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, 28 August 2013

A Close Call - Two Nights at Samson’s Inlet, the Kimberley

Monday24th June 2013
A Close Call - Two Nights at Samson’s Inlet, the Kimberley
sunrise in Camden Harbour
0830 MrJ and I leave Sheep Island to catch the last bit of the outgoing tide to get AR out of Camden Harbour timing the change of tide to get us through Brecknock Harbour and then into Sampson’s Inlet a short 15n/m around the corner. Once again we had done the calculation right we were into the inlet and anchored by lunchtime.
Our passage took us out of Camden Harbour sailing in a westerly direction through Brecknock Harbour on a course that would pass by Slade Island and bring us close to the mouth of Kuri Bay which was the main Kimberley base for Pasparley Pearling Company. Funny, we had not seen or had not come across any of the pearling bead lines in Brecknock Harbour that were marked on the charts. We had also notice this, the lack of pearl lines, in some other places. The pearling industry must be on the down turn.
AR had not been much more than an hour into the passage when we saw a large motor boat in the distance heading towards us. It had stopped not too far ahead, lowered a small runabout and which was heading our way. Then there was the familiar squawk of the VHF radio; someone was calling us. It was the WV Dept of Fisheries. There were two very friendly people, a female and a male, who gave MrJ and I a friendly chat about the rules etc (much stricter in WA then on the eastern coast), asked to see our fishing licences (MrJ presented his) and then we just chatted about boating life in general and my herb garden. I gave the female officer some bits and pieces of the fresh herbs. My herb garden gets them every time! ;o)
Another hour went by; now we were passing Kuri Bay, officially named Kuri Bay in 1962, an abbreviation of the Japanese pearling industry executive T. Kuribayashi. The fishery people told us that the whole pearling operation in Kuri Bay had been shut down. Looking from outside the bay as we passed, the infrastructure was still all there; a multitude of buildings, sheds and their own slipway. The place was huge!
Kuri Bay as it is today, a ghost village - everything has been left just as it was
entering Sampson's Inlet
MrJ and I arrive at the entrance of Sampson’s Inlet still riding the in-going tide through the deep narrow entrance and into the inlet. We keep to the middle as AR passes through, the entrance is marked with a rocky reef off both points, the north point reef has been said to dry at LW. The inlet runs in about 3.5n/m with a sharp right elbow turn about halfway along. The bottom seems to be fairly flat; we did not come across any intrusive sand bars. There were several narrow gorges leading off on either side of the inlet. Sampson’s Inlet was a large gorge in its self, land-locked and steep-to; the guides say that it was a good cyclone anchorage with little effect from the currents, that there were cyclone mooring towards the bottom end and crocodiles frequent the inlet. Around the corner we could see what looked like one large and one small pontoon plus two small moorings. These were what were left behind by the pearly industry, to be used again when their season picks up.
MrJ and I anchored in Sampson’s Inlet (15’30.039S – 124’29.567E) away from the mooring in a good sandy mud bottom with 13.7mt of water at HW (8mt tidal difference). We had our lunch and then lowered the tinnie to go exploring. It was close to the top of the tide as we took the tinnie up Sampson’s Inlet towards the head of the inlet; motoring further up through a narrowing inlet past a cliff face with a large rock ledge on the left and still further up through the narrowing watercourse then around a bend to the tidal rocky creek bed.
the creek dries out
Later, when reading the Kimberley Guide I discover that we had motored right over the top of the tidal rock bar at the HWS and on further to where the rocky creek bed was exposed. MrJ and I clambered out of the tinnie and across the slippery unstable rocks carrying our water containers with all thoughts on getting some fresh water. We knew that we had to be as quick as possible; no mucking around is what MrJ would always say, as the tide would be going out soon. MrJ had put some fresh water in two containers when he looked to see if I was OK and happened to notice that the tinnie behind me was high and dry. The tide was going out faster than we had realized. We had to get out of there fast!
It must have been a scene right out of an old comic film to see MrJ and I trying to scurry back across the slippery rocks as quick as we were capable of carrying all the containers; it was not comic to me. I was scared! I had visions going through my head of us being stuck here, high and dry for hours or even days till the next big tide came in and then there was the potential croc threat. Holy cow............!!!
happy to be outta that creek
MrJ and I threw the containers into the tinnie and grabbed the sides of the tinnie to either drag, lift, push, shove and/or all of the above, taking all our strength to get the tinnie of the large rock and back into some shallow water again. We had to use the oars to paddle some of the way across the every shallowing rocky bottom waterway before MrJ could fire up the outboard. The tinnie hit the rocky bottom in a couple of places as we negotiated the waterway and at one spot right near the bend we had to use the oars again. I think this is where the first rock bar was. And then we were free, out in the deeper water and motoring back up the inlet and back to the safety of AR. What a close call! (but I didn't get any photos)

