Apr 302023

Pearl Farm Jetty

After finally leaving Guruliya Bay we sailed down to Firefly Pass between Warnawi and Alger Island, went through the pass and then across Donington Sound to the West end of Inglis Island, along Inglis Island, thru Malay roads and back into Elizabeth Bay. I called up the Pearl Farm on the radio to let them know we were going to stay a few days and also asked if would be able to come over and have a look at the operations, as we have never gone ashore to have a look in all the years we have been coming past!


The darker colour is our track from Guruliya Bay to Elizabeth Bay and the red track is from Elizabeth Bay to home. We spent 3 days in Elizabeth Bay waiting for what we knew would be the best day for sailing back to Gove. On the second day we went over and had a grand tour of the Pearl Farm, its a fascinating business, firstly there is just the absolute remoteness of the location, only 25nm from Gove, but only accessible by boat or helicopter. At the height of their season there are about 40 workers on the farm and Diana, the manager, explained the whole process from spawning their own oysters, right through pearl seeding and harvesting. Since taking over the pearl farm from the previous owners, Clipper Pearls have spent a lot on new buildings and upgrading old ones.

They have quite a large Indonesian workforce as they also own pearl farms in Indo and so its a good source of experienced workers for them and a great opportunity for their workers to come to Australia, and earn extra money for their families. We were also able to buy a couple of kilos of pearl meat from them, which is very hard to get normally.

Cleaning the nets that protect the growing baby pearls on their frames.

We finally left Lizzy bay, yesterday, Saturday, and had a superb sail all the way home, I had not expected to be able to sail it in one tack, but the wind was more Easterly than predicted and we were able to lay Gove Harbour after coming out thru Malay Road and round Breakfast Island. We picked up the mooring in the late afternoon after nearly 3 weeks cruising the Arnhem Land coast, after tidying up a bit we headed into the boat club for a nice long hot shower and a nice scotch fillet for dinner! Its been an incredible trip, we battled a but with the wet weather in the middle but it was super fun and Sal has grown so much in her confidence and ability with all the systems on Lumiel. We are already looking forward to the next extended trip in the future!


 Posted by at 12:36 pm

Apr 252023

We have now been at Guruliya Bay for 6 days, this was never our plan – to spend nearly a week in one spot at the Wessel Islands, but the enormous surge in the wet season this year has put paid to the best laid plans of Rick & Sal! We had already had the wettest wet season on record by the middle of April, and now the last week has just been unrelenting.

We had some sun the first day we got here, since then it has just been wave after wave of storm fronts, typically with strong gusts in front of them (41 knots or 80kmh the strongest), and then driving rain. Every time we think it has cleared we get smashed an hour or so later!

The waterfalls in the picture above only flow when its raining heavily, its purely runoff from the large rocky ‘plain’ on the shoreline closest to us – we are only anchored about 150m off there and the roar when its full flow is incredible! Within 20 minutes of so of it stopping raining there is barely any water flow left! Anyway, that’s what it looks like most times I look out!

We decided to stay put here because its a superb anchorage, 360° protection from the wind and swell and fantastic holding, it also has some good fishing in the mangrove creeks at the head of the bay. The holding was definitely tested the night we had over 40k of wind, but she didn’t drag an inch. Also were we to move we would just be in a different spot in shit weather, with very little ability to do anything outside of the boat anyway.

So there is not a lot of interest to talk to you about! The fishing has been next to non existent due to the weather, the couple of chances we have had we had no success anyway. So there is a lot of Netflix & chill, reading, cooking, eating, and needless to say drinking! Thank god for Starlink!



Our anchorage (red curser is boat)

Here a few pics from the moments the sun was out!

One interesting find while the weather was good enough to do some exploring was some graves that a friend had told me about, they are just above the high tide mark and have been damaged by king tides to the extent that some of the bones are exposed. They are clearly human remains. It is not at all the way Yolngu treat their dead so I am pretty sure they are not Yolngu graves. The possible alternatives are probably, Macassan sailors shipwrecked, Japanese airforce crash victims from WW2, more survivors of the Patricia Cam sinking in WW2, Indonesian fishermen shipwrecked, white Australian victims of some sea/air tragedy.

