How many people get to live their dreams? I am..........!

This is my story from the time when Capt'n John and I first decided to sail around the big block, to circumnavigate this great land of ours, AUSTRALIA.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Darwin to Daly

The west coast of NT
It was the last quarter of the moon for the month of May which was giving us neap tides for a few days. It was time to be heading out, to be heading out of Darwin to begin the next leg of our big adventure around the block.
But I have said it before and I will say it again – I will not leave harbour to begin a passage on a Friday........................!!!
Saturday 18th May 2013
Always the last minutes rush!
Before pulling anchor on Darwin for the last time MrJ and I trek up to the fuel station in Fannie Bay for extra petrol for the old generator and splurge on one last iced coffee for it will be the last for some time. We say hello to the aboriginal ladies sitting on the corner by the old gaol, we pass a few Darwinites riding past on bikes; I had forgotten that it was the weekend, a Saturday morning, a day to be doing weekend stuff and here we were heading out. One day is the same as the other for me and they are all an adventure.
The time has come the walrus said..................
Covers in, everything stowed and the engines are running; the anchor is up and we are away, motoring out of Darwin Harbour.
I look back with the fond memories of the things we did the places we saw and the great people that befriended us still fresh in my mind. No sadness, happy to have been and done, happy to have made such great friendships and happy to be on the sea once more.
Before Alana Rose leaves the harbour MrJ and I set the sails and then head out past West Point through the shoals around Charles point and then on to Tapa Bay only 20n/m away. On the way out of the harbour we passed a couple of fishing boats moored out. I have a feeling that this is where the authorities keep the impounded boats that are hauled in. This is where we saw the illegal asylum seeker boat a few nights ago and now there are these fishing boats. Keeps um busy.....!
The passage had begun! The sailing is good with slight winds and gentle seas. I settled back on the cockpit cushion to start reading a new book – The Girl in the Steel capped Boots; about a young female engineer who is thrown into a job in the Pilbara. It is an interesting read letting me sink further into a world that waits as Alana Rose gently slices through the water and the miles go by.
Sailing out of darwin
Instead of going down into Bynoe Harbour our first night at anchored was to be in Tapa Bay. (S12-26-821 – E130-34-926)
I have been told that if the strong northerly winds kick in that Tapa Bay can get a fairly rough. One night’s sleep is all we need with no going ashore, just a simple stop-off. The anchorage was very comfortable due to the drop in wind and only a slight swell coming in from the sea. I was so please as I know what little sleep can be had in a bad anchorage. Somehow I already knew that I would need this sleep; I knew that the passage would get more strenuous as time went by.

