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Old 06-07-2018, 06:45 PM   #1
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Great Barrier Reef cruise

I'm finally setting off this morning for a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. I had initially planned on leaving a month ago, but had some delays waiting on deliveries and then also needed to wait for a good weather window to cross the Wide Bay Bar. That's the one that the Hamilton's Dirona had a 60° roll as they were nearing it, admittedly in fairly poor conditions, before retreating back to Double Island Point and going the long way around the next day. I've crossed it before and inbound I like the last part of the flood tide with light winds. Late afternoon on Saturday should be perfect. So I'll leave from Bulwer before dawn to get there at the right time.

My schedule is to be back in Brisbane around November. I'll probably spend July in the Whitsunday area as my brother wants to join me for some fishing. After that I'll continue north, possibly as far as Lizard Island. That's about 1100nm north of Brisbane. But everything is flexible!
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Old 06-07-2018, 06:53 PM   #2
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Enjoy, and be safe!
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Old 06-07-2018, 06:54 PM   #3
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Nice I'm very jealous that makes my trip up Mullet Creek next week sound rather dull


Have a great trip and post a few photos please
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Old 06-07-2018, 07:01 PM   #4
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Must be an amazing place to see. My daughter did her Sr. year a few years ago at the Univ of Sydney and got to snorkel the reef. What is the latest regarding the condition of the reef, and the bleaching that is occurring due to the changing water chemistry?
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Old 06-07-2018, 09:18 PM   #5
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Have a great trip Brian!

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Old 06-07-2018, 10:59 PM   #6
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Thanks folks, I am bound to enjoy it!

I'll see if I can get some pics of interest. But no drone, or underwater-capable Go-Pro so don't hold out high hopes!

Fletcher, the bleaching event last year did make quite a mess. But it was overblown by the greenies. It killed the tourism sector though! A couple of years ago when I was in the northern half of the Reef there was a lot of areas that were stressed. Under stress the corals fluoresce, which makes the colours much brighter than usual and really spectacular. But the areas do recover. What doesn't die probably becomes stronger. However, continued warm/hot water bleaching events, at a greater frequency than historically, will have an significant impact in time.

Of most concern at present is controlling Crown of thorns Starfish infestations/outbreaks. https://www.aims.gov.au/docs/researc...eats/cots.html

One part of the reef of concern is at the southern end of the reef. The Swain Reefs area is huge, but a long way offshore and difficult to work in given logistical challenges.
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Old 06-07-2018, 11:05 PM   #7
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Have a great time and a safe trip.

We are booked to come out on the 25th July (why did we leave it so late?) for bottom job and flopper stoppers and will be heading up that ways shortly afterwards so might see you around.
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Old 06-08-2018, 12:23 AM   #8
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I will be interested in following this thread if you offer us updates. I am headed down to dive the reef and see some of the area in September.
I am currently looking for a small liveaboard charter to dive from. If any of you from the area have advice in that regard I would appreciate it.


That bar at Wide Bay looks quite treacherous.....
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Old 06-08-2018, 12:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klee wyck View Post


That bar at Wide Bay looks quite treacherous.....
Only if you go across when its bad.

I have been over dozens of times when its been like glass , one memorable occasion with dolphins and dugongs bobbing around beside us.

Patience, planning and respect is what is required.
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Old 06-08-2018, 01:39 AM   #10
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I give the Wide Bay Bar a lot of respect. As Simi says, be sensible and you will be fine. But it did not get a tough reputation for nothing, but always settles nicely if you wait. After crossing inbound you then head SSW with breakers on a sandbank to port and breakers on shore to starboard. The channel has plenty of water depth, but with water from the breakers coming at 90° to the tidal current it is a 'confused seas' situation and quite a bit of bobbing around. That section is known as 'the mad mile'.

I have just anchored 1nm south of Bulwer where I found some water shallow enough to anchor in. Trip down the river and across Moreton Bay was 31nm. I'm just to the north of where the main shipping channel heads NW, but there is still a channel running north of me and out into the ocean after a few miles, I'll likely hang with the current given the wind is below 10kn. I'll take that channel in the morning. Pic has a bus from Tangalooma running along the beach to Bulwer, which is just a collection of off-grid beach shacks.

Mr KW. I'll post as I go along. There are several large commercial charter fleets/operations in the Whitsunday region, based out of Airlie Beach. Some can start at Hamilton Island also. They do restrict the areas where you can go:eg you cannot go to the Outer Reef. You need to give radio updates in the morning and again when anchored in mid afternoon. Quite a range of boat sizes, and a lot of sailing cats which are ideal for the area. Its set-up for people with little boating knowledge to enjoy themselves and not get into any trouble, and it mostly works well. For experienced boaters, it can give you a taste of whats there but you might find the terms & conditions too restrictive.

So you might be best to try and source a private charter if you want to have maximum flexibility. How easy it would be to do that, I don't know, but the internet is a wonderful tool! Another option is to stay on one of the Islands. There are a lot of independant boat operators servicing the main resort islands with anything from large RIB's with large outboards, to fast cats taking 100 or so guests on day trips to the Outer Reef for snorkelling or diving. There is a large 'day barge/platform' at Hardy Reef that is an excellent trip (I think from Hamiton Is), and it has capacity for a small number of people to 'camp' (everything supplied) overnight. That maximises your opportunity to dive at slack tide, which is what you need to do. Tidal current flows across the reef can be several knots. I've had my props start turning while at anchor!

For pre-planning, one of the best resources is the book "100 Magic Miles". It is part of the standard inventory on charter boats, and covers a lot of what is good to know before you arrive, as well as detailed resource for when you are there. You can buy a pdf version for an iPad, but the hardcopy can likely be delivered reasonably quickly also.

https://100magicmiles.com/product/10...-12th-edition/
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Old 06-08-2018, 03:21 AM   #11
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Anchored at same shallow spot a few weeks back after we tried unsuccessfully to anchor without rolling our ring out at North pt yellowpatch area.