The presence of a few middens of Dhumpala (mud mussels) suggests there were survivors, presumably who then buried the dead, the middens are scattered amongst the 6 or so graves which are marked by small collections of rocks and stones that have clearly been carried to the site as they are not present in the immediate area. Permanent fresh water for the dry season was not obvious to me, plenty of sources at the moment but I doubt any of it is spring fed and persisting into the dry so that would have been a serious issue for them. The creek in the bay would have provided the Dhumpa

la and other seafood. Nearly every bay up here has a little creek in it that could provide food to anyone with a bit of knowledge.

Anyway, for the time being the mystery remains, there are no obvious candidates in terms of missing people, shipwrecks or plane crashes and no evidence other than the graves and middens that I can find.

I am not going to post any photos as it feels a little….disrespectful in the circumstances.

So here are some more photos, of the moments when we felt inspired enough to take any!

Our plans our now to spend another day sitting here in the rain, and then tomorrow we will make our way back down to Elizabeth Bay and hang there for a couple of days waiting for a window of weather to go from there to home. Its looking like that will eventuate Friday or Saturday. This will probably end up being a week less than we thought we might be away, but the persistent poor weather and the likelihood of favourable conditions later this week to sail home have somewhat forced our hands. Also not sure I have enough coffee on board to last another week without rationing!

I will close with a video of the waterfall, you can see this is at a lower tide than the photo at the start of this post, the tide here is about 3.5m range so it makes a big difference.



 Posted by at 10:22 am

Apr 192023

We left Astell Island and motored across the top of Inglis Island and then down Pera Channel into the top of Arnhem bay and an area called Yalakun Sound. It has a river called Slippery’s that is a renowned barra fishing creek and our intention was to spend a couple of days here working it out and hopefully catch a barra or 2!

No wind again so it was an afternoon of pleasant motoring in light conditions and the flooding tide carrying us down into the bay.


Astell to Slippery’s

It was a wild and stormy night the first night, we had massive lightening & thunder storms all around us, but luckily not over us and only light rain. We woke to the realisation that there was a massive weather event over Gove and it was being absolutely pounded – while we had clear weather here. It didn’t rain again here and Nhulunbuy ended up with over 300mm for the 36hrs or so it lasted! We were so lucky to avoid it all by being far enough west.

I went for a flick along the rockbars near the entrance to Yalakun Sound in the morning and was amazed to come around the point and find another tinny sitting there flicking lures! I was a friend from home, Morgs and he had come around from Nhulunbuy early in the morning. He was equally surprised to see me! Anyway it turned out to be a blessing, he is a really good fisherman and knows the area very well, so he basically coached Sal & I into exactly the right spots at the right time to catch some barra and without his help I am not sure I wold have worked the system out and caught fish.

Morgs ended up joining us for dinner and sleeping on the boat with us, I think not having to sleep in his tinny in the creek and the offer of a coffee in the morning sold him!

Sal with the first barra of the day. (& biggest)

Exploring Slippery’s

Morgs trying for a barra on saltwater fly gear, an art way beyond my skill level!

There were plenty of crocs in the system, including this cheeky little guy in one of the gutters we were fishing!

For dinner we had crispy skin barra with rice, i forgot to take any pics so you will just have to imagine how good it looked!

The entree was some trevally I had caught earlier in the day, dry cured served in coconut cream with curry leaf oil and finger lime. It was inspired by a similar dish we had at Ellas by Manoli in Darwin recently, a Sri Lankan restaurant.


Morgan spent another night on Lumiel with us and then headed off back towards Nhulunbuy, we pulled anchor and headed North to the Wessel Islands where we will spend most of the rest of our time away.


