Cape Leveque

We left Broome just after 10am and decided to sail overnight so we could make up time and still get to Cape Leveque the next morning. It was a great sail up – except for the lack of wind – with a gentle SE turning into an even gentler SW. We tried to put the spinnaker up but that lasted all of 5 minutes as the wind dropped away to nothing – so it was back to motor sailing. At least the batteries got a charge, the engine heated the hot water and we made a lot of fresh water with the desal.

We were treated to more whales – sometimes less than 100m away as they cruised up the coast at the same time.


It was a big Spanish Mack and we decided we had enough fish to call it a day and Dale started to bring the other line in.  Much to his surprise there was another fish on it – I tried to tell him it was a Ramora – but he didn’t buy that. It was a small Mack – just the right size for the BBQ.

After a Mackerel feast, it was time to settle into the night watches. I did the first then we teamed up Dale with Michael and Karen with Elaine – they will get to a watch together by themselves later on. It was a perfect night for your first ever night watch and everyone really enjoyed it. We each got to see quite a few shooting stars.

We got to Cape Leveque at about 11.30am, pushed along by a strong current, which is a quid pro quo for the times we were barely doing 4kts battling the tides.

Cape Leveque is very picturesque and hopefully the photos do it justice. After lunch we hopped in the dingy and headed for shore. Its safe to swim and the beach is beautiful so we all (well, nearly all) jumped in to cool off. Then we had a wander around the beachside campground and headed up the path, past the lighthouse to the main campground. We were all blown away by how extensive it was and how well run it seemed to be. The restaurant overlooked the west and had a great view. We wandered down to the beach with its iconic red cliffs and clicked off some more photos and video.

Then back for another swim and back to the boat for a few beers before dinner – ready for an early morning start across to Silica Beach on Hidden Island and then into Crocodile Creek at high tide.

That’s it for the blog for a while. I don’t think we’ll get any more phone reception until we get to Darwin. I have the sat phone, which people can email short messages (160 chars) for free if they need to contact us.




Crew Required – the Top of Australia Beckons!

Hi Everyone.

Looking for a couple of crew to do the Darwin to Cairns leg. We leave Darwin on 18th August and get to Thursday Island (off Cape York) around 1st September (give or take depending on the weather). Theres an option to get on or off here if you can only spare a couple of weeks. Then we travel south down the Great Barrier Reef to Lizard Island. Plan to get to Lizard on 17th September or thereabouts – largely depends on the weather – we will wait out bad weather and wait around for suitable weather windows.

I’m heading into an internet free zone for a couple of weeks – so if you don’t hear from me then get back to Cas as she will be coordinating things whilst I am out of range.

Broome – Pearl of the Kimberley

Cable Beach from the boat

Cable Beach

Broome Jetty

Its was a nice sail from Eighty Mile Beach to Broome. It started off slow under motor, but it picked up as the wind strengthened and moved to the SE. My first watch was dark (as usual) and I was standing outside looking at the Raymarine when a whale scared the s**t out of me. Didn’t see the whale – just heard it blow and it sounded close. Got the heart rate pumping.

My second watch was equally exciting. The wind had picked up and we were scooting along at 8-9 knots under full sail. Had to get Michael up and put a couple of reefs in. We were going outside the 30m contour to avoid the fishing nets and pearl farms. The fishing boats droop off floating nets up here and attach bouys – one or two of which are typically lit – the others are not – and we successfully avoided a few of these. This left us a bit offshore as we drew level with Broome as the sun came up and it took us a couple of hours and a couple of tacks to make our way into Broome, where we picked a spot to anchor amongst the moorings at Gantheaume Point.

Gantheaume Point is down the southern end of Cable Beach, about a 5km walk (1 hour) from the Surf Club at Cable Beach, where all the hotels are.

It was good to know someone in Broome, and Chaimaine and Frank (and Teale) who are very old friends of Cas, have been looking after us well. Frank took us into town so we could get a hire car (more about this later). Broome is a somewhat difficult place for a cruising yachtie. Gantheaume Point is a long way out-of-town, you quite often get wet coming in and out in the dingy and you need to drag the dingy a long way up the beach to get away from the tides that have been around 7.5m whilst we were here. But having said that, the beach is magnificient.

Cable Beach

Our first few days in Broome were hectic. We had a good wander around Chinatown on Friday night and went to the movies to see “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” at Sun Pictures – an old time outdoor cinema with the odd plane flying low overhead. This is definitely a must do experience in Broome.

