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.

Monday, July 07, 2008

 

Cairns QLD to Darwin NT

2 - 7 July 2008 Darwin
Washed the boat down, scrubbed the cork and tidied up. Ruth and Brian arrived and then we re fueled (jerry can run-4 trips) and re-provisioned for 8 weeks. Friday BBQ ashore at the Sailing Club to say good bye to all those leaving to Kupang as we are heading to the Kimberly's. Another lovely evening. Mindel Beach markets and a dinner cruise aboard the lovely old sailing ship "Cape Diem". Water maker membrane checked and seals done, oil change done for generator and motor. Rust chasing and white paint to cover spots done. We are ready to head off hopefully Monday.

1 July 2008
Independence Day Clebrations-Darwin
Watched fireworks at Mindle Beach from the boat. Great night, people are allowed to buy and set off their own crackers and firewoprks so the night was filled with fireworks all night and the sound of popping and banging.

28-29 June 2008
Alcaro Bay to Fannie Bay, DARWIN 95nm 17 hours
Mary Eliza and we decided to head off that evening as we had to get around Cape Don four and half hours before high tide to take advantage of the currents. Black balck night we leaft at 8pm rather than the 9pm we had planned (just because we were just sitting and waiting and had nothing to do) and off course no wind (Wind all the trip was SE 0-10kn). There were lots of boats out most in front of us and we could see their nav lights sprkling in the night sky ahead of us. Quite a few large boats as well-thank goodness for AIS showing us were they were and in which direction they were heading. We did not follow channel in but went over shaols and eventually the north Channel finally anchoring in Fannie Bay just outside the Darwin Sailing Club but quite a way off due to tides. It is a long dingy ride in. Had a beer and dinner ashore to celebrate arriving. I had champagne to celebrate arriving home.


28 June 2008
Black Point-Port Essington to Alcaro Bay, Cape Hothham 28nm 5.30hours
Motored out of bay, winds gusting above 23 knots when we turned the corner. We put up genoa until the wind dropped to 15 knots then up came the asymetric. Just before Alcaro Bay the pulley on the davits broke and the dingy fell down (only the back end of the dingy) and hit the side of the boat, yes we chipped the paint but did not lose anything out of the digy or damage the dingy. Paul fixed it enroute. The wind then dropped to 3-5 knts so all sails came down and we motored into Alcaro Bay, just before the bay the winds altered almost 180 degrees in direction. Beautiful bay, white sand, blue blue water, green trees and red hills. The Cape Don lighthouse stands majestically on the point and we saw a very large croc here just floating by in the water eyeing us off.

27 June 2006
Port Bremer to Black Point, Port Essington 17.5nm 3 hours
Asymetric sail up, good pleasant sail with winds SE15-20kn. Passed reef off Smith's Point and rounded into Port Essington past Black Point (able to see why so named-the rocks are jet black). We anchored deep into the bay, it is shallow but the tides were minimal so will be fine for the time we are here. We went ashore with Mary-Eliza and walked to the monument at Smith's Point and slipped into the camp and had a lovely refreshing shower as well. Returning we walked on the beach and found large shells washed up on the shore.

26 June 2008
Cape Cockburn to Port Bremer, Danger Point 42.6nm 8.45hours
Motor sailed winds very light, seas behind and quite a pleasant sail. The wind came about 8am. Rounded South Crocker Island (Bowen Strait) the tide against up slowing us down so on came the motor. Just before Palm Bay we put up the asymetric sail as wind reduced to 10-15kn. Can see why called Danger Point, lots of reef about. We are 120mile away in a straight line or 176 via sea.

25 June 2008
Mullet Bay to Cape Cockburn 36.7nm 6.30 hours
Rocky rolly trip, winds average SE10-20kn. Paul caught a tuna en route and we saw a very large turtle floating by taking advantage of the current. We tucked into a lovely bay and everyone (Pure Chance and Mary-Eliza) came for tempura battered fish and a game of Mexican Train (dominoes).

