Back to Shark Bay 4

The next day dawned with gentler winds and some sun, we celebrated by having pancakes for breakfast. However the niggling showers were still persisting much to our annoyance. We were wanting to get away but our boats were high and dry. We had got quite blase about beaching our boats and getting them off again as the tide came in. However, at Shelter Bay we had not really got the hang of the tide behaviour. On the South Passage we were at a choke point between Dirk Hartog Island and the mainland and presumably this made things behave rather differently from the tide tables. Well the tide was coming in, but not as fast as we would like and it was not clear that it was going to come in high enough to float us off.

Our planned destination was the northwestern tip of the Bellefin Prong, Don had advised us that it would be a good spot. The distance was not great so we were not in a desperate rush to get away, however as the morning wore on we got increasingly impatient. I experimented with my boat and realised that by dragging each end of the boat in turn it was not too hard to manhandle it across the sand. With Paul’s help my boat was soon in the water and happily tugging at its anchor. We then turned our attention to Paul’s Pathfinder but trying to apply the same strategy was hopeless, it just would not budge in the slightest. We laid out the anchor as a kedge and with the 3 to 1 mainsheet purchase we got a little bit of movement before the anchor would start dragging through the sand. We got my anchor and my mainsheet into the action too. However, all that was achieved was an understanding of the poor holding power of my anchor. The water was at the transom but not coming any higher so we started digging, Paul with his camping shovel and I with my paddle. At first it was fun, a challenge, we would dig a bit, then kedge a bit, and then repeat. However the rewards for our efforts were becoming depressingly small and soon the fun had well and truly worn off. We struggled on, the language getting worse but finally, finally Araluen was floating free. Phew! We lobbed our gear into our boats and got ready to go. By this time the wind had swung southeast and was blowing on shore. There was not much of a fetch across the bay but it did make getting off awkward. Paul wisely elected to walk his boat out to the point at the end of the bay to get off. I pig headedly decided to get off from where we were, it took me a few attempts but I got myself off in the end. Looking back I saw Paul was having problems. Despite the point being a better launching point the Pathfinder is a big boat to be pushing off a lee shore by oneself. I ducked back in, helped him off and got myself going again. We were now quite frazzled but finally we were away. Sailing upwind we had to make one tack to clear Cape Ransonnet before we could bear away on a reach for our trek northwards. At last we could relax, the frustrations of our day gradually dissolved away as we sat back in our cockpits watching the western shore of the Bellefin Prong sliding past.

We got to Cape Bellefin just as the evening wind was glassing off. The point is a wonderfully remote spot, we were at least 20km from the nearest track. Some way offshore from the point sat a familiar sight, it was ‘Escapee’. It would have been nice to catch up again but it would have been a long tack back into the beach in a fading breeze from where she was anchored. We waded into the shore and quickly slipped into our established routine for setting up camp. Still a bit traumatised by the morning’s experience the last thing we did was make sure our boats were sitting in a good depth of water.