I was busy updating my blog in the air conditioned office of Bear, the pearl farm manager. Internet came over satellite here, with a high gain antenna outside.
He offered me a room in the accommodation site as well, and I happily agreed to a real bed with air condition! A delicious dinner, done by the young cook woman, was self-service in the kitchen, the guys were scattered all over in TV room, picnic tables and their rooms. They even have a gym here!
At some point Bear (3rd from left) and the foreman Alex (3rd from right) decided to go on a night’s hunt and fishing trip, and invited me to come along! How could I say no!
At 6.30 we were loading the truck with fishing rods and a rifle, and Bear was driving on the rough island’s paths into the night. This was already an experience, as we had to avoid wild horses and pigs…and Bear was driving in a speed for a well paved road in daylight…
Alex was standing on the back of the truck with a strong spotlight which he shone occasionally around, especially when we were crossing some low river fords. Quite some wild horses around, but they were not on the hunter’s and food list of white Australians. No wild pigs yet.
But as we were nearing the bay where the creek with the fishing spot was, all along the shallow, muddy shore line there were a few glooming pair’s of eyes…crocs all over! Alex was shining the light on some particular ones, and I jumped out of the car to take some close up pictures. Only smallish crocs, quite a “teenager’s community” on that bay with maybe 20-30 crocs, but better than nothing! This is where I expected them to be – in a leeside bay, with shallow, muddy water, close to a creek outlet, with fish jumping probably directly into their mouth. An animal’s paradise…
We were stopping at the creek, and Bear and Alex started fishing. I kept on croc chasing with my torch…what an exciting night!
No fishing luck for the guys, but we kept on driving through the night to an open field close to the airstrip where plenty of wild pigs were running around in Alex spotlight. Bear is hunting them to keep the numbers at bay and the carcasses go to the Aboriginal community as a “tribute” to the landowners…but no hunter’s luck this night as well. Only small pigs around which he didn’t want to mess with…he was after the BIG boars. Nice to watch anyway.
On the way back home we were stopping at a fishing lodge where the lodge owner’s partner was a veterinarian and she was just back on the island. Bear took the chance to ask her about medical help for his dogs which got frequently wounded on pig hunts, and she promised to supply some stitching kit.
The chat went on in a political direction about the “Black Industry”, very interesting actually to listen to local’s opinion about the Aboriginals…
We drove back home around 10 pm, and I had to still sort out some gear for next day’s launch. So I fell asleep at 11.30pm, enough for that night…
Bear on the pearl farm, showing me around
I surely had nice dreams that last night, with that mega-size petrified penis besides me :-))
Actually, the surf and wind was much more on my mind than anything else. The wind lifted quite a bit over night, and so was the swell and surf…though it didn’t sound too bad at night, I was thinking, but it was only the low tide being a bit more away from my campsite….
I went out for the bathroom in first light, and guessed it really doesn’t look too bad. Time it right and just punch through…head first!
Oh well, this is what I did…or at least tried to do…
It was not too hard to get afloat, I even put the spraydeck on in reasonable quiet water after the first smaller breaker. It was more about 6-7 lines of surf instead of a single big dumper on the shore with an ugly back surge.
But I didn’t release my rudder in fear of a backwash and breakage, this made it a bit tough to manouver this boat straight out.
I punched through about 4 breakers successfully, but then it came, the mega-inevitable-big-one, which laid me flat on my backdeck instead of what I should have done – staying tucked forward. Capsize was unavoidable in the non-bracing laying back position with no rudder control.
I think I didn’t even try to roll up, as in such powerful big surf the back wash to the beach is quite some distance and the ground may be close…it is warm water with no obstacles and (probably) no crocs and sharks and such…and I reckoned later the paddle was washed out of my hands, too…so I preferred to go for an early morning swim!!!
No problem as such, besides the four floating around non-secured empty water bags I had to collect. And my hairband was gone…but that was basically it! I didn’t try to hold my boat, no chance on the next fat breaker…I was lucky it simply floated ashore, upside down, but nothing else.
I swam and waded ashore as well, some shaky legs, but I was basically more laughing at myself about this stupid attempt…I collected my kayak on the beach, plus the waterbags. I turned it upright and noticed the good old girl even started to self-bail! The electrical pump got switched on and the plug of the outlet came out by itself…it didn’t take long and the cockpit was empty again.
I reorganized my interior of the cockpit, basically secured the waterbags and better stuffed my phones in the hatches and took even more things off the decknet, just in case the next try would be ending up like the first one…
But the second launch went allright. Still hard work, I noticed my muscles did allready work a bit…but I was eventually out there and ok. It was quite a bit of swell going this morning in strong wind all night!!! I think if conditions would have been like this last evening, I may have rather decided on a quiet night landing around Cape Cockburn…
Ok, that was the funny start of the day. The paddle to De Courcy Head was quite rough and swelly, nicely entertaining, actually. But I kept my PFD on…I assumed around the corner it would be more quiet out of the wind.
But to get there, I had to pass a big mother of a tidal race that morning…fat, huge standing waves way out there off the head. I stayed very close to the cliffs, trying to be in the eddyline, as it was still tide against wind. It worked more or less, I passed through some steep waves and was eventally through.
I hoped that was it for the day, took my PFD off, ate my a bit soaked from the capsize ceral breafast, and kept on paddling.
But once out of the lee of Cape Cockburn, crossing directly over to the entrance of Bowen Strait on the southern end of Crocker Island, the strong wind of the day got me fully again. It was still wind against tide with the inevitable breakers, but even as the tide turned it stayed rough with fat whitecaps and many breakers. It started to ease a bit around 1pm, as I was nearing the Strait.
I knew on the southern tip of Croker Island, just around Point David, there was a pearl farm with fresh water refill possibility, and this is where I was heading to.
After knocking on some doors, I found a nice chap called “Bear” in the office, who welcomed me to shower, feed and stay! It was a luxury civilisation spot in the wilderness!!! They are having everything out there, electricity, plenty of water, internet, fresh food…so I decided to stop already after some eventful 40 km at 2pm, rather than pushing on against the turning tide on bowen Strait.
I have 110 km left to Cape Don, one 60 km day to Smith Point, one 50 km day to Cape Con. Then cutting across Dundas Strait to Camp Point in 60 km, another 50 km to Muranapi Point, and a 60 km crossing to Darwin. Good timing, so I deserve a good feed, shower and bed at the pearl farm, I reckon!!!
Thanks, Bear and staff, for feeding and hosting me!!!