Mar 182019
 
gfc-20

miller island

so this weekend past was the Gove Women’s Fishing Competition, and as many will know, I refuse to be on the same boat as a group of competitive fishers, especially if one of them is my wife! sal teamed up with her friend deb and her husband, marco, took on the role of skipper for them.

my compromise was to offer to bring the big boat so they could stay out on the water on saturday night, to that end sal & i launched on friday afternoon and spent the night at the granites enjoying a few beers, a nice steak and a glass or two of red.

sal was picked up by deb & marco at 6:30 on saturday morning and they headed out fishing, we agreed to meet up at breakfast island for lunch, so i made my way up there, and anchored up to enjoy a morning swimming and relaxing while the girls fished!

after lunch the fishers headed off and i cleaned up and then headed off to the dinner and overnight rendevous, the north side of wigram island. we enjoyed a dinner of fish tacos and spent a very comfortable night anchored in behind a sand spit and a couple of islands. we had a rain squall in the morning as we made coffees which lasted an hour or so and delayed the start to fishing slightly.

sunday morning the girls decided to fish the north side of wigram and around miller island so i steamed over to miller island and set up for lunch, we had a haloumi and chorizo salad with a cold beer for good luck!

after lunch i set sail for home and the girls headed off to fish attack shoal and the bromby islands before making their way back to the ramp at the end of the comp. while the girls probably wont win any prizes, as they didnt really get amongst as many big fish as they would have liked, they had a great time and a lot of fun, and from my perspective we had a lovely weekend away and it was very relaxing for me!

we did about 90nm in dhamuku, and 9 hrs of motoring, we used 144l of fuel for 1.6l per nm and 16l per hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 242019
 
new tinny

new tinny

i was pondering what to title this blog post and settled on ‘sabbatical’ because the main point of the post is to describe our bienniel retreat at bawaka when my old mate brian livingstone makes his way back to nhulun from queensland for 10 days catchup, holiday, fishing and adventuring.

last time he brought his daughter and this time it was his brother, dave, who came with him. as dave butterworth is always part of this bienniel bludge, we had to rename him barry to save confusion.

so dave, brian, myself and barry had a few days in town before heading out to bawaka, this allowed for some great nights at rick’s bar and grill, including a memorable night when timmy djawa burarrwanga joined us with his nephew. dadaynga. he was heading off to sydney at short notice so was unable to join us at bawaka for the cultural education segment of the retreat, so dinner at the grill was the best we could do. he played my djalu stick, and even did the healing yidaki on dave’s chest which is always a powerful introduction to NE arnhem land! (unfortunately the torrential downpour drowns out the yidaki somewhat!)

as you will notice above, we have a new tinny, she is an absolute ripper and has already done quite a few hours! its a blue fin wrangler, 4.75m, running a 60HP yamaha. Its a plate boat, 4mm sides and bottom, widened gunnels, extra handrails and a pod. its beautifully built, comfortable, roomy, strong, quiet and very easily driven. As sad as it was to lose the old tinny, this is a definite step up.

so some food porn to kick the photos off, (remember, click on the”i” if you want to see the captions.)

 

sal, kai and I had taken a load of gear and dry stores down in the troopy the weekend before, so we stocked the boats up with fuel, fresh food, barry’s coffee machine and other essentials of rough living. we then launched at yirrkala and set off for the hour or so run down to bawaka.

our days were much the same, up around 6:30 to stoke the fire and fire up the coffee machine for a couple of rounds of lattes, barry the barista pulled great shots all week, although I only brought 1kg of my beans and we had to eake it out towards the end of the week! we would then have a hearty breakfast, we had things like mushrooms, eggplant and yellow capsicum stew with bacon and poached egg; omelettes; chilli beans with bacon, egg and pita bread; halloumi, chorizo and mint and others i have forgotten!

after breakfast it was off to chase jack and barra in the creeks and on the rocky headlands. we usually put in a good 3 or 4 hours fishing and also exploring the creek systems to try to unlock the secret to fishing them. we spent mornings in the wonga river, mosquito creek and holly’s inlet as well as exploring most of the coastline of port bradshaw.

then it was back to bawaka for lunch, i had taken a couple of kilos of pulled slow cooked, smoked beef, so wraps with salad and the pulled beef was a staple, we also did amazing fish tacos a couple of times with lime & chilli mayo, pan fried coral trout or jack, jalapenos, onion and lashings of vietnamese mint.

after lunch we either went offshore for a troll or bottom bounce, or did some more exploring of the inshore waters. sometimes we squeezed in a nanna nap and we usually got up to lonely beach for a swim.

dinner was everything from steaks grilled over the fire, whole coral trout wrapped in paperbark and grilled on the fire; whole red emporer wrapped in foil and grilled on the fire; spagetti bolognese; pan fried mangrove jack fillets with kumera chips and I think the fish tacos got a run one night too.

then it was sit around the fire talking about the sort of things 4 philosophers stranded on a tropical island talk about before heading inside to a very deep nights sleep!

on friday sal and kai drove down in the troopy to spend the weekend with us, on saturday sal, barry, brian and dave headed out on barry’s boat down to the 3 hummocks and dudley shoal to try their hand at some bottom fishing, kai and I had a day on the tinny do some hunting and a bit of work round the camp.

