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.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

A "No Catch Any Fish" Trip into Coppermine Creek

Sunday 7th July 2013
Coppermine Creek
Caught a Fish and Some Coral – Yampi Sound
leaving Mr Croc behind
MrJ and I did not leave Silvergull Creek till nearly mid-morning; we had to wait for the end of the tide to take us out to be able to catch either the slack or incoming tide to takes us to our next anchorage.
I had completed my morning exercise, dished up a Sunday breakfast, listened to Macca, did some hand washing and made a pudding cake; all this before we were to up anchor and sail out. While hauling the anchor I had seen a large croc sweeping the mangroves behind us. It must have been his Sunday big breakfast day too!
I had put the trolling line out and heading out of the mouth of the bay  we hooked an okay size mackerel, only just on the legal limit for mackerel but was to find out later (from the book) that Spanish mackerel were supposed to be bigger. Buggar – it was already dead!
We dropped the anchor inside the eastern point at Crocodile Creek; there was already a big tourist boat anchored off the point. The anchor does not set, I had paid out 35-40mts of chain and it was dragging across a coral rubble bottom. We had missed the sandy mud shoal (probably was where the big boat was) and now MrJ had to haul the anchor up while I had to keep us clear of the big boat and the rocks. Double Buggar!!!
Instead of trying to re-anchor MrJ and I motored off to find another creek with a better anchorage. We found a great anchorage inside the eastern point of the mouth of Coppermine Creek. The eastern point was actually Conilurus Island which joined the mainland with coral filled waterways. And we had phone service for the first time since just after leaving Darwin.
MrJ rings his mum
We picked up a very low Telstra service in the mouth of Coppermine Creek with our external antenna. The signal must have been coming from Cape Leveque, 40n/miles away. We were both well. I have made contact with my kids; John spoke to his mum and sister. We picked up some emails and I had good news that a second of my photos had been used for the July issues of the Cruising Helmsman. It was Albert’s boat, Pelorus II at Gloucester Passage. It had been flipped to suit the cover. Hahaha!!!!!!!
With the reintroduction of modern communications I got the feeling that we were nearly at the end of our Kimberley trip and what a journey it had been. There was so much to see, we had only touched on some, a fraction of what there was to see. The experiences were too numerous to list, I thoroughly enjoyed it all. All the good stuff and the bad stuff, it is all part of the experience. The good outweighed the bad!
the good stuff
The good stuff - so much, too many to list and the bad stuff - very few! The winch motor finally died and we were winching by hand (hard work), the Honda generator was playing games (pain in the butt), the gas stove was giving me grievances (feel like throwing it overboard), a large croc tried to come aboard (I was terrified), we were that close to being left high and dry up a creek with croc infested rock pools and we had to drag the tinnie out (scary stuff) and we had run out of fresh lettuce and tomatoes after four weeks into the trip (buggar). On a lighter note - I had taken at least 20,000 photos, written a billion times that in words and have been blessed with meeting some wonderful boating people and some colourful Kimberley characters. All of this I have chalked up in my memory bank forever. It did seem strange to be having outside communications as I had been without for so long. I felt that life was much better when I would sit in the quiet not having to worry about phones or computers but our lives are not like that and it was a kick back to reality. Buggar!
MrJ and I had not finished with our Kimberley adventure, Broome was still a week or so away. We had to get there and the getting to Broome still offered many adventures.

Monday 8th July 2013
Coppermine Creek - Yampi Sound
the Coppermine Crk anchorage
Not only did we have mobile but we had intermittent internet service too; just enough to download emails and use one computer at a time. With the download of the emails came one from the SICYC with a new time (0745 EST) for their HF radio sked. 0545 WST, our time, MrJ was able to contact Dave on Moonglade who was anchored in Cid Harbour the Whitsunday’s QLD. MrJ also managed to get the first of his blog notes posted as well as posting to his Face Book site. I was missing the isolation already! Hahaha!
High tide was around elevenish. Mid-morning MrJ and I dropped the tinnie which was all packed up with our fishing gear, so we thought. Killing two birds with one stone, as the old saying goes, we went off to explore the waterways and taking advantage of the high tide slack water attempted to catch a fish (any fish!). I had read in one of the cruising guides that there was supposed to be the ruins or evidence an old copper mine a little further upstream on our side of the creek. These creeks in the Kimberley were not like the little creeks that flow inland. These creeks were big, big as some of the rivers and flow very fast with a huge amount of water being pushed in or out at each tide change. I was reading an eight metre difference between HW and LW at our anchorage.
MrJ and I made our way upstream, following the eastern bank for 2 miles. We were going passed high red rock cliff separated with stunted valleys of more rock and Spinifex grasses with some other bushy vegetation and scattered small trees that clung to the rocky ground with long trellises of roots. But no copper mine! I did see a couple of small crocs drop belong the water as we passed. On the return when our tinnie was nearing the rocky point where Conilurus Island parts the mainland (there was a narrow waterway between the two) MrJ’s fishing lines reels out. A fish!
 MrJ had hooked a good sized Spaniard and was playing the fish to bring him in. MrJ go the fish to the back of the tinnie and was about to land him when the fish broke free and swam away. All I could think was there goes dinner! I had then realized that we had forgotten to throw the gaff-hook or the catch net into the tinnie. There were so many stories of the one that got away; this one I did get on film.

