Monday June 8

“Simply” was in the anchorage so we caught up with Brian and Marcelle ashore. Alex was full of woe as the campers were sucking his internet dry. So we restricted ourselves to emails and a little Facebook. I didn't post the blog updates.

Enjoyed sundowners aboard Gemini Lady with Brian and Marcelle and this extended into dinner as it does. Far too much red wine but a good night was had. Agreed Friday the night to tackle Cape Londonderry.

Tuesday June 9

Slow day recovering but we did do a long walk in the afternoon.

Wednesday June 10

A nice SE breeze took us out of McGowans and then hard on the wind to sail back into Mission Bay to meet up with “Simply”. A BBQ lunch on the beach was put on by Brian and Marcelle and we enjoyed fresh baked bread rolls.

We then set off to go back to Pago. This time we found that gap in the mangroves where the old jetty used to be and went ashore through the hundreds of old 44 gallon drums left to rust there, presumably from WW2.

“Graceland” was not far up the road.

 

The little corrugated tin house was closed and no one was home. Gertrude must have gone into town. Next door was a “community satellite phone” allowing free fixed line calls and WiFi internet. Brain and Marcelle got connections on their new Apple devices but our more ancient units wouldn't connect. We all phoned the parents.

 

Had another look at the old Mission site then returned to the boats for drink.

Thursday June 11

Nice 10-15kt SE breeze when we got up at 0600, just in time to see “Simply” head out of the anchorage with sails up. We thought a 45 minute head start fair enough and the race was on to Cape Talbot.

So after breakfast we got going and restricted ourselves to Main and Genoa only. 1 to make the race more fair and 2 because I could not furl the Screecher in more than 10kts because of my sore wrist. We made up 1 NM on the run up to the Governer Islands. Then we hardened up onto a beam reach for the final 8Nm. We gained another mile. 2.5 hour sail over 20Nm ended all too soon and we dropped anchor about 20 minutes after “Simply”. The Seawind 1200 had sailed well. As it should being essentially the same design as my last boat “Christmas Beetle”.

Afternoon ashore Lea resumed her fitness training and did a 5km beach run. I settled for a 4 km walk.

Friday June 12

Rolly start to the morning as the tide flow caused a cross wave. Lea added to the bounce by doing a workout. Walked ashore with Brian, Marcelle and Jobe the dog.

After a quiet afternoon we left at 1630 working toward arriving at the turning point 5Nm north off Cape Londonderry at 3 hours after high tide Napier Broome Bay. The Easterley wind was supposed to be moderating to 10kts. We motorsailed the first 6-7Nm before turning and pushing directly into 15kt NE and a lumpy sea with both engines on. The washing machine motion ended after another 2 hours when we could turn SE and sail the rest of the way into Glycosamis Bay under Screecher and helped by the now flooding tide.

Showered and in bed by 2330,gently rocked to sleep by the remaining NE swell. Overall very happy with this notorious passage.

Saturday June 13

The high tide was early morning so we were up early keen to move into the inner anchorage. Our soundings from 7 weeks ago proved useful and we entered through the sandbanks with no problem. Anchored right near the waterfall which 7 weeks ago was raging, now nearly completely dry.

An exploration of the escarpment and the top of the waterfall was next on the agenda. Met up with Brain and Marcelle ashore under the rocks marked with a “bulls eye” in paint. This was the access point for the scramble and climb up to the top of the escarpment. It was quite a challenging climb. From the top the views were fantastic.

Walked around to the twin creeks which had mostly dried up to skanky pools. However, further inland we found 2 beautiful billabongs.

Lea washed her hair. Paused on the broad flat ledge on the second creek before it plunged over to the sea 80m below like an “infinity” pool.

Afternoon drinks and a great roast lamb dinner aboard “Simply”. Butterscotch schnapps finished off a great day.