aaron, rohan and their partners came down for the weekend also, to provide some cultural education in timmy’s absense. on sunday we took them out hunting on the tinny, first we went looking for turtle to harpoon, but although we did find a big one, my boat driving skills were not up to the task and we lost him before rohan could get a harpoon in it. it was pretty hilarious, rohan screaming instructions from the bow of the boat in yolngu matha, aaron translating into english – and me finally doing what was required about 30 seconds earlier!!

after failing to harpoon a turtle our efforts turned to stingray, kai joined the boys in wading through the croc infested shallows spearing stingray, he got 4 and was taught the correct way to remove the barbs after spearing. its bloody hard work, the water is at least knee deep, its often walking through deep sticky mud and you cover a lot of distance. dave and i would get in as close as we could in the tinny and drop them off, then we would move maybe 500m or more along the mangroves in the deeper water and wait for them to get abreast of us and then motor in as close as we could so they could walk out with their catch and get back in the boat.

monday we spent a day exploring the upper reaches of the creek that extends out of holly’s inlet, it was a successful day from the fishing point of view with plenty of jack caught, but it came close to disaster on several, consequential fronts. firstly, after following the incoming tide upstream as far as we could go, we fished the falling tide back down, but I had made an error with not watching the depths closely enough on the way up and retracing our course we ran out of water. it looked like we were going to be stuck for the whole of the falling tide and half of the rising tide before we would be able to get out. luckily brian found a path with just enough water for us to get back out into the deeper channel again.

then a complication arose from a dead battery on the electric trolling motor, this had necessitated my bodgy wiring of the minn kota to the main starting battery and when we went to start the main motor again we discovered we had a flat starting battery as well. luckily after pulling the cover off the motor and fabricating a starter rope from some trolling line, i was able to pull start the engine.

things always come in 3’s dont they?! not long after this the motor spluttered and cut out and refused to start. we were still 5 miles upstream from dhanaya, the community at the mouth of the inlet, no one knew we were up there anyway, the electric motor would flatten the battery long before we covered the 5 miles, the outgoing tide would move us downstream – but it also had no chance of taking us 5 miles – and then when it turned it would push us upstream again!

without going into all the details, and the discussions about what we should do, we finally got the motor running again, the fuel line had a small split and it had started sucking air. it was as a reminder of how isolated you can be in this part of the world, we really had only one option if had been unable to get it going again – we would have had to set off the epirb.

our last full day was spent exploring the upper reaches of the wonga river, this was a real surprise to all of us, it was stunningly beautiful, the fresh water was pushing right down the river towards the mouth and the banks were covered with rain forest, paper barks, gum trees and steep rocky banks. there were frequent rock bars to navigate  and it was more reminicsent of the katherine gorge than an arnhem land creek.

our week was at an end, it just remained to pack everything up and steam home. it was a very special time, aside from the obvious point that staying in a tropical paradise like this where you have a proper bed, running water, solar battery power for fridges and freezers as well as access to amazing fishing and exploring is pretty amazing; not to mention the opportunity to engage in traditional hunting and food preparation with yolngu, and spend time with a few really special friends and share part of it with my lovely family…..there is something special about spending a week in the bush with no phone service, no internet, no tv…a week with out all that ‘noise’ and distraction really focusses your mind and its a really powerful force for mental health IMO. It was hard to leave and all of us were a bit displaced for a couple of days when we got home. its taken me 4 days before I could approach writing about it. I spent the first 24 hours refusing to open the laptop or turn the tv on to try to hang on to the quiet magic.

anyway, there are a few more random photos, brian made djawa a steel sign for bawaka with the anchor and stingray symbol from their flag design, we will have to wait until he is back to work out where to hang it, but its waiting for him at bawaka. our plan is to make it an annual retreat, 2 years is too long between gigs!

thanks to djawa and family for your welcoming and generous access to bawaka, thanks to brian, dave, and dave for making the adventure so fulfilling, entertaining and bloody funny.

bawa-27crop

 

 Posted by at 8:21 pm  Tagged with:



Dec 312018
 
dhamuku anchored in lighthouse bay

dhamuku anchored in lighthouse bay

the week between xmas and new years is time we usually try and have away on the boat together, and our plan this year had been to head to the top of the wessel islands and explore from burston bay round past the cape wessel lighthouse and down to twin island bay. we had thought to head out boxing day and come back on new years day, going up in our big boat and dave coming along in his boat for 5 of the days that he had off.

well, best laid plans of mice and men etc, dave ended up with a crook back and the weather was pretty nasty on boxing day with a fair amount of rain and unsettled weather predicted, so we decided to shorten up the trip, head to truant island to be closer to home, and tow our tinny in dave’s absence.

we had a pleasant steam up to truant island on thursday morning, we got up there in the late morning and anchored up round on the north side of the island in a bay where there is an old oyster lease, it has a resident pair of large estuarine cod and a huge barracuda we call barry! they always hang around the boat waiting for any scraps to feed on.

we spent a couple of days enjoying the pleasures of truant – crystal clear water, good fishing, swimming, snorkelling and exploring the beaches of the island for shells, driftwood and other treasures. this was indispersed with afternoon beers, fresh fish dinners with salads and wine and afternoon naps!

kai also spent much time practising his hunting skills with his yolngu spear, he earnt the title of djambatj with his first kill of a decent mullet!

after a couple of nights on the north side of the island we decided to shift to the south side to get a way from a bit of nw swell that had started to create a little discomfort in our original anchorage, we also discovered that the commercial barra boat, ruby, was anchored off one of the other beaches, cooch and katie had also decided to spend a few days at truant instead of heading to the wessels as they also had intended.

