Thursday, July 10, 2008


Onward to the Kimberly Region, North West WA and return to Darwin NT-July to September 2008

10th September ONWARDS - DARWIN

Tracy starts work at the end of September as Branch Library Manager at the Casuarina Public Library and Paul as a manager of an auto electrical firm. We will be berthed at Tipperary Marina for a while building up our cruising kitty.

7th - 8th September - Berkeley River to Darwin (227nm 24hr)

Well almost no wind and the wind of course is right on the nose, so we are motor sailing. There is a gentle swell which is enough to be annoying. Ruth caught a Spanish mackerel but it leapt off the line and back into the water so we missed out on that one. The ocean is a deep, deep blue and we saw sea snakes and dolphins but no whales. We were contact with Bob and Colleen from “Miss B Haven” most of the way across. We entered Darwin Harbour early morning and waited for high tide to contact the marina. We entered through the locks at Tipperary Waters marina and berthed the boat. We headed down the dock for a nice, long shower. It is hot and humid almost stifling. We have cleaned the boat, taken the sails off readying ourselves for the cyclone season here in Darwin.

6th September - Berkeley River

We moved down river to the mouth to try our luck at fishing. No fish were willing to sacrifice themselves today, bummer. So we had a drink on board and get the boat shipshape again for ocean sailing as we were to cross the sandbar tomorrow morning on our way back to Darwin. “Miss B Haven” who were coming over to spend 8 weeks in the Kimberly’s, radioed, they were at Cape Hay ready to cross the Gulf, shame we will miss them.

5th September - Berkeley River
Friday a Lax day, the birds were in full force today singing loudly, we sat on deck and listened to them and took in this amazing scenic place. We were all invited aboard “Twin Imps” with Joy and Brian McLaren for a delicious roast dinner.

4th September - Berkeley River

Hot, hot, hot and humid. Moved down to Amphitheatre Falls for the night, a very pretty little gorge which only looks like a small creek in, so many would miss it if they were not exploring. It is a beautiful secluded amphitheatre with some really nice pillars at the entrance. The falls are dry and we had to get up and back at high tide as the creek is dry at low tide. The crew tried their hand at fishing again with no luck. Sundowners on Cockatoo II with the crew of Twin Imps.

3rd September- Berkeley River
Departed Casuarina Falls for the head of the Berkeley Gorge. Due to a high tide Paul was able to get Cockatoo II almost to the rock bar (almost to the end of the gorge) but had to turn back as turning room was running out. We anchored in mud near the front of the Red Amphitheatre Falls (no water coming over) for the night, we had tried to anchor twice further upriver before but the bottom was rock. Had lunch and then took the dingy back up climbing up the rock bar looking for a place to swim. The water proved to be brackish and the pools quite shallow. From there we returned to the dingy and found a a small waterfall overflowing off the cliffs, we climbed up and found a beautiful freshwater pool, deep enough to swim and do a hair wash.

2nd. September-Berkeley River
Motored up to Casuarina Creek. “Twin Imps” had taken our preferred parking spot under Casuarina Falls, which was still running, we did try to anchor but the bottom was took rocky and the anchor did not take, so we had to take second best behind a small island in the overflow pool. All walked to the top of the falls for a bathe in freshwater amongst pandanas trees and waterlilies. Upon our return Paul took the dingy and us under the waterfall for a shower and in the process washed the dingy. It was surprising how much water was coming over the falls, turning the dingy into a bath tub in a few seconds.
Roast BBQ Beef, a bottle of Riccadonna and a cream log for the evening meal-to celebrate our actual arrival in the Berkeley River, again doing it tough in the Kimberly’s.

1st. September-Elsie Island to Berkeley River (17.2nm 8.30hr)

A hot and sultry day and as Paul wanted to move out of our anchorage spot before low tide we pulled anchor and departed at 8:00am. We arrived at the mouth of the Berkeley River and the boys took off with the dingy, depth sounder and the GPS to find the best way in over the extensive sand bars, plotting the waypoints as they went. We had tried on the way out from Darwin to get into the Berkeley twice, but the sand bar and low tides had defeated us. The girls took Cockatoo II behind Reveley Island and found an anchorage, waiting for the boys to return and for the tide to turn to an incoming tide. The route in was nowhere near the channel shown on the charts and as it was still an incoming tide we did touch bottom a couple of times. Brian was out front leading the way and Paul at the helm we eventually got over the bar at the entrance and entered the Berkeley River. We anchored for the night just inside in the mouth of the Berkeley River.

