Thursday, 9 February 2012

Episode 5 - The Whitsundays to The Keppel Islands


LORELEI'S SAILING ADVENTURES
Episode 5 

THE WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS TO
THE KEPPEL ISLANDS

On Tuesday 3rd of Jan 2012 we left Airlie Beach after a few great days hanging out there.
We sailed with Heartbeat 2 back to Stonehaven on Whitsunday Island on a light southerly that was dropping rapidly. The forecast was looking great for going to the outer reef.
That night Paul made sushi for us all to pig out on…


We woke early the next morning and motor- sailed out to the Great Barrier Reef and to our first stop at Bait Reef. This place is fantastic as it has a sheltered lagoon with public moorings and is a green zone so no fishing, spearing or anchoring.
For Rod, Mel, Claudia and Hunter on Heartbeat, this was to be their first reef experience in their cat so they were buzzing with excitement.
We had two snorkels on the first day. The first was along the edge of the Stepping Stones with great viz and lots of canyons, deep drop offs and swim thrus.



After the snorkel we went back to Heartbeat and found a few large Black Trevally under the boat. Hunter and Paul dropped in for a swim with them while Mel threw some food in. Within a few minutes we had lots of  Batfish, 4 Trevally and a huge Maori Wrasse. It was bigger than Hunter and Claudia! We had a blast swimming with it and was definitely a highlight for the kids.



For the afternoon snorkel we went into the reef system to escape the strong currents along the outer walls and explored a few of the walls and bays of the Inner reef. The fish life in here was amazing. The sandy floor was 8-12m deep and we saw heaps of fish including loads of red throat emperor, black spotted tusk fish and coral trout. It was great to see these fish flourishing safely in a protected area and seemly unfazed by our presence. With these species this is not normally the case.


We had such a fantastic day that the next day we basic did exactly the same thing except this time we fed the fish with some cut up fish which really got things going. One of the black trevally must have mistook Claudia’s braided hair for some food and slammed into the back of her leaving her a bit shaken and bruised. Paul was on the boat and managed to get a photo just as it happened.


Paul hand feeding the Maori Wrasse

On Friday we decided to move to another reef and motored 18nm SE to a favourite place of ours, Little Black Reef.
We trolled all the way passing loads of schools of working tuna but unfortunately they didn’t like the noise of the motors and dived whenever we came too close. It was an awesome sight though.

Working Tuna in front of Heartbeat

Little Black is a small oblong shaped reef with two lagoons that have deep water access. We opted for the southern one and both boats anchored in 20m depth.
That arvo we got the guns out and took Rod for his first spearfish. We tried the outer walls which had loads of bait fish but unfortunately not much pelagic or reef fish action so we thought about what Bait Reef was like and went into the lagoon areas to explore. We had a blast along the walls, bays and isolated pinnacles and shot 3 Red Throat Emperor, 2 Tuskies and a Trout. Rod shot one of the Tuskies which is pretty good for a first fish.



The sunset that evening was awesome.


The next day just the 2 of us rigged the soft plastics and fished the 40m drop off around the reef. We caught 5 fish but only kept one.

Look how Red this Coral Cod is…

After lunch we loaded the guns and took the RIB 2nm NW to the tip of the reef for a spear. We both had a great time with 4 trout and 2 decent sized crayfish.


We had a funny experience right at the end. Paul speared the second cray on a reef wall at 12m depth. The shaft of the gun went though the cray and into the reef and was stuck. We undid the shooting line from the gun, slid the cray up the shaft and off the line leaving the shaft and shooting line stuck. During that time Lisa had also just shot a Coral Trout and there were a few sharks around so she took all the gear onto the reef top as Paul tried to free the shaft. On the third attempt he got it out. On returning to Lisa he finds her in 2m of water with 2 discharged guns, 2 identical 20m float lines and floats in a big tangled mess floating around her, the cray under one arm and the trout still half way up the shaft in the other hand with a shark ripping into it and another 2 sharks swimming around her.  She was giving the shark heaps but it was very persistent. It took more than a few jabs from the shaft Paul had to get it to back off but it wanted that fish! We swam the 150m back to the RIB with Paul swimming around Lisa still fending the sharks off, making silly bugle noises thru the snorkel and joking he was Sir Lancelot that had us both laughing. We got safely into the boat and Lisa’s first words were “Bet you’ll never find yourself another female that’ll do that….” She’s probably right!!
The funniest thing of all was the shark that was attacking was only a 5ft white tip reef shark which we normally don’t give a second glance too and we consider pretty harmless. The other 2 were a black tip and a small grey reefy.