Saturday was race day and after buying a hat we headed off in the afternoon (interrupting a Dockers game at Divers Tavern no less)! Blokes got in free – ladies had to pay $10 to get in. Now there’s a twist on what usually happens. Picked a few winners so I came away happy. Then it was off to the 25th Anniversary Dinner for the Cable Beach Surf Club. Between the Races and the Surf Club I think we saw most of the local population of Broome all in the one day.

Sunday, we did the 5km walk along the beach to the Surf Carnival that was happening on Cable Beach. Then the 5km back. The next few days was spend provisioning, dinner with Chaimaine, Frank and Teale and a bit of stand up paddle boarding. Which brings us to Wednesday night…..

Happy Visitors

Wednesday was spent looking round Broome, a haircut and then some provisioning – gas, diesel etc. Left the rental car on the beach beyond the high water mark and went back to the boat about 4pm. Broome is a lovely place to wander around – old China town with a million and one pearl shops – all the big names are there together with some smaller boutique shops. A couple of interesting photography studios were also worth a look as was Matso‘s Brewery (where we had lunch and a ginger beer earlier in the week)

Then about 9.45pm got a call from Avis saying the car was in the water and there was a tow truck driver down there pulling it out. Wow. The girl from Avis seemed more intent on telling me all about a breach of contract rather than letting me go and sort it out. Michael and I jumped in the dingy and headed for shore. It was right on high tide when we heard the car alarm come on as someone smashed the back window. Would have been good if Avis had rung me before starting to smash the window. Got onto the beach and the car had been pulled up 50m and everyone had left. The car looked fine – except for the back window that had been smashed – and eventually the tow truck driver returned with instructions from Avis to tow the car back to Broome. This seemed a bit silly as the car was fine – the tow truck driver actually asked me to drive the car off the beach and up to the race club car park. So no more hire car for the last few days. Michael dropped me off half way up the beach next day and I walked 45 minutes jumping vertically about a metre out of the water straight in front of us.

Saturday was the day Cas, Dale and Karen rolled up. Cas and I only two days together before we left for the Kimberley’s. We spent it well at the Pinctada Resort in Broome on Saturday night before going back to Chaimaine’s for the afternoon and the out to the boat to spend Sunday night together on Camelot, before the rest of us headed off to Darwin.

Now we are heading north, in very little wind, heading for Cape Leveque, where we should arrive at about 10am tomorrow morning.

Kimberley’s Planning

After spending a bit of time putting in most of the waypoints for our Kimberley’s leg, here is what I’ve come up with…..

1) Leave Broome early on 23rd July
2) Get to Cape Leveque (120nm away) on 24th
3) Visit Silica beach on Hidden Island and spend the night at Coppermine creek on 25th (42nm)
4) Go around to Crocodile Creek and then go to Squatters Arms to see Phil and Marion. Anchor at Silver Gull Creek on 26th (15nm in total)
5) Pick up fuel at dog leg creek and visit horizontal falls and stay the night (32nm) on 27th
6) go thru horizontal falls with tour boat and then head to raft point for night of 28th (53nm)
7) contingency day – 29th
8) visit cave painting and then go out to montgomery reef and then stay the night at deception bay (lots of whales) on 30th (36nm)
9) careening bay on 31st (58nm) – will need an early start and need to work tides.
10) see mermaid tree in morning then head for shelter bay on prudoe islands on 1st (54nm)
11) freshwater creek on 2nd (78nm) – may need an overnighter here – we did one going the other way in 2008.
12) Explore freshwater creek at high tide, then explore jar island (40,000 year old rock art) and then anchor of mainland and explore DC3 wreck (??nm)
13) head for kalumburu (??nm) on 4th – buy more fuel and meet Allan (hopefully).
14) go across to mouth of King George River and anchor outside on 5th.
15) spend 6th up river near 80m water falls
16) head 228nm to Darwin – 48hour trip – get there on the 8/9th August.

A lot of this itinerary is very dependent on the tides – need to study these as we go along.

We will have mobile coverage until Cape Levique and will have it as we pass Koolan Island on the 27th. May have it either side of this but can’t be sure. May possibly get it at kalumburu Will have satellite phone on at all other times as we won’t get it again until Darwin.

What an excellent adventure!

Eighty miles of Beach

After another pleasant sail – I keep using that word – but what I should really be saying is “a pleasant motor with the sails up”. We had whales in the distance all the way up to sunset, but so far just the one close encounter.

