In Good Company

Peter and Alison aren’t strangers to the boating lifestyle. Abbey Road, their Integrity 460SX, is their fifth boat and second Integrity. Since making the move from fast flybridges to long range coastal cruisers, Peter had been keen to show Alison more of the coastline. So, when friends suggested a trip in convoy up to Great Keppel Island and other Great Barrier Reef Islands, they enthusiastically agreed to join. It was a great chance to test the boat, tick something off the bucket list and discover this beautiful coastline together with their dogs.

Peter and Alison have enjoyed many years boating, spending their leisure time on the Broadwater and Moreton Bay. Peter had cruised as far as the Whitsundays yet the opportunity to do it with Alison had never presented itself. Now with their Integrity 460SX, Abbey Road, it was a more than achievable trip and when long-time friends suggested a trip together, Peter and Alison knew they would be in good company.

Setting off from the Gold Coast in August 2021, the goal was to make it to Great Keppel Island. It is a route well traversed, yet Peter and Alison made some off the beaten path stops. The first was the Raby Bay Canal, a stop necessitated by the wind and a fuel stop. Next was to the ever-popular Tangalooma before another two nights in the Mooloolah River in Mooloolaba again to shelter from high winds. Before crossing the Wide Bay Bar, Abbey Road spent a night in the Rainbow Beach Lagoon.

Alison explained, “We entered the Rainbow Beach lagoon to spend a night in readiness for the Wide Bay Bar crossing the next morning. Personally, I find it nerve racking to go to the Bar yet a good crossing comes down to the timing of the tide and the weather. It helps to leave from Rainbow Beach as it is only an hour from the bar.”

Once safely inside the Sandy Straits, they enjoyed the many protected anchorages including Garry’s Anchorage, Deep Creek where there is a shipwreck and abandoned timber wharves, Kingfisher Bay and the very pretty Moon Point.

After a brief stop in the Burnett River, they started the cruise out to Lady Musgrave Island. It was uneventful yet the weather turned whilst at anchor at the reef-encircled tropical island. The trip back to Gladstone was less than ideal, yet Abbey Road rose to the challenge.

Peter explained, “We had a few nice days at Lady Musgrave before the wind picked up so strongly we had to stay put for a few more days. Our friends had a satellite phone and were receiving regular weather updates so we knew what was coming.”

“We eventually left Lady Musgrave heading to Gladstone on a 7-hour journey whilst it was blowing more than 35 knots and there were close to 2.5 metres swells. It was uncomfortable yet it was the only window we had to get inshore. We arrived at Gladstone Marina with everyone and everything in good working order.”

Peter and Alison spent a few days in Gladstone waiting for the weather to pass and really enjoyed the time at the marina. Owned by the Port Authority, the marina team went above and beyond to make them feel at home.

“We were presented with a welcome pack full of goodies including hats, tide charts the marina fees were incredibly reasonably priced. There were excellent laundry facilities and you could easily walk into town although the marina provided a courtesy bus service to take you into the two separate shopping centres or into the main part of town. We caught the commuter vehicle Ferry over to Curtis Island which took four hours round trip where we went to many stops in the pristine estuary,” stated Alison.

With clear weather, Peter and Alison along with their friends continued to Great Keppel Island taking the channel inside Curtis Island known as the Narrows. The Narrows is only navigable at high tide and there is plenty to see along the way from the extensive cargo shipping terminals to the pristine natural beauty of the saltmarsh and mangroves until you reach Keppel Bay and the mouth of the Fitzroy River.

“Great Keppel Island is beautiful and there are plenty of anchorages and even bush walks for those interested. It was also lovely to be able to swim from the beach to the reefs and snorkel and, with 22o water temperatures, it was very swimmable. We didn’t go to the resort, but the island is delightful,” said Alison.

After Keppel, Peter and Alison continued to Northwest Island on the reef, anchoring in 25 metres of water and the next day headed out to Heron Island which was beautiful. The island itself is relatively small however the reef system there is massive and impressive.