After the trauma of the lost fish, MrJ and I motored through the narrow waterway between the island and the mainland. The passage opened up into a large curvy waterway that extended for several miles. In parts the waterway covered the rocky reef below and was scattered muddy mangrove patches around the edges. There were still the same red rock cliffs and the Spinifex covered land that surrounded us. In the waterway, moving passed the mangroves, MrJ tried spinning and trolling with no luck. I even dropped a handling with fresh bait and did not even get a nibble. Either we were just not meant to catch our dinner or we had no idea what we were doing! I have said before that MrJ and I were no fishermen!

Across the Coppermine Creek from our anchorage was a small white beach. I could see a large tin shed set back off the beach behind a small slope. This was marked in the guide book as a fishing camp. MrJ and I motored on over still with our trolling line out. Closer to the western shore there were several big outcrops of rock with a rocky reef surrounding. I thought for sure that we would have hooked a fish. But no! MrJ and I gave up and went ashore instead.
There was no sign of anyone at the fishing camp; I had not seen any lights the night before either. There were signs that people did come to the fishing camp; a sign on an old plastic chair that had been sunken into the sand which read stay off the slope please and another sign on a rusty old 44gal drum standing at the beginning of a rocky track to the side of the slope which read private keep out. I was a good girl and did not go any further; only because MrJ went on so much about respecting people’s privacy. Sometimes he has to save my butt!

Back on the warm sandy beach I contented myself with looking for interesting things that had been washed up and I was rewarded with finding three Heart sea urchin shells (Spatangoida) in perfect condition. The body of the heart sea urchin was somewhat elongated oval, similar size and shape to a large chicken or duck egg with an indentation at the top giving the heart shape. There was a hole for the mouth of the urchin on the underneath side, another hole at the back for the waste and a pattern that looked to me like intricate little flower petals, similar to the Sand Dollars. In my collection of shells there were several Sand Dollars which were also from a type of sea urchin but I had never seen a Heart sea urchin before.

Later that day, when the tide was nearly at its lowest, MrJ and I went ashore to a mud-sandy beach that had been exposed with the low tide.
We were hoping to find some big oysters on the now exposed rocks but all we did find were more sea creatures, more sea urchins and nearly got ourselves stuck in the deep soft sandy mud trying to walk about. We then motored over to the other beach that a small strip could be seen at high water and was now a huge beach. There was a couple of small fishing runabout also at this beach; the people were along the rock either looking for oysters or just looking. All I could find were sea urchins and no big oysters.

I had to tread carefully as to not step on the tiny solider crabs that were running across the wet sand scurrying back to their holes.
While beachcombing I notices another large motor boat coming into the bay; it was the fisheries boat that we had uncounted off Kuri bay some time back. The fisheries officers (there was three this time) dropped their large rubber duckie to motor into the beach. MrJ waded out to say G’day, stopping knee deep in the water to have a chat. I stayed on the beach; Crocs came to my mind!

chatting up the Fisheries

Once more MrJ and I went home without any tucker and had to contend with another piece of frozen meat for dinner.
That evening I did try for a while to connect to the wi-fi again but was becoming so frustrated with it dropping out all the time that in the end I gave up and went to bed.

Tuesday 9th July
Hair Cut and Gummy Sharks – Coppermine Creek Yampi Sound
MrJ and I had decided to stay another day in Coppermine Creek anchorage. The day was filled with warm sunshine and there was stillness in the air. A good time to catch up on some chores on board!
MrJ was able to get out on the HF; the radio has very noisy with lots of hash. It was something to do with the atmospheric conditions.
there is always chores to be done and the herb garden is doing well
I had hand washed our bed linen and hung it out on deck to dry. Then MrJ and I went off in the tinnie again hoping this time to catch our super. Not a rarzoo! Back on board I made another lemon pudding cake for our morning teas and then went about tending to my infected sandfly and midgie bites (my poor old legs looked a mess after so many trip up Coppermine Creek), a cold sore that had sprung up on my lip and a BCC sunspot on my upper left arm. The BCC; I knew that would have to be removed once we were in Broome but I was treating it along with a couple of other rough patchy sunspots with some Efudix cream. The cold sore I had cold sore cream for and for the bites I just had to rub tea tree oil into and try very hard not to scratch. The non-scratching was the hardest of all the things to do! MrJ would catch me scratching unconsciously and say stop scratching but it was too late and I would be bleeding again. During the afternoon I gave MrJ a hair before sitting back with thoughts and writing again. But not for long!
The big beautiful gummy sharks that had greeted us on our first night at anchor had come back in the late afternoon. There were two of them; they would swim under AR and then circle back around. I felt that these gummies were used to boats and people; they were looking for a hand out of fish bits or bread. MrJ threw them a handful of stale bread and it was a mad race between gummies and their suckerfish to see who would get there first. While watching the gummies I had also notice how low the tide was. The rocks along the shoreline now expose by the receding sea were nearly as high (or deep) as the red rocks out of the water forming part of the cliffs. Huge tides!

That night we had leftover chilli bean sauce and pasta for dinner while listening to ABC Kimberley on the portable radio as the sun slipped behind Conilurus Island.

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