Great Sandy Strait
Between Fraser Island and the mainland is a convoluted channel that barely exists at low tide. Luckily the tides are quite big here so we can get through at the top of the flood, but only just. We wait until late morning before picking up the anchor. This gets us to the shallowest part of the channel an hour or so before high water. Why not get to the shallows exactly on high water? In case we run aground, we will have a little bit of tide up our sleeve to float off again. With Greg up the mast calling out where the shallow banks are and someone calling out the depth readings from the echo sounder every few seconds we manage to pass through the straits without touching the bottom...much. We pass through one section using a Braille navigation technique which has the added benefit of cleaning off any barnacles from those hard-to-reach areas right at the bottom of the keel. But we touch only once, which is good going considering that the sand-banks are moving constantly and do not always correspond to the chart. This is a beautiful waterway. Often we are passing close to the Island shore which is wooded with melaleucas and casuarinas, interspersed with mangroves right along the water's edge. There are sandy beaches, tiny islands, mangrove creeks and sheltered inlets. This is a sailing paradise for the many shallow draft boats out today. With Duyfken's draft we have to be careful, but that doesn't stop us from admiring the scenery. We drop anchor in the late afternoon near Pelican Bay just inside the southern entrance to the Strait. We will cross the Wide Bay Bar in the morning but until then it's more R and R. What with all the smooth water and anchoring at night something of a holiday mood has spread through the ship already. Alex, our youngest voyage-crew, goes about painting the toenails of everyone on board with gold glitter nail-polish. She needs assistance for some of her victims. Ben has to be held down by four people, so he gets his navel painted as a bonus. I wonder if the original Duyfken's stores included some tiny oak barrels filled with gold glitter nail-polish.