Saving 60 NM of Rocking & Rolling - go inside Moreton & The Stradbroke Islands
Reviewed Dec 2017
When cruising Australia's east coast, we never cease to be surprised at how many yachties go outside Moreton and Straddie, rather than enjoy the sheltered waters of the Broadwater, Moreton Bay islands and Moreton Bay itself.
Sure, if you are in a hurry, bypass all this, otherwise take the calmer route!
As with all reviews, do your own research. Speak with others. Use forums. But at the end of the day, it's always your call.
It is quite possible, working the tides and taking care at appropriate times, for vessels with drafts of up to 2.5 m, to safely navigate through these waters, even on the neaps.
It used to be said there are two types of boaties in Moreton Bay - those that have run aground, and those that lie that they haven't. However, with keeping a good lookout, chartplotters, and navionics on the ipad and working the tide, passage is safe enough - if a little challenging at times. When we first started navigating the bay, one old timer recommended not cutting the corners / beacons too close! Sage advice indeed.
Working from South to North, and following the Main Channel, the main areas of caution are:-
1. The Seaway - an ocean bar, with lots of flow ... and an overrun. Refer to Lucas and other resources.
2. The crossover just north of The Aldershots
3. The dredged channel approaching the 110 degree port turn, around 0.25 nm NW of Tulleen Island. This can be very tight if a 20 metre Riveria is on the plane coming in the opposite direction!
4. The shoal area at either end of the dredged "Jacobs Well Shoals" (around 0.5 and 1.2 nm W of ("2"), above). Until around 2013, this former shoal used to be the area providing the most grief to keelboats.
5. The area within say 200m to the S of the Cabbage Tree Point boat ramp. We have found by generally holding close to the jetties on the western shore and almost following that line towards the boat ramp seems to work for us. It can get tricky if a vessel is encountered coming S ... depending on the situation, it may be best to slow and wait for the southbound vessel to pass. Of course, there is also the traffic around launching ramp to contend with.
6. Around 2 nm N of the Cabbage Tree Point launching ramp. exercise caution when going under the power lines,
7. Around 0.3 nm SW of Browns Bay (on Russell Island), there is a tight / shoal spot just to the E / NE of the red.
8. Similar to ("7"), it also gets a bit interesting approaching the oddly named Karragarra W's.
9. Around 0.7 nm NNW of Blakesley's Anchorage, don't go too close to the green. By this time, particularly on the flood tide, visibility tends to improve, but that can be dependent upon the tide size, wind conditions and if the rivers have been in flood.
10. Proceed either side of Peel Island, but unless you have local knowledge or a shoal draft, do not hold through what appears to be a comparatively deep channel past Polka Point on North Stradbroke Island. We have found the bottom out from the southern red beacon, in when we expected 3m under us!
11. If near the northern side of Peel Island, give the Hanlon Light and nearby beacons a good clearance, as there are said to be coral outcrops.
You can now bear to port and enter Australia's largest boat harbour. Wikipedia claim, when the dry berths are included, this is the largest facility of its type in the southern hemisphere. There are around 1,700 marina berths, so Westhaven in Auckland might take the points on the wet berths count. Regardless, it is huge!
12. Heading N from Peel, aside from the steep to Amity (sand) Banks intruding from between Moreton and North Stradbroke Islands, navigation becomes easy (many race courses can be set, without shoalng interference), until the sand banks midway along Moreton Island are encountered. Although there is a NE Channel, used by many, we have largely followed the shipping channel when exiting Moreton Bay. It pays to take the ebb tide, otherwise its a slow trip.
This article has not covered the myriad of anchorages, marinas, the Brisbane River and facilities available with a population of over 2 millon people. Sometimes, if you time it right, it feels like you have the whole bay on your own - now, that's a real treat.
Dont forget plenty of insect repellent and mozzie coils. These insects and the midgies can be ravenous. Good cabin screening is also important. If you dont need it before Moreton Bay, you'll certainly need it further north.
Flat water, beaut beaches on Moreton & either end of Straddy
Muddy water, lots of banks which can shift!