Review: Noel Patrick’s Curtis Coast

curtiscoastConsidered by many to be the ‘bible’ for cruising the mid north coast of Qld, Noel Patrick’s Curtis Coast has been updated and reprinted in 2008 after 5 much anticipated years. Now published by the authors (who has sadly passed away) daughter, the Curtis Coast is one of the best cruising guidebooks around, and has been in print since the mid 1980’s. In fact this guide is so highly regarded, VMR Gladstone who conduct courses on traversing the inland Cattle Crossing, recommend it as an essential onboard reference.

Covering Bundaberg to Mackay, the guide covers this relatively small area in enormous detail. The region is a diverse cruising ground, comprising major mainland river systems as well as offshore reefs and islands. Patrick grew up in a boating family and was raised in the Gladstone region. With this book he’s had significant influence on the level of enjoyment for boat owners in the area. Indeed, a memorial erected near the finish line of the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht race is a testimonial to the high regard Patrick was held in.

This soft cover guide is comprehensive, taking over 280 pages to describe in detail the 200 anchorages that make up 285 coastal miles, or 10,000 square miles of cruising ground. The introduction covers hazards specific to the Curtis Coast; tides, mangroves, crocodiles, cyclones and bar crossings. Plus there’s a chapter on the unique qualities of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and its islands, with a focus on preservation. Patrick has also reproduced pages from James Cooks’ log as he travelled the area, which makes for interesting reading, particularly as the guide highlights where Cook navigated into a bay that the guide also discusses.

The aerial photographs alone make this book well worth having. The region has plenty of shoal areas and expansive river plains littered with shifting sand bars. By the generous inclusion of scores of aerial shots at various states of the tide, the navigator is able to gain a greater understanding of the challenges ahead.

In one example, five photographs have been taken on the bar entrance to Jenny Lind Creek, over a 19 year period. The photos show the significant movement of the bar entrance, highlighting the need for caution when approaching any river mouth. There’s over 150 coloured anchorage and passage maps which are accompanied by information on passage making, along with what to expect on arrival at the anchorage.

30 rivers and streams are included with detailed notes on tidal issues, provisioning and where the marinas are located. Approach notes help the navigator to plan ahead, and when used in conjunction with photos, make for a comprehensive passage planning resource.

A comprehensive Map Index as well as a Places Index makes it easy to flick to the anchorage you’re after. But perhaps the smartest idea in this book is the coloured tabs on the outer edge of the anchorage pages, divided into regions. Once you work out the system it makes the navigators job even easier. And isn’t that the true value in a cruising guide? The navigator, who is usually the skipper as well, has enough to consider when cruising through challenging waters. Noel Patrick’s Curtis Coast makes that job a pleasure.

Verdict: Highly recommended