Update from “Dreamer” cruising north-west Australia – The Epic continues…

Posted: 3rd August 2011, 10.28pm AEST

August 3rd and we find ourselves leaving Vansitart Bay and heading towards Anjo Cove (maps out people!!). Left at 0800 with a few “rope” dramas ending up in Cam having to take an unplanned and slightly nervous swim….haven’t done that one in a while!!! But haven’t seen any snapping handbags since the Mitchell River (not saying they aren’t there and he really didn’t have a choice.) It was a very quick swim!! Once again we have to time today’s passage (between Middle Rock and Mary Island attached to the mainland) for a slack tide as it is another one of those undesirable and often gnarly tidal routes, this one also leaving little room for error.

Our luck has changed in the fishing stakes with some beautiful fish caught in a side creek off the Mitchell River. 3 nice sized threadfin salmon, a ripper mangrove jack, 4 crabs (only kept two big ones) and 3 estuary cod (which we let go..2 okay sized the other a very nice fish until butterfingers dropped it over the side when going to fillet it!!!)

From the Mitchell River we moved onto the Osborne Islands, where we bumped into ‘Tookawile’ again. We arrived on the 26th July and spent the next day exploring around the bays, stopping on a nice little beach and having lunch under a beautiful rock shelter gazing out over the water. Our beautiful travelling companions came over for birthday dinner of roast lamb with all the trimmings, and I was completely spoilt with Mim making an amazing chocolate chip birthday cake with crumbled Oreo cookies all over it for me.

As we departed our anchorage the next day, we came around the first headland and found ourselves right in the middle of an uncharted pearl lease having to dodge and weave amongst thousands of pearling floats. Trying to find a pathway out was a bit of a challenge but with caution we made it through unscathed. The original plan for the day had been to pass around Cape Bougainville and make Freshwater Bay, but things do not always go to plan…and this was one of those days. One thing we have learned about cruising/sailing is…ALWAYS HAVE A BACK-UP PLAN!! After the challenge of the pearling lease had been passed and we had finally cleared the Osborne’s the wind came up, gusting up to 37 knots on the nose. As we were approaching Cape Bougainville (another of those notorious tidal passages) things were starting to get a little messy. Strong winds vs. tidal current = stand up seas!! Plans were rearranged and we ducked into Parry Harbour overnight. The next morning was like glass so we made our way around to Freshwater Bay.

**1310 03/08/2011 – Have passed safely through the Middle Rock/Mary Island passage and are currently moving nicely through Geranium Harbour at a comfortable 6.7kts towards our anchorage in Napier Broome Bay…Anjo Cove**

Freshwater Bay is a pretty little anchorage (once again watch out for the pearl floats!!) with a freshwater creek, waterfalls and swimming holes. On arrival we packed ourselves a little bag of goodies and headed off with Mim and Murray from ‘Uluru’ to do a rubbish burn and take a dip. Only gone for a couple of hours we returned to our dinghies to find we had not guestimated quite correctly on the turn of the tide. With one dinghy high and dry (not ours thankfully) we were forced to do a little “portage” and drag our way over rocks and small pools left by the very rapidly receding tide, but managed to get ourselves to freedom. It took 3 trips back checking on tidal progress to finally recover Uluru’s dinghy at around 2100 that night. Thanking our lucky stars as it would have been a very uncomfortable and long night with bugs minus food and we had already by that time consumed the beer!! The next two days were spent doing some much needed maintenance…after all (I think a wise catamaran broker once told us) cruising is just that going to beautiful anchorages and doing maintenance on your boat!)

From Freshwater to just 12nm down the track deeper into Vansitart Bay was our next destination…Jar Island…the reason for our visit…the Gwion Gwion art or “Bradshaws”. So different from the Wadjina art we had seen at Raft Point. The Gwion Gwion is a lot older and is a lot finer in detail…is like comparing a pencil drawing with finger painting. The island is covered in it…every nook and cranny you look under or on has it.

Which leads us to yesterday…left Jar Island around 0800 and headed across to the other side of the bay (only a short haul of 7nm) to check out another site we had heard about…the crash site of a DC-3. With hiking boots on we headed up the sand dunes, across a saltpan and into the bush to discover a surprisingly intact aeroplane…looks like it has been cleaned out of most parts but the frame is amazingly still intact surviving god knows how many cyclones and weather in general since crashing in 1942. Curiosities appeased we returned to our very roly anchorage and were we are today…30 minutes from anchorage and we’ve heard, a nice feed of oysters!

The plans from here are to head off from Anjo Cove tomorrow am to pick up fuel from McGowan’s Beach Camp ($2.50 per litre for both ULP and Diesel) get completely porked on a lift into Kalumbaru, $200 take it or leave it(its only 20kms away) to top up on some fresh supplies…Not that I think we need it…I think we have plenty of supplies to get us to Darwin…its just that right now I have the worst craving for fresh tomatoes!!!! Mmmmmmm Bruschetta!!!!!! Weird what you miss huh?!! Anyhooooo…from McGowan’s we will day hop our way to the King George River, onto the Berkley hopefully to spend at least a week in each and then head for Darwin.

Much love to all (and it won’t be long before we get to hear your lovely voices again and even see a few of your faces) XX

Nikki and Cam


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