Thursday May 7

Happy Birthday Sis!

Voltaire Pass was the focus this morning and getting the tide right. Slack water high tide was 1200 hours.The winds were forecast as 15-20 ESE going NE in the afternoon, so we were planning to slow the boat down rather than maximise speed. That was the plan anyway.

The ESE came in and we left a little early in case we were slowed down by the tide against us. We started with a reefed Main and Genoa cruising along nicely at 9 kts. less 1.5 tide against us. All On schedule!

Then the wind died down to 5-8 knots and swung to the E behind us. We battled along goose winging the Schreecher for a few Nm's but then the motor had to on. A prawn trawler passed us coming the other way as we approached the pass right on what should have been slack water. Wrong! We still had tide against us!

Considered pulling into Krait Bay where the famous WWII boat did a lot of training, but we picked up a bit of breeze and kept going down the other side of the peninsula. Had to motor sail the last 10Nm into the Eastern Swift Bay anchorage. Another beautiful night!

Friday May 8

Happy 50th wedding Aniversary to Lea' folks, Ron and Heather.

Strong Wind Warning today with 20-30 Knt E-SE forecast. Up early to visit the Rock Art site close by before the wind came up. Found the overhangs and art site without too much difficulty.

Art Creek was our destination so we moved Gemini Lady over to another anchorage. A beautiful bay more sheltered from the E- SE winds which were beginning to build up. Enjoyed coffee while waiting for the tide to come up enough to allow us into the creek. Dinghying in found the art sites relatively easily. Interesting stuff with pictures of very alien looking people with big dark eyes, no noses or mouths and large halo's around their heads.

 

Some of the drawings were very large.

Lea's favourite was five ducks!

After its morning vent, the breeze died down and we moved to waterpipe bay, so named because someone has placed a 12 metre piece of 60mm PVC waterpipe under a fresh water spring at one end and supported the other end over a rock platform accessible by dinghy.

After lunch we were off again to visit 3 more rock art sites. Again we successfully found the sites thanks to the KCCYC notes and a bit walking and rock scrambling.

 

Finished the afternoon at the waterpipe filling water containers and having a refreshing bath. It's still hot weather with temps around 32C. However, the humidity is down again below 50% which is much more pleasant than the 80% we had in the Mitchell River.

Girl in a bucket!

Suprised late in the afternoon by a helicoptor rushing past. Took a little while to register that the bush on the southern shore where we had been exploring was now on fire. The chopper was dropping incendiaries.

Saturday May 9

Boat covered in ash and the atmosphere thick with smoke.

Big day planned today. Couldn't wait for the tide to let us through the narrow canal between Dog Ear and Woolaston Islands so we went around the outside with the last of the ebb and then the flood back in to Palm Island. Cost us an extra 6 NM but gained us 2 hours. We did think of anchoring off Dog Ear and exploring some other rock art sites but the forecast said fresh E winds coming so we kept going.

Breeze came in off Woolaston and we hooked a fish. Big fight to get it in only to find it was a bronze whaler shark just over 1 metre long. Normally we let these go but I couldn't get the lure out of this one so decided to keep him. Threw the line back in while he bled out and promptly caught another smaller one. Managed to let him go. Got 2 nice big fillets off the shark but knife was hopelessly blunt by the time I'd finished. Just as well I hadn't used the good knife. Shark skin is amazing stuff. Lea fancied a shark skin purse after touching the skin.

Turned toward Palm Island and put up the Main and had a fast beat to windward in a fresh SE down into Palm Island.

Off in the dinghy by 1030, on the still rising tide, up 4 man creek to find, the oldest painting of a boat in the world. In this case 4 men in a canoe. Took a bit of finding because our notes said 200 metres passed an obvious landmark whereas it was closer to 500 metres. However it was worth the effort.

A few other images were also found.

A rough ride back against the wind to 5 man creek to find the picture of 5 men in a canoe up on the escarpment. A good walk to find it with great views. Lea felt the picture had Oriental or European characteristics with balustrading on the edge of the canoe and the men wearing smock like clothing.

 

This area had recently been burnt so it was nice to walk through without being prickled by spinafex.

Lea found another low ledge with rock art underneath depicting our alien looking friends again. A very recurring theme.

The walk around the escarpment goes on for hours and we had had enough so it was back to the boat for a very late lunch at about 1600. The shark was surprisingly very good.

Bonfire on the beach to burn all our combustible rubbish.

Big Day!

Sunday May 10

We were enshrouded by smoke throughout the night and another layer of ash had accumulated on the decks. Visibility was down to 1 NM.

We took the last of the ebb out from Palm Island and with a freshening SE arrived at Scott Passage to catch the flood tide through. Saw a another yacht in the Capstan Island anchorage as we passed. They followed us out. We had a chat on the radio. The yacht was “Butcher Bird” a 45 foot Gannon Ketch heading for Exmouth. We put in a reef to slow down a bit but still hit 10.5 kts which is a bit scary with reefs and shallows all around. However, we had a clear run with minimum depth 8.2M. Called up “Butcher Bird” to let them know depth was ok. They were headed for the Hunter River whereas we were off to the Rainforrest Ravine.

