Tweet Manookatoo Adventures: Onwards to the Sunshine State!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Onwards to the Sunshine State!

First light - leaving Iluka
We were up at first light on Saturday morning, as we were unsure of whether we would go all the way to the Gold Coast seaway or drop anchor halfway, behind Cape Byron. The promising conditions had many people on the move, and we joined the procession out over the Yamba bar and into the ocean. The wind was almost non existent and the ocean swell was a slow roll, making cruising ideal. As the sun came up we headed north, passing Evans Head and Ballina, where minor flooding in the river had created a muddy plume way out to sea. We saw many whales along the way, breaching and tail slapping, keeping their distance from us - and us from  them! Just before 2:00 we rounded Cape Byron and, with the sea conditions so mild, we decided to drop anchor just off the beach for the night. Several other boats did the same, and Grant from Sea Wolf came over in his dinghy and offered us a lift ashore, where we enjoyed an afternoon cuppa before returning to Manookatoo for dinner and an early night.
Byron Bay
The sea swell dropped further overnight, with the gentle rocking motion ensuring we slept well. The captain was up early again on Sunday, and just after 6am he pulled up the anchor and we headed off. It was a beautiful day for sitting on the flybridge enjoying the view as we passed the beaches of the far north NSW coast and the mountain range behind, with Mt Warning rising in the distance.
Time for a new cruising guide!
As we passed the Tweed River and moved into Queensland waters, we put away our "Cruising the NSW coast" book and opened "Cruising the Coral coast", eager to read what Alan Lucas had in store for us. Passing the Gold Coast beaches we could see many people enjoying the water on such a beautiful winter day.
We entered the Gold Coast Seaway, finding it just as Alan had described: "expect frenetic, thrill seeking activity" - with jet skis, kayaks, small fishing boats (including two anchored in the middle!), yachts, large power boats - it was crazy! Sea Wolf had entered just before us and finding the nearby moorings overcrowded, Grant suggested an alternative - Paradise Point. We followed him along past South Stradbroke island and the mansions of  the Sovereign Islands, dropping anchor on the quiet side of the waterway.
The waterways of the northern Gold Coast promise us lots of different new experiences without venturing back into the ocean and we intend spending at least a couple of weeks here. As the mayor of the Gold Coast says, "with 270+ kms of navigable waterways and a climate that boasts 300+ days a year of sunshine, Gold Coast provides a heaven on earth for boat lovers"!!
So far we have tried five different spots and each experience has been unique:
Go, Kirsty!
Paradise Point is a peaceful anchorage with upmarket canal estates on the eastern side, nice suburban streets on the west and a lovely village of shops with lots of cafes. It also offers four different bus routes to the Southport transport hub.
Catching up with Jenny and Simon
Bayview Harbour Marina is where our friends Jenny and Simon live so it was lovely to catch up with them. It is also on the running track for the Gold Coast half marathon, and we made the most of cheering Kirsty as she ran both ways, then following on our bikes to Southport!

The Gold Coast City Marina, on the Coomera River, was where Manookatoo had come from and the captain was keen to show the people at Clipper how well she was traveling. We both enjoyed admiring some newer bigger Clippers but, as always, we were very happy to return to our own boat! The facilities at both the Marina and Boatworks nearby are very impressive, to say nothing of the Riviera factory between the two; it is a hive of activity with boats being delivered, repaired, taken out or returned to the water. Not far away is Sanctuary Cove - the money in this area is so staggering, with huge houses, boats and cars and the shops, restaurants and facilities to support the wealthy residents and visitors.
Not for the faint-hearted
The north arm of the Coomera is a winding, shoaling river - definitely not for the faint hearted! After just making it over areas with depths of zero, we were very happy to rejoin the main channel!
South Stradbroke Island

Couran Cove resort, on South Stradbroke Island, is a hidden "gem" in this region. It offers everything a holiday maker could ask for - with resort pools, caf├ęs and bars, sporting facilities and bikes for hire, walking trails to the ocean on one side and the river on the other - and a special deal for boaties: what you pay in marina fees you get in resort credit, encouraging us to have a drink and lunch at the restaurant overlooking the marina - lovely!
Couran Cove, South Stradbroke Island
"Bum's Bay", a little inlet next to the spit north of Seaworld, is a very popular anchorage for boats of all kinds - for sailors making the passage north or south it is just inside the Gold Coast seaway so very easy to stop for the night, for houseboats there are shallow corners close to shore, and for all the other boaties looking for a nice spot close to Surfers Paradise or the surf beaches it offers all they want, with the opportunity to use tenders to get closer to the "hot spots" without getting caught up in it. We found a spot on a Friday night that hadn't been there the previous Sunday; the captain counted over 50 boats there that night - and I reckon he missed a few!
"Bum's Bay" on a quiet afternoon
We have family in the vicinity during the coming fortnight, so we look forward to showing them some of what we have found and finding new places as well...
Captain's log
Yamba bar to Gold Coast seaway
Distance travelled: 100.01 nautical miles
Duration: 14 hours, 50 minutes
Fuel consumption: 117 litres
Trip summary
Sydney to Gold Coast
Distance: 425.1 nautical miles
Hours: 61.35
Fuel: 599.4 litres

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