Tuesday May 26

Light and variable was the forecast and as we motored out of Ivy Cove picked up a nice bit of Southerly to help us on our way. This was short lived and by the time we entered Prince Frederick Harbour we were glassed out. Sick of the motor by lunchtime we shut it down and just drifted with the tide for a while. Soon bored with this we continued on and arrived our destination at Naturalist Island just as a nice 12Kt NW breeze came in.

“Reef Prince” was already there exchanging passengers by helicoptor from the nearby Mitchell Plateau airstrip together with “Paspaley 4” and tenders presumably changing crews. We anchored and watched “Reef Prince” retrieve its anchor with the rear deck crane after its anchor winch failed. Quite a difficult procedure.

Finally another yacht on the horizon and “Scott Free II” came in and headed up the River. With this anchorage getting a bit choppy and a bit of flood tide left we used the breeze and sailed on up into the River through the stunning entrance cliffs to re anchor in Porosus Creek.

Gave Phill a call and invite on “Scott Free II” but he was waiting to catch up with old friends on another boat.

Local croc came to check us out.

Wednesday May 27

Headed off in the dinghy late morning for a 5NM trip up the rock bar of the Hunter River then a 2 km walk to the 90M falls. This was the longest dinghy trip we had done so I packed tools, spare prop and spark plugs.

First couple of miles was a bit bumpy with a SE blowing down the river but after a few turns it calmed off. Reached the “T” intersection and turned right for the Hunter Falls. Water was shallower than the expected and about 1/2 mile short of the rock bar we came to mud banks. Continuing on with paddles we got to within hearing of the freshwater but there was still 300M of thick glutinous mud and rocks to reach a point where we could gain access.

We had conflicting info about the tides and times up river. We knew we were at low neaps so our assessment was that even if we waited, the tide was not going to rise enough to give us access. Our walking plans were thwarted! The other issue was crocs. We had never seen so many. Mainly small ones but the big ones must have been around. We must have seen over 20 in the upper part of the river. Not a place we wanted to hang around in.

As we retreated a big croc surfaced just under our bow and we all got a big fright. Back up on the plane and we felt another nudge and suspect we hit a surfaceing croc. We briefly explored the other arm and had lunch under some overhanging trees then headed back.

Hoping the tide had risen a bit more we tried another very pretty side gorge, again we got in sight of the rock bar but couldn't get access. A frustrating and disappointing day.

Thursday May 28

Quiet day, frustrated with neap tides that made a trip up the creek not worth the effort. Left on the ebb and headed up to the Anderdon Islands for something to do and to get away from the biting bugs. Went ashore in search of “crystals” but found none.

Friday May 29

Lea hiding from the sun as it aggravates her bites. Anti histamines a godsend. Pining for a freshwater stream and waterfall to wash the itch away.

Headed of at 0800 and motored for 3 hours. Then had a quiet sail with Main and Schreecher as the breeze slowly turned from SE, SW then NW at about 8kts. Finally headed us a few mile from our destination but at least we had managed to sail 15 of the 30NM covered today, which was better than we expected.

Dropped anchor in Wary Bay on Bigge Island.

Saturday May 30

The open anchorage was surprisingly good and we were up early to visit the well known Rock Art site on the beach. Ashore on the beach there was lots of evidence of Turtles nesting.

The art was easily found on the rock faces of clefts withinn the cliffs.

More ” Spacemen”
And pipe smokers

All the paintings we had seen in the cruising notes so it was a little disappointing to get no surprises.

Walked the headland and cliffs for a while then picked up the ebb to Prudhoe Islands. Very little breeze so we motored the 8NM accross.

Very pretty group of 3 islands and with no Mangroves it looked clear of crocs. I had thoughts of a dive to scrub off the growing carpet on the hulls.

Lea was keen to visit the beach and find more rock art first. Climbing the cliffs above the beach we found nothing and then I stood on a large rock that moved enough to throw me off balance. On the way down 3-4M I managed to keep clear of the rocks but landed heavily on the sand below spraining my right wrist very badly. Went straight back to Gemini Lady for ice, compression bandage, drugs and a little lie down. No diving for for a while.

Sunday May 31

The forecast had changed over the last 2 days from 10 Variable to 15-20 E-SE. 20kts would have been very challenging as my wrist was very painful. Anyway the wind never got over 6kts so we motored all the way making water and doing a load of washing in the machine as we went.

Anchored well inside Krait Bay with more shelter than we expected. Just on dusk I called to Lea to come and meet our visitor, a 3M croc.

He hovered around and came up quite close. He was watching us watching him. At one point Lea had to pull the extra anode, that we have hanging over the side, out of his mouth. He hung around all night and saw us off next morning. Not sure if he had been fed by boaties before or was looking for an opportunity. I certainly didn't go down to the sugar scoops for a pee during the night.

Monday June 1

Woke up with our visitor still hanging around.

Away early to get the most out of the breeze and tide bound for Freshwater Bay. Troy and Pascal our friends on Mirrool were waiting for us there.

