October 29, 2008
Today we awoke to an amazing sunrise. Got up at 5.30am, took three or four photos and went back to bed. Eventually got up and we motored out of our anchorage and towards Vansittart Bay. Royce’s local knowledge was invaluable as the charts were wrong as we passed through a narrow passage near Middle Rock at over 9 knots with the current bumping us along very nicely. The FSC Cruising Guide notes that the charts are in error but doesn’t give any waypoints or the exact positions of the rocks. I now have both of these off Royce.
It took us several hours to get down to our first stop which was on the mainland near Jar Island, where we went ashore and walked over the dunes, across a dry salt pan with a very curious dingo in the distance and up to the wreck of a WW2 DC-3, which was fascinating. Evidently it was carrying a heap of Gold when the Japanese shot it down. It tried to make the landing field at Truscott but didn’t quite make it, crashing in the bush. Rob managed to climb into the cockpit and was just about to have his photo taken when there was a shout of “Oh my God, there’s a bloody great big spider in here”. It got worse as he discovered a truckload of relatives had also come to stay as well. To his credit, he preserved in the naqme of a good photo opportunity and managed to come out alive. Shades of Indiana Jones and his aversion to snakes there.
Fresh from our morning adventure, we hopped over to Jar island and tasted some freshly cooked bread for lunch, before setting off into the interior of the island to see some incredible aboriginal rock art that is 28,000 years old and still very visible. There are pretty well concentrated in one area of the island and are very distinctive with long figures, pictures of animals and children clearly visible.
We left Jar Island at 3.30pm and headed out to the top of Vansittart Bay and into Freshwater Bay, supposedly one of the best anchorages in the Kimberley. On the way, we came across an extensive Oyster Farm just off June and July point, which are between August and September points – work that one out. Still no sightings of any long nose, short legged, long tailed terriers – must see one shortly.
We gave it a good shot at Freshwater Bay when we arrived at 5pm and lowered the dingy. We needed to go up a narrow creek through some mangroves to get to the waterfall and then get off. Jane and Kim took one look at it and thought their books were a much better idea so they stayed on Camelot. The rest of us piled into the dingy and before we even got to the mouth of the creek we’d pulled up the dingy motor and got out the oars. We soon got to a point where we could go no further. Royce then decided that as we couldn’t get to where we were going, it was a good time to collect oysters. The rest of us stayed pretty close to the dingy – the sound of the music from Jaws ringing in our ears – wait a minute Jaws was about sharks, not crocodiles. But wait, there it was a small sand coloured shark following the path of the dingy looking for whatever we’d stirred up no doubt. I was standing in ankle deep water when Mr Shark took a bee line for my feet. I was pretty sure (a) the water wasn’t deep enough for the shark to swim in and (b) reef sharks that small are pretty harmless. Nevertheless, I chose © quickly made it onto solid ground as I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to do me any harm there.
We finally got Royce and his oysters out of there and made our way back to the boat where we cleaned up the oystered, shucked them (I’ve always wanted to use that word) and served them raw as an entrée, followed by some nice mackerel that was pulled from the freezer.
With dinner done, we decided that we would do an overnight run to put some miles under our belt. The night was jet black with absolutely no moon. Royce had the get us through some real tricky sections as we literally weaved our way through islands and reef.