Sunday, December 11, 2011


Under covers and air conditioned, keeping cool in the Darwin "build up"

Friday, December 9, 2011

Saying farewell to 2011

It’s December 8th and I’m sitting in the Reference Library in Darwin and it’s so cold I wish I had a jumper in my backpack. The librarians wear windcheaters to keep warm. This is an odd feeling as when you do finally leave and walk outside, the reality of Darwin in December becomes very apparent. It’s hot.  It’s actually bloody hot! That is why I’m holed up in the Reference Library, editing our first draft of the circumnavigation book and enjoying the quiet, studious, ambience of this space. It sits in the same building as the Northern Territory parliament so you can pop in for look at democracy at work if the feeling takes you. It’s a beautiful place to be and it seems no expense has been spared on the fit out. It’s like sitting in the library/study of a million dollar display home; plush carpet, quality sofas and desks, exquisite art displays and the quiet whisper of air conditioning at work.....oh yes! It opens at 10 am and they suggest you go home at 5 pm although I have been tempted to ask if they do sleep-overs. It provides some time off the boat and it’s the perfect place to work through the long and sometimes painful process of editing 120,000 words of rambling anecdotes. We’ve been in Darwin since the end of October, waiting for our town house in Fremantle to become available. We fly out on the 20th of December. The time has gone by surprisingly quickly and we have both found things to do to keep busy. This is the first time we have actually stopped since we both retired and so it’s been a learning experience dealing with life where time is a plenty. I have been editing our book on the circumnavigation, Diana has been catching up on blogs and we have been out and about on our trusty push bikes. I’m taking a break from editing to write this final blog.

 Thoughts on the Kimberley

Going back to somewhere you have already been never carries with it the same buzz of your first visit. We were spellbound on our first trip through the Kimberley, mesmerised by the colours, the massive gorges, the thundering waterfalls and the quiet emptiness that floats all around you. Every day we would search for adjectives to describe the startling beauty that lay around every corner of this vast area. We had that in the back of our minds as we made our way across from Cape Leveque and I suppose I was hoping to find that all over again.  And I did find it here and there but it was not as constant or perhaps as mesmerising as the first time. Can it ever be? What lingered in my memory were moments of Kimberley magic that really highlight the essential beauty and terror of this place and why it is so special.

Little moments stick out and Sampson Inlet was one such moment. We left Raft Point for the 30 mile sail to Sampson and, in true Kimberley fashion, found ourselves motoring most of the way. That turned out to be a bonus as we were short on water and by the time we had dropped anchor the water-maker had done its job and the tanks were overflowing. We had also caught a small Mackerel so it was a very productive trip. Sampson Inlet is typical in that it has a deep entrance which opens out into a steep walled waterway that meanders along and ends up in a fresh water oasis. Just near the entrance is a smaller inlet that shoots off to the right and is about half a mile long and quite narrow. At the end is the typical freshwater oasis, complete with a small outbreak of rainforest.
rainforest backdrop at head of inlet

 Phil and Marion, the legends of Silver Gull, actually camped at this spot for the whole of the wet season some years ago. There are still signs of their camp up amongst the rainforest.  It’s a lovely spot but you’d be doing it hard to spend a whole wet season there.  We let The Doc settle on her anchor and then quickly set about putting up the shades. It was mid October and the heat was starting to really intensify. The fans were going non-stop and shade was a priority. So, what was special about this spot? For me, this mini-inlet captured all that is unique about the Kimberley:  the colours, the quiet and the sounds and sights of nature that wander randomly through your day. I was sitting in the cockpit looking up at the rock walls when I suddenly spotted a dingo making its way over the rocks towards, no doubt, a favourite water hole. It looked sleek and healthy and it covered the tricky path with a surefooted ease. At one point I whistled out to it and it stopped, turned its head towards me, stared for a minute and then carried on its way. It was midday and hot and this dingo had only one thing on its mind, water. It eventually disappeared into the wash of ochre and sandstone.
In the evening, with the sun buried for the day, it’s nice to sit in the cockpit and enjoy an ale or two. We were doing just that when suddenly we heard the familiar whoosh, whoosh of dolphins swimming near the boat. This safe anchorage was obviously a nice little fish trap and this small family of dolphins were doing a casual reconnaissance before retiring for the night. It happens like that up here. You don’t have to sit for long before some example of nature flashes before your eyes.
The Doctor settled on anchor in Sampson inlet

