Crocs no match for Diddillibah family on north coast voyage

By Hayley Wright

A Diddillibah man has moved his home to the sea, embarking on a 2.5 year voyage to Broome and back on a self-built 35ft catamaran.

Beaver Robson and son J, 14, launched the catamaran and set sail in 2010 to explore the north coast, and are currently stationed in Cairns ready for their return home.

“This is the biggest trip we have done in the catamaran ‘Zig Zag’,” Mr Robson said.

“She’s built from a mould and fiberglass, powered by twin diesel motors and sails.”

Noosa Coast Guard radio operator Michelle Orchard said there were many flotillas set up along the coast for mariners to sign in with.

“This trip is risky but not if the person is experienced and well prepared, there are many courses for mariners to traverse the coast depending on their level of experience,” Mrs Orchard said.

Mr Robson and J have escaped numerous crocodile attacks, with the most recent one being in Cape Grenville when a 4m crocodile used the inflatable dinghy as a chew toy.

“We had the inflatable dinghy tied to the stern of the boat one night and woke to the croc playing; it left as soon as we turned on the spotlight,” Mr Robson Said.

“The outboard was under water and we spent the next two days repairing the boat with super glue and a rain coat.”

Mr Robson’s wife, Megan, and daughter L flew in for the last stretch and said once they sailed into Broome, the catamaran broke an anchor chain in heavy seas and wound up on the beach.

“We had to wait for high tide which wasn’t until night and then had to push it out through the surf on Cable Beach; we bent both rudders sideways so there was no steering until Beaver fixed it,” Mrs Robson said.

It has not all been rough seas for the family as they caught countless crabs, picking them up off the sand, and ate dugong caught and cooked by local Aboriginals on Vanderlin Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Mrs Robson said her husband built the boat after a previous trip in a 4ft tinny with a 9.9hp outboard motor from Bamaga, Cape York Peninsular to Cooktown which covered 800km.

Mr Robinson said the trip was eventful.

“Using only RACQ road maps to navigate, I ate anything I could catch which was mostly coconuts and fish; I was stalked by a croc in the shallows and witnessed an Australian fauna drug exchange,” Mr Robson said.

Mr Robson is due to arrive at the Mooloolaba river mouth in September 2012.

“Mooloolaba opening is a dangerous ‘bar’ entrance, rapid tidal changes shift the sand bars moving the course of the channel, which causes many boats to get stuck on the sand bar,” Mrs Orchard said.

Mrs Orchard advised that novice mariners shouldn’t undertake Mooloolaba and Noosa river mouth entrances lightly.


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