Sunday 19th May 2013
Down to the Daly

As always the first night at anchor outside of a quiet harbour I find it difficult to sleep. It is getting used to all the various sounds of the boat moving on the chain, the water slapping on the sides of the hull or even the noises in the rigging as Alana Rose moves about. For the first night out being at anchor is far much better than being on passage. You think being at anchor can be unsettling! It holds nothing on being at sea! It takes me three nights to get used to being at sea again.
Just after midnight I get up for a visit to the loo; MrJ gets up round 0400 for a pee over the aft rail; something he will not be doing in Croc country. There is no more sleep for the both of us although I have been trying to steal some more in the comfort of my bed. MrJ stayed up and then I’m up again at 0430 to help get us underway, nearly was not worth going back to bed for.
I love these early morning get-a-ways; sailing out under the cover of darkness to greet a new day with the sunrise showing her great colours right across the horizon. MrJ and I had already unfurled the genoa then once the dawn had given us enough light we hoisted the main as well. Not much wind happening, enough to push AR (Alana Rose) along at a comfortable 5-6knots.
MrJ takes his watch while I cook us a hearty Sunday breakfast of bacon and onion omelette with a couple of rounds of hot buttered toast and leaving the dishes till later. When we are on a cruising passage, especially in far-away places, to conserve as much water as possible I wash up only once per day with the fresh water. After every meal the dirty dishes, pots and cutlery etc get washed in sea water and set aside to be washed later. Sound lazy? Not really! Our fresh water conservation comes first and the same goes with our showering.
When at anchor MrJ and I take turns having a sea water shower up on the bow deck and then give ourselves a quick rinse off with fresh water. Salt water and long hair don’t do so well; I am carrying two large bottles of conditioner and several tubes of leave-in conditioner which all helps. Its a girls thing! MrJ said that he will let his unruly golden locks go free. Yeah right! What locks? ;o))))
When on sea passage we usually have a sponge-off bird-bath for two or three days and then get to have a one regular shower in our own tiny bathrooms. By regular I mean short, very short! I’m lazy about making the bed too. Most night we sleep without any covers, not even a sheet which gets kicked around with our feet during the night. The next morning it is easier to roll the top sheet at the bottom of the bed and leave the bottom sheet exposed to air out all day. Bed done!
After the Sunday breakfast I tried to get some more shut-eye to no avail. Mid-morning MrJ get his head down for an hour while I stay on watch. 1100h AR is passing Fog Bay when I pick up a weak 3G mobile phone signal and am able to get a message out on Face Book. Oh dear! What was the world like before FB?
I have finished reading the book that I started on Friday night and am now going through the life workshop notes that Alison gave me. Another interesting girlie book that I have on board is a Callisthenics book which gives you full detail on various types of exercises that I find very usefull to do while on a boat. A girl’s gotta keep some fitness going!
Ah Ha!!! It is so easy to tell when someone has been at the cheese!
I was making a simple sandwich for lunch and notices that the tasty cheese block had been cut crocked.  I know who has been here!
After lunch cleanup I went for a read and rest on the cabin bunk. I had just dozed off when – BANG!!!!! I heard it and felt it! I shot off the bunk, up the steps and out into the cockpit, yelling “what happened” as I am going. MrJ coolly replies, “I took my eyes away for a split second, the boat did an accidental jibe”. The so called accidental jibe caused by a sudden wind shift, was strong enough to pull the bullseye, which secured the preventer on the boom, clean out thus breaking the preventer and giving away to the jibe. The afternoon sea breezes had just kicked in. Hell it sure gave me a fright!
Sailing down the western coast of the NT, not far off the Peron Islands, heading for an anchorage on South Peron Island that was laid out in the a cruising guide PDF format by Dennis Ford that I had copied from Kimberley Cruisers or The Darwin sailing Club’s web site. At the helm, MrJ cut AR through the narrow channel between the Perons and Channel Point on the mainland. Channel Point is where the main fishing camp for the Daly River is set up. The Daly River, Anson Bay and this whole area is famous for its fish especially for the elusive Australians Barramundi.
Daly River community
Through the shallow waters at the south of the channel, around the southern point of South Peron Island we go till MrJ and I spot the designated little bay on the SW side. How the hell was this bay ever going to give us any protection from any strong south-easterlies if they come in through the night? MrJ nudges AR forward, very slowly – we have both engines running but no sail up. MrJ is keeping AR to the centre of this little bay as we creep forward while watching the sounder. The diagram in the cruising guide shows that the suggested anchorage is inside this little bay. Yeah right! We nose in a little further. CRUNCH!!!!!!!!!! Shit we hit rock!!!!!!! AR road up onto the underwater reef rocks and slid off or the rocks fell away from underneath, whichever. We were free and backing out!!!
MrJ and I had another go at anchoring outside the bay; I could not set the anchor, we were dragging and the anchor chain was jumping all over the place. We were dragging rocks with us! I pulled up the anchor which came up with a couple of small rocks still attached that I had to use the boat hook to push off. What next, MrJ and I looked at each other; keep going, we both said at the same time.
Keep going, but where too? Do we try to go back up the channel or head for somewhere inside Anson Bay. I say not up the channel as the currents are too strong. MrJ heads for the southern side of the mouth of the Daly River in Anson Bay under motor. (More fuel!). It was getting dark; we had missed our sunset anchorage. I began to get our dinner ready and could see a storm brewing across the land.

The wind picked up, the seas picked up and the clouds were spitting lighting all along the Daly River. I was hoping this storm was not heading our way. Luck was with us this time.

We dropped anchor in around 6mts of water with a lumpy sea that did not abate till later that night. Anson Bay – Daly River – S13-24-465 – E130-08-012



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