Later on, up near the Osborne group of islands it was a thunder storm that flashed before our eyes and again, it was nature putting on a show. The misty grey clouds had been funnelling in all afternoon and by about 5 o’clock the thunder started. Rain and lightening followed and it was intense, loud and very frightening. I was always under the impression that the seconds between seeing lightening and hearing thunder equated to how far away the lightening was in miles. That is, every second equals 1 mile. Not so dear reader. You have to divide the total seconds by 5 and then you get the distance in miles. So, 5 seconds = 1 mile.  A lot of the lightening we sat through at the Osbornes was followed a milli- second later by the crack and roar of thunder.  That means it was a lot closer than we were wishing and it’s not that comfortable sitting on a boat with a 60 foot aluminium stick pointing up to the raging heavens.  We had two thunder storms in as many days and we decided it might be wise to cut short our 3 month cruise in the Kimberley get close to a marina if anything really nasty blows up.
Just another quiet night during the build up (can you see Motley the ship's cat doing a weather check?)
So we kind of fast tracked our sail from that point on thinking we could always spend a little longer at King George River if we wanted. We had set King George as a finale to our Kimberley adventure, the last anchorage before we tied up in Darwin. Motoring up the river is an incredible experience. The sides of the gorge rise up 300 feet and it’s like navigating through a giant maze. All you see ahead are columns of ochre sandstone that close in on each other with just glimpses of water at the bottom. We anchored right at the falls but they were bone dry. We did manage to find some water falling from a rock on the cliff face and it reminded me of a rather weak bladder function. You know what I mean?

the barby at the end of the gorge at the end of the world

The highlight from King George was sitting up on a wide, flat, rock ledge under the waterfall (obviously dry at this point but usually roaring with water) with cold beer in hand while a spread of lamb chops sizzled away on the barby. We had set some deck chairs up and then arranged a barby plate on some rocks, surrounded by the 300 foot walls of the gorge. In front was a circular pool of water that was crystal clear but dark and very deep. Oh to dive carefree into its cooling depths dear reader but no can do I’m afraid, not up here and definitely not in King George River. It was a memorable spot for an impromptu barby and we enjoyed the moment despite having to move the whole show, fire and all up to a higher ledge when the tide snuck in.

through the walls we go

Back to the Doc for a farewell drink with Frank and Karen and then prepare for the 250 mile sail back to Darwin starting next day. October/November is late in the season and, we all decided, after a few
thoughtful reds, too late to really enjoy the Kimberley. The heat and the lack of water make it tough going and we were all ready to get going.

Well, it’s now 10 days till we fly to Perth and I’m sitting in the library looking out the big panelled windows at a sky that is filling rapidly with storm clouds. This is the “build up”, the time before the monsoon breaks and every day the storm clouds cook away in the baking oven of sky until by late afternoon they start to mingle with the rumble of thunder and flashes of lightening. Occasionally, it all erupts in a giant catharsis of drenching rain but we haven’t had this for a few days now. I love it. It’s so alive up here at the moment and this is the one, enduring experience you get from this cruising life. You get time to see another world at work, the world of nature in all its beauty and its terror.
the sky is always changing during the build up

Thanks to everyone who has been following our journey through the blogs and I wish you peace and rest over the holiday break. July next year we head off to Dilli and the start of our South East Asian adventures so stay tuned for more blogs coming your way.

