Seems Like The Loveliest Marina in the World

After having a quick look around Middle Percy, we took off, heading towards a military exercise in Shoalwater. Luckily the bays were still open in the Military Training Area and we made our way towards Island Head Creek. We made good progress in light ENE winds and half way through the morning decided we would go further down the coast and anchor up at Pearl Bay. It turned out to be a lovely choice, wedged between an island and a bay. Alan Lucas’ bible describes it as one of the prettiest anchorages along the Queensland coast and it certainly lived up to its description.

We anchored with two other yachts and had an interesting afternoon and early morning watching fish jump all around us.

Next morning it was up early again and off to Rosslyn Bay. Again a lovely sail with lots of fish jumping around the boat. The scenery just kept getting better with the KeppelIslands appearing on one side and the mainland mountains on the other. The marina itself is set against a beautiful volcanic plug (very Cape Town-ish). After we negotiated our way past a dredge doing its stuff in the marina entrance, we quickly found our berth and tied up. The marina staff here were so helpful – there’s even a courtesy car you can borrow for a couple of hours.

That night, we had a lovely dinner sitting outside at the Restuarant at the marina to celebrate the two of us making it all the way from Cairns to Rosslyn Bay – we are definitely a cruising couple now!!!

Next day, Kim and Jane flew in and after a shop and a fuel stop it was off to Great Keppel Island.

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Up and down Aspley Strait in the Tiwi Islands

As we couldn’t make the Tiwi Islands in a single day, we thought we’d check out Bare Sandy Island as it was sort of on the way. As we had time up our sleeves, we thought we’d circumnavigate Fish Reef with our lures out and at the ready, as Pete now really needed to catch a fish and the name was a bit of a give a way.

Well it didnt turn out to be Fish Reef forvus, more like no fish reef, like everywhere else in the NT so far.

We had downloaded Dennis Ford’s cruising tips for Bare Island from the Darwin Sailing Club’s website and this gave some waypoints to the anchorage. What it failed to say was that you need to go in at high tide (or at least with 3-4m of tide) to get over the sand bars. Once over these there is sufficient water at low water to anchor up before getting out at high tide again. Given we got there pretty well on low tide we just dropped anchor before we hit the sand banks and dingied in.

Bare Island is know as both a disused RAAF bombing range and as a large turtle hatchery – work that one out – I thought they would sort of be mutually exclusive. The warning signs signified the first and heaps of turtle tracks and covered in holes signified the second.

After a bit of an explore we headed back to the boat and Pete had fun with a shark that took his bait on the light line twice. The sharp teeth meant Pete’s fun was short lived.

Up early for another stunning sunrise over Bare Island, we set off with the tide towards Aspley Strait. No wind and as flat as. We passed over many sand waves as even out in the middle of the ocean, out of sight of land, the tidal currents still manage to shift sand all over the place.

Aspley Strait separates Bathurst island from Melvile Island, and together they make up the Tiwi Islands. Melville is Australia’s second biggest island after Tasmania so it’s a little bit big.

We made the shallow entrance to Aspley Strait at about 3pm and then made our way up the strait for about an hour or so until we found a suitable place to anchor out of the current.

Next morning we still hadn’t heard about our permits. We had been ringing every day determined to get our permits – they don’t call me stubborn for nothing.

There was evidently a big funeral going on and it was hard to get hold of anyone. So we decided to push on past Nguiu and visit the community at Pirlangimpi towards the northern end of the strait. With 2-3kts of current pushing us along we made good time. About an hour past Nguiui I got a phone call to say our permits had been approved and we should call into Tiwi Designs at Nguiui to have a look at some arts and crafts. Bummer. Never mind. We tried to ring Tiwi Designs but no answer so we decided to push onto Munipi Arts and Crafts at Pirlangimpi. It was about this time that our mobile phone access died so I didn’t get a chance to ring for a few hours.

When I did get through, they said they were in the middle of a changeover to new caretakers and couldn’t see us. The only other option was to go 25nm round to Snake Bay, but that wasn’t going to happen with our timeframes, so we gave up on circumnavigating Bathurst and turned around, back down the channel to Nguiu. In a way it was a good time to head back, as the tide had changed and we got the current with us.

As we got closer to Nguiui the current picked up to 4kts and we stared to think about where we could anchor out of it. In the end we pulled over to the side of the channel (after we’d gone through the bit on the chart that said unsurveyed) where the current was marginally less (2kts). We were treated to an unbelievable sunset as we dropped the anchor in 8m of water. In the end we’d done over 35nm to end up 2nm from our previous nights anchorage, but the promise of visiting Nguiu made it worth while.

Next morning we had a leisurely morning and headed into town at 9.30am. We had a bit of a walk around until someone pointed us in the direction of Tiwi Designs. We ended up spending an hour and a half there talking to the managers and the local artists. We met the artist who painting was given to Obama and several others who were hung in the National Gallery in Canberra. We ate some delicious damper and jam with them and just ended up hanging out with them. There was a bit of excitement as some animal – possibly either a possum or king brown had knocked over a whole heap of carvings on the floor of the office and nobody was game to investigate too closely.

