At 11.30 the next morning we judge that on the rising tide we will soon have enough water in the shallow passage ahead of us so we hoist our spinnaker and start sailing south on a light NE breeze that quickly increases to 20 knots so that we are soon down to stays`l only; to pull us along and yet try to keep our speed down. When we arrive at the shallowest part that will only float us at close to high water we stop and anchor and wait for the tide to rise - we have been going too fast.
Finally, along come Rassamond, Running Tide, Gandalf and Prana and they continue right through so we quickly raise our anchor and follow them. If they can make it, so can we! A thunder storm roars through as we follow the leader and check off the beacons. We pass low mangrove islands framed in a fantastic rainbow. We worry about what would happen if we went aground on a falling tide and as we turn into a narrow mangrove lined channel (Garry`s Anchorage) to anchor for the night we cut the corner too tight and touch a mud bank. Luckily we get off again quickly and anchor further up the narrow channel in 12 feet. Glad to be here. We can see lightening in the distance. The mosquitoes are visiting.
Next morning we are off following the leader but are soon left behind as we are uncomfortable just powering along at full speed on the falling tide and trusting to the leaders navigation. We have our chart and can do this for ourselves. Last night`s storm was the sign that the wind was switching back to the south-east so that soon we find ourselves travelling quickly with the tidal current under us and butting into rip-tide choppy waves and a 20 knot wind on the nose. Shiriri is more or less stopped by the waves but carried forward on the current. Effectively there is no water passing the rudder and we cannot steer. We finally have to zig zag back and forth in the now broad passage until we turn the corner and head slowly up a more sheltered inlet to Tin Can Bay. We find Rassamond and the other boats anchored off the town and get our own anchor down just as our diesel gags and dies. All that bouncing in the choppy waves has stirred up sediment in the fuel tanks and plugged the fuel filter. Replacing that is the first order of business before I can look around at this place we have been so determined to see since a friend`s yacht (Vahana) was here a few years before.
We wait at anchor for several days as the wind is still strong south-east and will stop Shiriri from going south. Yes, we could go out and bash into the waves and wind but much better to wait for the wind to change, especially as this is an interesting place. We row ashore, pulling hard against wind and current only to find that there are shallows far out from shore. We step out of Edith and walk to shore with me pulling on the painter. I have an uncomfortable feeling that I am being taken for a walk by my dinghy.
On the leash.
This is a neat little town with wood and brick bungalows, a community pool and trees filled with parrots of various sorts and colours. Ah, that big noisy white one is a cockatoo! We find the post office and then a real estate office with " e-mail" in the window. The lady says yes we can e-mail and leaves us for a few minutes while we check for messages from home. Back she comes and says, "What! You still on my computer?"in an aggrieved manner. We are experiencing our first Australian humour, as it turn out. "Taking the mickey out"takes some getting used to, but once understood and the technique mastered it will become the source of much innocent amusement in the months ahead. She then offers us her car keys so we can drive her car to a shopping center some way down the road. We don`t do that, but appreciate the gesture and feel that this has got to be the best introduction to Tin Can Bay we could have had!
We make many trip ashore, now with the outboard mounted on Edith`s stern to carry us around the shallows and up the usual boat channel. We pass fishing boats and rental house boats.(" Rent me! Luxury afloat.") suited to exploring these shallow waters and one day arrive to find some dolphins close to the beach being fed with fish for the tourists to watch. They are not penned or tamed, but have just worked out that there is a handy source of fish at this time of day. Each time we come to shore we fill up jerry cans of diesel and of water to top up Shiriri`s tanks.
The forecast is favorable, so Rassamond and Shiriri head back down channel to where there is a pass through the sand bars out into the open sea. We are drying our wash in the rigging as we motor along, so let Rassamond go ahead through the pass. They radio that it is pretty rough still and that they will have to anchor behind the partial protection of a cape. We decide to finish our drying and anchor for the night in shelter and try the pass in the morning at slack water if the wind has eased as predicted.