On October 1st we sailed out of Shute harbor in the Whitsundays and began making the journey south towards Fraser Island. The chance to make a passage and take on an adventure with a destination that’s more than a few days sail has been something that I have wanted to do for a while. We were starting to feel like it was time to move on and we were both very excited to be on the move again. The sun was rising as we left early to the sounds of Head back by Dick Diver.
Doing short trips of two or three days around the Islands was a great way for me to develop my sea legs and gain a bit of experience around the boat. I also wanted to see how I would adjust to life on the Arion. At less than 30 feet long I knew living with another person in such a small place was going to be challenging.
I’m actually really pleased with how I have adjusted to life on the boat. When you have to live so closely to another person you really have to just get on with the business of making things as easy as possible. When you are miles out to sea throwing a tantrum if you are feeling a bit grumpy or sick just isn’t going to help anyone.
The first leg of our passage to Fraser Island was from Shute Harbor to Brampton Island. It was a reasonably easy start to the journey and the weather and wind was reasonably mild. As we are sailing south down the east coast we are taking advantage of the northeasterly winds, which can still be mild and unpredictable at this time of the year.
Brampton Island was a pretty little anchorage that allowed us to have a reasonably quite night and get some rest before a long leg down to our next stop at Digby Island. Whilst at Brampton I had to get up in the middle of the night to pee and as I looked out across the sunrise I realized that was nothing but sky, water and clouds in front of me. When you stand there with your junk out before the incredible scale of nature it’s hard not to feel a little bit vulnerable.
Fortunately conditions were fairly comfortable on the way to Digby. The only hairy moment was a near miss as we crossed one of the shipping lanes. It’s hard to believe that in that entire ocean our little boat was on a collision course with a container ship. We were never in any real danger but for a while a very one-sided game of chicken was played out and I could help thinking that Graham the skipper was trying to stir me up.
With death at sea avoided we pressed on to Digby which is a cute little circle of islands and reefs. It was here that we experienced our first really rough night of the journey. As the boat rocked from side to side and cups and other assorted items bounced around the cabin we couldn’t help but laugh at the situation. Don’t even try to imagine what it’s like to pee off the side in such conditions, just take one word of advice from me, always check the wind direction first.
Getting shitty in such a small space achieves nothing, how you react to situations is up to you and so instead of getting pissed of and making ourselves seasick, we laughed and held on tight to whatever we could eventually drifting off to sleep not so gently rocked by the ocean and the wind.
In the morning we couldn’t wait to get out of there, and at first light we already had the anchor up and bleary eyed were pulling out in to the open water. I couldn’t help giving Digby the middle finger as we passed through the heads and on to our next stop Marble and Hunter Islands.