saturday came to a close, we were intending to steam home sunday morning so it was to be our last dinner, we were getting dinner ready and enjoying a beer while watching a large storm front roll in from the south just before sunset. we had watched many storms over the 4 days and it was like we were in a storm shadow, it didnt seem to matter where they formed, they always just missed us so we had actually had very little rain. this one looked to be pretty big though, and it rolled in from the south slowly.

there was no real indication of what was coming, the breeze stayed very light NW and it looked like we would get some rain but nothing much else, but just after dark it hit and within minutes we had driving rain and 30kt southerly winds. the 180deg change in wind direction meant we were now anchored off a lee shore with the wind driving us onshore. we dragged anchor once, but it held and dug in again, then 10 minutes later it dragged again and we made the decision to pull anchor.

we discussed whether just to motor round to the other side of the island and sit it out there, but given that we had already planned to head home in the morning, and not knowing how long the storm would last or what the conditions would be like, we decided that having already pulled anchor we may as well steam home slowly through the night.

the next dilemma was that the tinny was only tied off on a short line, to tow it home we had to pay out a line with a float off the back of the tinny that keeps it tracking straight, and also attach the heavy tow line to the front of the tinny, so while sal drove the boat and held it slowly head into wind, i managed to climb on the tinny, deploy the trailling rope, jump back on the big boat, attach the long tow line and feed it out so the tinny was in the proper position to tow. we had to do all of this in pitch blackness, driving rain, howling wind and steep seas!

thankfully sal and kai worked with me to do what was needed and get the situation under control and we set off at about 6-7kts slowly punching into the gale force wind and high seas towards home!

we got about 5 miles out, on the south side of barricade shoal and i asked sal to check the tinny, she had trouble seeing much with the torch out the back of the boat with the spray and rain, so a bit later she took over the helm and i went back to have a look myself. to my horror when i pulled on the main tow line it was obvious there was no longer a tinny attached!

i pulled the 40m 20mm diameter tow line into the back of the boat and discovered the snap shackle had failed, so the tinny was drifting somewhere in the pitch blackness behind us – with no certainty about when and where it came adrift.

we quickly decided there was no point in turning around to look for it, it would have been an impossible task in the conditions. so we pressed on through the night and got back into gove harbour at about 11:30pm and anchored off the yacht club for the rest of the night.

the next morning the weather had cleared, and after some discussion sal and i decided we would take the big boat back out and run up to truant island again to see if we could find the tinny. we dropped kai off at the yacht club so a friend could take him home to spare him the trip! so we did another 80 something miles up to truant, round the island a couple of times and back home.

in effect all we achieved was confirming that it hadnt washed up on the island. meanwhile dave had reported it to the water police in darwin and they sent back a computer modelled predicitive chart of the area with the higher probability of drift path given the tides and winds – this information suggested the tinny would have been out of sight to the east of our track up and back – but it wasnt information we had on sunday because we were out of contact on the water!

so in hindsight we made the best decision we could with the information we had, but nfortunately it effectively wasted the best chance we had for finding and recovering the boat, the weather rapidly deteriorated over night and monday morning we had a tropical low over cape york expected to develop into a cyclone, and persistent rain. I spoke to a friend who owns an aviation company and asked about the chances of locating the tinny if we put a plane up for a few hours on a search pattern.

in the end we decided it wasnt viable, the odds of the tinny still floating were high, but still less than 100%, the odds of finding the tinny were under 50% in the conditions, sal and I would have had to refuel the big boat, put it back in the water, steam out to the search area and then have the plane conduct the search, if he was lucky enough to spot the tinny, he then had to find us visually – the plane’s radio is different to the boat radio – which was no certainty so maybe a 75% chance, then we have to be able to find the tinny by following the plane back – something less than a 100% chance too, and then we have to successfully recover the tinny and tow it home – so when you do the calculation, its probably less than a 30% chance of a successful search, discovery and recovery.

in the end we decided that in worsening weather, a cyslone threatening, tired from what we had already been though, and with something less than a 30%  chance of success, we just werent prepared to spend maybe thousands of dollars on a risky operation.

as i put it, if you asked would i spend the day out on the water i those conditions in the big boat, my answer would be ‘absolutely, if someones life was at risk, but if there was a suitcase floating out there with $20k in it, and a 30% chance i could find it and recover it, then no, the boat would stay in the driveway!”

so, now i guess you know why the blog post is titled “lost”!

at the end of the day the mechanical failure of a $40 snap shackle has caused us a large loss, and given that all our fishing rods and gear as well as all the snorkelling gear was on the tinny it really is quite significant, but its beyond our control and more importantly the 3 of us are safe and well, we had a fantastic 4 days, and we will remember our little tinny with great fondness.

i have to end the post there as i need to look for a nice 4.5m tinny with all the gear on it!

happy new year to all and sundry!

 

we did 13.8 hrs motoring covering 167.6 nm 0r 1.8lt per nm

 

UPDATE – i think we have closure now, tinny is too far away wih no chance of finding and recovering, here is the update this afternoon from the amazingly helpful John Piri at the NT Water Police,

Hi Rick, happy to help if we can.  I have run a calculation just now.   It uses actual BOM data up to now and predictions from here on in.   The prediction cans are show as 1530 today.  The black line is the most probable track.   After loitering for the first couple of days south of Truant Island it really is likely to have picked up speed to the east (ENE) which is not helpful.    QPOL have been advised.

image001

Prediction for 2 days time.   Likely to reach the tip of Cape York in 8 days.   Of course filling with water may affect the drift rate even if it does not sink it.

