Southwestern Yorke Peninsula

The afternoon of Wednesday, November 25th was a flurry of activity. Supplies for our two-week sailing trip were quickly loaded and a new dinghy, delivered only the previous day, was attached to Arriba’s davits. The old, leaky dinghy was unceremoniously lashed to the dock. Once repaired it would serve again as a beach dinghy, not a tender. 

A new 400W wind turbine, which had been gracing Arriba’s saloon for the past month, demanded our attention, though. Its stainless steel pole had been erected the previous day and the MPPT charge controller was in place, which just left “fishing” 12m of three electrical cables and mounting the turbine at the top of the pole. The fishing exercise entailed negotiating four different conduits already jam-packed with cables and took hours longer than I anticipated. We were finally finished around 20:00, by which time my crew, Cathie and Vela, were about to mutiny on account of starvation. Fortunately, the Birkenhead Hotel was still serving dinner and had space for us. It would be our last land meal for one week. We returned to Arriba, contentedly falling asleep.

The next morning we pushed off from North Haven at 07:21. Our destination was West Cape Bay on the bottom of Yorke Peninsula. With twenty knot southerly winds, we sailed on a close reach with full mainsail and screecher. At 13:50, we passed Troubridge Island and its decommissioned lighthouse with its distinctive red and white bands. Soon after, we adjusted our course for the first time, bearing away slightly onto a beam reach. We were now aimed for Cape Spencer, the most southerly point on Yorke Peninsula. Less than an hour later we were abeam of Troubridge Point with its red brick lighthouse resembling a giant pepper shaker.

By 18:00, the wind had shifted more to the east and was blowing 15 knots from the SE. At 19:00 we passed Cape Spencer and made our final course adjustment for West Cape, five nautical miles to the northeast. Before long, the West Cape Lighthouse, with its shiny steel cladding, loomed ahead on our starboard, like a rocket ship about to take off.

West Cape Lighthouse

West Cape Bay lay just around the corner from the Cape. There was a 1m swell wrapping around the cape rolling into the southern end of the bay. The northern end was worse, however, with waves crashing on the headland that separates West Cape Bay from Ponderlowie Bay. My initial reaction was that the anchorage, if tenable at all, would be quite rolly. Nevertheless, we entered the bay as planned, keeping as much as possible to the southern side and were rewarded with relatively flat waters once inside. At 20:00 we were anchored in 5m of water over a sandy bottom, holding fast. We had traveled 94 nautical miles averaging 7.4 knots.

Anchored at that depth meant that we were too far away from the cliffs for them to provide useful wind protection. However, with waves breaking on the beach and occasional swells pushing us like a toy boat, I was reluctant to move any closer. On a positive note, the 20 knot breeze that blew most of the night kept our new wind turbine spinning nicely.

We weighed anchor at 07:25 the next morning. The wind had petered out overnight and we motored in a generally northeasterly direction towards Corny Point. At 10:57, we detoured into Dolphin Bay (top photo), a stunning north-facing beach within Innes National Park. The western side of the bay—opposite a beach shack—offers excellent holding over sand but mind the submerged rocks that extend 50m into the bay from that side. We swam offshore and stretched our legs by walking the length of that beach. 

Vela, Alan and Cathie at Dolphin Bay.

We had lunch at anchor then continued at 13:40, motor sailing in six knot winds. At 17:35 we passed Corny Point, with its charming white lighthouse, and then turned east. Half an hour later we anchored, briefly, to take a dip. The seabed slopes very gently along this stretch of coastline and we were several hundred metres from shore, so we limited our swimming to just around the boat. The same is true of the waters adjoining the small township of Corny Point, which offers travelers a general store and a caravan park. We were in search of a more rustic anchorage, though.

Corny Point Lighthouse

Approximately eight nautical miles east of Corny Point, shoals extend two nautical miles north from the coastline. Once past the shoals we turned south for Leven Beach Conservation Park. There, we anchored over sand in 5m of water only 200m from the shore. The clear night sky put on a brilliant display of stars with nary a terrestrial light to taint our celestial observations.

Thus ended the Yorke Peninsula part of our trip. Tomorrow, we would resume sailing westward.


PS Next we cross Spencer Gulf.