“Should we return to this area, we would also love to leave the boat in Gladstone and take the ferry out to Heron Island for a few days. It would just be a wonderful way to experience the reef islands and certainly the Gladstone Marina would keep a watchful eye on the boat.”

This was the pinnacle on the trip both in experience and geography. Abbey Road then turned south east towards the mainland. Peter and Alison stopped for a couple of days at Pancake Creek, which they found to be an excellent, peaceful and picturesque anchorage just north of Agnes Waters, before retracing their route back south and the first stop was to Bundaberg.

“Back in Bundaberg we stayed at the marina due to poor weather and we took up the local IGA’s offer of a free courtesy bus to go into town and reprovision our fresh stores before heading south,” continued Peter and Alison.

The homeward route saw them back to Fraser Island and the Sandy Straits, stopping at Inskip Point in preparation of the bar crossing. Then down to The Wharf Marina at Mooloolaba before crossing to the wrecks at Bulwer on Moreton Island then through Moreton Bay back home.

After being at sea for 44 days, they arrived back to the Gold Coast in time to prepare for the Integrity Rendezvous up the Brisbane River where we eagerly asked their top tips for cruising north.

Tip 1: Strength in numbers

Cruising with others provides security, safety, enjoyment and more. The skippers could discuss plans and itineraries based on predicted weather and we had dear friends with whom to share the memories. If you know someone who has cruised the area before and welcomes you to join them, I would jump at the chance.

Tip 2: Long range communications

Lady Musgrave Island is 60 nautical miles offshore. Our phones had no reception. We were reliant on our friends’ satellite phone and listening to the chatter on the VHF for weather updates. Consider a VHF with a broad reach, Wifi booster or even a satellite phone for not just weather updates yet emergencies.

Tip 3: Leverage the winds

Most people start heading north around the time of the Hamilton Island Race Week (usually mid-August) as the South Easterly Tradewinds push you up the coast. Then in October/November, the northerlies start and are behind you on the trip home.

Tip 4: Cryovaccing is the key

With plenty of refrigeration (we added a 75-litre freezer after taking delivery of Abbey Road) and dry storage on board, we stocked the boat before departing assuming we would not make any stops as we don’t need to fuel up as regularly as others. Cryovaccing meat and meals saw us well fed throughout the trip. All we needed to worry about was fresh stores like fruit and vegetables and marinas in Mooloolaba, Bundaberg, Gladstone and Yeppoon are great places to stock up on these. We also packed everything efficiently, removed all cardboard packaging, vacuumed sealed sheet sets and towels.

Tip 5: Why Integrity?

We selected Integrity (and this is our second one) based on the cockpit. We love it. It is a perfect spot to entertain, relax and enjoy boating. With a sliding helm door, walkaround deck, few steps and no flybridge, it is easy to get around the 460SX which suits us and our dogs. When building Abbey Road, we worked with the Integrity team and asked for a few changes which they accommodated. Yet if we were to ask for one thing from Integrity on the next boat for an even better trip, it would be a little more speed to get out of inclement weather. So, watch this space!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Itinerary

  1. Coomera River
  2. Raby Bay
  3. Moreton Island: Tangalooma
  4. Mooloolaba River
  5. Rainbow Beach Lagoon
  6. Fraser Island: Garry’s anchorage, Deep Creek, Kingfisher Bay and Moon Bay
  7. Bundaberg: Burnett Rover
  8. Lady Musgrave Island
  9. Gladstone: Marina
  10. Great Keppel Island: Monkey Bay
  11. Northwest Island
  12. Heron Island
  13. Pancake Creek
  14. Bundaberg Marina
  15. Fraser Island: Kingfisher Bay
  16. Inskip Point
  17. Mooloolaba: The Wharf marina
  18. Moreton Island: Bulwer Wrecks
  19. North Stradbroke Island: Blakesleys
  20. Coomera River

To discuss the best Integrity Motor Yacht for your cruising dreams, contact the team today.

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