Again ignore the date markers on the black line as above.  The variation to the south is possible but has a lower probability.

image002

 

Nov 252018
 
truant-1

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:



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

Dec 112017
 
truant-14

heading north

we have been promising our dear friends leesi and jeremy a weekend away on the big boat since they arrived to help run the art centre a couple of months ago, they visit arnhem land 3 or 4 times a year and its always a battle between their work committments and trying to find sufficient opportunities for social obligations!

we decided this weekend was the last chance as they leave just after xmas and sal is away next week, so we headed out on saturday, leaving kai at home to hold the fort!

we headed up to truant island and the weather was very pleasant with a light breeze and blue skies, we caught a nice mackerel at barricade shoal just before arriving, so that was quickly filleted and thrown on the bbq for lunch!

after afternoon swims and relaxation we broke out the italian prosecco and fine cheeses! dinner was some skippy fillets I had marinated in redwine with bay leaves, juniper berries and garlic with a garden salad.

after dinner we were mesmerised by an amazing show of phosphorescence in the water and the moonless, star filled sky above.

we had a comfortable night and woke to a glorious day on sunday, the breeze dropped right out and after coffees from the glamping caravel we whipped up a breakfast of chorizo, halloumi, cherry tomatoes and greens from our garden topped with soft boiled eggs.

we had a very smooth and pleasant trip back to gove on sunday, and it nicely finished off a fantastic weekend with great company, fine food, cold beer, good wine and lots of laying around doing bugger all! we also caught 2 more nice mackerel at last chance shoal on the way home!

it was fantastic to have a weekend away with leesi and jeremy and be away from work and just hang out, i think they also enjoyed it!

on the more mundane side of things, the boat ran well, nothing new seemed to need fixing! ….until we were nearly home when the dreaded fuel problem from the last few trips raised its ugly head. i really thought I had fixed it by rectifying the fuel tank breather issue i found, but it wasnt the cause of the random loss of power.

today i cleaned the boat up and then stripped the fuel lines with the idea of replacing them to eliminate another possible cause of the issue, dave popped around and i was showing him when he noticed something that looked to be stuck in the fuel line – we got some tweezers and he pulled out a long piece of plastic strip, so I am certain we have now found the culprit! hopefully there is no more in the fuel tank!

we didnt tow the tinny this time so the fuel economy is a bit better, total of 7.6 hrs and 85nm travelled using 148L for 19.5L/h or 1.74L/nm

 Posted by at 8:26 pm  Tagged with:



Nov 272017
 
rainbow over bosenquet islet

rainbow over bosenquet islet

we headed up to inglis island for a few days exploring on friday morning, we took the big boat and towed the tinny for exploring and fishing. inglis island is the western most of the english company islands and is separated from the mainland by a narrow strait, nalwarung strait.

we steamed up against a bit of NE swell and a fresh ENE breeze, but once we rounded cape wilberforce it flattened off as we motored down malay roads. i decided to anchor in behind bosenquet islet which lies off the NE corner of inglis island.

“Matthew Flinders on 19 February 1803 named the island. It is believed to have been named after Samuel Bosanquet of Forest House, Waltham and Dingestow Court, Monmouthshire.

Flinders named a number of islands in the group after members of the East India Company (Cotton, Inglis, Wigram, Bosanquet and Astell) and his journal has the entry :

” I have therefore applied names to each [island], mostly after gentlemen in the East-India directory; and in compliment to that respectable body of men, whose liberal attention to this voyage was useful to us and honourable to them, the whole cluster is named the ENGLISH COMPANY’S ISLANDS”

Samuel Bosanquet was governor of the Bank of England (1792)”

anchored off bosenquot islet

anchored off bosenquot islet

while it was a pretty anchorage, and had deep water close in, and shelter from the ENE wind, the swell rolled around the point of the island and we had a farily uncomfortable night!

friday afternoon we fished the creeks at the eastern end of inglis island – which are reputed to hold good numbers of blue salmon, threadfin, jacks and barra – but over the 3 days we caught nothing and saw no signs of action so whether the tides were wrong or i was holding my tongue wrong i dont know, but the fishing was very lean.

saturday we explored the northern side of inglis island and found some nice beaches, but again the fishing was dire, we had hoped to bottom fish the change of the tide, but by then the wind was too strong so we gave in and returned to the big boat.

dinner that night was accompanied by a bottle of veuve clicquot in honor of our 14th wedding anniversary! we enjoyed fresh bbq’d trevally fillets – thanks to kai who was the only successful fisherperson, having a ball chasing the trevally on light gear – he fished until after dark!

the nights were stunning, with a sliver of a moon that set early, the stars were magnificent and the luminescence in the water was electric.

on saturday afternoon we had a shower of rain and an amazing rainbow, at first we could see one end of it about 500m away in nalwarung strait, and then it completed the arc and the other end went into the water about 100m away from where we were anchored! so we had pots of gold within reach either side!!

we had a few minor problems, as sems to be the way with boats! the regulator for the gas stove had frozen closed and i was unable to free it, so we had to use the weber baby Q to do all the cooking – fine for the bbq fish, but less than ideal for the morning coffees! i also had a recurrence of a fuel supply problem that had become apparent on our last trip, it causes the motor to suddenly lose power which is a bit disconcerting.

after some investigation today i believe i found the cause, the breather hose on the tank had a big dip in it, below the tank, this allowed it to fill with diesel when the tank was filled and it was causing a vacum lock. hopefully re-routing the hose has fixed it, but we wont know for sure until the next trip.

all in all, a lovely 3 days relaxing with just sal, kai and i and no connection to the rest of the world! very peaceful. just would have been nice to find a few more fish, but there is always next time!

we covered 93nm in the big boat and did 7.8hrs engine hours all up, used 220lt so 28 l/h and 2.36 l/nm. it was also our first time with sal and i towing out both boats and launching and retrieving them on our own, so that was a nice confidence booster too.

