Akuna Bay Cruising Club

Latitude Dancer & Dionysus.......Part 2 (still going north)

Sunday 18 June, 2006

Tuesday 23rd May, after fuelling up at the Southport Yacht Club 'Latitude Dancer' with Keith and Jenny aboard and 'Dionysus' with David and Vivienne aboard, headed towards Moreton Bay via the inside channel. This in itself is very challenging for the uninitiated (as we were), requiring detailed navigational instructions, a good GPS, good eyesight, high tide and a little luck. We did ok, only scraping bottom on a couple of occasions, but we'll know better next time!

We lucked upon a great spot for our first night out, finding the "Little Ship Club" on North Stradbroke Island and tying up to their most accommodating wharf. A lovely sunset across the bay, dinner on the boats and our first day out was voted a great success.

Wednesday 24th May saw us heading towards Mooloolaba, via a lunch stop at anchor off Tangalooma Resort on Moreton Island. Then it was out to the real ocean for the trip to Mooloolaba, which proved most comfortable, with the seas behaving perfectly for the ladies on board. We berthed at the Yacht Club Marina at 4.00pm and enjoyed a nice dinner on the boats. The next day we wandered around Mooloolaba, enjoyed lunch at the Mooloolaba Surf Club, did a little shopping and enjoyed the wonderful scenery and the brilliant weather.

Friday 26th May and it was again out to sea for Hervey bay, via Tin Can Bay and the "Great Sandy Straits", after a brief stop in Wide Bay for lunch and to wait for a favourable tide, we crossed the rather daunting bar into the "Great Sandy Straits", then headed south towards the marina at Tin Can Bay, berthing at this unique little spot at about 4.30pm. Dinner in the marina restaurant, strangely named "Godfather Too", run by an interesting Irishman and is wife, we even returned for coffee the next morning before heading north again.

The "Great Sandy Straights" provides magnificent 'inshore cruising', being full protected from the ocean by Fraser Island, whilst there are many sandbanks and shallow areas, the markers are fairly easy to follow. We spent one night on anchor at Garry's Anchorage before continuing a very comfortable trip to Urangan Boat Harbour, where we berthed at about 12.00 noon. After exploring the marina and local area, we had dinner at a marina restaurant, but a cold wind had us back on the boats fairly early. The next day started with a leisurely breakfast, followed by a game of golf at the Hervey Bay Country Club, before another night on the marina. Life's a bitch!

Tuesday 30th May it was off to Bundaberg after filling with fuel at $1.46 litre. Departing Urangan at 11.40am, we arrived at Mid Town Marina in Bundaberg at about 3.30pm, after a slow and steady run of about 12 miles up the Burnett River. Again without correct advice, the right charts and high tides, very scary stuff. As the name implied, the Marina was bang in the middle of town, walking distance to most of our limited needs, which again included a very nice dinner.

Next came the serious stuff, leaving Bundaberg heading out to Lady Musgrave Island, a tiny coral atoll, surrounded by a coral reef. This is situated about 50 miles north of the Burnett River and 40 miles from the coast, a long way from home! This was a real test for the GPS Systems, as we were out of sight of land, heading for a point on the horizon, where we hoped we'd find "Lady Musgrave". As luck would have it, technology triumphed, and a dot on the horizon slowly became the island we were hoping for.

Then came the interesting bit, the entry channel to the reef and island is only about 20 metres wide and though fairly well marked, the tidal influence and the coral 'bommies' make entry and exit of the reef very dangerous. We had all the books, charts and GPS systems working with us, but still came within metres of running aground. Neutral, Reverse, Throttle, Shit, that was close! However, we made it into the reef, rafted both boats together in idyllic conditions and basked in the glory of nature at her best. The sunset was awesome as we settled for the night, little realizing that when the tide rose, it came above the reef and allowed waves to rock our boats. Unwilling to re-anchor in darkness, we spent a restless night with the boats moving very uncomfortably together.

Thursday 1st June, and we awoke to a glorious morning in paradise, blue water, blue skies and perfect temperature, miles from anywhere. The kayak and inflatable were soon launched and we ventured to the beach, about 500 metres away. This really is your true tropical island, no one to be seen, crystal clear waters and a deserted beach. After a walk along the beach and a paddle around the island, we spent the rest of the day absorbing this great environment. Rather than risk rafting up again, 'Latitude Dancer' chose to move and drop anchor, a wise move giving us a more peaceful night.