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from Rob Legg Yachts

Adventures of Minstrel in the Kimberleys

by Pauline Fowler

Episode 3 - King George River


Thursday 18 May

Time to move on. We pulled anchor at 6.30 am and motored downstream through the gorge and out to sea where I was hit by 25 – 30 knot winds and 2 – 3 metre swells. I coasted along quite nicely at an average of 6 knots with my mainsail reefed. At times the wind gusts and larger than normal waves got the better of me and I rounded up. I was very relieved to get to the calmer waters of Jims Bay at 12.30 pm after 6 hours of hard sailing having gone 25 nm.

Brett of Arritaii told D & J to put a buoy on a rope trailing behind the dinghy to act as a drogue and keep it steady. The effect was miraculous. The dinghy stayed nicely behind me and didn’t surf past me and threaten to flip as it had previously.

Friday 19 May

D & P seriously miscalculated the tide when they anchored me in only 2 metres of water yesterday. The tide just kept on going out and out. By 10 pm I was bumping on rocks – ouch !

They tried to push me off with the oars but it was hopeless. My skeg just kept scraping on the rocks. I hope I haven’t lost too much fibreglass. By 12 midnight the water was completely gone and I was high and dry. By 4 am I was still high and dry but the tide was starting to come in again. Levanter was in the same predicament as I was. We had planned to leave Jims Bay at 4 am for the sail around Cape Londonderry which we have been told is treacherous and rough but because we couldn’t leave we anchored in deeper water and sat for the day. D & P read, played Scrabble and watched a DVD while I rocked and rolled in the opposing wind and swell. A frustrating and uncomfortable day.

Saturday 20 May

We pulled anchor and motored out of Jims Bay at 3.30 am. Everything on board was tied down, The dinghy motor had been taken off and secured inside my cabin, everything taken off the dinghy and the buoy drogue trailed out the back. D & P were expecting rough seas and dangerous big swell conditions with no place to shelter for the next 30 nm until we got to Bruces Bay on the western side of Cape Londondery. They wanted to get most of the way before the wind came up – hence the early start.

They were right ! The eastern side of the Cape was rough. I surfed down huge waves. Luckily I managed to get round the peak of the Cape and start along the more sheltered western side before the wind really got strong but even so I was really pleased to drop anchor in Bruces Bay around 11 am and have P & D get me organised and tidy again. It had taken me 8 hours to motor sail approximately 28 nm and I used 8 litres of fuel. After D refuelled my tank they put the motor back on my dinghy and motored ashore to walk on the long sandy beach. They saw cattle and crocodile tracks and a dingo and built a fire to burn all the rubbish then they came back to me for lunch and a well deserved rest.


King George Gorge

Sunday 21 May

Had my first encounter with a large crocodile last night. Jim shone his spot light and saw a crocodile of approximately 6 metres in length inspecting Levanter then come and inspect me. Its eyes shone like red beacons in the light. It chewed up and punctured Levanters’mooring buoy and had a go at chewing mine. My foam buoy has now got lots of teeth marks in it.

D & P went for a walk on the beach and came upon a small 2 metre croc sunbathing on the rocks. They retreated and left it alone.

We pulled anchor at 11 am and had a leisurely sail 12 nm sail to West Governor Island. Found a nice calm anchorage with plenty of depth, P made some bread then they went ashore to explore and burn rubbish and have sundowner drinks with Jim and Liz. The island is very pretty with rock cliffs, sandy beach, pandana palms and trees. The customs plane flew over me and called on the radio wanting to know who we were and where we were going.

Monday 22 May

The wind was right on the nose so we had to motor 10 nm to Mission Bay. We anchored just near the landing to the now abandoned Pago Mission. The site has hundreds of old 44 gallon drums with USAF (United States Air Force) stamped on them as the site was used as a fuel depot during the Second World War.

On the way here Levanter hit a rock and was taking water. Panic !! Once they started the bilge pump and pumped the water out they discovered one of the bolts holding the keel had snapped.

They all went ashore and walked up a track to an unoccupied outstation where they fossicked around looking for a large bolt to replace the one that had sheared off. Luckily they found one. Back on board Levanter with a few modifications, the bolt and lots of Selleys sealer Jim was able to fix the problem.

to be continued....


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