Nov 252018
 
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truant island

we had our first trip in the big boat for the season this weekend, we headed out on friday morning to truant island, towing the tinny. we have been waiting for the dry season winds to really abate and finally this weekend looked like the break, with the winds shifting round to the north and even into the north west on sunday.

despite the fairly long interval between trips, nearly everything worked well on the boat and we didnt forget anything other than a couple of minor items! our last trip was back in may, so it was quite a break over the dry season.

we had a gold spot trevally we caught after arriving on friday for dinner the first night, a sploosh of chipotle mayo, salad with greens from the garden and a nice bottle of white were the perfect companions as we watched the full moon rise. we had hoped we would see the turtles hatching given the full moon, but there were no signs when we checked about 10pm and no tracks in the morning.

we had a quite varied weekend, kai & I did quite a bit of snorkelling as the water was very clear, given that young sean whitcomb nearly most his arm in a shark attack here last weekend, we were a little cautious in the water! kai and I also spent a fair bit of time chasing fish from the boat with our spears, kai hit a couple of mullet but they got off before we could recover the spears. Sal and i spent saturday morning bottom fishing the reefs around truant banks without much success but caught a couple of mackerel to keep us fed!

we also did our usual beachcombing and brought home some more floatsom and jetsom for the decorations at rick’s bar and grill!

coffee time!

coffee time!

we had a leisurely trip home on sunday, as you can see kai slept the whole way, i am making a coffee while the auto pilot steers us homewards!

we covered 71.2nm and motored for 5.5hrs using 165lt for fuel consumption of exactly 30lt per hour and 2.3lt/nm

 

 

Oct 272018
 
oct-6

beachcombed bouys

its been a while since i posted to the blog, so i thought i better do an update. my twitter followers will have seen most of these images and know what we have been up to, but for the rest of you here is a quick and dirty post about october!

its mainly images and less words, because its a lazy saturday afternoon!

the big news this month was that kai got picked for the gove representative rugby league team to travel to katherine for a tournament against sides from katherine, alice springs and darwin. the team drove out and played a couple of matches on the friday night and then the main tournament was on saturday, unfortunately in the second game kai was heavily tackled while carrying the ball and ended up with a mild concussion, so he missed the rest of the games.

also this month sal and i had 5 days in darwin, she had a tax course in darwin for 1 day so i took a few days off and we flew over for a long weekend, kai stayed at home and looked after himself. we had a lovely time, lots of lazing round the hotel pool, lots of yummy meals and catching up with a few friends. dave, the new co-ordinator at the art centre, is an artist himself and he had an exhibition on the friday night at outstation gallery – who also happen to be one of my coffee customers! so we had a nice night at the opening before heading to the darwin icon that is peewees for dinner.

we also did all the markets, mindal, parap, rapid creek and nightcliff. we discovered a new place that actually has decent coffee – a first in darwin! its called alfoncinos and its down the arcade in mitchell st that runs down to the old bus terminal, just past coles.

our first night we had dinner at what used to be the pearl, it has transformed into a tapas and wine bar and sad to say its nowhere near as good as it used to be.

sal also picked up a couple of lovely skirts with actual pockets!

other meals we enjoyed was lunches at the old standby, the sumatra cafe, one of darwin’s hidden secrets, they do fantastic, authentic padang food from sumatra, and dinner at memories of india which is the best indian i have had in australia at a sit down restaurant. we also had dinner at the laksa house, aka warung ibu ayme, another darwin institution on the stuart highway.

in other news i finally completed reassembling the big boat shed at our house in south, its been a long and sometimes arduous project, but its now complete. I think it ended up being rebuilt upside down, inside out and back to front. Largely due to the timelapse between disassembly when i bought it and when i rebuilt it, as well as the impermanence of the permanent marker that i labelled everything with!

yesterday sal & i headed out on daves boat and had a lovely day on the water, we left the boat ramp at about 8:30, had bagged out with 6 nice mackerel by 11:30, had lunch and a swim at breakfast island and we were home by 2:30!

