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Archive for the 'QUEENSLAND … AUSTRALIA' Category

THE BRISBANE TO DARWIN (AUSTRALIA) STORY, 2007 … 1 of 19 … `Finding Crew’!

ATTEMPT AT SECURING `CREW’: BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND … 6TH APRIL 2007

I made an honest `in depth’ attempt at securing a crew member from the Back-Packing fraternity, in Brisbane.

Having `wheels’ at that stage, I distributed a poster (constructed onboard using Microsoft Publisher … allowing me to insert a colour photo of Tsunami) and spent three (3) hours one night distributing them around five Back-Packer Hostels in Brisbane (what an experience to see how this population live.)

From this exercise came three responses and the only one that `stuck’ was a 20 year old male Swede.  So, we make arrangements to meet at a Pizza/Coffee Shop on the Brisbane River.  “I’ll be wearing a blue Tee shirt … you can’t miss me!” … was his message!  Well, I did miss him the first time, as he was wearing a white Tee shirt!  This should have been a strong enough message to give this young guy the `flick’ there and then … but, I’m a bit slow.  To shorten the story … I picked him up at Mooloolaba a couple of days later … and to shorten the story again `dumped’ him at Bundaberg (with 20 minutes notice) a week later.  This `Kid’ was in Australia `to find himself’ … that statement, again, should have been enough to enlighten me to the type of guy he was … as he was paying $15.00 per day to cover his keep, it seemed, in his mind, he was on a $1,000.00 per day QE2 cruise.  Most of the time he was locked in his cabin reading (my Wilbur Smith books) or, plugged into his iPod listening to music, I guess.  In the meantime, we are sailing through the magnificent `Great Sandy Straits’ … but was this Boy interested … no, too busy `finding himself’!

Well, I did something completely alien to my nature … when 20 minutes out from the Bundaberg wharf … `banged’ on his cabin door … it was 08:30 and you didn’t expect him to be out-of-the-cot just yet … and told him he had 10 minutes to pack and get-off!

I’m hoping that experience added to his ambition to `find himself!’  I would have loved to read his first letter home to Dad … `Treated badly by an Australian Swine!’ … or maybe much better.

From Bundy to Gladstone and dinner with Ellen on the Cat `Sanity’ … Chum was working to save $$$’s for their own cruising intentions.  They have a plan to join the Sail Indonesia Rally from Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia … in the near future!

On to Great Keppel Island … Mourilyan Harbour … Middle Percy Island and Mackay.

SIR-1

ooOoo

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THE BRISBANE TO DARWIN (AUSTRALIA) STORY, 2007 … 2 of 19 … `Bundaberg to Hamilton Island, Queensland’!

All Photos … “Quick Tour # One” … BUNDABERG (16TH APRIL 2007) … TO MACKAY (23TH APRIL 2007) … QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA

From Bundaberg through to Mackay (23th April 2007)  with short, sharp stops as illustrated with photographs, below. This was meant to be a swift journey as I had a long, long way to go to get to Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.

BUNDABERG, QUEENSLAND … 16TH APRIL 2007

* I COINCIDED WITH A FUND RAISING `CAR RALLY BASH’ AT BUNDERBERG, QUEENSLAND! *

 

`GLADSTONE’ , QUEENSLAND… 17th APRIL 2007

 

 

* `GLADSTONE’, QUEENSLAND PORT *

 

`GREAT KEPPELL’ ISLAND, QUEENSLAND … 19TH APRIL 2007

* `Great Keppell’ Island, Queensland, Resort … LARGEST SHARKS JAW ON THE EAST COAST OF AUSTRALIA! *

`PEARL BAY’, QUEENSLAND … 20TH APRIL 2007

* `PEARL BAY’, QUEENSLAND … A BEAUTIFUL BAY IN THE MIDDLE OF AN ARMED FORCES GUNNERY RANGE! *

* `Middle Percy Island’, Queensland … A YACHTYS MUSEUM … ARTIFACTS LEFT BY PASSING SAILORS … UNIQUE! *

`MIDDLE `PERCY’ ISLAND, QUEENSLAND … 22ND APRIL 2007

`BRAMPTON’ ISLAND … 24TH APRIL 2007

 

 

* `Brampton Island’ … EVERYTHING GOES SANDY AT LOW TIDE! *

 

* `Brampton Island’ … LOW TIDE! *

* `HAMILTON’ ISLAND … IT’S A GOOD IDEA TO COME HERE WITH PLENTY OF MONEY! *

`HAMILTON’ ISLAND …25TH APRIL 2007

SIR-3A

ooOoo

 

 

 

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THE BRISBANE TO DARWIN (AUSTRALIA) STORY, 2007 … 3 of 19 … `Batteries and Radios, Mackay, Queensland’!

