Kate Caught a Fish

Newsflash!!!!!!!!!

Kate caught a fish.

After trying for a few days without luck, Kate caught a fish. quite a big one too. But unfortunately a Ramora, otherwise known as a sucker fish.

Now I’ve never seen this before, but as Kate grabbed it, the fish decided that Kate, being the Vet that she was, deserved to be shat on. So shat on she was.

Needless to say the fish went back into the ocean and Kate went off to find the Nappysan.

 

Fish 1, Kate 0.

Serrurier Island

Sojourn – living up to their name!

After hanging around Exmouth for a bit longer than we wanted, and reading numerous weather reports, we decided Monday was the day we were going to sea. Even if the wind was coming from exactly the same direction we wanted to go!

We got away at 7.30am and headed out of the protected marina and through the channel. The seas were very messy and Janey from Sojourn told us they could see us going over the waves and then just disappearing into a hole behind them. On board, we found that the waves, although small (1-2M) were really close together with an interval of no more than 5s (as opposed to 15s when we are in deep water) and we just kept dropping off them as they appeared to have no back to them.

The gulf is quite shallow and there is a lot of water flowing in and out with the tides and hence a lot of current. This, along with the wind coming from exactly the wrong direction made the going slow and it took us a full day to get to Serrurier. We pulled in just before sunset to join a tug, a dredge and two other cats – Sam and Sasha. Sasha quite kindly got on the VHF and told us where best to anchor. Unfortunately they both left the next day before we had a chance to say hello.

Cray Hunting

Who Took This???

The trip to Serrurier turned out to be the roughest of our journey north so far and both trampolines were looking a bit worse for wear. In Exmouth, I’d got our the needle and thread – a nifty device Brad and Bec gave us years ago – and stitched up the tramps and replaced the lines that attached it, only to see the trip across to Serrurier completely rip the tramp to threads making my stitching job a complete waste of time. One new set of tramps on order from Barracudda Sails, to be delivered to Broome.

After a good night’s sleep where everyone slept really soundly – amazing how a rough trip can take it out of you even though you end up doing not much at all – Michael, Elaine, Anthony and Kate decided a walk was in order and proceeded to do Burke and Wills proud by walking around the top end of the island. I on the other hand, had some stuff to do on the boat, so I paddled over to the beach much later and walked around the bottom end of the island – still a good 30 minute walk – and they still weren’t back when I go back from my walk. Kate got herself a nice set of blisters and Elaine went out in support so Michael and Anthony needed to backtrack in the dingy to pick them up. The rest of the day (afternoon) was spent snorkelling around the southern end looking for those elusive crays – Crays 1, Camelot 0.

Next day the wind had dropped right off and it was one of those magical days. Out came the stand up board and I showed Anthony how easy it was; and then Anthony showed me how difficult it was. In fairness to Anthony (did I just write that!), he could have done with a slightly bigger board.

Then more snorkelling and cray stalking. This time Anthony decided to mine for crays. I found his shifting boulders and rocks, one after the other, as he pursued one particular cray. Crays 2, Camelot 0. But the snorkelling was good – the water was nice and clear and the fish life plentiful. As Michael, Anthony and I all snorkelled, Kate and Elaine took to the beach for some sketching and photography.

Sojourn, having waited for decent weather, rocked up in early afternoon after a 5 hour motor (as opposed to our 10 hour tack-a-thon) and we shared a cup of coffee and bid our farewells as we left for an overnight sail at 5pm to the Montebello’s.

Holed Up In Exmouth

After 10 days back in Perth, celebrating Alex’s 21st and catching up with Cas, Family and Friends, its time to get our skates on and start making some miles North. Unfortunately the weather gods don’t quite see it this way and have decided that we are not going anywhere for the time being.

Exmouth Marina Entrance

Instead Michael, Elaine, Anthony, Kate and I are sitting in Exmouth Marina watching the wind blow up to 32 knots from the NE, exactly the way we wish to go. And being the gulf its nice and shallow with waves coming really close together.

Which means I have lots of time to catch up on my blog writing.

Since I last put finger to keyboard, we rode out the storm at Yardie Creek and headed off the next day to Tantabiddi, a full days sail up the coast. The wind was from the SW so we did really well. The order had gone out from Elaine – no more mackerel – want some sashimi producing Tuna instead. Michael obliged with a change of lure and two stripey tunas were soon landed.

We made it to Tandabiddi and in through the leads at 4pm and found a spot to anchor. The holding wasn’t great – a teflon bottom made it difficult but lots of chain and the anchor managed to jag around a small piece of coral – good enough for the light winds that night but next day we moved onto a mooring that a local had pointed us to.

Next day we went out to the reef and had a nice snorkel with turtles and lots of fish. Then it was time to pack up and head into Exmouth. It’s a bit of a problem catching any sort of transport from Tandabiddi to Exmouth – a taxi costs $80 and Exmouth bus service doesn’t come out that far. So in the end I got a lift into Exmouth with a young couple who had taken their boat out whale spotting from the boat ramp. I stayed the night at the Potshot Inn and next morning I caught the shuttle bus out to the airport.

Perth was busy catching up with everyone and getting some back in the city stuff done.

In no time at all it was back on Qantas and back to Exmouth. In the meantime Michael and Elaine had sailed around the Cape and into the marina – being hammered in the gulf with three reefs in as they sailed down the shallow gulf.