Cheers Rob

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Osborne Islands

18th October 2011

It took two attempts to get out of Krait Bay, just south of the notorious Voltaire Passage. The first morning we left at 6.30 in the morning hoping to be at the passage right on slack tide at 7.30., the reason being that there was conflicting information about the direction of the tide going through this narrow and treacherous channel. The Fremantle Cruising Yacht Club guide confirmed the information on the chart stating that the flood tide runs towards the west, but then it contradicted that information and said that it has been observed that the tide runs in the other direction. Tricky. What we don’t need are any contradictions when planning this one. The passage has been known to produce major over falls and 2.5 metre waves with wind against tide. The passage lies between two shallow banks 0.2mts and 2.7mts and is about 0.1NM wide. Hence, the decision to get to the narrow bit on slack water. Anyway day one we set off early with a 10-15knt SE forecast. It seemed a bit blowier than the usual calm morning but we hoisted the anchor and took off hoping to get Voltaire over and done with. Out of the bay it was really blowing, only up 20 knots but it would have been against us going through the passage so it didn’t take that much discussion amongst the crew to decide to abort. It is not often that Rob and I turn around, but we wanted to do Voltaire with everything right.
Later that day Frank and Karen in Kokomo radioed up. They were just coming in to the bay. We had been doing our own thing for a week or so but here we were again back together. They had been having a hard time with their anchor winch out of action and Karen badly affected by a smoky atmosphere causing serious asthma. She sounded really down in the mouth so we offered to bring over dinner to give her a break. We had 10kgs of mackerel in our fridge so Rob made up a great curry, while I made poppadoms and rice. We had a good upbeat night with the Kokomonians as we hadn’t seen them for a while and there were stories to tell.
Next morning we had another go at getting up to Voltaire and with gentle breezes and sunny skies we were glad that we delayed by a day. Kokomo went through to Parry Harbour and we headed more south east towards the Osborne Islands. We sailed for a couple of hours but then the wind dropped out completely and despite our best intentions of saving fuel we had to use the iron jib.
Majestic Osbornes

The Osbornes are high and steep faced islands with sheer ochre cliff faces and lush green forested slopes. The entrance is quite awe inspiring. We nosed our way in deep water along SW Osborne Island and dropped anchor off a sandy beach.

We were pretty exhausted as the temperatures are getting pretty unbearable and we often just flake out. We are living out in the cockpit more and more and tonight was no exception. We had dinner at the cockpit table with citronella candle lit and the last rays of the sun hitting the majestic face of a huge orange cliff. As darkness dropped the stars came out and I lay with wine glass in hand on the foredeck on cushions just looking up. It was perfectly still and all that could be heard were the various splashings of fish and the birds' last night calls. Off in the far distance a thunder cloud glowed weakly, but near the boat the phosphorescence flickered and glowed far outstripping its rival. Exhausted and hot we made up beds in the cockpit and dropped off to sleep with the cool night air caressing our skin. Just as I was drifting off I heard a dolphin nearby taking deep breaths. Bliss.

Fossicking at the Osbornes

Careful what you wish for - Osborne Islands

Osborne Islands

20th October

We left the sandy beach anchorage off SW Osborne and decided to do a bit more exploring of the island group. We had a mud map that indicated the site of "The biggest boab tree in the Kimberley". Rob was enthralled at the idea, but went along with going there anyway. We dropped anchor off Kidney Island and dinghied up between Kidney and Middle Osborne Islands. It was so hot, the sun piercing our skin even through our shirts. There was no sign of relief. We felt like we were being baked alive, but we found the boab off to the right, but nestled securely behind a protective forest of mangrove trees. We thought we found a path through the mangroves but it petered out to nothing. It was just a bit disconcerting wading through the mangroves and I wondered if "The biggest boab tree in the Kimberley" was really worth dicing death with a croc. We gave up and took the obligatory photo, that I am sure will look just like a bunch of bush and we I will wonder why I took it.
Spot "The biggest boab in the Kimberley"

No thanks. Think we'll leave it to the crocs.
Next stop on our adventure was picking our way through the masses of pearl farms spread seemingly from one side of the passage between the islands to the other. We found a way through and dropped anchor of some rocks that reminded me a lot of a Japanese garden. They were arranged so perfectly and balanced so well with green foliage that they could easily be a temple garden.
Japanese garden