Oct 082017
 
anchored at truant island

anchored at truant island

we spent this weekend on the big boat up at truant island with the Blakes, we have been promising Andrew & Di a trip on our boat for the last few months and finally we all got our acts together for this weekend! Dave also came along in his boat which we planned to use for fishing and exploring sessions.

the weather wasnt as good as I had hoped and it was a fairly slow and bumpy trip up there on saturday morning, but as always, once we were in the shelter of truant it was white sand beaches, crystal clear water and lots of wildlife!

we did have a troll on saturday afternoon and picked up a couple of nice mackerel and gold spot trevally, with sal cleaning up with most of the fish!

we also caught up with the keeleys who were up there in their noosa cat with their 3 little boys – the whole family spent the whole weekend spearfishing!

saturday night we had a great meal with the mackerel sal caught followed by a yummy beef curry that Di had cooked and brought along.

we did 6 hours motoring and used 140 litres of fuel which works out to 23L per hour which is pretty good, and we did 74 miles so just under 2L per mile. I was trying out the spare prop, which is the original 3 blade alloy prop, I had already decided the current 4 blade stainless prop is too big but I just wanted to compare the old one before deciding on what the correct size for the boat is. Other than that we had more issues with the electrics, but I have isolated and rectified most of the issues, now its just a case of replacing the house batteries which are no longer holding a charge.

we also had some sort of fuel problem when we were nearly back to the boat ramp, on checking it seems like it was just accumulated water and crap in the fuel tank that had filled and blocked the fuel filter, so I have cleaned it all out and changed the filter.

i didnt get round to taking enough photos! i only have the one above from truant and a couple from our dinner on the friday night before the trip, so its words more than images this week! (sadly andrew’s waterproof case failed on his iPhone when he swam ashore at truant, so his phone is borked and all the photos lost, the one of me cooking the steak, he messaged to me on friday night – so its the last seen image off his dead phone!!)

Aug 192017
 
sal & kade

sal & kade

our old mate kade, was back in yirrkala for a few days and came over to spend the last night at rick’s bar and grill. i grabbed some scallops from gove seafood and just panfried them in butter  & olive oil. i made up a batch of dave’s yummy sauce which is the perfect accompaniment to scallops. a perfect entree followed by pan fried mackeral and salad!

anyway, what i was actually going to post about, until i came across that photo, was the fiddling on the new boat this week, firstly the solar panel i had ordered arrived – i was so excited about finding the package i wanted that i had neglected to look at how big it was! when it arrived i figured the box must have a huge amount of padding because it looked big enough to be a wing for a small plane!

as it turned out the box was all solar panel – 2m x 1m – rather big! it is a 305w panel so it should be able to keep up with a small town, let alone a small boat! it came with special mounting blocks, cabling and a solar controller. normally i would have put it in with duct tape and fencing wire, but given the quality finish of our new boat i was forced to slow down and do the job properly!

i got my make cookie to do the electrical installation so it didnt look like a mad womans hair in the morning, all in all I am very happy with the whole job.

today i have been fiddling around with a couple of other jobs, the ‘trim up’ switch was not working very well and I was having to use the ‘trailer’ switch to raise the leg, after some research on the issue, my google fu uncovered the issue as being the ‘trim limit switch’ on the sterndrive and on closer inspection i discovered the wiring was buggered – how it worked at all is a mystery!

fiddlin-4

removed switch with buggered wiring

the next problem to tackle was a slight coolant leak that I noticed after our last trip, i suspected a leak around the area of the coolant overflow accumulator tank and after running the engine for ½ an hour or so to get it up to temperature I indeed discovered a small leak from the seal on the lid on the accumulator tank.

white tank with leak at lid in foreground

white tank with leak at lid in foreground

finally, i also bought a large tarp to cover the boat while its parked up in the driveway, rather detracts from her pretty lines but functional!

dressed in silver!

dressed in silver!

all in all some good fiddlin’ to fix a few little issues, but also a reminder that owning a big boat is like standing in the shower tearing up hundred dollar bills!

