Days 9 and 10: Manly marina and home

The weather deteriorated throughout the day, getting really bad this afternoon and evening. We went for a very long walk 10+K along the foreshore to make up for our lack of exercise over the last week and spent the rest of the day tinkering with the boat.

2nd October
Well it sure did come in last night. The southeasterly change hit and was blowing over 40 knots which is classified as gale force. We were happily and safely snuggled up in the marina without a care. Phew!

Anyway it more or less blew itself out last night and by this morning the forecast was down to 10-15 knots and moving around to the east, on it’s way to northerlies again! We’d planned an after lunch departure to catch a north-flowing tide which would have meant some night sailing which would have been lovely. But in view of losing the southerly winds we left Manly marina for Scarborough marina just after breakfast.

coffee pots POB

The Coffee Pots – channel markers into Port of Brisbane

It’s a 22 nautical mile sail (pretty long) and we got in to Scarborough at 3pm. One of the higher stress times is crossing the entrance channel to Port of Brisbane. You have to tune in to their VHF channel and monitor it, timing your crossing to not disrupt a ship. Actually a small yacht like ours wouldn’t disrupt them, but we’d probably have ended up on the 6 o’clock news! Anyway as it turns out our timing was good and we slipped easily in between them without a worry.

We’re now moored at Scarborough marina at the end of our first long-ish period of cruising. 10 days of predominantly wonderful sailing and good times. We learnt many lessons and gained bucket loads of confidence. We’re now looking forward to long periods around other cruising grounds – maybe next year!

Soon after I send this we’ll walk over to Morgans Seafood where we’re booked in for their seafood smorgasbord. What better way to end the trip. We’ll sleep aboard on the marina tonight, pull Top Shelf out tomorrow and derig her before towing her home.

To see all the photos from our Moreton Bay sailing adventure CLICK HERE.

Here is the track of our trip.

Day 8: Horseshoe Bay to Manly Marina

Well the weather forecast is getting steadily worse. Despite waking to an absolutely glorious morning in Horseshoe Bay and really longing to spend a day swimming in its lovely clear waters, walking (maybe even going for a run) on it’s lovely beach we really have to head to an anchorage where we’ll be protected from pretty bad south easterly winds – and the best place to be when there’s a bad blow is a marina.
So 8am saw us hoisting sails and heading north. Lovely sailing again. Saw a dugong! We were safely tied up on Manly marina just after lunch time. Our friends Vicki and John have their boat moored here, so we gave them a call and invited them over to Top Shelf for sundowners. A lovely evening was had while we watched the wind get stronger.



Day 7: Russell Is to Horseshoe Bay

coffee Russell Is

Morning coffee – idyllic

The night was just as pleasant as anticipated. Woke to a totally calm anchorage and enjoyed breakfast and coffee in the cockpit.
The forecast over the next few days is getting gradually worse (sad smiley). Today the winds will be pretty good until after lunch when they’ll start getting stronger and come from the north. Tomorrow and Wednesday they’ll be much stronger northerlies and Wednesday night they turn to strong to gale force from the south east. We’re now wanting to head north to finish our trip – so don’t want northerlies!

Anyway tomorrow is another day and today we motored around Karragarra and Macleay Islands before sailing back to Horseshoe Bay on Peel Island. The channels around these southern bay islands are very narrow and relatively shallow. You couldn’t sail them unless you had a gentle wind from directly behind and the motor running. Macleay Island, like Russell is fairly extensively inhabited – lots of large expensive homes overlooking the Bay – just above the midgie, oh I mean mangrove line! Nup, not for me.
Once we cleared the narrow channels and headed north along the western coast of Macleay we put the sails up and had a truly delightful sail all the way to Peel. Times like those are what keep you wanting to sail.

Another interesting factoid about Peel Is. Apparently in the ’60s the Island was sold to Keith Williams. He is the developer who put the resort on Hamilton Is. He wanted to build the resort here on Peel, but the council turned down his application to have exclusive use of Horseshoe Bay for his resort – so it never happened. Interesting ‘sliding doors’ situation wondering what the other Moreton Bay islands and Cleveland would be like now had it been approved.

(PS: Happy birthday Deb.)

horseshoe bay

Horseshoe Bay on Peel Island

Day 6: Blaksleys to Russell Is

The gods smiled on us at last and made all the other storms that were around last night go around us. Not complaining! Surprisingly we both slept very well and woke up to a lovely morning.

We left Blaksleys after breakfast heading to Russell Is where we could do some re-provisioning and wander around civilisation of sorts again for a while. Winds were from the south-south-east and high tide at 12.20. Most of our route was directly south, so we did a bit of tacking, but with pleasant winds and a flooding tide it was another good sail.

