Finding flat water – Sunday 3rd March

I got up for an early morning walk on the beach. As I left I wasn’t sure whether the sun was up or not as thick sea mist hung low in the sky. I walked the lagoon path enjoying the birds and the rumble of surf over the dunes. When I emerged onto the beach I went barefoot, skipping the waves’ hungry tongues that rushed up the beach. I got wet of course. And greeted Ariadne’s Clew that was still bobbing wildly on the mooring.

When I got back to the bungalow the sky was clearing and I sat outside to upload the latest blog posts with the phone propped up on the water tank for the best reception. Then we packed up ready to leave. As we paid the bill the owner offered us a lift back to the boat ramp. It wasn’t far to walk but with all our bags we gratefully accepted his offer.

We had intended going back to Lichen café for breakfast, but they weren’t yet open when we arrived at a quarter to nine, so we decided to give it a miss and get on the water as we had a lot of sea miles ahead of us.

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Getting into the dinghy was a piece of cake in the quiet little dinghy dock, and we made it out of the opening without getting swamped by a wave, but things got more interesting as we encountered the swell. Derek handled the tiny inflatable expertly, keeping us nose-into the metre-high surges and travelling perpendicularly towards the yacht in the troughs between them. The real challenge came when we got to the back of the yacht, which was pitching up and down quite alarmingly. I grabbed the handy grab-handle and held on, trying not to let the dinghy get squashed underneath the transom. Next I had to scramble out in a most unladylike fashion, whilst holding on to the dinghy’s rope, then make it secure and catch all our bags as Derek, pitching around like dice in a shaker, handed them to me, followed by the oars and the outboard motor. I grabbed it all, he didn’t fall overboard, and we then managed to pull the dinghy up onto the foredeck to make our getaway. All to the amusement of the various families who had emerged onto the beach, and the first customers at the café, no doubt. I had feared the scene down below, but was happy to find only one thing on the floor and no disasters in the fridge. I guess that we pitch around a lot whilst sailing anyway; perhaps it just looked worse from the shore.

All the way down the east coast, from Binalong Bay to the Freycinet Peninsula, we had a following sea and a tail-wind. With a missing lazy-jack we decided it was too roly-poly to hoist the mainsail, especially if we had to take it down again in this rolling sea, and the headsail would have been too hard to set, so we motored all the way. In the end the winds were light, only reaching 15-20 knots for an hour or so of our nine-hour journey, justifying our choice!

A sea-mist clung to the coastline in places, and cloudy skies made for a palette of soft greys. We saw a scattering of birds: gannets, cormorants, terns, another of those tiny fairy prions skipping the waves, short-tailed shearwaters and eventually an albatross or two. And we were visited by curious dolphins now and again, though we didn’t get an escort this time.

As we neared the entrance to Wineglass Bay we looked at the swell running straight in there, and looked at each other. It would add another hour and a half to our journey if we were to continue past to Schouten Passage but it would be worth it if we could find a flat anchorage for the night. After spending two roly-poly nights at Wineglass Bay on our way up we didn’t fancy another – and I’m sure Ariadne’s Clew agreed with me (even if, as Derek reminds me, she’s an inanimate object!). A warm breeze blew off the land and we began to anticipate an idyllic evening.

We rounded the corner between the tip of the Freycinet Peninsula and Schouten Island and the swell immediately petered out to nothing. And presto, here were boats! We hadn’t seen another boat the whole day, and only one during the previous leg. I always wonder what we’re doing wrong when we find we’re the only boat on the water. In the quiet anchorages of Crocketts Bay and Morey’s Beach were half a dozen yachts and another half-dozen fishing boats. We putted around and found ourselves a spot to drop the anchor in five metres of crystal-clear water, calling out greetings to all the boats as we passed.

We were all settled before sunset and sat on deck eating the last of our oysters in the pink hues of evening. Bliss!

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