 Posted by at 5:15 pm



Mar 192017
 
march-32

coral trout

after our big trip down to dudley island on saturday we spent most of the rest of our time at bawaka fishing the reefs outside port bradshaw in dave’s boat, and fishing the rockbars in the bay in mine. this led to a steady stream of quality table fish with red emporer, mackerel, coral trout, barrumundi cod and mangrove jack making up the main species caught.

on sunday i also took timmy, djaka, yarrangu, russell & kai across the bay in my boat to hunt maranydjalk (sting ray) and djindjalma (mud crab) – which led to a great feast that night! maranydjalk is one of our favourite seafoods when prepared the yolngu way and it was fantastic for dave, brian and caitie to be able to see the preparation and then discover the amazing taste of this delicacy of arnhem land.

of course no trip like this will be without its dramas, and my poor old leaky, battered and bashed tinny was the most likely candidate. so it proved to be when on the first day i tried to select reverse and the gear cable popped out thru its sheath and made reverse unselectable and likely to leave the boat inoperable as it got worse. having a diesel fitter, a mechanical fitter and an electrician…..made little difference! but bush mechanics 101 came to the rescue and we cut some lengths of fencing wire, bent them to the curve of the cable and taped them to the cable before finishing with cable ties. the repair did the trick and the bodged up cable will probably still be in the boat next time brian comes up!! Special thanks to caitie also, without her expertise with the ‘magic smoke’ we would have had no coffee machine, fans or lights due to some faults with the solar system.

march-50

bush mechanics

as usual with us food was a highlight of the week, but when mixed with the abundant wildlife, stunning environment, cultural wealth, brilliant weather and damn fine company it was truly an unforgettable week and one that we will all continue to reflect on and remember with much fondness.

So thanks firstly to timmy and the family for welcoming us to bawaka and treating us to a unique experience in this piece of paradise, thanks to brian and caitie for being the catalyst for this adventure, as well as being fabulous company and finally thanks to my best mate dave for all his help in making this trip a success.

I will finish up with one of my favourite images from the week, taken as we were presented with our plate of maranydjalk!

march-38

 

 

 

 

Mar 172017
 

march-7

my old mate, brian livingstone (livo), used to live here and relocated his family to yepoon in queensland some years ago. he pops back every couple of years for some fishing and to inflict serious and lasting damage on our livers. this time he brought his daughter caitie and settled in for 2 weeks. they stayed with my mate dave ‘butts’ butterworth – which helped prevent early onset cirrosis in my case.

brian also brought a wonderful present for me up on the plane, it was a total surprise, but i suspect dave was also involved! I was actually overwhelmed a bit, its a magnificent gift and will take pride of place at rick’s bar & grill.

march-51

our original plan had been to charter a boat for a few days and do a barra fishing trip, but it proved to be so expensive that we bought a small mercedes each instead and decided to spend 6 days camped down at paradise, a.k.a bawaka, we took both dave’s and my boats down and sal drove the troopy down.

we asked timmy to come down too, so we could get him out on the boats and also have him create a cultural education experience for our visitors. he came down on the friday and spent the weekend with us, also bringing djakapurra and yarrangu as well as djaka’s son russell who is a year older than kai.

march

caitie, sal, brian & dave

we had a few days in town before heading out, and brian, dave and I actually did a run down to bawaka to take some of the gear down and make sure all was ready for our visit. as usual the days were started at rick’s bar & grill with coffees and usually ended there with dinner!

friday morning we launched the boats at yirrkala and set off for bawaka while sal headed down by road, it was a perfect morning with glass off conditions and flat seas, i only stopped for about 45 seconds to catch a large mackeral for dinner!

the most exciting thing on the first night was the appearance of wititj, or the olive python as he frightened the life out of russell by slithering across the sand towards him as he sat beside the camp fire after dinner! it was well over 3m long and one of the biggest I have seen, after a bit of fumbling in the dark I managed to pick him up and relocate him into the swamp – well away from our beds!

as you can see our effort at camping more properly falls into the category of glamping – proven by the fact that we lugged dave’s espresso machine out there so we could have a proper start to the day with freshly roasted coffee from arnhem roastery!

saturday we decided the weather was perfect for a run down the coast towards the group of islands known as the three hummocks. timmy was very keen to visit an island which he is named after, he told me it was deadly island – which I couldnt find on the map, but as it turned out i had misheard him and it was actually dudley island! the yolngu name of the island is murrmurrgu, and timmy had never been there so it was a very emotional trip for him.

we followed the coast down and trolled around any likely looking islands or rocks and got a nice range of fish, and some unwanted ones like sal’s shark!

we stopped at one of the three hummocks for lunch, it was actually 2 islands joined by an amazing sand spit, and it wouldn’t have been hard to stop there for the rest of the day! it was totally protected by the other islands around it in every direction, the water was crystal clear and the sand was soft and clean.

when we arrived at murrmurrgu we discovered an even better beach if possible, it plunged straight down into deep water and was just an idyllic location, it was beautiful to see how emotionally affected timmy was by the chance to visit his island – and that alone made the whole week worthwhile just to be able to take him there. I dont think any of us will forget the experience for a long time.

that will do for part 1, i will try to put together a part 2 post later this weekend.

i did record a little video of timmy talking about his experience in visiting his namesake island for the first time,

Nov 292014
 

KI2  003we rose yesterday to a stunning king island spring day, after a leisurely sleep in, and decided that it was the perfect day to head out on the boat for a fish. we hooked up with a couple of andrew & di’s neighbours, dave and tim, and rendevoued at the boat ramp. we launched and set off for christmas and new years island which lay just off the coast from the blake house.

the plan was for the boys, andrew, tim & dave to go diving while i took the girls and kai to the beach on christmas island – as keen as i am to get in the water and kill things, the water temp in bass strait is below my threshold!

we found a sheltered cove and had a fat old time, the girls sunbathed on the beach while kai and i scrambled over the rocks exploring the coastline, like two rock monkeys. well one rock monkey and one slightly overweight old man.

meanwhile the hunters were hard at work collecting abalone and crayfish, all of the catch was very kindly donated to our household so i shall be doing a big seafood cookup over the weekend.

after getting back in and cleaning up we got ready to head out for a highlight of the king island social calendar, the Sustainable Agricultural Fund’s Annual Christmas hoe down at the old reekara school, it seemed most of king island’s population turned out for the 2 spit roasted pigs, chargrilled lambs, and wallaby haunchs as well as about 10m of salads laid out on tables.

we got to meet a lot of the very friendly and welcoming locals and kai had a ball running round all night with the local kids. the pork was perfect, and the lamb and wallaby cooked on the Argentinean grill was as good as I have ever had.

the Argentinean grill was interesting because as you will see in the photos, they have a very low level charcoal layer under the meat, but the main cooking is done by the fire on top of the grill, this means there are no flare ups of fire from dripping fat as the meat cooks.

