Bundy to Kingfisher Bay
Saturday 30th August
Hervey Bay – Moon Point (25*15' S / 150*00' E)
As JJ and I pulled out of our berth on the work dock in Port Bundaberg Marina the starboard hull pressed hard against the forward pole, marking our side. We both missed out on that “quick, quick, quick” thing, both not getting another fender in place quick enough; JJ at the helm and me manning the anchor out front. Once clear of the marina JJ steered Alana Rose out into the channel, out of the Burnett River mouth into the main channel leading out into Hervey Bay. Leaving the channel before the second last mark to raise both sails, JJ finds it very hard going pulling on the sheets; out of practice and out of condition. There is very little wind so we need to keep one of the engines running to keep Alana Rose moving along. Our destination is Moon Point. It is nearly a full day’s travel across Hervey Bay to Moon Point.
Hervey Bay acts as a funnel about the sprout of the Great Sandy Straits. The Sandy Straits is the waterway that lies between the mainland and Fraser Island. Hervey Bay is formed by the northern end of Fraser Island and stretches across to the mainland between Pialba and Bundaberg; 47miles east to west and 33miles north to south. The depth can vary from drying banks closer to the Straits to a 36 meter hole in the middle, most depth average around 18meters. You get the swell coming in from the off shore seas and it can be a very uncomfortable ride in inclement weather but very smooth on good light wind days; ours was a light wind day.
I’m as nervous as all hell; this happens every time we stay off the water for more than a week. Can’t say that I will ever change; just something I have to learn how to handle.
Away we sail, heading SE towards the entrance to The Great Sandy Straits then turning to Port to negotiate the shallow before heading through to Moon Point where we will anchor for a couple of nights.
My nerves are no better; in fact they are getting worse. I’m doing silly things, making silly mistakes and I am getting totally ticked off with myself. I think this is making things worse; a snowballing effect; catch 22. JJ is calm, cool and collected; he is in his element at the helm and playing with the sails, while on the inside I am a nervous wreck. My old phobias haunt me.
JJ has the new Garmin Chart Plotter, sitting alongside the other instrument by the helm, up and running. I have the old computer on the chart table with a Sea-Clear program running and I also have the paper charts out on the table. The old GPS has been bracketed to the panel by the chart table; it is running too. We have it all running; who knows which one will be true. I can see that we are approaching the Fairway marker leading into the Straits and no two of our systems are reading the same. “What the”?
Soon it will be time to leave the main channel to cross over the shallow sand banks to be able to get to Moon Point. My stomach is in a tight knot, my nerves are shot and panic fills my entire being. I have been running back and forth to the loo every half an hour. I feel stressed to the max; I feel like we are plummeting headlong into danger and there is nothing I can do about it. I also feel frustrated and cranky with myself for letting the panic escalate.
JJ follows the Ferry line on the Garmin and this takes us across in the right spot – thank goodness. The other plotters and even the chart had us going across the sand bank.
My heart is racing. I will be glad when we get there.
We make it to Moon Point in one piece (funny about that!). And there’s more! More shallows to negotiate. The first anchor drop did not hold so JJ pushes Alana Rose further up the gutter past Sandy Point where it is extremely shallow, behind another catamaran. Thank goodness I have something to keep my mind busy - well nearly – I push the panic down for now.
First night at Moon Point proves to be a restless one, for me; I’m on anchor watch again. There really is nothing to worry about, the anchor is holding. JJ and I have plenty of chain out even for a shallow spot with increasing winds. It’s all the noises that get me; the lapping of the water, the blowing of the wind, the pulling of the anchor chain or bridle and the bumping of the dingy on the hull. Any strange little noise wakes me through the night and still the frequent toilet visits which don’t help.
JJ sleeps on; waking only a couple of times; loo visits and a general surveillance which includes a check on the anchor rode. He really is very good and I do trust him and his operation of the boat.