Tuesday 25th June 2013
This was washing day! MrJ and I had not done a proper wash since the 10th June at McGowan’s Camp anchorage. I had washed some things, including the bedding, in seawater and done a quick freshwater rinse when we have been able to get the fresh water somewhere in between there and Sampson’s Inlet or we wash our smalls in the hand basin at night after our tubs but that was about it.
MrJ dragged our little washing plastic twin-tub machine onto the aft deck while I gather up all our washing – clothes, bedding, towels, t-towels and a couple of toweling floor mats. MrJ had to lift the 20gal (USA) blue water containers out of the forward shed (locker); had something to do with not getting very much fresh water the day before. :o(
the boat makes a great clothes line too
We used 100litres of fresh water to do our washing. I pegged everything on the lines I had rigged up out forward over the tramps and then I left them to dry in the gentle breeze and warn sunshine. Outside Sampson’s Inlet the wind was reported to have been fairly strong, that’s why we came in here for two nights. I watched the gentle breeze playing with the bed sheets. I could now understand how the inlet would make a good cyclone anchorage.
rewarded with a brilliant sunset

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

A Lady in the Wilderness – Sheep Island, Camden Harbour, Kimberley

red sky in the morning
Sunday 23rd June 2013
A Lady in the Wilderness – Sheep Island, Camden Harbour, Kimberley
I had woken up very early, before 0400 to go to the loo as I had become cold during the wee hours. MrJ had been feeling the freshness of the early morning too and we were fighting over the bed covers. Not literally fighting just figurative speaking. I don’t think we have ever had a real ding dong fight just a few grumbly words now and again. Too late we were both wide awake and the full moon was shinning its light right through our cabin’s top hatch. It was time to make a move, time to get underway. 0430 we were leaving Hanover Bay after pulling the anchor up in the semidarkness.
Our efforts did not go unrewarded. As we were entering Camden Harbour MrJ and I were greeted with a fantastic red sunrise. Strong winds coming! (So they say)
AR sailed into Camden Harbour with both sails up we were flying down the passage between the mainland and Augustus Islands and then into the notorious Roger’s Strait at the southern end of Augustus Island. The Australian Pilot Guide describes this as a treacherous passage
sunrise in Port George IV
Augustus Island

This area of the Kimberley’s is very scenic with lush green high hill with red rock cliffs against blue, blue sky dotted with white cloud and a green sea that weaved around a dimpled shoreline, dimpled with many inlets and bays and dotted with small islands and outcrops of rock. I was very impressed with the sheer rock faces, white beaches and the many Boab trees. All looked so beautiful by I did know how dangerous these beautiful waters could be if we were too lax in our concentration of the passage. Outcrops of rock and small islands meant that there were many shallow areas to be watchful of, only some of the reef areas where marked on the charts and then there were all the whirlpools swirling AR through the strong currents. Accompanied by the big tides a boat could easily come to grief in these waters!
on passage I spent some time printing out some chartlets of the area

Camden Harbour is located in the south east corner of the much larger Brecknock Harbour, south of Augustus Island. It is where the first white settlement was attempted in the Kimberley’s in the mid to late 1860’s.

