Crossed the gulf in an uneventful three days of motorsailing, arriving Seisia at sunrise on Monday. Loaded fuel and moved up the coast to Possession Island for the night. Rounded the tip on Tuesday.morning. We arrived in Lockhart River yesterday afternoon after a fairly robust couple of days sailing south. There is little shelter from the E/NEly winds now blowing if you want to find an anchorage along this coast. The winds have been all around the compass the last few days, so what looks like an okay anchorage one minute is suddenly exposed the next. Last night we took shelter behind a tiny island offshore from Lockhart River community, and got blown from pillar to post. This morning we were treated to our own private little thunderstorm complete with strong winds and rain. On the radar (see pic) it looked like one of those cartoon storms - a little cloud all on its own. Luckily it settled down and we ended up having a very pleasant rest day to catch up on some sleep, do washing, run the water maker and make bread - our first loaf on this trip. It’s still hot! 35deg+ every day.
We have seen some amazing places. After rounding the tip on Tuesday we sailed through Albany Passage inside Albany Island. On the mainland side is Somerset, site of the Jardine family’s famously failed settlement. On Wednesday we travelled through the Home Islands on the tip,of Cape Grenville, a scenic and fascinating group in close proximity to each other. They group includes Hicks Island, which has several private residences and an airstrip! Yesterday we travelled the length of Shelburne Bay, famous for its snow-white sand dune country. There were fires all the way along, obscuring much of the coast, but we caught glimpses of the distant mountainous dunes. Stunning. Tomorrow we start a 24-hour run down to the Flinders Islands at the bottom of Princess Charlotte Bay. There is some strong wind forecast for Sunday/Monday so may sit it out for a day or two. Have wanted to visit this area and explore its anchorages since I first flew over it 15+ years ago, so very excited to be finally getting there!
We are closely watching the cyclone reports and working out bolt holes if needed. The rivers at the bottom of Princess Charlotte Bay will provide shelter but hope it doesn’t come to that.
Arrived in Gove on Monday afternoon at the end of the best day so far of the trip. Left at 5 am to make the most of the calm conditions, and discovered a fabulous set of rocky islands full of interesting anchorage possibilities. Mind you, one of them was where the young guy got attacked by a bunch of sharks, so beware what’s under the surface! Once we turned south around Cape Wilberforce it was up with all sails and we could finally make use of the easterly breeze. Fabulous sailing for a few hours all the way into Gove. When we dinghied ashore we met up with a sailing friend we first met in Cairns more than 25 years ago. We knew they were going to be here, and have been looking forward to the reunion! Flat out day yesterday collecting and installing the new generator and new 60l Engel fridge as our old faithful was playing up and killing the batteries. We took a drive out to the art centre at Yirrkala where the work is stunning, and waaay out of our price range! Not that we have room on the boat for anything more! Today we will load fuel, do some provisioning and more loads of washing. Our little Daewoo mini washing machine is a marvel!! It looks like the wind is turning northerly after tomorrow, so will probably set out across the Gulf of Carpentaria on Friday. Whether we head for Weipa or straight for Seisia and the top will depend on how the wind pans out across the gulf. Either way it’s just under 300 nautical miles, so a good three days non-stop. Can’t wait to get back into Queensland waters!
About to enter Cadell Strait which will take us under Elcho Island and out onto the Gulf of Carpentaria side. It has not been an easy passage along the Arnhem coast to this point.
Relentless easterlies (headwinds) and an exposed coast with little shelter from the E/NE winds have reduced us to mostly motoring/motorsailing with the odd stretch under wind alone, and some less-than-desirable anchorages. Spent two nights anchored at Entrance Island off Maningrida. Idyllic spot. Our payday on Monday didn’t eventuate as we discovered our generator hasn’t got quite enough oomph to start the watermaker. Bummer. We have organised to pick up a new generator when we get to Gove. So, we dropped into Maningrida to pick up water. A call to the local boys in blue for advice on how to do that resulted in being met on the beach by a large, ginger-bearded local cop who obligingly took Keith to get water. I wonder if that’s the first time the paddy wagon has been used to just carry water! Looking forward to getting to Nhulunbuy and some hot chips!
Anchored in Anuru Bay on the mainland opposite Sth Goulburn Is as sun set. Large, flat, shallow bay surrounded by usual flat, scrubby terrain. Will have a lay day tomorrow to make water and do some washing. Giving the new watermaker it’s test run tonight. Exciting!
Just left Croker Island after three good days travel. A lot of motor sailing but some brilliant sailing as well. Heading for South Goulburn Is tonight.
In the final stages of preparation for the trip east to Cairns and beyond. Expecting to leave Monday 5 November. Aiming to arrive Cairns mid-December. Conditions are looking light but favourable.
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