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At first we thought we had positioned Masala well, but with a forecast for strong SW winds to come roaring down the estuary that night, we were not so sure. The winds would be strong enough to overcome the current and push Masala close to the rocks, maybe onto them. Perhaps it would be better to run the risk of ending up on the much more forgiving sand banks. But we knew the anchor was well set and were reluctant to lift it. We didn’t really want to move.

In this case, to help with the decision, we piled into the dinghy along with the handheld GPS and five metres of rope with a heavy shackle tied in the end. We motored up and down the estuary taking depth soundings and noting the GPS coordinates. On returning to Masala I entered the readings into the navigation computer. Conclusion: we were too close to the rocks and must move a mere boat length closer to the sand bank. This we successfully did, although it took several goes – trying to judge just one boat length difference in position is not easy.


FRIDAY 9 OCTOBER.   Studying the charts showed that it should be possible to climb the face of the giant dune, make our way SE through the sand blow, then push a couple of kilometres through the bush to emerge on the ocean beach south of Cape Capricorn.  We set out early to avoid the worst of the heat.

When cruising we are often faced with decisions such as this, dispelling the myth that cruising consists entirely of sipping champagne while watching the sunset. Agonising over decisions only increases the anxiety level. After many hard lessons we have learned to obey the saying “Think it, Do it!” This means if you think you should do something, then you probably should, so don’t procrastinate, just do it.

Above: Masala anchored at Yellow Patch, in the only water deep enough for her to stay afloat at low tide. This photo is taken at half tide. The sand bank can be seen extending underwater close to Masala. This will uncover completely at low tide.

We ran the dinghy ashore at the base of the dune, dragged it above the high water mark and chained it to a shrub. To avoid getting our hiking boots full of sand trying to climb the steep mobile face of the dune, we sidled up a vegetated ridge to the west of the dune then dropped down onto it. We then headed inland through the vast sand blow.