And just when we thought it couldn’t get more remote …
We had heard that up the Davey River there were impressive gorges where the river cuts through bands of hard mountain rock. We had also heard that they were reachable by dinghy.
We sailed across the swelly waters of Port Davey making use of the winds blowing up from Antarctica. We then gingerly nosed Artemis across a shallow bar and anchored in a deep pool with a little protection from a woody peninsular. We used the strong wind to pull the anchor hard in to the sandy bottom and then waited a night to be sure the boat was really safe.
The next morning we awoke to sunshine, no wind and the promise of temperatures above twelve Celsius. We had agreed to explore the river the same day as the crews of two other boats for safety and so awaited their arrival. Once they appeared and anchored, we packed the essentials in to the dinghy, wrapped ourselves up and set off across the sea towards the river while keeping a sharp watch out for the multitude of kelp covered rocks lurking in the dark waters below us.
The river mouth has a shallow sand bar and we crossed at low tide, surfing the small breakers to pass from ocean to river. The other dinghys were now far ahead of us so we followed the meandering river towards the mountains. Just the two of us, a dinghy, an outboard, a flask of coffee and a packet of biscuits. The nearest inhabitation was hundreds of kilometers away, there was not a single sign of humans and we did not even see an animal the entire journey.
After about sixteen kilometers we reached the point where the river entered the mountains and continued in to the deep gorge. On both sides the cliffs drop vertically in to the black river which reflects them perfectly. We passed the other crews drifting down river but continued on up as far as the dinghy could safely reach. The whirlpools on the surface now promised many submarine, propeller eating rocks and the back of nowhere is not a good place to be “up a creek without an engine”. We turned the motor off and slipped slowly back down river with no sound but the running water. Anywhere else in the world we would have to share the experience with all the other people but here there were no others, here the whole gorge was reserved for the two of us.
With four hours of daylight to still play with we retraced our route at a leisurely pace. The current was now with us so we could run the outboard motor at less speed and enjoy the relative silence and the amazing sense of solitude as we passed virgin forest and untouched hills with everything reflecting in the river.
Nearly seven hours after leaving Artemis we were back home after another exciting adventure. As the sun set, we enjoyed a coffee in the cockpit and agreed that we “did it right” again.