After settling into life aboard, it was time to test Noah’s Ark on the water – as a family (Marco had already sailed her from Newcastle to Mooloolaba). As it turned out, our first sail was quite a social affair, as we ended up having 10 people on board!
Paul’s family were in the area and were very keen to join us, which was wonderful. It also meant that I wasn’t under too much pressure to crew, as there were at least 2 very energetic and athletic guys on board who were more than happy to follow the skipper’s orders. It gave me a chance to observe things without being responsible to get things right! The weather was beautiful, with moderate wind and a warm afternoon, and we set off at around 2pm. It’s a gentle cruise from the marina down the Mooloola river to the mouth, and very picturesque, with fishing boats tied up, pelicans paddling along the banks, and lots of people jogging and walking along the pathways on each side.
The mouth itself is fairly narrow, and depth used to be a concern as there is quite a bit of shoaling on one side. However, dredging works are underway, and as long as you can dodge the big dredging barges, it’s fairly safe to go through at most tides (especially on a catamaran).
Once through the mouth and out into the open ocean, it was time to get the sails up. Marco turned into wind and we raised the mainsail and unfurled the jib (smaller of the 2 foresails). Finally we were sailing! There was a bit of swell running, but the boat cut easily through the water. It felt so much more gentle than sailing on Waveguide, our little 23ft Buccaneer monohull that we had in Cape Town! No heeling over and no getting wet!
I felt so relaxed that I thought I’d play hostess and offer everyone tea. That’s when I realised that focusing on objects inside for extended periods of time (rather than the horizon) wasn’t a good idea. I felt queasy – and knew that if I kept at it things could go from bad to worse in no time. I delegated the tea-making and sat in the fresh breeze, which definitely helped.
The whole trip was really enjoyable. We saw whales in the distance, and passed a huge cruiseliner which was anchored nearby. We also passed a number of people surf-skiing / kayaking. It seems to be a big sport here, and they paddle really far out into the ocean! The boys’ favourite spot was right in the front – one on each bow. They loved going over big swells, kind of like a rollercoaster ride, and I could see them bending their legs and trying to make the boat lift higher over each swell!
We arrived back just as the sun was setting – and ended the day off with fish and chips at the docks down the road. We couldn’t have asked for a better “maiden voyage”.