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Top End Doctor - 29. Dr Chapter 29

With the Dry season now well set in, we spent the next three weeks doing sailing trips out to the Timor Sea, and we even did a two day trip circling the Tiwi Islands, with a stop off at Cullen Bay to do some shopping, including getting a few spare parts for the yacht.

On the day we would leave Dundee Beach for the start of our adventure, straight after breakfast, we all climbed into the dinghy and headed for town for the last time, until we return. The Community Council of Dundee has had an increase if businesses, with a mechanic workshop and a builder, setting up businesses, with the last two industrial sheds as their base offices.

Also a café has opened up in one of the commercial units, and with these new businesses, this meant more of the residential units are now being used, which was good, now that the lads were now living on board the yacht.

The sports, recreation and education precinct is now completed, with the school now moved to its new and bigger facilities, and the community was regularly using the new swimming pool and the recently completed 6 tennis courts and 4 lawn bowling greens, and the community council has taken on a managing lease of the community facilities.

“Hello there, we haven’t seen much of you in the past few weeks,” Gladys said as we approached the lodge, “Hi, no we have been busy getting ready for our big trip down the west coast,” Uncle James replied. “Hello James and lads. I thought you might be heading east, towards Queensland,” George said as he approached us, and he wrapped his big arms around his wife.

“Behave you,” Gladys said, and George kissed her neck before releasing her. “We just wanted to let you know that we are heading off tomorrow, Seamus and Irene moved into my house two days ago, so they know what to do there with the garden and such, we will send postcards when we can,” Uncle James announced.

“Well we will be sorry to see you all go, have a safe journey, and hopefully we see you back here in the near future,” George replied. After seeing George and Gladys, we walked down to the general store, where Chris and Eliza are always busy, especially with tourists visiting, which we noticed by the crowd down on the protected swim beach, and the large number of caravans and camper trailers in the Holiday Park.

After a short chat with Eliza, we headed next to the bakery, where there was a line of tourists waiting to buy some treats, and Uncle James asked us to remain outside with the lads, as he walked to the front of the line, inside, and around to the back of the counter, and I followed.

“Hey, my word you two are busy,” Uncle James said to Irene, “Yes, we even have a local teenager helping Seamus out the back, to try and keep up with the demand, Irene replied. “Can we grab three loaves to go please, we are setting off today, and with you guys having an early start each day, we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye,” Uncle James said.

“Not a problem, and it is on the house as a farewell gift,” Irene said as she grabbed three loaves off the shelf, and quickly had one of them sliced, before packaging all three, then grabbing a large paper bag, she placed some sweet slices and buns into them and gave them to Uncle James, with some it being handed to me. “Have a safe trip,” Irene said before she returned to serving customers.

“How come he gets to be served before us?” we heard one of the customers complain, because he owns this property, and he and his crew are off on a holiday, now what can I get you?” Irene replied, as she waved goodbye to us, as we stepped outside.

“As well as bread, Irene has given us some treats,” Uncle James announced to the lads, as we headed back to the dinghy, and ten minutes later we were back on board the yacht.

“Ok, lets get prepared to set sail,” Declan announced, as Dean and Lance headed to the galley with the extra supplies, including, some extra stuff from the store while we were in the bakery, before they went on deck to prepare for the raising of the mainsail once clear of the creek mouth and Warrmali Island.

‘Will we be sailing at night too?” Toby asked our uncle, “No, we decided that we would get to tired if Declan and I were do shifts at the helm all the time, so we will find a safe beach or bay where we can set our anchors, and just sail during daylight hours,” Uncle James replied.

“Walk the plank,” came a squawk from Blue Beard, who was perched on the satellite communications dome about ¾’s of the way up the main mast. “Get down from there you naughty bird,” I said to Blue Beard, “aye aye captain,” the bird replied, and he flew around in circles a few times before landing on my shoulder, as I stood next to Uncle James on the Fly deck.

“How come he calls you captain, when Declan is the skipper?” Uncle James asked, “Not sure uncle, maybe because he has become my friend first,” I responded. Uncle James steered the yacht close to the coast as we passed Dundee Beach, and I hit the horn button twice, as a signal of goodbye, and a few people waved to us as we sailed past, as it ticked over to 9 am.

“Well we have about ten hours of sunlight ahead of us, so we will be about 90 nautical miles from here by then, so we will have to follow the Northern Territory coast southwards, so we can find a place to anchor for the night,” Uncle James said.

“Will we be at a community or something like that?” Toby asked, “No, we will be at a beach on Dorcherty Island, which is about twenty kilometres north of the Community of Wadeye,” Uncle James replied. “Will we be stopping there?” I asked, “No, we are now on holidays, so no medical missions for us, but I will help out when there is an emergency,” Uncle James replied as we passed by Finnis Bay.

Our first day of our sailing holiday was fairly smooth, with Blue Beard keeping everyone entertained, squawking out orders to everyone that passed, and we soon worked out that Declan and Uncle James received the ‘Walk the plank’, while Dean and Lance received ‘Scrub the decks’.

When I went up to the fly bridge, he would say “Captain on the bridge’, and it was suggested that I start teaching him the correct order of rank on the yacht, or he will be walking the plank. On our first night, we set anchor on the underside of an island that is covered with mangroves, which provided the yacht with good coverage from the wind during the night, and we all slept very well.

