We departed Sydney at 11.15am with notorious Jetstar and arrived in Mooloolaba at 12.30pm and hopped into a taxi to our yacht.
Motoring out to the Pacific Ocean was uncomplicated and we found the ocean peacefully calm with no swell at all. The crystal clear waters glistened harmoniously with the afternoon sunshine which made it absolutely perfect for a pleasant sail to Moreton Island.
The sunset was truly magical a blazing fiery stretch of red clouds engulfing the entire sky forming patterns of spectacular colours similar to the outback. It’s always amazing how on a yacht one minute everything is beautiful and the next a nightmare.
The evening turned basically into a horrendous hour trying to navigate through the main channel of Moreton Bay with enormous cargo ships breathing down our necks and hubby trying to steer his way through the numerous beacons and navigation lights to stay on the GPS course to Moreton Island. This was no easy task especially with a million of lights flashing..
We arrived safely at Morteon island at 8pm just in time for EARTH HOUR – all lights turned off except for a few dimmed street lights. We managed to pick up an excellent mooring just off shore and settled down for the night.
Morning time is always exciting waking up on a yacht especially if one has anchored at night. Today, we have no real plans and have decided to go with the flow, so our morning consisted of taking a stroll along the beach to the Tangalooma wrecks which is renowned for its richly diverse marine environment with 15 scuttled wrecks.
The weather is gorgeous and the water temperature divine but we have decided to move onwards as we have explored MI thoroughly on a previous trip and we want to sail onwards to Peel Island and hopefully arrive before dark.
Along the way we spotted some sharks and a large turtle skimming the water, it’s absolutely a perfect sailing day with a gorgeous breeze and full sunshine.
We past St Helena Island which evidently has a disturbing and brutal history were a penal goal operated from 1867 to 1932 and incarcerated 3,800 prisoners. It was known as the "hell-hole of the South Pacific." (never heard of it before this trip!).
We arrived at the perfect time around 5pm and a few dolphins followed our course until they became bored and drifted back into the massive bay. We anchored safely and closely to the other three yachts in Horseshoe Bay which is supposed to be a safe haven for boaties. Night time is always fun watching the stars and listening to the sound of nature.
Woke up early to a stunning sunny morning in Horseshoe Bay and noticed we were the only yacht left moored in the bay. We would love to row over to Peel Island and do some exploring. As Peel Island was once used as a quarantine station until it became home to a leprosy colony, so there’s heaps of fascinating Australian history here to investigate.
Dugongs, turtles, and dolphins are also known to frequent the waters around the island and with the strong currents jellyfish and sharks are constant visitors , so I’m definitely not swimming in these waters today and no time for exploring as we are concerned about missing high tide.
Pulled the anchor up and set sail around 9am the water is totally calm and pristine with a hazy misty aura surrounding it; hopefully that’s not a bad omen. There are so many channels one can explore through this waterway it’s staggering but having a large yacht with a 1.7m draft, we have to be extremely vigilant not to get grounded in one of the channels along the way. We have opted to navigate the Main Channel past Macleay Island, Karragarra Island and Russell Island to Cabbage Tree Point rather than taking the Canipa Passage.
Macleay Island has another smaller island attached to it called Perulpa Island.The other island which looked fascinating was Lamb Island. It’s rather astounding how many islands are located in Moreton Bay totally suited to smaller speed boats or houseboats.
Navigating these waters with a GPS and boating safety charts is a huge task for hubby, it’s total concentration for him but secretly I think he absolutely loves the challenge.
After leaving Cabbage Point Tree Bay we head for South Stradbroke and hubby starts to relax as the worst of the hazardous and dodgy route is almost over, and with that knowledge I venture down stairs to make a cuppa and prepare lunch when “THUD” ..a few sh..t words plus others we find ourselves over a shoal .
To cut the story short, we tired at least ten different ways to enter the deepest part of the channel without any success. News had got around and the Coastal rescue patrol boat turned up with six burly men on tow and tried to assist us by saying “follow us” which we did only to become grounded once again. Anyway, moral of the story is to wait till high tide and have a few vino's.
Hilarious afterwards how a parade of yachts appeared suddenly , all of them prepared to follow, letting us do the hard work of navigating the nightmare shoals and sandbanks. We even slowed down into neutral but there were definitely no takers for overtaking !
Finally arrived at South Stradbroke and what a delight to discover Couran Cove resort whilst sailing past. Having absolutely no idea the resort existed we rang reservations and obtained a berth and room for the night and were extremely happy that we did.
We woke early and walked to the beach along the way we spotted a kangaroo in the swimming pool having a dip and many other roo’s whilst walking through the cabbage tree rainforest boardwalk.
This resort would certainly suit nature lovers with over 200 bird species and wonderful animals such as the golden swamp wallaby, echidna, and bandicoots to name a few. In addition, with the advantage of seeing dugongs, whales and dolphins off the 22km stretch of the Pacific Ocean surf beach.
There are mangroves, wetlands, woodlands and rainforests all tucked neatly into this beautiful natural island. The beach is absolutely gorgeous and I fall helplessly in love with Sth Strabroke Island.
If you love staying in a natural setting with an abundance of flora and fauna to explore with heaps of activities and a wonderful beach and waterways then you will love it here. To me, it was a “real Aussie” experience.
Set off at midday for our final leg of the journey to Southport Marina arriving safely around 2pm and basically headed to the yacht club for some tucker and a few drinks before checking into my favourite hotel The Sheraton Mirage for four days to celebrate our anniversary and my birthday. Plus we need to have the yacht in top order for it’s next journey from Southport to Sydney.(new crew).
We thoroughly enjoyed exploring this part of Australia and it was delightful adventure through some excellent waterways and we have now located another gem ! There’s unquestionably more to the Gold Coast than just theme parks…