How many people get to live their dreams? I am..........!

This is my story from the time when Capt'n John and I first decided to sail around the big block, to circumnavigate this great land of ours, AUSTRALIA.

Monday, 28 July 2014

In The End

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” - Ernest Hemingway

 July 2014
Two Months Later:

Unsurprisingly, I have started to mourn the end of the journey.
As I write this I am sitting on my beautiful boat ALANA ROSE, in the marina and not at sea anymore. My beautiful boat is my home, a home that has taken me many places that I have never been before. I have done so many things that only a few have done. I have battled the elements, I have gone without comforts, I have wrestled my fears and I have survived. Not a day goes by that I don’t have a moment to remember.
marina life on a good morning
I look outside to see the boat and marina lights doing a little dance on the still waters that surround me. I begin to remember the fascinating places that I have seen and the wonderful people that I have met along the way. I sit here trying to make sense of my feelings.
I am so pleased to be back, to see old friends and familiar things. Not to be always on the move! But that old lure of freedom and travel tugs hard.
It’s hard to believe that two years has passed since MrJ and I set sail on ALANA ROSE to circumnavigate this great big land of ours, Australia. The memories are so vivid, as if they are happening all over again...............................

This time two years ago MrJ and I were making a mad dash across Whitsunday Passage to Airlie Beach in strong winds with wind against tide and a wild sea running. It was a great ride, one that you don’t stay below for long; a ride that was very exhilarating for mind body and spirit. Why? You may ask; because water had been spilt on my computer and MrJ just had to get me a new one. Good reason!
Crossing Whitsunday Passage in a heavy sea

I think about some of my most challenging times:
Making a runner down the Ningaloo Reef with huge swells and nasty seas was a challenge. Crossing Bass Straight, when coming back to the mainland, the weather changed dramatically and we chose to keep going, was a recent challenge (trying to pick the right weather windows are always a challenge).
Running down the Ningaloo Reef with sea birds to guide us
Crossing Bass Strait - the end of a bad passage
I also have a hurdle with anchoring; setting and/or dragging anchor in exotic places.
Times that the anchor has given me grief was when anchoring in a white-out storm in Bathurst Bay part of Princess Charlottes Bay half way up Cape York, getting fouled on a mooring line during a bad storm at Rottnest Island off southern Western Australia and having to get a diver out to free us, keeping long anchor watches in the Kimberley due to big tides and fast flow, trying to set an anchor in the weedy or hard sandy bottom off south and south western parts of Australia and waiting for it to pop out. I think one of the most unsettling times was the sickening feeling I had as John and I tried to move as quickly as two older yachties could, off a high jetty down into our small dinghy, after seeing our beloved ALANA ROSE taking off by herself across Strahan Harbour. I don’t think I ever recovered from that one!
rounding Pipon Islets' light, Cape Melville, in a near white-out
diver retrieving our anchor in the anchorage at Rottnest Island
the Kimberley - yep,  the tides are that big!
the southern coast of Western Australia
making a hasty excite back to the boat in Strahan

There are so many wonderful places, people and things to think about, too numerous to mention them all. I have a list longer than the world is round!

sunset at Gove

running the Rip - the Gugari Rip, Wessel Islands Northern Territory
I often get asked – Which are my favourite locations and why and this is what I have said:
There are so many places I favour for all different reasons. Here is my version of a short list and I’m telling you, I have left out so many wonderful places.
Top of my list would have to be the Kimberley, for its wilderness, its isolation, its majestic rivers, just to name a few: the Berkley and the King George of the Eastern Kimberley, that are mind blowing spectacular with 100mtetre sheer rock face high-sided gorges, magnificent amphitheatres with high vertically cascading waterfalls. In the west Kimberley there is the mighty Prince Regent River in the south east corner of the scenic St George Basin. The wild ride through the whirlpools, rocks and islands before entering the “Basin” is exciting. Others to mention are the Mitchell, the Hunter, the Sale and the Drysdale Rivers which all need careful navigation due to the high tidal differences in the Kimberley. And of course there is Talbot Bay with the infamous Horizontal Waterfalls and Yampi Sound with Silvergull, Crocodile and Coppermine Creeks which are full of picturesque scenery unique rock formations and interesting Kimberley characters.
stopping for fuel and water at McGowan's Beach Camp - the Napier Broome Bay

