– There have been forecasts for strong wind before…many times the actual winds were not as bad in the end.
– True, but what if?
– Yes, what if…
We were having this long debate on the passage from Great Keppel Island south. The longest debate we ever had about whether we should be going into a marina.
We had sailed south from the Whitsunday Islands about a couple of weeks prior, days after Sorin’s birthday celebrations. We had made good progress with the north easterly winds for a week to start with, spent a week in Great Keppel Island waiting for favourable winds to return, and we set sail south again.
Now, with the prospect of the winds gusting to 35 knots, taking into account financial constraints, we didn’t know what is the best course of action. Should we be booking a marina, and if so what marina would offer enough depth so that Mehalah doesn’t get its bum dirty, or shall we sit the bad weather at anchor in Pancake Creek, a shallow anchorage with minimal protection from northerly winds. We had done this before successfully on our way up, but from what we could remember the winds were not as strong as predicted this time around.
Usually the gut feeling would command a quick decision. Not on this occasion. So we kept going back and forth, dwelling on what would be the best course of action, when ping, the email from one of the marinas contacted comes through, with a weekly price that was not as bad after all. Definitely worth averting any risk to safety.
And there we were in Harvey Bay, after 34 hours sailing south from Great Keppel Island, tied to a pontoon at Great Sandy Straits marina. As it happens, we had to change pontoon in an attempt to not run aground at low water, despite the marina manager insisting that our depth’s gauge must be buggered…
Maintaining a boat for safe sailing is hard work, and easier done when tied to a pontoon. We only take cover in a marina when threatened by bad weather. Along with strong winds, bad weather normally brings about rain which restricts the possibility of carrying out boat works. Luckily not on this occasion. We only had a day of incessant rain, so we could catch up with much needed maintenance work on Mehalah, from dawn to dusk.
By the time the week booked in the marina was over, the weather improved allowing us to sail again. We zigzagged the shallow waters of Harvey Bay towards the wondrous Fraser Island – largest sand island in the world, stretching over 122km in length and 22km at its largest. Again it is hard to express in words the uniqueness of the scenery approaching this UNESCO world heritage site.
Fraser Island or K’gari, as known by the native Australians, lies just off the east coast of Queensland, Australia. Majestic tall rainforest growing on sand and half the world’s perched pure freshwater dune lakes are found on the island. The combination of shifting sand-dunes, tropical rainforests and lakes makes Fraser Island a natural wonder.
Formerly havely exploited for its reaches under and overground, today the island’s only inhabitants are the dingos, the largest APEX predators native to Australia.
On K’gari Island, anchored by the cruisers’ friendly Kingfisher resort, one of the very few resorts on the island, we embarked on a 10km long walk inland to Mackenzie lake. The walk in itself was an entirely new experience for us. Strolling along sandy pathways amongst tall green vegetation with the monitor lizards disturbing our zen when rushing away on hearing our steps and colourful parrots flying overhead was a pretty magic experience. But the true magic only really happened once reaching the lake, a large body of water in its purest form inhabiting a pool of flour like sand. White and fine like we never seen before.
Luckily we had brought with us canned food to appease our hunger, before we duly hang our bags on a tree branch and dipped in the clearest and purest water ever. With the whitest and finest sand bottom it felt like bathing in milk pond. Magic!
May your end of the year celebrations be as magic as our time on Fraser Island!