….’s.v. MAD (Make A Difference)’

June 2018

The desire to “sail away” crept up on us gradually, helped along in no small part by our Brisbane based bestie with a boat.  So after a 2-day beginner course in English Bay, Vancouver, we were feeling somewhat equipped to be able to distinguish the front of a boat from the back, or the bow from the stern as it were – that was about the extent of it.  However, another VERY important part of our preparation for sailing was studying hours upon hours of various sailing videos on YouTube, that qualifies, right?! 😉

Upon arriving in Australia, friends were reunited and we were hustled to the Brisbane Royal Yacht Squadron, and shown to our home for the next few weeks…sv MAD, a 45ft Bavaria cruiser.  The marina amenities were a welcome comfort and we enjoyed them after our 15 hr long haul flight, for about 20 minutes, and then promptly set sail for Moreton Island (about 4 hours from Brisbane).  It soon became apparent that skipper Jacqui and first mate Noel do not mess about – carpe diem!

It’s official…..we are MAD CREW!

MAD’s spacious salon where many a meal would be cooked and consumed (along with a few beverages) and the odd game of Yahtzee, over the coming weeks.

Pete training on the Raymarine navigation system – it feels like rocket science at first….

….but once you have it figured out – you’re laughing!

My first attempt at steering this big bugger of a boat…..

There really is no feeling like gliding through the water under sail…

….Noel seems to think so too 🙂

Once at Moreton Island – we christened the new crab trap, but this little one was not for consumption.

The sand dunes are well hidden from the coast, but stride a few steps from the beach, and you happen upon a golden elevation change that’s a sufficient enough hike to work up a sweat, and a thirst!

After our quick one-nighter to Moreton Island to get our sea legs (nobody puked – yay!)…it was back to Brisbane to prepare for our serious, “shakedown” sail out of Brisbane, and North up the coast for a couple of weeks.

First stop after a calm overnight sail was an amazingly peaceful anchorage at Fig Tree Creek in the Great Sandy Strait, which is on the west side of the famous Fraser Island (the world’s largest sand island stretching over 120km).

This super serene anchorage was only disturbed periodically by some kind of flying ray fish….up close it had the look of a prehistoric bird.

Another fruitless attempt at crabbing, and unfortunately the trap took off in the strong current (or someone swiped it!?) the very next day 😦

No luck on the fishing line either, but we had plenty provisions on onboard to sustain us.

The next day was kinda stressful….and I didn’t take any pics along the way for that reason, but we (Jacqui basically) had to navigate up the Sandy Strait with an impeccably timed tide change, in order to be able to get through it with enough water under the hull, such that we wouldn’t run aground. Man, it was close!

Next stop, King Fisher Bay where we chilled, swam, hiked, drank and generally eased into full-on vacation mode.

When contemplating the hike to Lake McKenzie, we were convinced that we could hitch a ride with some charitable Aussies to get back to Kingfisher Bay.  We didn’t factor in that it was the weekend of a public holiday however, and nobody was leaving the lake once they arrived, except us – so our 3.5 hr hike turned into a lovely 8 hr day hike!

Despite all the warnings…..we didn’t spy a single dingo….and I was kinda hoping we would…kinda 😉

Once there, the pristine lake was a cool relief to our well hiked hot feet….and then we had to hike back again!

I should have captured the lil’ crabs who fabricated all kinds of cool patterns in the sand with their burrowing….we thought this one was purposefully created for the Canadians who would soon be hiking by – eh!

Fraser Island day trippers heading home…..while we take in the view from our floating home.

Some rough seas called for all hands on deck after leaving King Fisher Bay.  We had planned to anchor overnight at our next stop Wathumba Lagoon, but the weather that had blown in (and knocked us down at one point) was not about to clear in a hurry, so we pushed on across Hervey Bay through the night…experiencing foresail and nav system malfunctions along the way – we needed the added drama! We arrived at the town of Bundaberg the next day – salty, tired and lets face it, somewhat relieved to have a base for a few days for boat repairs and to regroup.

When in Bundaberg – you just have to sample the famous Bundy Rum.

One of our two boat cats, Emma, keeping an eye on proceedings in the salon….

…..and cat sister Xena hanging out with Uncie Pete.

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this every morning 🙂

After accomplishing everything we needed to in Bundaberg, it was time to head out on another night sail across the Coral Sea, bound for Lady Musgrave Island, which is one of the southern most coral cays in the Great Barrier Reef system.  This would be the first solo night watch for Pete and I respectively….yikes!  Fortunately, it was calm seas with lots of time to contemplate life.

Lady Musgrave Island!!!…we had finally found true paradise and 2 nights at anchor was not nearly long enough to soak it up, but we did our best!

The sailing community has to be the friendliest we’ve experienced on all our travels.  Folk just swing by in their dinghies, laden with snacks and beverages, and it’s easy to wile away the evening with stories of where everyone has been, and will be heading next.

Quit being so cute Emma….!

Yet another miss with the crab trap, but at least we were able to retrieve it this time.

We eventually had to pull up the hook and haul back to Brisbane…we were anticipating a 2.5 days sail, around the clock. 

Finally….after all those nautical miles and many fishing attempts, a chubby Tuna caught the line and we called him ‘sushi lunch’!

Kudos to skipper Jac for prepping sushi while MAD was rocking and rolling in the swell.

Yum, yum, yum!

The morning after yet another stormy night at sea….this time we actually had to head for shelter in a protected bay, and although that was the safe thing to do, it set us back in terms of our Brisbane ETA.

Because we all wanted to squeeze every moment out of the trip, and we ran into some crappy weather, we decided that Pete and I couldn’t take the chance of missing our flight back to Vancouver the next morning, and so were water taxied in Maddie (the dinghy – everything has a name on a boat!) to the beach in Mooloolaba Bay.  From there we hopped an uber ride back to Brisbane airport for an overnight stay and early flight. Meanwhile Jacqui and Noel hastily set sail for the rest of the passage to Brisbane (17 hrs or so), trying to dodge an approaching gnarly squall, and bracing for yet another overnight sail.

Here’s to the best hosts and crew mates ever – Jacqui & Noel, and to many more sailing adventures in the future!

4 thoughts on “….’s.v. MAD (Make A Difference)’

  1. Awesome photos and adventure, Deb! I enjoyed every shot of your photo essay and imagined being back in Australia. We lived in Sydney for a few months and loved every minute! I am not a sailor, so I am really impressed by you and your brave crew. Safe sailing! Good on you, as the Aussies say.

  2. What a great adventure! We had a wonderful sail around Sydney and again on the GB Reef during our visit but because we figured it was a “one-and-done” for us we wanted to see as much as we could of such a large country so did lots of flying. Hoping to do a sailing trip around the Greek Islands (bucket list #1) so your fab trip gets me very excited!! Great photos really told a great story

  3. Fantastic diary of an awesome adventure! Love Australia and this would be such a cool way to experience it. Thanks for sharing Deb!

  4. Spectacular photos, Deb! Such an exciting pastime for you and Pete to set sail on open seas, and you really captured this adventure. Thanks for sharing your blog. Happy travels ahead and we look forward to following along 🙂

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