Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Nhulunbuy and beyond




Have spent the last few days in Gove/ Nhulunbuy at the North East tip of Arnhem land, after crossing the Gulf. The crossing was lumpy but otherwise fine – it took us around 38 hours. The boys were wonderful and took it all in their stride – good preparation for the longer journeys to come.

Scott was rather upset at me showing his sad little fish so here is is with his manhood restored!

Gove/ Nhulunbuy is place like nowhere we have ever been before. We're anchored not far from the bauxite refinery and are very glad that the wind is blowing the right way; all the boats in the anchorage are covered in red dust, which is a permanent fixture up here. The Gove Yacht Club provides some basic (read, very) services but the town is a distance away. Yesterday the Armstrong family had their first experience of hitch-hiking!

The town is a bleak, unsettling mix of cashed-up miners and desolate-looking local Yolngu people; the two groups pass each other like ghosts with no acknowledgement. The local Yolngu lived their traditional lifestyle until the missionaries arrived a hundred years ago; their lifestyle was even more deeply affected when the Government agreed to the mining companies setting up here in the 60's without thinking to ask the Yolngu and their land and sacred sites were bulldozed. The Yolngu maintain their language (English can be their third or tenth language) and many aspects of their traditional life. When the mines moved in, many Yolngu people moved from the missions to set up basic homes on their own land on the Gove pensinsular and reclaim it for themselves. Who can blame them.

The yacht club has the most amazing tree for kids to climb and play in. The boys climbed it for hours whilst we had a quiet beer as the sun went down.

Walking and running in Gove has been rather tricky. The road runs between scrubby bush and the beach. Not only are there crocodiles, but three people warned me about wild buffalos and the dangers of 'startling them' – would me running along the road startle a buffalo? I had no idea; my run was short.

From here we head to the Wessel Islands and then across to Darwin – our next blog will be from there. It's been so lovely to see so many friends follow the site – Seth is so happy that his friends have 'joined' and is going to send them messages of their own tomorrow before we leave.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Cape and pretty Seisia





Have spent the last few days in a pretty little place called Seisia, just round the Cape. It is the point at which the passenger and cargo ships come in from Thursday Island, so from our boat we've been able to watch all sorts of things being loaded and unloaded. Despite our crocodile nerves, the local kids here swim off the jetty!

The local Aboriginal community of Bamaga has a great little bakery with the finest croissants we've had in years. A well-organised and friendly little town. Our first morning in Seisia we had a wander round and whilst the boys ate burgers, I had a pedicure under a palm tree - bliss!

Scott has been proving himself as a fisherman to be reckoned with. Whoever knew you could catch a fish smaller than the lure?

Rounding the Cape was pretty exciting - here's Seth and I at the moment we went past. We'd hoped to stay the night and head onshore in the morning to climb up the top for a cheesy photo. Instead, the wind blew 40 knots and Scott sat up most of the night. There was no way we were getting in the dinghy.

We plan to head down the Gulf in the morning for a day's sail before picking the right time to head across the Gulf to Gove. We'll then be in Arnhem Land. More soon and don't forget to check out our tracker - see link in the last blog!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Crocodiles in the wild North



We are a couple of days away from Cape York and have been having all sorts of adventures. The sailing has been great – mostly flat and always fast . We're tending to find ourselves with the same international boats at most anchorages, all of whom are travelling to Darwin to join the same rally as us. Two French, two US and two Norwegian boats – all lovely people.We (read, Scott) caught a tuna so we're living well.

Finn got sick and we had to get him seen by a doctor. This involved a radio relay through a very nice man on a barge, who called the clinic at the Aboriginal community of Lockhart River. The lovely nurse came to collect us in a 4WD and two hours later (after blood tests from the Flying Doctor) took us back to a landing place up a small river, with strict instructions not to get out of the car until the dinghy arrived, due to the very large croc that she had seen there whilst fishing the day before.

We're currently anchored at a pretty little place called Portland Roads which has a cafe (!) and nothing else. The lunch was delicious and the other 2 tables of guests were fascinating – two older men, brothers, with magnificent long white beards, who live on an island accessed by a sand spit at low tide; two couples travelling in their own small planes, taking a diversion from the local air strip; a man alone in a 4WD and two mud-spattered young guys cycling from Cairns to Cape York. They all seemed to know each other from the various camps along the way. Whilst we were all sitting there we looked down at the water and saw a croc sitting next to our dinghy. We decided to wait a while.

The picture is of another delightful creature we met whilst out for a walk. That one is especially for my sister, who loves spiders.

By the way, you can now follow us by going to the following link:


http://www.pangolin.co.nz/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VJN2235

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Seth's first log


Hi, it's Seth here

We are up at Lizard Island. Yesterday we went to Coconut Beach. Dad and I had to walk to the Blue Lagoon which is two kilometres away. Oh, and I forgot to say that at the start of the walk we walked past Mrs Watson's house that she lived in on Lizard Island. But she didn't know that there were local Aboriginals that forced her to get off the island but they didn't have a boat so they had to use a tub that they used for cooking sea slugs. So Mrs Watson and her Chinese servant and her son Freddie floated away in the tub and landed on Howick Island but all of them had dies of thirst and hunger. Anyway, we got to Coconut Beach and had a walk around. The whole walk took 3 ½ hours and when we were there we looked at all the stuff that is washed up there.

Seth, 13 June 2010



Thursday, June 10, 2010

Two days in and smiling

Two days out of Cairns and we are almost at Lizard Island already. Flat seas, brisk winds - just what was needed. I must now create a small infomercial for the wonderful, life-saving sea-sickness tablets (Stugeron, I love you!) that has transformed the floating world. Marvellous stuff. Have had two days of no nausea, being able to stay awake and function normally - woo hoo!

The boys have settled in nicely; getting used to harnessing on when they want to go on deck. Seth has started his school work - needs a bit of prodding (Mrs Lou Headon can you fly up here please?) but getting it done. Finn is doing some school work too, in his own style.

We plan to have the weekend on Lizard Island - some bushwalking and snorkelling is on the agenda. After that we may not have any reception for a week or two but will be in touch as soon as we are able.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

In Cairns at last


OK, so we finally managed to leave Yamba and here we are to prove it, on our first evening back together. Having a couple of days at the marina here so that we can stock up for the next month. How many toilet rolls do you think four people will go through?!

We're surrounded by other boats also heading North and everyone seems to be pushing Woolworths trolleys around the streets of Cairns full of provisions - we'll be doing the same thing in the morning - probably two trolleys, actually. Full of toilet rolls.