More adventures in Moreton Bay

Friday morning (20 November) we had breakfast at the on-site cafe in the East Coast Marina before settling our bill and casting off towards Sandhills, an anchorage on Moreton Island. We have been waiting patiently for a particular weather window to visit this place so were delighted that, finally, the conditions were perfect. It was flat calm as we headed over there and got a really good anchor set in sand on arrival. Amazing views of the dunes and back towards Brisbane. We just enjoyed being back out on the hook again. We were even treated to a flypast during the late afternoon followed by an amazing sunset. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Saturday morning it was flat calm again and we were up early to see the sunrise.

We then took ourselves off on a little dinghy exploration and spotted a small eagle ray and a bin-sized southern stingray on our travels. We pulled up on the beach (which is full of tread marks as people drive along here and get stuck often LOL) and even enjoyed a bobbing session in the shallow beautiful waters.

Afterwards we headed over to Big Sandhills, deciding against climbing the dunes despite more hardy folks giving it a go, and enjoyed the scenery. Heading back towards Morphie we then poodled along the coast to the Small Sandhills and checked them out too. Had been a lovely day.

Sunday morning, as the wind was clocking north, we headed back across to Peel Island and had a nice four hour run checking out all the birds who sit quite happily on the channel markers.

We hung at the back of the fleet looking for deeper sand and got a good anchor set. The weather then started closing in on us and the fetch picked up so we decided not to go ashore. We were surrounded by lots of boats out for the day and, as they left, they were replaced by liveaboards looking for shelter in the strengthening winds. Despite the conditions and the inevitable rocking and rolling we had a good night’s sleep.

Monday morning the weather forecast had deteriorated again….sigh… we decided to head back towards the Canaipa passage to get some shelter from the wind. There was a small craft advisory for increasing winds and uncomfortable short-interval swells so being back in the river made a lot of sense. For the first time in a long while the wind was coming from the right direction and the sun was out so we had an absolutely amazing sail south to the entrance to the Canaipa Passage although was quite upset to see our neighbour from Peel (who had left the previous afternoon) stranded in the middle of the sandbanks. Not sure how he missed the well-buoyed channels and ended up there…..

Arriving in Canaipa – now motoring into the winding river system – the wind continued to howl and we carried on towards another favourite anchorage the Huts. But when we got there it was too exposed to the choppy conditions so we decided to continue on to Tipplers. This change of plan brought with it some challenges as we were now on a falling tide and some of the channels are pretty shallow – we saw less than 1ft under the keel at one point! We also saw another yacht stuck in the mud along our route and Facebook lit up with sad stories of groundings and rescues in the area so obviously lots of people had been caught out.

Thankfully we were able to get a good position in the Tipplers anchorage and a solid set in mud (with lots of scope out) and hoped for the best in the 30 knot winds and higher gusts that continued to blow through. We didn’t want to leave Morphie alone so decided not to go ashore….

During the evening I received the terrible news that Caroline, a special friend for 40 years, had succumbed in her long battle with cancer. This was not completely unexpected as we were in constant contact but it still hit me hard. Here is one of my favourite pictures of us both at The Ritz enjoying afternoon tea in January this year when we had a long girlie weekend in London to celebrate my 60th birthday. RIP Caroline you will be sadly missed but the amazing memories of our times together will live on forever.

Tuesday morning and the strong wind warnings persisted along with an increased CAPE (thunderstorms). So we decided to return a couple of days earlier than planned to the Boatworks. As we headed up the Coomera river the winds died and we wondered what was going on but, of course, the minute we got near our berth we were hit with 25 knots of breeze which made docking a bit exciting! We were relieved to be back tied up safely. During the afternoon the clouds built and the sky darkened until eventually the storms appeared – pretty dramatic lightning strikes and thunder – so we were, once again, grateful to be surrounded by much bigger masts LOL.

