Rachael. Chesterfield Reef and Passage to Australia

Three yachts (Flour Girl, Allure of NZ and us) all departed Huon Reef together for a 2 night/3 day passage to Chesterfield Reef. We had an excellent calm and fast passage. Although the lumpy sea and wind direction made the sails slam (and the whole boat shudder) at times, the days were beautiful and sunny and we had a waxing moon for half the night. We even had to slow down so as to arrive and be able to eye-ball the reef entrance during daylight hours.


Inside the Chesterfield Reef, heading for an anchorage near a sand cay.


Looking for a good spot to drop anchor at Chesterfield Reef.


A Google satellite shot of our anchorage near the main islets at Chesterfield, including the sand spit that disappears at high tide.

It remained windy whilst we were at Chesterfield. Onshore we had to carefully negotiate birds and nests and stay below the high tide mark as the eggs were difficult to distinguish from the sand and rocks. We snorkelled on an amazing coral head out in the bay, with such a multitude of different corals, fish, clams, schools of larger fish, a shark and hidey holes and caves to tentatively dive and poke one’s head into.


Hello Giant Clam.


A white tipped reef shark who stalked Justin for awhile.

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We celebrated 3 birthdays at chesterfield in the six nights we stayed there Luke (10yrs) and Maria from ‘Allure of NZ’ and Philippe from a French yacht that was anchored there at the same time as us.


Maria and Jason’s (Allure) yacht version of ‘Pass the Parcel’ alias “pass the increasingly stretched socks” with really ‘awesome’ prizes…such as garlic, undies, bandaids, toothbrush and a tin of baked beans. Awesome!


Party games – Pin the Shark on Diver Dan.


Our anchorage at Chesterfield Reef


A Chesterfield Poem.

Birds, Birds, Birds, Birds, Birds, Birds, Birds, Birds, Birds
The Sky full
The Sand full
The trees full
The air full
The air filled with sound.

DSCF7324 DSCF7327 DSCF7335 DSCF7352 DSCF7367 DSCF7384 DSCF7385It was hard to find a calm and stable weather window for passage to Australia. We left in strong SSE winds with the expectation that the wind would swing more to the East the next day, to allow us to set a better angle for Brisbane. Within the hour we were drowned with many waves coming over the front and side of the boat onto us and into the cockpit. We generally held good speed, but it was pretty uncomfortable for the first 2 days with a lumpy sea and the wind pretty hard on the nose. The following day brought inconsistent winds, the current was against us, we were moving so slowly and it was frustrating with the sails slamming when the wind dropped out.


Giving the hull a scrub to try and get some weeds off. Would have been easier when the wind and swell were less.


Khan’s hook-less fishing off the stern.


Nice place to sit


Surrounded by endless rolling blue.


With little wind forecast we decided to motor to stick to our plan to get to Australia before the weekend (thus avoid overzealous overtime charges by the Quarantine department) as well as being mindful of tide times for the Brisbane’s Moreton Bay. We ended up motoring for about 40 hours.


Re-filling the Diesel tank on passage

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Reading a good idea whilst motoring

During this time we assisted ‘Allure of NZ’ with an emergency oil supply as their dying motor was eating oil at an unexpectedly fast rate. We came along side each other doing a consistent 4 knots, Justin holding the boats about 5 metres apart so as not to hit masts in the swell. Jason threw a rope across and I tied on the container of engine oil and then Jason pulled the rope back. Twice over a successful operation and added a little bit of excitement to the day. Soon after the wind picked up and it was lovely to turn off the motor and we had a beautiful sail for the rest of the day.


Coming alongside ‘Allure of NZ’




Oil transfer success.



We passed a number of huge Container ships and Car carriers when we crossed over the main shipping routes and closer to land.


Still heading West and homeward bound.


As we neared the Australian coast, our last raising of the Quarantine Flag….at least for this trip…


Australia in sight.


We entered into Moreton Bay and had a fast sail across the bay. Then despite tiredness Justin and I both needed to be on watch given the pitch blackness, to distinguish and make sense of the many navigation lights along the shipping channels and through the dock area and because of the mammoth size of some of the container ships coming toward or up behind us in the seemingly narrow channel! As per customs requirements, we finally tied up to the marina at Brisbane’s Rivergate Marina at 2am on Friday 14th November.

So as it panned out we were luckily able to visit both reefs and took the best part of 3 weeks to arrive very salty, extremely scruffy and rather tired in Australia, having scraped near the bottom of our food provisions and watched our water usage closely. Oh and despite our route planning to avoid overtime charges…we were unaware that the G20 had turned our Friday arrival day into a Brisbane Public holiday, so overtime charges for Quarantine we got…not happy Jan. Welcome Home!


A surprise early morning welcome in Brisbane by a Movembered Simon and Frankie (no Mo!), who had flown up from Sydney.


After 3 weeks of sea, sand and salt and dwindling food supplies, we celebrated with a Salad Party of the freshest food. Yum.


After arriving on land, first the essential jobs of washing (us and the boat) and eating (fresh stuff) then onto the never ending boat fixing – finding the source of leaks.


5 thoughts on “Rachael. Chesterfield Reef and Passage to Australia

  1. Wonderful, welcome back to Australia. You must be in two minds as to keep sailing or to pause for a while.
    A great adventure that you will always look back on and will always be a part of Jarra and Kahn’s lives.
    Best wishes for the wind down.
    Gerard and Josie.

  2. What a great collection of pics and tales of your adventures! Amazing glimpses of coral and things of the under-water variety had us going through this blog several times. Keep up the enthusiasm for the next few weeks before we need to resort to Nat. Geog. once again for a peep at your world of wonders! Lovely to see you all, Judy xxxx

  3. What a truly amazing adventure! That last leg via those beautiful reefs and on to Brisbane must have brought such a mix of emotions: excited to be back, sad to have it end, glad to get clean, lamenting the freedom of the sea, and ecstatic to eat fresh salad! Hope you are all well, wherever you are now!

  4. Welcome Home! We saw a boat sailing towards Geelong today and was wondering if it was yours?! Can’t wait to have dinner and more dinners to hear all the stories xx

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