After our extended time in the Bay,we decided to head up the river to Brisbane to find an anchorage. We left the bay around Cabbage Tree Creek early one morning and travelled to the river entrance with a group of dolphins who appeared to be catching breakfast and frolicking in the early morning sunshine.
It was a little scary entering the Brisbane River channel with it's busy shipping lane and the cranes of the port looking like prehistoric monsters in the distance.
The port of Brisbane
We had hoped for a mooring at Bulimba, alas there is a 36' size limit. Manatee has an overall length of 49'. We wanted to be close to public transport and feel safe in the wild Qld storms, especially if we were both off Manatee.
We headed slowly up river, dodging the many jet cats, working boats and recreational vessels, with the girls on the bow pointing out possible spots with good parks.
Ruby spots a good park
The wash from the traffic can be pretty extreme when mixed with the fast flowing current so we continued on until we reached Brisbane CBD. We checked out the pile berths and although many appeared vacant, they were roped off which indicates "occupancy". A few boats were at anchor between the pile berths and the footbridge that crosses the river. We dropped anchor and couldn't set it....3 times. We gave up on that location and headed across river to Kangaroo Point and dropped anchor twice. It wouldn't set and every time we raised it the silty stinky slimy mud was a good indication why. Despite shouted encouragement from Craig, one of Brissie's gay boaties, we picked up a mooring (Dept Of Transport) and relaxed for the rest of the day, after washing the mud off ourselves and Manatee.
The Brisbane River has a few Qld Transport moorings- 1 at Bulimba and 2 at Kangaroo Point near the Thornton Street ferry stop- they are apparently rated to 20t and are a good short term alternative.
Idgi checks out the nightlife across the river
The next morning we took the dinghy across to the pile berths pontoon to enquire about possible berths, which we continued to do daily for a few weeks! We thought the wash from the ferries would do us in....that was until we moved across the river! Finally a trimaran was leaving and their berth was up for grabs...bugger too small. The next morning we heard voices calling us from a yacht pasing......Millefleurs (Hobart) was moving into the smaller berth for us as their berth would suit us-thanks Peter and Kaye.
Peter and Kaye had sailed Millefleurs (a Hunter 36') out from the US where they had purchased her and were resting before heading to Sydney and putting her on the market. They are a funny couple with great stories, who think importing a yacht is the way to go. Peter is keen to go again.
Millefleurs is advertised on yachthub if you're looking for a cheap Hunter 36 (1985) in great condition.
"This is an OK park" - the Botanic Gardens
Note the fast flowing current
The pile berths from the gardens
So for $60pw the Port Authority offers reasonably safe harbour, laundry, shower and toilet facilities, rubbish removal and a pontoon for dinghy tie ups. The wash from the ferries makes for a rough ride - sometimes the swell is close to 1M, and the double decker ferries are referred to as tsunamis. The berths are not too hard to tie up to, but I recommend slack tide from high to low as some of the rope rings are high on the piles. "Driving" onto the pile, setting the stern rope and then motoring on to set the bow rope has worked for us.
Although the port authority states no berth shall be reserved, it happens frequently. There are many boats that are not seaworthy and are cheap housing for some, even though the authority "cleaned up" in Feb 2009. The Dept of Transport is set to take over the management of the berths in June 2010 so little action is being taken at present. Cruisers are now tieing up to berths that are roped off unless neighbours state someone is away for a few days. The original intention of the piles berths was as a facility for transient boats, so hopefull a time limit will apply when under new management.
There are also some great cruisers on interesting yachts that we have met, who freely pass on their knowledge and it is a great opportunity for book swaps.
In January a nice red steelie "Do It" with Ruth (missing her pets) and Angus aboard made use of a roped off berth. This is their blog http://www.doitcruise.info/.