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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Australia: Pink Dolphins for Thanksgiving at Pelican Bay

Not on our Thanksgiving menu, though we saw this nifty marine snail on Thanksgiving day. Pelican Bay, Queensland Australia.
Whacky winds oft lead to empty-ish larders, thus our Thanksgiving plans ran awry.

We figured we’d be in grocery store range before the holiday hit, and would find some fellow cruisers to celebrate with.  One of my all-time favorite Thanksgivings was our first year cruising, introducing Slovenian friends Lili and Tomaz of Heron to the holiday

Instead we were making our way from Unesco World Heritage site, Fraser Island through the first part of the Great Sandy Straits, Southbound toward Australia’s Northeastern mainland, It’s a tricky bit of navigation, with shifting shallows of sandbars, substantial tidal flows and sometimes high wind gusts.  It’s an area where many a boat’s met its Waterloo.  After a several day delay, the winds and tide timing harmonized, and did so in time to sail a section in daylight.
Jello, not jellyfish, was one of the few traditional Thanksgiving vittles we were able to scape together
for our Thanksgiving Feast off Pelican Bay, Australia.
“Thanksgiving?  We’ll just take a raincheck,” we decided. 

This type of jellyfish, about the size of a thumbnail, was all over,
just past the beach waterline at Pelican Bay, Australia.
Then Chris(tina) and Chris(topher) of Scintilla suggested a Thanksgiving potluck, offering to host us and Eve of Auntie. 

Not only did we have no turkey, no cranberry anything, no sweet potatoes, no stuffing, and no pumpkin pie, the only meat we had left were about a half-dozen frozen chicken drumsticks and one chicken breast. Kind of pathetic. While none of had the traditional trimmings, we had each other, and the right spirit. 

Thanksgiving morning, we all pushed off at around 5 am for our 22-mile jaunt to Pelican Bay, a mantle of ground fog hugged the mangrove shoreline at Yankee Jack Creek – fittingly named for us!  Before long, the skies cleared, and the day warmed up in a hurry.  With dead calm conditions and a cooperative flood tide, we arrived at Pelican Bay by mid-morning in a nearly effortless motor, well, other than lots of attention to make sure we stayed on course through the meandering channel through the sandbars.

Crab would've been fabulous for Thanksgiving, but plentiful
as these soldier crabs were, the biggest ones are
about the size of a USA dime.
That left plenty of time to explore and still make a mid-afternoon get-together.

Yes, there were indeed a gaggle of pelicans kibitzing at Pelican Bay on the beach.  But what caught our attention was a pair of pink dolphins. 

Seriously!

We were told at the Fraser Island Kingfisher Lodge ranger presentation that there were pink dolphins swimming Fraser Island's waters. Given our guide on the prior tour admitted as a lark he put a toy koala wearing a backpack up a tree on for tourists to spot on his tour (there are no koalas on Fraser Island), I figured maybe pink dolphins were Fraser Island’s equivalent of a snipe hunt.  Sure, we saw photo images of a pink dolphin, but that would be easy enough to Photoshop.

Indopacific dolphin, one of a pair who swam up to check us out in our dinghy in Pelican Bay, Queensland, Australia.
While some are more pink, these have a periwinkle-grey primary skin tone with pink patches appearing more as they age.
To my surprise, after some Google research, it seems that Fraser Island’s pink dolphins are the real deal after all   Since we were leaving Fraser, I figured our chances of seeing these not-that-friendly pink dolphins (per the island info, as compared to the bottlenose dolphins, who love to play in boat bow’s wake) were going from slim to none.
Pair of Indopacific humpback dolphins buzzing our dinghy in Pelican Bay, Queensland, Australia.
Lo and behold!  A pair of these Indopacific Humpaback dolphins came right up to our dinghy as we headed to the shore of Pelican Bay!  They didn’t leap and mostly checked us out from just underwater, but the did indeed approach and check us out!

Fraser may be the Unesco site, and is just a stone’s throw from Pelican Bay, but it’s the latter I’ll remember most.

Shell on the beach at Pelican Cove, Australia.
And it all happened because Chris and Chris of Scintilla chose the anchorage to celebrate Thanksgiving at and set a time that gave us room to explore before.  Thanks!

In case you're curious... Our Thanksgiving feast consisted of deviled eggs, 2 kinds of slaw, butter chicken and rice, duck in couscous, chile relleno casserole and Mexican rice and jello with pineapple bits.  It was all good.  We traded images from our travels together on Fraser.  We are grateful to fun-loving and caring friends like Chris and Chris and Eve… and pink dolphins.

Happy Thanksgiving.  May it be filled with good friends, good family and good cheer, pink dolphins or not.  Please eat an extra forkful of stuffing for me, and a bite of turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce, cream cheese and sprouts for me!

Location Location

This Thanksgiving, we’re anchored in Pelican Bay (S25.48.746 E153.02.265) just across from Fraser Island, Australia’s NorthEast Queensland territory and part of the Great Sandy Straits.  Earlier today, we were anchored at Yankee Jack Creek (S25.31.624 E152.58.068) of Fraser Island.  More on Fraser Island soon!

Cruising By the Numbers
  • Our November 2016 sail from New Caledonia to Australia, 790 miles
  • Our September 2016 sail from Vanuatu to New Caledonia was 305 miles.
  • Our August 2016 sail from Fiji to Vanuatu was 525 miles.
  • We cruised just under 440 miles in Fiji, between late May and early August.  
  • Our May 2016 sail from New Zealand to Fiji was 1090 miles.
  • December 2015 - May 2016 if we weren't cruising New Zealand or hunkering, we were making massive road trips from New Zealand's tip to its tail.
  • From December 2014 - November 2015 we sailed from Northern Florida's Atlantic side to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles, with more than a few stops in between.
  • December 2013 - May 2014 we sailed 1792  miles from Jacksonville Florida to the Bahamas. and back.
  • March 2012 we bought Journey in St. Lucia.  September 2012 we moved aboard, did some boat work, then sailed her to Jacksonville Florida by June 2013, 3762 miles.

Up Next
We’ll mosey on down to off to Pittwater, near Sydney by early December 2016 for boat work. Weather permitting, we’ll stop along the way whatever else strikes our fancy.