Sunday June 14

A bit slow again this morning but we were keen to explore the Lost City, so we followed “Simply” to the outer anchorage then dinghied to the beach below the Lost City. We took the waypoints given to us by Amanda on “Attitude Too”. The track was easy to find and we followed it up onto the escarpment. It was a bit hard to follow the waypoints so we ust followed the tracks we found that wove in and out around the large rock formations.

The breeze had filled while we were exploring the Lost City. Appeared to be a NE'ly so we decided to sail down to Kalooma Bay 20Nm to the East. Once we were clear of the headland the wind was due East. Bugger! We had trouble getting the Main up in the bouncy conditions and when we finally had it up we noticed battens 3 & 4 were poking out from the leach. We continued on that tack past the reefs but decided to dump the Main and fix the problem, else risk the battens piercing the sail on the tack. It took a lot of effort to get the battens back in and locked. By that time we had lost our enthusiasm for a sail so we motored the last 7Nm with the Watermaker and Inverter on doing 2 loads of washing.

“Simply” came in with some minor headsail damage and promptly dropped the sail and began sewing. Not a good sailing day.

Monday June 15

A morning of cleaning and preparing Gemini Lady for the Bonaparte Gulf. Jack stays fitted and rigging tightened. Also cleared out Saildrive legs to remove some shell growth partially obstructing the water inlets.

Lea prepared dinner for the next couple of days then we went and had coffee on “Simply”. Took Jobe for a walk onshore.

We left Kalooma at 1630 against a 10kt SE and 3 kts of ebb tide. With both motors on we punched down toward the Berkley River. The plan was to head as far south down the Gulf as we could then head across to the eastern side of the Gulf. This would protect us from any unforecast strong SE and give us the best sailing angle to come up the East coast of the Gulf to Darwin.

As the tide turned in our favour we dropped to one engine but no wind appeared.

Tuesday June 16

A breeze came in (less than forecast) in the early morning and the motor was turned off at 0530 until midday. A rather boring afternoon with the only highlight being a brief period of phone service of 1 bar off Port Keats. Managed to get emails through. No moon and another damp,dark night.

Wednesday June 17

A bit harder to stay awake the second night with not much happening other than the drone of the engine. One consolation is that your asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow.

The current always seemed to be against us varying only in strength. The wind circled the dial with not enough omph to get us going. “Simply” called on the VHF and they were about 20Nm behind us. Brian caught a 1.2m blue marlin.

“Sea Lynx” contacted us and appeared out of the fog from Fog Bay. They had left Kalooma Bay 24 hours ahead of us but had a couple of overnight rest stops.

Once around Fish Reef we were hoping for a good sail into Darwin. The wind was backing to the NE and we were hard on the wind for a couple of hours. We were waiting for the NW sea breeze to come in and it arrived just as we bore away into Darwin Harbour. The final hooray was a 10kt blast under Main,Screecher and tidal assistance for the last 8 NM.

We were welcomed by 4 army Helo's that did formation flyovers over us 4 times. Or was it just because Lea was in a bikini? Very spectacular and noisy! A great way to finish our Kimberley Trip. As much as we were bored on the Gulf crossing; rather that than punching through 15-20kt SE with the tide flow against us. Like our home waters Bass Strait, a calm crossing is a good crossing.

“Sea Lynx” anchored close by in Fannie Bay and we joined them for a celebratory champagne followed by more wine and a BBQ dinner.

Thursday June 18

Leisurely start to the day followed by a walk to Cullen Bay Marina to pick up our mail. While enjoying a nice late lunchtime coffee I was reading the tide tables with a view to careening Gemini Lady. I discovered that the best 2 days for the month were tomorrow and the next. Back into overdrive we walked into town to hire a car only to find it was V8 Supercar weekend and no cars were left. We were lucky on a chance visit to Budget and found a cancellation on a tiny Yaris.

We were off to chandlers for antifoul paint, rollers masking tape and brushes, Harvey Norman for a pressure washer and Bunnings for odds and ends. We were organised before closing.