We ended up both buying a piece of art – how could you not after the hospitality they showed us. Pete got his photo taken with the artist of his piece, I met the Jock who painted mine but he was absorbed with a piece of pottery he was working on so I left him be.

After a quick trip to the supermarket for ice creams and mochas, we headed for the museum, which was another little gem. It covered a lot about the missionaries and the second world war as well as some historical art and life on the islands.

Back on the boat, we had a lazy afternoon ahead of a sail back to Darwin to pick up Cas on Sunday. Yippeee!!!

What a lovely day with the people of the Tiwi islands – such a friendly mob.

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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.

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.

Yardey Creek

After getting to Yardey Creek (or Boat Harbour to be more precise – about 2nm south of Yardey Creek), it was time to hop in the dingy for a rather long ride to Yardey Creek proper. We pulled the dingy up the closed river mouth and headed for the walk up the top of the gorge. It said 2 hours return, but like all these signs it took much, much less than this.

Having finished the walk, we were still unsure how or when to get the DEC boat trip up the gorge. There’s a camp ground at Yardey Creek so off I went to talk to some campers. They pointed us off towards the campground caretaker, who had us booked on for the next day in no time at all. We had the choice of an 11am or a 12.30pm trip (they last about an hour) for $25 a head. For all you guys following in our boat steps you need to note that they only run Tuesday to Saturday (no Sunday or Monday trips).

Then it was back to Camelot. As this was the last time we’d see Smiley until maybe Darwin we had them over for drinks (NO RUM) and dinner. They also brought over Sundancer of Bunbury’s cruising notes which I copied – thanks guys. We ate a lovely meal of squid and mackerel but there was no dancing of any sort to report.

Next morning it was up early for the walk into town. We pulled up our dingy at the nearest beach and walked over a few dunes to find the Yardey-Ningaloo 4WD track. On the way we saw some kangaroos and emus. We made it to Yardey Creek at 10.30am so it was a fair sort of walk.

The boat trip was both spectacular and informative. The gorge itself is only 1.5km long and is the only permanent creek in Cape Range National Park. The wildlife was a highlight, especially the rare black footed wallaby, which are only found in 4 places in Australia – mandu-mandu gorge (further up the Cape), Barrow Island (near the Monty’s), some islands off Esperance and Yardey Creek. They live on the sides of the gorge, high up in the crevesses and come out at night, climbing to the top of the gorge to feed. They are really cute with their really long bushy tail and their black and white faces.

Peter, the guy that took us on the tour was realy helpful. He suggested we were parked in a really good fishing spot and told us exactly how to catch the spangled emporers that were there. So off we trotted one and a half hours back to the boat and out came the fishing line. True to his word, we’d soon hauled in 4 emporers and a couple of squid. The back of Camelot was starting to look like the back of Indigo – a bit of a factory boat.

After cleaning up, on the BBQ went one of the smaller fish, which tasted beautiful. Dishes done we were absolutely nackered and we all slept soundly – ready to head south towards Coral Bay in the morning where we would pick up gorgeous Cas in a couple of days time.

Time for a New Prop

Thursday 2nd May

We decided 9am was a good time to leave for Carnarvon and we hit it pretty well spot on.

We rang Bruce the boat lifter and the mechanic and all was in readiness to lift out Camelot and put the new prop on.

We motor sailed our way there and made our way through the narrow channel to the Fishing Boat Harbour arriving at Bruce’s just after 2pm. The lifter was a bit different to what I’m used to at Kailis’es. It was basically a very large trailer called a jincker (not even sure how to spell it) pulled out by a front end loader. We drove Camelot between the four uprights, made some adjustments to make sure she was snug, tied her down and then Bruce slowly pulled her out as she rested on her keels on the bottom of the tailer. We all sat on Camelot as out she came – a little nerve racking but in the end Bruce was very good and knew exactly what he was doing so all was good.

We then had to wait for the mechanic – not to worry. Bruce’s establishment was a Boat Lifter and Seafood shop. So as well as paying for a boat lift we also got some fresh prawns for dinner (Do you want chips with that boat lift sir???)

The mechanic came and his first question was “How does the prop come off?” Then he wanted to take the new prop back to his workshop for a couple of hours to work it all out. Turns out he was an outboard engine mechanic who had never touched a sail drive before (Yanmar don’t have a service agent in Carnarvon). So we gave him his marching orders and Michael and I set about taking off the old one and putting on the new one. Bruce got in there as well and gave us a helping hand – what a champion guy he turned out to be. We hit a few snags and I got on the phone to Mike, Allan and Brad – which got us through each of our issues and alerted us to a few things – the most important being there should have been a locking bolt on the end of the shaft to keep the nut that holds the whole prop on from coming loose. There was NO bolt there at all!!!! It was now 5pm and we needed a bolt. A rang the local chanderly (the one that supplied the mechanic) and Bruce lent me his car to drive down and get one (just in the knick of time). It fitted and we were done. It was 6pm by now and the sun was setting as we put Camelot back in the water.

Bruce had strongly suggested that we don’t try and navigate The Facine so late in the day so we took his advice and his offer to raft up next to his fishing boat for the night. Don’t you love being in the country. People are so willing to lend a hand and help you out.