The Tide Is High

When choosing an anchorage to stop for the night, we’ve been picking the ones that have a write up for good fishing and crabbing….. although I think they’re lying a bit, cause we’ve still only caught those two fish the other day – thanks to Charlie.  Lucky we weren’t counting on living off the land/ocean!

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We arrived at Tabby Tabby Island – a little out of the way spot  apparently with ‘good fishing and crabbing’.  We set our crab pots when the tide was still pretty high – in fact, it could have been at its highest and left them for the night.

Tabby Tabby Island

Then the boys and I used the oars on the dinghy and made our way about 50 meters in through the mangroves, which was a little creepy.

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With the tide going against us, it was  hard going on the row back the houseboat, but the boys did half each and did a great job.  I felt like I was being chauffeured!

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The next morning we woke to one of the lowest tides we had experienced thus far on this journey of houseboat discovery and realised that we’d possibly set the pots a little close to the mangroves……

   crab pot in mud

Which began the epic recovery mission.

Colin was determined that we were not going to leave a good crab pot behind.  We tried all sorts of methods, and he was not going to be put off, even when we realised that the pot was deeply embedded into the mud, which was a little like quicksand…

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… and had a consistency of thick custard, thus making it impossible to walk on…..

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…believe me, I tried.

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So we stared at it for a while, Col cast a fishing line towards the pot in the hope that the hook would snag and pull it out.  After working our way through quite a few hooks, he shifted up a gear or two and invented the crab pot retrieval system using items found around the boat – it was genius!

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(There is video footage of this, although it is still going through thorough editing and permission licences in order to use it publicly.)

Bit by bit the pot was pulled closer to the dinghy and as the tide got that little bit higher we were able to move closer to the pot.  You can imagine, the hours we spent doing this were quite intense.  A small, crappy dinghy with a  3 horse power outboard, custard like mud that you could neither step on nor hold the boat still with the oar, as it simply submerged all the while battling the wind and the raging tide.

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As the pot was dragged over the last couple of metres, we noticed that there was a sizeable mud crab in the pot.  This poor guy had a hell of a morning!  He’d been trapped in the pot all night, stranded on the mud in the sun all morning, then flipped and dragged…. then eaten!  And get this –  Once the pot to the boat, we could see that the crab was only sitting on the top of the pot and could have walked out at any stage.  We we flipped the pot over trying to dislodge it, the cage flipped open, leaving him just sitting there, but he was probably caked in the mud and therefore stuck to the pot….. Poor bastard!

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Our morning had been eventful, to say the least, but we clambered back on board – covered in mud and started the day’s journey south.  We passed some beautiful islands and wildlife along the main channel.

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And we learned (again) how the low tides can be potentially disastrous if you’re not in the know.  You’d be spewing if that was your boat on the left!

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I’m not sure the tides had anything to do with this person’s boat as it was sticking out in the middle of the channel, just very unfortunate!  The owner sensibly popped a yellow marker there to make it easier to find his boat again or possibly the marine safety people, but it’s hard to tell in QLD if there is anybody in that role.

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Our final destination for the night was near the south end of South Stradbroke Island.  The wind was starting to blow a little so we tried to nestle in close to the island to get away from it.  Little did we know that this was also the same area where the idiots in those high speed boats that people actually pay money to go on that speed and wiz around.

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Not my idea of fun, but the boats were full all afternoon, so it must be the idea of some people’s!  Anyway, as there are absolutely NO boating rules to speak of here in QLD, the speedy boat came dangerously close to us and other anchored boats, even though we were in a designated anchorage spot, making waves and generally creating havoc!

The youngens hoped aboard our trusty dinghy and headed for the island for some exploring time….

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and walked through to the ocean on the other side. It’s a beautiful walk through there if you ever get a chance.

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We were only at the beach for about 20 minutes before Jodie noticed that the sky towards the south was turning black and the rain was heading our way.  We scooted back down the path and along the beach to get back to the houseboat before she started pissing down.

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But lo and behold, the rain must have seen us below and just passed us by.  We could see rain in the distance, but it never hit – hallelujah!

This was the sky we were left with tonight.  After the day we’ve had I feel exhausted, but grateful. Grateful that we got the crab pot back; grateful we weren’t hit by the idiot speedy boat; grateful that we got to explore beautiful South Straddy, grateful that it didn’t rain on us but mostly grateful for my beautiful family.

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We’re On Top Of The World!

We headed north this morning and found ourselves in the most picturesque of places.  Looking around I thought to myself….

