10 days in the Noosa River

Noosa is one of our favourite spots in Oz – as you’ve probably gathered from previous blog posts. The problem, however, is that the bay is only a (relatively) sheltered anchorage in a south-easterly wind, which doesn’t blow consistently (especially this time of the year). Marco had the idea to anchor in the Noosa river, as that would give us all-weather protection, and allow us to spend much longer up in Noosa. The only problem is getting across the bar. It is extremely shallow in places, the sand moves continuously and as a result it isn’t even mentioned as an anchorage in most sailing books. That’s where a catamaran is such an advantage! We phoned the Coast Guard, and they assured us that it would be possible to enter on a high tide, and that they could “escort” us in.

We timed it with the full moon – the supermoon, in fact! We spent one roly-poly night anchored in the Noosa bay, and then entered the bar on high tide the next morning. I was a little anxious, as Marco had scouted the bar in the dinghy earlier that morning and declared it “a risk”. Coming out of his mouth (being a risk-taker by nature) made me (the risk-averse actuary) a little nervous, but by then I was feeling so queasy from rocking and rolling in the bay that I didn’t really care anymore.

The crossing was actually fine. It got really shallow in places, and the route in was so weird and contorted that we would never have made it without the Coast Guard. At times we motored about 1m from the beach, and would then dog-leg out into the middle of the river. The lowest point we recorded was 0.9m – which is basically our draft, so was really tight! The Coast Guard were great, and escorted us right into Woods Bay.

Following the Coast Guard through the breakers into the river
Dog-legging along the river
Thanks guys!

Woods Bay was pretty crowded, but we managed to squeeze in right next to the beach. It was fairly deep right near the shore, and we didn’t need much chain out due to the calm sheltered waters, so we ended up in the best anchorage we’ve had to date! At times (depending on the wind direction) we felt we could step off the back of the boat onto the beach!



Our 10 days coincided with a run of south-easterly wind, and a substantial swell (for Noosa). That meant lots of good surf, and many points and bays to choose from. I didn’t get many photos of them, as I used the time to get some work done, but the boys would come back with big smiles and a ravenous appetite at lunch, before settling into their schoolwork.

The only surf pics I got – when the swell had dropped

We had a wonderfully social time too. My sister and family came for an afternoon play/BBQ, and the kids had great time foraging and creating waterways on the beach, playing on the SUPs and having “island adventures”, like kids should. We could relax with a drink watching them from the boat – with the added entertainment of the “Noosa Queen” river ferry that stopped by for an hour, with a year-end office party on board (scary stuff!).

Noah and Conor taking the rations (popcorn) to the island-dwellers

My mom also came to visit and slept over – great fun having Granny sleep over in the yacht! It was quite a novelty to go grocery shopping together in the dinghy – don’t think Granny has done that before. With the boys out surfing, we were able to enjoy some quality girl-time. We wanted to drive to the other side of Noosa to go for a walk, but ended up sitting in traffic for ages. This was the side of Noosa that people dislike – how jam-packed it gets in holiday-times, or when the surf is up. It’s definitely an advantage arriving in a boat and getting around on foot – none of the traffic hassles!

We also made friends with some lovely families – the one on a boat anchored just next to us, and the other that we met on the beach. Both are keen on cruising together as a family, so it was great to share ideas, concerns and stories. The boys, of course, loved having more kids to play with.

I managed to cajole the boys into joining me for a walk along the Noosa Heads. Marco was out of action after slicing his foot on a sharp oyster-shell – and I think he relished an afternoon by himself. It was a beautiful walk, we stopped for a swim in the sea and made it to Hell’s Gate and back (about 7kms – which was pretty good going for 9-year old legs!).

Cool-off at Tea Tree Bay

We enjoyed exploring the river in our dinghy, and I particularly enjoyed Noosaville, with it’s low-key buzz and relaxed waterfront feel. Marco and I enjoyed a morning coffee at one of the river-front spots, whilst the boys were occupied on the neighbouring boat. It was almost like a date! We also went exploring at night, which was a little trickier due to the sandbanks. We found ourselves beached on a sandbank in the middle of the river, and it felt a little weird stepping out of the dinghy into what looked like the middle of the river in the dark. The riverfront apartments were so alive at night – Marco slowed down a little when we came across 4 bikini-clad girls dancing in their apartment, and I had to usher him along again 😉

Our river transport

Eventually it was time to head back to Mooloolaba. It was closer to neap tides, which was a bit of a worry, but we picked a day with small swell, light winds and a decent high tide level. It is definitely more treacherous coming out of the river than going in, as you face the breakers head-on. They caused the bow to lift and the stern to dip, a bit like a seesaw, which is fine when you have a good depth under you. However, this happened over 0.9m of water – with the result that we hit the bottom twice – hard. Luckily it’s just sand, and our momentum carried us through. Our rudders seem to be fine, but I know Marco still wants to dive down and check that all is ok. It would definitely be impassable at low tide!

The sail back was gentle and relaxing, we had to motor-sail a lot of the way as the predicted northerly hadn’t come through. We were happy to run our engines and charge up our batteries a bit. After being anchored for 10 days, we were running short on power, and even our back-up generator wasn’t keeping pace with our needs. Definitely time to get more solar in! After all the activity of the last 10 days, the boys zoned out and slept a lot of the journey back. Marco fiddled around with the autopilot, trying to change the sensitivity settings, and I spent a lot of time watching the mesmerising colours of the ocean, which swirled around in ever-changing concentric circles. A peaceful ending to a fun 10 days.

Leaving Noosa … Marco with his sponge-supported foot



3 thoughts on “10 days in the Noosa River

  1. Granny

    And the dream just grows and grows what a wonderful way to live life
    Enjoy guys and may the journey just get better and better
    We all miss you so much 🤗😘⛵️🚤⛵️🚤⛵️🚤⛵️🚤


  2. Lena Swan

    How awesome!! can imagine how beautiful it must be to laze on the boat, watch the sunset and soak up the atmosphere.
    Nice job on dressing your foot, Marco! I will use this method on the ward next time 🙂 Looks comfy..
    Big hug to you all, Lena


  3. Rosalie

    Hi everyone! It was great catching up on your adventures (blog). It looks, and sounds like you are all having a wonderful time, visiting amazing places. I trust you had a magical Christmas with your family and I wish you a fun-filled 2017.


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