Saturday 28 June

Breeze was in at 0200 but Lea wasn't interested in moving out of bed. Finally got away at 0700 with not much wind so we Motorsailed the 15 NM to Zoe Bay. Hinchenbrook Island and the Lucinda Bulk Sugar Terminal rose out of the morning mist.

At least the batteries were fully charged when we arrived. Zoe Bay is regarded as one of the prettiest places around and it also gives you access to prime parts of one of the best walking trails in Australia, The Thorsborne Trail. We were excited to have a perfect weather window for the next 2 days to explore this area.

We arrived as the mist cleared apart from the stubborn bit of cloud sitting right over the jagged peak of Mt Bowen.

Once anchored we were soon ashore, parking the dinghy up South Creek in the hope of easily getting it back to the water at low tide. We have to remember we are in crocodile country now and keep a good look out.

Boots on and we began our ascent of Zoe Creek. Quite steep in parts but someone thoughtfully left a rope.

The view was well worth the climb. North back to Zoe Bay.

South up toward Mt Diamantina

Nice bath to enjoy after the walk. We pressed on up the track for another hour then decided to head back and have that bath.

We then headed down to the base of the falls.

Too good not to go for another swim.

With friends

To cap it off Mt Bowen took its cap off as we returned to the boat.

The wind had picked up from the East so we made our way out of Zoe Bay, around Agnes Island and into Banksia Bay, our anchorage for the next 2 nights.

Spent an hour planning our itinerary timetable to reach Darwin then celebrated a great day on the foredeck with a glass of ice cold wine watching the sun go down. Very romantic.

Enjoyed a nice dinner with more wine. Just finished and I went out into the cockpit and noticed a light flashing from a distant beach. I called Lea out and she also agreed it was an SOS signal being flashed at us. We quickly grabbed torches, headlamps and launched the dinghy. Zoomed about 3/4Nm across the bay and pulled the dinghy ashore to be greeted with a group of bush walkers who had helped a pilot ashore after he crashed his light plane into the sea just offshore.

Apparently he had landed on the beach around 1600 hours to check the engine of the plane as it had been running rough. He then took off only to have the engine die just as he began to bank out over the sea. He managed to glide the plane around and back toward the beach before pulling it up into a stall just before impact. The tail hit first then as the wheels hit the plane somersaulted over. Paul ( the pilot) managed to release his seatbelt and pop the canopy open as the plane sank. The bush walkers had been on the beach close by, seen it all happen and rushed into the water to help get Paul ashore. He was one very lucky man!

They had started a fire on the beach, given Paul some dry clothes, sent one of the walking party to climb back up the track to get mobile phone service to call emergency services. Once it was dark they started signalling us. All this was happening 3/4 of a mile from us and we were oblivious until I saw there signall light.

We bought Paul back to GL in the dinghy, gave him some more dry clothes as we had all got soaked getting through the small surf on the beach. Checked him over but all he had was a sore left knee. We got the Satphone up and running and Paul rang home to organise a pickup. His 2 sons got organised very quickly to hitch up their boat, tow it to Lucinda then motor around to us. In the meantime we tried to get Paul to eat something. Shock was a worry but we kept him talking and got a cup of tea into him and he seemed ok.

His boys arrived in very quick time, passing the Coast Guard Boat, that unbeknown to us was coming in response to the emergency call made by the bush walker, along the way.

Paul departed with his boys and headed home, already planning a salvage operation for the next day. We got ready for bed and then we heard a call on the radio asking for the yacht anchored in Little Ramsey Bay. We were in Banksia Bay but that is close by. However, every time the call came through another party was answering so we left it alone. After the third call I decided to respond anyway and it was the Coast Guard with the Police on board looking for the “downed Pilot”. They had been to the beach and talked to the bush walkers who told them Paul was with us. They were quite surprised when we informed them that we had arranged a pick up with the Satphone and that he had already departed. They took all our details and Paul's then left.

I found out from Paul the next day that he had just got home when the Police arrived and an ambulance wasn't far behind. The ambo's insisted on giving Paul the once over but all they found was high blood pressure. Surprise! Surprise! I think anybody's blood pressure would be up after an experience like that.

Finally got to bed after one hell of a big day and night!

Sunday 29th June

Nice calm night with the forecast Southerly not making much of an appearance.

Packed the day packs again and headed into Banksia Bay Beach to pick up another section of the Thorsborne Trail. We soon ran into Peta and Danny the bush walkers who handed Paul over to us on the beach last night. They confirmed that the other walker had made contact with the authorities and that was how and why the Police and Coast Guard had turned up.

Another lovely walk through rainforest, creek gullies, steep climbs, swamps and across small waterways. No way you could do this after heavy rain. After 2 hours we turned around and headed back.

Not a reassuring sign when your walking through a swamp.

Didn't quite get all the way back to Zoe Bay

Back at the boat the salvage was just getting under way so after a quick lunch we went over to watch and help.

As we approached they had pulled the plane back up the right way and begun to tow it ashore

Once in the shallows we had to drag it ashore with manpower.

Fuel was drained out of the tanks

The wings were removed for transport

Then we could commence loading onto the barge
Sad to see a lovely little plane end up in pieces on the beach.

The aircraft mechanic reckons it will fly again but Paul is not so sure.