MORE ELECTRICAL WORK … MACKAY, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA … 23RD APRIL 2007

Tsunami/Déjà vu III’s (I still had not performed the De-naming and Re-christening Ceremony) electrical system seemed to be flagging, so a call to my favourite electrician … they are very, very, rare (Patrick, of MME Electrics, Mackay) and found the need for a new 260 amp/hour battery ($750.00 thank you very much … although Patrick didn’t charge me labour for fitting and gave a $50.00 discount on the battery.)

AGM - 260 AMPHOUR BATTERY

* AGM – 260 AMPHOUR BATTERY *

With my O/S trip ahead I didn’t want to find the electronics failing me … and they haven’t since Patrick’s last reshuffle … all has been great from about fifteen months ago!
From Mackay to Brampton Island … Hamilton Island (Whitsunday’s) … Gloucester Passage … Cape Upstart … Cape Bowling Green and on to Townsville.

PACTOR 3 SAILMAIL MODEM:

Although I had fitted the High frequency (HF) radio months earlier at Gladstone, on the way south, I still had a major, expensive job to do in the attachment of a Pactor3 Modem to allow onboard connection to the `Sailmail’ system (which would allow me Global email capabilities.)

* A LONG RANGE `HIGH FREQUENCY (HF) RADIO … WITH `SAILMAIL’ (EMAIL) CAPABILITIES *

Being this far north and east, there was only this one authorised technician in this part of the world to do the job.  With tongue clamped between my teeth, I approached this chap and with some hassle … had him onboard to do the job within two days.  With the modem, license fees and HIS labour charge ($100.00/hour) I left $2,000.00 with him.  BUT … I had `Sailmail’ capability at last and hopefully, I only have to pay for it once?

SIR-3ooOoo

* HF RADIO TRANSMISSION IS VIA THIS 7 METRE WHIP ANTENNA! *

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THE BRISBANE TO DARWIN (AUSTRALIA) STORY, 2007 … 4 of 19 … `Hamilton Island to Cairns, Queensland’!

All Photos … `Quick Tour # Two’ … HAMILTON ISLAND (WHITSUNDAYS) 24TH APRIL to CAIRNS, QUEENSLAND 13TH MAY 2007

 

From Hamilton Island (24th April 2007) through to Cairns (13th May 2007)…  with short, sharp stops as illustrated with photographs, below. This was meant to be a swift journey as I had a long, long way to go to get to Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.

`AIRLIE BEACH’ … WHITSUNDAYS, QUEENSLAND … 26TH APRIL 2007

This is `serious’ Great Barrier Reef  National Marine Park’ country!

 

`BOWEN’ … QUEENSLAND  (29TH APRIL 2007)

`Bowen’ … and ONE OF THE MOST UNUSUAL VESSELS SEEN ON MY TRAVELS! *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

`BOWLING GREEN’  … SOUTH OF TOWNSVILLE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA (1ST MAY 2007)

`TOWNSVILLE’ MARINA … 2ND MAY 2007

* TOWNSVILLE MARINA … HOME OF SHAZ AND TONY `SV SOUTHERN CROSS’! *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

`MAGNETIC ISLAND’  … A FEW MILES EAST OF TOWNSVILLE, QUEENSLAND!   *

* A `BIRD?’ THAT CAME TO OUR DINING TABLE @ MAGNETIC ISLAND! *

 `DUNK ISLAND’ … 9TH MAY 2007

* Dunk Island … WASHED-UP FLOTSOM … THIS STUFF DOES WONDERS WHEN WOUND AROUND YOUR PROPELLER! *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOURILYAN HARBOUR … 10TH MAY 2007

 

 

`CAIRNS’,   QUEENSLAND (13 MAY 2007)