(dont forget you can click on the “i” to see the image captions)

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 1:09 pm  Tagged with:



Sep 152018
 
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kai with a nice Bawaka muddieon his spear

recently timmy mentioned he wanted to put a gate in at bawaka to try to stop unwanted visitors when no one is at the community and dave and I told him we would sort something out. in the end timmy suggested we relocate an old gate that he made about 10 years ago, that was installed at a creek crossing on the way to mosquito creek.

the removal of the gate proved to be quite an exercise on its own, timmy and i went out to mosquito creek and spent a few hours digging out the old gate post which was very securely concreted into the ground. we eventually manged to get it free with a combination of digging and brute force with the land cruiser!

dave and i then went back a few days later with a battery grinder and cut the gate off the old post and bought it home, we then sourced some pipe for gate posts and welded new hinges on the post with the help of our resident boiler maker, deano. we also made some running repairs to the old gate.

last weekend we took the new gate down to bawaka and dug new holes for the hinge and lock post and then concreted them in, it all went much quicker than we expected and only took a couple of hours all up, leaving us plenty of time for fishing and hunting!

we had thought it would just basically be a working party so sal decided to stay home, but as it turned out it was a very social weekend, timmy came down with his wife rita, his son, daughter in law and grandkids, he had also arranged for a family touring the NT from victoria to do a day tour to bawaka.

the royal family are from macedon in victoria, every year they take their 3 kids out of school for a term and go on an extended camping adventure somewhere in australia! aaron runs a plumbing business and his wife dannille is a special needs teacher. they have 2 boys, saxon & thor and a girl, mali. they are a lovely family and we really enjoyed our short time together – although i get the strong feeling we will see them again up this way!

after a great day at bawaka they unfortunatley had to return to nhulunbuy rather than staying the night with us at bawaka, we had caught a good haul of muddies during the day, so i invited them to dinner at rick’s bar & grill on the sunday night when we would be back home so they could enjoy a feast of crab!

old friends surprised us all by turning up as well, eddy & donna mulhulland and their son, reece with his wife and baby son all came down for the weekend as well, so it was a great night of catching up over the weekend. so it ended up beng a fantastic social weekend with both old and new friends!

one thing i know, bawaka never disappoints and always surprises!

 

Apr 262018
 
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gardens by the bay from the 57th floor

its been a busy couple of days – train, walk, eat, train, home, nanna nap, rince & repeat. yesterdays highlight was a trip to the top of the marina bay sands casino complex, its 57 floors to the top so there is quite a view! it has an infinity pool that is simply mindblowing, but only hotel guests have access. we went up for cocktails at spargo bar & restaurant. we enjoyed a very expensive and not particularly good mojito, but to be honest you would pay the price just for the view without the drink!

after the luxury and glamour of the marina bay sands we popped back to little india and the tekka centre and demolished a meal of tandoori chicken, lamb masala, dahl, spinach and paneer, chapatis and naan all washed down with a cold tiger beer

 

this morning we headed into china town for that classic singaporean chinese breakfast, Char Kway Teow, the amazing mix of fried noodles, little clams, crunchy pork crackling, spicy chili sauce and various other secret ingredients. Its the dish Anthony Bourdain described as the world’s tastiest and most unhealthy breakfast! we ordered ours from the stall of CKT master, Ng Chin Chye’s stall at the Hong Lim Food Centre, “Outram Park Fried Kway Teoh Mee” and i sat and ate it at on the verandah where Anthony ate his in his episode of Parts Unknown on Singapore. Sal and Dave ordered Prawn Mee from another stall and it also rated very highly both for presentation and taste!

after a breakfast like that it was back home for a mid morning nap!

to see more photos of the inside of the apartment click on the “view photos” button on the website, here

 

 

 Posted by at 1:58 pm  Tagged with:



Apr 252018
 
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over nyindakay

wow, just 24 hours and it already feels like we have been here for days! we certainly packed in a huge amount on day 1. we flew out of nhulunbuy monday afternoon and spent the evening in darwin, a few beers on the wharf and a long meal at the hanuman, we started with their famous oysters, poached in a clay dish with lime, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, coriander, palm sugar and kaffir lime leaves. then we just ordered an entree at a time and shared it between the 3 of us – that helped fill the evening out until we had to be at the airport at 11:30pm for the flight to singapore.

we had a pleasant enough flight over, its just under 5 hours so not too long, landing at changi at around 5am local time. once again we were pleasantly reminded of the efficiency and ease of travel through points other than australia. straight through immigration with no queue (and friendly staff), no customs checks, and job done. we grabbed sim cards for our phones and ezilink cards for the amazing public transport in singapore and then jumped on the MRT train into the city.

we had 3 changes, each one we got off one train, walked to the correct platform and got straight into the next train just as it was ready to leave. we were downtown in about the same time as it would take in a cab. in australia you would still be waiting to get thru immigration at the airport!

our quaint little shop house apartment is about 2 minutes walk from the farrer park station in the little india area of singapore, we let ouselves in and left our bags in the lobby as it was too early to check in and then headed out to find a bite to eat in the local area. we found a small indian place around the corner and had a murtabark with dahl and a cup of tea for breakfast. a perfect start to the day.

we wandered through some of the maze of streets in little india before heading back to the apartment and getting the key so we could unpack our stuff, have a shower to freshen up and do a bit of ‘nesting’. at lunchtime we headed out with the idea of finding a close by coffee shop and roastery i had read of. it was well hidden but after finally locating the building i got a quick tour of the roastery with the master roaster before we went into the cafe for one of their coffees and a croissant. the croissant was very good is what i would say about the coffee.

then sal said she wanted to check out a few food stalls she had noticed on the opposite street corner, she said that the bbq duck & pork stall was sending her the right olfactory and optical messaging so we ordered a plate of duck, pork and rice for lunch. it came with a fantastic spicy sambal and was the best chinese bbq duck i can remember having – and we have tried a few over the years!

it was a real find, completely off the radar, out of context because it was in little india, and obviously highly renowned with the locals, a closer look revealed a list of hawker food prizes he had won and copies of newspaper articles about the stall.

we stocked up on a few bits and pieces for the apartment on the way home, milk for morning coffees, mineral water, beer, you know, the essentials.

after that high we came back for a nanna nap in the apartment before an afternoon beer to build our strength before heading out again. we caught the MRT down to clarke quay to have a look around, we did a walk round the old fort canning complex there which was quite interesting and lots of big trees and greenery. then we had a wander through the foody area there, but it was not our scene at all. its a very well done international food venue, like any other, anywhere in the world, lots of flash restaurants and bars, clever design and architecture, outdoor seating, and generally nice looking food. but the point is you could be anywhere in the world, its full of tourists and a few upwardly mobile locals all paying probably 10 times the price for the privilege of eating and drinking in the trendy precinct.

we had heard about an indonesian padang restaurant on the other side of the river that had a reputation for great rendang so we wandered over to have a look at that, but it didnt pass our instinct tests, so we got back on the MRT and headed down to china town. again walking down through the main strip of china town, its just wall to wall places to eat, but still a majority of patrons are tourists and while the dishes looked well prepared and tasty as well, its still not the sort of experience we look for – and its still tourist pricing.

so we kept walking until we got down to the Maxwell Hawkers Market, this is the home of tian tian hainanese chicken rice, the first hawker stall in the world to win a Michelin star. it wasnt open, but i noticed that one stall had a queue of about 20 people lined up to order, it was also a stall that specialised in hainanese chicken rice. we decided on continuing the idea of ordering 1 dish each at a time, sharing it and then the next person ordering one and so on.

so i queued up for about 20 minutes to get us the chicken rice. the wait was well worth it, chicken was on point, tender, moist, tasty poached chicken, garnished with fried garlic, drizzled with a bit of soy based sauce, a bowl of simple chicken broth, some bokchoy (poached in the pot of stock), and rice that has been cooked in the chicken broth with pandan, garlic and ginger. you also get a little bowl of chilli sauce and one with a fresh ginger sauce.

dave got us a yummy muslim dish that was a chicken curry on a bed of scrumptious spiced rice that was full of fresh tumeric, cummin and lots of other unidentified spices. Sal’s contribution didnt match her find for lunch! A shark dish with steamed vegies that was not so good.

then it was back on the mrt to head home for a nightcap before bed, and to reflect on an action packed first day!

this morning we were heading out for breakfast and as we were leaving met a girl, alex, who had just arrived from austin, texas and was staying in one of the other apartments, she ended up coming out for breakfast with us, we headed down to the tekka hawkers market at the other end of little india and found some parat and curry for breakfast before coming back for a siesta.

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parat & curry for breakfast!

