The Sandy Straits are the extensive waterways between Fraser Island (to the east) and the Australian mainland (to the west). Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, and is home to dingoes, crocodiles, sandflies and mozzies. The Straits are extensive, and reminded us a little of the Okavango – a network of waterways created by moving sandbars, with some permanent islands. It is quite tricky to navigate as there are many underlying sandbars that expose at low tide. The tidal currents are extremely strong – and travelling from one place to another against the tide can remove about 3 knots from your speed (something that we encountered).
We left Tin Can Bay (finally) and headed north towards Garry’s Anchorage – situated on a little side channel off one of the larger waterways. We arrived just before sunset, and Noah was the first to wake up the next morning – evident from the continual footsteps above us. When I got up to investigate what he was doing I saw why – it was a perfectly still morning, the sun had just risen, the water was like glass and there was still a little mist over the water. Perfect for photos – which is exactly what was keeping Noah busy.
It was also perfect for SUPing, so Noah and I grabbed the boards and went off to explore. The banks were lined with mangroves – which are impressive to see up close, with their amazing root systems penetrating the salty water. We didn’t want to get too close, in case a croc was nearby – bit of a freaky thought. We did see stingrays, turtles and flathead whiting though. When the late(r)-sleepers arose, Josh and Noah spent heaps of time paddling around looking for sea creatures. Noah saw a huge turtle come up right behind him (he said it gave him quite a fright), and they saw many stingrays – a couple really big ones, and lots of babies.
Later on we paddled ashore to Fraser Island, keeping a watchful eye out for crocs and dingoes. There was a rope swing hanging out over the water, which the boys made full use of. It was also a great spot to just relax and enjoy some time out, after the stressful engine issues of Tin Can Bay. Noah has been working on a trimaran made from recycled materials found on the boat/ashore, and was able to give her a test-run and make some refinements. He also oiled the spreaders/side-stays of Noah’s Ark, which meant he had to get winched up the mast – something that always provides a thrill! Josh got stuck into reading “The Hobbit”, and watching the raptors flying low over us.
We then headed north up the Sandy Straits, to join our friends on Molly. There were some very shallow sections to negotiate, and we gently scraped the bottom once – luckily it’s all sand! We saw many turtles that day – I didn’t realise how many live in the Sandy Straits, but it’s teeming with them! You’ve got to keep your eyes peeled, as they don’t come to the surface for long, but quickly stick out their heads and take a deep breath before diving under again. Sometimes you don’t see them, but just hear them inhale and see the splash.
There were also lots of fishermen about – it’s definitely a popular pastime in the Straits. We put out our 3 lines and trolled through the Straits – completely in vain, as there wasn’t one chomp or bite. We did get excited when the line seemed to pull tight, but discovered that we’d caught a huge clump of seaweed instead of dinner.
We anchored as the storm clouds were gathering, and were soon drenched by a heavy downpour. Marco and Josh made full use of it, running outside naked with soap, shampoo and conditioner – their first “proper” shower in ages! Unfortunately the rain stopped before they’d rinsed off properly, so they had to finish the job in our boat’s shower. It was very humid and muggy after the storm, and this brought out the mosquitoes and sandflies in their hoards. We were inundated that night! Luckily our boat has mozzie nets on all the portholes and hatches, but every time a door was opened swarms of them flew in. With a white interior they’re easy to spot and kill – and Marco made a point of hunting down every last one of them. It was obvious that a great battle had been fought, judging by the streaks and smears on the walls and roof – never mind the cushions (despite my protests).
The following day was to be our last in the Sandy Straits, as we were keen to continue northwards. We were commenting on how unfortunate it was that we couldn’t enjoy the islands properly – due to the bugs, crocs and dingoes … and then came upon a pristine white sandy island appearing out of nowhere, surrounded by an aquamarine sea. It had suddenly switched from saltpan-marshland to tropical island paradise! This was too beautiful to pass by, so we anchored and enjoyed swimming in the warm clear water, and enjoying some beach games with the Molly gang. Instead of pressing on north, we decided to anchor near the island (called “Moon Point Bank) that night and make the most of it before leaving the Sandy Straits the following morning. These are the benefits of having no set plans – when we find somewhere good, we are able to make the most of it!