Brought back memories of me as a 16 year old catching the barge over and camping on the beach at the Bulwer wrecks and free diving at night off the ledge with a few mates to see what we could spear.
Used to do the same on the shoal/reef at North pt , buming a ride in a 4x4 or vw to get there.
The thought of doing that now fills me with terror.
Young and stupid , older and turned pussy or maybe older and wiser? Not sure, wish I had that boldness or stupidity of youth still...........sometimes
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Old 06-08-2018, 03:27 AM   #12
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I went to North Point a bit over a month ago. I thought I could avoid the SSW that was making the Bay unpleasant. But found the long NE swells rolling in to be worse, so retreated back to Tangalooma for the night. All kinds of stuff I did when I was young are best left to reminiscing, no need to go there again!
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Old 06-08-2018, 03:51 AM   #13
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We will watch out for you Brian, and Simi, heading to Cape Gloucester for the Shaggers Rendezvous starting 23 August, leaving mid July from Runaway Bay. Praying for calm seas at Wide Bay Bar, have done it 4 times, been lucky so far with weather there.
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Old 06-08-2018, 07:11 AM   #14
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Best wishes to both Brian and Simi for happy passages. Wish I were there too! Maybe next year...
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Old 06-08-2018, 10:27 AM   #15
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Thanks to Mr. Insequent for the very generous reply to my inquiry.
I will be following along and hoping you have an excellent cruise experience on what is a very interesting (to me) stretch of the sea. I am very much looking forward to seeing a small bit of it later this year.
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Old 06-09-2018, 02:22 AM   #16
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I departed Bulwer at 5am, and was through the East Channel and clear of the last of the Moreton Bay sandbars by daylight. The only problem was that the forecast was <10kn wind, and I had 20kn! About 40 nm later wind had increased to 25-30, gusting 33kn. Some waves up to 2.5m in deep water, so on a shallow bar they could really build-up. Hmm, no bar crossing if that continues. Plan B was to tuck in behind Double Island Point, about 8 nm south of the bar, and wait for better conditions. The long way around (across the top of Fraser Island) was another option, but a 125nm trip. A huge day for me.

By the time I arrived at the Point wind had abated to around 18kn, and the Volunteer Coastguard at Tin Can Bay said that it was expected to continue to weaken. The seas abated fairly quickly also. I crossed the bar with 15kn of wind and benign seas. Along with the 9 of the 10 sailboats who I discovered waiting in the bay north of Double Island Point! I did not see any of them on AIS or radar on the way up, so they would have been waiting a day to get suitable conditions to cross the bar. The sensible thing to do, but its a very uncomfortable anchorage. The swell wraps around the point and where water depths shallow significantly. You roll like crazy from the swell even though you are protected fro the wind. Still, that's preferable to a risky bar crossing.

Of interest was the change in the entry marks to the bar. The official ones are yet to be updated and published as a Notice to Mariners, but the Coastguard provided some unofficial ones with a map indicating the shoaling since I last crossed. They send notes and a map as an SMS to your phone. The easternmost sandbar has extended south, and the westernmost one has extended north. So the entry and exit points are very different now, and the heading between them has swung northwards by over 30°! You just have to check-in to get local knowledge! I am a member of the Brisbane Coastguard station, and have reciprocal rights to the other ones. But they all have to do fundraising to support their operations, and I intend to make a donation to the Tin Can Bay station. They are a big help to us!

So my day was 87.5 nm at an average speed of 8.2kn. A long day the way I like to cruise. So quite happy to relax at the north end of the Tin Can Bay estuary and watch the sunset with a glass of wine. Pic is just after I anchored, with a couple of the boats that also crossed the bar today, as well as the little car ferry that runs between Inskip Point and Fraser Island. Going to Fraser in a 4WD and camping is a very popular activity. It seems to be on the bucket list for visiting backpackers! The little barge runs almost non-stop during daylight hours.
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Old 06-09-2018, 03:21 AM   #17
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Well done Brian. Wide Bay bar can be a tricky customer. Are you anchored at “Gary’s” now? It is a nice spot, once through the bar.

I agree re a donation to the local VMR. Those guys are awesome, have always helped me. And I have also been told by others how much that bar has moved since the cyclone came through!!

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Old 06-09-2018, 03:25 AM   #18
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I'll move to Garry's anchorage in the morning. Not enough daylight left today, and no great rush. A couple of nights there, and then a few nights at Urangan as one of my daughters lives up there now. And I have a couple of deliveries to her place to collect!
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Old 06-09-2018, 03:34 AM   #19
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Ha!

Enjoy it, you will have a great time. Lovely time of the year to do it. I am back at the work grindstone unfortunately...

Mackay marina is a good spot I think, as you head north. Very tidy marina. Also (earlier) Yeppoon/ Rosslyn Bay, and the Keppell Islands offshore from there are awesome. And of course Hammo is great, the marina is all new I hear. If you have time, go south from Hammo and explore the now deserted Lindeman Is, it’s truly a great spot.

BTW I will have ‘Beluga’ in Sydney in December and January. The first month on the harbour, the second on the Hawkesbury. If you are coming down, pls let me know and we could go out for a day.

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Old 06-09-2018, 03:43 AM   #20
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Thanks for the offer - I have no idea what I'll be doing then, my planning horizon is both flexible and undefined!

Yes, I like both Rosslyn Bay and Mackay. Last time I by-passed the Keppels, so I should stop by this time. Hammo I might call on again. My brother will be with me by then and he might like to see it. It can be hard to get a marina berth - a very popular spot. Lindeman is a very good suggestion!
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