By Bruce Reeler

Over the week-end of the first and second March ‘14, I was fortunate enough to be invited on a cruise by Bruce and Lyn Wieland, aboard Shanda, to Deanbilla Bay on North Stradbroke Island. We set off from Manly harbour, and decided to go north round Peel Island. Of course, the wind went more southerly and softened, so we ended up having to motor the last stretch into Deanbilla bay, just south of Dunwich.  We passed Leon Degenaars, single handing his trimaran Windward along the way, he was heading northwards back home as he had other commitments and could not stay the week-end.

After arriving in Deanbilla bay, we found a good spot and dropped anchor, bedding it in well. Bruce had had problems with a dragging anchor during a storm here before, an experience he was not wanting to repeat! A little later Bruce Dickson and Annette arrived on Cat’s Whiskers. They were not staying long either, and having had some trouble getting a good anchor they rafted up with Richard and Bryony Jenkins on Kestrel instead, soon causing Kestrel to drag as well.

We had a barbie planned on Adams beach that evening, and after Ray Perry had come over from Purr-Fik to arrange times, we set off in the dinghy at about 4p.m. The tide was pretty low, so we ended up hauling the dinghy, heavily laden with BBQ gear, quite a distance across muddy sand onto the beach. I had never seen soldier crabs before, and was amazed at the numbers of them crawling about, as well as how easy they were to pick up – several larger ones seemed to have wandered out of range of suitable burrows!

On the beach we were joined by Peter and Alison Sutherland off Steppin Along, Sue Perry’s sister Kim and her partner Geoff down from Mooloolaba in a Spirited 380, “Magic”, and Daryl Peters off Ketos. After I had taken a stroll with Peter and Alison to see the entertaining metropolis of Dunwich (and finding that a two litre bottle of milk was no dearer than in the city!), we settled in for some good wine, good company and some welcome socialising. Everyone had a good time and, after a great barbie, we headed back to our boats for a well earned rest.

Next morning I was called on deck by an “ahoy” from Sue Perry who was paddling about on a paddle ski, getting some early morning exercise. Myself, I was just lazing about reading. Sue paddled off to visit Kim, leaving Ray to do a bit of hull cleaning in the shallows.

Around midday we upped anchor and set off, heading north along the Rainbow Channel, as Bruce was following Steppin Along, intending to head back in towards Manly via the Rouse Channel.  Unfortunately he entrusted the helm to yours truly, and somewhere en route to Amity Point I was over a sand bar that was, ahem, a little close to the surface.  Actually, I was just cleaning the bottom of the daggerboards … honestly! After a gentle touch and go, we managed to find the channel again, but in the overfalls with incoming tide I fluffed a tack and we had to start the motor, and with Bruce at the helm things went a lot more smoothly. The Rouse channel is quite a challenge, snaking about quite a lot, and not all the markers on the charts are there in real life. I wouldn’t want to attempt it in the dark!  But we got through without mishap, and once clear of the shallows headed back to the marina in good time.  Thanks to Bruce and Lyn for a great week-end!


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