24 June 2008
Mullet Bay
Rest day, birthday started at 2pm with a shooter and a game of Mexican Train Dominoes and a lovely steak dinner. Ate early as Solan and Pelikaan arrived and we all caught up with news and drinks-very boozy night and a lot of fun.

23 June 2008
Manigrida to Mullet Bay, North Goulburn Island 64.2nm 11 hours
We decided to attend glamorous Jaqueline's birthday so diverted from our plan to head to Guion Bay and instead have dinner aboard Mary-Eliza. It was a long rocky rolly trip with the wind behind, we gull winged the sails (genoa out to one side and the main to the other side)-we motor sailed to keep speed up. Arrived at this flat island which is very barren and dry. The beach is long and beautiful white sand. There is a hut here with an antenna.

22 June 2008
Maningrida
Rest day today, buggered after long unexpected trip yesterday. No permits needed to go ashore (have been abolished) so are taking the others ashore to explore. There is a funeral on today so we have been asked not to cross taped off areas. Will be good to go for a long walk and explore this township.

21 June 2008
Bay south of Jigaimara Point, Elcho Island to Manigrida, Liverpool River 86mn 15 hours
Sailed good speed winds 20-25 knots. Planned to anchor just after Cape Stewart in Baucaut Bay but too shallow and the fetch was quite bad. Followed bay around but was all too shallow-we touched bottom a few times and no protection so decided to head to Liverpool River as winds predicted 25-30 knots. Arrived late 10pm, waited for Pure Chance to catch up, and the Mary Eliza and us all went in and anchored near townsite. We are well protected here.

20 June 2008
Refuge Bay to bay south of Jigaimara Point, Elcho Island 35.2 nm 5.30 hrs
Sails up, wind 20-30 knots gusting, reefed genoa in and had a good sail, maximum speed 7.8 and average speed 6.6 knots. Aboriginal settlement ashore. Anchored close to shore.

19 June 2008
Jensen Bay to Refuge Bay-Elcho Island 67.6 nm 11 hours
Full moon all sails up, left at 5.30 in the morning. Good winds SE 15-20knots and seas 1 mtr, a bit uncomfortable (I felt a little green). Good sail Average spped 6.1 knts and max 8.3 knots. We anchored in bay with Mary Eliza, Pure Chance, Launans, and Scrimshaw. Overcast and rainy. Paul caught a tuna on way up, 10 aboard for dinner tonight.

18 June 2008
Guluwuru Island t0 Jensen Bay-Marchinbar Islan 27 nm 5 hours
Sailed occassionally motor sailing when the wind dropped. Seas flat and we had a lovely trip anchoring in a lovely secluded bay with white sand, and green blue water. Explored Jensen Island and the next bay in the dingy.

17 June 2008
Wigram Island-Gugari Rip (The hole in the Wall) to unnamed Bay Guluwuru Island 39 nm 4 hours
Motor sailed with mizzen and genoa, light winds so we had the motor on in order to maintain 6 knots inorder to get the correct tide going through the hole in the wall. We had five yachts in front of us and we were going to be the last through. It was interesting watching all the boats one by one disappearing into a rock wall. Our turn we had a sharp turn and then we were in a small channel inbetween the islands, the tide had increased and we sped up to 10.1 at one stage (we had the motor on idle incase something happened and all sails down). Popping out the other side the winds were great for a brisk sail up the coast and we pulled in anchored alone in a small un named bay. With blue water, white sand we took the dingy ashore and went for a long walk. There were three huge crocodile tracks going up the beach (but did not see one). Whilst upon the shore the Australian Customs Helicopter hovered over our yacht and buzzed us, and then seeing us onshore they headed north. On the horizon like clockwork there were large dark rain clouds on the horizon and light rains rinsing the deck down.

16 June 2008
Elizabeth Bay to Wigram Island13 nm 3 hours
All other boats left early, Paul waited for tide and current. Put the genoa up and enjoyed a lovely sail. Rain storm clouds on the horizon anchoring before it came in delightful bay with white sand and fringing reef. We went for a long walk on the beach. Came and knocked on power yacht Jesse (Western Australian's from Geraldton) and drank a few aboard before heading back to our boat.