 

Nov 132014
 

nov 19

so d-day approaches apace, 4 days and we are off on our gap year. we are slowly working thru the to-do list prior to departure, the fact that we are coming back makes it a series of tasks without pressure, what we dont get done, we dont get done!

the fact that we are effectively spending the first month doing a rellie-run lessens the anticipation, excitement and nervousness, I think if we were taking off straight to a new country it would be both more exciting and intimidating.

the photo above for me portrays what I know we will miss, sitting out on our back verandah, with my dear wife, shirtless (me, not her), sipping a cheeky sauv blanc and demolishing a whole crispy skin golden snapper, with Thai tamarind and chilli sauce on rice. we caught the fish on our boat, its a sweaty build up night with the dark, dusk sky filled with grey, stormy clouds. this is our life – and i know i shall miss it.

its been a pretty foody november, got off to a rollicking start when i was going thru one of the freezers and found a lovely pork belly, i marinated it in a bourbon marinade and then dry rubbed it with 17 secret spices and herbs. it was onto the weber smokey mountain cooker then for a few hours slow roasting. i had a tray of spuds in the lower rack and they gently roasted in the drizzle of piggy fat, i dont know that it would have got the tick from the heart foundation, but hey its ok occasionally isnt it?!

melbourne cup was next cab off the rank, the gurls were off for a big knees up at the walkabout, but i took the opportunity to do a warm smoked chicken salad with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce for brunch, you cant really go wrong with anything that involves a properly made hollandaise!

sal had a poor day at the races, she spends days before the big race studing form guides, tea leaves and tarot cards and nearly always comes home drunk and cashed up. at least she still came home drunk!

i sort of get the feeling i should have split this post in 2! anyway, we are on the home straight now! we managed to get a day in fishing with dave, in between preparations at home, we went out on dave’s boat and while it was less than perfect conditions, we had a great day, caught a couple of little mackies, a huge queenfish and a big barracouta. we had lunch at SE Bremmer island and enjoyed a swim in the balmy build up waters! the mackeral got thrown on the char grill with lashings of olive oil and salt with grilled limes.

kade had his birthday last saturday and spent the day cooking a piggy on a spit, its a bloody big job, especially with a hand cranked spit, and sitting around a fire pit in the build up is a bit like cooking in a sauna, but the end result was magnificent and we all had a rollicking good time.

somewhere in there we had a few spots of rain one afternoon, kai stood out the back shivering and if you look closely you can see the rain drops on the concrete, it was the first hint of the wet, with no rain since july.

kai also won a principal’s award for  being a “thoughtful, friendly and helpful student, best wishes on your world wide adventure”

earlier this week i found a big eye fillet in the freezer so i whacked it into slabs and chucked it on the char grill, dead animal singed on coal cant be beaten, it is the best argument against vegetarians and other food deviants.

that should round out the pics and the last update before we depart on monday, irregular updates will cover our meandering around the globe so stay tuned – please subscribe at the top of the right hand frame, that way you will get an email everytime i post an update!

 

 

Oct 182014
 

film 6Last weekend sal had to pop over to darwin for an MRI, it was just routine and a confirmation that all is well before we head off on our gap year, but it meant that kai had to come to work with me – because we had a group travelling to bawaka to shoot a fillum!

tourism australia are making a new international advertisment promoting indigenous cultural tourism and had commissioned warwick thornton of sampson and delilah fame to make it, they had done a reccy previously, visiting us as part of a month of travelling australia and visiting suitable locations. now they were back to actually shoot the final footage.

they brought ‘talent’ with them, a woman and a man who are portrayed visiting the various parts of australia featured in the ad, ayers rock, mossman gorge, cape leveque, mount borradaile and here, the talent are shown having a grand old time with the locals and hopefully more cashed up international visitors will be inspired to come and visit!

kai was included in some of the scenes so he may or may not make it past the cutting room floor!

the highlight of the whole experience was probably warwick catching a very decent barra off the rocks at the front of bawaka, the leader broke just as he got it to shore and his son, dylan dived in and grabbed the slightly disorientated and very unlucky barra before it could make its escape!

this event would be challenged for highlight status by the sight of my flesh and blood dressed in a summery skirt and sleeveless blouse, hamming it up with the girls!

i shot a little bit of video of the performance of ‘djapana’ the song and dance about the sunset, specifically the sunset viewed from bawaka, this is the inspiration for the song of the same name by yothu yindi which was one of their best known songs.