That evening the wind dropped from the 5-8 knots we had and it glassed out. We woke the next morning to a lake and we could have barefooted across the lagoon. It stayed like this for over 3 days which was amazing as we were over 100km from the mainland. We packed the guns and rods away as the fridge and freezer were full and pulled out the scuba gear.



We had 3 awesome days drift diving in pristine conditions with fantastic viz. With 2 RIB’s we worked out a fantastic way to do drift dives. We simply put Rod’s RIB at the estimated finishing point and loaded everyone onto ours and anchored it at the start. It worked a treat and enabled us to do some long stress free dives.
Paul and Rod also got to use their new matching Bauer Scuba Compressors. We can fill our 4 cylinders in just over 1 hour which is way quicker than our old one on our last boat Purranha.


We dived with Claudia and Hunter and they are very comfortable in the water. We had them doing dive times of around 80 minutes for most dives. The 3rd and 4th dive we explored a wall on the outer edge that is loaded with caves.  We have dived this area a few times before and it was great to explore the caves again. The cave system is only 6-12m deep but is an immense labyrinth of big caves linked with many passages both large and small going off in all directions. There is the odd small crack in the roof which lets just enough light in to see what’s going on but a torch is a must. It’s just an unreal dive and hard to explain how good the caves really are. We spent more than 75% of each dive exploring some of the tunnels and caverns.

Hunter inside one of the caves. Rod has the light coming thru behind him.



On Wednesday the 11th we decided to leave the reef. The Northerly wind was to increase and suck down into the 25 knot southerly that was due to hit some time on Friday.
We brought the mornings drift dive foward to 9:30 and left the reef at 12:30. The weather was still great with flat seas and only 8 knots of N wind so we set the spinnaker and started sailing back into the Whitsunday Islands.

Mel’s shot of Lorelei under spinnaker and main.


By 4pm we had 15 knots of NW and were reaching under main and genoa. The seas were starting to get up and we started thinking we left the reef at the perfect time.
We arrived in Nara Inlet at 7pm just on dusk and watched an unusual sunset looking south.


Thursday we spent the day cleaning all the scuba, spear & fishing gear and relaxing after a very action packed week at the reef.

Friday we left Nara and went into Airlie to pick up friends Lucy and Mick for a weekend of fun around the islands. Lucy worked for Lisa at Whitsunday Terraces so it was great for them both to catch up away from work.
We took them to Butterfly Bay and spent a rainy Saturday snorkeling, drinking, eating stacks of yummy food and devouring big box of malteasers.
Sunday we took the RIB over to Manta Ray bay with some cut up fish so we could do a fish feed. We had 5 Maori Wrasse and a stack of Fusiliers. Lucy and Mick had a blast!!
Paul the dummy took his U/W camera - without the memory card...
As we turned the corner into Butterfly Bay, we had mirror smooth water and really good viz which is pretty rare here so Mick and Paul jumped in off the back of Lorelei and had a great Snorkel on the wall. They found some big Tuskies and 2 Red Emperor in a grotto that didn’t seem at all fazed by their presence. Lucy had a fun arvo feeding the Batfish off Lorelei’s back duckboard.





Mick, Lucy and Lisa on the way home to Airlie

We dropped them back to Airlie on Sunday night and 30 minutes after returning to Lorelei, copped a storm that dumped a lot of rain and washed the boat for us.

On Monday it rained, and rained, and rained…….lucky Tomic’s first round game at the Aust. Open was a 5 set cracker on the TV.
Tuesday was better but still not great and Paul was having a great time servicing the engine – his favourite job – NOT!!!

Wednesday we left Airlie with the intention to start working our way south and had a great sail down the Whitsunday Passage in a 15 knot SE breeze. We hand helmed and tacked a few times down to Cid Harbour which was fun and had both us and Lorelei getting a workout.

Leaving Cid Harbour

Thursday morning we set sail again this time making Shaw Island in the afternoon after a somewhat challenging day tackling currents, shoals, fluky winds and having to weave through the islands. We sailed right into the anchorage which we were pretty chuffed at.