Wednesday morning we awoke to a cloudy and gloomy day. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the Galley, being welcomed ‘home’ by the staff. After breakfast we headed to the on-site chandlery as we had decided to bite the bullet and purchase a Rocna anchor. Although our Lewmar Delta anchor was still in good condition and had served us well for many years throughout our travels, here in Queensland we had struggled to find good holding when we came across any sort of vegetation on the bottom and had dragged a few times. So the time was right. We looked at the sizing guide for the Rocna and purchased a 25kg version just hoping that it would fit neatly on the bow sprit and the anchor rollers. So, it was purchased, and they delivered it to our dock. We prepared the chain for it’s arrival by chopping off the last two links as they are showing signs of wear. If you are wondering why we are using the generator rather than shore power to do this job, it’s because our tools (along with Morphie) are all American 110V so would not work using the 220V sockets on the dock.

Then we dropped the Delta into the water and pulled it across to the dock, unshackled it (this will be stored in one of the lazarettes just in case we ever need another anchor attached for storm conditions), shackled the Rocna up and pulled it onto the bow. And, thankfully, it fitted nicely and obviously Morpheus has had an early Christmas present. Doesn’t she look smart?

Our other spare anchor will be donated to a new home as we already have another of this type in the lazarette for when we use two anchors together (bow and stern) to hold us straight….seems a shame to dispose of it but we can’t store everything we take off otherwise we’ll need to raise Morphie’s waterline because of all the weight she is carrying LOL.

Thursday we spent a quiet day on board getting on with some administrative things making use of the good internet service. And that was about it although I did pop out for a short while for my latest physio appointment – he was very impressed with my progress and my hip is certainly giving me less grief after his intervention. So very happy with this.

Oh yes and the temperature was 33 degrees C during the day and a severe heatwave is forecast this weekend. Phew….might be spending some time in the air-conditioned cruisers’ lounge at this rate!

Today, Friday, we plan more of the same. We have a car booked for the weekend so will being doing the usual things like provisioning and propane refills. We will stay here in Boatworks until Thursday when we will move down the river to Sanctuary Cove marina where we plan to spend Christmas and New Year.

The best news this week, though, was that the borders between Queensland and New South Wales have finally opened so we are actively making plans to visit my nephew and his family in January during the school holidays. It is hard to believe that we have been in Australia since March but have been unable to see them until this point. So we have lots of things to look forward.

Take care everyone at home as you come out of lockdown and then have to cope with the new Covid Tier arrangements being put in place. Stay safe and look after each other.

Bye for now


Chased around by weather in Moreton Bay

Tuesday afternoon (10 November) we headed over to the beach at Tipplers and enjoyed a few hours in the sun trying out our new beach gear. Was lovely to relax in this great spot. Whilst we were there we spotted this boat come in with a crowd of people on which seemed quite late in the afternoon for people to be arriving.

Later on, back on board, and we realised that it was actually a wedding party. They decided to have some photos on the jetty so we had a great view from Morphie as we sat enjoying sundowners. Even the wallabies decided to come out to say hi.

After dinner and a movie night we headed to bed to be woken up by some loud bangs and we realised that there was a firework show, so we got up and enjoyed watching that too. Must have been quite some party from the noise that was emanating from the land LOL. We didn’t actually hear the boat come back to pick them all up as we were sound asleep again by then.

Wednesday morning we got up really early and headed out towards Peel Island as the wind was going north. We went a slightly different route this time using the tide to take us through Jacob Wells and then up past Russell Island. It was beautiful and calm along the route.

We weren’t able to ride the tide the whole time as it swirls around through the river systems and so our speed was not consistent but we made the anchorage at Peel in good time having covered a very chilly and cloudy 25 miles. During the passage we observed a two minute silence at 11 am (on 11th November) in remembrance of those that had gone before.

When we arrived it was pretty windy and with choppy seas so we didn’t go ashore and just had a quiet afternoon and evening on board once we were happy that we had a good anchor set.

