We’ve just come back from a wonderful weekend in Noosa. It was also our first couple nights at anchor (rather than moored in a marina), and first sail where we didn’t return immediately to port, so lots of learning experiences.
Noosa is about 20 nm (nautical miles – i.e. about 36km) from Mooloolaba. At a speed of 5 knots, it takes about 4 hours to get there. We left on a day with rather light “funky” winds that kept changing direction, and ended up motoring part of the way. We arrived about half an hour before sunset and proceeded to drop anchor. It didn’t seem to be holding, so we tried again – but were still not convinced that we were secure, so we found another spot that seemed to be better. I had never fully appreciated the importance of having a secure anchorage, but as the sun set and it became pitch dark around us, the thought of slowly drifting into the rocky coast did seem rather daunting.
Anyway, technology is very useful and there are a myriad of anchor / radar alarms available. We set 2 – but were a little too cautious and kept getting woken by alarms when we were in fact just drifting around the anchor as the wind changed. I felt like I had a newborn again – I think Marco and I woke up about 5 times each to check our co-ordinates on the chart plotter!
Surprisingly, I still woke up just before sunrise – well actually, it was a “Securite” announcement on the VHF radio that woke me. It was really special to watch the sunrise over the sea – not something I see very often. A dolphin swam around the boat, and I took in the gorgeous views of the Noosa headlands.
We’ve always loved Noosa. True, it’s gone very commercial and is packed in holiday times, but there is still something really special about it. I think it’s the combination of nature reserve, 3 headlands with secluded beaches, the Noosa river and separate little hamlets all within the Noosa area. Plus, you can browse in some quaint shops and have lunch right near the beach – and there are a lot of young foreign backpackers / tourists, which makes it feel vibrant and alive. We’ve always managed to stay out of the chaos, this time more than ever being anchored in the bay and facing the town.
The boys headed off in the tender for an early-morning surf, and I lazed in the sun on the boat. Once they were back, Marco dropped me off at Teatree Bay and I hiked the 6-7km circuit along the heads to Hell’s Gate, and then back through the forest. It is such a beautiful walk, and the views looking down at the sea are spectacular. I managed to get some great photos of Noah’s Ark and our anchorage – it really did look the stuff postcards are made of! It was so good to get into the rhythm of hiking again – you get into a zone and just keep going, without really feeling the distance.
We BBQ’d on the boat that evening, and slept a lot better – finally content that our anchor was sitting tight.
The next day was a Monday – not that you’d guess, with many people SUPing, rowing and walking along the headland. My computer was running out of battery power, and we’d started running our house batteries quite low, so we decided to sail back to Mooloolaba that afternoon. We do need to buy some extra batteries and solar panels – especially if we intend to live offshore for a while. The boys did some Maths early in the morning, and then set off for a final surf, and I put in some work – what a lovely location to be working from!
We left just after lunch, and had the best sail to date. The wind was fairly light (about 6 knots) but from a great angle (coming over the beam on the port side), so we put up full sails. Autopilot is amazing – once we’d set the sails we put out some cushions and lay down on deck. Noah’s Ark was pretty much sailing herself! I lay watching the ocean – and saw a big yellow-green circular shape rise up in one of the swells – it turned out to be a turtle. Marco spotted a pod of dolphins feeding in the distance, right in our path, and we got quite close before they dived under and were gone.
The wind picked up gradually and hit about 13 knots just before Mooloolaba. Before we knew it we were hitting 9 knots, and had to “wikkel” to get the sails down before reaching the Mooloola mouth entrance! We entered in the dark, but know the channel by now, so no problems.
We’ve worked out our parking procedure quite well now. Our berth is actually quite tricky, as it’s in place where the current is very strong, especially mid-tide, and if there’s wind it can be difficult to keep the boat straight. Luckily there is no other boat next to us (without a jetty-arm separating us), so there’s little leeway. I stand at the front of the bow and direct Marco, and once we’re next to the jetty Noah’s leaps off and I throw him the mooring lines and he secures the bow. He then runs to the stern and I throw him those lines and he secures the back. It’s all got to be done pretty quickly, before the current drags us off, but Noah has been a star. It’s great having him do the “leaping off” – a cat is actually quite high above the water, so it really is a leap!
We did feel a little sad to have left Noosa, but we’ll be back – and I think it whet our appetites for taking on some longer voyages. Cyclone season starts in Nov/Dec, so not that much time left – so best we start planning!