September 11, 2010
Charon’s Trip North
The Clarence – direct to Queensland!
The coastal patrol guy at Ballina Marine Rescue described the bar there as being a “prick of a bar” an opinion confirmed by our observation of a line of white water as we motored past. This was no surprise as swell generates surf as the ocean becomes shallow. We were to witness this as we left the Clarence with seemingly pleasant conditions interspersed by mountainous swell waves about every minute. Once committed it was folly to turn around and Charon just climbed up and over the three or four waves at the departure. Not only was it fairly pleasant we were able to get some photos – mostly of sky and sea and very little of the interface. It was a five-minute rollercoaster.
Wendy and I stood watches as this was likely to be a long day –and it was. Being confirmed coastal day-cruisers, we planned to enter the Gold Coast seaway in daylight after a little sleep at anchor in Byron Bay. This was not to happen as the wind and swell shifted more northerly exposing Byron Bay to a slight swell. We tried lying ahull for ten minutes but neither Wendy or I felt comfortable below deck and as the evening was light cloud and a full moon and gentle breeze, we decided to motor slowly to the Gold Coast after dark.
Wendy’s last watch finished at midnight and I came on deck fairly refreshed. The newly installed AIS reported a navy vessel and couple of other heavies off the coast and Wendy’s watch had been uneventful. The lights (and fleshpots!!!) of Surfers Paradise beckoned and by 0200 am we were abeam of the well lit highrise. I considered heaving to till daylight but the plotter was working well and what moon snuck out from behind clouds have us a distinct shoreline. As I closed the coast the leads opened up and were very clear so I decided to go in. The service provided by NSW Volunteer Marine Rescue radio operators is second to none and experienced and informed operators give measured advice and factual information such as sea state at a barway, underkeel clearances and tidal anomalies. Less experiences operators always ask more experienced where necessary.
We entered the Gold Coast seaway at 0300 and anchored adjacent Seaworld. I had heated up a Fray Bentos tinned Meat Pie from the emergency store and had a rum and coke. Some sleep and awoke late morning to explore.
Wendy and I walked to Seaworld and caught the bus to Surfers. Drinks at an Irish pub, photos with the meter maids and posted some mail. This was a significant destination. We re-anchored at Bums bay where we met the local cruising fraternity, borrowed a car and drove to Byron Bay to make up for our fleeting ten minutes there days before and on our last night had a meal with Darren and Chris who were travelling south to Tassie from Cape York. Darren, along with fellow crew Steve had been our crew across Bass Strait and it was a god night of travelling stories – both by sea and by land. Darren obliged by returning my piano and gear back to Tassie in the back of their camper trailer.
Wendy had never been to seaworld –and it was in 1987 that I last visited – so a day there was mandatory. Seaworld is a great park - we went early and stayed late. Not one buy TWO visits to the dolphin show, the tropical aquarium and polar bears. Pretty much packed in all that two people could see in a day. Great to walk home to our alongside accommodation afterwards for a sundowner.
After our overnight guests departed, Wendy and I headed north spending a night in Dux anchorage and two more in the Logan River before entering Moreton Bay. Our last anchorage was in the Rainbow Channel and on Saturday 2nd October we entered the Brisbane River.