Great Sandy Straits
Monday 16th March, 0555h: The new day is throwing enough morning light for MrJ and me to set off once more. The wind is calm which enables MrJ to haul up the mainsail while AR is still at anchor. This done, it is my turn; I winched in the anchor then return to the Nav station to radio Coast Guard of our departure. MrJ steals AR quietly away from the anchorage at Inskip Point, out into the wider waterway of Wide Bay Harbour where we pull out the genoa. Under-sail now the morning is silent except for the distant sound of the awakening birds somewhere over on Fraser Island, the gentle breeze blowing through the sails and the whoosh sound of AR’s hull gliding through the calm waters. The wind is coming from the SW; changing between SW and SE as AR sails up into the waters of the Great Sandy Strait and begins to drop away to about 10kn. MrJ is forced to start the starboard engine to keep AR moving along................there goes my peace and quiet. No other boat is on the water this morning; AR has the entire waterway to herself for MrJ and I to watch the antics of the numerous sea turtles that pop their heads up all along the waterways, watch the birds sailing on the high air turbulent, say goodnight to Mr Moon as he sets over the western shore and to soak in the wonderful feelings this natural wonderland leaves you with.
14nm later MrJ turns AR in towards Garry’s anchorage. What’s that I have spotted close inshore not far from Fig Tree Creek, just south of the entrance into Garry’s? Hummm! A crocodile trap! The rumours and the media reports must have some truth to them or Marine Parks would not have put traps out. MrJ spots another trap on the northern side of Garry’s entrance. Hummm! MrJ and I have the whole place to ourselves; we can anchor anywhere we like, just take any spot, but would you believe it AR end up anchors only a couple of metres from where we set anchor the last time MrJ and I were in here. You get that sometimes!
Once we have set up camp; put the covers up, MrJ drops the new Redback dinghy and he rows us to the beach. Except for when MrJ took delivery of this dingy this is its first outing. The Redback rows very well, or is that...MrJ rows very well? Whichever the case I get to sit back and enjoy the ride until we hit the beach, then it is all pile our, into the shallow water to drag the dinghy onto the beach. That bit has not changed; this dinghy is much lighter and it is not such a struggle to drag it around. The scene is very surreal with AR being the only boat in the anchorage and us the only people on the beach. The beach has changed much more than we have seen in the past. There are many fallen large tree trunks and loads of other debris littered right along the beach front. Much of this debris are the trees that have been blown down from their sandy holdings along foreshore during the passing of the strong winds from Cyclone Hammish plus a pile-up of other debris that has been washed through the creeks during and after the storms. In a couple of more months some of this natural litter will get washed away with future storm and rain. The fierce sun’s rays are heating the day, combined with the humidity the air it has turned out very hot and sticky, which could produce a storm this evening. MrJ and I row back to AR and decide a swim would be refreshing, but just a quick dip today, me thinks, the vision of that croc trap is still fresh on my mind.
The day was coming to its end, we had had our afternoon light shower of rain and it was sit down quiet time onboard AR; a cold beer for MrJ and me with my soda water. First there was a definite noise, a deep long howling sound next MrJ and I saw them, two large well fed healthy looking orange/red dingos that had come out to the water’s edge and were making their way along the beach. This is not the first time we have seen dingos at Garry’s; first time was many years ago when MrJ and I had chartered MEE TOO out of Tin Can Bay and the second time was only a couple of months ago on one of our last visits. These dingos may be the same pair; most animals are territorial and will remain in the same area for years if left alone. MrJ and I have been privileged once again to watch such a beautiful animal in its natural habitat.
Wednesday 18th March, 0855h: The anchor is up, I have radioed through to Coast Guard Sandy Straits, MrJ heads AR away from Garry’s and we are heading towards the shallow of Sheridan Flats. The tide will be about half way in by the time we are crossing the shallows which gives us plenty of water under AR. Not so lucky for a couple of fellow in a fishing boat trying to get across through Cockburn Gutter or Boults Gutter just south of Stewart Island Flats; they were doing the Fred Flintstone trick, running the boat through. Or more like walking it through, no, pushing the boat. These fellows did eventually get their boat into deeper water but in the meantime gave MrJ and me a little light entertainment.
1325h; AR was anchored off North White Cliffs, 1nm south of the Kingfisher Bay Resort. The shore drops away very quickly into a deep anchorage of 12-14mt, but we are far enough away from the other boats anchored closer to Kingfisher. One other time MrJ and I anchored on the northern side of the Kingfisher jetty where the beach shoal out leaving a large part of the shoreline exposed and a great hike to drag your dinghy over. This time we thought that we could go ashore here where there was less beach exposed and walk the mile up to the resort. This we never got to do; the rain clouds rolled in and MrJ and I were boat bound for our stay at Kingfisher.
During the first afternoon of AR’s stay at this anchorage, an Australian Customs ship came into the Straits and they dropped their anchor about a mile south of us. A couple of hours after into the water dropped the Customs ship’s rubber-duckie with three officers on board. Off they went with a roar, at top speed then the next thing MrJ and I know is that we have Customs at our back door. Three officers, two males and one female, all neatly dressed in their well ironed navy blue overall, wanting to have a chat with us. The female officer, Trudy, recognized AR form the other day when MrJ had spoken to the Customs office in Bundaberg by phone regarding a bill which had been sent out. No problem mate, we’re okay! That after the entertainment was for MrJ and I to watch the Customs going from one boat to the next doing their rounds. The next day, during the drizzling rain no one came out and the Customs ship stay at its anchorage. After dark the Customs duckie entertain the crowds once more. MrJ and I could see the Nav light of a small craft speeding around the waterways; going this way than that way. One minute you saw the boats port light than the starboard light and sometime both, which meant that the boat was coming straight for AR. Next thing we see is a search light beam flash from the small boat and the boat is making a fast b-line for the beach not too far off AR’s bow. MrJ does the right thing he goes up forward to make sure that this little speedy boat is okay; he yells to them and is given the reply of, “we’re just doing some training”. It was the Customs people out on night training; what a laugh, we thought it was some mad idiot raging around.
All good things do have an end. The weather was not going to improve over the next few days; it was predicted to become worse. ALANA ROSE needed better shelter and we needed a place to go vote this Saturday. It was time for MrJ and me to take AR into Urangan Harbour for better shelter. AR left the cliffs at 0535 on Friday 20th, passing to the south side of the EU1 marker, keeping a straight line with the house with the green roof on shore, into the Urangan Marina and safely tied alongside by 0845h.
Next port of call will be Bundaberg and a well awaited meet up with Pacific cruising friends from the States, Chris and Maggie off CONTIGO.