Once again the moon made a late appearance – 11pm this time – so I had a really stary night for my 7-10pm watch. I got up again at 4am and there was the moon, along with a very bright Venus and Jupiter. I watched the sun come up over the calm sea as the wind dropped below a couple of knots.

We’d been travelling a bit away from the coast, following the advice of the FSC Cruising Guide, that suggested sticking to the 35-40m depth contours to avoid the pearling and fishing leases. We considered using Sundancer of Bunbury’s waypoints that we got via Smiley, but didn’t like the idea of going over all that shallow water at night, so we gave these a miss on our way to Eighty Mile beach.

Eighty miles of beach – and you can’t get to any of it by boat!

But boy did we try. First attempt saw us park nearly 3nm off the beach in 6m of water at high tide – not close enough and besides the anchor was dragging. Second attempt was to head north to part of a beach that said “”Landing” on the chart. But time was not on our side so we dropped anchor 5nm away as it began to get dark. After waying up to a thick fog, we had a leisurely morning and then made our third attempt by motoring the 5nm and then seeing how close to the beach we actually could get. And the answer was:- 1.5nm from the beach on a rising tide – we stopped and anchored when we got down to just 2m of water, as the engines started to kick up the mud from the bottom. But 1.5nm was do-able in the dingy; we just needed to wait until the tide came in so we could get across the mud flats and onto the beach. We had lunch and then waited until we had over 3m of water and off we set in the dingy.

All the way in we couldn’t see the bottom – it had the consistency of Fijian kava – that grey muddy look. About 150m from the shore, the waves started to break and we started to surf our way in. This was a touch disconcerting, so far from shore and with no idea how deep it was. So once more we handed discretion a win over valour, and turned around (getting really wet in the process) and headed back to Camelot. Time to make a move To Broome – 100nm away with lots more whales to see (already spotted a couple of pods). We will have a week there to explore, whilst we wait for Cas, Dale and Kaz to join us.



Barb and Jake’s Port Hedland Grand Tour

We are up to day 100 of our excellent adventure, with 175 left until we get to Sydney.

We are sailing out of Port Hedland en route to Broome via Eighty Mile Beach. Sailing may be too strong a word to use – a lack of wind being the problem. So here we are motoring across a mill pond, sometimes referred to as the might Indian Ocean.

Port Hedland turned out to be really interesting. We got a real inside view of what a mining town is thanks to barb and young Jake’s grand tour and then catching up over a beautiful home cooked curry at Barb and Grant’s place. Another friend of michael’s – mick – turned up later and proved very entertaining. barb, Grant and Mick are all electricians working for Transfield and Downer EDI.

Our tour took in the beach, two shopping centres, the main street of port Hedland, the visitor’s centre, South Hedland, the port operations at both Nelson’s Point and Finucane Island, the boat ramp and Dampier Salt’s operations as well as driving past Jake’s school (Jake is 7) and the hospital.

The trip up from Dampier was one of our best. Gentle breezes and flat seas. We left via Flying Foam passage and managed to get up to 7.5 knots as we got the current right and got a nice boost. The scenery through this narrow channel was quite spectacular as we passed fish farms and islands of iron ore.

Everyone enjoyed their night watch. My first watch was to 10pm and the moon didn’t make an appearance until my watch had just ended. So I got a spectacular display of stars – millions and millions of them brought out by the dark night.

My morning shift -4am to 7am – saw a brilliant sun rise to 31 ships hanging off the top end of the channel into Port Hedland. The AIS was lit up with a sea of triangles. Each ship takes about 34 hours to be loaded and they need to come out on the high tides (now running at 6-7m as we get further north). There are no pilot boats here (sorry Adrian!) – all the pilots fly out to the boats by helicopter – time is of the essence. Besides all the BHP berths, FMG have a couple and the Port Authority run a couple for the likes of Atlas iron, who truck all their iron ore in.

To get into port hedland by the channel, you actually have to call up on the VHF and get authority – and a slot. Then when you get in they want to know your name, rank and serial number. Then you get a call from customs wanting to know where you came from and where you are going. And then the tower keeps tabs on you whilst you are there.

We parked Camelot in front of the yacht club (which wasn’t open on a Monday) and then had to pull the dingy right up the beach as it was low tide. Luckily the beach was Harding and the really useless wheels I had bought were actually a little bit useful.

After a good nights sleep, we were up at 6.30am to catch the tide out and beat the rush. Then we pointed the boat NE and started knocking off the 280nm to Broome.