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from Rob Legg Yachts

Adventures of Minstrel in the Kimberleys

by Pauline Fowler

Episode 4


Filling Up With Fresh Water

Tuesday 23 May

My anchor was pulled at 8 am and I sailed slowly, with the light breeze filling my jib, 4 nm to Honeymoon Bay where there is a campground run by an aboriginal named Les. P & D loaded the dinghy with their dirty clothes (to be washed) and empty water containers and went ashore. Les was very surprised to see them walking up the road and wondered where their car was. On being told that they had sailed in and were anchored in the bay he looked at the yachts and commented, “You must be mad sailing all that way in dinky toys”. The generator had run out of oil so there was no power and the washing had to be done by hand. They filled their water containers and then spent most of the day yarning with Les while I rocked gently at anchor in the bay.

Wednesday 24 May

Last night Les mentioned he had some spare solar panels, which he would sell, so this morning Jim negotiated with him and bought two for $400. He put one on Levanter and loaned the other one to us. D & P lashed wooden poles to the underside of my shade canopy then attached the panel on to the top. They had to punch small holes through the canvas but I guess that can be patched when I get home. Luckily D had bought lots of 12-volt electrical wire and battery connecters so now I have the solar panel charging directly into number 2 battery. Number 1 solar panel can be switched to whatever battery needs extra charge. Hopefully this should solve the problem of the fridge running my batteries flat and we won’t have to use valuable fuel running the generator.

By the time all that was done it was too late to sail to the next spot so we stayed put in Honeymoon Bay. D & P went for a walk on the beach and discovered a deflated and perished zodiac rubber dinghy. Les said it was the victim of a crocodile attack .I am glad we left my rubber duck (dinghy) at home and borrowed Ashley’s (P &Ds son) aluminium dinghy for this trip.


WW2 equipment at Truscott

Thursday 25 May

I left Honeymoon Bay at 8 am and with main and jib up we set sail to West Bay 15 nm away. Everyone wants to look at all the equipment that was left after the World War 2 airbase of Truscott was abandoned.

The wind died towards midday and I had to motor the last 5 nm. While I sat at anchor P & D went ashore in the dinghy and were surprised to find a cement barge landing ramp, good gravel road, a semi trailer truck and three fuel tanks on trailers. Jason from Broome Pearls came along and explained that his company (Kailis ) use Truscott as a base for the nearby pearl farm. Then along came Jim, who is the site foreman for Shore Air, and his offsider, Tony, in a truck. Their company operate the airstrip and supply fuel to pearl farms, tourist boats, oilrigs etc. All fuel comes by barge from Darwin. They mainly sell diesel but managed to find 110 litres of unleaded petrol to sell our group for $2.10 per litre. They also filled my 9 kg gas bottle for the price of a bottle of Bundy Rum.

Tony took P&D, J&L in the truck and showed them some of the old machinery and equipment abandoned after WW 2. Barges, trucks, road grader, tractors and thousands of drums – incredible to see all this equipment rusting away in the bush. He told them to be aware of an 18-foot crocodile that lives in the creek near the barge landing.

Friday 26 May

Had a rocking and rolling night last night with not much sleep, due to the swell rolling in on my side.

“Gnome” from Shore Air picked up P & D, J & L in the company ute and took them for a tour of more abandoned World War Two equipment including the wreckage of a Liberator airplane where 9 men died. Then he took them to the airstrip and hanger to chat with the mechanic servicing a 30 million dollar helicopter. Pearl Farm and oil companies fly their workers from Darwin or Broome, to the airstrip by plane then Shore Air fly them to the oilrigs or pearl farms by helicopter. There are 30 people stationed at Truscott and they work on a two week on, two week off roster. P&D, J&L had a coffee and a chat to some of the personnel in the mess.

They came back to Levanter and I and raised anchor at 10 am and on a glassy, smooth as silk, azure sea I motored 9 nm past a farm owned by Broome Pearls with its thousands of black buoys to Anjure Cove.

It was a lovely protected anchorage but as the day was still young it was decided to carry on another 5 nm to Circular Cove on St Thomas Moore Island. By then the wind had come up and the tide had gone out and I had to be guided very carefully between rocks to get to a safe anchorage.

Saturday 27 May

What a horrendous day! First off when P & D were lifting my anchor at 9 am the dinghy rope got caught around my propeller causing my engine to stop and almost jump off its mountings. D used a lot of “F” words as he untangled the rope from the prop and manhandled the heavy motor back into position. I eventually got going with all sails up and a nice 20-knot wind.

I should have been racing along but I was battling to reach 2 knots – the tide was against me and to make any headway I had to use my motor as well. The narrow passage between Mary and Long Island was really rough with the tide racing against the wind causing huge waves, eddies and whirlpools. To add a bit more drama to an already difficult situation, there was a whopping great rock smack in the middle that I had to avoid. I was ever so glad to get to a calm anchorage near Mary Island at 4 pm after taking all day to go 22 nm.

Sunday 28 May

Left Mary Island anchorage at 7.30 am into a 25-30 knot wind and with jib only I zoomed along at an average of 4 knots. For once the tide was helping me. I managed to miss all the reefs and rocks (Levanter hit one but not seriously this time) and finally after 13 nm anchored in 6 metres of water in a bay near Low Island. The Fremantle book said there was a wrecked DC 3 World War 2 airplane on the shore. After a lot of searching D finally saw it in the distance, well inland, about 5 km away on the edge of a crocodile infested swamp .No one felt like walking to it but they did enjoy walking on the beach and collecting some nice shells. P made some bread – she is getting good at it now – then they built a fire on the beach and burnt their rubbish.

By 6 pm the tide had gone right out and I was sitting on the bottom, which fortunately was mud – another tide miscalculation. By 8pm I was floating again.

to be continued....


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