Friday May 22

Very damp morning with 91% humidity and dead calm. Lots of threatening cloud which was very unusual.

As we motored up the North side of Unwins Island we got a nice push from a 10 kt SE. We entered the main chanel into St George Basin just ahead of the tour boat Discovery One. That made at least 3 tour boats in the river from what we heard on the radio. The tide dragged us in and increased in speed. Gemini Lady was swung and yawed about like a drunken sailor as the whirlpools grabbed her. At times we were doing over 10 kts with only 1 engine at 1700rpm.

We entered the River itself at 3/4 tide and about 7NM up pulled into Purulba Creek and anchored under the cliffs. Might have got up to the Cascades in time but with all the other boats up there we decided to stick to the plan and wait another day.

Saturday May 23

A much nicer clear day with less humidity. Lea spent most of the morning monitoring and calculating tides for the trip up river. I dismantled, cleaned. and lubricated the salt water tap in the galley and then watched a movie.

Lea had fortuitously looked at the Prince Regent on her iPad back in Darwin, when we had Internet, and she found a few community layer admendments on her Navionics Charts. These she transposed across to the main chartplotter so we had a good idea where all the relevant rocks are. Only the sandbanks were an issue but at least these are not as dangerous.

Up anchored at 1130 and re entered the main river just on 1200. Customs plane flew over and gave us the usual interrogation. All went well apart from one deviation to go around a sandbank that put us in shallow water 3.5M so we scrapped that deviation for the return trip. One other boat was anchored off Camp Creek but we assume they had done the Cascades the day before so it looked like we would have the place to ourselves.

It took us a bit longer than we expected to get up to the Cascades so we only had 1 1/2 hours there but they were very beautifull. I held the boat off the falls while Lea got in the dinghy for some glamour shots. We then anchored out in the river and dinghied in for a shower and to fill the jerries.

It was not so easy to get off the dinghy for a shower as were wary of the lower ledges. In 1987 a 24 year old model was on a lower ledge as the tide came in. She made the fatal mistake of swimming for the dinghy and was taken by a croc. It was also difficult to tie up the dinghy. Not a good place to lose it!

Washed, showered and back on Gemini Lady the tide eased about 1510 so we sarted back following our route up apart form that sandbank deviation. No less than 7.5M all the way back to Camp Creek. Much more relaxing trip even with the sun in our eyes. Tough work anchoring with the full ebb running and a 20 kt breeze that suddenly decided to blow in from the opposite direction. 2 goes before we were happy with our position. Winch works very hard in these situations and 50M of chain going in and out.

Definitely beer-o'clock!

Sunday May 24

Morning wait for the tide to rise. Lea got into polishing the Stainless while I wrote up the blog. Took the washing and a picnic lunch up Camp Creek dodging the big nasy rocks in the middle about halfway up, fortunately still well exposed. At the rock bar at the head of the creek we were confronted with 3-4M sheer rock faces which were ideal for tying up the dinghy if we could get up. Everything was covered in a thick layer of grey, greasy mud. We found a ledge and managed to scramble up with out getting too messy. Nothing much to tie the dinghy too so put a knot in the painter and jammed it into a crevice.

Just upstream we found a shady spot under a cliff and got the washing done in a nearby fast flowing pool. That done we had our lunch then set off up the creek to find the waterfall. From the other side of the creek we could see the dinghy and were amazed how far the tide had risen. We gave ourselves 1.5 hours to get back before the rock ledges we were tied to went underwater.

Lovely walk up through pretty paperbark trees and the spread out meandering stream. Then edged along the cliff walls to finally come out at a magnificent wide set of falls with a large deep pool underneath.

Back at the dinghy we were relieved to see the rock platforms still above water. Had a quick bath then down to retrieve the dinghy. Met the crew from Phoenix a big luxury powerboat doing private charters.

Headed back down the creek and noted the big rocks were now just on the surface. Just as well we knew where they were as they would destroy an outboard leg if you hit them.

On Gemini Lady the flood tide finally released its grip and we took off downstream to anchor just outside the River entrance just on dusk.

Monday May 25

0430 wake up to catch the ebb tide out. Crossed St George Basin in the dark with radr on “log” watch. We had noticed quite a few floating logs in the river over the last few days and we were not keen on hitting one. Gratefull for daylight but too early for a good photo of Mts Trafalgar and Waterloo.

The tide picked up and soon spat us out passed Unwin Island. We reached 10 kts at times while chugging along on 1 motor at 5kts.

With a bit of light wind assitance we motor sailed through to Ivy Cove on the remainder of the ebb which was about 10Nm further than we expected to get.

In the afternoon we went ashore and visited the ” IVY” tree, a large ancient Boab with the inscription ” IVY 19.10.1890″. It is almost impossible to read the date now but records show that around that time there was a Pearling Schooner operating in the area called “Ivy”.

I have to admit that after the stress of the Prince Regent River navigation I was a bit shattered.