This blog post is a quick recap of my very first multi-day sailing experience aboard Malaika from New South Wales’ Central Coast to Redland Bay, south of Brisbane.

I originally had elements of this post on a quick guide to Sailing the Australian East Coast. However, since we’ve just completed our 11-week sailing journey, I thought I’d update that post with more insights to help cruising sailors.

So, if you’re interested in reading abit about our self-built sailing vessel; Malaika and her first big trip, here you go.

Our Vessel: Malaika

During the early years, my family worked on a 10-year project of building a home-made, 15 m steel motor-sailor yacht from scratch. This was born out of my dad’s crazy dream of truly self-sufficient sailing, we all surrendered to the cause and dedicated a lot of time into building Malaika.

After 10 years of hard labour and dedication, my dad’s dream became a reality. In 2014, Malaika wet her keel for the first time in the channels of Gosford.  Consequently, the next few years would be spent exploring the surrounding coastline whilst teaching ourselves how to sail.

Original Film Collage of The Journey Building Malaika
Junk Rig sailing
Malaika Junk Rigged and Sailing at the Great Barrier Reef

READ THE AUSTRALIAN CRUISING GUIDE: WHAT IT’S LIKE SAILING UP THE EAST COAST OF AUSTRALIA

From New South Wales to Queensland

Fast-forward a few years later from Malaika’s Christening, we made our first interstate, 4 night crossing from Hardy’s Bay in NSW to Redland Bay with a few good mates from school.

The trip was brought on by my parent’s relocation to sunny South East Queensland. The best way to get a yacht 400 nautical miles North is to sail her. The plan was to sail day and night with a steady north bearing up the coast. At regular cruising speed, we were hoping to accomplish this in approximately 4 days and nights. 

Trip Highlights

I have always shared my dad’s dream of fully self-sustained sailing. There’s something about captaining your own vessel and plowing the bow through the waves that inspires a true sense of freedom and adventure. If the dream laid dormant before, this trip definitely sparked the goal.

Joining the humpback whale migration

The September months on the Australian East Coast is prime Humpback migration season. During this time, the whales make their way from Antarctica to warmer sub-tropical waters to breed. 

Coincidentally, the humpbacks and Malaika shared the same heading. We spotted so many whales that we lost count after the first 24 hours. Well over 50. Some whales cruise past us, only allowing a single glimpse of their surfacing. Others seemed to follow beside us at the same speed, accompanying us for hours. 

humpback whales breaching alongside a boat sailing the east coast of australia

Dolphin greetings

We also saw some huge dolphin pods that love to surf on the bow. Some of the pods contained numbers of up to what must have been 40 dolphins. If you listen carefully you can hear them communicating in clicks and echos. 

dolphins splashing at the bow of the boat

The best East Coast sunsets

It’s no lie that the best sunsets are witnessed from the sea. If you’ve never watched sunset from a boat, I highly recommend it. It’s as if all of the colours are exaggerated and the reflections from the water seem to torch the sky alight.

sunset tankers sailing up the east coast of australia

Grounding in Moreton Bay

One of the best memories of the trip were also one of the most stressful at the time. After 4 days at sea, we were keen to step onto dry land. This caused us to rashly power through the shallow sand bars near Redland Bay at low tide. We knew the channel depths were probably too shallow for the tide, and the amateur decision caused our first grounding. 

It was quite funny, we’d crossed 400 nautical miles over 4 days and 4 nights, only to come to a sudden halt only 20 metres from the destination. I was forced to tie a long rope from the mooring line to the bow cleat and wait for the tide to rise so that we could pull ourselves in.

Future Sailing Plans

The East Coast trip was our first long crossing and it definitely has inspired me to plan a life on the sea. Although it was only a relatively short coverage of the East Coast, it was definitely enough of a taste to get me hooked on the lifestyle. 

My dad’s dream of living aboard Malaika and sailing full-time are set to finally happen early next year. If travel plans permit, I’m hoping to join them on some more adventures sailing in the Great Barrier Reef.

steel junk rig sailing boat sailing into the sunset

UPDATE: Fast forward and we’ve just completed our first multi-month journey up the East Coast of Australia. – You can read the first sailing log here.

READ THE SAILING LOG

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *