Having observed that most, if not all,
The thought that we would be there on our own was merely wishful thinking! In 2003 we did not see any other yachts (except the two we were in company with) for 9 weeks until the King George River where we found one charter yacht and two other yachts from
We also managed a quiet walk alone up the cliff and along the river, (with many
are some wonderful aboriginal paintings, although we only walked for approximately 2km.
The King George was just as majestic as we had remembered it. The ochre colours of the towering cliffs in the early morning and sunset, along with the contrast of the pale green vegetation were savoured every day. The only other aspect that had changed was the number of crocodiles! We saw only one at the entrance in 2003, which of course does not mean that there were not more lurking! Perhaps the increase in numbers spotted could be attributable to their rate of breeding, the time we spent there and the increased number of boats that has perhaps encouraged them to gather in waiting!
This time we took the dinghy up the East Arm to the waterfall and the rope climb. A plaid rope of considerable strength has been placed by the Navy to assist climbers (rather than stop them) which was a welcomed thought in preference to the usual ‘nanny approach’ we often see in
We think we may have met this crocodile a week later when we anchored just around the corner near the mangroves to shelter from the screaming wind. Nudging up to the mangroves to drop the pick (Peter always says we do not get close enough and I say we are too close!) we inadvertently upset a very large, gnarly old croc! We presume he was hunting there! Although camera shy and did not like us going up to the foredeck to look down on him (us refraining from hanging over the side!) he was there for a few days at sunset glaring at us! At least we did not drop the anchor on him!! Having realised after the first night that we were in so close that our anchor could only be retrieved at more than ¾ tide, we did in fact move out a little.
Two of the falls were flowing at the head of the river, which was more than last time! The idea of filling up the dinghy and having a bath was shelved quickly due to another crocodile lurking, but more so because of how utterly cold the water was! We managed to collect water to fill our tanks, do the washing and have a good old soak, but like the crocodiles we then had to lie in the sun to warm up. Our days there were very cool, so much so that we spent one windy day below with the hatches closed and me in a sleeping bag to keep warm! It’s the first time in 5 years that we have not had to use the fans.
After the first week there we thought we may have had a good weather window to go down to the
When we did finally exit the river again, we thought we would have enough water. (A 2m tide at nearby Lesueur Is gave us a minimum depth of 1m underneath us on our initial track.) However, the tide was a little lower than anticipated but given our shallow draft and a minute change in the tide over the next 3 hours, we forged on. I was a little slack in keeping a check on our progress; preferring to be on deck rather than looking at the chart. Just when we could see the deeper water 2 boat lengths ahead, we ran aground. Bugger!!!!!!!! Our sounder had been on 00 for about 100m! So over went Peter in the dinghy and off went the 15hp outboard! That was enough for me to reverse and float off. Whilst Peter was having fun with the hand held depth sounder that was for some reason only happy displaying water temperature, I quietly ambled past him to where we thought the channel was. At one stage Peter did not hear me and got a bit of a fright, looking up at the bow hanging over him and moving! I did see him!!
Unbeknown to us, going aground jammed the centreboard up inside its casing. We only realised this at dusk when we were setting off to cross the Joseph Bonaparte (aka blownapart) Gulf in the calmer waters of the evening. Peter knew that it was only a matter of levering it with a screw driver which would take a minute, however given our company on the beach previously….we had to live with it!
We never did make it down to the
But we did have a sensational sail to and from the King George. We had no moon on the sail down, which meant amazing starry nights. Afternoon breezes filled in giving us a good sail under spinnaker. Two weeks later we had the full moon to keep us company at night. Our night watches were relaxed and we still treasure the fact that we can sail along under clear skies without squalls finding us!!!!!! It was rather fortunate that we did have a light sail back (motor sailing most of the way) as we made a reasonable amount of leeway with our board jammed up!!
We almost made it there and back without being buzzed by Coastwatch. Customs (really nice chaps) had come by in their centre console RIBS in the King George to check us out (a lousy job but someone has to do it!) and were just as surprised as us that we had escaped Coastwatch. However, about 60 miles out from
A dawn approach to the Cox Peninsular had us enveloped in an eerie fog, lasting well after sun rise. Further on we could see the myriad of masts across
Unfortunately we could only spend a little more time at anchor as we needed to secure a birth back at Tipperary Marina to finish our planned work on the boat and to go back to our day jobs. An American boat coming into the marina the following day cut the corner on a falling tide, went aground and ended up on his side (good time for a bottom job!) for a considerable amount of time. Coming out of the King George River could have been worse for us!!!!!!!!!