We were underway for three days between Chesterfield Reef and Bundaberg, a small town on the northeastern coast of Australia. We motored out of the reef's southern pass into light westerly winds that continued into the afternoon, and then 17 knots of wind blew in behind us bringing glorious conditions for our first evening underway.
On our second day, the winds built to over 20 knots, and the swell picked up to two meters. Based on the forecasts, we had predicted we would be beam reaching through these conditions, which wouldn't have been too uncomfortable. In reality, we found a northwesterly setting current that was more frenemey than friendly: we gained an extra two to three knots through the water pushing us toward Bundaberg, but to offset the angle the water was moving, we had to turn the boat upwind and crab sideways toward our destination.
We were grateful to be making record Helios speeds—our speed over ground pushed 9.8 knots at one point, and we had a 176 nautical mile day!—but we were not excited about about the super bumpy upwind conditions the current brought with it.
After two days of living in a salt soaked world, we were pretty ecstatic to make landfall. So ecstatic that we broke our cardinal rule of never entering a new anchorage at night. At 0200 on November 17th, under a bright waning gibbous moon, we entered Bundaberg's excellently charted and brightly lit channel, anchored just outside of the marina, and enjoyed six hours of uninterrupted sleep.
By 1000 we had maneuvered into our slip. By 1500 we had been cleared by customs and quarantine to get off the boat and stretch our legs.
Our first sighting not more than 10 minutes after getting off the boat? Kangaroos on the grassy field just beyond the marina. Welcome to Australia!