After our first night of successful anchoring and fighting off mossies the tide was with us again and I was keen to get away. Only one thing stopped me - a full bowel. When you go cruising stuff like this can ruin your day. Now the planning for this inevitable moment had been intense yet the solution was still not great. South Moreton Bay has been declared a national park and a NIL Discharge area for untreated sewage of any kind. Boats are required to either fit holding tanks for later pump-out or fit onboard sewage treatment systems. Both are expensive and overkill for this small, mainly day-sailing, boat. Nemeau already had a proper head but even that could not be used in ‘legal’ waters (over 1nm offshore) as it did not have a macerator. So after much angst and research I had bought a porta-potti for emergencies and to demonstrate to Queensland marine inspectors that my boat complied and hence avoid the hefty fines. Plus I wholeheartedly support the cleaning up of our waterways. So it was either a four hundred metre row to shore against 20kn winds or the porta-potti.
After clearing my mind we weighed anchor and continued north heading for Dunwich and the One Mile anchorage. After just a few miles of channels we entered into the broader Moreton Bay or Quandamooka. Now I had put two reefs into the main and had set the small furling jib before leaving Southport since the forecast was for a week of 25-30 knot winds. As we passed the last of the beacons we were free to sail in open waters south of Peel island and west of Minjerriba. With Annabel at the helm this was our first shorthanded sail together in Nemeau and time for some much needed practice. As we all know you can approach sailing a boat either rationally or intuitively and it often takes a while to get the right balance of both. So Annabel’s reintroduction to the tiller in 20+ knots was an anxious, but necessary learning curve, for both of us. After a few close haircuts and yelling practice, during gybing practice, I decided to down the sails and motor the last part through the reefs and sandbars.
However this short sailing stint in strong winds with only two crew (ie. not the four or more recommended to hold her down) did show that with two reefs and small jib she was very nicely balanced. In fact increasing sail would have gained little in speed upwind or reaching. And with heeling and sheet loads reduced the boat seemed more manageable. In fact we kept this configuration all week as we had new crew onboard for each sail with high winds so it was a wise move to reduce sail and enjoy the experience without the panic that a big rig can bring. In my previous sail with a crew of four and the large headsail and just one reef in twenty knots the boat had felt overwhelmed with too much weather helm. Taking the time to run a second reefing line through the boom had been worthwhile.
We were now old hands at this anchoring game so I had the confidence when I didn’t like the first set to lift and try again. Bad anchor stories abound, most of them caused by a macho approach while everybody at the anchorage watches. They all come out on deck to view the sport of a newbie anchoring. But we excelled and held all night in 30+ knots at One Mile. Our only problem was we were about two hundred metres and downwind of the shore. Again, on an outgoing tide, rowing was out of the question. One oversight I made was to leave buying a small outboard until just before we left. Everyone was sold out! I had romantic visions of rowing everywhere. Ha!
So we hitched a lift with a couple on holiday who had been out in the tinnie setting crab pots on the banks. Talk about salt of the earth. They apologised for the stinking bait as they towed us to shore. And then began my re-aquaintance with Minjerriba or North Stradbroke Island otherwise known as Straddie. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Stradbroke_Island
A ten mile ferry ride from Brisbane it is true island life where the pace is slow and the food average (except for the Island Fruit Barn and cafe).
If sailors and cruisers are quirky the places they inhabit are even quirkier. Hence the Little Ships Club at One Mile. Possibly modelled on the Restaurant at the end of the Universe it houses characters of all descriptions who sit on expansive green lawns drinking beer and watching the ferries from the mainland deposit and siphon back onboard their loads of day-trippers. Meanwhile the local indigenous kids do triple somersaults with a half-pike off the wharf pilings and while they are probably good enough to win an Olympic medal their chances of getting anywhere near a real diving board are still, in this day and age, racially constrained.
Upon hearing that there was a free spot on the four berth pontoon at the club we booked it immediately and rowed back to our anchorage (with the wind). It was an awful night. So seeing it was still blowing we would have a lay day here on the pontoon. Our first ‘duo’ docking went reasonably well but the ‘debrief’ was sometimes heated This is what happens when you put a social worker and a management consultant on a boat together - fucking debriefs! They say sailing is 99% boredom interspersed with 1% of high adrenalin activity so we probably needed a drink more than a debrief.
Nemeau at Little Ships Club - note the background.
Here’s a better view. Shipwrecks can happen anytime…
So we relaxed and explored and planned the next day’s possible disasters or listened to other’s stories. The good ship Effarrvescence was not so lucky as coming over from Manly they got hit by a 35 knot gust which shredded their headsail. Angie and Ray and Sandy and Reg were a bit shredded themselves by the time they docked. So it was back to the bar for more sailing disaster stories…
As it turned out our New Years Eve sail across to Manly went as planned. We left Straddie early and broad-reached straight across Moreton Bay where our berth at Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron was waiting. The wind was strong but because we could just set our sails to the course it was a great and fun sail. This was worth the price of admission! Nemeau fairly tore across the bay. And the docking went perfectly. Maybe that debrief was worth it?
But I know you are all hanging on the edge of your seats waiting to know what happened to the Porta-Potti. Well what goes in has to come out. I did have the good sense to spend money on a practical design, a Thetford, that allows you to separate the water bits from the business bits to make emptying easier. But where to empty it? Most clubs and marinas don’t like you emptying there because it could get messy. There are official emptying points around but they are few and far between. So I made my plan. I would wait until the kiddies fireworks on NYE at 9pm. Under cover of shell noise and brightly coloured displays i would sneak into the marina toilets and dispose of the contents. There was even a tap there to rinse clean. All went to plan and by the time the kiddies were heading home in their pajamas i was safely back on board and the porta-potti was banished and locked in the head.
Reasons why I don’t live in Queensland #273:
The NSW maritime agency has a really educational and supportive website that lists all the discharge objectives and rules and how boaties can do the right thing with marine waste. They also list and map the many dump points, public toilets and other means for dealing with discharge waste that they are developing.
The QLD maritime agency instead follows a punitive model of steep fines, draconian laws and cryptic websites that require a legal team just to understand WTF they want you to do. They then spend nothing on providing the infrastructure required to obey the law.
To an international visitor Australia looks homogenous yet it is really eight fiefdoms who only cooperate when forced to by the Federal government. Choosing which one to live in can have a major influence on quality of life (in a relative western decadence way).