Saturday 14 June 2014

Yardie Creek Gorge

View of Cape Range

Yardie Creek Gorge from outside the Ningaloo Reef

We are edging closer to the most north-western tip of Australia and this the first gorge on the coast. Norway has fjords, USA has canyons, in Australia we have gorge’s and they are worth seeing. This was our next stop, a 19 mile sail. It was glorious day with deep blue sky, too bad the wind died 3 hours into the voyage. We motored, for 10 miles, the most we ever motored in one day! Usually we’d just float around at 1 knot and maybe do an overnighter making another destination, but we wanted to make this particular anchorage and in daylight. We motored northwards to the waypoint opposite the reef entrance, the usual trick here on the Ningaloo coast, then follow the leadline in through the reefs. Careful not to deviate too much as there may be bombies to scrape our hull. The pilot book labelled the anchorage “Catamarans only” and “Tantabiddi is a better anchorage”. Considering our small draft we ignored that. Happens the bay was 4 to 5m deep all the way and it was a great anchorage, leaves me wondering about those cat sailing contributors to that tome..

Yardie anchorage

Yardie Creek with tour boat

Fish were everywhere out there, just not on my hook! Life’s not easy in the cruel sea I tell you. But all was not lost. Kliff who was still cruising with us, had caught a big juicy Blue Fin Tuna, about 3kg, and invited us onboard to help him demolish it. The fish was so big and with Kliff threatening to throw any left overs overboard, we had 3 steaks each, thrown in with baked potatoes canned veggies (cruisers’ staple). What a meal :)

The Gorge

Next day was excursion day, a 2.5 mile row in the dinghy up the lagoon to the entrance of Yardie Gorge, they don’t allow outboards in the gorge so rowing it was (not that we had a choice..). We wandered around the the Yardie car park, which was mostly full, hoping there was a shop. But no, must be further up the road - our memories were a little foggy on that point, as we had been to this gorge by car some years ago. That time we hiked the walking trail but this time would be different. It was an incredible trip, we rowed to the end of the Yardie Creek, winding between the deep cavernous walls of rock, then hiked over some rocks to the water further up, which was fresh. The lower portion we rowed in is mixed with salty sea. The day was completed by a fly over by four stunt planes (!). The state government here is all excited by Ningaloo winning some award for best Aussie tourist attraction (they were excited to beat Queensland) and maybe that was their idea of adding excitement.

End of the navigable part. 

The row back to the anchorage was a different story, the south westerlies had come in and gave us a chop to fight against, reducing our rowing to only 1 knot. Good thing we took lunch with us so had the energy, but the going was slow. With a mile to go, Kliff showed up with his outboard dinghy and towed us the rest of the way. He had kayaked with us and had paddled ahead to fetch the dinghy, kayaks being 3X faster than us rowing. Saved us another hour of rowing.

We're being watched..

One of the mornings was quite calm so took the opportunity to remove the trim tab, since we aren't using it anymore, it makes a racket at night anyway, from the currents playing with it. The operation involves undoing a couple small bolts below the water line, a snorkel and mask does the job.

The anchorage was ten times better than Norwegian by the way. Dave on “Calm Horizon” had texted a message saying as much, but we didn’t believe him, being a cat guy and all. ;) He was right.

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