The leg from Digby to our next anchorage at Hunter Island was a long one. We left Digby at 5.30 in the morning and due to light winds had to motor sail most of the way. Graham was a little prickly about the engine because of trouble with it over heating, and mooching our way to Marble felt more like a slow crawl through molasses. On these kinds of legs there is a lot of time to sit around the cockpit and talk. The boats movement and the wet conditions mean that I don’t do any work on the laptop while we are at sea and it would make me too sick if I was to work in the cabin, so we pass the time reviving the lost art of conversation.
We have spoken about all kinds of subjects and as our friendship has grown there are few topics now that are considered taboo. When you have spent nearly a month with a person with barely 6 feet between you at the best of times you get to know each other pretty well.
I’m learning to trust the Arion and Graham a lot more now. There have been a few times when this nervous city boy has had to look twice at the captain, but Grahams forty years of experience sailing on the ocean shows, and his confidence in the boat and at sea is very comforting. I feel like a bit of a wooss sometimes because the conditions haven’t been particularly challenging compared to some of the stories he has shared. Graham is a man who has faced real disaster on occasions, not the kind us Gay city boys face when our shoes don’t match our outfit, but the kind of disasters that break limbs and cost lives. Graham says, when there is real danger being scared is what keeps you alive; you’d be an idiot if you weren’t scared.
We arrived at Hunter and Marble Islands late in the afternoon and exhausted “dropped our pick” in a rather precarious spot between the islands hoping for a quiet night, It was not to be. Later that evening a storm rolled up the coast and although we were lucky enough to miss the guts of it, the lightning on the horizon was spectacular and ominous all at once. I have NEVER seen so much lighting in my life. Not the kind you get in the city that’s gone in 5 minutes but the roaring kind that lights up the horizon and makes you very aware your boat has a steel hull.
Our first morning at Marble Island was the all hands on deck we are getting out of here kind. The wind and a five-knot tidal swell that had made our night a rocking hell were blasting the place we had chosen to anchor. To top it off our anchor chain had become tangled in the coral and it took a combined effort of both of us the haul it up. With the noise of the wind and Arions engine taking some of the pressure off the chain Graham used hand signals to direct me on the tiller while he hand winched the anchor up. I was surprised and a little bit chuffed to have been trusted with the tiller especially with reef all around us.
Moving around Hunter Island to shelter from the wind in shallower water made the rest of our stay much more comfortable, but it’s a reality of the wilder and more remote anchorages that you will have some rough days and nights. Again I have been surprised by how well I have coped with the conditions aboard the Arion so far. Our third morning was far more pleasant and after a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs we decided to go ashore on Hunter to explore. After a few uncomfortable nights at sea the solid ground under my feet was a very welcome change.
One of the things that makes Hunter Island interesting is that it is inhabited by Deer which have been introduced by the owners of Marble Island for hunting. I was lucky enough to see two of these majestic creatures as I climbed the hill trying to get phone reception so that I could post a few pictures on Instagram and let my Mum know that we were okay. The island was also once used for cattle and some of the sheds and cattle pens are still there slowly being consumed by bush surrounding them. It was a great opportunity for some photos and another jockstrap challenge hehe.
Before going ashore my opinion of the place wasn’t that much different from my opinion of Digby, but that changed quickly and the beauty of the landscape and the coolness of the water will be remembered long after the rolling sea is forgotten. With renewed enthusiasm we headed back out to sea on the fourth day and were on our way to Pearl Bay.