31st August-Glycosmis Bay to Elsie Island (47nm 7.45hr)

Brian was up at first light and took off in the dingy, heading off for the cliff in Glycosmis Bays, climbing up to the top and following the creek back inland for some distance. He had to be back for our departure at 8am. Departed at 8:45 for Elsie Island. Changed course to view a mother whale and calf but they were not very cooperative doing faster than the five knots we were making so we did not get a very good look at them and no photos. We tried to anchor behind Elsie Island at the same location we had used before, it was too rolly, plus the reef posed a problem if we swung around, so we moved around to the other side of the island. Again keeping an eye (unable to see anything below the surface as it was too muddy and cloudy) on the depth sounder and avoided numerous bombies, anchoring safely before sunset.

30th August-West Bay to Glycosmis Bay (55.9nm 12hr)
Leaving West Bay at Midnight, Pitch Black, almost no moon and hot, motored most of the way as there was no wind. Rounded Cape Londonderry with the assistance of the tide, then with us once around the cape, passage itself was on slack tide. We could see the tide line at the point of the Cape. The sea breeze came in for a while and we had the Genoa up for a short time. Paul took us in close to the coast for a good look at this piece of stunningly beautiful coast line.
Lots of reef around, so we had to keep a good lookout ahead and one eye on the chart. Arrived at Glycosmis Bay on the northern edge of the point. Beaches and cliffs provide a stunning vista. On dropping the main it was noticed that the foot of the sail had been damaged. It looks like it got caught around the Cunningham hook and tore the sail. We did a dingy trip into the West Arm of Glycosmis Bay. Tracy and Brian climbed up, Tracy tried to climb up, but the boulders were huge and difficult to climb over, She lost the camera and had to backtrack to find it-she did so but then lost her sunglasses down a steep crevice (thank goodness it was not the camera) and decided it was too difficult and returned to the dingy. Brian climbed up but as it was hot and late in the day decided to do the walk tomorrow. Upon returning to the boat Tracy and Paul went for a stroll on the lovely beach in the west bay.

29th August-West Bay to McGowan’s to West Bay (25.2nm 5hr)

Departed at 4:00 am for McGowans arriving at 6:30am to find that they had run out of fuel and were waiting for another delivery-two other boats had to take jerry cans in and be transported to Kalumbaru to refuel. Not having enough jerry cans we then had to turn around and sail back to West Bay, arriving back at West Bay at 10:30. Fuel was a reasonable price but they charged a $200.00 handling charge. The fuel was in dirty drums so needed to be strained into jerry cans and carted out to the yacht, we took on 400 litres necessitating about 6 trips, in the dingy. A big job in hot and humid conditions.

28th August-Hill Point to West Bay (43nm 8.30hr).

Departed Hill Point for West Bay, Motored, little wind, asymmetric up when the breeze came in, got through Middle Rock passage in calm conditions but lots of tide eddy’s and whirlpools. Hot sticky weather, we hope to refuel here or at McGowans. No fuel barge here, we could see the buoy but no barge, again the advice we had been given was wrong. The fuel comes in drums from Truscott Base. We could have arranged this but decided to sail across the bay to McGowans as they had lots of fuel before plus here there was a $200.00 handling/delivery fee.

27t h August-Hill Point

Relax Day, weather calm, humid, hot and sticky. We enjoyed the air conditioner and watched a video as it was too hot outside. In the afternoon Brian and Ruth went fishing again, catching a large Golden Trevally and several Mangrove Jacks. Tracy received a sat phone call confirming she had the position she had applied for in Darwin-she is now the Brach Library Manager for the Casuarina Library. When we filleted the Golden Trevally it was full of parasites so after cutting those out we fed it to two large sand sharks that came around for the scraps. They were very sedate and ate from Paul’s hand.

26th August-Jar Island to Hill Point (11.5nm 3 hr)

Departed Jar Island, anchoring at the mainland near Low Island, where we went ashore walking across a salt pan, to see the crash site of an old DC 3. The DC3 was in remarkably good condition although some of it had been salvaged in a pretty rough way. It was a hot and sticky day for walking. Pulling anchor we then motored down past Jar Island to Hill Point on advice from Trevor (Marika II)-who said it was one of the best fishing spots in the Kimberly’s. We anchored in front of large rocks. Paul Tracy and Ruth went fishing and did very well with a large variety of fish including Bream Mangrove Jacks and Black Jew.

25th August-Krait Bay to Jar Island (59nm 12hr)

Departed at 2:00 am again, quarter moon arrived back at Jar Island at 2:00 pm. Went ashore again to look for the Bradshaw’s, we found a well worn path and climber up to a rock ledge where we found quite good examples.
We also found a Sea Eagles nest which Brian climbed up to photograph with the hope there were chicks but they had already fledged.

24th August-Unnamed Bay, Swift Bay to Krait Bay (17nm 3 hr)

Very little wind left un-named bay for Krait Bay, Brian took the dingy out and Brian took photos of Cockatoo II under full sail with Paul and Tracy doing a “Titanic”. Coast Watch overflew us again and after a quick request that they do an orbit so we could photograph them they obliged with another low pass resulting in a good photo of the aircraft. Sundowners on Cockatoo II with “Marika II”.

