Monday 9th July 2018
Yesterday Bob, Stuart, Glenn and I undertook a somewhat bumpy dinghy ride across the bay to Stanley island, opposite our anchorage here off Flinders Island. The beach looked so tempting( the old phrase “the grass is always greener” springs to mind here), and the rocky hillside promised to be an interesting hike for the guys. I was all about shell hunting as usual, looking for that one special ‘Cephalopod’ the beautiful and elusive Nautilus shell.
This area of the Queensland coast is frequented by crocodiles, so swimming is not advised, and one needs to keep a sharp eye out at all times when on the shore as they could be hidden in the water or the long grass growing at the back of the beach.
The beach was fun, the shells were plentiful and there were no croc’s (that I could see) no Nautilus either. However, the guys enjoyed their hike, and I had fun shell searching. Bob drove the dinghy back taking the return journey at speed, to get the dinghy up on a plane, and avoid us getting a soaking.
The Dinghy on True Blue is no fun to drive, in fact it’s miserable, it has a tiller that’s horribly stiff (in need of a little tlc me thinks). Demanding is an understatement when it comes to the steering, which requires quite some strength to operate. I know Bob really misses “Whops-a-Daisy”(our dinghy on Crazy daisy) with her comfortable seat and easy steering.
Tuesday 10th July
So, getting back to my story; Lesley really wanted to visit the little beach on Stanley Island, but had been unable to join us yesterday as she was suffering from the possible start of a cold. Anyway, as we were both up early this morning, Glenn offered to drive us over, drop us off and collect us when we radioed to come back, we were ready to go by 8am, the water was calm and the wind had dropped to a gentle breeze, following a gusty very windy night; we hoped that the storm may have blown more shells up onto the shore, maybe even a Nautilus!
However, best laid plans and all that, between making everyone tea, coffee and toast as they all slowly emerged from their cabins, it was 9:15 by the time we were actually ready, then Don decided he wanted to come with us, so Glenn said he would stay to help Bob and Stuart work on the traveler.
I couldn’t help wondering how only Don, Lesley and me (pretty useless in the strength department) were going to drag the heavy dinghy up the beach and out of the water by ourselves!
Lesley was trying her best to hurry Don along but it was 10 O’clock by the time we were ready to leave, the wind was starting to build and the waves were increasing in height. Anyway, not to be put off, we (me, Lesley & Don) headed out. One would normally say “better late than never”, unfortunately, not in this case! We really should have escaped earlier while the going was good, Oh well, (sigh).
As soon as ‘yours truly’ had been safely installed in the dinghy we set off. And when I say “installed” Don makes such a fuss about me getting in and out of the dinghy, he grabs my arm in a vice like grip, “to steady me!” I realize it’s all out of concern for my safety, but mostly it just puts me off balance, I’m actually so much safer without help (sigh) if I was to fall on my own I would simply get wet, if I fell with Don holding my arm as firmly as he does I’d probably break it. But I know that it’s all out of concern and kindness, so I shouldn’t complain!
We approached the beach to see the waves rolling and crashing onto the shore, the wind had picked up and was blowing much harder than we would have liked, it promised to be a bit of a wet landing. With the current and waves pushing us forward towards the beach, and crashing over the back into the dinghy, we were committed (or should I say “should have been committed”). we really had no choice other than to land on the beach. Lesley jumped over when we were in about two feet of water and took the painter to pull us forward, as Don raised and turned off the outboard, then the three of us, thigh deep in waves, pulled the dinghy up the beach as fast as we could before the waves flipped it over; it was a bit of a struggle for me, I don’t have much upper body strength, so I don’t know how much help I actually was, but with Lesley and Don pulling hard, between us we eventually managed to safely beach the dinghy.
Turning around we could see the waves rolling in to shore from about 70 feet out, the prospect of a return journey was not a pleasing one, but honestly, as far as I could see it was nothing to get into a state about. Don was already panicking about the return, mainly he said because of me being such a huge liability (sigh)!
He still worries about me as though I just had my surgery, fussing and panicking incase I dislocate again. It’s been eight months since my surgery, and seven since my last dislocation, I feel about as normal as I could be, and while I appreciate people worrying about me, it’s really tiresome to be continually treated as though I’m made of glass, well meant or not.
Don radioed ‘Raya’ (our friends in the bay), with a request for them to ferry over our crew to help us, what Don didn’t realize was that Raya was having problems with her dinghy outboard, and it was actually dangerous for them to head over, if their outboard had stopped they could easily be swept out to sea, but this didn’t stop them from trying. Within a few minutes Rick (from Raya) had collected Stuart and was heading out towards us. Watching their approach, Lesley became concerned for their safety with the building waves, and told Don to radio them to turn back.
We decided to wait it out and hope for the wind to drop and the tide to turn. That could be a few hours, but it was a far better prospect than putting our friends in danger. Rick turned around and headed back to the boat, while we contemplated a long stay on the island. Don’s worrying and panicking was starting to rub off on me. My crazy imagination (the hamster on a wheel thing) started mentally going over my survivor kit, I had, water, tick, suntan lotion, tick, hat, tick, but no food (sigh) I started to wish I’d made time for breakfast, I may not get sunburnt or thirsty, but I might starve. I really need the hamster to just go to sleep during times of stress, instead of zapping into warp speed on the wheel causing my crazy imagination to do back flips!
To cut to the chase; Lesley and I spent four and a half hours collecting shells, and watching for crocodiles (well at least I was watching for crocodiles). Sadly there weren’t many shells worth adding to our collection, but happily no croc’s either. The storm had done the opposite to what we had thought, and had sucked all the shells out to sea rather than onto the beach. The few shells we did find were definitely not worth the eventual drenching we got on the return journey to True Blue!
Having decided that we had waited long enough, with the tide right out, and the wind a little calmer, Don was ready to return. I was given my usual lecture on safety, along with explicit instructions, “to get into the dinghy first, and sit down” (sigh).
We dropped the wheels on the dinghy and dragged her back down the beach into the water, once we had her afloat I was instructed again (being the liability!) to get in and sit down, while Lesley and Don moved us into deeper water, then Don got in and started rowing, Lesley jumped in after him. I was at the bow watching for bommies (raised coral heads). The beach dropped away quite quickly and we were soon into deeper water with no bommies visible. But Don insisted on rowing with the outboard raised until we were quite a way out into deep water!
Eventually, many sweaty, rowing minutes later the outboard was lowered, (I would have smashed a bottle of champagne on the bow to celebrate if I’d had one) and off we went, well when I say ‘off’ it was at a snail’s pace, with the engine barely on tick-over, bobbing like a cork over the waves and getting absolutely drenched! Don is extremely cautious driving the dinghy, especially for someone who flies around like a teenager at warp speed on his windsurfer, but let’s not forget he did have “the liability” aboard, to take care of, one really can’t be too careful (sigh)! Oh but would he stop worrying about me hurting myself…
Lesley and I were giggling like schoolgirls as we both sat like a couple of drowned rats with the waves continually pounding the dinghy and soaking us through to the skin as we bounced up and down, fortunately the water was warm, although the wind was cold. OH how I was missing Whoops-a-Daisy, she would have flown at speed over these waves on a plane, and I’m sure we would have arrived back at the boat with a minimum of splashes. Ah well, it is what it is, no harm done, sadly, despite all our discomfort there were no good shells found and still no Nautilus (sigh)…