The night sail to Gnarloo was pretty uneventful. However, we did manage a Sea Witch Tribute night when Elaine cooked a roast. The wind soon shifted South and we had to jibe our way up the coast. The 3 hour shifts between the 3 of us seemed to work well. By the time I relieved Michael at 7am we were flying along at between 7 and 9 knots and we were due to cover the 70NM by 9am.
Which we did. We got some excellent advice on how to get into Gnarloo from Paul (as he had been on numerous fishing trips there) and we used his waypoints to make our way safely through the breakers and into the bay.
And what a bay it was. Pristine wide sandy beach, coral reef at the back and lovely clear water. There were however a couple of problems. One was that the fishermen had staked out the bay with temporary moorings everywhere. And the second problem was that the bottom was largely sand over rock, which didn’t make for easy anchoring. After a couple of tries we found a place amongst the moorings and after snorkelling over the anchor we decided we should pick up a mooring attached to a large concrete block as insurance.
After some lunch and a snorkel it was off for a walk. Returning along the beach a heap of small boats started returning from their day’s fishing and one of them asked for their mooring back. Bummer. It was 4.30pm and we had to pull up anchor and move.
We ended up moving closer to the beach where we dropped our second anchor as well. We snorkelled over both and they were both buried. All this snorkelling and walking – it made for a good night’s sleep.
One thing we were learning was that up here with the larger tides the wind didn’t always dictate which way you swung on anchor – it is quite often the current. We could hear the anchor chain dragging across the coral as we shifted from our primary anchor to the secondary anchor during the night – just as well we had put out the second anchor – otherwise we would have ended up on another fishing boat.
After a bit of a lazy morning, the next afternoon was full of activity. We started off with a bit of stand-up and kayaking and a swim on the beach. Then we took the dingy off to some really nice coral and had one of the best snorkels I’ve had in a long time. Colourful tropical fish everywhere, starfish, clams and the odd stingray. Huge schools of all sorts of fish swam by. Then finally a walk along the beach – this time in the opposite direction. The beach is so long here we didn’t make the end in either direction. At the end of our walk we stopped and talked to some fishermen and they told us a bit about the camp at Gnarloo. It’s nothing to write home about – run by a guy who is going to be on “Farmer Wants a Wife” later in the year so there’s one to look out for. The surfing camp is evidently 3 miles south of that.
It’s a pity we couldn’t spend another couple of days at Gnarloo but there was a big swell coming and we needed to move on.