Christmas Fun Cruise


Christmas Fun Cruise

(excerpted from Ocean Spirit Magazine)
by Garry Beattie

A total of just 4 boats made it to The Christmas Fun Cruise over the Christmas / New Year holiday period this year but it was not through lack of interest, but more so other commitments, bad weather and breakdowns which caused many to miss out.


The 4 boats that did venture down into The Great Sandy Straits were Garry and son Jay on “Talisman”, Spencer and Julia Carr and kids on “Knot Too Farr”, Rob Clark and his 2 sons on “Sweet Az” and Lou on his Caper Cat. Graham and Sue Weier on “Ocarina” arrived at Hervey Bay one day later to join the group but by the next day the wind had picked up to over 25 knots, gusting to 35 knots making it very difficult, almost impossible, for them to get out of the Urangan Boat Harbour at Hervey Bay. Graham and Sue sat for 3 days in the boat harbour waiting for a break in the weather before calling it quits and heading back home after a freak accident caused Sue’s hand to get jammed between the boat and the wharf sustaining injuries to her hand which required a visit to the hospital. I believe Sue is now well and truly on the mend.

The journey from Urangan Boat Harbour at Hervey Bay across to Kingfisher Bay on Fraser Island was made by the group on Friday December 27th in 15 to 20 knot winds, with choppy seas. We departed at 2pm. The tide was at the peak of high and so we decided to travel the direct rout to Kingfisher Bay down the western side of Woody Island, over the mud flats (which are well below the surface at high tide, but dry out at low tide) rather than the standard navigational course of going around the northern tip of Woody Island and then traveling down the Eastern side.

Knott Too Farr

A very uncanny incident occurred on the way across. One of the side stays on “Knot Too Farr” unwound itself and came apart at the adjuster. This caused Spencer and Julia to drop their sails. Garry on “Talisman” sailed over to see if they were OK. Almost at the exact same spot, the very same side stay on “Talisman” sprung loose!! Maybe we were sailing a little too close to the twighlight zone!! Becasue the wind was getting stronger and was coming directly from Kingfisher Bay, Garry opted to drop his sails also and motor directly for Kingfisher Bay. Spencer and Julia on “Knot Too Farr” decided to re attach the side stay, pull the sails up and power on. Considering Spencer is very new to sailing and his wife Julia is not a good “bad weather” sailor (or even a “moderate weather” sailor) I think they did a fantastic job in the Farr 6000 to power through the wind and waves, tacking all the way, until they arrived at Kingfisher Bay.

Lou's Caper Cat

Lou on the Caper Cat, thought he would take a different tack to everyone else and headed around the bottom of Woody Island and made a run straight for Fraser Island and then sailed down the coast line of Fraser Island to stay in the protection of the islands wind shadow. Lou arrived just after sunset, very tired and cold.

Rob and boys on Sweet Az departed Urangan Harbour about 15 to 20 minutes after the others (He was using a different boat ramp so we didn’t even know he was there!) Rob decided to take the standard navigational course to Kingfisher Bay and went around the northern end of Woody Island, arriving at Kingfisher Bay at around 8pm. The total distance from Urangan Harbour to Kingfisher Bay is just under 10 miles. Under motor (most of the way) “Talisman” took just on 3 hours. “Knot Too Farr”, sailing all the way, took just on 4 and a half hours and Lou on the Caper Cat took roughly 5 and a half hours. Going around the Northern end of Woody Island, “Sweet Az” took just on 6 hours. The next day, December 27th, a strong wind warning was issued, and the water between Kingfisher Bay and Hervey Bay became very rough, however at Kingfisher Bay we were totally protected with waters so calm people were actually water skiing on them and paddling canoes.

Kngfisher Bay and Resort

We decided to sit tight at Kingfisher Bay until the wind blew itself out and what a great place to sit out the weather. Kingfisher Bay has a world class resort situated just back from the beach and for $25 per boat, per day, you can have full use of all the resort facilities. This included 4 pools (1 heated), spa, water slide, tennis courts, showers and various other “nice” options!

