23 July, 2006

It’s been nearly three weeks since we last updated the blog – when we were travelling up the Great Sandy Straits between the mainland and Fraser Island.

We left the nice sheltered water of the Straits, and headed into Hervey Bay and up to Bundaberg. We anchored for three nights in the river, just across from the public jetty and a five-minute walk to the town centre. No visit to Bundaberg would be complete without a visit to the distillery – so we did the right thing ….. As you can see, Shane paid homage to the big Bundy bottle!

The tour itself was not that exciting, except to learn how much rum that place pumps out! (At their cannery, they produce 1500 cans of Bundy mix per minute!!!) More to our liking though were the two free tastings at the end of the tour – Shane liked the rum/coffee liqueur, and although I am not a rum drinker, I didn’t mind the ready-to-drink rum and ginger beer mix. After two quick drinks, and it being only three o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, pedalling our bikes back to the marina became quite an effort!

Kim (Shane’s brother) arrived and after a couple of extra unplanned nights in Bundy (to get the boat batteries checked out) we left town. We had a night at Burnett Heads (up river from Bundy) and the following day left early to track down some surf and do some fishing. Kim had brought his brand new surfboard over and was keen to catch some waves. The locals had told us either Agnes Waters or 1770 were the places to go.

Shane and Kim did a spot of fishing on our way out of Bundy. Here is Kim proudly showing off his first catch – the photo was taken just prior to him throwing it back into the tide and saying something about it being good luck to throw your first fish back.

Good luck obviously wasn’t with him that day; he never caught another thing, and we spoke to the locals later and the particular fish he had caught was apparently quite a tasty morsel!

Our next stop was The Town of 1770 – yes that’s right, the town has got a number for a name! It was where Lieutenant James Cook (he obviously hadn’t made Captain at that stage) first discovered Queensland back in May 1770.

The entrance to the ‘creek’ where the town is has sandbars on both sides, so one can only enter at high tide. We arrived at 4 pm; high tide was midnight (and it is best not to try and navigate between sandbars in the dead of night!) so that meant we had a rather uncomfortable night bobbing in the surf out in Bustard Bay. (Our experience was they left out the ‘a’ and put a ‘u’ instead!). Kim and I were both a little green around the gills, and Shane was designated chef for the night. Kim and I weren’t up to cooking duties; we both struggled to eat much. That night would have been my most uncomfortable to date ……

Noon the next day finally arrived, and we could enter over the bar and get to the relatively tranquil waters of 1770. It wasn’t long before we were in the tender and off to visit the cafĂ© ashore for a coffee fix. We could just about have waded over at low tide – well I exaggerate a little but we only had about 20 feet of water to cover …..

1770 was a neat little place; a great caravan park right on the beach; and that quaint feel about it that seaside towns in NZ had 30 years ago. The locals told us not to tell everyone about 1770 – as I’m sure it won’t be long before the developers move in and all the original baches are demolished and high rises take their place – and 1770 won’t be the same. This view of the sunset on our last night shows you one reason why the town has a lot of appeal. This photo is exactly as it was taken – it hasn’t been altered at all – so it gives you a true idea of how spectacular the sunset was.

After three nights at 1770 (where unfortunately it only fined up on the afternoon of our last day) it was time to head north. We had an overnight anchorage at Pancake Creek, and then it was off to Gladstone to drop Kim off to head back to NZ. The weather forecast for our trip from Pancake to Gladstone didn’t sound that good (I still had vivid memories of Bustard Bay!) so I wasn’t looking forward to that day, but the anticipated bad weather was a non-event. We had the wind behind us and made good time to Gladstone.

Gladstone is one of the industrial centres of Aussie. This fact was evidenced as we came into the harbour – we counted at least 26 huge tankers lined up waiting to get into the harbour so that they could load up with coal and head off to back to China. The city is better than we remember from our first visit (back in April when we were boat-hunting).

Yesterday morning Shane went up the mast. This entailed me having to winch him up. It seemed to take me forever (I started to wish I had spent more time doing weights at the gym!) and I got some idea of how hard the grinders worked in Team New Zealand. There was one slight problem – when Shane was at the top of the mast, he broke the lens on the navigation lights. I knew this meant only one thing – he was going to have to fix it, and I was in for another session on the winch. All I can say is that I now have stronger arm muscles, and the second session wasn’t as bad as the first!

We went to the local Leagues Club last night and watched the All Blacks-South Africa game. We have done quite well on the sports watching front – we seem to be near civilisation when all the major games are on. All I’ve got to do now is make sure that Shane has us in port for next Saturday night’s All Black-Australia game!

