After Brisbane we spent some time sailing in Moreton Bay, mostly anchoring outside of Scarborough except when strong winds forced us to seek refuge in Newport Marina. Best marina so far. Staff are friendly, they have a great café and excellent laundry facilities with a big bookshelf for swapping books. We also met a lot of nice people there. Gunnar from Sweden and his wife Eva from Holland have been living aboard their boat in the marina since they got back from a ten-year journey around the world. He sold us his old 45-pound anchor which is heavier than the one we had and better suited to secure Nautilus‘ 10 tonnes. Our next-door neighbours were Tony and Dee who live nearby Mooloolaba, our next destination. We arranged to give them a call once we got there.
Sightseeing with Tony
Tony took us on a fantastic day trip through the hills surrounding Mooloolaba (the “hinterland”) and showed us some gems, quaint villages where we browsed the local arts and craft shops and I had to fight the temptation to spend all my money at the organic food market.
At an inconspicuous turn in the road outside of Montville Tony hooked a left and parked just a few steps away from the lake to show us “Secrets on the Lake.” It is a resort made up of tree houses with fantastic wood carvings all around. The manager let us check out one of the cabins. You access them by elevated walkways that wind through the lush surroundings so that every cabin feels very secluded. It was a misty day with occasional showers but that just added to the ambiance. Plus, if your tree house comes equipped with a big jacuzzi and a fire place surely most people would not mind staying indoors.
Our last stop for the day was Noosa. We parked the car and walked along the shore to have a look at the surfers. The waves were pretty crowded but everybody we met coming back from their session seemed to have had a good time.
This mother and her son were enjoying the afternoon at a lookout point decorating the pavement.
Our anchorage in Mooloolaba was nice and calm. Upon arrival we were slightly bewildered because all the boats were pointing in different directions. It was impossible to tell which way the tide was flowing or how the surrounding boats were going to swing. We would have liked to have more space around us but still thought ourselves pretty lucky to come in before the two catamarans who arrived after us and had even less spots to choose from. On the upside the proximity to our neighbours made it easy to get to know them. Peter and Linda came by in their dinghy to say hi when they were on their way into town and invited us over for drinks. They were on a large trawler that had been converted into a spacious and well-equipped liveaboard motorboat. After holidaying in the Whitsundays they were now on their way home to Tasmania. We also met Allan from Melbourne whose trip up north had been interrupted by some engine trouble. He came over one evening and shared some treats with us - freshly caught crab, cheese and a Hungarian schnapps. We were excited by the idea of netting our own seafood and decided to buy a crab pot as soon as possible.
When life hands you lemons..
The morning we wanted to continue our journey we got up before sunrise. We had a quick breakfast, loaded the dinghy onto the boat and - the motor would not start. Our brand new crank battery had lost its power and we simply could not understand why! It was both worrying and infuriating. After a lot of cursing we realized that we would simply have to wait until the shops opened and go buy a starter pack. Vernon made the best of the situation by going up the mast to mount a wind wane, a project he had started in Newport Marina. In order to get up there he actually first constructed the missing steps and mounted those together with Jerry.
By the time the wind vane was up it was eight o‘clock. We launched the dinghy, Vernon zipped to Supercheap Auto and came back with a little generator which helped us start the engine. A few hours behind schedule we waved goodbye to Allan and headed off towards Double Island Point where we would stay overnight before crossing the Wide Bay Bar into the Great Sandy Straits.
Good times, bad times
Let me tell you this: sailing is not always fun. In fact I often find it stressful and scary and was extremely happy to have Jerry with us on the trip from Newport to Mooloolaba. Vernon feared we would get stuck in the marina waiting for perfect weather and I was eager to head north and finally enjoy some nice clear water and sunny beach days. Sitting in a cold and damp boat when it is raining all day gets depressing. So we made the decision to leave on a Sunday even though there would be some showers along the way. It turned out to be a horrible journey with chop coming from one direction and the swell from another. I had not been seasick once so far. Now all I could do was look at the shore and breathe. Add to that squalls that pelted us with rain, heeled the boat over and sent cups and glasses flying off the shelves. Oh and of course the chart plotter had to crap out the moment the worst squall hit and we were stuck between the beach and a shoal. Jerry was right though, that was the worst sail of our trip so far. Let‘s hope it stays that way.