Friday, 27 June 2014

Australia, Fraser Island - 27-06-14

Apparently we've been at Fraser Island for a week. I find this hard to believe, seeing as we haven't done much, but Sam is adamant that it's been seven days. We've run out of food, which supports his theory I suppose. I can't for the life of me figure out where the days went though. 

We motored over to Moon Point from Hervey Bay and stayed there for a few days. I think. It was a beautiful little bay - white sand, crystal clear water and a few more turtles. We tried to go exploring up the creek on the first day there but the tide was too low, so we went snorkelling instead. The water was cold but clear. We found nothing but sand, although we knew there were rays skating around somewhere underneath us.

I have no idea how long we stayed there for... I thought it was just one day but it must have been more. Then we headed up the coast to Platypus Bay, which was more white sand and turquoise water. It looked like a tropical paradise! We explored the creek there by foot, which was interesting. There were lots of little fish and not so little rays darting around in the shallow water. We had to bush bash then wade through waist deep water, but we managed not to get into any trouble. The water was rich with tannins from all the trees - it was a beautiful red and brown colour like the tea tree lake on Stradbroke Island. The salt water there wasn't quite as nice as a fresh water lake though! It was a beautiful day and we had a lot of fun.

When Peter was on board he told me a story about my Aunty Fiona going to the same bay when they were younger. The beach is lined with shells all exactly the same, and she gathered one in every size increment and lined them up on the sand. Of course I had to do the same!

We went to sleep that night on sea as flat as a pancake. I remember thinking how weird it was to see a beach with absolutely no waves - it looked like a lake. We woke up before light the next morning to the boat rocking and rolling all over the place. It was not pleasant. The wind had picked up and the waves had appeared. Sam was still asleep, so we had breakfast in the cockpit as the sun was coming up then packed the kites onto the dinghy and got the hell out of there. After checking the anchor and securing the boat.

There was just enough wind to make the morning amazing. Garth zipped around on the board for ages while I stretched and practiced poi. As the tide went out he went further and further away until he was just a dot in the distance, flying over the water as all the rays woke up and shot out from under him. It was beautiful. I eventually had a go too, and had a blast. I've only had a chance to get in the water once, in New Caledonia. But I just body dragged around to get used to it. This time my teacher handed over the board, and I got up straight away! And then down. And then up again. I didn't get far, but I'm definitely getting the hang of it. It feels very much like snowboarding, and the kite handles exactly the same as it does on snow. Hopefully next time I'll get moving for more than five seconds!

Getting back to the boat was not fun. We'd been keeping an eye on it, but as we were packing up the kites and carrying our dinghy to the water the breaking waves moved further back toward the boat. By the time we had made our way back we were in amongst the white caps. Whoops. The dinghy almost flipped as we tried to get through the waves, and when we tied up at the boat our poor little inflatable was full to the brim with water... but it was still floating. Thank god for dry bags.

We dumped everything on board and went to pull up the anchor as soon as we had the outboard on. That was not safe. There were waves crashing over the bow as the nose dipped down, and as I got the anchor out of the water a wave knocked it off the track so it was hanging off to the side. Not ideal. Luckily Sam was there to help me drag it up on deck, where I tied it on until we were in calmer waters. It wasn't that rough compared to sailing through a storm, but having enough water rush over the bow to fill the anchor locker isn't what you look for in an anchorage.

So that sucked. Moon point was the only safe anchorage on the coast until the wind changed again, so back we went. Garth did a bit more kiting, we explored the creek (at high tide this time) and we relaxed for a day or two. Then back to Hervey Bay.

So now we're sailing to Bundaberg, after Sam and I spent a whole afternoon yesterday getting supplies. Random coral reefs next to shore, massive mudflats that turn into 600m of rocks littered with oyster shells, the decision to wear jandals and thick green goop on the sand did not make that an easy task. Thank god for the kindness of strangers, or the two of us would still be trying to drag the dinghy over treacherous terrain.

