There was an amount of tension in the air as we set off, though more with Clare than Pete and I as we didn’t know what to expect. We slowed down to ensure we reached the shallow section at the right stage of the tide, and from South White Cliffs the hard work and heavy concentration began. We headed very slowly into the first shallow section of 1.1 m at datum. At the state of the tide we were at we expected to see around 3.5 m on the depth. Clare was navigating, Pete was watching the channel and checking the Fish and Chips mode on the plotter and I was calling the depth. We started to decrease down from 5 meters and when we got to 4 and 3.9 the tension mounted. At this point we were going very slowly when the depth sent steadily down to 3.2. We felt Pilgrim nudge the sand and then sit and swing with the breeze to almost face back the way we had come. A little jiggling of the throttle as well as a rising tide soon had us afloat again and the depth increased steadily up to 4.5 m and above as we found the channel again. This was just south of Turkey Island between the starboard and port hand channel markers. We al started to breathe again as the depth resumed at 5-6m.
The next super shallow point was North of Tooth Island, and again a similar experience to the previous shallow. Dropping depth then a gentle nudge, but this time we were away again quickly. A long breather as we entered the last 2 hours of rising tide, then abeam of Dream Island, which appears to be a peaceful and pretty anchorage, we had probably our longest stint of being stationary, as we had wandered just outside the channel. At this one we felt as though we were stuck in the sand with not much rising tide left to assist. We considered getting budgie out to help pull us off, but Clare called into Tin Can Bay coast guards to alert them, and as she did so, Pilgrim floated again, and we were able to get back to the channel.
Clare said this was the last shallow patch and we breathed a sigh of relief, and tension in sphincters relaxed slightly. However there was one last challenge of the final entry into Wide Bay Harbour, which is another shallow crossing and for us on a now falling tide. This one had leads though, so we we able to follow these comfortably until we had to use the back leads. I was on reverse line up, Pete still steering and following Clare’s direction on Nav with my call on being on or off the leads. This was one of the more challenging sections as the leads were white triangles On black poles, and getting farther and farther away. At about 3/4 mile, I had to revert to binoculars to see them and it was difficult to convert the need for port or starboard adjustment to Pete, looking backwards and trying to keep the tiny triangles lined up!
We made it through this section without incident, probably seeing no less than 4 m on the depth, and then it was time to relax. Clare’s immediate comment was that she did not want to do the bar crossing today, and we all agreed that we had had too much excitement already, and having to remain alert on an outgoing tide and then probably do an overnight sail in windy conditions was not the best call. We did a quick check of weather and tides and confirmed we are good for the bar crossing until Tuesday, and agreed we would overnight in Tin Can Bay.
We headed down to the anchorage, found a good spot, dropped the anchor and then treated ourselves to gin and tonics for anchoring certainty. We felt that we had really deserved these! Comfortable that the anchor had taken, we discussed dinner and decided that the yacht club would be a good treat, as no one needed to cook or wash up, so we launched budgie, and headed in about 4:30, with shower gear. It is a very pretty little club in the creek, so we looked over the calm evening water and had good food and wine as well as a great shower. Paul would be joining us tomorrow, having had his knee stitched and confirmed clean, so we could celebrate his birthday only a day late.
Replete with food and wine, we headed back to Pilgrim in budgie using the flashing torch as our white light. Back on board, we looked at the beautiful starry night and had a final night cap before going off to bed, knowing we would have a good nights sleep!