Apr 032018
 
easter-37

coming across malay roads

easter is usually crap weather regardless of location – whether you are camping in tassie, fishing in esperance, hiking in the daintree or boating in arnhem land, it typically pisses down for most of the 4 days. this easter though held a different promise, the dregs of cyclone bloody nora had slipped away, and with it the thunder storms and rain. the forecast was exceptional – clear weather with very light variable winds.

we had planned a trip away in the boat before discovering how good the weather was going to be, dave had his 4 days off exactly lining up with the easter break and so it was going to be the four of us heading off – but unfortunately the weekend before easter, sal’s dad finally succumbed to his battle with mesothelioma and so she had to fly down to the gold coast. so it was left to dave, kai & I to make the most of the promising conditions!

we headed up to the wessel islands friday morning, we left the boat club about 9:30 and by midday we were anchored in an unnamed bay south of raragala bay on raragala island, its one of our favourite anchorages. the trip was uneventful with the promised calm conditions allowing us to make good time up to cape wilberforce and then across to the passage between wigram and cotton island before crossing donington sound to the wessel islands.

we spent our days exploring the beaches and bays along the southern side of raragala island, fishing the open waters for tuna and mackerel and the rocky shelves of raragala bay for mangrove jack. we climbed up waterfalls to discover spring fed streams at the top and amazing views across the water, we swam in waterholes – including our favourite one at the base of a waterfall that is large, deep and shaded by trees. kai was in first when we arrived and yelled out to dave that there was a big water monitor in the pool, before climbing up the waterfall. dave went to get in to the pool and discovered the “water monitor” was a 1.5m salt water croc!! kai had actually nearly landed on top of it when he jumped in!

 

we tried to get it to ‘move on’ but it just moved into the deepest part of the pool and lay there quietly so we decided to share the pool with it and hope that it didnt get agitated and nip us!! it must have decided the company was unwanted because every other time we went there for a swim there was no sign of the croc!

of course there was some cold beers, good wine and yummy food eaten over the 4 days, we watched sunsets, moon rises and gazed at the tapestry of stars. i took the vintage atomic coffee machine so the mornings were started with decent coffee which makes everything better! kai had a ball, caught some good fish, used his new snorkelling gear for the first time and enjoyed the calm weather! we missed sal, but there will be many other trips with her.

we also came across an amazing scene in raragala bay, we were attracted by obvious activity with heavy splashing on the surface of the water, expecting a school of tuna we headed over in the tinny to discover a school of bait being rounded up and chomped by a huge school of sharks varying in length up to about 3m! there were also some tuna and GT’s amongst the carnage! we hooked a couple of nice GTs off the edge of the school on our light barra gear.

the same activity was happening the next day whe we went back and I got some video footage, the bait fish decided to try to hide underneath the tinny and as we motored off the school of sharks followed us like the pied piper!

another unlucky fish was spotted floating between the big boat and the tinny tied up alongside, we thought it was a trevally at first, but as it moved we realised it was a big sea mullet. i grapped a spear out of the tinny and had the easiest shot ever to get a fish that size! as you can see from the photo he had been attacked by a shark or something so thats probably why he was lazing around the boat.

we headed home on monday and if possible it was even flatter than the previous 3 days! i took photos off the side of the boat and the reflection looks like a mirror the water was so flat – and we were travelling at 16kts! all in all a fabulous and relaxing trip.

a video perspective of the reflections and the flat ocean,

 

we did 7.5hrs and 100nm, used 225l of diesel, so 30l per hour and 2.25l per nm.

Jan 052018
 

 

 

heading north

heading north

sal & i have just spent 5 days on our boat at the wessel islands, ‘bliss’ is the word that popped in my head when i thought of one word to describe the 5 days. i guess the dream of owning our own boat that we could live aboard for extended periods and continue to explore the paradise we live in, had long been in our minds, and we had begun to have some sense of the potential from our few previous tips on the new boat.

this was truly what we had envisaged though, exploring new bays, beaches, islands, creeks, fishing spots, swimming holes, while wining and dining on the water! we had decided that the week between xmas and new year was perfect for an extended trip, we were both off work and the weather was looking perfect. kai announced his intention to stay at home as 5 days stuck on a boat with his ‘rents was more than a teenager could bear – we were torn between knowing what he would miss out on, and the thrill of having 5 days to ourselves, on the water!

we decided to leave on the wednesday after boxing day, giving us time to recover from xmas excess and prepare the boat, we left mind morning and headed north, our last human contact was a short radio converstion with dave who was out on his boat with his family and we chatted as we passed near bonner rocks, we pressed on north in flat seas towards cape wilberforce and then thru the passage between cotton and wigram island and across the donington sound to raragala island in the wessel islands.

