A Night in Memory Cove

heading out  

The forecast for light southerlies had us anchor up in Port Lincoln and motoring out of the harbor the same way we came in, around the bottom of Boston Island and out past Donington Light. We took this opportunity to motor against light adverse winds to position ourselves for a good sail when the forecast S/SE winds increased tomorrow and we were heading west.


port lincoln to memory cove


We had planned to anchor at Williams Island, but the locals claimed the holding and protection was better at Memory Cove, about 20nm south of Port Lincoln. Sound local knowledge is always solicited and appreciated.

As always, we're interested in the history of the places we anchor. On 21 February 1802, Matthew Flinders' expedition suffered a loss of crew in South Australian waters. Ship master, John Thistle, midshipman William Taylor and six seamen were drowned when their cutter capsized while searching for fresh water. The seamen were J. Little, George Lewis, John Hopkins, William Smith, Thomas Grindall and Robert Williams. Flinders, who had hand-chosen his crew, was deeply affected by this disaster and recorded place names including Thorny Passage, Memory Cove, Cape Catastrophe, and Thistle Island to commemorate the lives lost. He named islands in this area for all of his lost men.

As we passed by and between the islands honoring those lost, traveling the same waters as they had, and as we anchored in Memory Cove, we couldn't help but wonder exactly what happened and how devastated Flinders must have felt to lose competent crew and good mates. How fortunate we are that Flinders did the exploration, surveying and charting he did, much of which is still in use today.

A local yacht, Claire Allen, ran aground on Thistle Island over this past weekend when they snagged a craypot line and fouled their propeller. All three men made it to shore safely and were rescued quickly. The yacht, however, was on the rocks in minutes. A reminder that even now with all of our modern technology and information, it takes only a second for a catastrophe to hit and your whole world to change.


port linconl times photo of claire allen


As for us, we found a suitable, safe anchorage in Memory Cove and remembering the history of this place, we raised a toast to the men lost and thank the gods of wind and sea that they continue to protect this ship and crew. I might add that in an associated article about the grounding of the Claire Allen, a fishing boat hit a catamaran anchored off Memory Cove. We put an extra anchor light on tonight.