Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kimberley Stories

Hidden Island

I’m sitting in the air conditioned comfort of The Doc’s saloon and outside the air is soup thick with grey black clouds stretched tight overhead. Now and then you hear the odd rumble of thunder but it seems a fair way off. Well, here we are then, “safely” tied up in Tipperary Waters Marina enjoying the delights of civilisation (take away, Laundromats, coffee shops, internet, wireless access for my new Kindle and 240 volt power on tap........ahhhhhhh. “This is living!” as the camping store ad tries to suggest. I know we said not to expect any blogs for 3 months as we hardy adventurers battled tides and crocs in the constant search for interesting experiences but............hang on while I just turn this air con down, enough is enough dear reader. Seriously, it was getting time to head for shelter and while there are hidey holes a plenty in the Kimberley, we both felt it was time to put the Doc into her pre-booked pen and avoid a direct lightening strike while still 250 miles from the nearest port. We are a little way into “the build up”, the months of November and December up here in Darwin when clouds start building in the sky by 9 o’clock and by 1 they are black and bruised and groaning with angry bursts of thunder. And that’s all. It builds up to what should be a total piss down but nothing comes, just a thick and heavy humidity and air that crackles. Any job you do outside immediately coats you in sweat so profuse you need to wring out shirts. So, what better time to sit down below and muse back over the last 6 weeks and try and share with you our sail through the Kimberley.
We left Broome on the tail end of some strong winds and I have got to say, it was a pretty tidy departure. We motored our way through a half dozen cruising yachts who were anchored towards the Cable Beach end of Gantheume Point and brought The Doc into the wind to hoist our brand new main sail for the first time. We put in a first reef as the wind was still up and with the reef in, Diana eased her bow around to head north while I gently unfurled the jib. The wind was on the beam and The Doc caught it in both hands and she was off. We looked back as the anchorage quickly disappeared and imagined the yachties all oohing and aahhing saying, wow, those guys know what they are doing or wasn’t that nicely done, Truth  is nobody notices when you get it right, its only when the main halyard snaps or you accidently jibe that people are usually watching. It was pretty uneventful up to Cape Leveque apart from our 6 hour motor sail from Beagle Bay to the Cape and it was eventful for the sole reason that we made 300 litres of fresh water and filled our tanks. The water-maker has been a work in progress since we left Fremantle and we could never seem to get the air out of the system for it to work as it should. Well, it seems we must have finally done something right and it purred away for six hours turning salt water in fresh and has since been filling our tanks regularly.  At last!
Hidden Island
Big tides!

Tides, tides and tides
We’d been working with tides from Carnarvon onwards but in the Kimberley they become even more critical. Leaving Leveque to sail to the Buccaneer Archipelago was a matter of catching the ebb first and then at the right moment picking up the flood into Silica Bay, our first anchorage. We managed to get it right apart from an hour or so and were feeling pretty chuffed as we dropped anchor in this tiny bay along with the beautiful charter yacht Starsand. We dinghied ashore and decided a beach barby was on so back we raced to get sorted before we ran out of light. Frank and Karen from Kokomo joined us and we enjoyed the first of many beach barbies. There we were, sitting back with a glass of red in hand admiring the softly fading sunset and glow of the whiter than white sand completely oblivious to what was happening out in the bay. It was drying out big time. As the fire crackled and the joy of finally reaching the Kimberley took over, we seemed to forget about tides for the moment.
Silica Beach High Tide
Silica Beach Low Tide

Frank took a stroll down to the dinghies with torch in hand and he seemed to be gone a while. He came back an announced that no one was going anywhere for at least 2 hours, or until the tide had returned to cover what looked like a moonscape that stretched from the dinghies to the yachts. This was one shallow bay and that smug complacency we had earlier was short lived. The only solution was to get more wood and fill our glasses. What a shame we forgot to bring the aeroguard!!!!
Nothing to do but wait for the tide.

The Doc sitting very close to the bank.

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