As we got closer to the boat we saw the croc tracks going to the boat but not away from the boat. With oars on the ready we knew the croc had to be either in the boat or under it.
The Person Islands are two low lying islands off the north west coast of the Northern Territory of Australia and that's where I was planning to take my son-in-law, Troy, on a sailing and fishing trip.
As my wife Kim and I were going to meet the family on the Sunshine Coast for our youngest daughter, Crystal’s, wedding, it was decided that Troy would come back to Darwin and the two of us would spend some time getting to know each other better doing a spot of sailing and fishing. This would be Troy’s first ever trip to the Northern Territory and first time sailing. Before we left for Queensland I did the usual tests on the boat and decided that we really needed to have the starboard trampoline replaced, so the order went in with Nautical Supplies, we were going to be on the boat for a week or so and wanted to be able to move around the foredeck without fear of falling through.
Ten days later Troy and I returned to Darwin and the first thing we did was fit the new tramp to our Seawind 26 catamaran Chica (thank God we did, it probably saved our lives). Troy and I set sail for the Peron Islands about 80nm south-west of Darwin the following day. This was a great chance to initiate Troy into the Territory ways of sailing and fishing, a little more than he bargained for though.
The plan was to meet fishing mates Juha, Neil and Nick at the Peron Islands. We sailed through Sail City, a very popular place for Mackerel, Sail Fish and acres of Tuna and onto the Perons. The tides where too big, so after a not too successful few days fishing I suggested Troy and I head back to Darwin as I knew of a few spots along the way that we could stop at, one of these places was Gods Creek; the tides were seven metres falling to zero.
We beached the boat at low tide adjacent to the mouth of Gods Creek (marked on the North Australian Fish Finder magazine) and watched the tide go out, that’s when Troy saw a very small dot on the beach downwind about 2.5kms away basking on the sand. It was only when it started to move towards us that we realised it was a croc. He would take two to three steps and then stop and rest but he only looked small.
Ever the optimist I decided that as we were going to walk up to Gods Creek to put some crab pots in and would be away for an hour or two the croc would be gone by the time we got back. So we grabbed the crab pots and fishing rods and set off. I also decided that Troy and I should grab an oar each and a large landing net for protection if we were attacked. We didn’t think too much about it once we were on our way, walking across the sand.
After setting the crab pots and having a quick flick for an hour or so in Gods Creek we headed back to the boat. We needed to get back to Chica before the tide came in.
Upon returning to the beach we could see Chica about two kilometres away up wind, still beached, but the croc was nowhere in sight. As we got closer to the boat we saw the croc tracks going to the boat but not away from the boat. With oars on the ready we knew the croc had to be either in the boat or under it. From about a kilometre away we caught a glimpse of him under the bridgedeck sucked up onto the inside of the starboard hull but very hard to see. Not knowing which way he was facing, as he had cunningly entered under the cat from the stern in order to ambush us on our return, we decided to walk the long way and come in towards Chica from the starboard side instead of head on.
With the tide coming in we knew we had to get to the boat as soon as possible and as safely. We were only 100m away from the boat by now so we moved softly, quietly, yet swiftly and dove onto the foredeck, sliding across the trampoline and looking through it to see the croc’s eyes and head only one or two feet away through the new starboard trampoline. Thank god for Nautical Supplies rushing through my tramp order otherwise Troy and I may have fallen straight through the old tramp and been crocodile dinner.
The adrenalin was rushing through our bodies, we couldn’t get enough of looking at the croc it was just magnificent. So after sneaking up to the boat so softly and quickly and not disturbing the croc and taking lots of pics Troy decided to step one foot off the port stern onto the sand ever so softly to get a better photo. The moment Troy’s foot touched the sand the croc detected it and spun around 180° between the two hulls almost taking out the dolphin (croc) striker and becoming half jammed under it. His cool home under the hulls had become invaded by two humans. He came charging out, hissing and growling. We now realised the extreme size of the croc which at this time we guessed to be about 17ft and how lucky we were to have actually made it to the boat without him detecting us in the first place.
The adrenalin was high, the croc had charged out, he spun another 180° and was now positioned less than a metre from the stern of Chica (24ft sea winds are only two feet off the sand). With the growling and hissing intense Troy and I jumped onto the cabin top, I jumped through the top hatch and into the cabin. Troy ran to the front of the boat and felt safer with the length of the boat between him and the croc. I, on the other hand, fearing the dangerous situation put the lower duck board into the companionway for more protection and watched out of the cabin.
Having thought in the past what I would do if a croc ever did come onboard and into the cabin through the companionway I always had the plan to escape up through the top hatch, I was ready. With his left paw buried in the sand and the croc poised ready to strike, I thought, this croc is coming on board. Feeling game Troy was able to capture some good photos. Finally the croc moved back under the boat and lay against the hull in the cool shade and sand. Still sitting in the starboard cabin, it felt strange knowing that there was only the thickness of the hull between me and this prehistoric monster. Having a boat made of foam sandwich the croc could have made a big sandwich of it and us.
All we could do now was wait for the tide to come in and hope that he would swim away and leave us alone. As the tide returned and the water came up to him you could hear the croc release his suction onto the sand and hull and he slithered off.
So definitely no more beach combing at Gods Creek for us mob.