We have been in the Keppel Bay Marina now for two weeks. We originally came in for birthday celebrations and the need for a VHF radio repair. We’ve been here ever since!
After enjoying a fantastic run of beautiful weather from Boatworks to Great Keppel Island, we are now waiting for strong winds and BIG swells to pass through … and so is everyone else!
Yes, I know. I’ve said this many times. It’s all about the weather. So, for those of you who are interested … here’s a bit of info about where we get our weather forecasts from …
We use two methods, the internet and our VHF radio. For the long range and ‘out to sea’ forecasts we use MetEye (BOM – Bureau of Meteorology) and Windy. If we know we will be out of phone range, we often take ‘screen grabs’ of the 7-day MetEye forecast. For the local land forecasts, we use the app Willy Weather. We are specifically interested in wind and swell. It’s always warm in Queensland of course (ha), so we rarely look at the temperature (unlike Melbourne)! We have access to the 4G phone network in most places along the coast but if it’s a bit dodgy we can resort to hauling the iPhone up the mast, using it as a ‘hotspot’ for the iPad below. It’s not always successful because it does depend on the phone signal strength. We can improve our 4G range by adding another gadget to our boat but it’s ‘break out another thou’ so we’ve held off.
Our second source of weather is the VHF radio, specifically the radio weather schedules. The Coastguard and Volunteer Marine Rescue monitoring along the Queensland coast is fantastic. (Victoria, which happens to have the worst stretch of open sea, should take note!) The the CGs and VMRs cover specific areas of the coast and have designated weather scheds/times each day (and we can request them too). It’s a 3-day forecast which is usually quite accurate and just enough ahead, to plan a passage. So when we have no 4G phone coverage, we rely on the VHF weather scheds. Hence, when we were out at the outer reef with no phone coverage recently and our VHF hand-held remote played up, we wanted to get it fixed or replaced.
Here’s a few ‘screen-grabs’ from Met Eye and Windy of the swells and winds we are expecting here at The Keppels. Those of you who know me well, know I’m a big fan of ‘orange’, but hey, not when it comes to weather!!
Coinciding with this weather hiccup is a military training area closure en route to our next stop, the Whitsundays. The Shoalwater Bay area is occasionally closed to the public (including boats), due to live firing activities. I don’t think we need to be buzzed by helicopters and forcibly removed by the SWAT teams! Nor heavily fined. Unfortunately, this exclusion zone includes the last mainland overnight anchorages before island hopping to the Whitsundays; Port Clinton, Pearl Bay and Island Head Creek. The ‘hops’ to the Whitsundays from here are all day hops but without the Shoalwater Bay mainland anchorages it means a 100 nm overnight passage from GKI, dodging the military exclusion zone, to an island further out to sea. The area was originally closed between June 23 and July 27, but fortunately in the last week, they have brought forward the re-opening of the anchorages to July 8. So while we have had to sit out the wind and swells much longer than we had hoped, we can now at least day hop through the Percy island group to the Whitsundays after July 8, with no overnighters.
So … what have we been up to? The days have passed by very easily. Blue skies and warm days. As someone said, it’s like being on a holiday being in a marina for so long. No anchor watch, no dinghy rides, no tide charts, no wind monitoring … no thinking!
Instead … washing, restaurants, coffees, drives, walks, shopping, haircuts, films, concerts (we saw Toni Childs in Rocky), socialising (dinners, coffees and drinks), electric scooter demos (no, no new toy on The Bossa!) and of course, jobs. I think we have actually run out of boat jobs … unbelievable … until the next one!
If you’re going to get ‘stuck’ on a boat, the Keppel Bay Marina is the place! We have a friendly marina, with a good restaurant for brekky, lunch and dinner, courtesy cars for shopping, a bus in to Yeppoon and Rockhampton from the marina’s front door, walks, a Sailing Club with a bbq (the guitars came out), a great seafood supplier nearby with the best prawns and … everyone who’s anyone is here … new and old friends.
As l’m finishing off this blog post I should update you on today’s weather. No blue sky! A bleak threatening sky, some rain, very strong winds and while we are snug in the marina, the continual tugging of The Bossa, along with the wind roaring through yacht rigging, are both reminders that we’d rather be in here than out there! And we won the chook raffle last night!
It’s now the next morning. A wild ride in here last night with pelting rain and 30+ knot winds. The continual creaks and groans, along with the roaring of the wind was deafening.
ETD for the Percy Islands and Whitsundays, Tuesday … we hope!
We gotta get out of this place!