Good bars serve decent whiskey with large pours at reasonable prices. Bad bars water down the pour then charge even more. Above is a shot of the Wide Bay Bar at sunrise as we start our way out.
The bar is at the bottom of Fraser Island. It is known as one of the worst bar crossings on the east coast of Australia. One reason is that one leg that takes you very close to beam-on to the swells. That’s the middle blue line on the chart above. The locals call it the Mad Mile, even though it’s closer to 2.2 nautical miles. We left at about 4:30am to start heading out. This gave us plenty of time just before high tide. You really need to do the bar with an incoming tidal current so the wave faces don’t get too steep.
Our crossing was a little stressful being our first one on this coast, but in practice pretty mellow with nothing shallower than about 11 feet and maybe a 1 meter swell.
After a decent days sail south we arrived at the bar entrance to Maloolooba. This one faces north, so the swells go across its entrance The weather was light winds and small swells. The bar was being dredged at the time. Like most of the other boats, I called the dredge master on the VHF and asked him if it was clear for us to come in. He said no problem, just come close by my side on the eastern side of the channel, as he had his piping on the western side. I told him we drew 2 meters (6.5 feet) and asked him to confirm that there would be enough water on that side to carry us safely over. No problem, he says, I just got done dredging that portion.
So we proceeded in and promptly clipped our rudder on the bottom. An official Holy Shit moment. I looked behind us and the bottom portion the rudder was floating off away from the boat. A quick check and we still had steerage.
Called up the dredge master on the VHF radio to let him know of our situation and told him to get his work boat to go out and retrieve the floating portion of the rudder.
Just after we went in a large, commercial, aluminum catamaran came in. The dredgemaster called him on the radio and asked him what was the shallowest he saw coming in. His response was 1.8m... too shallow for us! Argh!
Ours is a carbon fibre rudder with a carbon fibre shaft. The lower portion of the rudder is designed to break away on impact to protect the shaft and the remaining portion. The sacrificial break away did its job. Above is the recovered lower portion of our rudder.
There are a lot of sharks in the water here in Australia, we figure this is what a rudder looks like when a Great White takes a nibble.
We continued south for a few days (with overnight stops) down to Moreton Bay, in the Brisbane area, through the shallow, winding straights in South Moreton Bay to the Gold Coast, up the Coomera River and, finally, to the haulout at The Boat Works boat yard.
We were really lucky to hook up with Ryan from 143 Boat Builders onsite at The Boat Works yard. He went out of his way to get everything lined up for the repair and keep it all at as reasonable a cost as possible. This during the Christmas season, when things really close down.
Ryan matching the original layup schedule with layers of double bias fiberglass and carbon fibre unidirectional cloth (the black cloth is the carbon fibre). The CF cloth is amazingly strong and light.
It took a bit of effort and wiggling to get the rudder back up through the bearing, but we got it in.
All ready to drop back in, as close to good as new as you can get.
Notice the steps in the pic. All the boats that haul here get to use steps instead of yard ladders. This makes living aboard in the yard so much more comfortable. The daily yard rate includes free loaner cars, super clean heads and showers and an air conditioned room with TV for cruisers. It really makes for a whole lot more pleasant yard experience.
There are lots of contractors onsite here. If you need some work done, give Ryan at 143 Boat Builders a call and let him offer some suggestions. He’ll bend over backwards to work with you and does excellent work.
We’re off to an anchorage so we can spend Xmas day with our friends from Fair Winds, Judy and Sherman, and Chris and Chris from Scintilla.