Kangaroo Island (known simply as KI by the locals) is Australia's third-largest island after Tasmania and Melville Island. It's only about 70 nm from Port Adelaide, but we split it into two days with an overnight anchorage in a tiny little inlet beside the golden hills at Myponga … gotta get our sea legs back. The night in Myponga anchorage was calm and pleasant, despite the the rain that continued to fall. A grey, wet morning greeted us and though we were anxious to move on, we had to convince ourselves to get up and get going.
The 12-15 knot SE winds that were forecast never materialized and we motor sailed most of the way with light winds and a complaining jib. The few dolphins we saw were working and had no time for playing with us. We watched some sea birds arguing vehemently over a fish. We hugged the coastline, watching the blades of the wind turbines on Salt Creek Hill spin, wishing we had a bit more of the wind they were taking advantage of. Visibility was poor and as we crossed the strait between KI and the mainland, we could still barely see our destination. Fog, mist and a hazy outline of what could potentially be an island lay before us.
We chose the more protected northern coast and anchored in Eastern Cove just outside of American River. The entrance to American River is narrow and shallow with a strong current based on the tide state. Local knowledge (Carol at KI Radio) advised waiting till the top of the high tide to enter. There were, however, no moorings for our size boat available inside and the anchorage was reputedly grassy with poor holding. We opted to stay in calm Eastern Cove where the holding in sand was good. That meant a longer dinghy ride to town, but it was preferable to dragging at anchor in a strong current.
The timing was not ideal because of the fridge compressor delay. The biggest event on the island is the Kangaroo Island Cup. We do enjoy horse racing, and we knew the event was soon, but lost track of the fact it was happening on this particular weekend. That accounted for no moorings available in American River, lots of tourists (as if we're not), no rental cars available for hire on our inquiry and limited tour availability. Our choices: 1) delay the visit another week, 2) see less, but at least see some of the island or 3) skip KI altogether. Having snagged a KI travel guide from the Visitor's Info in Adelaide, we made up our minds to see what we could see in the time available.
It was the British explorer, Matthew Flinders, who named the island “Kanguroo” in 1802 after the grey kangaroos he and his crew found here and feasted upon when they arrived. American River is neither American nor is it a river. It was named after American sealers who arrived in 1803 and camped along side what they thought was a river, though it's actually an inlet from the sea. Today it's a small fishing village midst native bushland. There are more Tammar wallabies in the area than people (~250), we're told. We're hoping to explore tomorrow and find out for ourselves.
As for our Valentine's Day celebration ... a fine chicken dinner (no fish, no crabs), champers, a movie (Love Actually) and a shared chocolate bar for dessert. Life is good.