23rd August-Unnamed Bay, Swift Bay

Explored around Swift Bay with “Marika II” Trevor and his guests, and he showed us two good art sites. That evening we had a BBQ on the beach for the night with the fish supplied by “Marika II” and Salads and sweets from Cockatoo II. Tracy drank a bit much and as she cannot remember anything was lucky Paul helped her aboard and did not fdeed her to the crocodiles. Tracy says it was the home brewed scotch from Trevor that did it. Tracy was very subdued the next day wanting only to sleep. Think it is called a hangover.

22nd August-Bay of Krait Island to Unnamed Bay, Swift Bay (50.8nm 10hr)

Departed at 2:30 am pitch black night, no wind or moon as we need to get through Scott Straight at slack water. We passed the reef (unmarked on the charts and could not see it as it was high tide-last time we passed through Paul had marked it on the charts at mid tide). With a calm trip we arrived at Swift Bay. Another yacht “Marika II”, arrived dropped anchor and within minutes had invited us over for Sundowners, added to this they gave us a bottle of Red and another bottle of homemade Gin.

21 st August-Hunter River to Bay near Krait Island (25.5nm 5.45hr )

Paul and Ruth fishing early morning, fish were leaping out everywhere near the dingy, near the shore, everywhere except on their hook. Ruth had sat in the dingy and Paul passed the painter to her and she drifted with the strong current down the river, when she realised Paul was not aboard she started to panic but did well in starting the outboard and getting back to Cockatoo II where Paul got on and they both went fishing. We had a farewell morning tea aboard Cockatoo II- Al, Ron and Barbara came aboard and we enjoyed banana cake and pikelets with tea and coffee. After morning tea we said farewell to these lovely people and pulled anchor at 12:15 with the tide, leaving with nice and calm weather and almost no wind -quite different than on the way in. On the way out Tracy received a Sat Phone Call re Job she had applied for, we just drifted for nearly an hour to allow her to complete the interview. On the way again and passed “R & R” on her way into the Hunter River. Later that evening we arrived at South Bay off Kartja Island and anchored for the night just on sunset.

20th August-Hunter River

Ron and Barbara from “Opal Shell” picked us up in their Bertram runabout to explore the further reaches of the Hunter River, on the way we collected Al from “Whistler”. It was quite impressive how far up the river we were able to get as it was a high tide found more crocs (they were not even scared of us and we kept a healthy distance away) and some more examples of Rock Art both indigenous and Bradshaws. It is a huge river and very pretty with lots of Tors and steep valleys. We stopped in one of the creeks to try our luck at fishing, well no luck with the fish but somehow we lost our anchor, the end came undone from the bollard. Half an hour of fishing with a jag hook and Brian caught the anchor again and was able to retrieve it. On the way back Al invited us back on board “Whistler” to have a look around. What a magnificent vessel and very impressive. Oh to have that sort of money and to be able to run the thing. The generators would be about all we could afford to run; the main motors were about three meters long V16 GM’s which consume about 250 litres an hour at cruise and 500 Ltrs per hour at full speed 30kts. Length overall was about 100 feet.
BBQ on “Opal Shell” to say thanks to Brian for finding the anchor. Al also supplied a bottle of good wine and pack of T bone steaks from the ships freezer; these steaks were bigger than a normal dinner plate. Brian was in heaven heaps of meat for tea.

19th August-Hunter River

We enjoyed morning tea on “Opal Shell” with their guests while we motored out to a pretty little bay on the lee side of an island in the Prince Frederick Harbour with a sandy beach to meet the chopper who was delivering our resupply of provisions and to take our scenic flight which Brian and Ruth had asked us to join them on. We flew out over the Hunter River Valley and up to the Mitchell Plateau. It was inspiring and exhilarating in the chopper to see the world for the air as we have been boat bound for so long. We saw the Mitchell Falls (as we were not taking the boat there and this was the only way we were going to get to see it). It was great to see the Hunter River from the air and take in the enormous river system and beauty of this region. On our return to the boat we then spent the afternoon exploring in the dingy going right up Porosus Creek to where the rivers come down and out to the river mouth. Sundowners on Cockatoo II with Ron and Barbara of “Opal Shell”.