 

 Posted by at 7:50 am  Tagged with: ,



Oct 042014
 

oct 5

ancient cycads scattered amongst ancient rocks, after the fires. classic end of the dry season scene in arnhem land, i just love the contrast of the charcoal black with the luminescent green new growth. the cycads date from the jurassic era – about 200m years ago, the rocks are some of the oldest in the world – formed in the precambrian era over 400 million years ago!

i have been busy out and about again, with trips to bawaka, bukudal and gan gan in the last couple of weeks, i had a great time at gan gan chatting to the old man, Dr Garrawin Gumuna, he is the only surviving Yirrkala Church Panel artist and despite his age his mind is as sharp as a knife and the wit is nicely honed too!

we have had our old mate phil obrien staying again while he helps out with a few tours, always a pleasure to have around and one of the last real gentlemen larrikins, they broke the mould with phil!

sal has also had a friend from sydney, helen, stay for a week or so, they hadnt seen each other since sal and i met so it was lovely for sal to catch up and spend time with her.

vic has also been hanging around for a few weeks, vic bought my old boat and used to be a teacher at yirrkala, he had an epiphany and he and his family left so he could do medicine and after 3 years he has come back to do a 6 week placement, melissa and the kids also came up for about a week so it was fantastic to catch up for both families.

we also met peter and alissa who are friends of our friends steve & bridget, peter & alissa are living in new york where steve and bridget are currently based and had popped back to australia to watch the bunnies in their first grand final in 42 years, they decided on a whirlwind tour of arnhem land this week.

i only have a couple more weeks work and sal finishes up at the end of the month and then our gap year starts on november the 17th when we head to tassie, so its really getting a tangible reality now!

so here are a few photos of the last few weeks,

sal, helen, kai and i spent 3 days earlier this week camping at bawaka, here are a few images,

finally a gallery of the visitors!

 

Sep 112014
 

sept 4this week we have had a definite change in the weather, winds have been very light and actually swung round to the NW a couple of times – which suggests an early build up to me!

tuesday sal & i spent the afternoon out on the boat in glass off conditions, i had also done a dawn run with vic in the morning, fishing was crap due to the full moon but conditions were magnificent,

the last 2 days I have been down at bawaka cooking for a tour of rio management, beautiful foggy mornings and sunny, still days – the nights were much warmer than a week ago when i was last out camping. the photo above is the sunset last night.

this is sunrise on tuesday,

sept 1and later in the day heading towards arnhem shoals with sal,

sept 2

another sunset from bawaka to finish off,

sept 3

hopefully the fishing will pick up!

 

 

 Posted by at 7:54 pm  Tagged with:



Sep 072014
 

dads day  008

starting at the end, my mate, vic, who is back for 6 weeks doing a placement with various health providers, went spearfishing yesterday and came back with 4 lovely crays, a big reef mangrove jack and a blue bone. we cooked up the crays in a coconut cream curry sauce tonite and set a little aside for sashimi.

one of the crays was full of bright red roe, so i made a roe mayonnaise to have with the sashimi. we woofed the cray curry down and saved the fish for tomorrow night!

earlier in the day vic had come around for a coffee, and due to the rest of my family still being in bed after a big night last night, vic and I drove out and hooked up with a mutual friend who took us to a beautiful and secret, fresh water spot. we tried flicking some plastics for a saratoga or barra, without any success. still it was a lovely way to spend dad’s day – with a couple of other dads and out in the bush!

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Jun 012014
 

gary  008

the last couple of weeks we have had gary and his son tim, staying with us. gary is an old mate of my brother, simon’s and they have been threatening to come for a fishing trip for about 10 years, simon is always too busy and finally gary got sick of waiting and rang me and told me he was coming and as simon was once again unavailable he decieded to bring his son tim.

i guess simon does have the excuse this year that he and his family are just about to head off to canada for a month, but he missed out on a pretty damn fine adventure!

we have struggled with the weather a bit, its been very windy for virtually their whole visit, with typical dry season south easterlies of  15-20kts every day, but we have made the most of it. their first day here i took them to my seekrit spot to try for some land based barra and we got a few nice fish, the photo above is tim’s first barra so that got things off to a good start.

gary  009

the next couple of days we worked hard for little reward, bashing across the bay so we could fish the creeks, we got a couple of fish and a feed of mudcrab, so it wasnt a total loss. the little croc having a snooze on the sandback was about 20m from where i jumped out of the boat to push us across a shallow spot trying to get into the giddys river at low tide. i had a good look in the water before jumping in, but forgot to look on the bank! luckily he was having a nanna nap in the cool conditions!

the second week we headed out on the hama pearl ii for a 3 day charter in buckingham bay, the plan was to target barra, but we had left our run a bit late in the year, the cool water and lack of run off meant there were not many barra around and the ones that we caught were mainly rats. the trip was saved by a couple of days of fishing the reefs off the front of kurella creek where we were anchored. we caught a heap of goldies and quite a few big jewfish.

on the last day kai and i climbed to the top of the hill on the bank of the kurella river and took some pics of the hama pearl anchored in the river, finally thanks to brad and kim for an amazing charter, we had our stomachs stretched with a constant stream of fantastic food, from full cooked breakfasts everyday, yummy cakes and biscuits, filling lunches, plates of nibblies to have with cold beers at the end of a long days fishing, magnificent dinners and filling desserts! the boat was always spotlessly clean, nothing too much trouble for our hosts, cool beds in the air con cabin and hot showers!

if anyone is considering a charter in arnhem land you cant go past ss charters, http://www.sscharters.com.au

all in all its been a great couple of weeks, many fine memories for all involved and we are already making plans for another trip when the weather is more conducive to bagging the elusive barra!