Ian Kirk recounts a coastal cruising passage with two WBAQ members by sail from Moreton Bay to the southern GBR & return
source The Log, WBAQ August, 2016
WBAQ members Ivan Scott, Bruce Morris and Ian Kirk departed from Macleay Island on Ivan’s 10 metre Crowther catamaran ‘Dakini’ for a cruise north on Monday 20th. June. Initially the trip was entitled ‘Three men in a Boat’ but that somehow in the rampant camaraderie of three mates sailing up the coast morphed into ‘the Cruise of The Cabin Boy’, Bruce being given that title as it was his first foray into the big briny. Of course Ivan was known as ‘Skipper’ because, well, he owns the bloomin’ boat. Ian was then designated ‘First Mate’ because he’d sailed the waters many a time before. Each day ‘Skipper’ would pass on the forecast of winds from the west but somehow northwest was the reality. Of course this on day one meant a nasty bash up to Mooloolaba because duh, the northwest channel runs--?
After recovering from this onslaught to the senses and some feelings of consternation for the green (at the gills too!) ‘Cabinboy’ the torn trampoline was pull-tied together and the hardy crew headed north for Wide Bay in yes, yet another northwester. At least it was light this time. This of course meant a mammoth 16 hour beat with ‘Dakini’ crossing the bar at dawn. This momentous occasion was promptly celebrated with a belated curry dinner beautifully cooked by the ‘Cabin Boy’s ‘wife Debbie. Naturally this was washed down by celebratory glasses of Merlot at 6.30 am. After a big rest ‘Dakini’ headed north into the Sandy Straits where Gary’s anchorage and later lunch at Kingfisher Resort were enjoyed by the ‘Three Men in the boat’.
Then it was off to Urangan to buy a new house battery, repair the trampoline, carry out voting duties and enjoy hot showers and fine food cooked by others. From there the good ship headed to Wathumba hoping to see whales but alas she was a few weeks early for the season. While safely anchored inside the creek a nasty north-wester came in creating surf on the beach. This then shifted to the south west allowing somewhat easier conditions to depart, this being done at 2 am. The sail to Burnett Heads in the dark in a very confused sea and a breeze of 15 knots plus was not the most pleasant having the ‘Cabin Boy’ concerned for his safety. The rampant camaraderie and hilarious laughter was surprisingly subdued until sunup when as usual, all seems better. A day with yachtie friends of the ‘First Mate’ at Burnett Heads included wonderful hot showers, a delightful lunch and transport to and from the shops.
Even the clothes washing was done for us! Then a 10-12 kn SSW breeze had us comfortably sailing north to 1770 with the ‘Cabin Boy’ on the wheel looking very happy and declaring “I’m back!” A delightful sojourn was had at this anchorage with all the crew finding it hard to leave the bar where great cold beers were served by a friendly North American backpacker, Jasmine. Once again we were heading north the very short distance to the excellent anchorage of Pancake Creek. Here the ‘Skipper’ and the ‘First Mate’ were to have a sensational time while the poor ‘Cabin Boy’ was contained to the boat with a sore foot. To keep it brief the lucky two walked to the Bustard Head lighthouse, chatted to Stuart Buchanan (yachtie and author of the excellent ‘The Lighthouse Keepers’ and ‘Lighthouse of Tragedy’) and who was known to Ian. From there they walked to Jennie Lind Creek in time to see the amphibious LARC cross it. This was followed by a stroll to Aircraft Beach where a plane promptly landed and the two sailors were invited for a free joy ride including two beach landings and a scary fake dud engine take-off provided at no charge by the cheeky pilot.
On arriving back at ‘Dakini’ there was some difficulty convincing the ‘Cabin Boy’ that Ivan and Ian had now morphed into ‘two men in a plane,’ that being the Cessna that had just buzzed ‘Dakini‘ stirring an enraged Bruce from his slumbers. From there it was off to Cape Capricorn where ‘Dakini’ anchored under the protection of the headland where the railway runs up to the buildings. Yellow Patch was explored by dinghy from here with all attempts to keep the ‘Cabin Boy’s’ sore foot dry failing miserably. Then followed a run up to Great Keppell Island where glorious beaches, walks , wonderful steaks and more cold beers this time served by ‘Cornwall Lass’ were enjoyed for a few days.
Departure for home was fast approaching for the ‘First Mate’ and the ‘Cabin Boy’ and once again at cocktail hour the talk was about “Why do so many of the boats anchored near us leave? Is it all the loud laughter from ‘Dakini’ or are we a bit smelly?” Well finally it was off to Rosslyn Bay for the crew to embark on the long train trip home. As we limped into harbour with an obviously ailing motor little did we realise that the ‘Skipper’ would be here for the next two weeks waiting for the really dead motor to be replaced. One thing we all knew was that the ‘Cabin Boy’ was now a blue water sailor who had just had possibly the adventure of a lifetime. So all of this great fun was enjoyed on a grp boat-well the friendships that made this crew so compatible and the cruise so outrageously wonderful were formed sailing simple wooden boats together and with other great folk from the Wooden Boat Association. Postscript. Ivan is at the time of writing, cruising the area from Shoalwater Bay to Mackay and his last communication was sent from the homestead at the top of Percy Island, the mecca of all yachties.