We had been told by reliable sources that Great Keppel Island had some of the clearest waters of the Great Barrier Reef so were keen to get there. We said farewell to gorgeous Pancake (Foodaholic Ollie was a little confused or more should I say disappointed why there was actually no Pancakes there) and thought we would break up the trip to Keppel and stay at Hummocky Island which was about a 7 hour sail.
Upon reaching Hummocky we had the tell-tale sign of no masts in the bay i.e. rolly anchorage (when we say ‘rolly’ to the non-boaty folk, the best way to describe this feeling would be to get one of those clown heads you put balls in at a Fair, turn it sideways and lay in it for 8 hours.) For the boys and Ric, by some miracle of physics this motion is comforting, but for me I would rather have someone sand-paper my eyes then endure it. I can’t sleep a wink. So rather Ric feel the full force of the wrath of no sleep Mummy we decided to leg it to Keppel which was another 3 hours. Everyone was happy, the conditions were fab and we anchored just in front of the abandoned resort just after dusk and everyone slept soundly all night!
We were not let down the next morning as the water was the clearest we had been in. We could see our anchor on the bottom in 7 metres of water along with the odd giant stingray and Annie had become the surrogate mother to hundreds of fish who decided they would take up residence underneath her.
We amused ourselves by swimming, snorkelling, beach walks, shell collecting, dragging Harry behind the dinghy on the Paddle Board and did our first spot of fishing catching 3 little Mackerel and a Cod. Actually leaving the fishing area wasn’t so successful as our anchor got stuck in the reef and Ric and I had to rock- paper-scissors it to see who would have to swim down and retrieve it. As if Ric had any chance of winning so down he went to get it. He came back up and informed me that there were hundreds of Mackerel down there and it was a poor attempt of us to only catch 3!
As we were running a little low on food but having such a fab time we decided to dart back to Yeppoon to stock up and go back out to the island. We even thought it was an opportune time to set up the Aqua Park when we got back as the water was dead calm with not a breath of wind. So fun!!!
The forecast for that evening was a small southerly change of around 10 knots so we thought that it would be ok to leave the Aqua Park blown up out the back and then the wind was forecast to die down again in the morning. No probs, easy peasy.
Well…………. that idea was swiftly blown out of the water when 2am rocked around ( literally!!!) when Ric and I were woken to violent pitching when the change came though. ‘Holy crap that does not sound like 10 knots!’ I blurted, and at that moment the snubber (the rope that takes the pressure off the anchor chain) snapped and the anchor chain smashed into the metal guard thingy at the front (sorry correct boating terminology evades me) like the worlds strongest man had just hit it with a sledge-hammer. We turned on the instruments to see it was blowing 42 knots!!! Thank you Bureau of Meterology………outstanding forecasting, glad our tax playing dollars are going to such a reliable and dependable Government organisation. As it was pitch black we really couldn’t do much but sit it out until daylight to assess our options so we called on our bestie Nescafe Blend 43 until sunrise came.
Well I wish I had called on the other bestie Mt Gay Rum when the sun came up as it was still blowing 40 knots, the waves were pitching 1-2 metres while we are anchored in 5 metres of water with a 2 metre draft (i.e. we basically have 1m under us before we hit the bottom). It was pitching so hard that the water was being scooped up by the transom into the cockpit. Another, ‘I would politely like to get off and go to the Hilton’ moment. No way we were going to stay out in this so we decided we would leg it back to the safety of Yeppoon Marina which was an hour sail. (Boys of course again slept through the whole thing).
Oh yes…….of course the Aqua Park is still set up with its 5 separate pieces which are attached under water so Ric has no other choice but to don his wetsuit, jump on the bucking bronco and spend the next 30 mins taking it apart. This is only half of putting it away as we then have to deflate each piece without the wind catching it and blowing us away like Mary Poppins. An hour later, we finally get the thing away only to realise we have lost all our fishing gear that was in the bucket on the back of the boat and Harry’s reef shoes.
Ok, keep calm and get out of there. For some sickening reason Ric and I are actually laughing our heads off while this is going dropping lines like ‘Buy a Boat he says!’, ‘It will be amazing he says!’, ‘Live the dream he says!’. What an absolute load of poo.
Anyway, anchor up next. Done this a few times before. Should be fine. So up the front I go for my ride of Annie the Wild Bronco dipping and raising 2m into the air, press the anchor up button only to have it go crunch between 2 bits of steel and get stuck. As Ric can’t hear what has happened due to Hurricane Great Keppel, I run down the deck trip over the dinghy line and smash my wrist and knee into the deck. Instant tears and I seriously thought I had broken every bone in my body I hit that hard. It was one of those moments where so much went wrong, a couple of minutes later I realised that I hadn’t shattered into 2398 pieces and started laughing again. Or perhaps I had finally gone clinically insane.
Ric of course just casually reverses the anchor and it is released, so we get it up and off we go. Annie again holds her own in lumpy seas and we safely make it to Yeppoon marina and decide we would like one final challenge of angled marina berthing as we were so exhausted and just backed it in wherever it ended up as there was no boat in the berth beside us and the wind blew us all over the place. Oh yay, just as we docked the boys woke up with their usual expectations just when Ric and I were ready to sleep for a century.