Thursday, 27 June 2013

Finally!!! The Spectacular Tropic of Capricorn

After 6 weeks of sitting at home with my broken foot...and talking to Captain G on the phone 3 or 4 times a day as he made his passage from one place to another ..  I'm here really cruising in our home on the water - Southern Belle.  And boy it was worth the wait!

Yesterday (Wednesday), after saying our goodbyes to our good friend Brian, we left Rosslyn Bay harbour for a short sail over to Great Keppel Island.  Its only 15 nautical miles but Captain G wanted to try out my ability to function on the boat.  I was fine.  I'm still in a bit of pain when moving around but I've decided to give "the boot" the boot and just move around in a shoe....and so far so good.

When I first came to Australia - 34 years ago - Great Keppel Island was one of THE happening places.  There was a resort on it run by a company called Contiki which catered to "backpackers" and anyone else under 30.  Sort of like the resorts school leavers and college kids go to on spring break.  Sadly - or otherwise - the resort is long gone.  Cheap airfares to Bali and the gold coast took the appeal away.  Today it offers basic accommodation to families and there are some private houses there.  (I have some great photos but there isn't enough Wi-Fi available to upload the photos - will send a pictorial blog when I can.)

We anchored in a little bay called Leeke's Bay.   There were quite a few boats around and the beach was pretty much deserted save for a flock of goats - we not sure it they were feral or belonged to someone.  On approach we also saw what looked like a yacht way up in the mangroves ... it looked impossible.  Not happy with not knowing, the Captain launched the dingy and somehow I manoeuvred on to it to have a look.   It turns out there was a large yacht that had been dug into the mangrove - using it for support - and the owner was cleaning the hull.  Some people will do anything to save money!  (Again I have a great photo...later.)

At 7:00am this morning the anchor came up and we set off for Port Clinton about 45 nautical miles north.  There was wind forecast - 10 to 15 knots - but not much arrived.  Captain G did all he could - set the main, then pulled out the MPS (spinnaker/multi purpose sail) - but the boat couldn't move without the motor.  Our trip up was very nice - calm water all the way. 

We arrived at Cape Clinton about 2:00 pm (1400 hours) and then started to cruise around the headland - which is complete with big with rocks and shallow areas to avoid.  Once inside the "port" we travelled down towards the best place to anchor all the while being amazed at the sheer beauty of the place.   How to describe it?  Wild, Picturesque, Vast, Isolated, Uninhabited, A Sanctuary for many species like the Dugong (called a Manatee in the US I think)!!!!  A completely unspoilt place - apparently - for now.  Our cruising guide - Alan Lucas' Cruising the Coral Coast - tells us that at one stage Lange Hancock - the uber rich mining magnate and father to Gina Rinehart Australia's richest woman - wanted to develop the whole area.  He pictured this beautiful place as a coal export location.  His vision included railways, shipping docks with arms and wharfs extending out to sea and an end to the more dugongs.  Happily he was prevented from his dream of mining riches ... but its not over!!!  Gina, along with Tony Abbott and the LNP - if they win the next election - are already planning to take over much of the mineral rich lands of Australia for more and more coal and iron ore.

But tonight there's only 2 boats as far as you can see.  The sunset was spectacular and we're safe and sound in a corner of paradise.  Worth loving ... worth protecting.

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