As soon as we were spat out of Scott Strait the wind died then veered right around to blow from the SW right on the nose. We started a motor but “Butcher Bird” started tacking so we were shamed into sailing as well. Turned out to be a nice sail with 2 big tacks. Nearly lifted up enough to get past Kartja Island but had to use a little motor help to pinch up passed the Island into the Bay.

We anchored and quickly dropped the dinghy to explore the ravine as it was only just passed high tide and about 1430. A couple of small power boats were coming out from the ravine so we stopped for a chat. After discussing the state of tide with them we decided to leave the trip to the ravine until tomorrow.

Back at Gemini Lady we were joined by “Butcher Bird” and we invited the crew over for a drink. Met Tim, Helen, Ash and Andrew and enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon. It was nice to have some company again. Made plans to explore the caves on the other side of the bay together in the morning.

Watched to last half of the movie Birdman. Weird!

Monday May 11

A still morning but still lots of smoke and ash about. Followed “Butcher Bird” across the bay to the cave site and anchored just off the beach. The cave system was impressive and different to the limestone caves we usually see. These have been caused by wave action erosion. Lea founds the atmosphere in the caves oppressive and dank. there were lots of large sea lice scurrying around. Fortunately Lea saw no bats.

 

The boys climbed up the cliffs to the right of the beach where we thought we might find some rock art but no luck. The girls chatted on the beach. We were joined by the 2 power boats and all of a sudden we were a crowd.

Found some nice oysters so harvested a few for sundowners. The people on the power boats were lamenting that Fisheries had confiscated all their freshly caught golden snapper as it wasn't stored as per the regulations. They also copped a fine for having an unlicensed cast net. The new WA fishing regs all seem a bit over the top.

Said our goodbyes to everyone and headed back to explore the Rainforrest Ravine. Packed a lunch and the washing and headed upstream. We were a little early on the tide and had to paddle the last 100M to the rock bar. Spent a lot of time tying up the dinghy to make sure we could retrieve it when the water level was 2.5M higher, without getting in the water as Lea had spyed what she thought may be croc tracks on the bank not far downstream.

Pretty walk along the stream then took a left side branch up to a rock platform and a lovely twin waterfall. We relaxed here, had a shower, did the washing and had lunch. Very pleasant 2 hours was had.

Back at the dinghy, it was floating midstream about 200 metres downstream of us. There was a narrow ledge on the left cliff side that I had to climb along then decend down to the rock close to the tree the dinghy was tied to. When we left we had tied the rope as high as we could reach. It was now only just above the water level. I pulled in the dinghy and got in then paddle up to pick up Lea.

The river and gorge had transformed with the higher tide and it was a very pretty run back to the boat.

Tuesday May 12

Up and away early to catch the breeze into Prince Fredrick Harbour. Lovely windward sail through the Anderdon Islands into the harbour. Lots of smoke so we gave “Butcher Bird” a call. They confirmed that it was very smoky in the Hunter River. We would have had to punch into the breeze and tide to get there so we changed the itinery and headed downwind for the Coronation Islands.

Not long after making the turn the reel went off and line went screaming off. Tightened the drag and slowly got the line back in. I was expecting another shark but it was a beautifull Big Spanish Mackeral, our favourite. He was soon dispatched and in the fridge.

Meanwhile the wind was dying off and “Butcher Bird” came out of the smoke haze behind us. They were planning an overnighter into Camden Sound and continued through the Cornation Isalnds through the “Ivy Tree” pass. We turned left heading for Careening Cove where Phillip Parker King had put his boat “Mermaid” on the beach for repairs in 1820, while on a survey voyage of the NW. We anchored and went ashore to see the ” Mermaid Tree” a large Boab with “HMC Mermaid 1820” carved into the trunk. The site is a bit of an icon on the Kimberley Coast.

The wind had died but we decided to use the rest of the flood tide to get through a nasty pass with a shallow rock bar across it between the Mainland and Glauert Island. We anchored in Bat Bay in front of a beautiful beach backed by lush greenery and high red cliffs.

Lea made a loaf of bread but it wouldn't rise. Suspect the yeast has secumbed to the heat. We cooked it anyhow during the genset hour. It was so hot in the boat we put the portable oven outside on deck. We call this oven the “Lighthouse” as it oscillates with a bright light. As luck would have it, another vessel went passed just after dark and would have seen our “Lighthouse”. They made no call to check if it was a distress signal so we assumed it was a comercial vessel on a timetable. Could have been embarrassing though.

 

Our Big Mac was delicious. Just about out of fresh vegies now.

 

 

 

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