Friday we moved 2 hours south to the Goldsmith Islands. Half way there we encountered a rain storm which was pretty intense and had viz down to only about 100m. We arrived to find one of the most beautiful islands we have seen on the East Coast. We were ecstatic to be somewhere new but also kicking ourselves that we have sailed past here so many times and never stopped.

Heading towards Goldsmith Island.

This place has fantastic scenery, beautiful beaches and secure anchorages.
We decide to stay for a few days fishing and exploring.
We spent the first afternoon in the kayaks exploring the bay and trolling lures behind the kayaks.
This week we have some big king spring tides and the tidal difference will be up to 6m in height. It could prove interesting…

This beach was completely covered at high tide.

At night we were delighted to find we had perfect TV reception to watch the Tennis. We have watched all of Tomic’s games – well Lisa watched the game and Paul watched for when the camera turned towards Tomic’s girlfriend Donay…
On Saturday morning we put the RIB in and went off to explore the island at high tide. We found a beautiful bay that was stunning with 2 small mangrove lined estuaries that we have vowed to return to fish tomorrow morning on the incoming tide.


On one of the beaches we found a water course with some refreshing fresh water springs running out onto the beach. We had to be big kids and dam one and have a bath….



Saturday arvo we had a fish along the rocky shoreline throwing poppers, lures and soft plastics. We lost more tackle than we got fish but had a heap of fun. Lisa caught a Venus Tuskie on a Blue and Silver Squidgie which was unusual but good fun.


Saturday Night’s Sunset.


Sunday we got up early and went fishing. For the first time this trip we unpacked the saltwater fly fishing gear and headed to the 2 mangrove lined creeks we found yesterday. We were a little rusty casting at first but soon got into the groove. We had so much fun and will definitely do some more SWF in the coming weeks. At one stage we were sight casting to a school of surface fish only 20 feet from the RIB when a crocodile came from below and smashed up through the school making a huge commotion. And to think yesterday we were snorkeling and building the dam only 50m from here…


Sunday night we find out there is a decent monsoon low over the cape that is going to bring a lot of rain to Nth QLD. The N winds are forecast too so we decide to push further south and get some distance between us and it.

Monday we left to sail south with 3 destinations to choose from depending on how the trip went. The tides caused some fun indeed. As we turned south to motor through the passage between Goldsmith and Linne Island, we had 4 knots of current against us and a stack of big whirlpools in the pass. Lisa had a laugh trying to steer the boat straight as every whirlpool sent us spinning in all directions. We sailed 20nm south to St Bees Island anchoring there overnight.

Tuesday was a crazy day that started not so well but ended on a high.
We woke at 5am with the plan to do a 70nm run SE to the Percy islands but there was no wind. By 6am it was raining and 7am-8am we had over 40mm of rain. By 10:30 the rain had eased and the wind appeared to be increasing so off we went. The seas were small but confused with short sharp chop with no real direction. The winds were flukey and the current was against us. The sails went up/down, motor on/off, wind lifts/knock the boat rocked and on and on it went. At this stage the ETA was about 10am the next day. At least it didn’t rain!

Some interesting rocky outcrops on the way south

By 3:30pm the NE kicked in at 15 knots, the seas settled down, the tide turned giving us 2 knots assistance and we rocketed along at 8.5 knots into the evening with the music cranked and Lisa’s freshly made panang curry chicken.
We sailed right into the bay and anchored up at 11pm to a clear sky with a million stars overhead, a chorus of frogs on the island and some goats bleating and complaining about us being in their bay.

Wednesday morning we woke to find ourselves in a beautiful anchorage AND the most awesome sandhill in front of us that had to be sandboarded!!

Look carefully and you can see goats near the top of the slope

First though we decided to motor around to a more secluded and protected bay in case the weather turned foul which it was forecast to do.
When we entered the bay we found Heartbeat anchored up. We have not seen them for about 10 days so it was good to catch up.
We all decided to put the tenders in and enjoy a day exploring the island.
First we went around the western side to visit the famous yachtie’s A-frame which houses over 30 years of memorabilia that cruisers have left there. It’s a must see for all boats travelling through the area and many people even make something for the hut months in advance.





On the way back we found a stack of interesting rock formations and caves that had to be explored. It was a challenge getting from the RIB’s onto the rocks though.



For the afternoon we went to the bay with the sandhill. It was a fantastic place with a lagoon that is full at high tide and empty at low. The girls found a nice fresh water spring and had to make a dam. Which they nicknamed “The Day Spa”


The sand slope turned out to be a very steep and fast but awesome to ride the sandboards on and we all had a few runs each.