15 June 2008
Gove to Elizabeth Bay 26 nm 4 hours
Left on rising tide to enable us to get the best ride on tide and current through the channel. We had a rain squall which passed without incidence, we did reef the gonoa in the wind only getting as high as 22 knots. We passed Cape Wilberforce rounding Point William inside the island (which the guide says is uncharted) Paul found it very deep and anchored in a lovely protected bay with yellow sandy beach. There is a large pearl lease here and we viewed them working on the barges during the day. Paul caught a huge tuna on the way which Solan smoked and we (all five boats) came aboard Solan and shared dinner.


14 June 2008
Gove
Went to art display -Galupa Art Group today. It is rainy and overcast. Don picked us up at the Sailing Club beach and took us around in his tender. This community is just on the outskirts of the refinery and is a small community which has an open day every six months. Shown were paintings, digeridoo's, spear making and weaving. Very interesting and the group was open and were interesting to talk to and engage with.

Returning late morning to find Paul working on securing items in the workroom and the finishing up on paperwork. We are leaving tomorrow.

13 June 2008
Gove
Danielle's birthday, rang her and the girls. All are fine and doing well. We went to Gove townsite, the locals pick people up of the side of the road and will take you to town so we hitched a lift in. Town a typical mining town very clean and had woolworth's and a variety of serviced and shops. I got a few supplies. We called into the likbrary and they had second hand book so of course I collected a few (Paul carried them and they were heavy-more ballast for the boat). We met other yachties in town and it was a real social time. Mary Eliza got a liquor permit (free) as one cannot purchase liquor with out one here.

Got a lift back to the Yacht club and had happy hour up at the Club and dinner (a gigantic hamburger-what a treat a change from boat food). Lots of indigenous people here. Must have permit to enter thier land.

10 June 2008 - 12 June 2008
Seisia QLD to Gove Northern Territory -Gulf of Carpentaria 354.4 nm 56 hours and 45 minutes (3 days and two nights)
Pulling anchor we left Seisia in darkenss at 5.30am (no moon) following our track we left and headed to Gove. We put up main sail, mizzen and asymetric after we passed over the shoals just out of Seisia/ The first night it blew up to 30+ knots and the seas were up to 4 metres making it a bit uncomfortable and us feeling very green around the gills. Charmar had given us a motion sickness bracelet that gave accupressure electronically and we share that on watch and that held off the worse of it. The pulley on the Aysmetric broke with a huge bang (waking me up) thank goodness we were able to get it down at night and it did not go in the water (oh I do not want to think about senario at all!). We did shifts three hours on and three off, which took a bit of getting use to but by the end of the trip it was routine and we were handling it fine. Also on the second day the auto pilot went bung and did not work (on my shift of course) so Paul was woken up and I hand steered while he had his head in the engine room soldering wires and fixing the problem (a connection had got hot and the ends had fused together). Poor man he was so ill for quite a while after having to work in three metre swells. Makes one very thankful for all the work the auto pilot does-it would have been hard work hand steering all the way. Things happen in three-as they always do- and the C-Maps maps disappeared, of course marvellous Paul was able to fix the problem as this is our main method of navigation.

Anchored at 2.30pm in daylight outside the Gove Yacht Club. Had drinks aboard Solan and then dinner with Pelikaan and Solan-Paul making his famous battered fish dinner. We slept very well that night.

9 June 2008 - Around the northern tip of Australia
Escape River to Seisia 40.3 nm 7 hours
We had a marvellous sail, our average speed was 6 knots and our maximum speed was up to 9.3 knots. We left at 9.30 the sun shinning and the river calm, upon nearing the entrance to the bay the wind picked up to a good 25 knots and we turned left heading for Albany Passage. It is between the mainland and Albany Island that we we pass when the tide turns there is a rush of current that carries one through. Tide picked for 12.48 and we arrived on time. Upon arrival and eying off the passage-guess what there was a huge ship south bound coming through at the same time. We passed port to port at the southern end leaving Charmar and us to pass through on our own. We got good speed on our way though and the scenery was lovely, we passed another pearl lease in the passage.

