Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Shiriri Saga # 62. Crossing the Bar.

We have our fingers crossed in the morning as we climb on deck but the south-east wind still blows. At least we have our washing dry! Should we attempt the bar or wait for the wind to ease? We must cross at high water turning to ebb when the depth of water over the bar and the size of the waves will be least and that cannot be had on demand. "Ummm , errr... OK, lets go out and try it!" we decide, even though we can see through the binoculars the white of the waves breaking on the bar. At first progress is very slow as we stem the last of the flood tide and struggle against the wind. Not for the first time do we wish we had a more powerful engine.

The deepest channel follows an angle across the entrance and at first we line up two range markers over the stern located on the point we anchored behind last night ( Inskip Point). To the right the ocean waves crash on the bar and then form up again over the shallows on our left. We creep forward at first and then more easily as the tide reaches high water slack. Now we have the next range on the southern end of Fraser Island (Hook Point) in the white sector and turn out toward the big waves. We watch the depth sounder, keep the white light in line astern and after some wild pitching in the steep waves we are out in deeper water and turning toward the south. At last!

The wind eases and goes more easterly as predicted and we continue to motor-sail parallel to a long sandy beach backed by vegetation covered dunes. As we round Double Island Point, behind which Rassamond spent an uncomfortable night rolling in the waves, we see the wreck of a ship on the beach and it seems to be surrounded by scuttling cockroaches. Only when we get our sense of scale worked out do we realize that we are seeing dozens of vehicles driving up and down the long beach. Wow, what all that salt water and sand must be doing to those expensive metal bodies! We have been in poorer countries for so long that we have not yet adjusted back to this level of ‘just for fun’ conspicuous consumption.

By nightfall we are just off the entrance to Morton Bay with it`s mass of sand bars when the fishing boat we have been steadily overtaking suddenly turns right across our bows. Bad manners in anyone else, but we must assume that they are actually fishing and therefore have right of way, so we make a big circle away from them and continue to where the first of the shipping channel markers will lead us deeper into the bay. Perhaps we should have stopped like Rassamond at Maloolaba harbour for the night ,but we are eager to make the most of the unusually gentle winds
and not be wind bound again for days as we were in Tin Can Bay.

We are a mighty tired crew by the time dawn finds us deep in the bay and zooming along on the flood tide through the last of the channel markers. We have needed two on watch all night to do the pilotage but now we can anchor near the town of Manley behind St. Helena Island, just south of Brisbane.

Now, at 3:30 pm we have slept, eaten a pancake lunch and showered. Ah, fantastic! Soon we will pick up a new flood tide and travel a further ten miles up the bay to be in a good position for travelling south through the complex waterways en route to Southport and our friend Keith Watson.

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