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Adventures of Minstrel in the Kimberleys

by Pauline Fowler

Episode 11


Wednesday 19 July

Wind blew a howling gale all last night and all morning. The anchorage was too exposed and I had a very uncomfortable night and morning. Wathara left at 6 am to sail to Cape Leveque and Arritaii left at 9 am to sail north. Levanter and I motored further into the bay where hopefully we will have more protection if the wind comes in again. P&D went ashore in the dinghy and made a fire to burn all the rubbish then spent the rest of the afternoon reading, watching a DVD and P made some bread.

Thursday 20 July

Had a calm windless night and everyone slept soundly for a change. Today was warm, sunny and calm. Yesterday when P&D went ashore they found a heap of dead small fish, which looked like they had been caught in a throw net and left. P collected a dozen and this morning she set up a fishing line using them as bait. She caught two small sharks, which D filleted, an eel, which D released, then something really big grabbed the bait and took off until the line snapped. That was the end of the fishing. D&P shared half the shark with J&L on Levanter and they all enjoyed eating it for lunch and tea. I spent the day on anchor while P&D washed the sheets, towels and clothes in seawater, read books and worked out GPS coordinates for tomorrow’s big trip to Cape Leveque and did some exploring in the dinghy.

Friday 21 July

Today was the carefully planned big day to negotiate crossing King George Sound to get to Cape Leveque. Tidal flows run at 5 to 10 knots so the day had to be planned to run with the tides and get to the destination 35 nm away before the tide turned against us.

We left Crawford Bay at 5.45 am and motor sailed across the incoming tide to a point 10 nm away passed Mermaid Island. Then the plan was to turn North West towards Sunday Island as the tide turned to outgoing which would give us a 4 knot tidal assistance up Meda Passage, round Swan Island to Cape Leveque.

Mostly the plan worked well except that the tide was slow at turning and I had a battle with the tide against me for an hour. After that I flew along at 5 to 6 knots with the tide and a gentle breeze and my motor just ticking over. I got to Cape Leveque at 1.15 pm having made the 35nm journey in 7.5 hours just before the tide turned. P&D went ashore in the dinghy to the resort. They couldn’t buy any fuel so they bought some sausages and an ice cream instead.

Saturday 22 July

Not much of our Kimberley trip left except approximately 110 nm to Broome with very limited anchorages on the way and nothing worth making a stop for.

We left Cape Leveque at 6 am and with a strong SE wind on my port bow I motor sailed 42 nm to an anchorage on the south side of Beagle Bay arriving at 3.30 pm (9 ˝ hours). The wind pushed me along helping my motor until lunchtime then it died out. D was trying to keep up an average of 4.5 knots so my motor drank about 20 litres of fuel. I had some excitement when a whale accompanied me for a while, breeching 3 times right next to me.

Sunday 23 July

Today was a hard rough slog with strong E to SE winds most of the day making the sea very rough. Left Beagle Bay at 6 am and dropped anchor at Cape Berthalot at 3pm having motor sailed 36 nm. Everyone is tired after a day of pounding but I doubt wether anyone will get much sleep tonight as even the anchorage is roly and swelly.

Monday 24 July

The swell calmed down during the night so we did manage some sleep. Left anchorage at 7am and by myself without Levanter I motor sailed 27.7 nm to just south of Barred Creek by 3pm. Levanter’s crew were not well so they told us to carry on and they would catch up later. I had the usual strong E to SE winds all morning calming in the afternoon. I stayed about 1 nm out from the beach all the way so I didn’t have big waves and swell to worry about although I got a fright when on two occasions a whale broached right next to me. I saw quite a few 4WD vehicles on the beaches with families enjoying the school holidays. Levanter eventually caught up with me at 5.30 pm. She had broken her rudder housing and it had taken Jim and Liz some time to make repairs in the rough seas by which time they had drifted 8nm backwards.

Tuesday 25 July

Up and away by 7 am and motor sailed in light winds 16 nm to an anchorage at Gantheaume Point. We finally made it. There are a lot of other yachts and motorboats anchored here. Jason, Tan, Indi and Jasmin were in Broome so they came out to me and had a yarn with P&D.

Wednesday 26 July

This anchorage is the worst I have encountered yet. During the night the wind ran against the swell and I rocked and rolled uncontrollably all night. Levanter pulled anchor and motored around to Roebuck Bay where she anchored close to the shore knowing that she would dry out when the tide went out but at least she wouldn’t be rocking. I had to stay where I was as P&D had arranged to take the family out for a cruise.

At 3pm the family and friends arrived and were ferried on board in the dinghy. I had 6 adults and 5 young children on board. Just as well it was calm by then as I motored slowly along Cable Beach and back.


Minstrel's bottom at Broome

Thursday 27 July

Another sleepless night of rocking before P&D went ashore in the dinghy at 5 am to meet Jim who had borrowed a car from his cousin. They drove 1000 km to Wyndham to pick up the cars and trailers. Jim put the car on the tray of his truck then on Friday they drove the 1000km back to Broome again.

Friday 28 July

I motored with the tide the 12 nm into Roebuck Bay to a boat ramp at Catalina Bay where my trailer was waiting. My mast was lowered and I was put on my trailer and taken out of the water. What a mess my bottom was. It was covered in weed and barnacles.

I was towed to Jason’s plantation where D cleaned me up with a pressure sprayer he had hired while P cleaned up inside and did some clothes washing.

Sunday 6 August

I am back in my shed at Denham. What an adventure I have had. I had travelled 4000 km by road. I had sailed approximately 2000 km through sea conditions varying from very rough to silky smooth and got through it all unscathed. I have seen many beautiful sights and met crocodiles and sharks. I used 350 litres of fuel and arrived back in Broome with only 10 litres to spare. Now I am quite content to sleep in my shed for a while and let P&D go off on their next adventure without me.

to be continued....


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