Back to Shark Bay 5

It was now 9 days since we had set off, our days had developed a routine and we were now at ease with our nomadic, damp and sandy lifestyle. There was sand in our boats, in our hair, in the food boxes and in our sleeping bags. It was now accommodated as part of our daily life. Our morning ritual would start by crawling out of our sleeping bags, reaching for our cameras to take yet more photos of our boats with the sunrise, getting some water going on the metho stove and making coffee.
“Milk?” “Thanks.”
“Sand?” “Ah… just one spoon.”

We were on our way home now. Today we were going to make the big crossing back across Denham Sound. The wind was going to be blowing fairly solidly from the east-southeast. If we maintained a reasonably close hauled course on starboard without making too much leeway we should be able to make it back to the Big Lagoon. Then, the following day, we should have an easy reach back to Denham down the coast of the Peron Peninsula.

We headed out over the shallows with our plates half up, but as we went on the shallows did not come to an end, we were over the Bellefin Flats. Much to our frustration the best upwind course we could maintain with our plates half up roughly corresponded to the direction that the flats extended north from the Bellefin Prong. We carried on as best we could putting more strain on our half raised rudders than we really should. Finally we broke through to the channel and with our plates down and sails sheeted in we headed up onto our course for the Big Lagoon. Within the channel we were now exposed to quite a sizeable chop that increased to a significant sea once we got beyond the protection of the Heirisson Prong. The fetch across the sound where we were was about 70km.

It was a long slog, 40km of slog in fact, a long time to be sitting close hauled on one tack in a dinghy. Our boats were handling the conditions quite comfortably. Paul was sitting high and quite dry in his Pathfinder, however things were much lower and wetter on my Navigator. My venturi was down, happily sucking out the spray that was coming over the front but the big problem was that I was getting seriously wet.

I had been having some niggling concerns about the waterproofness of my sailing jacket. It was an expensive breathable jacket of a well known brand but under these conditions my concerns were now fully realized, water was going straight through and my inner clothing was saturated. Something had gone wrong and the fabric had broken down. I hove to and dug out my spare cheap spray jacket and put that on under my sailing jacket. This stopped me getting wetter but the damage was done, I was now quite cold in my wet inner clothing. I was a bit frightened at how cold I was getting, and angry at how my jacket had let me down.

Well I survived but I was worryingly cold by the time we approached the shelter of the Big Lagoon and I was able to start warming up again. Back on familiar ground we picked our way across the shallows to find the channel. However, Paul went over the channel where it was a bit indistinct and kept going without realizing he had crossed it. Eventually getting stuck in the shallows and unable to sail out Paul resorted to his outboard. This allowed him to cut straight across into the lagoon where he sat waiting for me while I followed the winding channel in. Again we made our way past the 4WD camping area with its noisy generators and went in search of a suitable place to camp. Unfortunately with the wind from the east we could not find anywhere that satisfied us so we reluctantly sailed back to the camping area. It was sheltered and had the advantage that the beach had a reasonable slope allowing the boats to be anchored close to shore. We set ourselves up on the beach where the background drone of generators was reasonably innocuous. We learned later that one of the generators was regularly employed to run an electric frypan!