15 April 2007

Pancake Creek

Pancake Creek
Town of 1770
Queensland, Australia

We Made it! We are now anchored in Pancake Creek. We left Mooloolaba on "Friday the 13th" at 6 am with nothing breaking. We were able to sail the whole way, a distance of over 200 miles, by sailing on the outside of Fraser Island. We passed a few reefs on the way, and are now officially inside the Great Barrier Reef with the Coral Sea being on the outside. The Great Barrier Reef is still a long way offshore from us. We are hugging the mainland because this is where the best anchorages are.

It was not a fun sail, but we did make good time. At times were making over 7 knots. It was not fun because Sandpiper was rolling all over the place because there were still some nice size swells from the winds that had been blowing strong all week. After we rounded the north end of Fraser Island, the wind was right behind us, which made us roll even harder than before. This made sure that whatever had not broken free below before would now break loose.

We dropped the fishing lines yesterday and caught two Mackerel at once. Both were nice size . We had to throw one back because there in no more room in the fridge thanks to the tons of shopping we did in Mooloolaba. They hit our fancy French lure, that we bought in French Polynesia for a ridiculously high price, and they chewed it all apart. They also hit on a smaller lure we bought in Tonga. We will have to get some new skirts for our lures because the fish here have very large teeth and just tear them apart.

Cleaning a fish on a rolling boat is not fun. Blood and guts go every where, and we always seem to loose something over the side when we are cutting the fish apart. Yesterday we lost my favorite fillet knife. It "jumped" over the side when we got smacked by a large wave.

We made such good time that we arrived at the anchorage here at Pancake Creek at midnight. Instead of slowing down and waiting for sunrise, we decided to come in at night. It stays deep right up to the cliffs, so we could drop anchor and catch up on some sleep.

If you check out where we are on Google Earth, you can see we are up a small river with sand banks of both sides of us. When we came in last night, we decided to drop anchor on the ocean side of the entrance, where is was still a bit rolly, and wait for sunrise to enter the river. The river gets quite shallow. The tidal range here are the largest we have seen since leaving the U.S. It will get even a larger range the farther north we go from here.

We re-anchored this morning after sunrise after we moved up the river a few miles. There was 21 feet of water where we stopped. Then it drop down to 11 feet at low tide. We really have to pay attention to the depth. Where you think might be a great anchorage during high tide will leave you high and dry at low tide.

There is nothing along the shore here except sand dunes and brush. At low tide there is sand everywhere because all the tide flats dry out.

We are planning on being here till tomorrow night (Monday), then sailing 80 miles overnight to Yeppoon where we plan on getting a berth in a marina for a few days. Our friends Iain from Texas and Mike from Nevada are coming to visit for a week. We are hoping to take them to Great Keppel Island for a few days of fun.

Q: So what do you do after you have anchored in Pancake Creek?
A: Amy whipped up some delicious blueberry pancakes with some mix we have had since Vanuatu. Mmmmmmm.

Tom and Amy

Notes From Ron:

  • The Australia coast on the inside of the Great Barrier Reef is called The Capricorn Coast, named after the Tropic Of Capricorn which crosses Australia there.
  • Pancake Creek is near the Town of 1770... strange name for a town!
  • The giant tides here are caused by a combination of resonance (or seiche) and the shape of the enormous lagoon between the reef and the mainland.

    Like water in any basin, the water in the lagoon has a natural rocking motion called a seiche. You could compare this to the movement of water in a bathtub. Although the water in a bathtub sloshes from one end to the other and back again in a few seconds, it takes about 13 hours for the water in the bay to rock from the mouth of the bay to the head of the lagoon and back again. The Coral Sea tide rising and flooding into the lagoon every 12 hours and 25 minutes reinforces the rocking motion. To imagine this, picture an adult giving a gentle push to a child on a swing. Just a very small push, at the right time, is enough to make it go higher and higher. A pulse from the ocean tides sustains the seiche in the lagoon.

    The lagoon's length is what makes the seiche frequency match the pulse from the Pacific Ocean tides. The lagoon's shape is of secondary importance although still significant. The lagoon becomes narrower and shallower towards the north head, forcing the water higher up the shores. That is why the tidal range will get larger the further north they go.

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