The view from the top

We found a snake on the beach down near the waters edge that was about 80cm long. We didn’t know what it was so if someone reading this has a snake book and can identify it, can they please let us know by leaving a comment... Thanks.


That night we had dinner on Heartbeat and we were all falling asleep on the lounge by 8:30 after a huge day of fun and surprisingly fantastic weather.

Thursday – Australia Day!!!!
We got into the groove by hoisting Aussie flags, wearing our Aussie clothes and covering ourselves in fake Aussie tattoos.
We decided to have an Aussie seafood BBQ for dinner. Paul, Lisa and Rod went spearing for the morning and got a great feed of fish while Mel home schooled the kids. Rod speared his first Coral Trout – a decent one too so he was stoked. That arvo we went to the sandhill again and sandboarded, built stage 2 of The Day Spa, and had a game of cricket on the beach. Lisa and Mel also went for a trek across the tops of the dunes and found stacks of goats (there are over 1000 on the island) and a kangaroo.
Once again another day of fantastic hot weather, no wind and no rain! That’s not what the forecast said…there’s a monsoon low above us – apparently!!

Australia Day at dusk

That evening we had a great BBQ on Lorelei and pavlova for dessert.
As we were kicking back and talking about what we were going to do the next day, the weather came thru at 9:30pm on the HF and it all changed. The forecast was for a big southerly blow to hit in around 36 hours time and compress into the monsoon though so we agreed to continue south to better protection.
The destination decided upon was to be Island Head Creek on the mainland near Shoalwater Bay.
This place is very secure in all weather and is a well known cyclone retreat.
Best of all it has fantastic fishing, crabbing and prawns. For fisho’s it’s known as the GT (Giant Trevally) capital of the world so break out the spin rods and the poppers!

We left at 5am to get the tidal assistance and motor sailed the 50nm south.

Leaving the Percy’s at dawn – note Aust. Day tattoo on forehead

About ½ way we got a big rain storm. No wind or seas just a hell of a lot of water. We had viz down to less than 50m and were relying very heavily on the Radar, AIS and chartplotter.

Heading in to the rain storm

We arrived safely into the creek at 1pm after a few nervous moments negotiating the entrance which is very shallow and nearly dries on low tide. Once in, the waterway was a lot bigger than we were expecting.

Approaching the entrance

Going very close to some rocks to get the deeper water.

The next day we both got up early and went onto the sand banks at low tide and pumped for nippers. We then went up the creek and anchored in the mangroves and fished ending with a successful haul of whiting.
In the arvo we loaded the crab traps with the fish frames and put them up into the creeks and left them overnight. We had another great nipper and whiting session late in the arvo and caught some grunter too. It was a great day and still no rain….

Sunday we got up early again and this time joined Rod and Mel for a nipper session gathering enough nippers for the 6 of us. We took off up the creek at 11am to have another fishing session and to check the crab pots.  We fished for 3 hours and only got stingrays, small bream and grunter which we threw back. Not one edible fish! Lisa did get one GT on 6kg line which was a good fight before landing it and letting it go.
We checked the crab pots on the high tide and discovered all 3 had been destroyed. The large mud crabs had simply cut their way in, broken open the plastic bait holders, taken the bait and cut their way back out. Our metal frame folding crab traps which we have had from the Purranha days were perfect for the Blue Swimmers but obviously not strong enough for the Big Muddies up here. Oh well…. We’ll have to get some heavy duty ones when we get back to Brisbane.
 It wasn’t all bad - Lisa made tempura Whiting for dinner with the fillets from yesterday arvo’s session.

Monday morning we said goodbye to Heartbeat as they left to go to The Keppel Islands and Roslyn Bay Marina to re-provision before meeting us in about 5-7 days time out at The Capricorn Bunker Group.
We took the RIB further up the inlet to another tributary to explore and do some more fishing this time with lures. We trolled and threw stacks of different lures around the mangroves and rocky edges but didn’t get one bite. The only thing Paul hooked up on was a stack of mangrove branches….