Thursday morning and the weather forecast had changed yet again….sigh…. The wind was howling and the fetch was significant and it really wasn’t that inviting to go ashore to the beach. So we stayed put for the day. Checking out the forecast for the following week and, on seeing the enhanced CAPE (which equals a thunderstorm risk) we decided to try to get into a marina on Friday. We are really fed up with the weather pushing us around like this with such short bursts of good weather inbetween some pretty horrible stuff! We phoned and were lucky to get the last available berth in the East Coast Marina – phew! So we had a leisurely day and evening on board rocking and rolling in the wind.

Friday morning we weighed anchor early and headed across to Manly where the East Coast Marina is located. We enjoyed checking out the wildlife and fellow sailors along the way. It was pretty grey and choppy out there.

On arrival we secured Morphie then got her washed down and cleaned up.

We then headed to the office to check-in, we got ourselves cleaned up in the shower blocks, and then headed into Cafe le Mer for a delicious brunch. By the time we returned to Morphie it was cloudy and had started raining….and the thunderstorms turned up in the evening…so we sat in the cockpit watching it all happen around us.

Saturday morning and it was really hot and steamy. Richard decided not to waste the time on the dock sitting around so he swapped out the Raritan toilet unit for a new one we had in our stores along with new seals etc.

While he was swearing and cursing the small area he was working in I headed out to the shops for some shopping. Later on we headed out to the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron for a few drinks on their deck. We had a nice time, returned to Morphie for dinner, just in time before the heavens opened.

Sunday morning it was very hot and still but this time with a beautiful blue sky. It did make us wonder what we were doing sitting here in the marina yet again. Richard kept himself busy this time refurbishing the old Raritan head unit with new seals etc so we have another working spare.

Later on the clouds started building during the afternoon and started to threaten but the storms circled us this time. The main focus of the whole day was keeping cool!

Monday morning we decided it was time to get off the boat. So we went for a walk on a blisteringly hot day (30 degrees plus) to Wynnum. We did stop along the way a few times to admire some pretty crabs.

As we walked the promenade we were very surprised by the strength of the wind away from the marina and the white caps out in the bay. Arriving at Wynnum we checked out the sea-fed lagoon and the pier.

Then we headed over to the Pelican’s Nest Cafe for a late lunch of fish and chips (naughty but nice).

Full up we strolled back to Manly village admiring the pretty trees and birds along the way.

Overall we did over 5kms which, for me, is quite a lot! We then had a couple of drinks in the Harbour Bar at the village tavern before we returned to Morphie for a quiet night on board.

Tuesday morning the wind was howling (clocking over 30 knots here in the marina) and the chop was enough to get the marina docks wet. There were storms all around with the occasional rain squall but no really close encounters with thunder and lightning. So a day for resting and relaxing down below, especially to recover from the long walk the day before.

Wednesday the wind continued to howl although there was no rain associated this time. So we were happy to be staying put for another day or so. We made the best use of the facilities so did some laundry and downloaded more Netflix stuff to be watched offline when we go back on the hook. And that was about it for the day.

This morning, Thursday, and we have just checked the weather again. It looks like we are going to have a nice few days to return to Peel (and actually spend some time on the beach perhaps) tomorrow and then the weather gets nasty again on Tuesday with strong thunderstorms and high winds forecast yet again. So a very short window or what!?! We were due to return to the Boatworks on Thursday anyway for my next physio appointment so we’ll probably see if we can return sooner than planned to avoid this nasty stuff heading our way, yet again. Weather is certainly very unpredictable here in Queensland at this time of year.

Anyway, hope you are all coping OK with the latest lockdown. Sending lots of virtual hugs and love to all our family and friends. Bye for now


Boat jobs and Koalas…

Wednesday (4 November) the wind continued to howl through the Boatworks. So we got busy giving Morphie some love….so washed and waxed the topsides and finished off the stainless steel cleaning. Pretty tired after that so we had a quiet night onboard.

