To all the landlocked COVID refugees who thrive on our tales of woes, and the idealists amongst you who think cruising life is a dream, we have more bad luck to report on the gear front! This week it’s a biggie: the alternator that charges our house battery died! It had been playing up for a while and finally gave up. The fortuitous thing is that it happened as we were sailing to Mooloolaba.
Nothing keeps running forever and apparently you can expect alternators to last about 5 or 6 years. This time, we got a ‘man’ on the job. Here too we were lucky a marine electrician was on hand at the marina and available immediately. Robert Franklin from eMarine Solutions diagnosed the problem – something to do with some broken winding– recommended a Mastervolt replacement, ordered it and installed it on Tuesday. We hear you say “there can’t be anything left to replace on Anui”. We dearly hope you are right… but it’s a boat! You spend a huge amount of money on it. You don’t do it because it makes financial sense. If you think that, god, you should be locked up! You do it because you really love your boat and the cruising lifestyle.
All is well that ends well though: as the new alternator was being connected, the weather improved after nearly a week of heavy rain and we were able to escape the next day.
Freedom at last!
And now at long last, we figure we have earned our freedom! We left Mooloolaba and the Sunshine Coast on Wednesday with a fully provisioned boat for a month, and motor-sailed to the southern tip of Fraser Island, a 60 nm passage, then another 12 nm to our overnight anchorage. All sails got an airing including Bluey the spinnaker but the breeze was so light that the engines had to help. We lucked out though and managed to get there by mid afternoon with the right tide to get into the Sandy Straits.
For our readers who are not familiar with the area, we have included a map. Most people prefer to take the ‘inside’ passage to go north through the Sandy Straits because it affords many scenic and protected anchorages along the western side of Fraser Island. The ocean route is a much longer passage requiring an overnight sail, and you know what we think of that!
The one drawback about taking the ‘inside’ track is that you have to cross the notorious Wide Bay Bar. With shifting sandbanks and shoals, it is always changing, so it is important to obtain up to date waypoints from the Tin Can Bay Coast Guards to make your way in safely. As is always the case with bar crossings the key is to check the tides and weather forecast, follow the correct track and only go when the conditions are right. This time, with no wind or swell to speak of, the bar crossing was a breeze.
Once through the bar, we kept going with the tide to Garry’s Anchorage, a third of the way through the Sandy Straits. These waterways are very peaceful and travelling through at dusk was a beautiful experience with a show of colours that made the long day worthwhile. We reached the anchorage after sunset and stopped there for the night.
The Great Sandy Straits are very beautiful but shallow waterways. Although you see large expanses of water, you travel through narrow channels, meandering your way along mangroves islands and sand banks. You constantly need to watch your depth.
We continued the next day to Kingfisher Bay and out of the Straits past Moon Point.
Both the Sandy Straits and Fraser are fantastic destinations in themselves and you could easily spend a few weeks exploring. However, this time around we are on a mission to get to the Reef, so we will spend only a few days here and will revisit on the way back south.
Today we are anchored at Platypus Bay at the top of Fraser Island and wait there for the right weather to head offshore. But waiting has its good points. We are hoping to spot whales frolicking in the bay, we have had our first swims for the season and are just taking it easy at last! The last nine months have been punishing and taken their toll on both our health. We really need to return to a gentler cruising life.