Sanctuary Cove for another Extended Stop

March 2021

After crossing the Wide Bay Bar, we did a straight overnight run down the coast. This meant we would cross Moreton Bay just after sunrise before entering the inland waterways down to our next destination at Sanctuary Cove. There are quite a few shallow areas, so picking the right channel and tide is important. The scale you use on your screen is important in preventing “learning experiences” (going aground). When I’m on watch I zoom in so all I can see is the channel we are in and the route Pugwash laid out (as much to check that we aren’t inadvertently going over a very small shallow area that doesn’t show up on a larger scale).  It is scary looking at this whole area (the large scale view) as it is quite a complex of channels – that is Peter’s problem.  As we approached what is known as the Broadwater, my immediate problem was getting around a dredge parked on a corner, without going outside the channel markers. The voice on the radio was very firm about staying inside the markers, even though that only left half a metre clearance off each side of the Big Girl. We were also finding that there were quite a few logs from all the recent rain, but luckily it was a beautiful day and nice and calm.  Our family follows us on marine traffic and that can give rise to some interesting conversations; like when brother-in-law asks if we are sure we are in the right channel – what does he (in southern NSW) know that we don’t?

While travelling in the Broadwater we realized we should not assume that any other boaters know the rules of the road – a scary number don’t. In a nutshell; stick to the right, don’t speed, give way to any boat that can’t maneuver as easily as you (sail and freighters for us, we also give way to everyone who is faster than us) and pass oncoming boats by steering to the right (so they pass on your left).  I have a sticker on the dash so I can check, in those instances where another boat seems pretty sure about what they are doing and I’m pretty sure they are wrong.  Even so, there is no ‘total right of way’ ruling on the sea – the ColRegs bottom line is that a captain does what-ever maneuvering is required to keep the boats from colliding.  

A channel marker in The Broadwater

When a channel has both set of channel markers (red one side and green the other) life is simplez; just stay between the two and travel closest to the markers on your right side.  What a strange wording I don’t hear you say, that is because the colour you keep to your right may not stay the same; it depends on the direction of the local harbour or the flood tide.  And this presents potential problems when there is only one set of channel markers.  Just red (cylinder shaped) or just green (cone shaped) requires you to know which side of the channel they are marking ie. what is the upstream/floodtide direction?  But all this is marked on charts (and you can make the chart plotters display it, and how hard is it to just stick to the right? [For US readers about to hit the WTF keys; you guys use the IALA Buoyage System B (Americas, Japan, Korea and Philippines) which uses the same shapes but the colours are reversed.  IALA A is used in Europe, Australia, most of Asia, Africa and India.  Regardless of which IALA system you are operating in, there is still no absolute ‘right-of-way’ on the water – so my friend who plays chicken with boats that don’t know the rules, is also in the wrong (and I’m pretty sure it’s not a useful learning moment for anyone). Appropriate speed for travelling past smaller boaters is also something that is a mystery to a disturbingly high number of boaters here, regardless of what type of boat they are driving.  Boats produce a wake that can rock anything else on the water quite violently (boats, boardies, canoes) and I do wish more boaties would look behind them to see the trail of destruction, ok spilled glasses and wet canoeists, they leave in their wake (the origin of this phrase).

Steer clear of the power poles

Another thing that took us by surprise were the power poles across the waterways – best to stay well clear of those.  In the end it proved relatively problem free and by 2pm we were safely berthed in our new home at Sanctuary Cove.

We will be on the Gold Coast for a wee while, as we have planned to have a reasonable amount of work done on the Big Girl.  I hope to shorten the list of ‘things that annoy Suz’ (these do not affect the functioning of the boat) and there are some big items, in time and budget, that we have been planning to do here (that do affect the operation of the boat).

The boat tradies are working their rears off trying to keep up with the current workload (every man and his dog is having boat work done – a positive side to COVID).  Good for them as a business, but not for us, as we are a relatively small job amongst some very big boats. 

