Iluka/Yamba to Queensland (Hope Harbour)

This post is about our passage from Iluka/Yamba to Queensland, specifically Hope Island. Hope Island was named after a colonial aristocrat, Captain Louis Hope, who was granted land at the mouth of the Coomera River. This was to recognise his contributions to the sugar industry. As well as marina services, Hope Island has numerous golf courses – just a shame that we don’t play golf!

In preparation for leaving, we’d been checking the tides and weather forecast regularly to identify the best day for our cruise to Queensland. I could hardly believe we were actually going to enter Queensland after nearly 6 months since we left Brooklyn. This was due to border closures/COVID impacts. Also, our timing was great because we no longer had to apply for a permit or go through the hassle of proving we hadn’t been living in a ‘COVID hotspot’ for at least two weeks. 

One of the resources we use is Seabreeze. These two images show Ballina (just north of Yamba) and Gold Coast wind and wave forecast, so you can see why we were planning to leave on Thursday 10 December when conditions seemed good for the day and also for Friday.  

Wednesday 9 December 2020

During the afternoon on Wednesday when the tide was higher, we left Yamba Marina and motored to Iluka Bay. I might add, I still find going through those rock walls a little scary, even though there’s plenty of room! Initially we planned to anchor at Moriarty’s Beach, but there were a lot of yachts sailing close by and a fair bit of wind, so we opted for Iluka Bay. We’d been here before, it wasn’t busy and we could still just get up in the morning, raise the anchor, and get away early (around 5am) on the high tide. I might add here, the holding at Iluka Bay is excellent, being mud, but it also means you might get a lot of mud on your anchor, chain and deck!

In the image below, the dashed line shows you the route the ferry takes. We followed a similar route to leave Yamba and go through the middle wall, but we entered Iluka bay through the wall just below my green dot.

Thursday 10 December 2020

Maybe it was the excitement, but we didn’t need our alarm(s) set for 4:15am, oh no, we were both awake about 2am. After a period of tossing and turning, we made a cuppa, had a light breakfast, and watched an episode of Parks and Recreation! Then we got organised with our coffee, vegemite sandwiches, biscuits, water, life jackets, hats, sunscreen (and so on) and waited for it to become light enough to leave. Then we put the boys (Radar and Vinnie) into a cabin with litter, water, biscuits and bedding, and headed out. This time Robert motored us across the bar (since I brought us in) and I was able to take a few photos. While it wasn’t rough, the rocking we started to feel had the effect of making us both feel seasick again. Robert felt a little worse because he goes into the engine room every hour to do his checks. 

Unlike previous trips where I plotted the route on a chart and then manually entered waypoints into the Garmin, this time was a little different. It was probably as a result of my new knowledge of Navionics. I decided to do my manual route, but to also import the automatic route Navionics calculated and compare it with mine. I’d started using Navionics more after we touched bottom when cruising the Clarence River. You might want to read about that in my blog River Ramblings.

The image shows our route from Yamba to the Spit, Gold Coast. The blue flags show the waypoints Navionics created. We anchored at Wave Break island, just north of Southport. I think the main difference was that my route took us further offshore. For example, approaching Point Danger there are a number of reefs. My plotted route took us a few nautical miles offshore whereas the Navionics route had us going between Fingal Head and Cook Island. I consulted our copy of ‘Cruising the New South Wales Coast’ by Alan Lucas, who I cheekily asked to sign when I met him at Yamba Marina, and his commentary (see below) confirmed my decision to go out wide. So I edited the Navionics route in this area. On a side note,  I found an interesting article about Alan and his wife Patricia. You can read a little about their achievements in this article announcing the Inaugural winner of Australian Sailing Cruiser of the year award

Given that we were facing a 12-hour transit, the longest we’d done to date, and without an automatic pilot, we decided on shifts at the wheel of about an hour on and an hour off. During my first hour off, I went down to our cabin and had a short nap, and later, curled up on the pilot house cushions to have a few ‘microsleeps’. But as time passed, we celebrated being a quarter of the way there, a third of the way, half way, and so on. 

Sunrise at Yamba/Iluka

We were treated to a fantastic sunrise. These photos look good, but certainly don’t do it justice.

Photos taken near Tweed Heads and Coolangatta

For people unfamiliar with Tweed Heads and Coolangatta:

  • Tweed Heads is located in north-eastern New South Wales on the Tweed River. It’s next to the border with Queensland and adjacent to its ‘twin town’ of Coolangatta.
  • Coolangatta is the Gold Coast’s southernmost suburb and it borders New South Wales. 

I kept my eye on my phone around Tweed Heads/Coolangatta and was very excited to see the time change back an hour, as Queensland don’t observe daylight saving time. This meant we were officially in Queensland!

We arrived at Wave Break Island, my first choice of anchorage, a little over 12 hours after we left Iluka. 

Fortunately there was plenty of room , so we quickly settled in for the evening with a champagne/beer and curry that I’d prepared ahead of time and simply had to reheat. 

For interest, my other anchorage choices were Lands End, about half a nautical mile north-west of where we were, and Currigee Camp, about 1.5 nautical miles north-east of where we were.

Friday 11 December 2020

With bad weather forecast for over the weekend and our still unfixed generator issues, we decided to make an early start for Hope Harbour Marina. We set off about 5:30am before there were too many boats around, and to take advantage of the high tide. We only had just over 6 nautical miles to travel, but in most areas we were restricted to travelling under 6 knots. Mind you, we didn’t want to go faster into some shallow(ish) areas that we were unfamiliar with. Below are photos of our trip to Hope Harbour Marina.

After about 1.5 hours, we arrived at Hope Harbour Marina, squeezed into berth J20, as directed, secured our lines, had a cuppa and congratulated ourselves on a job well done! Then we went to the marina office to pay and pick up the keys, only to be asked to move to berth K20. Arghhh…so we went back and moved before the wind picked up. It was actually an easier berth than J20 because there was no boat beside us and nothing in front, so we had much more room to manoeuvre. 

So here we are for a while. 

The naughty cats have been jumping off the boat. But in 10 days, they’re going to a cattery and we’re flying to Townsville for Christmas to see our son and his girlfriend. 

9 Responses

  1. Hi Pam and Robert
    Your photos look great. Love the sunrise photos over the water. Looks like lots of fun. Have a safe and happy Christmas.
    Cheers
    Grant and Donna

  2. Dear Pam & Robert. Well done. It has been an amazing journey & your photos special. We hope that you have a wonderful Christmas & a Happy belated 21st celebration for Regan. Merry Christmas & happy new year. We look forward to the next part of your trip. Take care & have fun. Cheers Gerry & Sonja

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