The Great Sandy Straits - Vernon Deck

The next leg of our journey north would also be our longest so far, Mooloolaba to Double Island Point being about 58 nautical miles (100km). It was a perfectly calm day with almost no wind so we had the motor running all day and had a little help from the mainsail. We were sailing parallel to the coast all the way up, about 2km offshore. As we don't yet have an autopilot we had to steer by hand the whole day so we took turns. During my turns at the wheel I would read my book, look around and spot the odd dolphin or play solitaire on my phone. I also spotted a big sea snake and 2 turtles. On my spells off watch I had a good sleep on deck, made some coffee and sandwiches and sat up on the bow and watched the water slide underneath.

After our late start (see last post) we ran out of daylight about an hour before arriving at our anchorage. It was awesome being out on the ocean for sunset, the colour gradients in the sky were wonderful as were the colours reflected in all the little ripples. We were the only boat at Double Island that night so had to trust the chart plotter to get us in as close as possible to the beach without actually hitting it. We dropped the anchor and started to unwind but soon realised that there was a nasty little swell wrapping around the point that would make our night very uncomfortable. The problem was that the wind was forcing the boat one way but the swell was coming in at ninety degrees to that and that made us roll. I decided we needed two anchors out, one off the bow and one off the stern, this way we should be able to keep the boat facing into the swell. As it was the first time for us doing this it took a while to get it all sorted but finally we had it. Halleluja! A quick snack and into bed.

Next morning and we were up early, neither of us having slept well. We were happy to get going again but both a bit nervous about the coming obstacle. The Wide Bay Bar! On the southern tip of Fraser Island begins the Great Sandy Straits, a wandering network of calm waterways that lead you up into Hervey Bay. To get into them you have to cross the sand bar and this one is widely thought to be the most dangerous bar on the East Coast of Australia. Many a boat has run aground and been lost here and everyone heading north talks about it. We’d done all the research and were arriving at the right point on the tide, the weather was calm and we knew the updated waypoints. It turned out to be no problem at all but there were breaking waves either side of us as we went across. The 2km after the crossing were pretty rough and we got thrown around a bit but we arrived safe and sound at Inskip Point.

The next couple of days we cruised slowly up through he narrow waterways and ended up at a place called Kingfisher Resort. There was a good anchorage and the resort had some nice bush walks so we decided to stay 2 nights. We hiked around the nearby hills and got some good views out over the bay and Nautilus at anchor. Its funny to see the area from a higher perspective as at boat level things look very different.


We were sitting on the resort jetty after getting back from a hike and Ylva started a painting of the beach. There was a group of retired folk having a beer and one of them took an interest in what Ylva was doing. Turns out he was a bit of an artist himself and he did a quick sketch of Ylva. We have met so many nice people on this trip so far, its been one of the highlights for us both.

We’d been over a week without any new supplies so we sailed over to the mainland to a small marina called Urangan to stock up and also hopefully finally sort out our battery issues. We met there a Finnish gentleman who happened to be a retired electrician. Eero Tiitinen and his little dog Mindy came onto Nautilus and had look at the battery setup and we now think we’ve got it figured out. Fingers crossed. He ended up being a very nice fellow who gave us lots of tips and also lent us his car to go into town shopping! How nice is that? We both had long hot showers, something we don't get too often, did a couple of loads of washing, washed down the boat and filled up all the water tanks. When we go to a marina and actually pay to be there then we take advantage of all they have to offer! 

Next stop, Platypus Bay on the north coast of Fraser Island.

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