the day just got calmer and calmer as it went on and it completely glassed off by midday, with the flooding tide under us we made good time and dropped anchor in our chosen anchorage on raragala island for a late lunch.

we chose to anchor in this unamed bay on the south side of raragala island to allow us to explore the southern end of the island in the tinny, while having close access to one of our favourite fresh water swimming spots on the island, and the fishing in raragala bay itself. we were forced to eat a non-fish dinner as we didnt catch anything in the afternoon we spent exporing the local beaches and bays.

after a pleasant night i woke up early and made us a coffee with my ‘glamping’ caravel, a 60 year old, manual lever machine that i have converted to non-electric service, and then jumped in the tinny and headed round to raragala bay to fish the rocky headlands and managed to drag a couple of nice mangrove jacks out of the rocks for dinner.

we spent time at a spring fed freshwater swimming spot that we had visited in a previous trip to the wessels on a charter, it has a waterfall that falls into a large, tree shaded pool and is just behind the beach, so its easy to get to in the boat and a very refreshing spot to visit. we also explored the coast down to the southern end of raragala island, beach combing along the way and then investigating whether it was possible to pass between raragala island and jirrgarri island to get round to the north side of raragala island.

the chart suggested there might be a narrow passage that was navigable, and on arriving there we were able to find a very narrow passage between jirrgarri island and a small unnamed island to its north, it was probably 30m wide but quite deep, reef and sand shoals extended north with a narrow but deep passage between them. we were there right on low tide so we figured if we could get the tinny through and find a safe passage then it ought to be possible to get the big boat through safely at high tide.

i knew i would have to time it right with the tide only just turned because otherwise it was obvious the current would rage through the narrow passage. after returning to the anchorage we decided to have lunch and then weigh anchor and have a crack at getting through what I named the “eye of the needle”! in the end it went pretty smoothly, there was about 4 kts of tide against us and we got through safely and then headed up to a new anchorage at guruliya bay.

we spent the next couple of days at guruliya bay, there was plenty of exlploring of the beaches, bays and creeks either side of the anchorage and also plenty of good spots for fishing. in particular the head of the bay has a system of small mangrove creeks and rocky headlands that suggested plenty of barra and jack action. while it wasnt exactly going off, I manged to get a couple of nice barra and some more jack to keep the plates filled with fish! the weather continued to be fantastic, enough breeze to keep us cool enough to sleep at night, but no storms or rain.

on our seond last day we weighed anchor and headed for the hole in the wall, or gugari rip, to travel back to the southern side of raragala island, into raragala bay for a night before heading home. one again conditions were perfect and I timed the run through the hole in the wall for an hour or so below low tide so we would have some current against us, there was a bit more run than i expected, we had about 4 knots against us in the middle of the hole in the wall, but it presented no issue.

in her 15 years in arnhem land, sal has caught most fish species, but one that had eluded her to date was a mangrove jack, so i made sure that while we were in raragala bay she came and had a fish with me to get her first jack. in the end it was a decent fish and she was pleased to tick it off her list! the second one she caught was hilarious and i wish i had caught it on video, she flicked her lure perfectly and enticed a small rock cod to rush out and grab the lure, as she got it close to the boat, 4 jacks stormed out from under a rock shelf, the biggest one grabbed the rock cod and tore it off the lure – then one of the smaller jacks grabbed her lure!

new years eve we weighed anchor in the wessel islands for the final time and pointed the old girl south, towards home, we had an uneventful run across donnington strait and into malay roads before rounding cape wilberforce and lined up gove harbour.

we stopped for a troll on a favourite shoal on the way and sal pulled up a stonker of a mackerel to finish the trip on a high note!

all in all a magical 5 days, absolutely what we envisaged doing when we bought this boat, to be able to do it as just the two of us with no other people seen or talked to for 5 days was extra special, no phones, internet, tv, computers etc was also a pleasant change! we are truly lucky to have such an incredible landscape and environment right on our doorstep – and to have the means to immerse ourselves in it and explore the magical coastline.

We ended up using 305L of fuel (which means either the tank is bigger than the 300L i was told, or BP’s bowser is a ripoff!), we did 11.2hrs motoring, so 27L per hour, and about 140nm so 2.2L per nm