Across the Top. Darwin to Broome

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October 27th 2015
Published: October 27th 2015
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Leaving DarwinLeaving DarwinLeaving Darwin

Passing through the lock
Friday 23rd October 2015

Most of the crew was up and about well before 0600hrs preparing the boat for departure. We passed through the lock at about 0600hrs and then spent the next couple of hours taking on fuel. The two boat tanks were filled to 3000 litres each, a bladder of 750 litres filled the deck area behind the main deck, and two bladders on the bow held over 700 litres. This should be sufficient to get us to Exmouth.

Judy spent the morning doing whatever work she could before we left Darwin as there will be no wifi for at least a day or two. A farewell was said to Graeme again, as he arrived on the morning ferry on his way to work. Jan didn't come across as she doesn't work Fridays. After a short delay whilst our crew member, Graeme, went into town to buy an anchor and paddles for the RIB and we were off!

Rags cooked up a stir-fry with a piece of leftover steak which was enjoyed by everyone. This was early as he had the 1800 shift tonight. After leaving the bay in which Darwin lies it was a straight course across to Cape Ruihiers . This was over 200 Nm away and took all night. Judy joined Rags on the flybridge for his 1800 – 2100hrs stint. She started to feel a little seasick but after getting into a conversation with him she seemed to get over this and later fell asleep on the bed behind him.

Both of them wore earplugs when they went to their cabin after the watch, as these cut the sound of the engines to an acceptable level in the background.

Saturday 24th October 2015

Judy didn’t stir much when Rags got up at 0530hrs for his 0600-0900 watch, preferring to stay in bed. There was only about 40 Nm to go to the cape, with nothing in sight before the land on the radar.

On reaching the cape and motoring a couple of miles further we anchored in Koolama Bay into which the King George River flowed. Diane prepared a cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs on toasted muffins and feeling replete Ian, Jenny, Judy and Rags took the RIB (rigid inflatable boat) up into the river.

On the way we checked
King George RiverKing George RiverKing George River

In the RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) going upstream
the depth of the water across the various sandflats, deciding that it was too shallow to risk taking the Indian Pearl through.

We continued up the river, large cliffs lined it for most of the distance, interspersed with mangroves. No crocodiles were seen but we did see some large fish jumping out of the water at various times. Unfortunately it was too late in the season for the waterfalls to be running, these would have made the scenery even more spectacular. On the way back we saw a school of flying fish scoot across the water - a real highlight!

After returning to the boat all had showers to wash off the salt, and as we were soaked from the spray thrown up by the boat. A welcome lunch of leftovers followed.

We remained at anchor for the rest of the afternoon; the decision was made to have an early bbq dinner before setting off again.

Snoozing, reading, and a bit of fishing were the activities of the afternoon, Rags managed to catch the first and so far, only, fish of the trip.This will be used as bait in the hope of catching something of a decent size.

After another delicious BBQ chicken dinner cooked by the guys, with salads and veg cooked by Di, we spent some time observing all the fish attracted by the stern lights. These in turn attracted bigger fish and swimmer crabs, these made a meal of any slow moving fish. Unfortunately there weren’t any even larger fish around, or if there were, they certainly weren’t interested in anything we threw at them.

Rather than staying on anchor it was decided to make the most of the smooth seas and travel through the night. Rags and Judy had the 2100 – midnight watch and during this period they passed the most northerly part of mainland Australia, Cape Londonderry.

We also passed Stewart Island, which was quite apt, 5 of the 7 on board have the Stewart surname.

Sunday 25th October 2015

Daylight came and we spent the day passing many islands with interesting looking beaches and cliffs, some open to the open sea, some sheltered by reefs. Idyllic, but we didn’t have enough time to stop and check them all out. The front section of the boat with its bimini cover was
Montgomery ReefMontgomery ReefMontgomery Reef

The reef just starting to be visible
the best place for viewing when the seats were in the shade.

At lunchtime we reached the sheltered Prudhoe Islands, a group of islands surrounding a deep lagoon. The water here was calm and compared to the choppy seas outside had the boat sitting motionless. After lunch we did contemplate going for a swim but with the water a little murky decided it probably wasn’t a good idea.

