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

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