* CAIRNS … GREAT COMMUNITY STRENGTH and CITY FORESHORE FACILITIES! *

SIR-3B

ooOoo

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THE BRISBANE TO DARWIN (AUSTRALIA) STORY, 2007 … 5 of 19 … `Name change from Tsunami to Deja vu III’

DE-NAMING/RE-CHRISTENING OF `TSUNAMI’: 6th MAY 2007

Earlier, I had made a request of Shaz and Tony, of Cat `Southern Comfort’, in Townsville, to officiate at the De-naming of `Tsunami’ … and for Shaz to perform the Re-christening of `Déjà vu III’. Tony promptly leaves for a very well paid part time job in Western Australia.

* SHAZ CHRISTENING `DEJA VU III … TOWNSVILLE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA *

That left Shaz and me to do the honours … and I chose sunset, on the 6th May 2007, for the ceremony (very dramatic)! I had bought four (4) bottles of Champs: One for the De-naming … one for the Christening and two for the huge crowd who were going to witness the event.

* THERE ARE THE OBLIGATORY SPEECHES TO BE MADE … TO WARD OFF THE BAD LUCK OF RENAMING A SHIP! *

BRISBANE TO DARWIN-FROM APRIL '07 113

* These decals were made to stick … very difficult to remove! *

Prior to the ceremony, I stripped the two Tsunami decals from the bows of the Ship … and the following morning attached the new `Déjà vu III’ decals, very expertly designed and manufactured in Brisbane.
*   The new decals were a breeze to fit ... and I'm hoping they stick just as hard as the old ones!   *

* The new decals were a breeze to fit … and I’m hoping they stick just as hard as the old ones! *

Deja vu III was ready to go … so we went … to Orpheus Island … Dunk Island … Mourilyan Harbour … Fitzroy Island and Cairns.
SIR-4
ooOoo
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THE BRISBANE TO DARWIN (AUSTRALIA) STORY, 2007 … 8 of 19 … `North from Lizard Island to Cape York, Queensland’.

`LIZARD’ ISLAND … GOING NORTH … FROM 26TH MAY ‘07

Saturday 26th May ’07 … I was anxious to get going, to break new territory and in hindsight I left Lizard at least a day too early. It was blowing 30-35 knots, a true SE Trade Wind (where does all that wind come from … day and night, it just keeps blowing.) Déjà vu had four (4) reefs in the main (maximum) … and the Jib was 50% furled … and the `little-fat-tick’ (a very disrespectful name given to her by daughter Melanie, on leaving Darwin) … was still doing over 10 knots …about two (2) knots too fast for me!

* DEJA VU IN ROUGH CONDITIONS … 3 REEFS IN THE `MAIN’, JIB PARTIALLY FURLED! *

So I turned into the wind (both motors howling away) and dropped the Main altogether … the first time I have done this. She was still blown along at 7.5 knots …much more comfortable and manageable. I was headed for Howick Island, which proved too rough, so I pressed on to a little Cay called Ingram Island.
Friends had advised, eight (8) months earlier, of a Pelican hatchery on a small island nearby and I was intrigued to see what a Pelican chick looked like … surely they must be the ugliest chick in the world? No luck … wrong time of the breeding cycle.The next suggested `Bird’ Island was ten miles north (Stapleton Island) … and here I hit the jackpot. What a great experience to walk around a small island (disturbing hell out of the birds) and seeing so many nesting. Despite hundreds of eggs on the ground I was to sight only one chick … so, again I was a little early for the full-blown `chick-fest’. I will recommend this island to any nature lover … although the birds won’t like you!

* MATING BIRDS BY THE THOUSANDS … `STAPLETON’ ISLAND, QUEENSLAND! *

From here to a group of Islands called Flinders and a great anchorage … until the time came to pull-the-anchor … and the swine of a thing refused to lift off the bottom … a dreaded `snag’! It’s a bit like having one foot nailed to the floor … all you can do is go around in circles! So, I resigned myself to waiting for low-tide when `maybe’, I would put on goggles and have a look down to the anchor. Need I mention we are in `crocodile’ country all the way to Darwin … no swim’s … (although a crew from a German yacht were seen swimming further north at Margaret Bay and were quickly warned by local professional fishermen of the likelihood of their `demise’, if they were to continue) … they are scary, scary reptiles and what makes them scarier is the fact they are very skilled at stalking!

