When we first arrived into the town of 1770, it was a milestone reached for us. Crossing the bar entrance and anchoring in Round hill creek, we felt very satisfied in what we had accomplished. The winds were consistently blowing from the north, perfect for us to continue our trip south. But we had decided that we wanted to spend some time in 1770 and have the option of visiting the outer reef. We did not want to continue past this area with out checking out Fitzroy Reef and the coral cays to the south.
I introduced myself to the people building the new marina here and the very next day started work. So it looked like we were staying put for a little bit. Going to work each day in the tender and working on the water, it looked like 1770 was providing the goods. Each day Bonita would drop me off at the barge and pick me up again in the afternoon. The sun was shining and the wind consistently blowing from the north. Happy we were earning a few bucks, we were not phased and just assumed the weather would remain like this until Christmas…
Notice the key word there… assume…
I finished the project and we have been preparing Nandji to sail south. First wanting to visit Lady Musgrave island as a detour on our trip, but a place we really want to see before departing the area. A quick weather check and of course those northerly winds that we have been relying on to head south, have disappeared.
This is the first time we have had a time restriction on reaching our destination of Brisbane, as we have a plane to catch back home for a week or so to see family for Christmas and to attend our good friends wedding. Allowing us nearly 3 weeks to travel the 300nm journey, you would think we would have plenty of time.
Instead, the first week of the time restriction period, we have been belted with 20+ knot East to South East winds. Not the ideal direction for us to head south or out to Lady Musgrave island. Well, we possibly could have sailed south with the easterlies, but we are not willing to give up hope on our destination just yet. The strong winds have brewed up a choppy rolling sea. With the biggest swell we have seen in the area since we first arrived those weeks ago.
With determination, we have twice attempted the sail out to Lady Musgrave and twice, turned back. The first time attempt, we left Roundhill Creek, which faces directly north. Poked our nose around the headland and got slapped with the big choppy sea and strong wind. Under the leeside of the headland, we set some sails and poked our nose out again. The wind blowing strong from the south east and almost on the beam, we attempted to head out to sea. But the rough weather was too much and decided we did not want to spend the next 8 hours beating into a messy ocean. We like Nandji in one piece and did not want to put all that unnecessary strain on her. Around we went, back to the safety of Roundhill creek.
We waited a day and it appeared in the forecast that the winds were easing. Along came attempt number two. We attacked the situation with similar tactics as last time. Except this time around, we flew the headsail as soon as leaving the entrance and still tucked away on the leeside of the headland. As soon as our nose poked out, we were off. Charging through the messy water rushing around the headland. Once more we rounded the bar and hid behind the headland to set a reefed main sail. With both sails up, we pointed our course out to sea. As the headland begun to offer no more protection, the wind felt lighter than the first attempt. The ocean was slighty easing, but definitely still, a choppy sea to beat through. The wind had turned more to the east, making it difficult to head towards our destination of Lady Musgrave. Only moving at 3 knots. We adjusted course so the we were no longer so close hauled and allowed the wind to hit us more on the beam. We increased speed instantly and had a great course to head to Fitzroy Reef once more. After a quick debate, we wisely decided to turn back to Roundhill Creek once more and wait for a more favourable wind to head to Lady Musgrave.
Trapped once again for a another few days, the forecast looks to be easing in a day or so and our hopes are high once more on reaching our goal destination. For now, not wanting to waste time, we have been enjoying the surf that the weather has brought with it. Then in the evenings, having drinks with our fellow trapped yachtie neighbours. In the end, we are all waiting for the weather to ease and may as well make the most of our time together. In a way I guess, that is the fundamentals of sailing. Waiting for weather, drinking beer and telling tales.