We had only travelled 7NMs but the heat had taken it out of us and we fell asleep. As I woke from my snooze in the cockpit I noticed a black cloud out the back and said jokingly to Rob, looks like rain. Ha, ha. Suddenly the cloud was rumbling and flashing and the first big drops of rain dolloped on the cabin top and into the water. It got heavier and turned into a serious shower. We were like the proverbial drought stricken farmers dancing around in the rain, relishing the downpour as it washed down the last of the Dampier and Broome dust from the rigging. It got heavier and we could see bands of rain blocking out the mainland and coming out way.
Looks like rain

A huge crack of lightening hit very close and immediately put an end to the party atmosphere. Now we were wide eyed and just more than a bit worried. The wind picked up and lashed our boat shade as the wind came from first one side then the other. The thunder was all around us and the rain was coming down in torrents. Really scared now, I turned off all the electrical equipment in the vain hope that if we got hit by lightening they would be spared. As quickly as it came the tropical storm spent itself out and we were left with damp everything, but the boat had been washed clean and the atmosphere felt cleansed and we felt revitalised. Welcome to the tropics, hot one minute and terrifying the next.
The power of water

After all was clear we dinghied towards the “Japanese garden” and discovered rocky coves surrounded by sculptured rocks modelled by wind and water. Amazingly there were a stand of lush green mangroves growing out of pure white sand which added to the garden effect. We landed on a shell grit spit and topped up Motley’s litter tray. The work of the waves laid the shell grit in gently curving ridges lines. We carried on to find the three natural arches that stood like the empty windows of a ruined cathedral and clambered through a cave to discover a tiny white shell grit beach. Every day there is a new discovery and another exciting element to the amazing Kimberly.
Shell grit beach
Three Arches Osborne Islands

Catching rainwater dripping through the rocks

Sunday, November 27, 2011


14th October 2011. Friday.
Hour glass rock formation at Prudhoe Islands

7.30am saw us lift the anchor at Prudhoe Island and head east towards South Montague Sound. We were going through uncharted waters indicated by a big slab of grey on Cmap, so we picked our way carefully until we were on the area shown as the lovely blue of chartered waters on the map. Going past the islands we thought how like the Whitsundays it is, except there are no people, other boats and the navigation is a tad more than Grade 1 level. It is exciting sailing through the Kimberley with its tides, uncharted waters and the fact that you have to be totally self reliant. The isolation is complete.
South Montague Sound
We slid through a narrow canal and wound our way between islands to find our anchoring point off Wilyalkan Island. The island was rock strewn, but  looked older somehow than what we have been used to, more worn down and rounded. Poking up the top there are two or three what look like coconut palms pushing above the other growth in slender arching trunks.
After lunch and a rest (we had sailed a gruelling 16NMs after all) we set off in the dinghy to go exploring. We motored past huge blocks of rock bigger than a house that looked like they had only just slid down the cliff face and boulders balancing  precariously ready to topple over with just a little push, it seems. We found some caves that I risked slippery rocks to climb to, but they were empty of any ancient art. Most interesting was finding a beach that would do very nicely for a BBQ later.
Huge blocks of rocks look like they slid off the face just yesterday
Our pet Tawney Nurse Sharks

Our afternoon sched on HF with Frank and Karen was very scratchy but we did make out that their anchor winch had failed and they were thinking of going straight through to Darwin from Kartja Island, just out of the Hunter River. Their trip had been constantly dogged by gear failures and bad luck so it wasn’t really surprising. The news was a bit sobering and we did feel bad for them that they were going to miss out on some of the best bits of the Kimberley and that they were having such a bad time of it. With them in our thoughts we packed ready for our BBQ with folding chairs, hot plate meat and salads, and beer and wine of course. What followed was one of the special moments of the whole cruise. I want to write it down so the feeling and memory is never lost.  ( Frank & Karen were able to rig up a block and pulley system to raise their anchor so were able to continue their trip through the Kimberley in an abbreviated way)
The shell grit BBQ beach with our first thunder head of the season in the distance

