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Old 08-03-2011, 21:06   #1
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Our First Big Trip to the Barrier Reef

HI ALL, HAVE HAD MY 36 FOOT CHUNG HWA (1990 MODEL) FOR AROUND FIVE MONTHS AND AM PLANNING MY FIRST BIG TRIP FROM BRISBANE TO THE SOUTHERN END OF THE BARRIER REEF (LEAVING AUGUST 20TH WEATHER PERMITTING). THE BOAT HAS TWIN 135HP PERKINS, A MASSE GENSET, HOLDS APPROX 1800LT DIESEL AND 800LT WATER.

I HAVE TWO LOWRANCE HDS5 SOUNDER GPS COMBOS NETWORKED, VHF RADIO, JUST PURCHASED A FURUNO 1623 RADAR FROM THE STATES (YET TO BE FITTED), TMQ AUTOPILOT, EPIRB, JACKETS FLARES ETC.

I AND AM LOOKING FOR ADVISE ON PREPARING MYSELF AND MY BOAT FOR THE TRIP.

I HAVE TWO CREW, MY DAD AND A MATE GOING ALONG AND WE WILL BE GOING FOR APPROX 12 DAYS.

EXCITING TIMES (TINGED WITH A BIT OF NERVOUSNESS) AND LOOKING FOR YOUR THOUGHTS AND ADVISE?
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Old 09-03-2011, 06:42   #2
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Re: OUR FIRST BIG TRIP TO THE BARRIER REEF

My advise is to slow down and enjoy the sandy straights. 12 days just does not seem long enough for the distance you want to cover, without stopping that is moving for 24hrs x 4 will get you to Mackay if you go over the top of Frazer add a day if you go up the inside. the more I think about it 12 days is not enough time to do it safely and you won't see a thing.
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Old 09-03-2011, 06:55   #3
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Re: OUR FIRST BIG TRIP TO THE BARRIER REEF

Reading your post in all caps is hard on the eyes
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Old 09-03-2011, 15:12   #4
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Re: OUR FIRST BIG TRIP TO THE BARRIER REEF

Simon,

I think he is only looking at the southern end of the GBR -
Capricorn Bunker group.

Mackay is too far in that time frame.

Agreed Sandy Straights is worthwile. If weather is good at start I would go outside Frazer straight to Capricorn bunker group and come back via sandy straights.

Not knowing your fuel consumption /range - i down know if you have sufficient fuel or if you will need to refuel which will alter your cruise plan.

You have all the electronics but be sure to have the latest charts and use radar for position fixing as you cruise up the coast.

Have fun.

cheers
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Old 09-03-2011, 19:08   #5
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Re: Our First Big Trip to the Barrier Reef

Thanks for your replies. The boat uses approx 15lt per hour and we do have comfortable range to do the trip. It is approx 350 miles up to Lady Musgrave.

I would love to take a month to do the trip, but, have to work to support my boating habit.

Looking at going up through the sandy straits depending upon the wide bay bar (the big unkown). I have crossed bars (south passage and jumpinpin) hundreds of times in small boats but never in a displacement cruiser.

Could be interesting, but will carefully time it with tide, wind and swell conditions and if it is not passable I will go around the top of Fraser Island.

If anyone has even been to Lady Musgrave or that area your thoughts and experiences are appreciated including any feedback on anchoring in the bay at Lady Musgrave.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-03-2011, 19:22   #6
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Re: Our First Big Trip to the Barrier Reef

I am not sure you are allowing enough time for the weather.
August is strong S/E trades, you will get up there but may have difficulty getting back.
If you have time you will find a window of a couple of days of calm weather.
The reef is NO place to be in 20knots plus winds.
The weather at that time of year seems to run in two week cycles, 10-25 knot SE winds,.
Watch the high in the bight.
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Old 09-03-2011, 19:34   #7
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Re: Our First Big Trip to the Barrier Reef

Thanks for your reply, what time of year would you suggest is the best to head up into this area,

Thanks,

Bob
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Old 09-03-2011, 20:04   #8
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Re: Our First Big Trip to the Barrier Reef

I grew up in Cairns and Townsville, my father was a keen fisherman. We use to go out to the reef whenever possible.
Winter, forget about it, 15-25 knot S/E trades most of the time.
I am currently planning a trip up Cape York to Thursday Island (indonesia etc)
I plan to go late March - May/June
Which is the transition period from the monsoon Northerlies to the winter South Easterlies.
During this period you will get periods of Northerlies which are generally calm and the wind often drops off completely at night, this will be followed by south Easterlies but after a few or more days will calm down back to Northerlies.
There is the possibilities of a cyclone so watch the weather reports.

A large number of boats travel north and find it difficult to get back against the s/e trades. Put the boat in at a marina, and wait for the right window which will only be a few days but it will be enough to get you home
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Old 09-03-2011, 21:17   #9
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Re: Our First Big Trip to the Barrier Reef

Just get through the cut during the day, there is a bomie right at the entrance. You have to juke right to miss it. Keep a bow watch and you'll be right.
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Old 09-03-2011, 21:31   #10
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Re: Our First Big Trip to the Barrier Reef

The anchorage in Lady Musgrave's lagoon is fine up to around 20 knots of wind. More at low tide, it's only around high tide that the waves can get in. So if possible, I'd be looking for a window of winds less than 20k, and low tide in the middle of the night.

Great diving and snorkelling area.

