The Voyage of the Platypussies

Prickly Bay Beach

 It is Tuesday evening so it must be Trivia Night in Prickly Bay. Ian & Jacqui of Blackthorn Lady, Nancy of Moondancer, Jim of Lady Jane and of course Temptress’ crew formed the Platypussies; a nice balance of Brits and N Americans. Cruising families, other cruiser teams of all nationalities and the mostly American medical students were our competition through the forty “international” questions. We scratched our heads over a word that related to a motely list of things including “wine”, “bookbinding”, “island”, and “promontory” (mull), we puzzled over an obscure bit of sea somewhere north of Borneo (Sulu) and wrongly identified Namibia as Pakistan but we were good at selecting our 10 bonus answers (scoring double points, if you got it wrong it would be minus 4 points) so the Platypussies ended the night in joint third, won the nail biting tie-break so scoping the star prize (the first and second placed teams have already enjoyed this in previous weeks); a 2 hour donut ride including 3 pizzas and a case of beer!

Thursday just after noon seven of us gathered on the dock, the observant of you will realise that we’d gained an extra team member Kat who is sailing with Nancy for a few weeks. Laden with hot pizzas in takeaway boxes straight from the Tikki Bar’s kitchen, 24 bottles of Grenada’s finest Carib together with two bags of ice to cool the beers, some olives and a few bottles of water and soft drinks it was time to cast off. We also packed swimming stuff (not used) and a handheld VHF (with a yachmaster examiner, a yachtmaster theory instructor and a yachtmaster on board it was right we were equipped for all eventualities).  Captain Susie signed the paperwork whilst Kevin ensured the kill cord was nicely draped over the structure holing up the sunshade prior to starting the engine. We made ourselves comfortable as Nancy untied the lines.

There was some trepidation about how well an essentially circular craft with a giant umbrella would perform with just a 5 HP outboard but moved along at a reasonable rate and could be steered roughly in the desired direction. There was a temptation to head out to sea but with the “step-in bow” open to the elements it was felt prudent to stay behind the southernmost reef at the entrance to Prickly Bay. The Platypussies made a slow circuit of the bay devouring the rapidly cooling pizzas and enjoying seeing the shore from new angles. The series of reefs on the eastern shore below all the lovely houses looks interesting for a snorkelling trip sometime. A couple of departing yachts were amused to see us tootling round, slowing down for photographs as we crossed their paths and a German couple in a small rib who’d come round from the next bay to swim/snorkel came alongside to say hello as we crossed the entrance. Our craft was actually quite well behaved in the swell and we were by now getting into the swing of things.

Eventually our circumnavigation of the bay had taken in Temptress, Blackthorn Lady, Lady Jane and a circuit of Moondancer (mainly so Nancy could photograph her boat from the water). Onward to see the palm tree lined Prickly Beach from the water; usually only glimpsed at from the shopping bus on the way to town each week. In the empty bay along the beach (yachts are not permitted to anchor within 600 feet of the beach) the donut motored towards the eastern shore. The crew were admiring and debating on which of the handsome properties above us would make a pleasant if unaffordable land base when Kevin cut the engine allowing our odd craft to drift gently downwind across the bay in the light breeze – the umbrella serving as an excellent sail.

After a while our lazy progress back along the beach brought us close to the reef off the northwest corner. Kevin restarted the engine and propelled us back towards the eastern shore so we could repeat our drift. This time having started from a slightly different spot the donut picked up a current or possibly a slightly different breeze or both and began to head into the midst of the anchored boats. Our jovial comments about a possible collision with a boat whose anchor ball that wasn’t quite the right shape meaning they could not possibly be anchored and therefore needed take avoiding action, awoke Dave and Treena from an up to then peaceful siesta. 

The beer was fast running out, the pizza long scoffed and our two hours of fun almost up. The crew reluctantly decided it was time to head back to the marina’s dinghy dock. Thank-you Darren, Davide and the staff at Prickly Bay Marina and the Tikki Bar – seven adults have not had so much afternoon fun messing around in a boat for a long time (that is in the loosest sense of the word “boat”).  It was only the following morning that Darren informed us that we should have used the hand held VHF to call out Rescue One to remedy the emergency that was running out of cold beers!