At this southern end of Moreton Bay there are lots of islands and even more sand banks with narrow passages between them. Ideal conditions for a trailer sailer because if you run aground you just wind up the keel. And no, we didn’t run aground!

After anchoring -very carefully- we went ashore.
A permanent population of around 2500 live on Russell, so it has a reasonable little shopping area with an IGA. It’s serviced by a regular passenger ferry, about half-hourly, and a barge which transports cars and their passengers. There’s a small primary school, but the children go to Victoria Point on the mainland for high school.

Steve noticed that a woman on the trailer sailer forum we follow lives on the Island and invited fellow trailer sailors to drop in to see her. We rang and spent a pleasant couple of hours with her and her daughter. She’s an artist and has a pretty amazing collection of, well, everything really. Her daughter is in year 11 and is being home-schooled. She told me she’s been sailing Moreton Bay for years and learnt to sail here. She assured me there are two types of Moreton Bay sailors – those who unintentionally spend a night on a sandbank and those who lie and say they haven’t. LOT’S of sandbanks!

We picked up a few more groceries, some water and sat at the cafe for a while before heading back to the boat. Little Takka, our Takacat tender, has been fabulous. Lots of fun zipping around in it.
Sundowners with some bubbles (mineral water!) and hors d’oeuvres was a fine ending to a lovely day – calm waters and the sun setting over the adjacent island off our stern – perfect. A very calm night anticipated.


Day 5: Blaksleys

Lovely day today. Steve did some fishing before breakfast and caught 3 bream which was pretty exciting, except they were under-size.  He gave up after that, obviously we were anchored over a fish kindergarten. Decided not to move on today after our stressful episode last night. Watched our position closely through both high and low tides. No dragging.

bom warning

The pointer indicates where we’re anchored!

About 3.30pm a ‘dangerous thunderstorm’ hit (as described by the Bureau of Meteorology). We were prepared and had a contingency if we were to drag and dammit if we didn’t – directly towards a power boat that had just anchored before the storm hit. Steve jumped onto the outboard and we motored to support the anchor and stop going back any further. Scary! Particularly as it was hailing and Steve had to sit out there in it. No doubt we would have hit the other boat if he hadn’t.

hail storm

Note the hail, and poor Steve!

Fortunately it was a fast moving storm and all over in about 15 minutes. We then retrieved our anchor to discover it had been fouled with some scrap rubber stuff which prevented one of the flukes from digging in. Reset anchor.
On the up side a very large cat that was anchored down from us also dragged his anchor and moved right over where we would have been if we hadn’t also dragged. A guardian angel?
More storms forecast so we’ve now put out a second anchor. Another unsettled night I fear.

after storm

A couple of hours later!

Day 4: Horseshoe Bay to Blaksleys

The wind was forecast to return to the south east, so Horseshoe Bay was no longer suitable. We left early for Blaksleys Anchorage on North Stradbroke Is. It was only 5+nm and took us 2 hours in light fluky winds. There’s a small beach here – 20 minutes walk from one end to the other, and there are lots of families camping. They come over on run-abouts, set up camp and use the boat for fishing, and also dragging screaming children behind them in inflatable tubes. Not the most peaceful place. But hey, I hope my grandchildren get to experience similar fun and freedom as they’re growing up.
We christened the yabby pump at low tide, gathering enough yabbies for fish bait. Mmmm I could already taste the fresh fish we’d have for tea. But … neither of us could be bothered fishing that evening!
We’d just finished dinner and were inside obliviously reading or talking when the skipper from the boat down from us hailed us. We were dragging our anchor and were awfully close to him.
It was weird – wind against tide with wind winning. We were bow to the south, anchor line under the boat and behind us. So in the dark we retrieved it and reset it, 3 times before we hoped it had set. Up and down all night checking to see it was OK.

Day 3: The Sandhills to Horseshoe Bay

Despite my complaints about the weather forecast it is something we read and memorise religiously all the time while sailing – that, and the state of the tide. The forecast comes out twice a day (ridiculously inadequate frequency!) around 4 morning and night. The forecast for today is north-westerlies 10-15 knots and high tide at 9.40am (the tide floods to the south). Anywhere on the west coast of Moreton is a lousy anchorage in a westerly, so last night we made the decision to move to a better anchorage this morning. Horseshoe Bay on Peel Island gives good protection in westerlies and that lay south of us – northerlies and a flooding tide sound good when you want to head south, but it was a long trip, 16nm and we’d probably be fighting the tide after it turned for the last half of the trip. We planned to get up, have brekkie and get away about 7.30am. After the long trip over on Tuesday I was dreading it.
The north-westerly came in an hour or so before dawn. We were both woken with the boat rolling very uncomfortably – no more sleep for us. No brekkie either as I couldn’t keep the kettle on the stove it was rolling so much. As soon as it was daylight we left – at 5.45am.

whale fluke

Whale fluke

two whales

Mother whale and her calf.