Motored through Voltaire Strait on the flood but got no assistance. Then able to bear away with full Main and Screecher up past Corneille Island with a nice 10kt SE on the beam. Had to change to Genoa as wind swung to E and we hardened up. The ebb tide built and gave us some assistance as we tacked well to the north of Hat Point on Cape Bouganville. The wind was veering to the NE but our timing was good and after tacking we cleared the Cape and headed down for Freshwater Bay with slightly eased sheets. Wind was gusting up to 24kts NNE with wind against tide so we had a bumpy ride at times but we were able to ease more until we were running down into Vansittart Bay toward the entrance of Freshwater Bay. Executed a nice gybe in 20kts to run up to the anchorage. 60 NM of mainly windward sailing to cover 50Nm in 9 hours was pretty good going we thought.

We were just passing the last headland before the anchorage when we saw a yacht on her side on what looked like reef. Lea identified it as Mirrool and we wondered what type of disaster had put her there. Got hold of Troy on the VHF and he reassured us that all was well and he was careened for hull cleaning. He admitted later that he underestimated the tide fall by about 1M and hadn't planned to lean that far over. Anyway all was well. Floating free about 2030 they joined us back in the anchorage and we demolished a bottle of rum catching up. Gently sent them on their way out about 0200. A good night was had.

Tuesday June 2

Group excursion up the second creek at high tide. Nice walk to the ridge then a relaxing soak to undo the damage from the night before. Passed the skin of a 4M Python hanging from a hollow in tree branch. Much speculation about how it got there. Best theory was that it had stuck its head into the hollow to catch something and after swallowing could not withdraw its head.

2 more boats arrived so we asked them over for sundowners. “Sea Lynx”, Brian and Gail and “Attitude Too”, Greg and Amanda. Lovely people and we enjoyed a feast of home made goodies from Troy and Pascal.

Troy and Pascal stayed and we cooked a big roast lamb diner followed by Lea's tiramisu. Troy was on water after too much rum the night before.

Wednesday June 3

Forecast for a strong E-SE blow over the next few days bought in 2 Hobart yachts, “Fly South” Rick and Jan and “Luna”, Fraser and Karen.

We went ashore to get some water and do the washing. Troy and Pascal joined us and we went for a long walk as far as we could get up creek number 1 before another relaxing soak. Back at the dinghies we caught up with the crews from the other boats.

We were very happy to see that Pascal had taken to the cruising lifestyle and was thoroughly enjoying herself. She and Troy create some amazing foods from the little galley on Mirrool. Smoked fish and oysters. Mackeral Dip and sprout salad, Hommus and a fantastic date and walnut cake. Troy also sharpened all our knives to a razor edge.

We enjoyed our last dinner with them. It had been a great couple of days in their company.

Thursday June 4

Up early to see “Mirrool” off and give them a little “care package” as Lea called it; a pumpkin, some potatoes, onions, feta, lemons & limes a bottle of wine and a block of chocolate and some other stuff.

Soon after they left we heard of other boat, “Simply” call them to warn of 30 kts and big seas off Cape Bouganville. Troy responded that he would reef down and “fly” around the corner. At least we knew there were some bays for refuge along the way if it got too nasty out there.

“Simply” , Brain and Marcelle soon joined us in the anchorage and we were back up to 6 boats. Enjoyed a quiet rest of the day catching up on sleep and reading.

Friday June 5

Still blowing hard but decided to head down to the 3rd freshwater creek. Surfed down the bay in the dinghy passed Boab Beach and into the creek. Very pleasant place and no slime or algae growing on the rocks in the deep swimming hole complete with shower.

Enjoyed a nice bath and Lea got to wash her hair again. Soon joined by Gail and Brian off “Sea Lynx” and enjoyed a good chat.

Trip back to Gemini Lady was better than expected with Lea driving and my weight forward. We only got a little bit soaked but enough to fill Lea's nice clean hair with salt much to her disgust.

Spent the afternoon cleaning the waterline of the green beard that is growing fast now.

Great sundowners aboard “Sea Lynx” with the big Lagoon 440 accodating all 12 of us in the cockpit. Gail showed us her Sat Sleeve which converts her iPhone to a satellite phone. Not sure of international coverage but could be worth a look at.

Saturday June 6

Happy Birthday Lea!

Lea spent the early morning finishing off the Stainless Steel polishing. Then off to creek number 1 for bathing, washing, rubbish burning and water collection. The other crews soon turned up and the creek was a hive of activity as everyone got on with similar chores. As the jobs got done we all ended up sitting in the shade chatting. They were a really great bunch of people.

Back on Gemini Lady I set about creating a special meal for the birthday girl. Interrupted by visitors as information was exchanged on sites found and places visited. Eventually Lea was settled writing up her journal with a glass of Champagne in her hand as I sweated in the galley over a version of traditional British Navy Plum Duff pudding and a Morrocan Beef Tagine.

Downloaded Lea's birthday messages via the HF while the Plum Duff was cooking

The meal worked out very well, accompanied with a nice bottle of red with the main course and custard with the Duff. A very pleasant evening.

Sunday June 7

Said our goodbyes and waited for the wind to moderate and the tide to turn before catching the ebb through Middle Rocks and Geranium Harbour. Arrived Anjo Cove on dusk but after checking forecast decided to use the 15-18kt NE to sail down to McGowans which is sheltered from the expected strong SE.

Will wait now until we get a break in the Easterly weather to get around Cape Londonderry and head back to Darwin.

 

 

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