Some History Story on the Camden Harbour Settlement
Three men are credited with the energy and forethought to spark the first attempt at European settlement in the western Kimberley at Camden Harbour. The W.A. Governor, John William Hampton, contributed men and money to a settlement scheme promoted by a slick Melbourne agent, William Harvey, based on glowing reports of Explorer George Grey. About 70 potential settlers, principally from the mining and pastoral areas around Ballarat and Bendigo, bought shares in the Camden Harbour Association and were assembled in Melbourne in late 1864. The settlers were about to sail to W.A. in ships, the "Stag", the "Helvetia" and the "Calliance". After 3 weeks of sailing across the Great Australian Bight and up the W.A. coast, the "Calliance" struck hard on a reef near Adele Island. Unloading ballast, water and stockfeed lightened the ship. She drifted free and continued on to anchor in Camden Harbour on Xmas Day 1864. That evening one of the settlers died of sun stroke and was buried on Sheep Island. The "Stag" and "Helvetia" had arrived 12 days earlier, and some of the settlers already had their doubts about the viability of the venture.
paperwork found in a capsule on Sheep Island
While being brought close in to Camden Head for careening, the "Calliance" was caught in a violent wet season storm and washed onto the rocks. As the tide dropped, the ship broke up on the rocks. Today, the "Calliance" wreck site is marked by a pile of black basalt stones and a number of white fire bricks near low water mark at Camden Head. A lesser known reminder of the wreck is a lone boab tree on the eastern shoreline of Camden Harbour inscribed with "JAN 1865 - SHIP - CALLIANCE". The W.A. Government sent a magistrate, a surgeon, policemen and surveyors to the settlement on the "Tien Tsin" from Perth in February 1865. When they arrived the scene was one of utter chaos and misery. Such was the plight of settlers in the harsh Kimberley stormy wet season that many left on the "Stag" and the "Tien Tsin" with the skipper and crew of the ill-fated "Calliance".

this emotional note to Mary was also in the sealed capsule
Sheep Island - One lady, Mary Jane Pascoe, was brave enough to remain with the hardy settlers. However, she became a victim of the harsh outback when she died on 4 June 1865 while giving birth to her child. The headstone and grave is clearly visible today beside the large boab tree on the south-eastern tip of Sheep Is.
The Association Camp was established by the settlers on the western side of a small fresh water stream at the head of Camden Harbour. Access to this area through the mangrove thicket is difficult, even at high water and very little trace remains of the camp today.
MrJ reseals the captule
The Government Camp was established outside the confines of Camden Harbour on the rocky slopes of the mainland directly east of Sheep Island. An access track was cleared through the rocks and mangroves to allow stores and building materials to be brought ashore. This track is still clearly visible today and allows visitors to land by dinghy on a small rocky beach at low tide and walk up the hill to the Government Camp. The track through the rocks leads up to a stone wall which now holds a collection of crockery shards and nails and other small metal objects for tourists to ponder. Further inland can be found the ruins of stone buildings and what appear to be the remnants of animal holding yards at the Government Camp. There seems no doubt that the Government surveyor chose the best site for a camp; on a hill with cooling sea breezes and with a view out over Sheep Island and beyond to Brecknock Harbour, Green and Augustus Islands. The settlers struggled on for six months under intimidation by aborigines and lack of fresh water during the dry season. By October 1865, all of the sheep had died; the remaining few settlers, together with the government party and what few animals and possessions that could be carried away, abandoned the camps and returned south on the brig "Kestrel". (Parts of this story were pieced together from a number of sources: Kimberley Cruising, There Were Three Ships by Christopher Richards, Kimberley - Dreaming to Diamonds by Hugh Edwards, A Guide to the Kimberley Coast by Len Zell.)
Sheep Island
MrJ and I headed down towards the bottom of Camden Harbour to anchor off the southern side of Sheep Island (15’29.615S – 124’36.881E), another deep anchorage, 12.5mt HW. Sheep Island was the site of the first burial of a white woman (Mary Pascoe) in the Kimberley. Mary and John’s daughter was the first child to have been born in the settlement.
I was not all that interested in trying to find whatever was left of either of the old settlements but I was very keen to go ashore on Sheep Island, to pay my respect and prayers to a young woman who had suffered a lot of hardship and had died as a consequence of those hardships and heartache. A woman who left behind not only her loving husband John but also a husband who had to raise their only daughter on his own in that harsh environment, a baby girl who was to follow her mother in death just two months later. It saddened me!