Continuing on we passed through Camden Sound, which is the main area whales come to give birth. As it was too late in the season no whales were seen.

This afternoon and evening was a movie night and we sat in the luxury of the lounge area with the large screen tv. First we saw Elysium, a science fiction thriller and then an old movie, Memphis Belle. Both were thoroughly enjoyed and helped the time pass.

Monday 26th October 2015

We were woken by the sound of the motors altering at 0500hrs, we had reached Raft Point a few hours earlier than expected. After an early breakfast here in the calm waters, we moved a few miles closer to Montgomery Reef to await the falling tide. The reef was over 4 metres under water when we came but as it got closer to low tide more and more of the reef became exposed. Montgomery Reef is well-known for its unusual tidal movements which can be up to 10 metres.

Judy, Graeme and Rags took the RIB out and came in quite close to the reef. The water cascaded off it in spots making lines of waterfalls. Fish could be seen splashing in the shallow water before being washed over the edge, as were numerous turtles. Many seabirds sat on the edge of the reef, obviously having a smorgasborg of seafood. We also spotted many large green sea turtles around the edges but were never fast enough to get a photo.

We caught a glimpse of a dugong in front of us before it dived out of sight and after about 30 minutes of cruising up and down, marveling at the view, we returned to Indian Pearl as they had radioed us that they were concerned the water under it was dropping fast. This sight has been just one of the highlights of the trip.

Rags cooked shepherd’s pie for dinner, trying to use up some of the vegetables we still have. It seemed to be enjoyed by all.

As we were continuing on our way all night it was an early night for all, Rags to have his turn at the 0300 – 0600hrs watch again.

Tuesday 27th October 2015

Rags was up and about at 0530hrs making a coffee prior to his watch. This was uneventful, the boat had already passed Cape Levieque, the northernmost tip of the Dampier Peninsula, and he had a straight run down the coast. The seas and wind weren’t up and it was a smooth ride. As Graeme had taken the boat out over 1Nm west of the set course for various reasons, Rags gradually angled the course to rejoin the previously planned route. This was done gradually and it was 2 hours before we rejoined it, just north of Beagle Bay. The electronics on the boat make it easy for even a novice to navigate!

Many discussions were had about whether to dock in Broome or not as we had previously decided to stay here overnight. But this was rethought as the weather has now
King George RiverKing George RiverKing George River

Cliffs on all sides
changed and it appears imperative to get in as many miles toward Perth as possible. So it was decided to drop the girls off and keep going. Judy checked the air flights in the morning and these looked good but she didn't book because we were indecisive about the time we would arrive in Broome and when to leave. When she did come back to book flights the cost to leave today had risen $180each so again some rethinking. Jen and Judy elected to stay a night and leave the following evening which was still a saving. Judy managed to get online and book air tickets and one night at Beaches Resort. The rest of the day was spent packing and taking it easy as Jen and Jude were both a little queasy - today was the first day that whitecaps surrounded us.

Barry had obtained permission to come onto the wharf to drop the ladies off, the Harbour master to provide a bus to take the ladies to the end of the jetty, they catching a taxi from there. Security is tight on the wharf and the unions insisting on very definite rules on entry.

The boat had to approach the jetty on the windward side, the boat being pushed onto the pylons. Through a bit of teamwork of placing the rubber tubes between the boat and the pylons, and Barry’s skill in handling the engines and side thrusters, the ladies were able to scramble off the boat and then climb the 10 metres or so of ladder to the top of the jetty. Pretty exciting, didn’t allow for fond farewells, but we managed to get off the jetty without any mishaps.

With many waves, and probably a wet eye or two, we drew away from the wharf and set off towards Fremantle. The waters on the way out were rather shallow , down to less than 5 metres at times, and with the wind and swell the ride was decidedly uncomfortable for the next 5 or 6 hours. Dinner was whatever you could grab, Rags heating up a pizza and leaving it out for the crew to take a piece when it suited.

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


Raft PointRaft Point
Raft Point

All that beauty!!!
Sitting at anchorSitting at anchor
Sitting at anchor

Indian Pearl at anchor near Montgomery Reef

3rd November 2015

Wow, dramatic colors, how fantastic.

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