Monique xxx

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Australia - Hervey Bay, 21-06-14

We spent an hour yesterday literally chasing a turtle in circles around our boat. We're anchored in Hervey Bay and have seen a few turtle heads pop up around us since we got here, but they just disappear straight away. Yesterday Sam saw one right next to the boat that kept popping up to look around, so he jumped out on deck to see if he could spot it again. He did... On the other side of the boat. We joined in the chase, but it was pointless. Mr turtle would stick his head up on one side, somebody would see it and point, we'd all look over at him and race to that side of the boat, then he would disappear quick smart before I could get a photo. It was a shambles. There must have been something delicious underneath us, because he just kept swimming in circles around the boat with us running after him staring at the water. Chasing turtles is infuriating in murky water! You can't see them, you don't know where they'll be and they only come up for a second. We eventually gave up but now every single time I go upstairs I look around at the water, and every single time I see at least one turtle. It's delightful!

If anybody ever ends up in Hervey Bay, don't even think about staying in the marina! We gave in last time and opted for showers and running water, and it was a nice marina, but being constantly surrounded by turtles is just amazing. We're on the south-east side of the breakwater and the dinghy ride to shore isn't short, easy or without mud, but we're absolutely loving it here.

The trip from Tin Can Bay was not so much fun. We spent the whole day being frustrated with inaccurate charts, staring into murky water and constantly getting stuck in the sand. The bottom of the keel has now been well and truly sanded. The sand on the bottom here moves so much that there's no way for the charts to be accurate, which is frustrating. I had the bright idea of pulling up our route on the tablet from when we went through on our way south, so we started following it exactly. No dice. There was no channel and sand banks were everywhere. We got very stuck early on in a strong current, which was pushing us into the shallows further. We had to take our spare anchor out on the dinghy and winch ourselves off, which worked well. So now at least we've had practice doing that, even though we got stuck again a few minutes later. The whole day was a headache. We purposefully left on a rising tide though, so we mostly floated off each time.

We went to visit the resident dolphins at Tin Can Bay before we left, which made Sam very happy. I remember feeding them when I was little, and you were allowed to wade out into the water and pat them. Now the cafe next to the boat ramp has coerced the dolphins into hanging around outside their shop, fenced it off from the public and started charging people to see them. And you can't pat them any more! Which I guess is fair enough if they get lots of people through. Sam got to feed one and after it gobbled up its breakfast he joked about it eating the same way Garth does - without chewing, and quickly. We see lots of dolphins by the boat so weren't very excited about the whole situation but Sam was absolutely stoked. The dolphins kept getting bored with everybody standing around in the water not producing any fish, so one of them wandered off for a swim away from the designated area. He was being adorable! It's nice that you can go and see them up close, but we could have just hovered around and seen them anyway. I wonder how much trouble you'd get into for just throwing a few fish off the jetty...

We parked up at the public jetty at Tin Can for a days work and we now have a new water tank! And a new swimming ladder, and a guard rail for the oven (which will make Garth's dad very happy). They're all shiny and pretty! I've seen a lot of welding by now, so I can at least tell good welding from bad. This is very, very tidy. My Uncle Peter is amazing! He and his friend Mill did a wonderful job making everything perfect for us and then installing the tank into its new home. Now our water supply can't pop in the middle of the ocean ever again! Using a tank means we have less water than before, but it's so much safer.

I spent the majority of a day washing everything by hand while the boys installed the tank

Uncle Peter tagged along for a few days when we left Tin Can, which was really great. It's so much fun having new people on board! He was wonderful company and very helpful, so I think that was a score for us. We anchored up alongside the southern end of Fraser Island for one night on the way. There wasn't much to do, but the scenery was beautiful. Garth and Peter went for a kayak through the mangroves then Peter swapped out for me and a fishing rod. Garth paddled me around for ages and we got nothing. I am now done with fishing.

We did find a turtle however, who popped up next to the kayak. I'm loving the turtles! Then a dingo showed up as we were fishing next to the mud flats. He dug around for crabs, wandered back and forth then took off again after having a lie down on the sand. He didn't seem the least bit interested in us, but I was glad he stayed away. I didn't feel like fending off a wild dog in the slightest.

The sunset there was amazing, and I convinced Garth to let us take the camera on the kayak to get a photo of the dingo. Then I kept getting in trouble for not putting it away while he was paddling... One day I'll get it wet and he's going to give me the biggest lecture of my life.

Sam lost his glasses overboard at Tin Can, which has made our glasses strap rule mandatory instead of optional. No glasses onboard without a strap. That was super unfortunate, as they were really nice and we're in the middle of nowhere shop-wise. He managed to order new ones in Hervey Bay, which we can pick up from Bundaberg. Hopefully we'll spend so much time snorkelling over the next week he won't even notice they're missing!

Monique xxx