We come from a land down under… and sail our Hobie Mirage Tandem Island “MissChief” all around Australia’s Gold Coast and beyond. We have beautiful inland waterways and the blue Pacific right on our doorstep.
One of our local islands is South Stradbroke Island where we camp by the beach with a fireplace, and there’s a cafe with great food and frosty cold beer – all only 10 miles from home.
We also go offshore whale watching in the migration season. Whale watching season is July to November and almost 20,000 humpbacks pass through very close to our coastline and return on their way back to Antarctica with newborn calves.
Viewing them up close and personal is a majestic, soulful and humble experience. It’s like making a new friend or two each time we say hello. It’s the most moving experience we’ve ever had with nature. We can often see them from our tenth-floor balcony!
We experienced two adventures in recent months- sailing spectacular Port Stephens (700km south) and the Myall Lakes which included a 13-nautical mile pedal down the Myall River to Port Stephens.
The other was a mega 132-nautical mile solo sailing challenge I named the “Triple Island Treat” where I sailed from home out into the Pacific then north sailing 60 miles past South Stradbroke Island, North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island, then around Cape Moreton and back home down the inside of the islands- all done in 50 hours and 30 minutes.
It was a beautiful trip but at times quite challenging. Thirty four miles into the trip I had to deal with 25 knots of southeast wind with a southerly first swell and an easterly second swell both with waves on top. One wave picked me up and speared me down at 14 knots into the bottom of the wave leaving me and the stern almost perpendicular for a couple of seconds before crashing back down. I’ve personally proved how tough Hobies are- incredibly seaworthy!
I have sailed off and on since I was a kid and I’ve sailed the same journey a few times in our small cruising yacht, so once we bought the Tandem Island I immediately decided I would do the trip. I worked out the average speed and took all precautions i.e.: notified AMSA of my plan, had a PLB and an EPIRB for the boat, and two hand held VHF radios. I also harnessed myself to the boat in case we were separated – that almost happened! I took 15 liters of water and plenty of snack foods and fruit for the duration.
My trip was completely solo as I felt there would be too much weight onboard if things got rough and I wanted the boat light and not nose heavy. Once I finally arrived safely on the inside of Moreton Island I anchored in shallow water three times for sleep and I slept on the trampoline. Being fairly short this was possible.
Not only did the seas become challenging but my GPS decided to freeze 32 nautical miles into my trip so I had 25 nautical miles offshore with only a compass to navigate. And rounding Cape Moreton with the lighthouse flashing for a few hours in otherwise complete darkness brings out your sailing skills and faith in the Lord above. The trip was a bucket list thing for me. I knew the boat was capable and I had confidence in my sailing abilities thanks to many years of experience.
Regarding MissChief: It’s actually the nickname I gave my wife when we started dating and yes it’s a play on words for sure. We get up to plenty of MissChief in the deep and in the shallows.
The huge advantage of the Tandem Island is that not only is it 100-percent environmentally friendly but we can go ANYWHERE. On my way back from Moreton I sailed 5 nautical miles across very shallow banks (less than two feet deep) and saw countless turtles and also dugong (sea cows). No other boat could do this successfully. It was so shallow that I had manual control of the rudder at all times so I wouldn’t break the pin. It was a fantastic experience. I was right in the middle of nature.
The most rewarding part of my “Triple Island Treat” was sailing onto the sand on the beach in front of our place (rudder and centerboard up and at full speed). My wife met me as I landed. It was at that moment I knew I made it successfully, and not a moment before.