Thursday August 7

Lovely sleep in till 1000 then up and about going over the boat and doing a load of washing. A few bilges were wet, hardly surprising with the bows under water a lot of the time so a bit of a clean up needed. Replaced the prodder support that broke when we dropped the Screecher onto the deck. Did a Cher impersonation without the mankini. If only we could turn back time!

We moved in closer to the Boat Club, finding a place between all the other moored boats. Many people leave their boats here as there are no rules and regulations. If you want a private mooring you just drop one in. The boats soon look very sad though due to the alternating layers of red bauxite dust and black ash from the bauxite refinery.

Went ashore to Gove Boat Club for afternoon drinks and a big bowl of hot chips. Chatted to Ken a local bar fly and got lots of tips and local info. Seems that everything is beginning to wind down here now that Rio is shutting the refinery. Walked back to the dinghy the long way round and found the more informal Gove Yacht Club and had a brief chat to Kevin and Jen who livaboard their boat Afbica (another fucking boat I can't afford)

Friday August 8

We caught the local public bus into Nhulumbuy. We were the first stop so got to sit up front and chat with the NZ Maori bus driver. The bus went to a couple of Aboriginal Communities close by before heading into town. There were a lot of people sitting out in their yards and most acknowledged the bus driver as she drove past. The houses and yards were unkempt and in various states of disrepair. However, the children and dogs all looked well fed, clean and tidy. We learnt that the body odour some have is caused by eating a lot of turtle meat.

Nhulumbuy is about 18 km from the Boat Club and Rio have built a bike path, slightly off the main road from town to the refinery.

The town impressed us, bigger than we expected with lots of nice houses, green gardens and all neat, tidy and well cared for. At the central shopping area we found a great little cafe run by a delightful Filipino lady and her family. We had morning coffee there first then returned for lunch where she cooked Lea a special Tom Yum Soup that was sensational.

In between eating we walked the town, exploring first the Lagoon Nature Walk

 

 

 

Then after sheltering from rain at an AOG Church garage and someone's carport we made it up to Mount Saunders with nice views over the town and some cultural information.

Then walked back into town and out the other side towards the Surf Club. Got lost in the maze of workers Flats. Finally got the Surf Club in sight but found it was closed, so back to our cafe for lunch.

It is sad to think this lovely little town will now head into decline with the Refinery closing down. They even have a great swimming pool and we were cursing that we hadn't thought to bring bathers. An afternoon at the pool would have been great. We haven't had a swim since entering croc country north of Lizard Island.

We topped up with few supplies at Wollies where even the chippies were reasonably priced at $2.50 unlike at TI. Couldn't find any cask wine and didn't feel like carrying bottles so we will have to ration our stock on the leg to Darwin.

Relaxed under a tree for a while until our friendly bus driver returned to take us back to the Boat Club. After packing a way the new supplies we decided on a quiet night rather than go ashore again. The wind was still blowing hard.

Saturday August 9

Up early to get a run in before the heat. Found the bike path and followed it toward town. While cooling down we filled a couple of 20l jerry cans with water at the Boat Club and got rid of our rubbish. We also cleaned down the dinghy which was covered in red dust from sitting on the beach all day yesterday.

Afbica and another boat headed off and we followed an hour or so later. Juggled between Screecher and Genoa to arrive at Cape Wilberforce on the last of the ebb tide which flows through here east to west, to suck us through the gap between Point William and Bromby Islet giving us an extra 1-2 knots.

Then an hour later we passed through another gap between Cotton and Wigram Islands. Here the Gap flows east to west on the flood which was now just into its second hour. Again we had good tide assist and hooting through when we had a strike on the lure and reel went off screaming. We were at that time in the middle of changing down from Screecher to Genoa so I cranked on the drag as hard as I could and helped Lea get the Screecher in. The line was still running out and depleting rapidly. We had to slow the boat further so Lea reefed in the Genoa then started a motor. With only a few runs left on the spool and the boat stopped the fish finally let up and I could begin to wind him in. Seemed to take forever as most of the 500 meters of line was out. Finally we goes our first Queenfish aboard. These fish really dig in and fight.

We sailed on up the west of Wigram Island and anchored in the Northern corner of the most northern of the 3 bays there. Afbica joined us but took a rain check on sundowners as it was there first sail for many months and a few things needed to be sorted. We settled in for fresh fish dinner and a beautiful sunset.

Sunday August 10

Still windy not very inviting out on the water but we went ashore exploring anyway. Started at the little sandy beach I front of us and walked along the rocks to the headland. Disturbed a few little quoka or paddy melons as Lea called them. Small wallabies of some sort anyway. The beach was quite sheltered from the wind and very pleasant.

Checked out some interesting rock formations
Lea found herself a nice rock recliner.

We then dinghied to the middle beach and walked its length finishing up grabbing the oyster knives and picking up 19 very nice plump oysters off the rocks.

Back at Gemini Lady for lunch and to get the oysters in the fridge for later. Quiet afternoon. Kevin and Jen joined off Afbica joined us about 1630. They were a long time on the beach but explained it wasn't by choice they left it too long with the tide going out and their dinghy became stranded on the sand flats. They had to wait a couple of hours for the tide to come back in. Another lovely couple. Kevin a retired ships engineer with time in the navy and Jen retired out of hospitality. They plan a trip to the Louisiades next year that could extend up to Japan.

Another good afternoon went by and the oysters were exceptional.

Nearly a full moon giving a lovely silver glow to the night.

Monday August 11

Today we shoot the Gugari Gap

The Gap is a cleft through the Islands about 80 metres wide and the current can run up to 9 knots at full ebb or flood. Our aim was to be at the entrance at the end of the flood tide and take the early ebb through. We calculated from lots of reading and research 0940 to be the target ETA, 20 minutes after high tide Gove.

With 15Nm to the Gap we up anchored at 0715 only to find there wasn't enough wind. We motor sailed for 1/2 and hour then the wind came in and we goose winged the Genoa and Screecher. Furled the sails about 1/2 Nm off so we could see where we were going and find the Gap

Finally we had it in sight

We motored into the Gap at 0945. Timing was spot on and we were gently accelerated up to 10 knots in the middle indicated 5 knots of current with us.

Lots of whirlpools and eddies

After being spat out at the other end we hoisted the Main with 1 reef in, set the Genoa and enjoyed a boisterous beam reach 30 Nm up the west side of the Wessels to Jensen Bay. Soon had to put in the second reef as the wind gusted over 25 knots. We think we saw Mirool in Laggon Bay but no response to the radio call.

Anchored in Jensen Bay, Marchinbar Island and set off ashore to try and find some aboriginal paintings under overhanging rocks we had heard about. Lea had spotted a likely cliff where they might be so we put on the hiking boots and set off.

Unfortunately we found no rock paintings, but the cliffs were impressive

We also found fresh water dripping from the cliffs at a number of places

And this little fellow

Plus lots of rubbish, mainly fishing nets and floats

Back to the boat and watched another stunning moonrise. Feels very isolated out here even with the odd other boat around and Customs buzzing us every few days. While the scenery is beautiful it is also a hell of a lot of not much. Would be tough being shipwrecked here.

 

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