Friday, January 1, 2016

Same,same but different

On September 7th we raised the anchor at 0830, set the main and worked the tide to Crab Island. The forecast was 10-15kts SE. We passed throngs of turtles, schools of mackerel pointed out to us by flocks of seabirds and a dugong. The Crab Island anchorage was horrible-choppy, rolly and plain nasty! Plan B was Crystal Creek 2, we had a fisherpersons waypoints for entry into the creek, but clearly the sandbars has shifted so we anchored with 1m (LWT) under our keel at 1345. We amused ourselves during the night by shining torches on the schools of prawns that made Manatee their temporary home.

leaving Seisia
We awoke to Manatee's keel hitting the sand, so we pulled her in by the anchor windlass and then nudged her into deeper water by the dinghy. We seemed to amuse the dolphin pod that stopped by. Stupid humans. Once we has passed low tide we dinghied across to the beach for a walk to check out a wreck and to allow Ruby a good run.
We pulled the anchor at 1100 with the forecast 10-15kts SE for Vrilya Point and set down in 3m  with enough time to have sundowners on the beach and entertain ourselves by beachcombing. Marvellous!

Fabulous Vrilya Point

The next morning we awoke to a beautiful dawn with very busy sea-life. We felt blessed. We pulled the anchor at 0800 so we could catch the flood tide to Port Musgrave. The forecast was 10-15kts E/SE.  The tide petered out earlier than expected and we were unable to make the anchorage so plan B was the Jackson River which was too shallow to enter. We anchored at 1400 in 4m near the entrance and had an appalling night, either rolling from bulwark to bulwark or pitching. The next morning we found a giant groper (3-4m) under Manatee looking very grumpy. We pulled the anchor at 0720 in attempt to make Port Musgrave on the flood tide with a forecast of 10-15kts E/SE.
Prior to leaving Seisa we researched tides in the Gulf of Carpentaria and various viewpoints arose. No one including fisherpeople could give a definite answer. The most common view was that it flooded south, which it did for short amounts, during the flooding tide. The tide most certainly flowed westward from the Jackson River during the flood tide as we had difficulty moving south.

We reached the natural harbour entrance at 1000 and motored west following the shoreline before anchoring off the southern shore at 1230.

Port Musgrave

Port Musgrave is a shallow bay on the western coast of the Cape York Peninsula.. The surrounding area is rich in freshwater swamps, while the bay has tidal flats and mangroves.It is a breeding area for crocs. The small Aboriginal community of Mapoon lies on the southern shore of the bay. Mapoon was established as a missionary community on the lands of the Tjungundji people in 1891. Many from the stolen generation were born here. In the 1950's with the discovery of bauxite in the area, people were forcibly removed, and their homes burnt. They were "re-settled" near Bamaga and the town was called New Mapoon. People slowly returned in the 1970's.  In 2000, Mapoon was formally recognised as a Deed of Grant in Trust Community (DOGIT) with status similar to a shire council. Under this system, a locally elected council governs the community. Tourist opportunities are being developed and fishing is becoming a viable industry.

We spent a day at anchor here, walking on the beach where we discovered turtle tracks leading to a nest and watching flocks of geese fly overhead. A beautiful place with a very sad history.

We pulled the anchor at 0640 after a day of rest with a forecast of 15-20kts S/SE, destination Weipa. We were abeam Pennefather River at 1200 travelling at 5kts. We reached Duyfken Point where we had considered anchoring at 1700, only to find a huge plume of black smoke wafting from the point.

Various publications warn the sailor of the smoky conditions in the Gulf. Aboriginal land management does include burning the vegetation, but we were unprepared for the amount of smoke. We were both regularly sucking on ventolin inhalers.

We headed around the point, tired after a long day of sailing, seeking shelter from the wind and somewhere upwind of the smoke. Pine River was too shallow to enter and we were getting desperate as the day faded. We were only managing 4kts in very choppy seas. We finally dropped the anchor at 2100 at the entrance to the Mission River.