MrJ and I found that Sheep Island was another high rocky outcrop like most of the other islands nestled in Camden Sound. It had plenty of lush vegetation to cover all those rocks, rows of mangrove trees around the shoreline and a small brilliant white beach on the SE side which feel steeply into the sea. Out from the beach and surround the island was all reef area that would be uncovered or partial uncovered at a low tide. MrJ and I took the tinny ashore while the tide was high giving us access to the top of the beach area. The reason behind the beach looking so brilliantly white was that instead of being a soft sandy beach this one was made up of small shells, shell grit and coral pieces all reflecting the bright sunlight.

I stood on the gritty beach with my sandals off and let the grit prickle my feet. To walk around would hurt your feet so the sandals went on. I looked up from the beach and there it was a big old Boab tree majestically standing right where the vegetation meets the beach. I wonder how long that old tree has been standing in its silence, holding all the secrets of the island.

MrJ and I wander over to the Boab and find the headstone that marks Mary Pascoe’s grave. The grave has been encircled with stones and is nicely protected from the weather behind the Boab tree. The headstone has an inscription that had been almost but worn away, the trunk of the old tree held an inscription that was also well worn. Adorning Mary’s grave were many shells, pieces of coral and other things that people had laid. I coiled some vinery together to make a wreath which I placed on the grave in a moment of silent prayer.
MrJ and I discover some information that tells us that there are others buried on Sheep Island, all not too far from Mary’s grave; all buried under the mounds of rock and were covered so well with the thick vegetation that I was not able to find them. What an extremely hard life these early settler must have endured!
day ends for us but time stands still for those souls left on Sheep Island

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Reflections in Hanover Bay

Entrance Island
22nd June 2013
Reflections in Hanover Bay, the Kimberley

We anchored out from a little white sandy beach in Hanover Bay (15'18.524S - 124'46.559E).
Hanover Bay

The weather was just beautiful; a light cloud cover with warn sun rays shinning through.

The sea was perfectly still; still enough to mirror the sky above.

The fishermen were happy and we were happy to be anchored in such a glorious place.
a dolphin happily fishing in the bay

Monday, 19 August 2013

Through the Whirlpool Passage, Prince Regent River out into Hanover Bay

Saturday 22nd June 2013
The St George Basin
Through the Whirlpool Passage, Prince Regent River out into Hanover Bay
morning on Purulba Creek

I was out of bed early again, outside in time to watch the light of day trying to break through the grey skies. I could hear the singing of the many small birds that had roosted in the trees above the NW bank. How peaceful!
I had dropped my fishing line into the running water thinking that I might catch a fish just after the tide had turned. Wishful think! All I caught were a few mossies!
0915 we were leaving Purulba Creek. The wind had changed to a strong NE; it was coming straight down the creek trying to push AR all over the place.

The waters of the Prince Regent River, St George Basin and the narrow passage out were bubbling with wind against tide (the tide was going out and so were we).

enjoying the ride

Outside the mouth of the river anchored in the St George Basin was a large tour vessel the Coral Princess. We had seen this boat last year while we had been at Lizard Island on the Far North Queensland coast. And here she is again! The tourists must have been up the river as the large tender on the top deck of the Coral Princess was missing and here we were coming out of the river with sails up. Just look what they missed out on! Hahaha!

As the passage narrowed from St Andrews and St Patricks Islands right through to Uwins Island, through Strong Tide Point and the Whirlpool Passage we had a most exciting ride, nothing like the quiet stillness of our entry a couple of days ago.

AR was doing anything up to 10.8 across the ground while only doing 3–4knts through the water. The whirlpools were huge, swirling in all directions making AR dance. It looked like a large gentle lake of still shinny sheen with circular disturbances but really it was the very treacherous whirlpools.


MrJ had a good grip on the helm wheel all the way through. He could see when a particular strong whirlpool was approaching or should I say that we were approaching and was able to make corrections at the helm with the steerage which made AR’s passage not so hairy.

Up ahead I could see two more yacht passing the entrance; it was that schooner and cat that we had seen down the bottom of York Sound. It did not look like that the boats were turning in. They must be going further south.