18th August-Capstan Bay to Hunter River (45nm 7.30hr)

Departed Capstan Bay with “Opal Shell” behind us for the Hunter River. Strong winds and choppy seas, Paul elected to motor sail it but holding it as tight as possible so that we made way to the calmer waters near the coast, once we were around the cape conditions improved and the wind dropped. Passing through Prince Federick Harbour and entering the Hunter River, There were large Tors guarding the entry, tall cliffs and again beautiful scenery. We anchored in a wide creek called Porosus Creek (Latin for Crocodile). Our cruising guide warns of high crocodile population here. Before we anchored we went quite a distance up the creek on the high tide then came back to deep enough water to anchor for the night. Ten meters of depth in the creek with a 7 to 9 meter tide on top of that. Quite an experience going up and down about 8 meters each 12 hours. “Opal Shell” anchored nearby. Also anchored further downriver was the power yacht “Whistler”, worth 15 million dollars, and she looked every bit of it. Anchor alarm sounded as the tide had turned us around, we increased the scope which was at full stretch each time the tide turned. The anchor had dug well into soft mud and we had nothing to worry about. Heard a scrapping noise and assumed we were bottoming but the depth gauge indicated that we had plenty of clearance so put it down to a croc scratching his back on the hull or a log going past.

17th August-Palm Island to Capstan Bay (15.6nm 3hr)

Departed Palm Island for Capstan Bay again with the tide. “Opal Shell” came up on the radio and we planned to meet them that night. BBQ on board “Opal Shell” with Ron, Barbara and their 4 guests. The anchorage was a bit rocky and rolly.

16th August-Unnamed Bay to Palm Island (7nm 1 hr)

departed with the tide again for Palm Island only a short hop of one hour. More fishing and Tracy went off for another walk on a beautiful remote beach.

15th August-Krait Bay to Unnamed Bay near Winyalkan Island (29nm 5.30hr)

Departed Krait Bay for an un-named bay near Winyalkin Island, where we passed a mother whale and her calf near Cape Voltaire (a large black outcrop of rock). Nice easy swell and all sails up making 6 knots. Wind dropped at about 10:00 am and the tide started to turn so it was motor on. Lovely sunny day, here the water is clear for a change. Paul took Cockatoo up nearly to the head of the bay but as the tide was three metres, we returned back to anchor near an Island for the night. Quite interesting rock formation and we saw two more whales. We still were not lucky as there were no fish when trolling, which was a bit disappointing. Tracy did get excited pulling in the lure as she thought she had a fish, but it was just the silver lure as it turned out that Paul had changed to a larger lure. Tracy went for a stroll on the beach and disturbed two crocs on the beach which thankfully took to the water and away from her. The tracks left are shown in this picture and they look like a humans foot print so we more aware now. It did give her a fright though. Paul and the Ruth went off fishing. Good feed of Mangroves Jacks one of the best fishing spots yet.

14th August-Parry Harbour to Krait Bay (32nm 6 hr)

Left Parry harbour for Krait Bay at 6:00 am with a rising sun which painted the sky in glorious colours. We hope to pass Point Gibson today, we have calculated to be there at slack tide as the charts show currents between 3 and 5 knots. We had a good trip averaging 5 knots. We passed beautiful Islands, and lots of rocks. Anchoring in 6 metres of water, we shared the bay we two other boats here. Krait Bay has tall sandstone cliffs, white sandy beach, reef and calm waters.

13th August-White Finger Bay to Parry Harbour (16.6nm 4 hr)

Waiting for the tide after a calm night, Paul saw another croc near the yacht early in the morning. Pulling anchor we sailed with the Main and Genoa, Tracy cooking sultana muffins as we travelled, these were consumed hot and “YUMMY”. Pearl leases again on entry to Parry Harbour with reef again. This is a delightful bay with lovely white beaches, heavy vegetated hills and thick scrub. Paul caught a Spotted Mackerel on the trailing line and the other line a shark which dropped off at the moment it was being lifted into the boat, took the tackle as well (Bugger). Met up with “R & R” again in Parry Bay and joined us on Cockatoo II for sundowners.

12th August-Freshwater Bay to White Finger Bay (14.7nm 3hr)

Pulled anchor and motor sailed with the Genoa, we had to sail through a pearl lease and anchored at White Finger Bay. It was a pretty non decript bay and we did not go ashore here although Paul and Ruth went fishing in the dingy.

11th August-Freshwater Bay

Freshwater Bay entry was interesting as we saw reef –not marked on the charts but anchored in protected bay with plenty of water. We all went ashore where Brian went off for a walk in the bush up stream, the rest of us enjoyed a leisurely swim and bathe in beautiful freshwater pools, washing our hair and shaving our legs That evening R&R anchored near us and we went across to the catamaran “Paradise” for a sundowner. After returning to Cockatoo II we enjoyed a three course meal with a bottle of Riccadonna, life is tough on the ocean waves.

10th August-Jar Island to Freshwater Bay (12.6nm 3hr)

The boys did a rough clean of the water line of growth, neither brave enough to go over the side since some crocs and sharks had been sighted. Departed at about 1:00 for Freshwater Bay.

9th August-Unnamed Bay, Mary Island to Jar Island (11.5nm 3.30hr)

Pulling anchor we were glad to anchor in a scenic and beautiful bay behind Jar Island. Close by there were three Paspaley Pearl ships processing the pearl shell. Brian went off for a walk on Jar Island, he was caught by going down a ledge that he could not get back up and had to walk some distance to get back to the South side of the island. Ruth had a big shark take a liking to her bait and since it was about 2 metres in length she was not interested in catching it and pulled he line in very quickly.

