I think Dave S's three questions are important. To the point that they (1) deserve good answers; and (2) that I encourage Dave to talk to a moderator, such as Ann Cate, about renaming his thread (to include Moreton Bay) and moving it to a more relevant sub-forum (such as the new Oceania - Australiana sub-forum or the older Destinations: Pacific sub-forum).
To approach Dave S's questions in reverse order:
3. if a tropical cyclone were approaching Moreton Bay, should I head
The usual function of a tropical cyclone is to transfer energy (atmospheric and ocean heat) towards the pole. In the case of the coasts of Australia
, that means that with few exceptions tropical cyclones head
South. So do most extra-tropical cyclones (East Coast Lows and the like).
So yes, heading North to avoid a cyclone seems fair advice
. But it needs to be qualified. Tropical (and extratropical) cyclones sometimes generate in multiples rather than just singletons. So if you head N to get away from one cyclone, you could be putting yourself in the path of another.
Then the next qualifier has to do with the follow-up question: to where from Moreton Bay? As Oceanride007 noted, the next location N of Moreton Bay that might offer safe harbour is inside the Wide Bay Bar (in Great Sandy Strait and Tin Can Bay). Crossing the Wide Bay Bar when a system such as Cyclone Linda is offshore
is not for the fainthearted. You'd need a fast and powerful craft to do it and good local knowledge.
So although heading N has a theoretical underpinning, you would need the time and speed to be able to move far enough N to a good cyclone harbour. For most cruisers, it's impractical.
2. Why hasn't much notice been issued to cruisers in Moreton Bay?
As Ann Cate noted, one of the realities of the current
era is that you and I all have access to processed data that is better than professional meteorologists and Harbour Masters had 30 years ago. Sources of processed data include the invaluable windy.com, were you can run both the European ECMWF numeric model and the GFS model. You can also monitor
tropicalstormrisk.com, BobMcDavitt's blog MetBob, and of course the wealth of information provided by the Bureau of Meteorology - warnings, weather
maps, MetEye and more.
If the nanny state has whipped you into being a passive couch potato, then you would be waiting for notice from the Bureau of Meteorology (which issued Severe Weather
Warnings yesterday including via the mainstream mass media) and the Regional Harbour Master (currently Captain
Glenn Hale, who is legally obliged to issue an Extreme Weather Warning at least 24 hours before an event). The Regional Harbour Master for the Port of Brisbane would do so on VHF12, VHF13, and VHF16.
Of course, there are quids for every quo from the Harbour Master. Captain
Hale can direct you to do things with your vessel (and you are supposed to maintain somehow magically your contact details with him so he can so do). You are also expected to have downloaded, read, and complied with Captain Hale's Extreme Weather Event Contingency Plan for Brisbane 2017/2018.
I'll go to the trouble of telling you what I am sure that you and every other vessel owner including of course international visitors (at least in the northern part of Moreton Bay, within the confines of the Port of Brisbane) knows: you can download the Extreme Weather Event Contingency Plan - Brisbane 2017/2018 (it's an 82 KB pdf) from the Maritime Safety Queensland
website, either by searching for that name or trying the ungainly (and possibly not permanent) URL of:
And of course I am sure that your marina has told you about Captain Hale's contingency plan and that your marina manager has told you and every other vessel owner - including the international visitor cruisers - of their own extreme weather event plan and how it fits into the Marina-based Safety
Plans specified on page 7 of Captain Hale's Contingency Plan. In short, that has to do with the design and build specifications of your marina. Captain Hale advises you to discuss with your marina manager:
(a) whether the marina allows berths to remain occupied;
(b) how duplicate lines should be run to alternative bollards or cleats
(c) other factors including whether power
and water lines should be disconnected and who will make decisions and when to bar people from pontoons and hardstand
areas of the marina.
For other ports
on the Queensland coast, you'll find slightly different Extreme Weather Event Contingency Plans. With my current
cruiser, Led Myne, I've weathered tropical cyclones (or ex-TCs) in Princess Charlotte Bay, Cooktown's Endeavour
River, Cairns, Gladstone, and Moreton Bay. Of all of those, I think the Port of Cairns has the best cyclone plan. And that's partly because Trinity Inlet has not been overdeveloped (i.e. it still has several mangrove line creeks and those creeks are not fed by large catchments, so they do not flood) so that there are enough cyclone holes for the vessels in Trinity Inlet to seek shelter.
Northern Moreton Bay is not so equipped with mangrove-lined creeks that do not flood. And southern Moreton Bay has only good shelter anchorages
for a small fraction of the boats in all of Moreton Bay. The destruction of mangrove forests in southern Moreton Bay has been rapid and is unlikely to be reversed. Canal
estates are generally not cyclone anchorages
1. If I'm in a marina in Moreton Bay and a cyclone approaches, should I flee a marina in Moreton Bay or remain in the marina?
Regardless of whether you choose to flee or stay, you should note:
(a) depending on directions from your marina manager or the Regional Harbour Master, you may not have a choice. I think that is unlikely, because as noted above, only a few boats can be accommodated in the few good cyclone holes in southern Moreton Bay. So the options are limited.
(b) in any case, reducing your top hamper (removing all sails
, whether rolled around a stay or furled and stacked on a boom) as advised in the Extreme Weather Event contingency plan is important.
I'll close by noting that weather records for Moreton Bay have only been kept since 1824 (of course the indigenous owners of the land had a much longer oral history
, including back some thousands of years to when the sea level was very much lower and the Brisbane River mouth was N of Mud Island; but as you are aware the white pfellas and their agents of coercion including the Qld Police have done their very best to disperse the blacks). You can find parts
of that historical record
on the Bureau of Met website, in books
on severe storms published by academics at Griffith U, and various independent websites. Even a cursory examination of that record
will show that Moreton Bay (and even as far S as Sydney) is not immune from Tropical Cyclones or extratropical cyclones (ECLs, east coast
Look for the stories about the cyclone of February 1954, when the fishing/prawning fleet in northern Moreton Bay was trashed with 75 of 100 trawlers destroyed and boats found in the tops of the trees of the mangrove forest around Beachmere. Two metres of water over coastal roads on the Gold Coast washing
away motorcars. Death toll around 26. That February 1954 cyclone was followed by an ECL in July 1954 that damaged the Caloundra lighthouse and moved dinghies and boats inland by tens of metres.
Then look for: Cyclone Annie in January 1963; Cyclone Dora in February 1971; Cyclone Lance in April 1984 (waves of 8 metres); Cyclone Roger in March 1993 (waves of 13 metres); and of course ex-TC Debbie in 2017.
For those who think going South is a good idea, look for: Cyclone Beatrice that crossed the coast at Lismore in January 1959; Cyclone Colin in March 1976 producing 12 m waves off Sydney
Heads and sinking boats in Botany Bay; and Cyclone Nancy in February 1990 crossed the coast near Byron Bay.