Sunday, June 26, 2011

Preparing For The Crossing

Beach walking at Cape York Peninsula.
We spent a few days just floating about at the top, all on our own. Relaxing and preparing for the big trip ahead. Internet was available at Simpson Bay just around the Western side of the top. The current was so strong here that while we set our anchor, the chain ripped through the winch repeatedly – no matter how hard we tightened the lock. Sailing with the current was very enjoyable with speeds of about 8.5 knots and no waves. We stopped in at the small town of Seisia (the coastal port to Bamaga) to get a few supplies before heading over to the Northern Territory. We anchored near the wharf (we dragged three times and had to keep re-setting the anchor) rather than outside the lagoon. It was thus a short dinghy trip to the beach and then a short walk to the camping ground which allowed us to use their laundry and showers ($3 for a shower was worth it!). The earth is red up here and drier than I'd expected. The walk to the small supermarket was through a coconut palm grove over ochre red earth. Most things at the store were way overpriced – about three times what you would pay in a city – so we just got a few fresh vegetables and fruit to keep us going a little longer. To fill up with water, Rene insisted upon tying up to the wharf. I was happy to just cart jerry cans but Rene, with painful memories of water-runs from his youth, was determined and persistant – despite the wharf being a little too big for us (it's designed for huge container ships). In order for the water to reach our tanks, we had our hose running over the wharf, connecting to a series of three short pieces of hose and finally into a funnel and down our tanks. It took hours. I was not happy about the whole rigmarole and wish we had a water maker!
The Seisia wharf with Anima tied up and locals fishing.
Later, talking to other yachties, we found out that we'd missed a curious feature of the town – the local crocodile is kept in an enclosure by the beach and fed mangy feral dogs. As a result Seisa is one of the few communities up this way that doesn't have a 'dog-problem'! After proof-reading a soon to be published semi-autobiographical novel about teaching in a remote community in western NT, I can understand why this seemingly hardline approach could be employed. One of the more shocking events in this book was when the author discovered the dismembered head of a local petrol sniffer being gnawed on by one of the camp dogs, the victim having been ripped apart while sleeping the night before.

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