Wednesday, November 15, 2017

High Winds and Shipwrecks

Needing to move south, it was time to say farewell to the Whitsunday Islands

After a windy night at Sawfell Island, we arrived at Middle Percy Island's West Bay.  Here we saw the biggest tidal range of anywhere we've been.  Twenty feet.

When somebody pulls the plug on the pond here, you better be in deep water.

Ashore, we noticed these tiny white signs posted on some of the palms, so moved closer to see what they had to say.

Seems like a trap.  You need to be just a few feet away to read this warning.  Right in the kill zone!

Lots of ammunition too!

But the real attraction here is the Percy Island Yacht Club.  We've seen lots of places where cruises hang their burgees, or other bits of memorabilia from their yacht, with dates, crew, etc., but Percy Island takes the cake.

There are hundreds and hundreds of articles packed into every nook and cranny some dating back 40 years.

Wonder if anyone will know about the Ha-Ha here.

Great sights from the broad beach out front.

And Percy is far enough offshore to get a sunset splashdown.

Next stop was Bundaberg.  Bundy.  Home of the Bundaberg Rum.  In their email reply for a booking, the Port Bundaberg Marina wasn't too certain they could accommodate Moonshadow because a rally of yachts had just arrived from New Caledonia.  After several phone calls, they produced a berth, which turned out to be the best thing that happened in Bundy, because a couple of hours after tying up, the sky got really dark.  A front was moving through.  It was still mid afternoon, but looked like the sun had already set.  We picked up loose things on deck, put all the cockpit cushions below, secured for rain, and waited below with a cocktail.  When the rain came there was also wind.  Boy was there wind.  Topside it sounded like a 747 just taxied into the berth next to us.  We caught this image with a gust at 61 knots, but a neighbor boat later told us they saw 72 knots on their instruments.

Here's what hurricane force winds gusts looked like from Moonshadow's cockpit where John stuck the underwater camera up through the hatch for a look see.

It was enough to take out this 80 year old tree in town...

...and, sadly for Ben and Helen, owners of the catamaran Felix, the brief storm was enough to destroy their floating home.  Half sunk, they were able to get her to some shallow water.

By the end of the next day, they had Felix high and dry...

... but this type of event can be the end of a boat or the beginning of a year of work.  These two cranes had to abandon their efforts as the boat was too far out and too heavy.  Felix was later taken up river to a boatyard.

If you didn't know that Bundaberg was the home of Bundabeg Rum, the Grand Hotel in town helps with Bundaberg Rum logos painted all around the facade.

Remindes us of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  But different.

We like rum.  Just not Bundy rum.  Unless we're talking about the $179.99 per bottle Solara we tasted at the distillery, but $179.99?  Yeah, nah.

We asked the marina what there was to do nearby, and learned there was a hotel just about a 20 minute walk out that way.  Looking forward to a cocktail by the bar, or maybe even a swim up bar, we took off on foot.  Yeah, nah.

But we did see some beauiful birds along the way.  According to our birder friends Nikk and Jan these are Rainbow Lorikeets and Pink Galahs...

And here, of course is the Masked Lapwing.

We remained in Port Bundaberg Marina for a week waiting out strong winds, and left the rain behind.

Further south was Urangan, at the north end of the Great Sandy Strait, where we booked a tour of Fraser Island.  A short bus ride from the marina found us on the vehicular ferry, where the captain let John handle things in the bridge.  Well, he didn't seem to object to my taking pictures through the rear windows of the bridge.

From our landing on Fraser Island, a giant four-wheel-drive all-terrain bus took us through a rain forest across the island to it's eastern shore...

...where we popped out onto Seventy-Five Mile Beach.  Here we took advantage of low tide cruising along on the smooth sand beach at 80 kph.

Eighty-two years ago, the steel ship Maheno was on her way to Japan. She was at the end of her life and sold for scrap.  

Maheno was being towed when an out of season cyclone hit the area.  The tow line snapped and Maheno, without her propeller which had been removed, was helpless.

Here she is today.

When the bus tour driver offered the option to take a hop in an airplane for an aerial view of the island, we said we're in!

They call it Seventy-Five Mile Beach...

... where do they come up with names for places like this?
The flight was definitely a good call.

Back in the bus, we stopped in the rain forest where some of the trees (not this one) are ancient ~1,000 years old.

We saw a Strangler Fig engulfing a large tree...

... which reminded us of the one we climbed in Costa Rica. In Costa Rica the vines of the Fig had long ago choked the life out of the host tree, leaving a hollow core.  

This rainforest is also home of the largest ferns.

When the camera comes out... 

...there's always a ham in the crowd.

The last stop was at beautiful fresh water Mackenzie Lake.

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world.  This lake is 400 meters above sea level.  The rainwater would all seep out through the sand, but a layer of dried and hardened decayed organic matter creates a watertight bowl trapping the lake water.  

The lake is surrounded by pure white silica sand.

Back to Moonshadow now for our next step through the Great Sandy Strait and over the Wide Bay Bar...

... where we hope to fare better than Moheno, saving beaches for selfies!