Such a feeling’s coming over me
There is wonder in ‘most everything I see
Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes
And I won’t be surprised if it’s a dream

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Everything I want the world to be
Is now coming true especially for me
And the reason is clear, it’s because you are here
You’re the nearest thing to heaven that I’ve seen

Jenny looking out into the distance - Coomera

Something in the wind has learned my name
And it’s telling me that things are not the same
In the leaves on the trees and the touch of the breeze
There’s a pleasing sense of happiness for me

Joe, Jodie & Charlie on South Stradbroke Island

There is only one wish on my mind
When this day is through I hope that I will find
That tomorrow will be just the same for you and me
All I need will be mine if you are here

Colin driving the houseboat - Coomera
I’m on the top of the world looking down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around
Your love’s put me at the top of the world

Charlie & Shell - Coomera

Thanks go to the musically talented brother and sister duo, Karen and Richard Carpenter for their inspired words.

On Top Of The World

 

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Gone Fishin’

Day 3 into our Brisbane/Gold Coast/Coomera Waters houseboat trip and and we were finally into the fishing.

We all had a little go…..

Nanna likes to dress for the occasion.

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Joe showed some great skills with the casting of the rod.

 Joe Fishing

Charlie took a fairly relaxed approach….

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And it seemed to pay off as he was the only one to pull in a fish… and he didn’t stop at one – within about 2 minutes he had bagged a flathead and a bream.

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and a bit of weed, but we don’t need to mention that.

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Pop filleted the fish, cooked them and they were on the plate and in the boys’ tummies within the hour.  Another good little taster before dinner.

Then it was another night with another beautiful sunset to endure.

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Whale Watching

Today was all about getting going.

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After all the to-ing and fro-ing and grocery shopping and boat briefing that went on yesterday – today was all about getting up and just getting going.  Which we did, at our leisure.  The Captain and the First Mate studied the maps as we went, deciding the route en route,  and just made the navigation rules up as we went along – except the maritime rules, we followed them to the letter.  Which is more than we can say for the rest of the wankers boaters here in QLD.  There seems to be a general rule here that if you’re in a boat, you should just do whatever hell speed you want and be damned all those smaller vessels and houseboats that get in your way.  I mean, if there’s no speed limit, then fair enough go 70 knots if you want to – but have some common sense and some general thought for those people that you are passing and who just might be up for a bit of spillage as your wash rushes at them in the shape of a 5 foot wave!  You think I’m exaggerating… I’ve wished a million times that I was, but I’m not.  The QLD boaters here are simply wankers. Harsh? Sure, but true!

We managed to swing along with the speedsters with the frequent calls of:

“Hold on to something that’s bolted down!”

“Here comes another one”

“Car……Game off!” (ala Wayne’s World)

“Where’s Nanna?”

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But once we worked our way up Tippler’s Passage to Dux Anchorage, we were fine and dandy.  We navigated the shallows like pros who were using the most up to date GPS on our iPads, anchored near the shore of South Stradbroke Island and made lunch – it’s as simple as that.

South Stradbroke Island

When you have two teenaged boys on board a houseboat it’s important to get them onto solid ground every now then to do a bit of running around and general letting off of steam.  The youngness (I’ve included myself and my older sister in this group) filled the tiny dinghy with it’s 3 horse power motor and very slowly made our way to the shore.

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We beached the dinghy, found the track that would take us across the island and followed our ears, listening the crashing waves on the other side….. also the path just lead us straight there.

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And it was beautiful.  Sure, it’s just like another beach that you’ve probably seen before, but a chap on the river side told us that he had seen some whales not far off the beach.  We got there and scanned, but concluded that they must have made their way past our lookout spot already.

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The boys took to the sand dunes to burn off all their boy energy and Jodie and I headed north along the beach.  It was lovely.  Squeeky sand, sea shells and kangaroos – right there on the beach.  In the distance we could see a glut of tall buildings which we assumed belonged to Surfer’s Paradise, but couldn’t be sure. The QLD coast line still bewilders me.

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We made it back to the sand dune where we first started and sat for a quick rest before our return trek and right there between 200 and about 700 metres out from the shore (we all had a guess) were about 3 humpback whales!  They were just cruising north, giving us a bit of a whale wave (a spout burst) every now and then.  It was quite magical as none of us ever seen a whale that close to shore before, even though we couldn’t agree on exactly how far from shore they were.

Any guesses as to the distance?

