Plenty of time.
Safely back on Nandji once again after a week away, it is time to explain how we nearly missed our flights…
Knowing this would be the last time in the Great Barrier Reef region, we were in no hurry to leave Lady Musgrave island. With flights booked, leaving from Brisbane, we had some ground to cover to make it there in time. We had just been scuba diving with a lovely family and after a few beers on the beach watching the sun set, it was going to be hard to leave the following day. The question then arose of when were leaving came up and then we were invited to go for a dive again the following day. Sometimes when the carrot is dangled in front of your nose, you just eat the bloody carrot. So of course we accepted their offer and decided to stay one more day.
Having a little sleep in as my head was a little sore from watching the sunset the previous night, I stumbled around Nandji steadily tidying and preparing her for the long journey ahead. With the kettle boiled, I sat up stairs in the cockpit looking out to sea contemplating if we had made the right decision to stay. The wind was up and blowing from the North East. A perfect day to be sailing south, down the coast. Patiently waiting for the weather report to be announced on the radio, I hoped this carrot we grabbed was not going to bite us in the bum.
We set to work all morning in the overcast conditions and made sure Nandji was ready to leave first thing the next day. The forecast was not what we wanted, with a strong 20 knot wind from the East predicted. An Easterly wind would be on the beam when sailing and usually created a rougher, choppier sea. But we had to accept our decision and were confident our schedule to get to Brisbane would be okay. Meeting up with our new family friends, we went exploring again and had one of the most memorable scuba dives. The underwater marine park was full of amazing vibrant corals and tropical reef fish. Resurfacing Bonita and I looked at each other and knew it was a good decision to stay the extra day.
Rising at first light, we made the final checks over Nandji and motored out of the lagoon. A gentle breeze was blowing and no where near as strong as predicted. We rounded the island and set full sail, ready to break speeds as we had a tight schedule to keep. The wind had a little bit of northerly direction in it still and we made good pace with it blowing over our rear quarter sailing on a broad reach. Next stop Bundaberg marina to collect some packages, one being our new auto pilot head unit which would hopefully give us an autopilot again. Also to fill up the tanks with much needed water. Arriving mid afternoon and safely moored in the marina, we managed to have a beer with some fellow yachties. Feeling confident about our schedule, we felt we could relax a little. The following days were looking great for sailing.
From Bundaberg we planned to spend the following day sailing to Hervey Bay, roughly 60 nautical miles. The next day would be spent motoring 12 hours through the sandy straights, the tides were lining up well to cross the shallow patch in the middle, then dropping anchor at the top of Tin Can Bay. The following morning we would cross Wide bay bar and sail overnight until we reached the entrance to Brisbane river. Roughly 120 nautical miles. Then having enough time to cruise up the river on the next incoming tide, moor up on the piles with our friends and catch our flight the next day being Friday. Simple. We had a schedule and we were confident we could stick to it. The winds were favourable for us and that was all that mattered. We had plenty of time up our sleeve to wait for tides if need be…
We left Bundaberg in the morning with a nice breeze pushing us along at a good speed. We set our course into the Easterly breeze and comfortably close-hauled sailed our way down the coast. Aiming a little under the fairway beacon, we would alter course later in the day as maybe the wind might shift around a little. After eating a massive lunch of pasta, we settled back into the cruisy sailing with the auto pilot operating splendidly once more.
With a full belly and comfortably sprawled out in the cockpits seats, a strange feeling overcome me. The wind was starting to pick up and the sky seemed to be changing. I asked Bonita what time our flights were on Friday and continued looking out to sea at the clouds on the horizon. After scrambling around downstairs for a bit, Bonita appeared in the doorway with a face that did not look like it was going to deliver good news.
“Our flights are on Thursday Yosh…”