing the sun sets early in winter or we would have been in bed before seeing this one. |
Goodnight from the Mooloolah River!
What worked.Our Dreamtime – she handled the conditions effortlessly and proved to be a much faster boat when reaching than we could have imagined.
What didn’t work.Our autopilot lost its way on a couple of occasions forcing Rob to grab the helm. Admittedly it happened when the boat was a bit overpowered and the sea state was up. It’s brand new to us and we’ll now study the manual to see if it’s a settings issue or whatever. If that doesn’t provide answers we’ll be seeking them from our supplier.
What we did right.We adjusted our departure date to suit the weather.
We reduced sail in a timely manner.
How we screwed up.Having predominantly sat in a marina for almost 18 months, you get accustomed to living as if on a house boat. The rollercoaster conditions across the bay quickly demonstrated to us how much we’d forgotten about securing a boat for sea. Things we thought were stowed away OK leapt out of lockers everywhere making below decks look like a bomb site. Even Karen’s little herb garden needed major post passage surgery after upending itself in the forward head. All will be addressed before the next passage.
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