swam in large waterhole, high enough above the high tide mark not to have friendly crocs
anchored of great sandy island with many big Boab trees
spat out of the Horizontal Waterfalls - Talbot Bay
encountered huge rock formation every where in the Kimberley
I love the Kimberley not only for its rivers but also for its islands, archipelagos, reef systems, waterway and rock formation that are like nothing I have ever seen anywhere else in the world. The Kimberley is a place that has been almost untouched since the beginning of time with thousands of years of culture right there in front of you. Aboriginal Rock Painting Sites are prevalent throughout the Kimberley and some of the most diverse are to be found within walking distance of the coast and on many islands. What few people you do meet, they are extremely friendly people living simple lives and just getting on with things.
boating up the Berkley River
top of the world - anchored in the King George River
Bradshaw Paintings - Aboriginal Rock Paintings on Jar Island

the magnificent waters of the St Georges Basin
motoring up the Prince Regent River
and the odd Croc popped its head up to say G'day

Australia’s great southern state of Tasmania would fall in a short second. Tasmania has it all (except for the tropical heat) as far as cruising in the right season. You have the isolation and the spectacular beauty of the wilderness areas on Tasmania’s  west coast, like the snaking Gordon River which is part of the Franklin–Gordon Wild Rivers National Park; wild by name, wild by nature, with dramatic mountain peaks, spectacular gorges, running through the heart of the Tasmanian wilderness. The Gordon River extends to the south of historic Macquarie Harbour.

the passage through Hell's Gate, Macquarie Harbour
alongside in the Gordon River

following in the fog - heading into the Gordon River
Port Davey, Bathurst Channel and Bathurst Harbour are also dramatically beautiful, virtually untouched by man and they do provide a safe and indeed tranquil harbour from the ferocious Southern Ocean at its doorstep. Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour where time has stood still and you could be forgiven for thinking that your have been transported back to pre-historic time. It can be cold, wet and foggy, which is a special part of the appeal or fill with stunning warm sun rays. This region is surely one of the most magnificent landscapes on the planet with barren looking gold-green mountains, bony quartzite ridges that rise sharply from the southern ocean and the broad landlocked waterways. 

treking the wilderness, the Bathurst Channel - Port Davey
Port Davey
Mount Rugby, Port Davey
Tasmania has several other accessible rivers and waterway to explore; the picturesque Tamar, on the northern coast, with its rolling hills, hillside vineyards and delightful surprises waiting around each bend. In the south east there is the scenic Huon with its charming little towns and boating harbours and the mighty Derwent which is the home of Tasmania’s capital. Both these south east rivers can be accessed through the d’Entrecasteaux channel, another wonderful cruising ground. And then there is the spectacular east coast which has been called “the jewel in a crown filled with glorious wonders”.

the Tamar River

Port Cygnet on the Huon River
the Port of Huon, Huon River
Huon River
the beautiful black swans

old Hobart town and Mt Wellington

under the Tasman Bridge on the mighty Derwent River

The Tasman Peninsula is well known for its rugged eastern coastline. Here we came across some of the world’s most dramatic dolerite cliffs, the highest sea cliffs in the southern hemisphere. Cape Raoul, Cape Pillar and Cathedral Rock, just to name a few. The east coast also has lonely bays backed by green forests, the historic penal colony of Port Arthur, the pristine water of Wineglass Bay, delightful villages, some of the best fishing and walking trails.
the pipes of Cape Raoul
the haunting Port Arthur
the solitude of Tasman Island
land of the exotic Albatross

I loved the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean; the idyllic islands and the pristine long sandy beaches with magical turquoise waters. I need to tell of places like the Ningaloo Reef; one of the world's largest fringing reefs, stretching for 260km off Western Australia's mid north coast, the Montebello Islands, an archipelago of around 174 small islands lying 130km off the Pilbara coast in the north-western, World Heritage Shark Bay, another world wilderness treasure, the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, an amazing archipelago of 122 islands located about 70km from Geraldton, best known for the wreck of the Batavia also having spectacular coral gardens, prolific fish life, one of the country's best sea bird breeding colonies, as well as a haven sea lions, dolphins and migratory whales.
anchored by the fishing huts on Pigeon Island, part of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands
ashore watch the passing storm at Monkey Mia, Shark Bay
waving hello - I lost count of the number of whales that appeared on the west coast
there are many ship wrecks on the west coast - Ningaloo Reef
a night passage past the oil and/or gas fields
There are islands and bays in and around King George at Albany and islands, bays with pristine beaches along the coast not far from Esperance on the southern Austrailan shores that are a must on my list. Having said all that, it must be mentioned that these destinations are only good to cruise/sail for a short period of time during each area’s cruising season due to the weather and sea conditions. I would not recommend being out as a fulltime cruiser in these places.
coming into the port of Albany
secluded bay and more whales
many hills to climb - Duke of Orleans Bay

