4am start. We cast off the lines and motor out of Scarborough in the dark alongside the fishing trawlers. At 5.30am, we are already halfway across Deception Bay, and the sky is once again lit up in pretty shades of orange and pink. It has been a little over a year in the making, but the odyssey has begun! It’s Wednesday, the 1st of March 2017 and we are now officially full-time adventurers!
Tuesday was also an early rise to squeeze in the last bits of preparation. After a fair bit of running around in the last couple of weeks, all that was left was provisioning, selling and stashing cars, installing and testing out our new code zero sail*, saying farewell to all our Scarborough boat buddies*, and taking advantage of shore wi-fi for the last time for a while…
First destination: Double Island Point, approximately 85 nautical miles (NM) from our departure point. The wind is light and variable, so we take a while to settle into a sailing groove. We try the code zero, but the wind isn’t cooperating (and we’re just learning how to trim it for best results), so we revert to our standard sail combo and just take it easy, cruising along our well-worn track past Bribie Island and Caloundra and on to Mooloolaba. We pass shear-waters dive-bombing baitfish, and transparent blue-bottles sailing along in the current.
Mid-arvo the wind shifts and lifts a bit, and we finally get the opportunity to put the code zero to good use, getting up to 9 knots on occasion (which is pretty good in less than 13 knots of wind). As the sun sets, a solitary dolphin pops up to check us out. We get into Double Island point and drop anchor in the dark, and are just about to have a celebratory beer to congratulate ourselves on a pretty bloody good inaugural day, when Andy notices that the boom has fallen off! The boom is an essential part of the sail rigging, and it appears that the nut holding the gooseneck pin in place has worked loose. Luckily we find the nut and various washers strewn across the deck, and after applying a temporary fix, settle back down for our well earned beer.
Dawn again. Sunrise lights up the coloured sands of rainbow beach while we fix the boom. At 7am we start the motors and head for the waypoints that VMR Tin Can Bay have given us to cross the Wide Bay bar. All bars are treacherous in the wrong conditions, and the Wide Bar Bay has particularly notoriety because it takes a while to get across. The sky is grey and there’s a 1.5m swell from behind, but all the other conditions are good – the wind is light and the tide is rising, so once a couple of other boats head through, we go for it. About half an hour later, we are through – we have crossed the ‘mad mile’! A backward glance and we see a water spout spiralling up into hovering black clouds…lucky we aren’t still out on the bar! We motor past Inskip Point and the southern end of Fraser Island, and head up to the little village of Tin Can Bay and drop the anchor.
A cracking start to our adventure.
*Shout outs to Jesse and Adrian at Switch Sails; Anita (S/V Xamala) and Tony (S/V Sentier) for sharing map data/charts/etc with us; and Trevor for getting up at 4am to help us cast off!