By Tuesday we were stuffed and had to stop and get some R&R. We have been going full bore everyday since Christmas (everyday since we left Brisbane really…) and it had finally caught up with us. The weather is not the best anyway with messy seas out on the Islands and the Reef, 20 knots of wind and patches of rain. We spent Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri and Sat just lazing around cooking, sleeping, reading, watching movies and doing the odd bits of maintenance like servicing the winches, fixing the rust spots, etc…
There’s no phone, TV or internet reception, no radio chatter and we haven’t seen another person since Heartbeat left a week ago. Perfect!!!
I could also say something about not wearing a stitch of clothing for a week but won’t leave you with that thought….

On Friday Paul had a bit of a gross experience. We were running the main engine to run the desalinator when a large jelly fish with some very long nasty tentacles got sucked up into the salt water intake and into the strainer. Paul was up the top of the mast and by the time he got back down it had sucked through the strainer and the manifold and gone through the engines raw water pump, the heat exchanger and into the exhaust system. It also went into the desal filters and worst of all the toilet inlet plumbing. It was a stinking mess and took about 2 hours to flush all the lines, clean the strainer and replace the desal filters. Paul doesn’t get grossed out by much but this was not a pleasant experience.  How the hell does a 50cm wide by 100cm long jellyfish fit thru a 65mm hole sitting flush against the hull???

On Saturday the weather report was looking much better so we readied the boat to leave on Sunday.

Sunday the 5th of Feb. Paul’s 43rd birthday!!! We have a few cakes in the fridge and freezer after the cooking spree so Lisa made Paul a tray of yummy vanilla slices instead – his favourite.



We departed the creek on the 7am high tide and motor sailed the 10nm south to Pearl Bay. It was an awful first 45 minutes with very rough conditions at the creek entrance making the boat rock 45 degrees side to side and very slow boat speeds.
In the cruising books Pearl Bay is described as one of the most beautiful bays on the East Coast and it did not disappoint. We put the kayaks in and went for a paddle. There were some fun waves in the passage that we had to surf on and we found some amazing sea caves along the walls.

Caching waves in the pass





Both the beaches we explored were stunning. On the way we met Wayne off the other Ketch in the bay. We had seen their boat up the other end of Island Head Creek the week before. Wayne and Nikki did a lot better than us with the Mud Crabs so they invited us around for a great afternoon of drinks, nibblies and freshly cooked muddies. Yum!! 
Sadly this area is also part of the Militaries training exercise area and they regularly close the place to play war games.


Tuesday we left again at 8:30am on the tide only this time we were unsure where to go. The choice was Great Keppel Island or somewhere in the Bunker Group out at the reef. The general direction was the same for the first few hours and the arvo weather forecast would dictate where we ended up.
The weather is really up in the air (pardon the pun). We have T/C Jasmine out near New Caledonia, an intense low off Lord Howe Island (Paul’s dad is there for the next 4 weeks...) and a large high off Adelaide. Anything could happen and we are being very cautious.

We get the HF weather and all is good so it’s off to the reef! We suspected that Heartbeat were also out there somewhere and we assumed Fitzroy Lagoon so we took off for a 100nm overnight run SE to there.
At 2pm we received a call advising they were at North West which 30nm closer than Fitzroy and the area we really wanted to go to in the first place. Stoked!
By noon the NE had kicked in at 10-12 knots at we had and awesome off the wind reach with the assym spinnaker set tight like a screecher and were rocketing along at 7-8 knots arriving at the reef at 9pm.
We’ve done some crazy things before but pulling up to anchor at a coral cay that we’ve never been too before at night is up there with the best of them. Fortunately Heartbeat was there to use as a reference and it was a full moon so all went well.

Wednesday – A day of extremes.
We awoke on Wednesday to a glass out and no wind – a perfect start to our time out here. We dropped in the RIB and went over to see Heartbeat and we all went onto the Island at high tide to have a look around. On the Island we found loads of Turtle tracks above the high tide mark indicating they are probably nesting so we have decided to come back in tonight to have a look.


Note the 4 Spotted Eagle Rays in the foreground

We went for a walk thru the Island on one of the marked walking trails and somehow ended up lost in an area of thousands of mutton birds holes on the sandy floor. It was a mission to find our way out of what we have nicknamed “The Enchanted Forest”. We did re-check the track when we found it and it did just appear to stop which made us feel a little less stupid.

Birds Everywhere!!


We went for a swim and the salinity was so high that we could float quite freely even with hands and feet in the air which was really weird but fun.