Dingo, Australia's native dog

We were all amazed when a family of 5 Dingo’s frequented our site every night, either just before or just after sunset. They included a large male, a female and 3 pups. While they seemed friendly enough we kept our eye on them. The pups seemed to want to play and when Lou started to jog up and down the beach, one of the pups joined in with him. They were a magnificent site. On one occasion one of the dingo’s decided they would pay Spencer and Julia a close visit by jumping on board their boat. One of the pups scared the life out of Garry after he and Lou were sitting and relaxing, after dinner, by the sea. One of the pups walked up behind Garry and started jumping around (like pups do when they want to play with you!) and snorting. Because neither Lou or Garry heard the dingo come up behind them it actually scared the life out of them!!

Jay Beattie, from “Talisman” found the “wildlife” at the spa each day was much more interesting and spent most of his time there making lot’s of new friends!!

Sweet Az getting ready to race

On Monday 30th, once the tide had come in, Rob and Garry decided to have some fun with their boats. Rob, on “Sweet Az” decided to challenge Garry from “Talisman” to a race around Kingfisher Bay. Garry accepted and the course was set for 4 laps, between a catamaran anchored near the wharf and another catamaran anchored some distance down the beach with the finish line between the wharf and a floating barge roughly 100 feet off the wharf, giving a very narrow finish line. Garry recruited the help of Lou from the Caper Cat. Spencer and Julia decided to sit it out and watch. The swirling winds coming directly from behind the Island made the race very interesting to say the least, with the boats neck and neck for most of the race. On occasions the boats would only be no more than 20 feet apart when one would get a huge lift and the other no wind at all. As the 2 boats battled it out on the water, they attracted a number of spectators to watch, mostly from the many yachts anchored off Kingfisher Bay, with some of them yelling out support and advice! One rather large yacht offered to loan Garry his spinnaker so that he could catch up with “Sweet Az”!! Eventually “Talisman” won the race and everyone returned to the beach with smiles from ear to ear!

On one of the day’s Lou talked Rob and Garry into walking up the steep trail to the lookout, well above Kingfisher Bay. It was well worth the effort to climb up as the view was nothing short of spectacular, overlooking the Sandy Straits from Kingfisher Bay back up as far as Urangan Boat Harbour.

The next day we decided to try and venture further down into the Great Sandy Straits. Whilst “Sweet Az”, “Knot Too Farr” and the Caper Cat departed, “Talisman” was forced to wait behind whilst Garry’s son, Jay said farewell to all the friends that he had made, particularly the girls! Before Garry could get away, Lou arrived back on his Caper Cat explaining that the wind was too great and he opted to return to Kingfisher Bay. “Sweet Az” and “Knot Too Farr” continued on to Garry’s Anchorage where they stayed for 2 nights. On the way down to Garry’s Anchorage the boats came across an old wreck which kept everyone interested as they sailed past.

Oliver and Oscar check out the shipwreck

Meanwhile, back at Kingfisher Bay Resort Garry and Lou decided to join in with the resort New Years Eve celebrations, whilst Jay opted to join his new friends at the special teenagers nightclub for New Years Eve. Kingfisher Bay Resort was alive with people. A special journey by the Quick Cat brought an extra 200 or so people in for the night to join in the celebrations. The band was pumping and the scene was set for an enjoyable night. Later Lou decided to venture off to the nightclub whilst Garry elected to stay at the resort and celebrate in relaxed style.

Lou must have had a good time as he didn’t get back to his boat until well after 2am!

Around mid morning on New Years Day Rob and his 2 sons arrived back at Kingfisher Bay on their way back to Hervey Bay. Unfortunately for Rob, he hopped off his boat and we all went up to the resort village for some morning tea. On his return the tide had gone out very quickly and Robs boat had dried out. He was well and truly stuck until about 5pm that night. Rob decided that it would be best to now stay one more night at Kingfisher Bay and then sail back with Lou and Garry when they ventured back to Hervey Bay the next day.

On Thursday January 2nd, all 3 boats “Talisman”, “Sweet Az” and the Caper Cat departed Kingfisher Bay and returned back to Hervey Bay to complete what was another very enjoyable, and relaxing, Christmas Fun Cruise.

Spencer and Julia on “Knot Too Farr” stayed in the Great Sandy Straits for a couple more days before heading back home.