Freelander on Fraser Island

Well, we live and learn, again…  When we hired a Toyota Landcruiser last year and drove around Fraser Island, we found it rough, but never got stuck.  So, having done a bit of Googling about using the trusty old Land Rover Freelander TD4, I came to the conclusion that “she’ll be right mate!”.  I was wrong… It wasn’t!

We boarded the barge at River Heads, and the boys declared that this was “the most exciting, newest thing we’d never done before so far” on our adventure.  So far so good.

We landed at Wanggoolba Creek and, having “aired down” our tyres to 16PSI, we set off full of confidence. We were second vehicle off the barge and I did, for a moment, consider pulling over and letting everyone through. Fortunately I didn’t, because about 10 minutes later we were thoroughly bogged down in soft sand. Fortunately two vehicles came to our assistance and with a 12 year old snatch strap that I’d never used before and their two shackles we were soon pulled out. I bribed them with a promise of beer at the other end and they committed to babysitting us to Eurong, another 17 kilometres. Just as well, as we needed another two rescue and recoveries. Problem was not traction, but clearance. The Freelander is just too low and would get stuck on the high ridge of sand between the tracks (aka middlemannetjie for you okes in the R of SA…).

Driving technique: first gear, and keep the speed up, revs around 3,000 RPM. Crank on about 90 degrees of left or right helm (I prefer right) to keep the middlemannetjie off to one side. A boisterous ride. The brakes took a pounding, because the wheels are spinning the whole time and the traction control is trying to control the wheelspin by applying the brakes. As most of the weight is on the front wheels, the rear (drum) brakes got very, very hot. Poor car. When we tried to move off after about 15 minutes at the Eurong Bottle-O/general store, it felt like the handbrake would not release. Fortunately it eased up after a bit of driving. Only other damage was a rubber exhaust hanger that had unhooked itself (at the rear silencer). This was easily re-hooked and she’s good as gold!

We’ve decided to stick to the beach (where we have no problems) and leave Fraser Island via Inskip Point so we don’t have to cross inland again.

Moral of the story? A Freelander is not suitable for Fraser Island! Get a real 4×4…

Great Sandy Straits Marina

Urangan Boat Harbour
Urangan Boat Harbour

Northerlies… In theory, a good weather breeze, but as I have been trapped in the marina since Thursday by a relentless 25 knots from that direction, I’m not convinced. The assault on the senses from the incessant howling in the rigging of the berthed fleet and the unpredictable lurching under foot of a boat tied to the wharf is starting to wear me down.

1770 to Bundaberg

1770 to Bundaberg
1770 to Bundaberg

What a day of contrasts and surprises! Getting two anchors out turned out to be quite a mission.  I had the chain between the two anchors stretched tight, so getting the two unshackled at high tide proved difficult.  I lost the shackle, but no fingers – always a good move!

Once we were outside, it looked like we were going to have to motor straight into a south-easterly all day, then it went east, and then east-north-east.  A day of close-hauled sailing in 10 to 15 knots awaited, making sixes and sevens on a flat sea…  The gods were smiling on us.

We sneaked into Bundaberg Port Marina just after 6PM and tied up on the end of one of the arms. Bliss!

Bahamian Moor

After such a restless night I was desperate to get our anchoring arrangement a little more secure and reduce the swinging radius.  Somewhere in the distant past when I was dreaming about sailing and reading everything I could lay my hands on on the topic, I had come across the concept of a “Bahamian Moor“: two anchors with the boat moored in between. I suspect it would have been in one of Hal Roth’s books.

Anyway… As I was still carrying the 36lb Lewmar Delta anchor that came with the boat and 20 metres of 10 mm chain,  I decided to have a go.  First I had to re-position the primary bower (a 60lb Manson Supreme).  I could not do this without Gilli’s help as it was still gusting 25 knots.  It was hairy as it was nearly low tide, but (me driving and Gilli working the windlass) we managed to get the anchor secured without ending up on the sand bank or colliding with another boat.  I shackled the secondary chain to the primary, veered an extra 20 metres of chain  and took the anchor out with the dinghy.

Once the second anchor was in, I winched us the 20 metres back towards the primary anchor, tightening the chain between the two anchors. The result: a swinging radius equal to a mooring! The screenshot shows the new swinging track (yellow) over the previous 36 hours (grey).

As an added bonus the boat is now unable to sail around the anchor as it did last night.