August is the start of the whale watching season in Hervey bay too, so if there isn't a good window for musgrave, you could just hang around Fraser island's west coast, totally sheltered from the S-easterlies, and whalewatch.

Nice sunsets too.
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Old 10-03-2011, 00:45   #11
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Re: Our First Big Trip to the Barrier Reef

Lady Musgrave right at the southern end of reef does not have a much. protection as reefs further to North up to Heron etc.

My memory of actual anchorages from 20yrs ago without going to my charts is sketchy. However Musgrave is rather small and the most exposed to SE. Certainly good anchorage behind Wistari and others and you get protection travelling north behind the reefs. If you are a diver it is always wothwhile snorkling and SCUBA diving the bommie.

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Old 10-03-2011, 03:25   #12
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Re: Our First Big Trip to the Barrier Reef

As this your first trip north and only for 12 days, I suggest you only go to Lady Musgrave. Lady M is a great destination and the passage is not difficult from Brisbane but has just enough interesting aspects to it to make it a good learning experience and make for a good shakedown first "away from home" cruise.

The lagoon is plenty big enough and I guessing you have a more shallow draft than most yachts so you will have more anchoring options once inside the lagoon. I found the protection there to be more than adequate in 25 kts of Southeast-lies.

As others have said, the entrance is reasonably straightforward, just watch for the bend and the bombie.

Try to aim for a neap tide about to ebb and stay away from a spring tide in full ebb. Also transit the entrance between 10 am and 2 pm so you can see the bottom, coral, bombies etc. You can anchor in the lee of the island (outside the lagoon) while waiting for the right conditions. This is really only a waiting anchorage and to my mind, not suitable for long term anchoring. I would only use for a few hours and keep an active anchor watch.

As for the return, the SE-lies are not so persistent at the southern end of the GBR especially in late winter and early spring.

I suggest you make your departure from Lady M. as soon as you have a reasonable forecast for 24 to 48 hours, go straight to Hervey Bay (Fraser Island) and then south through the Great Sandy Straights to the Wide Bay bar. That way you have protection from any developing unforecast heavy SE weather.

Again wait (say at Tin Can bay) for a reasonable weather window before crossing the bar and then south to Brisbane knowing that you pop into Moolooaba if you have to or even run back north for shelter behind Double Island Point.

As for the trip north you can make it all in one passage (outside Fraser Island) and Breaksea Spit then inside the reef after clearing Breaksea Spit or as others have suggested split it to parts by crossing the Wide Bay bar. Again
you can anchor behind Double Island Point waiting for good bar conditions.

However, my view would be go outside Fraser on the way north if all is well with boat, crew and weather once you pass Double island Point and use the Great Sandy Straights as protection on your return passage south.

Hope this helps!
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Old 10-03-2011, 03:44   #13
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Travelling all the way to Lady Musgrave and not venturing another 50nm up to Heron Is would be a waste.

There is nothing to be concerned about travelling along the Capricorn Bunker group of reefs. With your radar plot your check position of the GPS on your chart and the charts are accurate. A motor vessel will have much better piloting vision than many sailing vessels.

Once up at Lady Musgrave the reefs give protection travelling in behind on your way north.

Many yachts traversing the reef visit Lady Musgrave and then mainland island hop(Great keppel, Percies, Whithsundays, Palms Is ,Fitzroy, Lizard, etc) north missing all the great anchorages and islands, cays of the true reef.

It would be a travesty to travel all that way and not visit Heron, North reef Lighthouse etc. Have faith in the charts and you will find plenty of protected anchorages.

Talk to local vessels you see there but visiting one solitary reef is not visiting the Great Barrier reef. If your vessel is sound enough and you are confident to get to Lady Musgrave and it clearly has the range venture the extra distance north.

Go for it. The Capriorn Bunker Group is a jewell.
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Old 10-03-2011, 04:02   #14
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Re: Our First Big Trip to the Barrier Reef

Thank you all for your great feedback and general info I am just itching for the day and I envy those who have been there done that. Again thank you all.
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Old 10-03-2011, 06:17   #15
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Re: Our First Big Trip to the Barrier Reef

Quote:
Originally Posted by downunder View Post
Travelling all the way to Lady Musgrave and not venturing another 50nm up to Heron Is would be a waste.

There is nothing to be concerned about travelling along the Capricorn Bunker group of reefs. With your radar plot your check position of the GPS on your chart and the charts are accurate. A motor vessel will have much better piloting vision than many sailing vessels.

Once up at Lady Musgrave the reefs give protection travelling in behind on your way north.

Many yachts traversing the reef visit Lady Musgrave and then mainland island hop(Great keppel, Percies, Whithsundays, Palms Is ,Fitzroy, Lizard, etc) north missing all the great anchorages and islands, cays of the true reef.

It would be a travesty to travel all that way and not visit Heron, North reef Lighthouse etc. Have faith in the charts and you will find plenty of protected anchorages.

Talk to local vessels you see there but visiting one solitary reef is not visiting the Great Barrier reef. If your vessel is sound enough and you are confident to get to Lady Musgrave and it clearly has the range venture the extra distance north.

Go for it. The Capriorn Bunker Group is a jewell.
Hard to disagree with any of this but remember trickyt. has only 12 days and this being his first trip, he may well want to be a little more weather cautious than normal and thus keep a few days up his sleeve to wait out unexpected weather.

Should he go a bit further, I would have to recommend North West Island, excellent anchorage (and good protection from heavy - 30+ kts SE'lies).
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