We’re leaving Gladstone in the morning, and making our way over the next ten days up to Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays. Cushla (Shane’s daughter) flies in to meet us there, and I certainly am looking forward to a relaxing few days cruising around the azure blue waters (well, that’s what they look like in all the travel brochures!!). I’m sure Cushla is looking forward to some good weather, after what Wellington has been having lately.

And here I am at the Cook memorial in 1770, looking forward to our next leg of the journey.....

Until next time ..
Heather and Shane

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07 July, 2006


What a day….

We left Mooloolaba at 4.30 am and arrived at Garry’s anchorage at the back of Fraser Island 13 hours and 75 miles later. Lovely clear crisp morning when we left and 35 knots plus when we arrived at Wide Bay bar, with 2m swells which was no problem till we turned into the wind to drop the sails. “Where did these bloody big swells come from” and “why didn’t I close that front window?”, water everywhere, and then as we enter the bar entrance which is a very precise waypoint, well three waypoints actually, the ‘C-map’ crashes and we are left with bugger all guidance. Exciting is one term but not the one that springs to mind. I wonder if that water coming in the front had anything to do with the C-map taking a rest? Still we obviously made it. If anyone can “Hecan” eh Mannie.

Heather was great, she had/has real concerns about her sea sickness but coped fine including being able to have a wee lie down for a couple of hours.
Getting here has been a cycle of ups and downs with lots of stress getting things done in time to depart and lots of achievements along the way. Staying at the Manly marina was very enjoyable meeting lots of helpful and nice people. Having done so much work on the boat I do have a much better understanding of our new home, and it is a helluva boat.

Our first day out was a very easy three hour motor to Moreton Island and play in the sand hills, massive big hills just made for yahooing down, which we did with a mate John who had sailed out in his “cat” to farewell us. Day two was a very cruisy motor sail to Mooloolaba and then day three, here we are. Tomorrow a wee 20 mile potter up behind Fraser Island to a resort where we know they will have the final State of Origin game, well they better, then a few relaxing days to get to Bunderberg where my bro Kim is flying in to meet us for a week on the boat which will be great.

That’s it for now folks, it’s off to have another wee chateau cardboard, very big here and very tasty, still they do have a wine glut big enough for a glass for everyone on the planet….and we are doing our share. It’s 7pm and we’re shattered.

It’s a new day. We came up the Big Sandy Strait yesterday, sandbanks everywhere which you can’t see, so you follow the channel markers, such that they are and we still scraped the bottom twice. Arrived at the Kingfisher Resort on the back of Fraser Island about 3 pm and went straight for coffees. Last night we went over the island a bit to, yes, The Dingo Bar, to watch the final State of Origin match. What a great game and we were in the right place to see the Maroons win. A real backpackers bar, reminded me of a ski bar, very “rustic”. Speaking of ski bars, I assume you guys are off to a flying start with truck loads of the white stuff. Us, well, this morning we awoke to water gently lapping the boat, the sun shining, dolphins lazing around which they do a lot of here, and fresh muffins and coffee. OK I lied about the muffins.
This is what it was all about.

02 July, 2006

We've begun .....

We’re about two hours out of Mooloolaba, by which you should gather we are now sailing on the water and our ‘real’ adventure has begun.

The two weeks we though would be in Brisbane (from when we arrived to when we thought we would have a boat) turned into three months, but it’s all been worth it.

We left Manly on Saturday morning 1st July, with Jan and Arnold waving to us from the pier. Arnold is the only man I have ever met who has towed a 16 foot ply surfboard to Bells Beach, in the 50’s, and that’s towing it behind his bike. The man is a qualified legend, and his board is now on display at the Melbourne Surf Museum.

True to form, as soon as we wanted wind, there was none, so we ended up motoring all the way over to Moreton Island. We spent a nice afternoon and evening with John. He came to join us on his catamaran ‘Jacana’. We all ran down the giant sand dunes together. Shane had fun jumping off the tops of the dunes and crashing onto the sand below!

We cracked a bottle of ‘bubbles’ – amongst others (thanks Wayne and Marjorie for the chardonnay) – on our first night to celebrate our first day on the water.

As I type this, a pod of dolphins is playing off to our port side. Every day we have been out on the water we have seen dolphins. I keep calling out to them “hey, Flipper, Flipper” to encourage them to keep swimming alongside us for a while. They don’t, so maybe I’ve got their names wrong …..

Tonight, it is fresh fish for dinner – courtesy of the great white hunter (Shane!).

At Mooloobaba we hope to catch up with Vaughan, who used to be the Nurse at Telecom; earlier this week we caught up with Niki McNickle and her hubby Ian at Manly (thanks for the drinks and hangover Nik!) so it is quite a week for catching up with my old Telecom workmates.

The sky is blue, the sun is shining brightly, and we both think we can cope with this lifestyle for a little while yet. As you can see, Shane is still hard at work!

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