Having fun in the Keppels

Friday afternoon and evening (30 October) the wind was howling through the rigging and we were nodding up and down so decided this wasn’t the day to get the dinghy down and go exploring Great Keppel Island after all. So we had a movie night on board.

Saturday morning, after breakfast in the cockpit, Richard spotted a dinghy floating out to sea and realised that it had come off the boat behind us followed by a swimmer in the water who obviously thought they could retrieve it. Although the swimmer had fins on it he wasn’t making any headway into the chop and the other guy on board threw a lifesling out but it missed the mark. This was looking serious, so as fast as we could, we dropped dink and Richard sped off to assist. First stop was the guy in the water – who was so exhausted he need to recover before he could even climb into dink. Then, the guy safely aboard and him now resting in the bow of the dinghy, Richard sped off after the dinghy. Luckily he caught it as it continued to travel quite quickly out to sea. So secured behind, he towed the dinghy back towards their boat – picking up the lifesling on the way – and then depositing them back at their boat. The guy in the water had been in serious trouble and thanked Richard for saving his life! Phew, some worrying moments, but thankfully this international rescue ended well.

After all that excitement, Richard took a while to recover himself, before we headed over to the beach for the afternoon and had a lovely bobbing session in the clear and warm water keeping an eye on Morphie in the anchorage. Was a really nice way to end the day. Back on board we had showers followed by an early night.

Sunday morning we were up very early to weigh anchor and leave Great Keppel Island behind. We had been told by the Keppel Bay Marina that our berth was available at any time so we motored in light airs across a glassed-out sea for a couple of hours and pulled in around 9.30 am.

We slowly headed down the fairway towards our allocated slip to find that, despite assurances, the berth was already occupied so Richard had to do a very quick turn around which he managed really well. At this stage, we were both very relieved that the forecast strong winds hadn’t yet kicked in. We were then reallocated a berth – up by the fishing boats – and got ourselves tied up with some assistance from Andrew (SV Mischief) and Ron (marina staff). We then headed into the office and paid for our berth on a pay five, stay seven, night basis. We also booked our two hour courtesy car slot for Friday morning.

We quickly got some boat jobs done: washed down all the anchor chain with fresh water and renewed some of the chain markers; sluiced out the bilges; reinstalled the chain in the locker and then washed the boat down. Trying to connect to shore power we had some problems but a fisherman on another pedestal was having the same issue so clearly a general one rather than a Morphie specific one. Luckily we got it sorted out and, around 4pm, we headed over to the Capricornia Cruising Yacht Club (CCYC) where we met up with Mark and Marion (SV Zenna) and Andrew and Lynne (SV Mischief). The wind, by now, was howling and storm clouds were threatening with many waves splashing over the docks. Beyond the entrance to the marina we could see significant whitecaps so we were all pretty pleased to be sheltered inside. There was a live band playing which was incredibly loud so conversation was a challenge so we moved slightly further away to join a big table of cruisers and had a really fun evening with even a dance at the end! It turned out to be quite a late night too!

Monday morning we were up very early as we had arranged to meet Lynne and Andrew at 7.30 am for breakfast in The Waterline (the marina’s on-site restaurant). Andrew is currently working from his boat hence the really early start. After a lovely breakfast we headed back to Morphie still feeling pretty weary so just chilled out on our return.

In the afternoon Caitlin and Nick (SV Mahana) came by. Their autopilot course computer had died and they had raised the issue online as supplies of all sorts of goods (particularly from the USA) being shipped into Australia have been severely impacted by the pandemic. We had tried to get some spares from the USA ourselves in the few weeks to be told ‘no can do’ right now. So really felt for them especially as they were quoted the earliest date of arrival as January 2022 – that’s a long time to hand steer!!!! As we actually had a spare on board (kept when we upgraded our electronics in New Zealand) we offered it to them to see if it would be any good – it was compatible with their system so we agreed to part with it. They drove all the way from Bundaberg to pick it up (a four hour trip each way) and, having passed it over, we had a coffee with them before they headed back with their precious cargo. Obviously we were concerned that this might not be the answer to their problem but, have since heard, that it is working really well so very happy it worked out for them.

During the afternoon we had power problems again so turned the wind generator back on and relied on that and solar for the rest of the day. During the evening the wind really picked up and the lines on the dock were straining and we even heeled over at one point – very glad we weren’t out there on anchor! The winds were much stronger than forecast – in the mid 30s – so were pleased we had decided to come into the marina to sit it out.

