Monday, 4 April 2005

Kimberley

"There's not a word yet, for old friends who've just met." ―Jim Henson

Following the refit of Tientos it was time for a shakedown cruise and where better than the magnificent Kimberley for a 3-month sojourn.


With crew Ben Kerley on board we set sail. Cruising with us was 'Sunchaser II', a beautiful Carbineer, with Ray and Brenda Lewis, who wanted to see the Kimberly before heading to Indonesia on the Rally and ultimately completing a circumnavigation.We had met them earlier that year and would meet them again in Malaysia in 2006.
A series of never ending beach BBQ s
The Kimberley is one of the most remote, wildest and most beautiful regions on earth. The Kimberley is Western Australia’s sparsely settled northern region; Australia’s last frontier.  It’s famous for large swaths of unique wilderness defined by rugged mountains, dramatic gorges and stunning waterfalls. Many of its spectacular features are only accessible by boat. 
Ben climbs the hard way
Evocative and tranquil as you ghost the gorge
Cool refreshing water holes
Covering nearly 423,000 square kilometres, this ancient region has fewer people per square kilometre than almost any other place on Earth. And along its coast lies some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, untouched coral atolls and rugged islands with a remarkable variety of marine life.

Magnificent view from the top

And a long climb
We came up with two names for our autopilot: FRED (%@! ridiculous electronic device) and OWL (occasionally works with limitations). This was always to be a problem until 2006, when we discovered an ocky strap around the wheel took away the pressure from FRED. A shakedown cruise is designed to check if everything works - so what went wrong and what maintenance was done? Bearing in mind the saying about cruising being maintenance in exotic locations.
The starboard Genoa track quit spectacularly ripping out of the bulwarks. The anchor winch needed a little adjustment; replaced the slipping alternator belt; the stern gland hose clamp was corroded (replaced) and salt water appeared in the heat exchanger fresh water section! A short fix was to drain and refill it with fresh until we could replace it once back in Darwin. The fuel injector pump also started dripping - a little tightening fixed that problem and of course there is nothing like an exotic location to set up the lazy jacks.)
Maintenance in exotic locations
Tientos does not have a water maker so collecting water is always a fun chore whilst keeping a close eye out for the handbags (crocodiles).  Saltwater crocodiles are the largest reptiles in the world (in terms of weight). They can grow to over 6 metres and their jaws can exert a pressure of several tons. They are huge, territorial and aggressive, and they are plentiful across the Kimberley and also found in fresh water. We installed an inline water filter between the tanks and the tap to keep out any nasties which may be present in the fresh water. 
Croc watch when collecting water

We had three birthdays during our time in the Kimberley; Brenda, Keith and Lea's. We had started making our own Merlot so nothing like a special occasion to toast with your own wine. 
Another birthday, another wine

More excuses for a wine tasting
Kimberley rock art is arguably some of the world’s oldest, with evidence suggesting the earliest occupation in the region dates back 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.  These paintings can still be seen near some of the more remote water holes.



The iconic Boab tree is only found in the Kimberley and North-West Australia and can grow to an enormous size. Whilst the Aboriginals used them for shelter and medicine, the white man used them as prisons.

The Boab at Honeymoon Bay
One of the most famous of the Boabs is at Careening Bay, only accessible by water. When Phillip Parker King ran the Mermaid aground for repairs, his carpenter carved 'HMC Mermaid 1820'
HMC Mermaid 1820
Swimming holes are best found high and still thoroughly checked for 'wildlife'.
Dinghy ride to the swimming hole

The higher the better
hmmm no crocs here
With a last raft up with Sunchaser II, it was time to say goodbye; Ray and Brenda heading back to Darwin to join Sail Indonesia and Tientos to head to Wyndham.
Last views on the raft up
We always suggest to international yachts heading across the Indian Ocean to clear from Broome or Dampier. This gives them the opportunity to visit this spectacular ancient area.


Provisioning Kimberley

This is a very remote area with virtually non-existent shopping facilities. The Communities will have a supermarket of sorts, but the exorbitant price charged by the beach–side entrepreneur to get there is hardly worth it.

Already known as ‘the garden boat’ on our previous yacht, we grew our own tomatoes, chives, lettuce, and various herbs. Fish, crabs and oysters are readily available and bush tucker can be found. The Bush Tucker Field Guide, written by Les Hiddens was a mine of information. We made our own bread by hand.

A dehydrated mince was available at that time in Australia which was excellent for chillies, pies, spaghetti and other meat dishes. Ben created a delicious smoked fish and crab pate using his smoker and bush cones.  We have an 80 litre fridge/freezer so could easily keep the bacon, chicken, steak and roast meats. 



May all your bars be wooden and well-stocked!