Thursday, September 8, 2011

Broome.....the pearl of the north, a holiday mecca........oh yeah???

Sun sets over Pearler Intombi at Gantheaume Point

Broome is the last town we visit before our 3 month sojourn into the Kimberley so, like all towns we visit it means shopping, refuelling and repairs. Busy, busy, busy. Repairs were mainly focussed on yours truly as I have had this niggling tooth infection for some weeks and it needed to be sorted in Broome before we ventured into the wilderness. We arrived Sunday afternoon from Gourdon Bay and anchored at Town Beach. By mid morning Monday, I had booked a dental appointment and a cat scan for the following day. There seems no problem getting medical services in the country. Cutting a long story short, the grey shadow in my left sinus was not your least favourite worst case scenario and another course of antibiotics should finally snuff out this persistent infection......I hope!!! With bodily repairs in hand we turn to provisioning and Broome poses some interesting challenges on that front. Tidal ranges can be up to 10 m and so you need to anchor a mile at least off shore.
Dinghy wheels are a must have. Gantheaume Point.
Shore break on a good day. Cable Beach Gantheaume Point
We moved to Gantheaume Point Wednesday afternoon so we could arrange for our new Main sail to be fitted and very happy to report it is on and fitted and ready to speed us off to our next anchorage. Repair number two ticked off. While we were there, we hired an old station wagon for 50 bucks a day and loaded her up with our jerry cans for the first part of refuelling. Getting them ashore was no problem, getting them filled even less, getting them back, now there’s a story. We drove the car onto the beach right up to the dinghy, loaded the full jerries ( 4 x 20 lit plus 1 x10 lit petrol plus 1 x 5 lit petrol emergency) into the dinghy and waited for the tide to come in and float our little fuel barge. Meanwhile Diana drove the car back to the parking lot and I waded out into the now breaking shore break to hold the boat ready for a quick getaway. Diana was back quickly and she got in. I pushed the dinghy over the first few waves taking a couple over the bow but we were still floating. I jumped in and pulled the cord thinking we were good to go; she starts first go every time. Only if you have the red key in the stop button. We have recently taken to removing said key when we go ashore to stop inquisitive souls taking the dinghy for an unauthorised spin. I looked and alas, no red key. It was, in fact,  in the pocket of my back pack which I could have reached if I was not frantically trying to bail out a sinking dinghy as wave after wave swept over the bow. The jerries were now floating in a pool of salt water and it was time to abandon any hope of getting past the shore break. We turned around and surfed back to the shore unloaded the sodden mess and started bailing for a second attempt. To add salt to the wound (pun seriously intended) the tide was coming in so fast we had to keep moving all jerries back every 30 seconds and with the dinghy still full of water we were getting nowhere fast. Enter the HERO OF CABLE BEACH. Suddenly there appeared a tall, dark stranger and according to Diana, gorgeous, who calmly said, “You guys want some help? Looks like you’re fighting a losing battle” We bailed the dinghy and got it beyond the breakers while he lugged the jerries out through the wild surf ( OK maybe not that wild) and eventually they were all safely on board. The water was up to his waist in no time and on his last trip he had to throw off his shirt and stride out semi naked ( OK down to his boardies). Diana can confirm he was seriously gorgeous. (he actually works on Kimberley Quest, a charter boat that takes people up through the Kimberley.....if the rest of the crew are as kind as this bloke, I could highly recommend the company)
So with the drama sorted we pushed out to the Doc and finally got the jerries on board. Even that has its little challenges. The swim platform that extends beyond the transom is one of the best ideas on this boat and it’s great for off loading shopping, fuel, beer cartons etc... We have taken to showering off here at night as we have a hot and cold deck- shower set up. Showering away under a warm starry night with the sea a step away and the moon casting a muted glow across the bay is one of those rare and exquisite joys of this cruising life. However, loading provisions can be a tad less romantic. With a big swell running you have to grip the hand rail and heave the items up to a willing hand and hope it all arrives safely. Once, after ferrying out our modest supply of booze (10 cartons of beer, 1 doz red and 1 doz white, 3 months don’t forget) the cardboard had turned into mush from the constant spray over the dinghy’s bow. As Diana handed me her half dozen whites the bottom of the box suddenly gave way. I desperately threw my hand underneath to save them but at the same time a wave hit the stern and I had to grab on to save myself going in. 6 bottles of white fell to the swim platform and I managed to scoop in 4. 2 fell to their death. I took a mental note of the position and decided to dive and salvage said items at low tide. It was the next day and while on shore two things happened. First, Frank, our cruising mate commented that he had seen a 6 foot long hammer head chasing dinner near our boats and second I read again the warning that a croc had been sighted in the area on the 27th of August. Diana wisely suggested we offer the two bottles of SSB, reduced from 19.95, to his holiness King Neptune in the hope he did indeed drink white and that he might see to it we had some favourable conditions on route to the Kimberley. The fact that we are now sitting at Gantheaume Point waiting out 5 straight days of wind warnings suggests he prefers red. Damn!
We had another interesting provisioning experience that very afternoon. Once back on board we quickly weighed anchor and motored back to Town Beach, mainly to escape the horrific roll that sweeps through this anchorage that makes sleeping impossible and using the loo akin to an ascent of Mt Everest. We drove back in some friends’ car to retrieve out station wagon and then set off to Woolies to do our twin trolley 700 dollar shop that would last 3 months. With that loaded into the back of the station wagon it was time to think of dinner. There could only be one option.....Chicken Treat and OMG, take away never tasted so good! With tummies full, we drove down town and parked near the Sun outdoor cinema hoping to catch Red Dog. We didn’t manage Red Dog but we did pick up a film festival screening of Oranges and Sunshine, a film about the Australian and British policy of child migration in the early 40s. David Wenham stars in the film and lo and behold who do think was there in person to introduce the film......well done, the man himself. It was a great film and a stunning setting with the warm Broome evening wrapping itself around you. The only concerns were the planes coming in to land as the cinema is right in the flight path. They get so close you see the pilots trying to catch a few scenes of the film as they pass over head.
The film finished and no, your intrepid adventurers did not motor home for coffee and sleep. We drove back to Town Beach and decided to get the 30 bags of shopping back out to the boat. We walked out over the mud flats (crocodile sighting 3 days previously) to see how far out the tide was and it was far. We had to wait. It was 9.30 pm and it should be in by 10.30. I checked a few minutes later and I could hear this rushing sound like waves on a beach. I shone the torch and could just make out a line of white water coming in fast. I got back to the car and said to Diana, start loading...........quickly. Within 10 minutes we had all the shopping in the dinghy and were feeling the cooling waters of a flooding tide licking our toes. The tide came in, we floated the boat and motored out to the Doc, very slowly. Shopping finally off loaded and safely stowed down below we could, at last, STOP. It had been a big day, it’s been a big week here in Broome but we are now anchored back at Gantheaume Point, with mail finally in hand and ready, very ready for our 3 month odyssey into the wonders of the Kimberley...

Cable Beach
,......there is only one minor hitch.......we’ve just got  a weather report and it’s strong wind warnings for the next 5 days.....somebody even used the “gale” word.......Ahhhhhhhhh, this cruising life. See you in Darwin sometime in December. Rob
Ps. This will be the last blog entry till we get to Darwin, no internet access in the Kimberley but we should have some interesting tales to tell then. Stay tuned.

Cable Beach

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