Thursday we worked hard again, this time washing and waxing the hull (including by dinghy on the port side). Phew….but she is certainly looking lovely!

In the afternoon I took myself off to the shopping mall for some beauty salon pampering which was a real treat. We also checked out where Calagorm had been relocated to so we could send David and Hella a picture of her in storage. We then had a nice afternoon and evening sitting in the cockpit before being chased below by the wind chill.

Friday morning and it was another cloudy and windy day. But we remained focussed and this time it was the cockpit that got some washing and waxing love. Felt great to have got Morphie all clean and tidy again. This was followed up by another quiet night on board.

Saturday morning after a leisurely start we drove up the M1 towards Brisbane. First stop of the day was the Yatala Pie Shop. This famous place is pretty historic and has been absolutely rammed whenever we have driven past. So we decided it really was time to try it out. It was so busy with both in-house diners and drive-through cars that although we managed to get parked up we had to eat our goodies in the car. Never mind, it was pretty nice, and definitely a big treat for Richard who has been actively avoiding pies now for over six months! Guess one a year won’t hurt….

Then we continued north to the Daisy Hill nature reserve and park. We enjoyed checking out the beautiful area which, as is common with most public spaces in Australia, had cloakrooms and BBQ areas dotted around the vast acreage. We particularly loved seeing the kookaburra up close foraging for food, was not so keen on the ant nests or the over-sized spiders hanging between ferns.

After our walk we headed to the koala sanctuary and enjoyed watching these little critters sleeping safe and sound in their enclosures. These are all rescue animals and many of them are infertile due to complications with chlamydia (which is a common problem amongst the wild population) so will not be released back into the wild. But they have a gorgeous spot with huge windows looking out over a wild eucalyptus forest so I’m sure they are pretty happy with their lot! No cuddling this time sadly….

Leaving Daisy Hill behind we headed back down the motorway towards Oxenford and to Richard’s favourite shop, Bunnings. A weekend with a car would not be complete without at least one visit LOL.

Anyway, this time we were on a mission. We wanted some cheap beach chairs and a new insulated soft cooler for taking ashore to the beach with us. Mission accomplished we turned around to return to the Boatworks and popped into the Gold Coast City Marina for a drink at their over-the-water bar.

But there was no-one around, it remained cloudy and chilly, so we quickly moved on and returned to Morpheus for another quiet night on board.

Sunday morning we put our clothes into the washers and then headed back to the Galley. It was pretty busy – Sunday is always their busiest day of the week it would appear – and so we were pleased that we’d reserved a table.

We had a really nice breakfast before returning to the cruisers’ lounge so that we could multi-task with downloading more Netflix productions to watch off line once we leave the marina again. Plus I was on the search for more insurance products – this time it was house insurance under the spotlight…

All done we returned to Morpheus and Richard stayed behind to clean down below whilst I headed out to the shops for some last minute shopping. I returned to a lovely clean boat and, when everything was stowed away, we had a quiet evening down below.

Monday morning we were up early, returned the courtesy car to the office, and headed down the river away from the Boatworks again.

First stop was Tipplers and, by the time we arrived, the cloudy day had turned into a rainy one and I got pretty wet deploying the anchor from the bow. Luckily we got a good set pretty quickly and we spent the rest of the afternoon in the cockpit. It was pretty chilly so we had to dig out those fleeces again… Thankfully we had a very peaceful night on anchor.

This morning, Tuesday, and I’m blogging whilst Richard is relaxing and checking out the anchorage. What a difference a day makes eh?!? The plan is to stay here another night and providing the sun stays out and it warms up later we’ll be heading to the beach. Really looking forward to it…..

Tomorrow is the 11th November so we’ll be taking a few minutes to commemorate all those that gave their lives so that we can live ours in freedom.

