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from Rob Legg Yachts

Adventures of Minstrel in the Kimberleys

by Pauline Fowler

Episode 5


Bath Time In Freshwater Creek

Monday 29 May

With only my jib up I sailed 4 nm to Jar Island. The chart showed lots of reefs and rocks and D was almost a nervous wreck trying to plot a course and follow it using the GPS. Lucky for me he did it well because I didn’t see anything to worry about nor did Levanter who is notorious for finding rocks. My anchor was dropped in a very pretty bay surrounded by high rocks on the southern side of the island and P&D got in the dinghy and motored around to the northern side looking for aboriginal paintings. Dexter, who is the fittest one of the bunch, went rock climbing for an hour but didn’t find them. Then they motored to another bay and finally found a painting of the Bradshaw style 20,000 years old. Jar Island is a very picturesque island with large rocks and clear water and a pearl farm nearby.

They didn’t want to be caught with another zero low tide with all the rocks and reef so they decided to sail on to Freshwater Bay, 12 nm away.

With all my sails up, a 15 knot wind on my starboard bow, the tide with me and my motor just ticking away, I made good time, getting there in 3 hours. I was delighted to find Arritaii anchored there having last seen her at King George River. P&D, J&L had sundowners with Brett and Angela.

Tuesday 30 May

I stayed at anchor in Freshwater Bay today. P & D motored in the dinghy through the mangroves, which D wasn’t happy about, to a beautiful freshwater creek and waterfall. They filled all the water containers and my tanks with fresh water then motored up another mangrove creek to another larger waterfall and freshwater creek where they did the washing and had a swim. D was very wary about going into the mangroves and kept a sharp lookout for crocodiles. Luckily he didn’t see any.

Wednesday 31 May

P&D decided to wait for the high tide then sail with the outgoing tide so they spent the morning plotting GPS coordinates, reading, making bread and trailing a lure behind the dinghy close to the mangroves in the hope of catching a fish and having another swim at the waterfall.

My anchor was raised at 12 midday and I motored out of Freshwater Bay passed a pearl farm, with its rows and rows of black buoys, belonging to Paspaley Pearls who have farms in most of the bays in the larger Vansitart Bay. I have to be very careful not to run into them and often have to make sizeable detours to get around them. Jason and Tan worked for Paspaley for 2 years in this Vansitart Bay area and have a good knowledge of this area.

Once outside the bay I had a leisurely sail with all sails up and a 15 knot wind on my starboard stern, to White Finger Bay 13.5 nm away, taking 4 hours to get there.

Thursday 1 June

Winter has arrived .It is getting colder at night time requiring a cotton blanket but the days are still warm.

Today I sailed around Cape Bougainville to Parry Harbour – 16 nm in 4 hours. I had the tide and a 20-knot wind pushing me along very nicely. I even reached 7.5 knots at one stage. The strong tide made the passage very turbulent with eddies and whirlpools, but I charged on through. The only worry was when I turned east into Parry Harbour and I had the tide and the wind right on the nose against me. I had my motor going flat out, fighting the tide and the waves, using a heap of fuel and only making 2 knots. I eventually found a nice calm bay to anchor in and spent the afternoon at rest while P&D went ashore to explore and burn rubbish. They found the marks of a small crocodile and a dingo on the beach.


Friday 2 June

I awakened to the mournful sound of a dingo howling in the dead calm morning.

Today I had a tiring 6.5 hour run 26 nm from Parry Harbour to Middle Osborne Island.

To start with I ran with all sails up close hauled into a 15 knot wind off the port bow at 4 –5 knots but once I got close to the Osborne Islands the wind died and I ran into a minefield of black buoys of a pearl farm. They were everywhere and I had to pick my way very carefully between the buoys and the shore hoping there were no rocks to run on to.

Once into the bay of Middle Osborne Island I found it crowded with pearl farm tenders, barges and the big Paspaley mother ship the “Vivienne”. Even the beach had pearl farm gear on it. After we had dropped anchor and settled in, the foreman of the pearl farm came over on his boat to check us out and find out how long we intended to stay and what our intententions were.

The island is very rocky with lots of trees, almost like a jungle.

Saturday 3 June

Pearl Farm workers woke me at 5 am by zooming past in their jet boats yelling, “Wakey, wakey time to get up”. P&D were not impressed.

We set of at 8 am with jib only, going slowly through the pearl farm and the Osborne Islands to South West Osborne 10.5 nm away. Stopped and anchored near a beach and waited while everyone went ashore and explored. The islands are very rugged with high cliffs, rain forest type vegetation and the occasional boab tree. Sailed on a bit further to another bay where we dropped anchor. I am not impressed with this site as there is a swell rolling in side-on and I am rocking and rolling at the moment. I don’t think anyone will get much sleep tonight.

Sunday 4 June

Woke up to a howling strong wind so we delayed departure until 10 am when P&D thought it had eased off a bit. D hasn’t been very happy with my new mainsail so yesterday he took it off and put my old one back on. Today I had the wind and sea behind me so with the old saggy, baggy mainsail and my jib goosewinged out, I fairly flew at 4.5 to 5 knots most of the way to Barracuda Bay 19.5 nm away. I even went past Levanter – that felt good! As the wind calmed down Levanter eventually got past me again – she sails well in light winds – but I did have my moment of triumph.

Monday 5 June

The wind came up again during the night and by the time we wanted to leave it was a howling 35 knots. By 11 am it had calmed a little but by then the tide had turned making it impossible to go against so I spent the day rocking and rolling at anchor in Barracuda Bay. P&D read books then in the afternoon went exploring in the dinghy, tried some fishing with a lure (didn’t catch anything but lost a lure) and burnt their rubbish on the beach.

Tuesday 6 June

Wind was up to a howling gale again but by 10.30 am it had calmed a little so P&D decided to go. Getting out of the bay with the swell and wind hitting me side on was bad but once I was able to turn and run with it, it wasn’t so bad. With just my jib up I motor sailed to M Island. On the way D caught a shark on the trailing line but he let it go. When they went ashore they noted crocodile tracks on the beach.

to be continued....


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