Running aground with a sudden jolt is a scary experience. The potential complications are serious, in a location miles from the nearest help. At Pearl Bay, there's no roads, no phone signal, and no help. So we were fortunate that the boat wasn't leaking significantly and everything was functioning as it should. And what leakage we were getting was taken care of by the bilge pump kicking in every few hours for half a minute or so. Besides, catamarans have two hulls so they can't sink....can they?
Anyway, we felt confident enough to head East out towards Middle Percy Island, the traditional stopover for cruising yachts to socialise a bit and start island-hopping north.
And its also the home of the A-Frame hut where people leave their boat names amongst the thousands of others that have been collecting for years.
We hunted around and found the "Endurance" piece we'd left a couple of years back and dropped off the new one. Which, in testament to just how stable a cruiser "El Gato" really is, I'd painted while we were underway with a 1.5 metre following sea.
We had more serious stuff to deal with though, and as soon as we'd anchored it was on with the goggles and flippers and overboard to check out the damage. Which looked pretty ugly, to say the least. I only checked the starboard keel, thinking that was the only place we'd hit. This later proved incorrect actually.
I started to relax once we were ashore and having Sundowners with the dozen or more other sailors we met. They'd had a whale swim through and around the anchorage the day before, so we missed some of the fun, but enjoyed the opportunity to tell lies about our adventures along with everyone else.
When we bought our boat, she came equipped with a rather worn aluminium hulled RIB dinghy that sported a massive 25HP four-stroke engine, and centre-console wheel steering. This was terrific for zooming around back at the Gold Coast where we could tie up at convenient wharves whenever we wanted to go ashore. But back at Pearl Bay, it meant we couldn't actually go ashore onto the sandy beach, because we were worried that we wouldn't be able to drag her in or out of the water by ourselves.
And here at Middle Percy, where all the action is ashore, we knew we were going to have trouble.....it took a team of four people to help us relaunch the thing. I started thinking seriously about saving some weight on the boat and trading her in.