After exiting Albany Passage with no incidence we approached Cape York, the northern most tip of Australia entering a very small narrow entrance we rounded making sure that we missed the rather large rock that is on the northern part of the channel -there were people on the tip and we were so close we could have had a chat with them if we were so inclined. Passing through with no incidence we were suddenly hit with strong bullets of wind and of course touched slightly (but what is new). The wind was so strong we reached 9.`1 knots at one stage. Paul altered course as I was not too excited about the one he chose between sand banks and shallow spots with this wind and we travelled futher out into deeper water. Saw lots of tinnies and aborigines collecting fish and oysters as we travelled.

Passed shallow shoals on the channel into Seisia and found Mary Eliza at anchor here. They are leaving tomorrow for Gove and we will go with them. We had a beer aboard Mary Eliza-sundowner and then took the rubbish ashore and explored the township of Siesia, very small and remote place, lots of red sand. They have a tourist boat that takes people to Thursday Island which we would have loved to do (we were planning to go there by boat but the quarrantine regulations re fresh meat and vegs made it not attractive to do so).

8 June 2008
Shellburne Bay to Escape River 66.5nm 11 hours
Good Sail, mizzen, main and gernoa up speeding along at 6.5 knots average. There is a strong SE 20-30Kt plus and swell 2.5 metres. Entering Escape River we made sure we missed the uncharted rock that Pelikaan hit a couple of days ago. We entered safely but not before we jibbed the main causing the lock on the track to pop off the track. Paul got the main back and locked it in and then we got the main sail down. There are lots of oyster pearl leases here, not marked very well and one had top keep a good eye out. The conditions are windy and overcast with light occassional showers. We get internet and phone here. The river is wide and has huge mangroves on the shore. Dinner aboard Charmar tonight- I will keep a watch out for crocs as we get home at dark time.

7 June 2008
Margaret Bay to Shellburne Bay 10nm 1.30 hours
There is a strong wind warning up to 30 knots. Genoa and mizzen up and motor sailing (to charge the batteries). Doing this small trip will save 10 mile on the one tomorrow to Excape River. Rounding Point Round we bumped into an unmarked shoal hitting ground and thankfully it was a rising tide and Paul got us off. It required lots of sail, wind and motor to get us off. The mizzen ripped (where the stitching had rotten) so once anchored we got the sewing machine out and sewed it up. Took the dingy ashore (me keeping a watchful eye out for crocs) and glued things onto the dingy - (oar storage straps, a d rings to secure it underway).

We had a sundowner on cat next door anchored here and Paul fixed their auto pilot-clever man. Had dinner aboard returning in dingy at night.

5 - 6 June 2008
Bathurst Bay to Margaret Bay 170 nm 29 hours
Left Bathurst Bay after a leisurly breakfast heading to our destination Flinders Island, apon approaching we were getting good winds and decided to continue on and do a long run up the coast (the guide book says it is a long and untinteresting coastline anyway). We pulled the asymetric down over night (as we do not like to have it up at night unless absolutely necessary as one person has to go to the front deck to pull it down and if they go overboard at night-well that is it). So with the main, the mizzen and the genoa we made good speed the winds increased to 30 knots and the seas to 1.5m. It was no moon and pitch black -we were in the shipping lane and only passed three fishing trawlers. We also travelled through the reef, passing very very close and finally anchored at Cape Grenville just before we did Paul caught a large tuna. Anchored we had a long hot shower and invited Hyrsail aboard for fish dinner.

4 June 2008
Lizard Island to Cape Melville, Bathurst Bay 68.5nm 12 hours and 30 minutes
Left early am, pitch black, no moon shinning lights on anchored boats (one boat with no anchor light) and left with good strong winds A symetric and mizzen up (to steady roll from swell). Listened to the Sheila-net on HF radio and called in our position. heard Mary Eliza and Pelikaan who were at Escape River (Pelikaan had hit a rock on the way in).