As the wind is turning north tomorrow we will probably make the 25 mile or so run up to Peel Island for a few days. The weekend forecast, however, is for more thunderstorms so we’ll have to watch that closely and run for cover again if necessary. But that’s a decision for another day.

Blanket lockdown restrictions have been imposed at home in the UK again, so we really hope everyone is coping. We do worry about you all. Bye for now.


Our return to Coomera…and storms!

Tuesday (27 October) we were having a lazy day on board when, in the afternoon, the heavens opened and there was thunder and lightning all around us (again). And it rained, rained and then rained some more. But we were secure in our anchor spot at Tipplers whilst we watched this military plane circle around us numerous times. All very curious. Was a stormy sort of sky as the sun started to sink.

Wednesday morning the forecast continued to predict more storms. But it was lovely and bright out so we hoped they had got it wrong (which wouldn’t be the first time). During the morning the physio cancelled my Thursday afternoon appointment and offered one the following week. Well, this just drives me nuts as we are returning to the Boatworks specifically for this appointment. So I fixed a doctor’s appointment instead as I wanted to talk to him about the outcome from the hospital referral to see if this would inform our decision about our future plans.

In the afternoon having enjoyed a brief dolphin visit we spent a few hours at the cafe enjoying a couple of drinks and, of course, saying hello to the resident wallabies. But the skies darkened ominously so we returned swiftly to Morphie and got ourselves ready for more storms. They rolled in and around us again for most of the evening until about 9pm when we thought they were done so headed to bed.

Come midnight the anchor alarm went off and we realised we were rapidly heading backwards towards the beach which had become a lee shore in the storm that was raging around us. We dressed as quickly as possible, Richard started the engine, I turned on the instruments and whilst he was motoring away from the beach (with the lowest depth sound being 0.1 of a foot) I rushed forward and picked up the anchor whilst getting a good soaking from the torrential rain and the assault on my senses from the thunder and lightning. We manoeuvred out from the beach and dropped the hook again. We got a good set and put out loads of scope just to make sure. We sat in the cockpit (soaked through) and realised that we had just missed the jetski anchored off the beach and had certainly woken up the campers as they were out there with torches – they probably heard our engine really close to them. Phew, what a nightmare. We think the severe and sudden wind gust from the other direction had broken our anchor out of the mud which then didn’t get a chance to reset. That was really close!!! We got dried off and huddled up in warm clothes in the cockpit as we sat anchor watch the rest of the night.

Thursday morning we were up early and returned with the tide through the river system to the Boatworks in Coomera. We were quite relieved to be tied to a dock yet again. We got ourselves secure and settled and then took to our beds for a few hours to recover from the previous night’s ordeal. At 4pm I picked up the courtesy car and headed to see the GP. Well, it was an interesting chat. He said the hospital outpatient staff are “parrots” unable to deviate from the worst-case scenario script. He had never, in his experience, had anyone wait as long as they suggested I might have to. He thought there was a chance I could see a consultant early next year. He also expressed concerns that Richard should not be exposed to Covid by going home due to his current ‘vulnerable’ status. I still believe he is being a tad optimistic on the hip but another curve ball or what?!? On my return to Morpheus we both sat in the cockpit and discussed all our options whilst reviewing the information from home. We decided to wait until the latest announcement about lockdown in the UK before making our final decision.

Friday morning we spent a few hours in the laundry which took longer than expected as a couple of machines decided to misbehave. We downloaded some more Netflix programmes to watch off line and then I delved into the annual insurance renewals. By this time the imminent lockdown at home had been leaked to the press so this just confirmed our decision to stay put. No point going home if we are just going to end up locked down and unable to visit family and friends. Of course, this decision, makes a difference to the insurance policies as they are generated around our time abroad. So I emailed the insurers and awaited their response.