The beach is shell grit and easy to land the dinghy and has large rounded rocks strewn about. Up higher past the wave like ridges of shell grit washed up by the tide there is an orange rock face and small cave and lying all about is dry wood seemingly ready chopped for the fire. We perched the chairs on top of the beach and sat there beer in hand like king and queen surveying the scene below. Stretched before us were islands bays and headlands softly changing in the sunset. Rob got to it and lit a fire behind a rock ledge and in no time we had delicious pork steaks and salads on our laps, all washed down with a glass of wine.
Rob cooking the BBQ

As we watched the big sun dip below the hills The Doctor was silhouetted in the bay. Two huge eagles floated catching thermals looking for the last feed of the day. (Stay low Motley).

Too wonderful to leave just yet we put more wood on the fire, checked that the dingy was still where it should be and poured another wine. To complete the picture off in the distance a lone thunder head  which, as the light faded put on a grumbling, flashing show of lightening forks and pulsating inner lights. We talked about my Mum and how we both missed her in our own ways. She is always with us in our thoughts and is part of us and through her all that we do is possible.
In a conspiracy of beauty, as we motored back to The Doc in the dark, phosphorescence lit the dingy from below and left a shining path in our wake.
Fine examples of Bradshaw Art

On further exploration we found an amazing art gallery on a rock face far up into the inlet. On the way up there the heat was getting quite extreme so we found a cool cave to wait for the tide to rise enough to get the dinghy over the rocks.   
Waiting for the tide

Shell graffiti cave style

We found that there was a very inviting billabong right at the end, but unfortunately not croc safe.
At the end of a long dingy ride, a beautiful billabong. No swimming though.

South Montague Sound was one of the highlights of the Kimberley for me. I stored lots of good memories here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Horizontal Waterfalls

