So while the 3 boys are beaming from ear to ear and the very mention of the ‘h’ word reduces them to tears, I am having a Chernobyl meltdown about how the hell I am actually going to enjoy this. It’s cold, raining, and the long days sailing entertaining 2 boys under 5 in a enlarged tube are far from the fast, smooth, Mojito and whale filled days I had dreamt of.
We went for a walk into trendy Mooloolaba for breakfast (of course Harry was dolled up in his Sunday best only to have him face plant into the surf within 5 minutes of leaving the Marina) and while the boys chirped like parrots I had muted out at the thought of heading back out into the ocean again. Ric in his usual hanging up in the clouds demeanour blurts out ‘Isn’t this amazing!’…. Oh God how do i reply to this, do I a) be honest wife and tell him that I can’t get Hilton turn down service with a chocolate on my pillow out of my head or b) lie and tell him that I would like to sail around the world for 47 years and perhaps can we get a smaller boat. I opt for option a) ‘hmm, I am not sure I am enjoying sailing as much as I thought I would’…….. a sort of vanilla truth response.
Tonne…. of ……. bricks….. dropped from the sky which resulted in me taking a little walk on the beach by myself.
Ok, an hour later and composed I went back to the marina where naturally there was a halo of good samaritans of the boating community helping Ric with maintenance. We had Brian winching Ric up the mast to fix the torn headsail. With his partner Rowena offering excellent wine support from ground level. Hmm tempting given our earlier crossed words that I offer to take over Brian’s job and leave Ric up there. And it was here we met the gorgeous Belinda and Martin who were willing to help with everything and anything. Martin helped Ric with the furler and Belinda grabbed my 3 loads of washing and washed and dried them all for me. From that point on she was known as my ‘Ocean Mum’. The lovely Marina manager even gave us her car to run errands. Amazing generosity!
While Ric was busy in MacGyver mode, (I swear he is the second coming of Richard Dean Anderson, hey they even share the same first name, I will encourage blonde mullet in due course). I went to the the toilet 57 times and played toy cars with the boys on the marina (was very cute as they insisted I contain the cars using a circle of boat ropes so they didn’t go into the water). We fixed what was necessary and decided that the weather and conditions looked favourable to cross the infamous Wide Bay Bar at the bottom of Fraser Island the next morning and to get it right we would need to leave at 4am. I raced down to Coles for final provisions that evening whilst listening to the highly appropriate tune of of Split Enz’s ‘Six Months in a Leaky Boat’. No joke, it comes on EVERY TIME I am in a supermarket!
After 52 more anxiety fuelled expeditions to the toilet we untied from Mooloolaba at 4am and headed for Wide Bay, a 7 hour sail. It was cold but at least the boys slept through us leaving which allowed Ric and I to have some peace in the cockpit and it was absolutely beautiful watching the bible cover sunrise over the sea. We had perfect wind and sea conditions for the trip and even saw our first Humpback whale off Noosa. Harry was BESIDE himself as it slapped it’s tail as we went past waving us good bye. Ollie as usual woke up at 6am, had his 103 course breakfast and fell back asleep by 9am in the foetal position for a 3 hour kip. All was rather pleasant although I did drop the rather snide remark ‘Did you know that Michael Phelps can swim faster than us?’ by the look on Ric’s ‘it’s the journey not the destination face’ he was thinking that maybe I should jump over board and try for myself. Ever diplomatic during my sarcastic moments he replied. ‘Oh really’?
Harry Enjoying the trip
Our First Whale!
Now the Wide Bay Bar is a different story. It has a notorious reputation for causing all form of boating catastrophe as you have to deal with tide, swell, moving sandbanks and waves breaking all around you. Not only is this unpleasant if negotiated in a short period of time going straight but crossing the bar takes the best part of 20 minutes and you have to take a sharp left turn in the middle of it so you don’t end up in the surf. It is referred to by mariners as the ‘Mad Mile’ and we had heard a story only a few days before of a couple who were determined to tackle it in 5m swell in a 25ft boat only to have Coast Guard physically come out and tell them they were nuts and to sail onto Bundaberg……. another 12 hours. Bet they were feeling chipper. Not.
We were well prepared as Ric had called the Coast Guard, consulted his chart plotter and topped it off by calling the captain of the pilot boat who helps people get in if they have problems to make sure he had the 3 coordinates right. As we approached yep we could see why it was mad as there were waves breaking everywhere but this strangely was not too off-putting to us as we have surfed reefs before on tooth pick sized surf boards and knew how waves behaved in this type of environment. After it gets deep again they dissipate but we could see how white water everywhere would be very alarming to someone who hadn’t spent much time in the surf. It did get a little roll in the middle to which the boys thought it hilarious and threw themselves around in the front cabin but Ric managed to surf us straight down the waves most of the time without them hitting us side on which would have made it uncomfortable. I was actually more alarmed at going in wonky with the current at Mooloolaba than the Wide Bay Bar. I radioed the chirpy Canadian Coast Guard to confirm we were safe but as he signed off he asked if we had seen an 80ft cruiser in the bar somewhere as apparently they were having problems. ‘Ah no’ I replied and to our horror Ric and I confirmed that it must have been the lovely couple that left Mooloolaba at the same time but were going slightly faster than us so should have been in before us. We are hoping they just forgot to radio that they had made it safely in. We haven’t seen them since.
We had a brief stop at Pelican Bay to let the boys off to herd Pelicans and Soldier Crabs (Mummy’s favourite crab that Harry loves putting down my pants) before we motored down to Tin Can Bay with the sun setting behind us and anchored feeling rather proud of what we had accomplished. Perhaps someone was also starting to enjoy themselves….. just perhaps.