As Phase Two completes and Phase Three begins! As the girls depart Abell Point Marina to catch their flight back to Sydney from Hamilton Island.
Girls depart (pink squares show where they are).
With the girls soon to be back in Sydney and Captain Mark James and Adam Hoare to arrive within twenty-four hours there are a thousand things to do to prepare Pendana for the run south, least of all is to make sure we have enough fresh food, fuel and water for the run south in forty-four hours from now!
Pendana will be underway shortly heading some 600nms south, to the Miami of Australia, the Gold Coast, where in approximately sixty hours from now she will be tied up at Marina Oceanus. Joining Pendana for the trip south is regular Captain Mark James and new crew member Mr Adam Hoare.
Above, Marina Oceanus (formally Marina Mirage)
The route for this journey will see Pendana head south from Abel Point Marina towards Hervey Bay then onto The Great Sandy Straits. As we enter this notoriously shallow passage which runs to the west of Fraser Island and east of the mainland. We will need to time our approach and transit with the tides to the second as running on an ebbing tide will result in Pendana touching the bottom and coming to a complete stop (ouch!). The reason we are going via the Sandy Straits rather than heading out to sea is on Captain Mark’s recommendations. As most would know, I prefer deeper water and open-ocean rather than running the risk of touching the bottom but I also trust Mark 100% and as he is keen to go via the straits I am happy to oblige. One never knows, it may make a great trip a fantastic one as apparently the straits are incredibly beautiful! I happen to remember that Stephen (Marina Director) from Pendana’s home Marina in Sydney, making mention of the straits in glowing terms, so perhaps it will be a real treat after all and if not I will let you know!
Pressure is on!
The Great Sandy Straits is a cluster of islands and sand bars between Fraser Island and the mainland coast of Australia and in the summer is the breeding ground for more than 45,000 rare shorebirds that migrate from as far away as Siberia. Dugongs, turtles and dolphins also inhabit its tranquil and protected waterways.
Map above shows entry and exit point through the straits. Approx. a 40nm run once started.
Before we enter The Great Sandy Straits, Pendana will first have to navigate her way through Hervey Bay where from July through to November some 30,000 humpback whales take a rest before heading further south to Antarctica. So, shallow waters, more humpback wales than you can throw a stick at and this sounds like a good idea? Mark assures me it will be well worth it and that the water is not too shallow so long as we are running the really shallow parts on high tide. Sometimes one just has to go with the flow!
Greeting Pendana as we approach the exit point of The Great Sandy Straits is a notorious bar crossing that has claimed many a casualty. The Bar, named Wide Bar Bay is not without its challenges but so long as we get the latest GPS waypoints for the exit from the Marine Rescue folks at Tin Can Bay on VHF 67 or 82 then we won’t have a problem so I am told. The reason for the waypoints is that the sand outside the bar shifts as such without the latest information it would be like playing Russian roulette with five of the six chambers loaded. So, this apparently beautiful part of the world will not be without its challenges.
Aerial photo of The Great Sandy Straits (ouch!)
Courtesy of Google Earth, what lies ahead navigating the straits!
Approach/Exit points for Wide Bay Bar.
Once clear of The Great Sandy Straights our plan will be to head further south for the 150nm run to the Gold Coast. As most of you know I am not a huge fan of the entry into the Gold Coast via its seaway due to the fact that there are often small fishing boats in the middle of the channel or surfers paddling from one side to the other and while the entrance is 200 meters wide I must confess to finding it very alarming that small fishing boats are allowed to drop anchor in the channel or worse still, drift. Nonetheless, we have survived the entrance before and I am sure we will survive it again!
Photo above shows seaway entrance and marina to the south.
Photo above taken by Claire of the seaway entrance on our last trip to the Gold Coast
Looking forward to having Pendana a little closer to home and while she will still be 450nms to the north of our home marina at least the flight time is only an hour making visits much easier all round.