We will have to wait for a month to get lifted at ‘The Boat Works’!  This is the earliest that Jade (Affordable Antifouling) could schedule our hull work.  Instead of just repainting the antifoul as usual, we want Opal Lady to have the equivalent of a derma peel.  (As usual, Peter has written a Tech Talk (number 5) to explain all).  Anyways, this gave Peter time to line up the other tradies for the week we were scheduled to be out of the water.

In the mean time we could enjoy Sanctuary Cove.  We had asked to be over on ‘I’ dock where our friends, the Mac’s, were berthed – it made for a shorter walk for morning coffee on our boat and cards night on theirs.  This is the newer (rather spiffy) part of the marina.

One of these things is not like the others

Just after we had pulled in and tied up, I sent a text to the family that said “Neon, we are not in Kansas anymore”.  We were berthed next to two 58’ Flemings (very pretty boats), there were three other Nordhavns on this finger (all over 50’), in front of us were the superyachts (nothing under 70’) and behind us were two SanLorenzos (and those sleek, shiny guys are worth 7 digits!!).  We pulled in all salty, well-worn and small – sooooo didn’t feel like we belonged here.

It turned out to be a lovely (and convenient) place for an extended stay.  People were very friendly and very interested in our little boat; as one passerby observed with some admiration, “she obviously packs a punch” (and I do think that sums up ‘Opal Lady’ rather well). 

The marina waters are healthy with lots of fish life and occasional dolphin sightings.  At night there is the constant sound of bream sucking at the growth on the waterline around the pontoons and even the occasional fireworks to celebrate a wedding at the function centre.

Lovely fireworks but there was fall out

Unfortunately, the lovely Fleming in this photo had just been polished and Nick was not impressed with the ash and tiny metal shards that fell on his boat.

Sanctuary Cove is a land of white linen trousers and diamanté golf visors.  It is really a large retirement village with golf course, shopping complex, holiday resort and a platinum rated marina.  What this meant for us was good security, excellent bike paths (although most of the golf buggies drive with a definite sense of entitlement), walking distance to a range of good restaurants and very good medical providers (more on that later).

The buck is protecting his hareem

In the evenings a mob of kangaroos can usually be seen grazing on the grass bank in front of the marina (lots of tourist photos).  They spend the day under the shade of the trees on the golf course – I expect a golfer would get a free relief/drop if their ball hit a kangaroo, but I’d want it to be a lot further than one club length from a grumpy boomer sporting a fresh bruise.

View of the canal water ways of the Gold Coast

Peter got back to his riding, and found some lovely routes along the waterways.  I went with him when there was the promise of brekkie at the end of it. 

I hope they looked out for golf carts before crossing

I did a lot of walking around Hope Island, sometimes sharing the path with more than just the golf buggies.  This was a line of (Anthela acuta – common anthelid caterpillar – the adults are pretty boring but the furry babies a really cute).

The scones and cream diet is a hit

We thought we would pop up to Mt Tamborine to do a spot of touristing before things got hectic with the boat.  It was a lot colder than I expected up there – totally beautiful and green, but cold and damp.  Scones and tea (at a Greek café?), I am sure is listed in some diet somewhere. Peter spent a great deal of time in the shop that sold glass sculptures.  I really liked the huge vases on display (not very boat safe I know – the shop lady and I were talking about a near toppling encounter she’d had recently in the shop!) but Peter decided on a solid little octopus with startling blue eyes (he now lives in the salon).  We had gone up there to visit the Botanical Gardens (I’m a sucker for a Camellia) but we spent so long finding perfect gifts for family at all the quaint shops, that we ran out of time (we had to get back through Brisbane before the truly terrible peak hour-s traffic).  Yet another place we will have to go back to.