8th August-McGowan’s Beach to Unnamed Bay, Mary Island (32nm 8 hr)

Departed McGowans for an unnamed bay near Maria Island, which has now been dubbed Rocky Bay, (lots of nasty reef about). We found it was too rough to anchor (very uncomfortable) so we moved on to Germanium Harbour, the passage though was wind against tide again. We had not pulled the dingy up and as the dingy was on a tether, it was surfing down the waves trying very hard to keep up with us. The tide was running at 6Kts and we were only getting 1 kt of forward speed but this only lasted for ½ Hr. Finally we were through and put up the Genoa but kept the engine running as we needed power for the washing machine and to make some water. Unnamed bay was sloppy roll for the night.

7th August-Ian Bay to McGowan’s Beach (12nm 2.30hr)

The anchor started to drag at 7am due to strong winds and some crap caught in the anchor this has been the only time we have dragged anchor in over two years. Today we sailed to McGowans Beach; our first signs of civilisation consisting of a caravan park and drum fuel supplies. Diesel prices are $2.70 a litre. We took on 200 litres of diesel and 70 ltrs of Petrol which means we are nearly full again. Paul dropped over and had a chat with “R&R” which is a power Cat. We all went over and had a sundowner aboard.

6th August-Curran Point to Ian Bay (16nm 4 hr)

Winds forecast at 25 to 30 knots for the next three days. The seas are lumpy even in the river mouth, and we waited for high tide to leave. Rounding Red Bluff we pulled in the sails to motor to Ian Bay.

5th August-Cape Talbot to Curran Point, Drysdale River (11.3nm 3 hr)

Pulled anchor with the tide rising and motored to Cullen Point near the Drysdale River. We had sloppy seas and the wind was on the nose. Paul took the dingy and did some soundings checking for depths looking for the channel as it had changed from the charts. Finally got into the mouth of the Drysdale and dropped anchor. The terrible trio (Paul, Tracy and Ruth) went off fishing again and what great fishing it was, we had lots of strikes and sometimes we could not pull them in far enough. More fish, Brian thinks he will I never see a steak again.

4th August- Seahorse Bay to Cape Talbot (38nm 8.30hr)

With a 5:30 am start, we made our way to Cape Londonderry where the wind against the tide resulted in a pretty choppy and confused sea. The lesson is that the tide predictions are about as reliable as the charts up here. Coast Watch buzzed us and called us up on the radio for more info i.e. port of departure and destination. When we said Darwin for Darwin you could almost hear the comments “Silly Buggers are Lost”. The coastline here is flat and boring but we anchored at a nice anchorage at Cape Talbot for the night.

3rd August-Faraway Bay to Seahorse Bay (6.5nm 1.30hr)

No wind. Decided to take the boat further down the bay (quite shallow) to save taking the dingy a great distance. Once anchored we took the dingy into Monitor Bay, where we made our way into a beautiful deep fresh water pool. We swum, had lunch and enjoyed the stunning scenery. We even saw two monitors (like goannas) who came out of the water to sunbake quite close to us. We returned to the boat before the tide got too low and returned to Seahorse Bay.
Back at Seahorse Bay, “Opal Shell” sailed around and anchored near us. We had a dinner aboard Cockatoo II to celebrate Ron’s Birthday. We have an early departure tomorrow to round the infamous Cape Londonderry.

2nd August-Opal Cove to Faraway River (2nm 30mins)

Leaving at 8:30am with the tide we made our way to Faraway Bay We flew the asymmetric again and it all held together, a job well done by Ruth and I. We anchored in the bay to explore up a creek. Brian went for a walk along the cliffs whist the rest fished with no luck. Departed that afternoon for Seahorse Bay for the night.

1st August Friday-King George River to Opal Cove (3.5nm 1 hr)

A high tide and an early start saw us crossing the bar and off to a beautiful bay called Opal Cove, motor sailing to re charge the batteries and check the drive shaft. Anchoring in Opal Cove for the night, a beautiful bay. That afternoon we explored with “Opal Shell” in their Bertram runabout Laud’s Bay. We enjoyed a bonfire sundowner on the beach that evening.

31st July-King George River

Even though we were mobile we all decided to have a lay day to check everything out and complete a few other repairs. Later in the day we motored down to the river mouth ready to depart with the tide tomorrow. Ron, Paul and Ruth went fishing again although it seems the sand flies did better than they did, Ruth came back covered in bites again but they did get some more fish. Mangrove Jacks and Spinney Bream.

30th July-King George River

Parts arrived but Murphy still dogging us there were parts missing, so the boys improvised by using some parts from the first delivery and got it all working- we are now mobile again. Yeah!! It feels good to be mobile even though we could not have been in a more spectacular place during our breakdown.