So here we sit in the marina which is a long walk out of town, next to Sojourn, a Mahe Cat with Kevin and Janey on board. We had them over for a mackerel dinner and discussed when we thought the weather would die down long enough to go the 37nm to Long Island. We are aiming for tomorrow (Monday) but may need to wait until Tuesday when the wind starts to die. The rest of the week is looking particularly pleasant so we just need to be patient. Icecube, a very sleek looking Schionning is a permanent resident at the marina and we are going over there tonight for a drink. At least life is very social as we wait for the right weather to leave!

Back at Yardie Creek

Friday

After spending the night at Maud’s Landing after a days snorkelling and beach walking, Michael, Elaine, Kerry (Elaine’s sister) and I  set off just before sunrise to make the long trek to Yardie Creek (bypassing Norwegian Bay). We wanted to both get there before the weather turned as well as making sure we were there for Saturday’s Boat Trip up the gorge (as it doesn’t run Sunday or Monday).

We got there in time for a nice sunset and anchored back in the same spot.

Saturday

Next day we hooked up the paddle board to the back of the dingy and headed into Yardie Creek. The anchorage is a fair way south so we needed a 30 minute dingy ride to get there. We made it just in time for Elaine and Kerry to hop on the 11am DEC boat trip up the gorge. Meanwhile Michael hopped on the paddle board and did his on private tour up the gorge, whilst I went for a walk along the top of the gorge. Half an hour later I swapped with Michael and paddled up to the end of the gorge and back.

Our timing was pretty good as I got back just after the girls had finished their boat tour. At this stage the wind had swung North and was strengthening. So back to Camelot we went. The Seas had picked up by the time we got there and timing was required to get back on board as the back steps of Camelot were swinging up and down quite a bit in the swell.

On board, we let up more anchor chair until we had about 90m out and got the spare anchor ready to deploy just in case as there was a gale warning out. We set up a anchor watch schedule taking it in turns to wake up every hour and check all was well. The wind through the night was 20-25 knots so it wasn’t too bad until about 7am when it got up the 35kts, touching 40kts at one stage. This made it the strongest winds I had ever anchored in and its reassuring to know that Camelot handled it well. We swung right around we went from NE winds through to SW and we built a semi circle of way points (making sure we didn’t drag).

Well now its Sunday and the winds are starting to drop and the seas are starting to flatten out. Should be all good for a sail up to Tantabiddi, where I get off for 10 days to return to Perth.

Leaving Coral Bay

After a couple of beautiful weeks with Cas at Coral Bay, its time to start heading North again.

Cas and I had a wonderful time in Coral Bay, spending half our time at Monck’s Head and the other half at Stanley Pool.

We filled our time with a quad bike sunset tour (so much fun), a glass bottom boat tour, sunbaking and swimming at the beach, swimming off the back of the boat in crystal clear water and snorkelling (yes- Cas went for a snorkel!!!)

Not that you actually need to snorkel here. There a long windy channel into Monck Head from the North Passage (with an interesting twisty start at the northern end- beware!). We came back from Stanley Pool at low tide and you could just lean over the side of Camelot and see the fish (and the bommy heads that were quite close). Then when you get to Monck’s Head you can get acquainted with Merv, a huge (and I mean huge) groper who hangs around the boat ramp and dingy dock. Merv is so big that he’s now turned into a girl – Mervette – gropers evidently go from boys to girls when they get to a certain size.

Whilst in Coral Bay, Cas and I celebrated our first year together as a couple (we’ve known each other as friends for years) with a visit to Fin’s Cafe, which was brilliant. It’s a bit of a chameleon , Fin’s – as it’s a pretty casual non-descript coffee shop during the day , and then turns into an exquisitely romantic restuarant at night with a real Mediterranean feel.  Given that the chef is from Louisiana,  we had a Cajun Seafood Gumbo, which was really tasty; along with soft shelled crabs, the obligatory (!) oysters, homemade Gnocchi, and then finished it all off with a couple of Aussie faithfuls – apple pie and sticky date pudding with homemade butterscotch sauce. I was under the impression that with all this food in our stomaches we would waddle back slowly to the boat, but Cas, with images that would do the Wolf Creek film justice, made it a real dash along the moonlit track that leads back to Monck Head.

Stanley Pool was also fun – we had the place pretty well to ourselves – bar a couple of small tinnies that tranvelled out past us to the reef from a fishing camp on the beach. Cas had it in her head that Stanley Pool would be nessled up near a shore somewhere – but it’s really about a mile or two off the shore. She was a little surprised when I said “We’re here!”.  “What do you mean we are here??? – we are still in the middle of the ocean!!!”. Stanley’s Pool is about 15m deep, surrounded by shallow sand and we anchored off to the side in about 2-3m of water – which is just as  well as I had to once again retrieve Cas’ sunnies after she got buzzed by a wasp. Snorkelling around the back of the boat, there were absolutely no fish – excepting the starfish. But out in the pool we were treated to a real nature show – Minky Whales jumping through the air, lots of turtles, dolphins and regular visits from groups of Manta Rays that drifted past.

We put out 50m of anchor chain just to be sure – and we managed to swing through 270 degrees just about every night as the wind changed direction. We had some truly beautiful nights and days with the moon shining through the water at night right down to the sandy bottom below.

For photos from our time at Coral Bay see https://plus.google.com/photos/102682012477798724273/albums/5749707541824295345