Friday June 19

A nervous start to the day as we had never beached Gemini Lady and only ever done it once with Christmas Beetle. We couldn't just go in at high tide as the evening tide was lower by 1m. I worked out a tide height that would allow us to float off in the evening with a little margin for error. That height on the morning ebb was 6.0m and was at 09:54.

We ran into the beach and touched just on the right time. Held her there with the motors for a couple of minutes to let her settle. We were straight over the side to begin scrubbing before the tide receded. The growth under the waterline was worse than expected but still only green weed and a thick muddy slime.

Once high and dry we got the new Gernie going, running on the Inverter and the water tanks. It took 2.5 hours to get the hulls clean. We used 177Ah of power and 500l of water. While I was cleaning Lea was polishing the waterline. We soon realised we would not get the job done in a day. At low tide we dropped the anchor and 40m of chain and dragged it out to sea between the hulls. With the time pressure gone we polished the hulls up to marina pontoon height. Gail and Brian from “Sea Lynx” came to visit and volunteered to help paint the next day.

After a well earned beer we enjoyed a long hot shower at the Darwin Sailing Club. Back on the boat as the tide came in we tightened the anchor chain. At the first sign of floating the anchor chain pulled us out to deeper water and we motored away. It was an hour earlier than we expected so it was still daylight.

After anchoring we were back on shore for dinner with Brian, Marcelle and Annelise at Hanumans Restaurant in the city. The whole town was buzzing with people everywhere. Great meal.

Saturday June 20

Up early again to head into Cullen Bay fuel dock to fill up with water. Took the opportunity to give the decks a good wash after 10 weeks of salt, ash and dirt.

Back to Fannie Bay to touch the beach at 10:36. We wiped the waterline with freshwater as the tide receded and then masked up. Brian and Gail arrived and as soon as we were high, dry and freshwater rinsed the painting began. The girls did the sail drives and surrounds while Brian and I hit the rollers. We were all done by 14:00 and Gail gave us a very welcome lunch.

Big thanks to Darwin Yacht Shop who provided us with another can of antifoul just in case we needed it. In the end we managed with 12l Micron Extra and 1l Trilux 33. Having Brian and Gail to help meant we got close to the recommended cure times for the paint. Much appreciated.

Too tired to bother with more polishing we retired to the showers and called it a day. Well nearly anyway. After our shower we pumped the props full of new grease and changed the port Saildrive anode. Naturally I managed to get covered in grease during the process.

Even the rave party on the beach that night could keep us awake that night.

Sunday June 21

Supposed to be a rest day but fitted the new Galvanic Isolator and went shopping at Jaycar for new soldering iron and spare computer fans. Super cheap Auto for more SS polish and BCF for BBQ trivit and 2 new lures.

Ski Club for afternoon drinks and live music with Annelise, Brian and Marcelle. Luckily we declined dinner at the Casino as the tide had come in almost to the dinghy and it wasn't tied off or anchored.

And so it continues with maintenance jobs rapidly being ticked off the list. A bit slowed down by a plaster cast on the sprained wrist that was actually broken 3.5 weeks ago. Enjoying the social life of the marina, new friends and time with Annelise.

Since entering the Marina we have removed and rebonded the Lower Port Aft Window as well as draining and disconnecting the HWS to replace the heating element. Have also polished the Outside of the Port Hull and repaired some cabinetry.

Lea is heading back to Melbourne for a week via Brisbane.

My job list includes:

Servicing 3 motors and anchor winch

Remove exhaust manifold and clean heat exchanger stack of genset.

Replace Watermaker low pressure pump head and check motor brushes.

Re glue and recaulk areas of Cork decking

Polish outside of Stb hull and inside front of both hulls. For this one I'll wait for Lea to come back.

I don't have a life, I have a boat!

Getting excited now about the Indonesian Trip. Life's Good!

 

 

 

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