Cruise: Single-handed to American River

Today I sailed to American River on Kangaroo Island. I’ve sailed to Kangaroo Island twice before, but this time was special because I sailed there single-handed. The 69 nautical miles took me just over 9 hours, and I had the autopilot on most of the way which made for a very relaxing voyage.

American River is a small, sleepy town off the main highway these days, but it has an interesting history. It is named for a group of American sealers who camped here in the summer of 1803-1804 and built a 35-ton schooner which they named "Independence”, 33 years before South Australia became an English colony. I’ll be writing more about Schooner “Independence”, since I’ve joined a volunteer group to rebuild a full-size, working replica of her.
Artist Nick Pike's impression of Independence.

Although American River once had visiting Americans, it never had a river. Instead there is an inlet called Pelican Lagoon, which was named because of the many pelicans spotted in the area by the English explorer Capt. Matthew Flinders in 1802. The following year, the French explorer Capt. Nicholas Baudin independently named it Port des Pelikans - so the English and French at least agreed on one thing! Incidentally, Flinders named Kangaroo Island in gratitude for the large amount of kangaroo meat which his crew caught and ate.

The Independence was reportedly constructed at a point on north end of Pelican Lagoon (although archeologists have been unable to find the exact location). At this point the lagoon is fairly narrow and resembles a river, especially when the tide is flowing strongly - producing a tidal current of about 5 knots.

Arriba at anchor at American River

Before sunset I spent an hour kayaking around Pelican Lagoon which is very beautiful and reminds me of Pittwater, New South Wales - minus the multimillion dollar houses.
Pelican Lagoon, American River

PS Here's one last photo that I took before sailing for Wirrina Cove the following day.

Looking north from the boat ramp.