Cruising along the Queensland coast has to be up there with the best because of the number of easy access, safe anchorages there are. Queensland is blessed with myriad waterways suited to cruising. Queensland has some of the most beautiful islands in Australia. Each island is unique with plenty of experiences and activities available.
I have always liked the Great Sandy Straits, where I first learnt to sail a Cat. It is a sheltered waterway that provides excellent protection from the prevailing winds in any season whether you are cruising summer or winter. Anywhere between the Keppel and Whitsunday Islands is great for an extended cruising period in beautiful sub-tropical weather, keeping in mind the cyclone season. This stretch of coastline has more than its share of fascinating estuaries and anchorages; numerous little hidey holes in rivers, bays and islands where you find peace and tranquillity.
anchored off MacKenzies Jetty  in the Great Sandy Straits
where Soldier Crabs run wild
the anchorage on the NW side of Great Keppel Island
hiding out of strong weather in Island Head Creek for 10 days
anchored at Curlew Island
exploring the Newry Islands

The Whitsundays are one of the prettiest cruising grounds on the Queensland coast; there are many safe anchorages, usually protected by reefs, so finding a safe haven for the night is usually easy. But I feel that the Whitsundays are far overrated, even though we keep going back there because it is easy to get too, with too many tourist boats to contend with, making it hard to find a place of your own.
the rock cairns on Shaw Island

hiking the hill on Lindeman Island
I never tire of the many faces of Hill Inlet, Whitsunday Island
and then there is always good old safe Cid Harbour
don't you just love the transport on Hamilton Island
how about a quiet refreshment at the Whitsunday Sailing Club?
or a friendly game of golf on South Mole if you don't want to be doing the hill climb
the beautiful azure sea around Cape Gloucester

The great beauty and the striking contrast of the remote reef and uninhabited islands of Queensland’s far north are more attractive to me. To cruise up the Cape (Cape York) and into the Gulf of Carpentaria you are blessed with the pristine waters that surround the reef islands and the Inner Reef with sections up to 10kms long, twisting in shape; some long and spindly, some expansively wide. Having protection from the open ocean and far enough from the land to not be affected by sediment and run-off from the rivers and creeks, offer some of the best snorkelling and/or diving in Australia. I love the isolation of the Cape anchorages and if you are lucky, it is where you can meet some of those special Aussie characters.
the sereneness of Hinchinbrook Channel

lazy days on Fitzroy Island

the coral reefs

the small anchorage at Low Isles

a historic place called Cooktown

climbing the high lands on Lizard Island

a spectacular sunrise at Morris Island, Cape York

dodgeing the traffic lights as we sail up the Cape

last of the small villages - Portland Roads

now we really have to look out for the visitors

catching a fast ride through Albany Pass - Cape York

Cheers Matey - a cup of tea and cake at the top - Cape York

a tour of the red dirt town - Seisia, Cape York
The memories of all the things that I have mentioned above will always stay imbedded in my mind forever. How could I forget running down the front of a giant wave or thinking I was going to freeze to death while bringing the boat around Cape Leeuwin during my night watch?
freezing my butt off in the southern ocean
I have a few whale tales to tell

Memories of the red dirt and smiling faces of the Northern Territory waters will be etched in my head forever. How does being witness to many glorious sunsets and sunrises either while at anchor or at sea rate?
me and my sunset - Line Reef, out from the Whitsundays

There are so many special place that I have seen, special moments that I have experiences and special people that I have met that I cannot list them all. But I can say that there has been those special people that I have met that have taken us into their lives, shared or given a great part of themselves or what they have with no expectation of anything in return. Some were passing acquaintances and some have become life-long friends.

These are some of the great Aussies that we met around the block, no names, you know who you are..........

So now I am officially “home”, and that is a very unsettling thought for me. We are selling my beloved ALANA ROSE and moving on. I have accepted this but I will miss my sea home and our life at sea. It is hard not to feel jealous of all the sailors who have already gone north.
In an attempt to squelch my melancholy I am going to think of what lies ahead in my future; a new life, a new adventure just waiting for me....................... somewhere around the corner.

Now there’s a good start!