On route a customes plane buzzed us very low and then called us up on 16 asking our registration number, home port and destination. The shipping lane is very close to the reef here and the reef is so close as we sail.

Rounding Cape Melville we still had the asymetric up and there were huge bullets coming down. The winds were pushing the sail and boat over and rounding us up, the pressure so great it bent the stainless steel railing on the pulpit. Anchored in Bathurst Bay, lovely anchorage with hige grantie boulders (beware of crocs say the guide book) and lots of mangroves. Weather overcast and blowing. It was a long trip but a good one. Paul caught a huge wahoo on the way in.


1 June 2008
Cape Bedford to Lizard Island 33.8nm 7.30 hours
We had a good night sleep-the whole boat to ourselves. Eggs and bacon for breakfast. Wind a bit cold and we put the asynetric up. Did two loads of washing and hung on the rails to dry as we sailed along. Passed Cape Flattery with sand mining and the large ships loading. Paul caught a fish on the way, blood splattered over us and the boat but we soon washed it away. Approaching the beautiful Lizard Island, very impressive and can be seen from miles away. This is the sailing yacht's mecca and we are here!! White sand, crystal clear water, beautiful reefs to explore, stunning.

Huge hills-which Cook climbed to see a way out of the reef-we hope to do that tomorrow. White sand, crystal clear water, we could see the anchor drop on the bottom. There are 8 other boats here. Lizard Island has a very exclusive resort on the island- apparently over $3,000 per night. to think we have anchored here for free. We went to the Lizard Island Research station and had a very interesting tour, it was low tide after the tour and we walked around the island amongst the reef and past the resort back to the boat.

31 May 2008
Cooktown to Cape Bedford 17.3nm 3.30hours
We touched bottom overnight on low tide-thud thud. Awoke early and dropped anki and Dieter off at 6.30 to catch bus (bus drive meant to pick them up at 6.45 but slept in-they got on the bus at 7.30!!) We checked the markets out as they were setting up. Captain Cook's reenactment is being held here on the 6th June bummer will miss it. Pulled anchor at high tide and motored out, there is very little wind so motored to Cape Bedford and anchored. Very sheltered spot with beautiful coloured sand hills. Cape Flattery is next bay and there is silica mining there. Shipping channel close by and we watched large container ships passing by.

30 May 2008
Hope Island to Cooktown 21 nm 4 hours
Good sailm Asymetric up. Entering Cooktown was rough over shallow entry but channel well marked. Tight area to anchor in. Town lovely and very rustic and a lot of history. Wandered around and check out the museum. Anki and Dieter's last night as they are catching bus home tomorrow morning.

29 May 2008
Port Douglas to Hope Island 44.7nm 8 hours
Anki and Dieter aboard we pulled anchor and headed out. Light winds but we put the Asymetric up. Arriving at Hope Island after 8 hours in the afternoon. There are a few bombies but easy to spot. Beautiful island, very small with white sand and tropical rainforest. Wind strong now 25 knots and gusting. Anchor holding well. There are two moorings but there are 5 other boats here in this little bay


28 May 2008

Cairns-Trinity Inlet to Port Douglas 34 nm 5 hours


David Henderson and Rob came aboard after Paul checked the Post Office for mail for the last time and we pulled anchor and headed out from Cairns and off to Port Douglas. We motor sailed in the morning as there were light winds, passing a large P&O Cruise liner "Pacific Princess" anchored off Yorkie's Knob. Then on the winds increased to 20-25 knots and we sailed with the asymetric up. Good sail, I felt a bit seasick and had a sleep after lunch leaving the boys to do the sailing.



We pulled into Port Douglas, a delightful little anchorage with buildings lining the river, anchoring in the river way up past the settlement . It was a tight fit with a narrow river, mangroves either side and boats filling the river, but Paul did it. Anchored we had a glass of wine to celebrate our arrival before heading off to the Port Douglas Yacht Club to drop Dave and Rob off and pick up Anki and Dieter.