While Gladstone is a great place to stop for a couple of days, it is quite a distance from open water. Except for the Main Ship Channel, there is also a lot of shoal water, so one has to pick your access route carefully, with due consideration of the tide.
While we could have saved hours going directly to Keppel Bay via the “Narrows” the tides are just not high enough today. We would need a 3.6m tide to get through the shallowest part at the “Cattle Crossing”, where it dries to 1.3m at LWS. As it is neap tide at the moment we would have a maximum of a 3.3m tide, so that route was out of the question. That left the “North Channel”. I asked the advice of the owner of the local bait and tackle shop – a keen angler – and determined that the North Channel was doable, as long as we had a tide greater than our draft of 2 metres. This meant we could leave any time after 10AM, with high tide (3.3 metres) at 14:24.
We followed the route recommended by my new friend, and it was just as advertised. On a 3 metre tide height we never had less than a metre under the keel. Note though that there are several shoal areas along the route, so one has to make sure you have enough water right from the start until out in the open water. Our track and route through the North Channel are shown in the screenshot.