Sunday 31st August
Moon Point is the last headland on Fraser Island before The Great Sandy Straits opens up into Hervey Bay; it is on a low wooded inlet almost connected to Fraser Island by creek mangroves. Sandy Point is part of this inlet. On high tide as you look across the Straits from this point all you can see is a large mass of water stretching over to Big Woody Island, but on a low tide a multitude of sand banks and small sand islands are exposed. These sandy refuges are a haven for the local sea birds but a problem for the unknowing boat person.
There is a gentle breeze from the SE; Alana Rose is under the protection of Sandy Point on Fraser Island. The sun is shining brilliantly across the calm blue waters. After the morning chores are completed I have the rest of the day to loll about the boat to read, to write, to knit or to just sit and appreciate the beautiful scene. It is very peaceful to sit, watch and listen to the water ripple with the breath of the breeze, to the birds on the land, in the trees, on the water or in the air, to the schools of fish that surface every now and then, to the boating traffic that passes Moon Point coming and going from Fraser Island to Urangan Harbour or into Sandy Straits and even to the activities on the other yachts anchored not too far away.
JJ is busy creating his chores; if it is not written on his white-board or in his head then he invents them. No, not really! His mind is always thinking of new ideas for Alana Rose, whether it is a way of fixing something or making life easier, JJ has always a project in the making. One of his favourite projects is to lower the dingy and say “howdy” to our nearest neighbours; that’s if the unsuspecting neighbours have answered his initial wave of friendship. These ones do and he is off.
As the days light begins to fade and the evening is approaching more yachts come into this little anchorage to seek refuse for the night. The great yellow sun sets forward of Alana Rose’s bow engulfing the neighbouring yachts in its last brilliant flash of fading light.
Tonight my sleep is peaceful.
1st & 2nd September
Kingfisher Bay (25*23'15 S / 153*01'70 E)
Monday morning JJ and I up anchor leave Moon Point and head for Kingfisher Bay. The weather is predicted to change; wind direction from the NE instead of SE and Moon Point will not give protection from the NE. It is beginning to be a grey day.
To get out and back over the shallow sand bars JJ follows his track in and the Ferry Line back to the main channel. My nerves are heightened, nothing like the first day but the loo visits are still frequent.
Out in the main channel several sailing boats pass us by, many small power boats dot the waters along the way and a number of turtles surface for a quick breath of air. Each turtles swims around like this oblivious to the rest of the world till it sees a boat coming and submerges to reappear many meters away.
JJ and I drop anchor in Kingfisher Bay, north of the jetty which leads to the Kingfisher Bay Resort. The resort is on the western coast of Fraser Island nearly opposite River Heads, the entrance to The Mary River. It is an ecological friendly resort with a separate visitors area near the beach in the form of a swimming pool, bar, bistro, shower and toilets. The main guest area is further up the hill and includes a general store, a takeaway and coffee bar; all this can be used by any visitors. Boat visitors are not allowed to use the jetty or ramp; these are for the constant traffic of passenger ferry cats and vehicular barges. Boaties get to beach their dingies.
Another small power boat tries to beat us in, we let it. She anchors closer in to shore than Alana Rose, between us and the shoreline. This power boat looks like an old cabin cruiser turned into a rental boat all set up with fishing gear, dingy and several males looking for that elusive catch. Today it will be drinks at the resort pool bar. This power boat is flying the Broncos flag. I wonder?
After I set the anchor I always check it maybe twice or three times, just for my peace of mind. On one of my inspections I saw something swim by towards the shore, off the port bow; it surfaced three times. To me this sea creature looked like a small whale but JJ thinks that it may have been a Dugong (he did not see it). I don’t know? This creature had a slight hump or stubby fin like shape on the top of its back. It was mid to light grey in colour with patches of white on top. Maybe it was a dolphin? I never saw it again.