29th July-King George River

Hunting and gathering (fishing and oyster collecting) whilst Brian is off taking photos again.

28th July-King George River

“Opal Shell” had been having some issues with their generator which keep their freezers going. As a charter boat this is vital to their passengers, fresh vegetables and fruit. The boys and Ron got together and the problem seems to be fixed. We have arranged to get some provisions flown in to the Mitchell Plateau, through “Opal Shell” and their contacts. The provisions will be transported down with the Helicopter, dropped off, pick us all up and take the four of us up to the Mitchell Falls. At least Brian will have something other than fish to eat as a fair bit of meat has been ordered.

27th July-King George River

Tenders from the ocean liner “Orion” came up river in black dingys en mass five abreast, making their approach quite formidable. The hunters and gathers (Opal Shell and Cockatoo II) were out in force trolling up to the river mouth until sunset –catching 6 trevally which were BBQed whole on Opal Shell for tea. Brian complaining about to much fish.

26th July-King George River

Eggs and Bacon for breakfast and a BBQ dinner on Sasha with 13 people on board. “Sasha” and “Alpha Centuri “ were heading to WA.

25th July-King George River

Brian climbed up to the top of the cliffs and took some good photos of two catamarans, “Sasha” and “Alpha Centauri” coming up the river. The crews noticed him on the top of the cliffs and re dubbed him “The Man On the Hill”.

24th July-King George River

Another hard day in King George River, Brian took photos of the sun on the cliffs as it set. We enjoyed dinner on “Opal Shell” and much to Brian’s delight Roast Beef (no fish). Tracy and Ruth had also been off with Paul gather more oysters, so we also had oysters Kilpatrick and a lemon meringue pie.

23rd July-King George River

Parts arrived from Perth via Kununurra and Murphy was with us as usual, they were the wrong ones, being for the next size up and would not fit. As we could not do anything we spent the day with Barbara and Ron from “Opal Shell” and went climbing up above the east arm waterfall, Ruth stayed behind as she was covered in Sand Fly bites and did not want to aggravate them. We walked to a beautiful billabong and saw several Bradshaw art sites and some indigenous art as well. Here we ate lunch and got a bit lost on the way back returning to Cockatoo late evening.

21st July-King George River

Bob from “Miss B Haven” took Ruth fishing and they did quite well catching more than a feed of Mangrove Jack and Estuary Cod. At the same time the Sand Flies did really well having a feed on the Ruth who come back covered in bites.

Wed 16th July-King George River

Ordered the parts via Sat Phone (thank goodness we had purchased one in Darwin before we left) and organised to get them delivered to Far Away Bay camp. A big thank you to Danielle, who answered our cry of help, searched and sourced a part and organised for its delivery. You are a champ.
Another yacht joined us “Serenity” Brad and Jenny, Paul was able to help them out with some computer stuff.
Paul, Tracy and Ruth went off hunting and gathering caught some fish and collected a good feed of oysters whilst Brian went off climbing the cliff walls. Oysters Kilpatrick and fresh fish for dinner, gee life is tough when you are stranded in the Kimberly’s. On return Paul leapt out of the dingy but forgot to secure it, he had to leap into crocodile infested waters to rescue our dingy. He did not do that again.
Next day was spent repairing the Asymmetric Sail which had been blown out in a strong and unexpected gust of wind. We put the machine up on the deck but as Murphy was along with us, the sewing machine drive belt broke and we did not have a spare so it was a major problem, Paul had to “join it up” at the break with some glue, a patch and some hand sewing.
“Opal Shell” towed us further down stream to a more protected spot as well as for a change of scenery and they joined us for a “Sundowner” on Cockatoo II. The Cruise ships True North, Kimberly Escape, Orion and the Lady M all came past us up the gorge with their load of tourists and helicopters.