As it turned out it was a magnificent sail. The highlight was seeing two whales, but also saw turtles and dolphins. It was so smooth sailing I even managed to cook us an omelet each for breakfast as we went. We were safely anchored off Horseshoe Bay at 10.30 – less than 5 hours -> that’s how long a 16nm sail should take!


Peel Is used to be a quarantine station and a leper colony and is now a protected conservation area. Boaties are only allowed to land at Horseshoe and Platypus Beaches, and there’s camping just inside the foredunes … but no wandering around beyond there! That’s fine – the beach was lovely and long and we went for a great walk the length of it and inside looking at the camping sites (no campers).
That evening we christened the BBQ. Started with asparagus dijonaise, followed by feta stuffed chicken wrapped in prosciutto. Delicious!

christening the BBQ

Yum! Looking forward to dinner.


Day 2: Tangalooma to The Sandhills

Being school holidays Tangalooma is buzzing with people. We’re coming back in a couple of weeks as guests at the resort with the crew from work so decided to move on down Moreton Is to The Sandhills. There’s the Big Sandhill and the Small Sandhill. These are sand blows that are quite massive, the Small Sandhill going 2km from west coast to east coast.
It was a short sail, 8.7nm and took us 2 hours. The sailing was delightful, fast and smooth. Just what we needed after yesterday. The anchorage was calm.
Once again though we didn’t leave the boat – did chores on the boat and rested and read books. Had a quick swim off the boat and rinsed off with the solar shower in the cockpit.

small sandhills

Small sandhills.

Day 1: Scarborough to Tangalooma

Decided to launch as soon as we could then have breakfast on the way. Our destination – the Wrecks at Tangalooma on the western coast of Moreton Island. Tangalooma is a resort, and a very pleasant one at that. Beautiful long white sand beaches and snorkelling around the wrecks, the bar, etc. The Wrecks are old ships that were scuttled to form a reef for fish, a dive location and protection for boats from westerly winds. The main shipping channel out of Port of Brisbane passes within a nautical mile of the anchorage – all ships leaving the port must head north along this channel as far as Caloundra before heading wherever they’re going. These ships create a rolly swell as they pass which is quite unpleasant, hence anchoring between the wrecks and the beach is the place to be. It can get very crowded – not good when boats are swinging in all directions as tide and wind change.

Anyway after a problem-free launch (only forgot to put the wind direction indicator on the top of the mast) we were away at 9.30am with a forecast of south-easterlies at 10 – 15 knots – perfect for a close-hauled reach to our due-east destination. Well … forecasts seem to be a bit like crystal ball gazing. We rounded the clear water beacon and headed east, and that was directly into the wind! And nasty 1 – 1.5 meter seas to go with it. To cut a long story short our estimated 4 hour sail of 15nm turned into 7 hours and 26 nm later by the time we tacked and fought the swell. The last two hours we relented and motored. We finally anchored, absolutely knackered at 4.30pm. Good start to the diet – couldn’t even boil the kettle it was so rough. I did manage to make us a salad about lunch time, and felt a trifle sea sick working down in the galley in those conditions.
No going ashore, no runs on the beach, no snorkelling the Wrecks – too exhausted. Just rested onboard.

The trip begins

The plan was to sail Top Shelf around Moreton Bay for two to three weeks from Monday 22nd September. Moreton Bay is reputably one of the best boating grounds in Australia with relatively protected waters ( ie no ocean swell) and lots and lots of islands and passageways to explore.

Our departure was delayed by a day due to Steve’s brother and wife coming up to spend Sunday night with us, and our return has been brought forward to the 3rd October so we can attend my brother’s 80th birthday party – so just short of two weeks. We don’t mind changing plans for family, after all they’re what’s important in life. However, having a schedule on a boat is always potentially fraught.

Steve spent Monday morning getting Top Shelf ready – fuel, water, fishing gear, new BBQ, etc. I spent the morning doing the provisioning. We’re both currently on a ‘low-carb’ diet and it provides a menu of all the food you can consume in a week – made provisioning very easy! Everything stowed and ship-shape we headed down to Scarborough Marina where we planned to rig her, sleep on the boat in the car park and launch at the high tide on Tuesday morning. This is when you start to find the things left behind – like my doona. We had dinner at the club (very average) then popped over to a friends place who lived nearby who lent me a doona. (I sleep in the forward cabin and Steve sleeps on the starboard berth – gives us both plenty of room).