The boat insurance was done quickly and easily including full cyclone coverage (as the season here is defined as 1 December to 31 March) so that was good. Thank you Admiral. The travel insurance, however, was a different kettle of fish. They were excluding Richard for anything heart related, as expected, but I wanted some clarification on some other important elements. They confirmed this exclusion covered air / sea / land ambulatory services, repatriation, and even death benefit. So basically Richard would be uninsured unless he had another injury / illness which would be treated here in Australia free of charge anyway under the Medicare system. They also excluded me for arthritis generally (not just my hip which was expected) so that leaves me exposed too. Damn, that’s just not worth having, especially for the premium they want us to pay. So I started the hunt for an alternative provider and, in the meantime, joined the Southport VMR (Volunteer Marine Rescue) which, for an annual membership fee, provides free local sea rescue / towing services.

In the late afternoon we joined Hella and David on Calagorm for sundowners and we had a lovely social evening. You don’t realise how big their boat is until you see it up there on blocks!

Saturday morning the forecast was for more storms and high winds so we doubled up on our dock lines before heading out to Garage 25 for their Caffeine Gasoline monthly event. We sat on the deck and watched all the comings and goings and had some breakfast being joined by Hella and David. Was such fun to see all the cars (and bikes) plus to explore the private car museum again too. So for all you petrol heads out there enjoy the pictures!

We then went out shopping including to Richard’s favourite wet fish shop in Labrador. We also had to visit three butchers for me to be able to purchase some liver and gammon steaks. Neither of these are readily available here so it must be a British thing LOL. Anyway, as we were driving around the storm clouds were bubbling up and we received a text message on our phone which said:

Emergency. VERY DANGEROUS STORMS. Likely impact Woodbridge, Beenleigh, Southport, Coomera. Giant Hail. Destructive Winds. Seek Shelter.

What?!? Definitely time to head back. Richard drove us quickly up the motorway as the skies just got darker and darker and the rain started falling. By the time we got back to the Boatworks it was pouring down so we quickly unloaded our goodies and got back onboard Morpheus. Thankfully we made it just in time before the full force of the storm was felt. Whilst we were unpacking the rain picked up and started blowing horizontally across the cockpit and into the saloon. We saw gusts of 50 knots. Then the hailstones started – luckily they were only pea sized and not the giant ones forecast – but the noise as they hit the boat was horrendous. We were really worried we were going to sustain some damage. The water was boiling around us and it was just so intense. Have never ever experienced anything like that before and not sure I want to do it again! Just thankful that we were in the marina and not having to cope with this on anchor too.

Check out the damage to roofs, solar panels and cars from giant hail only a couple of miles away from us inland. OMG! When the worst had passed we did a quick inspection and were relieved that we had no damage. Phew! Dodged a bullet that’s for sure.

Sunday morning and it was bright and sunny so we had breakfast in the cockpit before we headed back out to the shops for the things that we didn’t get the day before when our trip had been curtailed. We then tidied and rested up before we entertained Hella and David on board Morpheus for the evening. Another fun night was had by all and we enjoyed watching the rising of the full moon (with no howling)…..

Monday morning and the wind was stronger than forecast at 30 knots although it was bright and sunny. The forecast was now pretty grim for the rest of the week so we extended our stay here in the Boatworks which means that we now have time to give Morphie some love. Richard cleaned out the engine compartment and then picked up the new in-water pump and waterproof switch from the chandlery to create and install a new anchor wash down system. I started cleaning the stainless. After a busy day we had a quiet night on board feeling quite shattered from the physical exertion in the heat of the day.

This morning, Tuesday, and I blogged while Richard relaxed. At noon we went and picked up a courtesy UTE and drove around to Calagorm on the hard. We then drove Hella and David to the train station for them to catch their flight to Sydney and onwards to the UK. Was sad to see them go as we had enjoyed their company and who knows how long it will be before the borders reopen and they can return to their boat.

Our family and friends are about to endure another lengthy lockdown at home, so please take care everybody and stay safe. Sending lots of love and virtual hugs to you all. Bye for now