in the tank.......
Mid October and it’s getting warm up here in the Kimberley. We’ve just spent a couple of days at Silver Gull Creek in the company of Phil and Marion, two Kimberley legends who set up camp down a creek 17 odd years ago and who have no interest in moving back to “civilisation”.  Mind you, they now have internet access, a flat screen tv and a satellite phone so they are not exactly doing it Bear Grylles’ style. We were there 7 years ago and things haven’t changed. Phil still wears his Rio jocks as standard attire whether or not there are 20 tourists swarming around from charter boats and he is still brewing and sampling his fine home brew. Marion still looks the same and still rolls the most perfectly thin rollies which seem never far from her fingers. It was hot and sticky and Squatter’s Arms has the perfect remedy. A spring somewhere back of their camp has been piped into a concrete tank that through a series of holes flows through and down the bank into the creek. It can hold 8-10 bodies and they have plastic chairs set up so you can sit in comfort as the fresh water flows over you. Once you are in, it’s hard to leave. While we were there, 3 burly barge crewmen emerged from the tank after a 2 hour session looking a lot like boiled prunes. We took our turn and finally emerged reborn and refreshed.
We said farewell after milking them for tips and advice on suitable bays, anchorages and basically where to go next. We got a bit carried away in Marion’s small jewellery shop and this may have been a mistake as we found out the next day. Next door is Dog Leg Creek where diesel can be bought for 3 bucks a litre. It’s a must do as you motor more than you think up here and we tied up the next day with thirsty tanks and, alas, slightly empty wallets. I would have loved to fill up but could only afford 80 litres. I asked if he took plastic and he gave me a curious stare, then turned his head slowly around the spinifex and sandstone backdrop and said in classic Kimberley tone “ Ahh no mate, we don’t do plastic, shoulda  come here before yous went to Marions.” Got that in one buddy! He recounted a story of a catamaran that pulled in and took 800 dollars worth of fuel and the skipper (Dad) had to raid the kids’ piggy banks to pay the bill.
 Anyway, we were three quarters full and we still had 80 lts in jerries. We anchored off for the night and planned our sail down to the Horizontal Waterfalls, thinking carefully about tides as our first hazard was going to be negotiating The Gutter. You all know what gutters do; correct, they catch water then channel it away. This channel was about half a mile wide and it ran between the mainland and Koolan Island and it carried a fair bit of water mid tide. It was going to be a quick run down between the island and the mainland but then the gutter took a sharp left hand turn through some smaller islands. We had been told to leave 2 hour before slack water so as to get the free rundown the island. We still had some flood tide with us as we approached the tricky bit among the islands and whirlpools started to appear and strange bits of foam began shooting past us. It was time to hand steer.
getting interesting
 I took the helm and was steering hard to starboard to keep our line through the islands when suddenly the whole boat slewed to port like someone had picked it up and set it on a different course. We’re talking 14 tonnes of boat pushed as easily as you’d move a leaf on a pond. It was a bit unnerving but it was nothing compared to what we would see tomorrow at the horizontal waterfalls.
approaching the gap
The horizontal waterfalls are interestingly named. If you think about it, most waterfalls fall vertically, that’s where the “water fall” concept obviously came about. How then do waterfalls work horizontally, where’s the gravity man?? It’s all to do with tides. There are two gaps in a rock wall through which water flows during flood and ebb of tide. Narrow gap, a heap of water to squeeze through (10-12m tides) and you have water flowing from one height to a lower height but essentially it’s a horizontal set up. The first gap is wider and so less spectacular. The second is about 10 feet and at peak flood or ebb it is seriously spectacular.  We took the Ron Jensen designed ultimate dinghy gingerly up to the entrance just to have a peek. There were whirlpools everywhere and Diana was on the verge on a major dummy spit if I went any further so we turned the thumping 3.3 hp outboard around and high tailed it back to the Doc. We would do it tomorrow with the tourists on board the specially designed inflatables with their twin 300 HP outboards. Luckily they did take plastic because we were broke and after 2X 55 dollars were transferred via sat phone we were on our way. The boat does a short tour of the nearby gorges and the guide is knowledgeable and provides information we would never have known. He took us through some mangroves and when I asked him if he saw many crocs in here he said in true Mick Dundee fashion, “ Mate, the only time you see a croc is when they want you to see them”........ummmmmm I thought...deep, very deep but what does he mean? Does it mean they need you to be visible as they line you up from the mudbank for a spot of lunch? We didn’t linger on the possibilities because the tour was over and it was TIME TO DO THE WATERFALL. We sped across the water at a speed that made The Doc’s 6 knots seem ridiculous and we were suddenly there, poised, just out of reach of the churning froth and bubble. When the tide is really roaring the drop can be as much 6 m, that’s 20 feet. Today it was about 5 feet and the operators are careful not to go when conditions are down-right suicidal. The most amazing thing as you go through the gap is the sheer push and pull of the water on the boat. The boat skews left and right, up and down and just when you think it’s all over and we are going under, the driver hits the throttle and the 600 hp blasts you out and through the maelstrom. This guy was good. He backed the dinghy down the drop and held us there with deft touches on the throttle while water roared all around. And then it was over. We motored back to the pontoon, the tourists disembarked, then embarked their float plane for their 1 hour flight back to Broome.
down we go............
hang on now!!!

A fish out of water?
 We stayed on and had a chat with crew who operate the whole show. They’re just a bunch of young guys who live and work in this remote spot in the Kimberley. They can have up to 80 visitors a day and that means serving brekky or lunch, taking them through the falls, greeting and meeting and being polite and friendly 12 hours a day. Hard work! Home is a floating shed down the creek tied to a cyclone mooring. They have a collection of pet Bat fish which have become part of the tourist agenda. We stopped next to their shed and the bat fish came swarming in. The trick is to get a tourist to hold a handful of soggy bread while one of the crew plucks a fish out of the water which then eats the bread from the hand of the stunned punter. 3 guys live on this floating shed and it’s  pretty close living. There is a female backpacker from Germany working there as well and she lives on the houseboat near the falls. The houseboat was moving to Broome as part of their end of season pack up and she was moving onto the shed with the 3 guys. Her main concern was the open air shower they have set up on the shed. The boys assured her she had nothing to worry about. She assured them she would be showering fully clothed. We packed up camp the next morning and caught the ebb tide north on our way to Red Cone Inlet.    
there's no place like home........

