Today was tough. We had to beat straight into the teeth of the south-easterlies that have continued unabated now since 6 September in an effort to get to Pearl Bay. It meant motor-sailing, always 20 to 30 degrees off the wind to ease the exhausting bucking of the boat against the short sharp chop kicked up by 20 knot winds.
We pulled into Hexham Island at around 2PM for a break, lunch and to add some engine oil (aaargh…).
It was tempting to just stay, but the bottom was smooth rock with just a thin layer of sand, so the holding was not good, plus I was desperate to make some miles as we were now really running out of time to get Yvonne and Anna to Tin Can Bay by 15 September.
I decided to cut straight across to Shoalwater Bay and to sail in the sheltered waters down to Strong Tide Passage.
This turned out to be a great decision. As soon as we entered the lee of Cape Townshend the wind abated to 15 knots from the east, the water was flat and we were gliding along under sail with a couple of knots worth of tide behind us!
By 8PM we were anchored up a creek on Townshend Island (east of Marquis Island), having decided not to attempt the (apparently aptly named!!) Strong Tide Passage in the dark. This turned into one of the most peaceful nights I’ve ever had on board. We had dropped the anchor in two meters of water (under the keel) at high tide. I knew we were likely to touch at low tide, but the bottom was soft mud and we would be leaving at high tide in the morning. At about 11PM all motion stopped. There was absolutely no breeze and the keel had quietly settled into the mud, holding us ever so gently… I woke at 4:30 the next morning when she floated off and started bobbing in the ripples on the water.