MrJ headed AR through the channel between Uwins and Mictyis Island; we were heading for Hanover Bay just to the south of the Prince Regent and St George basin. The passage is short and we were soon anchored (15’18.524S – 124’46.559E) off a nice sandy beach in deep water (7mt LW and expecting another 7-8mts at HW) next to a tourist fishing boat that had two tinnies full of people racing around the bay.
The weather was good, the sea was gentle and the anchorage was calm, calm enough to get some great reflection across the still water as the evening closed.

Rain and Other Problems - Camp Creek, Prince Regent River

Friday 21st June 2013
Rain and Other Problems - Camp Creek, Prince Regent River
Camp Creek
strong currents in the river

MrJ and I decided to go further up the Prince Regent River and the sky was still sending down light showers. We left Purulba Creek at 0645 going against the flooding tide till AR cleared the creek and was out in the main stream of the river and then the tide was going with us.
Once again the anchor winch would not work but after a lot of fiddling around MrJ and I managed to get the anchor up. My small gas stove has been going on strike as well but I know which one will get fixed and/or replace.
resident croc
As we leave the anchorage MrJ see a croc swimming near the SE bank. Going further up the river we have to negotiate more sandbars rocks and small mangrove islands. With the anchor winch not behaving we decide to not to explore any further upstream than Camp Creek. I didn't want to be stuck many n/miles away on a falling tide with the tidal range that these parts of the Kimberly’s get and MrJ was not comfortable with it either. The 4n/m ride up the river was very scenic but not as spectacular as the Berkeley or King George Rivers and maybe it gets better the further you go up but we did not find out. MrJ and I anchored AR just before the mouth of Camp Creek in a small bay on the northern shore of the Prince Regent River (15'32.340S - 125'12.113E) with me grumbling and cursing at the broken anchor winch trying to anchor in deep water with a good wind blowing which was blowing against the tide; wind against tide. I had to get MrJ to come and relieve my anchor duties while I took the helm. I needed a coffee, I needed some medication, I needed something as my tummy was in knots and I felt like I was going through PMT again. Buggar!!!!!!!!
rainy weather up the creek

And then the skies opened and poured down rain! I think that the water spirit Kaiara on Bigge Island was looking over us!

shag on a rock
A little wet weather was not going to stop our exploration into Camp Creek, up to where the fresh water flows over the rocks. We took some water jerries with us and off we went. From the anchorage near the mouth of Camp Creek it is a pleasant dinghy trip to the head of the creek about 2-3n/m upstream. The trip up the creek was very pretty with mangroves, bushland, rocky outcrops and small rocky hills with the higher hills in the background. I saw a couple of croc making a dash for the cover of the mangroves. Many birds were in the sky and their sounds could be heard through the air.

We travelled over numerous submerged sand ridges up the creek to the first set of freshwater rapids at the rock bar. It was just on the turn of the tide when MrJ and I climbed out of the tinnie onto the rock ledge by the fast flowing rapids. At the rock platforms and ledges of the rapid, while keeping a wary eye out for friendly lizards, MrJ and I soon filled out water containers.

getting water

Before leaving we climbed a little way further across the water sodden rocks in the creek bed at the top of the rapids to discover several large and small rock pools amid lush vegetation; grasses, bushes and small trees. Very beautiful but very dangerous, croc country!
rock pools
heading back
We did not take the walk or climb further upstream to where there was supposed to be a 40mt waterfall and higher water holes that were supposed to be safe to swim in; we were keeping in mind the time and the tide. We had to be out of this beautiful place before the tide fell too far for us to get out.

With the tidal change was also an increase in the wind which was now pushing AR towards the rocks on the river bank. Back on board with our water supply and the tinny hauled MrJ and I hauled the anchor to motor back to the Purulba Creek where MrJ had to put the anchor down but manually using the clutch. (I’m not taking about this anymore!!!!!!!) At least I felt more comfortable here.
After lunch MrJ and I tackle the winch motor again!!!!!!
Still not able to fix any part or doing any more for it so we put it back together and went and had another coffee. Looks like I was going to get a quick lesson in clutch controls!!!
back in Purulba Creek
Friday night relaxes, I had a couple of G&T’s I needed them. No sun was setting through the grey skies but there was a stillness falling along the creek as darkness came.