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Adventures of Minstrel in the Kimberleys

by Pauline Fowler

Episode 8


Sunset at Raft Point

Wednesday 28 June

Left anchorage at 7 am on the turn of the tide intending to get a good distance on the outgoing tide .It was not to be. The wind did not arrive and the only movement was created by the tide. We are very conscious of our dwindling fuel reserves and the need to be ultra conservative with the use of the motor but D was also mindful of the need to get to an anchorage before the tide turned against me so he started the motor and had it running at low revs. I managed to get to an anchorage at Kid Island near Deception Bay, 14.9 nm away, by 1 pm just as the tide turned. I had used 2.5 litres of fuel. Levanter put up a spinnaker and managed the distance, without using her motor, coming to anchor an hour after me.

Thursday 29 June

Weather turned overcast with strong south to southeast winds. Just what I didn’t want. It meant I had to zig zag tacking into a rough sea .I sailed 23 nm to get only 14 nm further down the coast. On the way I pulled into “Langii”, a small coastal gorge with a freshwater stream and fascinating rock formations that looked like a whole crowd of people having a meeting. The area is one of cultural significance to local aboriginals.

We kept tacking into the worsening conditions and looking for shelter we pulled into a small bay called Freshwater Cove. As soon as we dropped anchor a man in a dinghy came out from a shack on the shore and told us we would have to move on, as we were right in the middle of a landing strip for a seaplane he was expecting at any moment. He was running a wilderness fishing camp for tourists.

So out into the wind and waves I went motor sailing for a few more nautical miles until I came to a beach where my anchor was dropped. I wasn’t happy because it was too shallow and the swell was at right angles to the wind which made me rock outrageously. P&D told J&L on Levanter that they were going to move on and try and find a better anchorage. I motored out into the wind and waves again and around a headland that had a strong tide going against the strong wind creating big stand up waves. It was very scary trying to make headway but Dexter gunned my motor and I charged on through and out of that rough area. I eventually found an anchorage out of the wind but in a strong tidal flow. I hope my anchor holds. Jim and Liz stayed back at the beach.

Friday 30 June

Last nights anchorage was calm but the tidal current was the strongest I have experienced yet. My anchor rope was stretching and staining all night and P&D didn’t get much sleep for worrying whether it was going to hold. Early this morning Levanter came motoring over to me. She had spent a very rough and rolly night at yesterday’s beach. Jim had heard a weather forecast predicting “more strong SE winds” so he was anxious to find a suitable anchorage to wait out the day. We motored 2 nm to a mangrove lined bay and anchored. The strong winds never came. In fact the weather was perfect and P was very frustrated with everyone for not moving on. She baked a cake, made some bread and cleaned me inside and out while D reversed the anchor rope, as the end that is constantly being used is very worn and frayed. They read books and watched a DVD. At night I had 2 crocodiles keeping an eye on me.

Saturday 1 July

Left anchorage at 8 am at the turn of the tide and motor sailed 18 nm through Doubtful Bay to Red Cone Creek. Only very light breeze and head on which wasn’t much help. With assistance from the tide I used only 6 litres of fuel. I anchored in 10 metres of water in the middle of the creek then P&D got in the dinghy and motored for 30 minutes up the creek looking for the head of the creek, where there is supposed to be a waterfall and fresh water. When the creek started to close in with mangroves and D saw a crocodile. He decided to turn back and come back to me; much to Pauline’s annoyance .She had been looking forward to a freshwater shower. She had to make do with the usual quick dip in the salt water at the bottom of my ladder. She has a bad rash all over her legs, which she thinks may have been caused by something in the mud that they had to drag the dinghy through last Monday. It is very painful and itchy.

Sunday 2 July

Today was glassy calm and overcast. I couldn’t move until the tide turned so P did some washing in seawater, read and watched a big crocodile swim around Levanter and I and keep us in sight for most of the morning. I motored out of Red Cone Creek at 2.30 pm and arrived at Raft Point, 10 nm away, at 5 pm just as the sun was setting. P took some photos of the scenic cliffs with the late afternoon sun giving them a magnificent orange colour.


Levanter Meets Crocodile

Monday 3 July

Today was a postcard picture-perfect day; blue sky, azure coloured sea, slight breeze and no clouds. I motored about 500 metres around a headland to a small beach where P&D went ashore. They found a well used track and spent an hour climbing up the hill to a cave that had lots of aboriginal paintings depicting people, fish and dugong. Raft Point was an important meeting and ceremonial place for the aborigines. Another hour for the climb back down the hill saw them hot and ready for a swim as the temperature was close to 40 degrees.

The tour boat “Odessey” pulled in just as I left the beach to return to my anchorage and another yacht anchored on the other side of the bay. It is getting crowded. Pauline’s rash is still painful but getting better slowly.

Tuesday 4 July

During the night another 2 tour boats anchored in the bay. It really did get crowded with 3 yachts (including Levanter and I) and 5 tour boats.

We left at 6am with the ebb tide and, with an easterly breeze pushing me along, I arrived at the SE corner of Montgomery Reef, 10 nm away, by 9.30 am. The neap tide was almost at its low point and the reef was bare with water cascading off of it in waterfalls. Montgomery Reef is a huge area covering many square miles. We followed the reef for a mile or two then, because the nearest safe anchorage was still 12 nm away, we had to veer away to Kingfisher Islands.

The tide had turned by then so I had to motor-sail the last section. I had to really gun my motor to sail through a narrow passage between the islands, which had strong tidal eddies and whirlpools, to get to an anchorage.

P was disappointed they couldn’t spend more time experiencing and exploring the reef but I would have been too dangerously exposed to anchor there for the night.

Shortage of fuel has become a huge problem for Levanter who uses a lot more than I do so P rang Jason on the satellite phone and asked him to organise a fuel drop at the Horizontal Waterfalls via one of the tour boats.

to be continued....


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