Misery Bay

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 10 Feb 2023 06:12
Position: 34 32.90 S 135 12.94 E
At anchor Misery Bay
Wind: NW, F4
Sea: slight Swell: SW 0.5 m
Weather: overcast, cool
Day's run: 70 nm sailed, 50 nm made good

Once again the weather did not cooperate with my plan to get to anchor in Avoid Bay before sunset. Light winds continued to dominate the afternoon requiring further use of the BRM until, at 1620. a fresh breeze sprung up out of the NW, a head wind. At least we were able to shut down the engine, and with a reef in the main and a half furled jib, we commenced working our way to windward. After two hours of not going very far very fast, at least in the direction we wished to go, the wind disappeared. We were once more back to light winds in a clear blue sky. Once again I resorted to the engine.
However, this time the period of motoring was to be short, for less than an hour later a thick bank of dark grey cloud was drifting in from the NW. It didn't look like a front with a typical cigar shaped line of cloud rolling above a clear sky, rather it was more like a fog bank just that it didn't reach the surface, perhaps just a very well delineated boundary of a trough system that was indicated on the weather charts.
I put a reef in the main and left the jib furled and we continued motoring towards the cloud bank to see what it brought. Sure enough, we experienced no sudden gust of wind as one would with a front, just a gradual increase in the wind, from the NW. (I suspect the previous bout of fresh NW breeze was the frontal boundary to this new air mass.) Once again we were back to working our way to windward with the wind freshening slightly as the evening wore on. Clearly we were not going to make Avoid Bay before sunset.
Instead, we spent the night working our way along the limestone cliffs of this section of the coast, not that we could see them with the moon obscured by the thick canopy of stratus overhead. We put in a few tacks during the night, generally standing well offshore to avoid the unforgiving coastline here abouts. At 0205 we tacked to the north and I was pleased to see that we would make our planned anchorage, Misery Bay at the north end of Avoid Bay, on this board. At 0500 we passed Misery Island to port and entered Misery Bay, where we came to anchor in seven meters at 0546.
It was still dark on our approach and with the overcast conditions, the moon provided very little light to illuminate our surroundings. The chart of the area is only small scale and Scarce's mud map in his cruising guide is rather scant on detail. Indeed, the chart shows only one spot depth in the general area of 16.5 meters. And Scarce's map showed no depths at all. It did indicate a beach along the north end of the bay so I was reasonably confident that the bottom would be shoaling and that I would not be anchoring under a precipitous cliff face.
And daylight has indeed revealed quite a nice bay. If I had entered during daylight I would have headed further into the NW corner of the bay where we would have obtained better shelter from the SW'ly swell that wraps around Misery Island.
Of course, it cannot go unnoticed that the names of the bays in which I find myself do not exactly inspire confidence. According to Scarce, Avoid Bay was so named by Flinders in 1802 "due to its being exposed to the dangerous southerly winds". No mention is made as to how Misery Bay got its name.
The question now is where next. Port Douglas looks interesting but the entrance is very shoal and the channel to the township is long and winding. I expect we will likely need a good high tide to be able to get over the bar. The other option is to continue to Elliston. The wind is forecast to turn into the SW this evening and then SE on Sunday. Regardless, with the SW'ly forecast for this evening I figure I need to get out of Misery Bay before it arrives so had best finish this blog entry and get under way. For now my immediate plan is to head to Coffin Bay for tonight and see how things pan out on the way.
All is well.