Tuesday 15th July-King George River

At high tide and with the rising sun we followed the waypoints taken the previous day over the sandbar and with “Miss B Haven” leading the way we were able to get across the bar into the river. The King George River is beautiful and impressive. There are huge tall cliffs which towered above us as we travelled up the river. “Miss B Haven” (They are a catamaran and only draw 1.3mtrs and this section was too shallow for Cockatoo II-which draws 2.3mtrs) took us up the east arm creek; we saw a beautiful waterfall, a few crocs and some fish. Returning to Cockatoo we continued upstream, the river was quite deep and it was a beautiful sunny day, we sat back and enjoyed this very spectacular gorge. Paul took Cockatoo II all he way up to the Twin Falls, trying to put the bow sprit under the falls when the drive coupling to the propeller shaft failed and we could not any make way. We had steerage but no propulsion. Now there was a panic to keep Cockatoo II from hitting the cliffs. Paul hopped in the dingy and attached a tow to the bow whilst Brian went below to check the selector shaft, which was OK (later we found that it was a complete failure of the drive line coupling, a constant velocity joint had given out.) With hindsight this was probably what failed in Queensland when Brian had a similar problem and not the selector shaft that was diagnosed at the time as the fault was the same. “Miss B Haven” who was nearby towed us down river where we then anchored and decided on the best plan of action. We were in a very remote part of the country-in the Kimberly’s where there was no freight service or mail service or regular deliveries of any kind. Dilemma was how to tackle this problem. People in other yachts were fantastic and offered all sorts of help. “Opal Shell”, Ron and Barbara who have been chartering in the Kimberly region for over 14 years we fantastic and a real help they helped us organise getting the parts to them and we used their fax machine to order parts. It was decided that it would be best to get the parts delivered to Kununurra, then organise with Faraway Bay (with “Opal Shell’s” assistance) to collect them and when they were next in the King George to deliver them to us. The other option was to get the parts to the Coast Watch and get them to do a water drop off, but with the crocs about we were not that keen or that desperate yet. Sundowners and a game of cards on “Miss B Haven” that evening finished a very eventful and stressful day. Miss B Haven was great and stayed close in the King George River until the parts arrived before they moved on. (Over two weeks-thanks it is appreciated and it was good to know that you were there in radio range in case we required assistance).

Monday 14th July-Koolama Bay to King George River

Leaving at 6:30 am we put up the asymmetric as Paul went below to cook a lemon meringue pie. Tracy was on watch. Rounding the cape the wind gusted to about 30 knots and as the asymmetric was still up it blew out - leaving it in two sections one about two feet up the mast and the rest in the water. All hands on deck and the guys retrieved the sail and secured it on deck. The lemon meringue survived the ordeal and was enjoyed that evening when we pulled into Koolama Bay to review the damage.
The bay is surrounded by high cliffs and quite a sight. The guys took the dingy and a portable sounder to check out the channel over the sandbar entrance into the King George River, all was then ready for an early morning run over the sand bar into the King George at high tide.

Sunday 13th July-Seaplane Bay to Koolama Bay (20.4nm 4 hrs)

We departed Elsie Island at 6:00am to take advantage of the high tide at the Berkeley. We motored until the wind picked up then sailed making about 5 to 6 knots back to the Berkeley River mouth. We tried three times to get into the river but bottomed each time, so we had to turn around and head towards the King George River. Flying the asymmetric sail in the light winds, we anchored in Sea Plane Bay. This lovely bay had rocky cliffs and gravelly beaches. Ruth caught a small shark to supplement the fish we had already taken out of the freezer for tea, Brian already complaining that we were having to much fish as he liked red meat.

Saturday 12th July-Elsie Island to Seaplane Bay (34.5nm 8.30hrs)

Approaching the Berkeley River early morning we moved our clocks to WA time (1.30 hours forward). We knew it would be shallow at the entrance, we will arrive at high tide but if the sand bar and channel has not moved we should get in. We arrived at the Berkeley River at about 7:30 am and tried to cross the sand bar into the river. The water was too shallow and we bottomed twice, as we were on a lee shore we abandoned the attempt to cross. On the way to Elsie Island the auto pilot failed again. Paul steered in manually to the anchorage, watching the forward scanner very closely for reef and bombies. Paul fixed the auto-pilot; he found that it was the motor drawing too much power causing the fuse to blow. Fortunately Paul had a spare motor so we were able to replace it without too much hassle. We anchored behind Elsie Island, a small island with lots of reef and a lovely long white beach close by on the mainland. Here we experienced another mechanical failure, the Water Maker primary feed pump failed. The small feed pumps micro switch failed so Paul disconnected it from the circuit and got it working again. Ruth and Tracy went ashore to walk along the white sandy beach, seeing some fresh croc tracks in the inlet they decided to head back to the boat. Another boat “Miss B Haven” came into the bay and we were invited on board for a sundowner. We came home rather late, as they had a still on board and we had sampled such drinks as butterscotch snaps and other lovely concoctions. Bob the skipper on Miss B Haven gave us the waypoints to enter the channel at the Berkeley so we decided to backtrack and have another try at getting into the river tomorrow.

Friday 11th July-Cape Hay, Port Keats to Joseph Bonaparte Gulf to Elsie Island (128nm 28 hours)

Leaving early morning we were on our way across the Bonaparte Gulf (also called Joseph Blow’n apart Gulf). We sailed for 28 hours taking 3 hour shifts during the night. At sundown we dropped the asymmetric and put the Genoa up, as the winds were very light which meant that we used the motor a bit and some members were concerned that we would run out of fuel (Mainly Brian). Our speed was only 3 to 4 knots but it was a good clear night with a half moon lighting the water.
The coastline is mostly unsurveyed and Paul did well to miss reefs and negotiate in this area.