After a lunch of Chilli Mud Crab we head along the southern side of the reef for a spear. We found a great bommie in the deeper water that was holding good fish. On each dive down thru the bait fish saw different species. First it was Spanish, then Diamond and Golden Trevally. On the bottom around the base were Trout, Blue Maori Cod and a stack of other species.
Paul decided on quality over quantity and shot his PB Red Emperor. Lisa dived down under a massive Bull Ray hovering around and shot her first Cobia that was trailing along behind it. It weighed in at 7Kg.

At 7pm we ventured over the reef back onto the island to see the Green Turtles. We were so lucky to have a full moon and spring tides with the high being at 8:30pm giving us until 10pm on the beach with enough water to get the RIB’s back over the reef and back to the boats.

 Flashes are frowned upon when viewing the turtle laying and hatching so the photos were taken on ISO 6400 and no flash with a 2 second exposure – hand held which was a challenge. Hence the reason they look grainy, a bit blurry and like daytime even though it was at night.


We found 2 turtle tracks immediately and they were already busy digging their holes where the sand meets the tree line. They were massive at about 1.2m long. We let them dig and searched for more. Soon Rod came running up saying he had found a nest that had just hatched and we saw the tiny little hatchlings racing down the beach to get to the water. You cannot touch them but we had to help them by fending off the birds and trying to distract the sharks cruising up and down the shallows picking them off.
At one stage Paul watched one adult female swimming along very close to the shore and it turned and walked up the beach past him as he lay very still in the sand with the camera.




We picked one turtle out and watched as she dug a large indentation into the sand and then started excavating the egg clutch hole. This was dug using her rear flippers and it was amazing how she could utilize them to dig a small but deep hole. She stopped digging and had a large breath and then the laying started. They were leathery white eggs and they just kept coming…..




Overall it was a very awesome experience and a first for all of us. We left the beach at 10pm and made it back over the reef safely.
As we were heading back we noticed a storm to the south over Heron Island that looked pretty intense. The wind was NE and we were on the southern side of the reef so we assumed it would head away from us. We were wrong!
As it loomed closer we got the tenders up and closed up for the rain. By 11:30pm it had gone ESE and was 10-15 knots and building. We were sitting parallel to the reef which was OK. By 12:30am the wind had gone to the south, we had guests to over 30 knots, steep 3m waves pushing over us and our stern was sitting very close to the now exposed low tide reef edge. We had to go. We noticed Heartbeat trying to maneuver to get their anchor up and were having problems so we waited until they were free and clear.
By the time we started to lift the anchor it was gusting to 45 knots and Paul was on the bow bucking up and down about 10-12 feet with each wave and getting trashed. After a battle we finally got the 65m of chain up and secure and got away from the reef edge. The waves were pushing Lorelei over so far that the gunwales were going completely underwater and it was going over the deck and the windows. We put a handkerchief size piece of our Storm Headsail out and it helped a lot and got the boat moving at 6 knots away from the reef. After a few trials at working out the best point of sail and relative comfort, it worked out we could make Great Keppel Island by about 8am so we took off for there.
At 2am we put the VHF radio on scan and it was alive with chatter from boats doing it tough. Poor Jim at VMR Gladstone had to get up and open to handle the calls and stayed open until daybreak. He had a lot of smaller trailerboats out on the shoals that were having a hard time. 

Our wind gauge showing 45 knots max wind strength

Overall both boats made it safely into Svenson’s beach at Great Keppel and anchored by 9am albeit very bleary eyed and fatigued.  Damage was minimal. The BBQ broke free from it mounts and we found it across the deck but was surprisingly OK. The inside was a mess with loads of items yanked out of normally secure cupboards and shelves. We have one smashed serving plate but thankfully that was all.
So we will sit here for a few days exploring, kayaking and going for a kiteboard if it’s still windy Thursday and Friday.
We WILL attempt to make it back out to the reef in a few days time when both the seas and us settle down a bit.

Overall (apart from Tuesday night…) the start of the 2012 has been absolutely fantastic for us. We have seen some amazing new places, done a huge variety of activities and have had mostly great weather.
The rough plan is to spend another 2-3 weeks up here before returning to Brisbane and a week or 2 in Moreton Bay. We will then slip Lorelei and antifoul before pushing off to New Caledonia in April/May.

Thanks again to everyone who has commented – glad your enjoying our blog as much as we are putting it together. 
The next exciting episode will be when we return to Brisbane.
Have fun and be Safe…
Paul and Lisa on Lorelei.

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