The next morning the yacht was under way before 5.30 am, and it was mid morning when Declan announced that we had just passed the NT and WA border in the Bonaparte Gulf, where the seas have been fairly rough, but Toby and I kept busy with school studies in the main saloon lounge, and it didn’t bother us much.

Blue Beard has been spending most of his time up on the fly bridge, perched on a railing, keeping the skipper entertained, with Uncle James attempting to teach him new words when he was at the helm, although I was not sure if he was succeeding or not.

Just before sunset we set anchor on a small island, that is about 6 kilometres off the coast, and it was mostly just flat and muddy with a little bit of low grasses in the centre, and during dinner, Uncle James informed us that today would be the longest trip we will have some day, because we had to cross the gulf.

The next morning we started at 8 am, and the seas were a lot calmer, and Toby and I spent a lot of the time on the fly bridge watching everything as we sailed down the coast of Western Australia’s rugged Kimberly region.

When we arrived on an island at about 4 pm, we sailed around to the south side and anchored just off the sandy white beach of a small protected bay. “What is this place called,” Toby asked, as we watched the deck crew set the anchors into place.

“It is called Condillac Island, and we are approximately 15 kilometres from the mainland,” Declan replied, as we scanned the island from our high lookout on the fly bridge. “Can we swim here?” I asked, “We will have to wait and see what the lads say once they have had a look around, maybe we can have dinner on the beach, if it is safe to do so,” Declan replied.

“There won’t be any crocs, as we are to far out from the mainland, but we will have to keep a close lookout for sharks,” Uncle James said as he arrived on the fly deck. “So we can have a swim?” Toby asked excitedly, “Yes, but only after we have set up a lookout post at the back of the yacht, since it is facing the beach,” Uncle James replied.

After we changed into our swimming gear, we dived into the water, following Uncle James, and while he remained on the beach to keep an eye on us, and with the two lads keeping watch on the swim platform of the yacht, armed with gidgee spears.

After our swim, we helped to set up for a bit of relaxing on the beach, with the setting up of the pop up gazebos, chairs, a table and portable barbeque, Declan found a soccer ball in the sports locker, and we had a game of beach soccer, which was a lot of fun.

After dinner we packed everything up and returned to the yacht, and just before leaving the next morning, we had a quick swim, before continuing our journey. During the day we passed by lots of small and large islands, which is known as the Mitchell Plateau, where there are some spectacular waterfalls and rugged terrain.

Near the end of the day, we stopped at a small island, called Entrance Island, which is about two kilometres from the mainland, but it is surrounded by many other islands, and because the island was very rocky and has no beaches, we remained on the yacht.

The next day, which is the fifth day since leaving our home at Dundee, we sailed through a wise passage between a very large island and the rugged mainland, with lots of smaller rocky islands scattered everywhere, so the deck crew were busy keeping watch fair any submerged rocks that may damage the yacht.

We spent that night anchored just off the south end of the island, known as Viney Island, which is quite long and narrow, and we were able to have another beach barbeque dinner, a swim and a game of beach soccer, which was enjoyable.

Declan said that we had passed the half way mark from Dundee to Broome, with just three more days till we reach Broome. The next day, we had to zigzag through heaps of small islands, including two larger islands that have iron ore mining operations on them, before entering a large bay, skirting along the north side of some more islands, until we approached Cape Leveque, where a small island just off the coast was the location of our next overnight stop.

The island was mostly rocky with a small rocky beach, so we decided to remain on the yacht, especially since we are very close to an aboriginal community, and we didn’t want to trespass on land that may be important to the community.

During dinner, we were informed that we would have a 7 am start, but only for three hours, as our next overnight stop is a popular camping spot, with fishing supposed to be good in the area. The place we were told is called Whale Song Campground, and that it has bush camping areas over a large area, with a bush camp kitchen and cold shower facilities.

Copyright © March 2020 Preston Wigglesworth. All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Great chapter, great start to there adventure's. They seem to having a great time on the the yacht since they left the community.

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4 hours ago, silentreader3 said:

Thank you for sharing your work. I've enjoyed following the boys' adventures and learning more about what is to me a faraway land.

I'm also quite impressed with Uncle James's navigational ability! 


Wrong island, all islands and places mentioned are either in the Northern Territory or Western Australian coast.

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18 hours ago, quokka said:

Wrong island, all islands and places mentioned are either in the Northern Territory or Western Australian coast.

You are correct, and shame on me for not proofreading more carefully!

I was searching for places mentioned in your story, so I could read more about them. The search feature in Wikipedia appears to have incorrectly auto-corrected the spelling, to change it from a real island off the coast of Australia to an imaginary island farther away. But I shouldn't blame auto-correct when I was the one who should have checked the spelling!

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7 hours ago, silentreader3 said:

You are correct, and shame on me for not proofreading more carefully!

I was searching for places mentioned in your story, so I could read more about them. The search feature in Wikipedia appears to have incorrectly auto-corrected the spelling, to change it from a real island off the coast of Australia to an imaginary island farther away. But I shouldn't blame auto-correct when I was the one who should have checked the spelling!

Not a problem, wiki does that to me sometimes.

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