We plan to take our little Seawind 1000 catamaran ‘Seabbatical’ from Sydney Harbour, to Lady Musgrave Island. As I still have the demands of running a business and kids at school, this will be a mini seabbatical and so finding time is important but demanding.
We will wait for the South Easterly trades to kick in which usually start around Easter time in Sydney. So in May we will send the boat north to Brisbane which is also as the cyclones start to slow down. Trade winds blow from the South East from around May through to October each year. These trades strengthen the further north you go while in NSW they are often aligned with low pressure fronts moving through from the south. These low pressure systems move further north during winter and further south during summer. During summer we are more affected by North Easterly Land Sea breezes, while in winter the cooler conditions mean the SE winds usually overcome them. So the theme here is to be sailing with the wind and not against it…or as the saying goes, ‘Gentlemen don’t sail to windward’.
I will use a skipper to move the boat to QLD. Though NSW has many beautiful ports to offer, this is largely an unprotected section of water and doesn’t have much to offer as far as island exploring goes so its not the best use of my time. It will probably take about 4 days to sail north to Brisbane and we will have the boat hauled out and antifouled there at the new catamaran lifter at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron where our office is located. This brand new lifting machine now allows cats in Moreton Bay to be lifted and stored on a hardstand area.
I plan to fly in and join the boat with my crew in Brisbane. My dad will be joining me…given he introduced me to boats, I really look forward to an adventure with my dad at sea now he is in his 70s. From Brisbane we plan to ideally jump on a South Easterly and sail to Double Island Point – about 92 nautical miles at the south of Rainbow Beach – this should be about 15 hours averaging 6 knots in favourable conditions.
If conditions turn ugly from the north, we will cross the wide bay bar and motor sail up inside Fraser Island and then sail out into open ocean towards Lady Musgrave. However if we have a south easterly we will sail directly from Double Island Point to Lady Musgrave which is about 130 nautical miles as the crow flies but from Hervey Bay it is only about 90NM. So it will be a 15 hour sail and we want to arrive in the morning so we are not trying to enter the lagoon at dusk or during the evening. We also need to time our entry into the lagoon with a flooding tide as the current can get very strong through the very narrow mouth which is only a couple of boats wide.
We plan to spend two full days and three nights at Lady Musgrave to get some diving, kite surfing and fishing in…it’s also possible that the anchorage is no good and we have to keep sailing. Either way our exit plan will be to sail north to Yeppoon and keep the boat at Great Keppel Island where our family own a holiday rental house, ‘Great Keppel Island Beach House’. Another 120NM journey taking approximately 20 hours. So we would plan to sail overnight again. I may even continue to the Whitsundays where some of the charter companies would look after the boat and rent it out over winter to keep it busy and book up two peak seasons.
Nothing about our plan is lock tight as the weather will impact everything. You need to have the flexibility to go with the weather and not lock yourself into deadlines as that pressure will push you into uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situations. But it is key to have a rough plan and know the miles, anchorages along the way and aim for the best weather conditions possible.
Follow the journey at www.multihullcentral.com/seabbatical