Tuesday morning we had a late start and got ourselves ready to go out as we were going to Emu Park for the Melbourne Cup. Walking to the bus stop through The Waterline restaurant we were really surprised by how busy it was with lots of fancy outfits and hats – even though there isn’t even a screen here to watch the race – clearly it is an ‘event’ in everyone’s calendar LOL.

Anyway, we met up with Mark and Marion and after a short bus journey headed into The Pine Beach Hotel, known as The Piney. This tavern has the normal Australian set up of pokies / betting booths / TV screens etc. We were very lucky to get a table and had some pub grub for lunch before placing our bets for the race.

We failed to win anything but thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere…. Marion did manage to pick up a third place so she was happy LOL. We then headed back on the bus to the marina and had a pontoonie in The Waterline before saying our farewells. At this point Richard decided it was too early to return to the boat so we ended up going over to the CCYC for yet another pontoonie! Was such a fun day.

Wednesday we got up late and headed out to The Waterline for coffee before walking down the quay to the fish market. We managed to pick up some nice fresh fish for Richard and, for the first time in Australia, I managed to find some smoked mackerel so intend to make some pate with that at some stage…. And that was it for the day.

Thursday I headed out on the bus alone to Yeppoon. First stop was the pharmacy to drop off our prescriptions so that I could collect them later. Then I walked along the promenade – enjoyed watching the kids playing in the Kraken water park – before crossing over to find the hairdressers which was tucked away up an alley and above a fish and chip shop. I was quickly looked after and was very happy with the result of the cut and colour. I then walked back to the pharmacy, collect our medications, popped into the bakers and made my way back to the bus stop to return to the marina.

While I had been in town Richard and been cleaning and, on my return, we sat down and looked at the weather forecast so that we could plan our future anchorages. Well, this was not good news. There are a couple of lows moving around so bringing with them unsettled weather – with lots of rain, strong winds and the chance of thunderstorms.

Hmmmm…..what to do?!? Well, we wanted to get our anchor chain re-galvanised and we know that Bundaberg is the place to do that – which is just an overnight sail from here. So thought that maybe, if we need to sit out more weather, perhaps we should do it there because at least we can tick this job off the list….

In the evening we headed out to Beaches for dinner – this is highly recommended with great reviews so thought it would be really nice. Well, the service was lovely, and the company was great. The food was alright although not outstanding and quite expensive. Never mind, a fun evening had by all.

Friday morning we headed out in the courtesy car into Yeppoon and did some provisioning before returning to Morphie and packing it all away.

Then we started on our long list of things to organise and managed to get booked into Bundaberg for the week from next Tuesday. We also spoke to the company that does the re-galvanisation and they can accommodate us. So that was good news. On a roll, we booked into Sanctuary Cove for Christmas and New Year – having thoroughly enjoyed it last year – and booked a hire car to visit Jamie and his family in New South Wales in January. Fingers crossed! Obviously the border might not open but a ‘covid restrictions’ cancellation comes with no penalty and the deposit is carried forward to our next booking – so no risk. Apparently there is a lack of hire cars in Australia right now and the prices are spiralling, particularly in school holiday periods, so we felt very happy to have got this ticked off the list. We also did some other admin type things as this is the time of year that our annual insurances become due – house, car and yacht – so working our way through renewals of all these policies too. Phew!

In the evening we headed over to the CCYC and met the gang again – Friday night is dinner night there and the volunteers cook for the club. We had a table of nine and, without the live music, being seated on a round table we got the chance to chat. Was another really good evening.

This morning, Saturday, and we’ve stripped everything and done the laundry. We have had lunch out at The Waterline and are now back on board. Engine checks etc to be done later and we’ll have a quiet night in tonight in preparation for our departure tomorrow.

Tomorrow we’ll head over to Great Keppel Island for the night and on Monday we’ll depart for Bundy, expecting to be pulling into the marina around noon on Tuesday (which is slack high tide). The wind could be quite strong but it will mostly be a downwind run so should be fun! Let’s just hope the forecast is correct this time….

So that’s about it for now folks. Nothing much else to say other than we really look forward to having reunions with you all at home in 2022. Take care of each other and stay safe – this pandemic continues to be a serious threat to everyone – so please be careful. Lots of love as always. So today’s cutie is a really beautiful Fairy Wren which can be found throughout Eastern Australia.

Bye for now Jan