 Posted by at 11:07 am

Apr 152023

Motoring past Cotton Island

After a couple of days in Elizabeth Bay we motored around to the western side of Astell Island, we have never explored this island and it has a couple of nice anchorages on the western side that offer a good haven in the dry season. The more southern bay in particular is good as it has a lovely gently shoaling beach that can be used to beach catamarans on to clean hulls etc. So we decided to go across and spend a couple of days checking the area out.

Just before we pulled anchor in Elizabeth Bay, the resident Lemon Shark, Bruce, turned up, so he got a feed of freshly caught whiting I had got in the cast net, for breakfast!

Sal got some video footage,

The run across to Astell Island we were once again without wind, but the current through Malay roads is pretty impressive, these were by no means spring tides but we were doing up to 10.1 knots over the ground at only 5.4 knots thru the water – so over 4.5 knots current with us!

A little video of us motoring down Malay Roads

We have had a very pleasant and relaxing couple of days here, I found a lovely little spring fed creek on the beach that has a shaded pool to bathe in and its a very pretty anchorage.

Yesterday we explored the other bays and found this little guy!

I went and spent a bit of time in a small mangrove creek this afternoon and while i didnt catch any fish, I did get a nice muddie, so that is dinner sorted!

Mr Pinchy!

Tomorrow we will head down to Arnhem Bay for the next episode in our trip!

 Posted by at 4:44 pm

Apr 122023

the view on the mooring!

So Sal has a months long service leave and I have taken about 6 weeks off too, today we have headed out on the yacht, not sure where we are going, not sure for how long, let the journey begin!

It was a bit of a dramatic day in the end, Sal & I loaded up the tinny with supplies for a month and headed out to the boat club, we could see a decent strom coming, but realised we had time to launch the tinny, get to Lumiel, unload all the provisions and organise stuff before the storm hit. 

storm incoming!

This proved to be correct and we sat out an hour or so of rain with some decent lightning & thunder passing just to the south of us. Once it cleared we dropped the mooring and headed north, there was basically no wind so it was to be an afternoon of motoring. Given that we only got underway about 11:30 I decided just to run up to Elizabeth Bay for our first night, a run of about 25nm into the anchorage.

Everything went perfectly well until we got past Cape Wilberforce, and were rounding Point William in the narrow channel between it and the un-named island. The ebb tide was running pretty hard by now as it was about half tide and we were pushing about 2-3k of tide, suddenly the port engine changed exhaust note, I looked over the side and there was no raw cooling water coming out of the exhaust.

I quickly shut down the engine before it overheated and we had to push on thru the rest of the channel on just one engine, but while it was slower, it was not an issue, we just made our way slowly into the anchorage and dropped the pick.

Elizabeth Bay

Once the engine cooled down I went to see if I could work out what had happened, I found the raw water discharge hose blown off the fitting on the head of the heat exchanger! Inside the manifold I could see pieces of rubber from the raw water impeller.

I realised I had to remove the head to clean all the rubber out properly, it must have back pressured the pump and that caused the hose to eventually blow off. I did all of that and refitted the hex head, its not hard, all easily accessible at the top of the engine. 

end of the hex with manifold removed, bit of scaling but thats where all the rubber was sitting.

The next step was to replace the raw water pump impeller, that is a shit of job, I had to take the alternator off first and its all tucked away low on the outside of the engine and difficult to see and access, but to my amazement when I finally got to the impeller, having removed the cover on the pump, it was in perfect condition!

raw water pump impeller

We got the old impeller replaced when we had the engine out of the boat last November, so I was a bit surprised it should have failed, what actually appears to have happened is that at some time in the past the impeller failed, and someone has just replaced it without removing the hex head and finding all the little bits of the old impeller! 

All the rubber and scale i removed.

Anyway, much better news than it might have been, and I just put the cover back on the pump and put everything back together, just have to put the alternator back on tomorrow morning.

Now I am just sitting in the dark, having a cup of tea, while a few dolphins swim around the boat – i cant see them but I can hear them exhaling when they surface! 

