The weird thing about sailing away from our beloved anchorage in the lagoon at Double Island Point is that when/if we return, it’s probably not going to be there. Storms and swell will shift the sandbanks and reshape the whole thing. It might even attain a better formation – who knows! When you look at Google Earth now, the place where we were isn’t even there – it’s land.
So, like lots of awesome places, our Double Island Point time is now a little memory gem. We all went out for a surf in the morning before we left – had to wait for the wind to turn around before we could get going, but the tide also had to be taken into account because M had the fear we might be stuck in the lagoon at low tide, unable to scarper south.
There are all sorts of conflicting opinions about when to leave – which factors matter and which factors don’t. At the time I was inwardly cursing that we hadn’t stayed an extra day – the sea was a bit choppy, the wind was almost on the nose. The Smalls and I lay prone and tried to endure it as M, of course, enjoyed it all immensely.
I had the sea quease for the rest of the day and the night – we did two hours on, two hours off. Conditions settled down, and the full moon made it almost like daylight – monochromatic daylight. There weren’t many boats about – a couple of trawlers without AIS. Something we encountered for the first time was a circle on the AIS screen – never seen that before. When boats/ships appear on the screen they do so as circles with tiny tails (sort of tadpoley) with the tails indicating direction.
This circle had no tail – and it had no speed reading. I decided it must be a buoy – and that’s what it turned out to be! As we got closer it had a helpful big flashing light – no idea what it was for, but having it appear on the AIS was excellent – usually we have to glue the one working side of the binoculars to an eyeball and try and figure out whether that thing in the water is a boat, a body, a buoy or a some kind of Kraken. In this instance I think it was a tide monitor – just a guess.
From about 2am we started making good time – generally whizzing along between eight and ten knots – the wind had finally shifted around behind us.
[Here is my secret; when conditions are straightforward and I am on watch, I feel free to experiment with the sails. I am not very sailor-ish; my role is more of cook, child preserver, provisioner and keeping watch. But at night when no one is looking, I do sail adjusting with one eye on the speedometer, trying to figure out whether I’ve choked the jib or I need to bring it in even further. Time passes faster when you’re doing stuff, rather than just reading and then getting up to check out the surrounds every 12 minutes.]
I was lucky and scored the 5am to 7am shift – this is almost always my favourite one. My body, regardless of the night it has endured, wakes up a bit with the emergence of the sun – and if the weather is clear, there is usually an awesome sunrise (I just spent several seconds trying to think of a word that was the opposite to ‘sunset’ #brainfail ) – and this was the case!!
Dawn was then followed by dolphins – HUGE dolphins who had a great time whizzing around in the water up the front of the boat while I squealed silently on the bow, clogging my phone with photos.
There was a beautiful combination of wind, light and flat water – champagne sailing.
I stayed up for an extra hour to give M some sleep and then passed out for about four hours. When I got up, my sea-quease had finally disappeared 🙂
While I slept, M put out his man-sail (the extra jib) so we were scooting along with a jib out each side and the mainsail up as well. We stuck with this all day until we got fairly near to Yamba (Yamba!! I couldn’t believe we’d done it in one big hop!) when we wrestled it down – M pulling it down the track and me being the Human Paperweight and pinning it to the net with my whole body.
Before we lost the light M had examined the Yamba Bar webcamX and it seemed that there was going to be a confluence of excellence – slack water, zero swell, bright moonlight and a bit of wind to fill the jib if an extra push was required. This is exactly what transpired – and it was only because of the Confluence of Excellence that I agreed to cross the Clarence River Bar in the night time. Can’t even believe we did it, but it was completely straightforward.
By 9pm we were at anchor in the good spot – at Whiting Beach – and having cups of celebratory tea. Then there was deep deep sleep.