By the second evening, as gale warnings began to infiltrate the forecasts, the anchorage had twenty boats seeking shelter there! Amazing how big small anchorages can turn out to be, especially, of course, with local boats who come in knowing the extent of the good depths.
After a day of stripping the cockpit teak and other projects, we enjoyed a nice supper of homemade vegetable soup and settled in for a movie. We had just crawled into bed and begun to doze, when I jerked up with a shriek as cold rain drove in the aft port holes! Wind and rain are not supposed to come up the butt of anchored boats! Don leapt up to the cockpit to find that a squall had blown through bringing a 180-degree reversal to all the anchored boats. There are few things that can cause more trouble than 180-degree wind reversals like that as boat can be driven to sail right over the top of its anchor, potentially pulling it out. Friends in the Virgins Islands had gone on the reef in such a situation, so given the packed boats and the restricted area, nasty visions were dancing through our heads.
Fortunately, although there were a lot of flashing spotlights and a few boats had to re-anchor, the squall caused more tension than havoc. We sat up past midnight waiting for things to settle back down, and I'm not sure anyone ever fully relaxed again for fear of a repeat performance. In fact we did not have another. Oh, we had plenty of rain showers -- some heavy, most misty sprinkles -- and the wind managed to keep us sitting sideways to the current much of the time, making Don's teak project rather challenging. But all in all, once the wind settled into the southeast, Fraser Island gave us all plenty of protection during the five days the gale blew.
The morning after the squall we met the couple on the catamaran off our starboard side. A German couple, Goeth (sp?) and Sylvia came to offer us a ride to the beach since they had noticed our dinghy was on deck. This gave us a nice opportunity to check out the beach and take a stroll with interesting company through the piney forest on a stretch of the island's sand roads. The park signs advised us we might see dingoes, Australia's famous wild dogs, and offered advice on how to behave beginning with "leave them alone" and ending with "defend yourself assertively"! Which I presume is make yourself the alpha individual! We didn't see any dingoes. We did see no-see-ums. In the afternoon, several more boats came in to replace the several that had left. One of them was Procyon. Our second shore-side walk on Monday took us out along the drying flats beside the approach channel where we encountered armies of little crabs that clitter away from us across the sand like robot spiders before spiraling down into the sand when we get too close. Above us, two hawk/eagle types cycled from dead tree branches scanning the shoals for dinner, as well as a squawking white parrot-like bird that could be a local species or an escapee! Who knows!?
Our next few days were actually cruising at our most favorite. We mixed in boat projects, reading, writing, videos and socializing with chatting with family on Skype including a Birthday call to my sister in Vermont and a video session with Don's family including brother Greg, niece Brooke and her husband Nathan, and nephew Adam who were in Morristown with Don's parents for the sad occasion of the passing of Greg's father-in-law. As is often the case, Dick had been failing for some time, so his passing, hard as it always is, came as a release for all. We were sorry for the occasion, but happy to have to opportunity to "see" so much family that we hadn't seen in some time. We got to congratulate Brooke face to face on her pregnancy. Well, at least we thought it was face to face. We found out at the end of the half hour they hadn't been receiving our video! No one had mentioned it!
We'd been in Garry's for six nights before the weather began to ease up enough to think about poking our noses out. Larders were getting pretty thin for most of us as we had none of us imagined getting caught between ports for so long! With Internet weather available to all of us via our handy-dandy cellular broadband modems, we could not only follow the forecasts, but actually watch live data of wind speeds and radar rainfall, (invariably higher than the forecasts!) This led to as much group calculating as if we had been heading off on a major crossing. Well, with the infamous Wide Bay Bar to cross in order to get out to sea and tides to factor in, wind angle and distance to travel as we head south to Mooloolaba, there is plenty to calculate.
In the end, we raised anchor about 10:45 this morning to travel south to Inskip Point, from where one can decide whether or not to go out the Wide Bay Bar, something we are tentatively planning for tomorrow morning. Last minute decision-making had taken place over coffee and muffins aboard Whisper (which, no, folks, is not my old Whisper, but Duncan and Robin's lovely Hallberg Rassy 42!), and, in the end, Procyon and Tackless left, while Whisper stayed.
They must have known something they didn't share! Almost no sooner than we got out the gutter of Garry's anchorage than the rain returned. I built a teepee of sorts over my laptop which we needed in the cockpit for navigation down the narrow channel, especially when the rain made the ranges and marks hard to see. We had the tide with us, BUT that meant it was against the wind, which added up to choppy waves. It is a very bizarre sensation to make maybe 1.5 knots through the water, practically a standstill, yet be actually traveling 5+ over ground toward your destination! In the end, it took us just two hours to reach the Inskip anchorage (25*48S; 153*02E), and of course, the sky promptly cleared.
This very well could be our last open anchorage aboard Tackless II! Our objective tomorrow…or possibly Saturday if the wind doesn't back just a bit more out of the southeast tomorrow…is the Wharf Marina in Mooloolaba. Although it is said to be a lovely facility, it is also said to be in the midst of a tourist center. Marinas are never our first choice, but it is a necessary evil for showing the boat to prospective buyers. I guess we'll find out soon enough.
Meanwhile, a fat, buttery full moon rose over Wide Bay Bar this evening. Although the tidal currents continue to have their way with the boat with respect to the wind, we are so far sitting quite calmly. A huge shallow estuary opens to the south with the lights of boats willing to be pinned in by low tide twinkling from Pelican Anchorage. To the north are the sand bars and channels of the Sandy Straits down which we have come. To the west is Tin Can Inlet, which Avior calls home, and to the east is Wide Bay Bar. A veritable crossroads. It is a lovely spot.
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