PHYB Bunker Group Trip 2019
This year we had three boats heading north on our annual Bunker Group trip. Danny, Jodie and Jayden on the Coral Sea, Col, Sonja and Nick on the Nantucket and Robyn and myself on Home Waters II. Danny and Jodie came with us last year and so were the seasoned veterans. Col and Sonja have had their boat for a year but had never slept on board outside a marina and only ventured inside Moreton Bay.
With a lot of anticipation and a modicum of trepidation we headed out of Raby Bay across towards Moreton on our way to Mooloolaba. While the seas were a little sloppy we all managed to run through the North East Channel and straight on to Mooloolaba without any issues. Getting into Mooloolaba was a bit more interesting with a small sailing training boat greeting us at the entrance along with some nice gently breaking waves! Having booked into the marina we thought that it would be straight forward but due to a boat not checking out “engine issues cough cough” (Thanks Michael L – another Raby Bay local) we had to quickly find Danny another berth.
Dinner that night was the first chance for everyone to get together and we enjoyed a great seafood meal at Fish on Parkyn. Up early the next day we took off north for Wide Bay Bar again in some sloppy seas. Once we were over the bar (Congratulations Col and Sonja for another boating first!) we took a quick break to grab a drink and a bite to eat before we glided up the inside of the Great Sandy Straits on our way to Bundaberg. After a long day everyone enjoyed a relaxing afternoon followed by dinner at the Baltimore Café in Bundaberg Port Marina. The food is quite good at the café though the owner did have an interesting attitude towards customers!
As with any trip there are always challenges and for this trip that seemed to revolve around everyone’s favourite (NOT) problem area….. marine toilets and holding tanks. Despite having checked everything thoroughly before we left Danny managed to break his holding tank macerator pump. So it was down in the bilge and after the usual encouraging words the pump was removed and then disassembled. How a piece of solid blue plastic managed to find its way into the tank will remain one of the great mysteries. With a little work and some more encouraging words we were able to repair the pump and get on our way, next stop Lady Musgrave.
For those that haven’t been to Lady Musgrave before it is a true coral cay with the island at one end and surrounded by a reef to form a natural harbour. The entrance is on the NW side and the lagoon is about 6 to 8m deep and dotted with coral bombies, a couple of which are close to the surface so use caution moving around. We moored down the southern end of the lagoon near the island and once the tenders were in the water we all settled in to island life! First night drinks were on the Coral Sea and we watched the sun go down over the island, the end of a perfect day on the reef.
The next day was another picturesque one and we decided to all raft up together (another first for Col and Sonja!). This certainly made getting together easier and it was about this time that Nick adopted Jayden as his brother and moved house to the Coral Sea. Col was familiarizing himself with his boat and in particular the workings of a marine VacuFlush toilet. After discovering that one member of the crew (hmmm wasn’t Col and Nick had already jumped ship) had been very enthusiastic with the use of toilet paper he was trying to figure out exactly how he was going to free it up.
Lacking any fencing wire he spent many hours removing the plug piece by piece with a bent coat hanger until it at last got sucked down the pipe almost taking the coat hanger and his arm with it. Lady Musgrave lived up to its reputation as a turtle habitat with the waters abounding in very amorous greenback turtles. Danny loves the water as long as he is on a boat, so after a plastic bag of mince accidently ended up in the water he had to get it out so as not to endanger any of the turtles. With landing net in hand and Col hanging onto his other arm Danny reached out to scoop up the offending bag.
Unfortunately for them but hilariously for us, Col decided to use the tender that was sitting on the cradle as he anchor point. He just forgot to check if it was tied on or not and it wasn’t! One big splash later they both ended up in the water while we did the only responsible thing, we took photos and laughed! Danny apparently is a little nervous about sharks so he broke all world records for getting back on the tender which was now floating beside them, while Col was imitating a limpet on the other side. The rest of our day were filled with snorkelling, walking on the island, eating, rehydrating and generally a whole lot of relaxing.
Robyn and I did manage to get in a bit of fishing outside the reef and caught enough fish to feed everyone some beautiful red throat emperor for dinner.
After four nights at Lady Musgrave we moved to the decidedly less congested Fitzroy Reef. Fitzroy Reef is just that, a reef, with no island even though the reef is exposed from about half tide. We found a nice area all to ourselves and after rafting up got back to the very busy schedule of doing a whole lot of relaxing.
Another little spot of fishing saw us yet again feasting on fresh red throat on the back deck of the Coral Sea. Even though it isn’t a great practise we did a spot of fishing in Fitzroy with the two boys having some with a few little reef sharks who took a liking to the fresh red throat frames.
We were very lucky to have another three days of great weather at Fitzroy and with the forecast saying that the southerly was due in we pushed off to spend a few days in Pancake Creek.
Pancake is one of the best anchorages in a southerly with complete protection from wind and waves. So it was a great place for us to spend a few days waiting for the weather to improve so we could head down the coast to home.
If you haven’t been there you are probably imaging Pancake Creek as a dirty brown little creek but in reality it is far from that. It has beautiful sandy beaches and sits in the shelter of Bustard Head and with its deep water channel it is a very safe anchorage.
Bustard Head lighthouse was the first lighthouse in Qld as Cape Moreton lighthouse was built when Qld was still part of NSW.
We took the opportunity to walk the couple of kilometres from the beach up the track to the lighthouse and yet again we were reminded that it was spring time when our journey was temporarily halted by four amorous goannas blocking our path! Needless to say the two boys received some further birds and the bees education that was quite unplanned!
Once we managed to detour around the goannas Col, Sonja and the boys took the guided tour of the lighthouse and the original lighthouse keepers houses.
They hold some amazing relics including a piece off the Endeavour (Captains Cook ship) that visited nearby Round Hill creek in 1770 as well as historic photos of the lighthouse and the families that manned it over the years. The boys also found out the joys of exploring the waters of Pancake Creek and the huge sandbanks that appear with the falling tide. It was also here that Col made his second unsuccessful attempt at walking on water when he misjudged the distance between his boat and the Coral Sea and performed the most elegant and slow motion drop into the water while saying ever so casually “oh $#&%”.
With the weather improving we left Pancake early on the Friday morning and made a bee line for Bundaberg to top up the fuel tanks and take a break. After a couple of hour rest we head south and made great time and dropped anchor just upstream of Inskip Point on the inside of the Wide Bay Bar where we spent our last night afloat.
We all enjoyed a great dinner together and relaxed after a big day on the water. Next morning we were up early and over the bar just as the tide started to run in, five and a bit hours later we were safely back home at Raby Bay already planning the trip for next year.
Thinking of joining us next year, check out the 2019 trip Video below.
Bunker Group 2019