Surfers Paradise beach looking south

We took a tram to check out Surfers Paradise (it is synonymous with the Gold Coast after all) – I wasn’t very impressed as  it has a run down feel to it.  The beach and facilities are good and could cater for a big number of people (obviously the big number of people weren’t there due to the you-know-what) but the streets off the beach front were in need of some serious sprucing up.  The water didn’t look very inviting this day due to the fall out from Cyclone Niran (it had headed off to hit New Caledonia, but the effects on the seas were felt here). We went up to the Skypoint Observation Deck for our touristy thing.  It did have excellent views of the beaches, city and broadwater, and a goodly display of history of the area and the Surf Lifesavers.

It’s a good view

Neon Notes:

Recovering in My Room

As you know I don’t like to be a drama-Puss, but I nearly died on this trip!!!!! (In all seriousness Mum did get very worried about me).  I went off my food, stopped moving, was in lots of pain (I was even scratching Mum when she was trying to help me – the shame), stopped visiting the kitty tray, and generally looked unhappy and dull.  Mum was putting cream around some very private areas (first aid cream with lignocaine in it, for pain relief).  Finally, on the last leg of this trip into Moreton Bay an abscess burst at my rear end – the indignity of it all, but after a wee clean up I felt soooo much better.  I had an impacted and infected anal gland – no wonder I was not well and grumpy (Mum took a photo for the Vet but promised me she wouldn’t publish it as it is definitely not my best angle).  I’ve now been to the dreaded Vets and declared fighting fit and good for another couple of thousand nautical miles.

Research Ravings:

(Suz version of history) In 1902 a Mr. W. Gocher, kept putting naughty ideas into people’s heads by going swimming during the day – this was breaking the law at the time.  It was eventually changed to allow people to “…bathe in the sea during daylight hours”, but this led to a number of drownings (because people could see further out, they kept going further, despite not really knowing how to swim – you see a lot of it on the show TV ‘Bondi Rescue’). So, groups of young surfers started looking out for people in trouble.  They later realized they needed to be a bit more organized, and in 1907 Surf Life Saving was born.

Cruising Comments:

Follow the red line to Sanctuary Cove

Moreton Bay and The Broadwater: Definitely keep the radio on and keep friendly with the dredge operators.  We found the ferries easy to work with; they have set routes but were happy to work with us when it was obvious that we couldn’t get completely out of their way (they move fast).  [Cruising the Coral Coast, A Lucas, 2014, pg. 30- ] [Chart AUS 814]

The Boat Works:

On the Coomera River, off The Broadwater.  A very professional outfit.  The office staff  work very hard keeping all the jobs fitting together (and they appreciate you giving them as much  notice of changes and if you can be ready and flexible for last minute changes).  The office staff are also very knowledgeable about the various jobs that may be done on a boat which makes it so much easier to negotiate times and sheds correctly.  We only had one mishap (wrong sized shed) and that was the result of a miscommunication on our part. You can liveaboard (pets welcome).  There are a number of ablution blocks, toilets, bbq area and lounge area.  The site has excellent security, bike racks and the café is so good that the local police call in each morning for their smoko (I’m sure that is probably considered a very non PC term – but I don’t care).  The closest shopping centre is a comfortable bike ride away.  [Cruising the Coral Coast, A Lucas, 2014, pg. 37]

Sanctuary Cove:

A marina of many facets on the Coomera River, off the Broadwater.  The superyacht area is being covered (not sure why, as it doesn’t seem to do anything useful), the concrete pontoons are new and wide, there are plenty of power and water outlets and firefighting stations (even a spill kit bin at the end of the pontoon).  The pylons are well signposted from the water side.  The older marina area is made of wooden pontoons (regularly repaired) but still has good access to electricity and water and good security.  The signposting in the older section leaves a lot to be desired (as in it is actually wrong in places and non-existent in others – best to make sure Rebecca gives you a map with a big cross on it).  The berth fee includes secure parking and access to the resort facilities. We did not find the fees to be excessive (although it is rumoured that the fees for the covered arms will be increasing significantly). [Cruising the Coral Coast, A Lucas, 2014, pg.37-38, does not show new marina fingers]

Banner Photo – ‘I’ finger at Sanctuary Cove, resort on left, locals in foreground

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