The Raft

In the Summer of 2009 the Knoxes set sail on a home built raft on a journey of 150km down the Hawkesbury River. They lived, cooked and slept on the raft. It took them 2 week.

Extracts from Tim’s Blog

Day 1 – 4km down river of Windsor.

It’s happened, we’ve made it, we are on the water. Currently anchored 4km down river from Windsor and getting ready for the night.

I’m not sure if barrels have taken on any water, if they have it has been slow.

Poppy has christened the Richard the Third, the bucket loo, but I’ll still have the pleasure of emptying it.

Day 2 – anchored of a sand beach

Awful nights sleep last night, very dark and very stormy, our sleeping bags are soaked, but it wasn’t weather that kept us awake; it was the fish jumping!

Making many friends along the way, and have heard on the grapevine that the Pacific Park campsite will be having a sweep to guess what time we will pass.

Some of the images from out trip down the Hawkesbury

Day 4 – Confluence of Colo and Hawkesbury.

I love the way this river bumbles around on its way to the sea. It is a very lovely part of the world.

Sue was convinced that the raft was taking on water. Calling us all to one side of the raft she pointed out that we were lower in the water. Sue is the Chicken Licken of the river.

Day 5 – Wisemans Ferry

Sue –  “I have been pushed so far out of my comfort zone it is unbelievable, but, apart from a couple of meltdowns, I am coping OK. I am enjoying the river and am really loving the book Tim bought me for Christmas:The Secret River  – all about the early settlers along the Hawkesbury. The Captain is doing a great job keeping a load of sullen crew happy.”

Day 6 – Gunderman

A wild night in the Wisemans Inn Hotel. With a bit of a hangover we set off with the tide around midday

This raft actually sails!!! It’s a great feeling.  With one of us on the steering oar, we made good progress throughout the day eventually anchoring just off Gunderman.

The scenery has been spectacular all day, it’s much quieter down here and a great place to “chuck a few  prawns on the barby”  fresh Hawkesbury prawns kindly given to us by a local fisherman. Delicious

Day 7 – Spencer

Set sail at midday in balmy weather. Sue started to make lunch and that was natures call to bring it on. From behind the mountains that flank the river the thunder rumbled and the skies blacked, a few forks of lightning were added for effect. “Are we ok on the raft with lightning?” “Absolutely my dear, nothing at all to worry about”

Sail down, awning up, Sowester on. And on we go.

It was a slow trip down to Spencer and we spent most of the time pushing ourselves off the mangroves. This is a handsome part of the river – it’s quite and the flow is gentle. On one side there is swamp and tall cliffs the other, these features swop sides as we meander downstream.

Day 8 – Berowra Waters

Left Spencer and headed towards Berowra Waters. The weather wasn’t behaving we made slow progress.

We arrived and were pointed towards a beach by the local NSW Maritime Officer.

We thought it was about time for a decent camp fire and a night on land in our tents.

Day 9 – Dangar Island

Wanted to make for Brooklyn, but ended up on a Dangar Island mud bank.

A very still night, friendly locals. All good.

Day 10 – Porto Bay

A beautiful day. We thought we’d chance it and sail over to Pittwater around West Head, but after 4 o clock in the afternoon the weather took a big turn for the worst and the clouds in the sky looked filthy. We made a dash for Porto Bay and here we are, all alone with about a trillion cicadas. Deafening.

Weather is forecast for storms tomorrow. We are just trying to find the right moment to cross over Broken Bay without breaking our raft.

Day 11 – The Basin – Pittwater

This morning at 5am I got a little nudge in my side, it was Sue telling me that she wanted to go home.

The conditions looked good. Without fuss or ceremony or a cup of tea we pulled up anchor and headed off for Pittwater. To get there we needed to round West Head.

Trips like this are all about timing, there was little wind and the tide was on the way out. We were very exposed on this part of the journey, if the weather took a turn for the worst there were few places we could pull into. We were taking a chance.

We were towing the raft behind our little inflatable boat but progress was dreadfully slow. On reaching Broken Bay the swell kicked in, about 2 meters. Up and down we went. Each time the raft was on the uphill part of the swell the little engine on the inflatable laboured.

When I looked back I could see Sue and the kids. There was anxiety on board. They all had their eyes fixed on West Head and there wasn’t much chatting.

It was taking longer that I’d expected, the tide had turned and the swell was getting steeper.

Just as we were rounding West Head when the wave pattern was the most mixed, the towing line, a 10mm climbing rope, snapped. An indication of how much pressure was on the rope.

Don’t panic, well maybe a little. I whizzed back and tied the ends together and carried on. It was if West Head was saying don’t be cocky little fellow – I’m the boss around here.

We passed Barrenjoey lighthouse, we were in Pittwater. In spite of the wind freshening we steered a straight course for breakfast in Palm Beach. Later in the day we sailed over to the Basin.

Day 13 – Bayview and the finish

We did it. Thanks to all the people who have helped make this adventure possible. We have met so many wonderful people along the way.

Debrief – at home in Lindfield

Well it wasn’t Everest or either of the Poles but it was big. It ended last night at 6pm when I took a shower and washed away the tingly feeling of salt water from my skin and put on underwear for the first time in 2 weeks.

It’s been wonderful spending time with the kids. A little cruelly, I have enjoyed seeing Sam make mistakes and suffer the indignity of watching me sort them out. Thinking they know everything is a trait of all teenagers, as is thinking their fathers are a bit slow. Then I show him how it’s done and all of a sudden the Old Man is not so daft. Respec.

Before we landed Sam had a panic attack  – he couldn’t remember what his mobile phone looked like.

At home Leo buried himself in Lego, nothing new there and Poppy disappeared into her bedroom to try on an array of different clothes.

One thing that has changed however, they all have forgotten how to use a flushing toilet. 2 weeks with Richard III has undone many years of toilet training.

I was in a phase of my life when all my adventures were old adventures. We now have a new batch of tales to tell at dinner parties.

And now I need to talk about the fine sea legs of my wife. What a trooper, she never complained and despite being massively uncomfortable on the water she faced her fears and stuck with it to the end. For richer for poorer she agreed to, but there was no mention of rafting. And she does have a nice pair of legs.

This is your Captain standing down.

Over and out.