Thursday 10th July-Cape Ford-Cape Hay, Port Keats (39nm 9 hrs)

With a strong wind warning out, we had good winds for the morning and stayed close to shore to reduce the chop as the wind was off the land, but as usual the forecasters had it wrong and the winds dropped in the afternoon, and we had to motor sail. We have used 15% of our fuel so far as there has been no wind at times and we had to motor sail. The water has been calm and milky green, there is a smoke haze making the visibility not too good. It is still sunny no cloud, making it nice being out on deck. We anchored at Tree Point behind a long line of reef which we will need to be aware of on the way out tomorrow.

Wednesday 9th July- Daly River to Cape Ford (20nm 4.30hrs)

Departed at 8:30, winds started at 15 knots put up all the sails then swapped to the asymmetric for a short time, wind and seas increasing and gusting, pulled down the asymmetric and then reefed in the Genoa as well, next we had to fully reef the Genoa and in the process the Auto Pilot died so there was much scurrying on the decks, winds were now 20 to 30 knots. Hand steered until the auto pilot was fixed (blown fuse on the mother board). Then we gibed the Main and Mizzen whilst trying to get in a fishing line, the gibe was a bit severe and the sail runners on the main gave way leaving the main flogging. The boys were able to get the sail down with not too great a problem. We then headed into a protected bay near a reef and a sandy beach were we repaired the broken sail runners (five in all had broken) with some wire, and one small tear in the sail, whilst the girls repaired a rip in the main sail caused by the runners letting go. In the distance whales were sighted. Things seem to happen in threes in all this mess we thought we had lost the lure on the fishing line as when we had gibed the boat the lure had fouled the keel and was still floating behind us. Our lucky lure.

Tuesday 8th July-Fog Bay to Daly River (51nm 13 hrs)

Departed at 7:00am with a South Easterly at 15 to 25 knots. We sailed in behind Peron Island as decided to wait for high tide before going over the bar there. Pulling down the sails Tracy lost the halyard which promptly tangled in the wind generator. Paul was not impressed as he had to climb the mizzen mast, lasso the blades and untangle it. It took a bit to untangle is as the fan kept turning and pulling the rope further around the blades. So, Tracy is now sacked as the deckie and the sails were passed on to Brian, who had been doing it all along anyway as now it is official that Tracy is now banished to duties such as Tea Lady and Anchor duties. We waited two hours for the tide to come in before venturing out of the bay inside Peron Island. The water is cloudy, murky and choppy not great travelling as it was a bit rough. High tide saw us pass Peron Island with no problems and with a beautiful Sunset blood red sky, we anchored for the night behind Cape Ford / Daly River.

Monday 7th July - Darwin to Fog Bay (46.3nm 10 hrs)

Paul’s post had arrived and off he went to pick it up from the Parap Post Office. Brian was in at the Yacht Chandeliers getting parts for the sail travellers, which needed repairing before we left as the travellers were damaged coming across the top. We were ready to sail. We pulled anchor upon their return at about 11:00am with a light South Easterly. As the wind was light we tried the asymmetrical but there was insufficient wind to keep it flying we motor sailed, anchoring that night at Fog Bay. On the way in we had Dolphins on the bow and fireworks to greet us on the mainland at one of the communities.

Sunday 6th July-Darwin

Spent the day securing items and getting the yacht ready to sail. After a relaxing afternoon we all took the dingy ashore to the Mindil Markets for dinner.

Saturday 5th July-Darwin

The boys did another fuel run which finally meant that the tanks were full and we had all the jerry cans on deck full. Ruth and I walked to the Parap Markets, where spent time looking at all the stalls. There were a few good fresh fruit and veg stalls, as well as the normal arty stalls. We came back to the yacht with a meal of prawns and mud crab for tea.

Friday 4th July-Darwin

We caught up with other cruisers we had met coming over from Queensland at the Darwin Yacht Club for a sundowner and BBQ dinner. We took this opportunity to say goodbye and wish them all well as the majority were participating in the Darwin to Kupang Rally.

Thursday 3rd July-Darwin

More provisioning and general purchases ready for the trip, we had been given the use of a hire car in exchange for Paul fixing a computer and we took full advantage of the car to do fuelling and other running around as Darwin is very spread out and a car is needed. In between refuelling and re-provisioning we took the time to visit the Mindil Markets. The markets are very multicultural and lots of people attend, there is also lots of food markets of all different cultures. It is more a tourist thing as there were no fresh fruit and veg stalls.

Wednesday 2nd July-Darwin

All aboard Cockatoo II we are taking two friends on this trip with us Brian and Ruth Combley. We took the time and extra hands to complete the fuelling and provisioning of the vessel. Paul had arranged a night cruise on the Darwin Harbour on the Cape Adieu. It took us from the harbour and around to Fannie Bay eating fresh seafood whilst we enjoyed the sunset and sights of coastal Darwin.

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