JJ drops the dingy and we go ashore; lunch at the pool bistro. There is no dingy dock for us yachties only to beach the dingy. As our dingy heads for the beach the water becomes too shallow for the use of the outboard, this is where a good pair of oars comes in handy. Once the bow of the dingy hits the sand JJ and I hope out to calf deep lapping water and drag our dingy another meter clear of the water’s edge. This is when JJ takes the little anchor further up the beach and digs it into the sand. The tide is going out so we can’t be too long away. I have mud and sand caked on my feet from wadding through the wet slush to get to dryer ground but who cares; everyone round here has sand or mud on them somewhere.
The outdoor bar and bistro is set back off the beach with a surrounding bush garden and swimming pool hiding it from waters view. Once you come off the beach you pass through a closed gate which is part of a wire mesh fence which surrounds the resort complex. This fence has been put in place to keep the wandering dingos that inhabit the island from explore in and around the resort. I wander beside JJ with my muddy bare feet, along the road that leads from the jetty to settle ourselves at a shady table under the bistro awning. And guess what? The guys from the power boat are there.
JJ and I eat some, have a drink and talk to another couple who have come over on the barge. I inspect the toilet and shower amenities, just in case we ever need to use them in the future. Modern corrugated building with a wooden slat floor; might come in use one day. I’ll chalk that one up in the old memory bank.
It’s time to leave but the tide has gone out faster than we had anticipated. Damm! JJ and I have to drag the dingy about 50 meters to the water’s edge. Hard yakka! How long does it take two old farts to drag a three and half meter dingy with a 15 HP motor 50 meters? Seems like forever and we need a thousand rest stops. How many eyes are watching?
The boys do not return to their boat and the tide has gone right out leaving the poor little power boat lisping to one side. I sit there watching it happen and there is nothing that I can do. It is really quite funny; bit by bit the little boat tips over then settles on a precarious lean in the soft mud. JJ rings the Resort management in concern.
Late in the afternoon two of the boys make their way along the sand and mud down to the boat. I don’t think that they were there more than fifteen minutes before returning to shore and probably back to the bar. Just after dark and now the tide was coming in, the little motor boat has righted itself and the boys return. JJ and I can hear them on the beach trying to get their dingy to the water; it was further up the beach than was our dingy. There are noises and laughter, splashes and yelling when after a time all make it back to the little boat. All the lights on, loud voices are heard; now the motor is running. The anchor is pulled in and they are on the move. Not too far though, anchoring further out past Alana Rose and not a peep out of them for the rest of the night.
JJ and I stay in Kingfisher Bay another day; the boat traffic is not as bad as they make out or maybe it gets worse in the summer season. I’m sleeping better but I’m still in a funny mood – not wanting to go anywhere, just wanting to veg out on the boat. JJ suggests this and that but I’m not enthused; not wanting to go ashore alone if JJ drops me at the jetty, not wanting to drive the dingy to drop JJ ashore to do the same (not that he really wanted to be the one to go ashore), not feeling very secure, disagreeing with JJ, upsetting the apple-cart, just an old grumble bum and wanting to be left in peace. I’m nearly in tears and I don’t know why. Is it part of the panic attack thing, is it stress, is it menopause or is it all of the above? I have no idea; I just know that I don’t like feeling this way. Today I spend part of the day sitting in the cockpit knitting my squares. I’m making covers out of knitted squares with nautical pictures, in various blues and light browns, for the salon cushions. I’m quite happy to sit for a few hours and do this; it helps me to relax. I can also watch the water, the beach and the jetty as I sit in the cockpit; I watch out for any activities. Boats come and go, the ferry makes it usual drop-off and the barge come in to pick up the days traffic of four wheel drives and other vehicles that are returning to the main land. The barge slowly manoeuvres into the docking ramp while the vehicles line up to wait for the signal to board. All in a line, like solder ants, the possession moves forward down the ramp and onto the barge. Last of all a group of foot solders (tourists) are herded on board. It is a funny thing to watch.