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Montgomery Reef

2nd October 2011
Raft Point
Leaving Raft Point

It was an early start from Raft Point. We had to be at the reef at or just before low tide. Being only 9NM away it wasn’t that hard to work out timing though we were catching the west flowing ebb which gave us 10 knots going through the gap just outside the anchorage at Raft Point. It is a nasty little area when the spring tide is at its most ferocious. The gaps between Raft Point, Steep Island and some big chunks of rock create swirling seething water currents that pick up The Doc and want to suck her towards the rocks. Leaving at 5am, the tide was in full flight and did its best to set us onto the fringing reef, but the 68hp Volvo thwarted its intent.
Montgomery Reef emerges from the ocean

Slowly the reef, which looks like a small continent on the chart, rose out of the water in the distance. It was a bit tricky navigation wise as you had to round a long sand spit and then head up a narrow channel between it and the reef. On first impressions the reef looks man made, smooth and rounded. A sea wall perhaps or a dyke. If it was a dyke though it had serious structural problems as in regular intervals water was gushing down the side in drain like torrents. Once into the narrow channel the water was a respectable 10 metres deep and we could take in the show. We anchored and I sat on the deck in the shade eating breakfast and watching as the waterfalls on each side of the boat emptied the contents of the pools laying on the flat topped reef.
The water falls off the flat topped reef
The Doc in the narrow channel inside the reef

Kokomo was with us and they launched their dinghy to check out suitable landing spots for a reef walk. They reported that the reef was in fact not rock as it looked from afar, but all coral. We clambered into our trusty dinghy and scrambled ashore. It was coral all right, crunchy and jagged under foot. We were ankle deep in water as the water rushed from the top of the reef towards the channel. We had hoped to see all kinds of sea life trapped in the rock pools, but none was evident.
Rob ankle deep on top of the reef

After a bit of a wander around and a short dinghy ride up the channel, where at least we saw some shy turtles we got back on board, pulled anchor and followed Kokomo back out and “home” to Raft Point. It was amazing to see this massive reef and water gushing down, but it wasn’t beautiful by any means. I am glad we hadn’t travelled any more than the 9 miles there and back. If we had have travelled say 40 miles to see the spectacle I would have been disappointed.

The water tumbles over the coral
A living reef

The most exciting part of the excursion was in fact the re-entry into the anchorage at Raft Point. As we had left Montgomery on a rising tide, we hit the narrow bit outside the anchorage at full spring tide flow. It churned and heaved and picked up The Doc and tried to suck her this time into some big gnarly rocks. No sooner had Rob said “Look at how the water is gushing around those rocks” We were suddenly way too close. We were moving sideways towards the torrent. Rob gunned the motor and we got out of there as quickly as we could. We should have guessed there was something going on in this spot as we saw Kokomo skidding sideways as if on ice. Karen caught our performance on video tape and the true picture came to life. The Doc was moving fast, very fast, but crabbing sideways. We were happy to be back and safely anchored.
We had thought of catching the next ebbing tide up the coast towards Sampson Inlet, but we were buggered. Enough excitement for one day, so we decided to stay put for another day to rest. We are yearning for a safe, secure and picturesque anchorage to put down anchor for a few days. We feel like we have been going, going , going. Always up anchor to the next spot. This isn’t cruising. It is sightseeing. We just want to stop for a while. We are not in a tour group. We can stop somewhere and take time to smell the roses. We had high hope for Red Cone Inlet, but the tides were too ferocious and it wasn’t that pretty. Maybe Sampson will be our rest bay.

Until next time