 Posted by at 9:04 pm

Sep 182015
flower stall, utrecht

flower stall, utrecht

i have been very slack since we left the netherlands – probably due to the move to a greek island and my propensity for lying in the sun doing nothing! – so this is a catch up post on our second week in apledoorn.

the highlight to the week was porbably a visit to the aboriginal art museum in utrecht (AAMU), to see the exhibition, de kracht van hout – the power of wood. the museum has a very impressive collection of bark paintings and carvings from north east arnhem land. various smaller galleries and museums had collections of aboriginal art but with budget cutbacks a decision was made to consolidate the collections in utrecht.

the collection was very strong in works from our area and also around mangingrida and outside of the really large and important collections like the british museum, would be one of the best in europe. they also have a collection of yidaki that formed part of this exhibition and michiel had leant them quite a number of very significant pieces from his personal collection for the exhibition.

so we had a couple of hours with the guide, who was certainly passionate and knowledgable about the art and I was able to make a few contributions to the presentation with some specific knowledge about certain pieces. this was followed by michiel presenting a talk about the yidaki and give some great information about the instruments to the interested group. (mainly students of his.)

after this blast of culture we then retired to the comfort of a nearby belgian beer house for lunch before wandering around the very beautiful city of utrecht.

the week finished off with a couple of great meals, a traditional saturday night at michiel and boke’s which is savoury and sweet pancakes and on our last night, coq au vin – which michiel cooked up as consolation for our failure to make it to france this trip!

sad goodbyes were said before we headed off to the airport to fly to athens – somewhat tempered by the knowledge that we will all catch up in january when they come to stay with us again!

Sep 122015

michiel at salon 1813, apledooorn

we have been in apledoorn in the netherlands for nearly 2 weeks now. we are staying with michiel, boke and their son, dali. michiel is another yidaki friend, he has stayed a few times with us over the years and you may have seen him pop up in blogs in the past. we hadn’t met boke and dali before so that was always going to be a highlight of our visit.

we flew up from zürich to amsterdam and then caught the train out to apledoorn, michiel lives about 10 minutes from the center of town in a lovely little village with a good shopping center and lots of pretty parks around.

we have had a very relaxed stay, not really doing anything too adventurous! a highlight for me was a visit to a massive food and chef’s supply warehouse nearby called hanos, it supplies a lot of the restaurant trade in this part of the netherlands and michiel has an account there. it had every type of food you can imagine there, from all over europe. i was like a kid in a candy store!! we bought some fantastic fresh mussels – €1.50 for 2kg, as well as salamis, cheeses and other bits and pieces. the size of the warehouse was incredible.

we also did a visit to the zoo, it is renowned for its primate collection and we saw bonono’s, orang utans and the gorilla feeding, it was fascinating and very well organised with most of the monkeys able to mix with the visitors to the zoo and all the fencing hidden from sight so it felt like a real wildlife experience.

one of the things michiel had promised us was some herring, netherlands style, which is basically a whole, raw herring eaten with a bit of raw onion – deliscious if a little challenging to eat with any semblence of style!

we also were lucky enough to be in town for the 10th annual apledoorn beer festival so we got to taste a great range of local and belgium beers during the afternoon!

as always we have enjoyed lots of yummy meals together, and with the weather less than ideal for much outdoor activity its been nice to cook up some good food to have with the large range of beer we have been working through! plenty of tasty belgium beers available in the supermarket as well as the local ones. today michiel had a gig on the other side of the netherlands so boke took sal and i to an area covered with a carpet of beautiful purple heather where we walked thru the heather over the hills, it was a little late in the season so the bloom had nearly finished but it was still impressive.

we then had lunch in zutphen, a very pretty and old town that dates back to early middle ages and has some magnificent buildings and a really nice feel to it. we have just a couple more days before we fly down to athens and catch the ferry out to ios to stay with chelsea and joe and meet their beautiful baby daughter zara.