Sunday, 14 October 2012

Hervey Bay

Well, we arrived in Hervey Bay four days ago after a difficult trip up from Moreton Bay - a lot of close-hauled sailing followed by bashing into headwinds under engine. Damn northerlies!! This is why we hate keeping to a schedule, but we had to get here in time for Michael to start his job, which he did on Friday.

We sailed overnight up to the Wide Bar Bar - the notorious southern entrance to the Great Sandy Straits. The local volunteer marine rescue gave us GPS coordinates to help us safety cross the bar. The approach is really long and unpredictable and has the discouraging local name of "The Mad Mile". Well, we're always up for a challenge! We crossed without incident, but considering the messy surf to our left and scary shallow water to our right it was easy to see how nasty it would be in bad weather. Exhausted, we dropped the pick just inside the entrance in the calm waters of Pelican Bay.

We spent the next few days winding our way up the shallow gutters of the Straits, timing our trip with the tides, fishing along the way and catching undersized mudcrabs. Its sooo beautiful here, and a pretty damn good consolation to the fact that we are going to be staying in one place for a while. The western coast of Fraser Island is densely wooded in parts with mangrove-lined creeks and high sandy cliffs. The beaches are clean and white and gorgeous. The water is WARM and turquoise blue. What a backyard!

On our last night out the weather was atrocious, strong northerlies of course. There was no way we could make it over to Hervey Bay against wind and current before dark so we dropped our anchor out the front of the Kingfisher Bay resort on Fraser Island. This is where we will be taking Michael's parents in few weeks, so it was a good excuse to get off the boat and check out the facilities. They are very welcoming to boaties, and even have showers, a pool and a bar/restaurant that you can visit for free! Well, the food and drinks aren't free, but you can use the pool and showers for nothing. We drank cocktails by the pool before splurging and checking in to a hotel room for the night. Kitty took one for the team and kept watch on the boat, enduring the rough conditions.

The next morning the winds had dropped and we walked down to the jetty to take our dingy back to Bass Voyager and head over to Hervey Bay. What a shock to see that poor old Guppy (our dingy) had gotten caught under the jetty in the bad conditions and torn one of her inflatable pontoons. She was filled to the brim with water, the oars and petrol tank were floating, and the outboard was precariously close to going underwater. We dragged her up onto the dock to drain her and then the two of us balanced tentatively on the remaining inflated pontoon and very carefully motored back to BV. That, coupled with our broken anchor winch (which Michael fixed three times back in Tassie), the tired engine, and the loooooong list of other maintenance jobs, suggests that its clearly time to stop for a while! 11 months at sea has taken its toll on poor BV, but she has taken such good care of us and she deserves some TLC in return. That's my big goal for the next couple of months, while Michael brings home the bacon.

So here we are at the Great Sandy Straits Marina. Hervey Bay seems to have everything you could possibly need, and the town of Maryborough is only a 30 min drive away.  We drove there on Thursday to check out its weekly farmers market and see what the local chandlerys are like. Maryborough is very quaint with lots of historic buildings, and is the birthplace of the author of Mary Poppins. Hervey Bay itself has a beautiful esplanade which stretches for 15kms (maybe more?). Bundaberg is an hour or so north, and Brissy is only 3 hours south. A great location really! BHB (Beautiful Hervey Bay - thanks Aunty Genevieve!) overlooks Fraser Island and at this time of year it is buzzing with tourists coming to see the humpback whales who give birth in the safe waters inside the island. Although known as Hervey Bay its really a chain of smaller villages called Urangan (where we are), Torquay, Scarness and Pialba which have melted together over the years. A great place for a seaside holiday - hint, hint family and friends!!

Now the reason that Ive taken a while to update the blog is that we had a bit of a shock on our second day here. Kitty went missing. We searched everywhere for her, checked all the other boats on our arm of the marina, called the council and all the vets, spoke to all our neighbours ... there was no sign of her. Our worst fear was that she had fallen in the water, and this was kindly exacerbated by a neighbour mentioning that fisherman had seen a bull shark in the harbour recently! We really feared the worst, and I was an emotional wreck. Its ridiculous how much I love that cat! It seemed so unfair - she'd come so far, including two Bass Strait crossings, only to disappear now!! By last night we were almost 100% convinced we'd never see her again, when at about 9pm Michael heard a little "gooong" sound (her weird little broken miaow) on the dock - sure enough it was Kitty, very hungry, but otherwise not a hair out of place. She got a very stern talking to as well as lots of cuddles. And she's been grounded. No more dockside excursions! Oh, and she's going to get a collar, bell and nametag, much to her disgust!

So that's about it for now. Oh, except Michael started work on Friday and it went really well - we went out to dinner with his new boss Lawrie who is a top bloke and has helped us out with a cheap car - a Jeep that I have christened "The Green Machine". A 4WD will be great for exploring the area, lugging the dingy down to the Mary River to go fishing, and checking out Fraser Island.

Here are a couple of pics. You know its been a hard week when there are only a few to choose from! LOL, some people have real problems, eh?? ;o)

Anchored behind the Tangalooma wrecks in Moreton Bay

Michael caught this gorgeous little baby shark in the Great Sandy Strait. My only regret is I didn't touch him before Michael released him! Sandpapery, apparently.

Windless morning in the GSS

Hangin' by the "day-visitors" pool at the Kingfisher Bay Resort


  1. Hi there - love hearing your updates - poor kitty! We have Humpbacks hanging around here too - saw one today not far out! Friends coming over in their boat on the weekend saw one too! Very exciting. We have spent time on Fraser Island in our 4WD - a fabulous place - when not too crowded! Enjoy being in one spot for a while - wish we could visit :( Take care and keep your posts coming - Beverley and John @ Three Hummock Island (aka Paradise!) Tasmania XXxx

  2. Happy to here Kitty is ok!! This time last year we were trying to get south from Cairns but could't get any northerlies. The S.E trades just kept on blowing. Looks like they are this year. It always seems the wind blows on the nose when you have a schedule to meet!

    Scott (Scubascooter on cruisers forum)