South Stradbroke Island

On return from our island jaunt the tide had gone out a bit, so it took all the muscles of the nephews and myself to get the ‘beached as bro’ dinghy back into the water.  Something told us that these little fellas weren’t going to be able to help us….. their arms are just way too short!

Kangaroos on Sth Straddy

Back on the boat Col had set a couple crab pots of the back of the houseboat and on the first pull we netted two pretty big crabs.  One mud crab with its bulbus claws and one juicy blue manner.  On the next pull, Col and Charlie pulled the pots and came back with the biggest mud crab we’d ever seen.

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It dwarfed the blue manner in the bucket.  In fact, we were lucky it fit into the bucket.

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A couple more pulls with Joe and we had pulled 6 good sized crabs.

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Not bad for a little taster before dinner!

Sunset at Dux Anchorage

Again, QLD did not disappoint on the sunset front.

I mean, look…..

Sunset Dux Anchorage

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We Know Boats!

Every now and then our family, my parents, Colin and Jenny; my sister, Jodie; my 2 gorgeous nephews, Joe and Charlie and I often meet somewhere in Australia for a week during the school holidays.  Jodie and her boys live in Melbourne, so it’s nice to meet up midyear somewhere warm and good fun for old and young kids alike.

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We’ve met in Broome, WA a few times; Cairns, QLD; Forster/Tuncurry, NSW and this year has us all up on a house boat on the Coomera River near the Gold Coast

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We started the trip at the Gold Coast Holiday Park right smack bang in the middle of all the Gold Coasts “Worlds” – Dreamworld, Sea World, Movie World, Wet & Wild.  With one free day before before getting on the houseboat, we hit Wet & Wild.

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It was a beautiful day; just warm enough sit in the sun, but with a lovely breeze so she wasn’t too hot.  Perfect!  The boys hit the water slides whilst the ladies sat – basking.  Because we were staying in the motel section of the holiday park we didn’t have the facilities to make a picnic lunch and decided that we would just work it out when we got there….. What we weren’t counting on were the 2000 other people who had the same plan.    We were also not counting on one of the two fast food eateries being closed meaning that 2000 hungry revellers lined up together for over an hour each to order their very expensive, very tasty burgers and chips.

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That’s right, you read that correctly – Over. An. Hour!   Jodie and Joe took the first shift standing in line before I took over the second shift finishing strong with Joe – this boy has stamina!  Some people in the line were only lining up to refill their never ending refillable cup of soft drink.  Unbelievable!

Boat day needed a tight schedule of logistical manoeuvring.  We had 6 people, 1 motorhome with 2 seats = (1 driver + 1 passenger only), Plethora groceries to buy for 1 week on the boat and an assortment of luggage to move from point A to point b – for boat.

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But after much discussion and suggestion as to how we would organise ourselves, the day just fell into place and the timing was impeccable….. until we got on the boat and the boat hire bloke had to do his briefing with the Captain – me Dad and the First Mate – me.  Now, for those of you who don’t know my Dad knows boats and for those of you who aren’t aware, I very recently obtained my skippers ticket.  Hiring houseboats doesn’t require you to have a skippers ticket or a licence of any kind, which seems very odd, but thems the rules.  It’s also the rules that when you do hire a houseboat, no matter how many years of experience you’ve had and no matter how many times you tell the bloke that you know boats, you still need to listen to every word of the briefing.  This includes going through each and every possible place you might think about stopping and a list of reasons as to why this is a good stop – lots of fish, great for crabbing, perfect swimming spot, etc….. It was at this point – 2 hours into the briefing that Col and I let him know that we weren’t going to remember all these fascinating details and that perhaps we could finish up?  He then went over the safety features again with me in written form.

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I get that you need to be safe on the water and contrary to popular belief, I’m generally a stickler for the rules, so I feel that this was a bit of overkill.  Then again, he doesn’t know me or what I’m a stickler for and really, how many blokes would get on and say “I know boats!” when they really don’t? – Not saying that my dad is one of those people – he definitely knows boats…… he knows ALL the boats!

As we finally left the marina doing our maximum 6 knots we were overtaken by boats fanging up the river doing anything from 20 to 30 knots.   Clearly there are no other sticklers here on the Coomera River – perhaps they could have done with a briefing?

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Because they were running a bit late getting the boat ready and the briefing took 16 hours to complete, we ended up leaving with about 30 minutes of sunlight left in the day.

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We cruised for about 20 minutes and found the perfect spot for our first night.  We downed anchor, cracked our first 5sies and watched the most beautiful sunset.

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Well done Coomera, well done Gold Coast and well done Queensland.