* I SAW ONE SOLITARY CHICK … I WAS TOO EARLY! *

Who can explain what goes on under the water … but, when I was about to give up (for this session) the anchor popped up from its hidey place on the bottom and I was away!

The squalls were still with us and my next anchorage was Morris Island. There were four other yachts at anchor here and it was late in the day, again, before I anchored.

As is usual at a strange anchorage, I set the anchor alarm and eventually hit-the-cot.
02:30 the following morning the alarm starts to squeal it’s `little heart out’ … I was adrift … anchor had let go and was dragging, although it was in fact pointing straight down, as we were in very deep water (over 40 metres.)
Can you picture the scenario … pitch dark, visibility nil … raining, windy and subsequently, cold. You don’t have time to change into `wet-weather-gear’ … it’s all hands on deck in your pyjamas!
o First task … get the anchor up! That’s not TOO hard as the electric winch on the for’deck does all the work.
o Second task … find the Island again (total darkness!) Now is the time to rely on the magic of electronics … my Chart Plotter automatically lays a `snail-trail’ as it goes along. This stays on the screen for about ten (10) miles and then the tail falls off.

* CUSTOMS AIRCRAFT FLY OVER DAILY … AND ASK FOR THE SAME INFORMATION EVERY TIME! *

So, the only trick I could think of was to follow the `snail-trail’ back to the island … watch the depth gauge for a reading that would allow anchoring (eight (8) metres is good) and drop the anchor, again. This I did and all held together for the rest of the night. It’s a scary manoeuvre though!
“What would Plan `B’ have been, if the anchor had not held?”
The best plan is to take to `safe’ water and keep sailing. In this instance Morris Island is alongside the shipping channel and would have been an easy escape!
SIR-6
ooOoo

* “LOVE THIS SIGN!” *

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THE BRISBANE TO DARWIN (AUSTRALIA) STORY, 2007 … 9 of 19 … `Shipping Channels through NE Great Barrier Reef’.

SHIPPING CHANNELS: North/East Queensland … 28th May 2007

It’s clever to stay within the official Shipping Channel when sailing in these waters and these are clearly marked on the electronic Chart Plotter screen. Outside the channel is a `minefield of reefs and bommies’ … all you have to be aware of inside the Channel, are the ships!

* SHIPPING … `ALWAYS’ … YOUR MOST DANGEROUS ADVERSARY AT SEA! *

And they are a challenge, as they travel at 3-4 time the speed of your yacht.

The Captains are very good though … if they see a yacht sailing in the middle of the channel, the Skipper clearly asleep at the wheel, they will contact them by radio to warn them of their imminent passing … and then run them down! (Just kidding!).

 

* THIS IS A `PASSAGE’ BEACON … BIG SUCKERS! AND THERE AREN’T MANY OF THEM. WITHOUT A CHART PLOTTER, OR PAPER CHART YOU WOULD QUICKLY GET LOST IN THIS COUNTRY!! *

 

LOCKHART RIVER … CROCS AND ABORIGINALS: 30TH MAY ‘07
Lockhart River is regularly in the news … so my dim memory tells me … and I decided to divert from the Channel to see it for myself. I did expect it to be awash with Aboriginals and crocodiles, creating a disturbing wake behind their dugout canoes. Not a croc, or an Aboriginal … but there was great wireless/internet/mobile ‘phone coverage … so; we must have been close to the Lockhart River Aboriginal settlement.

* `LOCKHART RIVER’ … WHERE I ANCHORED IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO GET ASHORE! NO ABORIGINES and NO CROCS! *

I spent two nights on the river (you couldn’t go ashore as the mangroves grew thick to the rivers edge.) The SE Trades were still roaring overhead at 30 knots, so it was a great spot to rest and recoup.
The bay from which the River is reached is called … Lloyd   Bay and there’s a Lloyd Island …therefore, on the way out, Lloyd  had to sail across the Bay to have morning tea in the lee of Lloyd Island! It wasn’t really necessary to celebrate my name in such a way!
PORTLAND ROAD – 1ST JUNE ‘07

The Beatles must have been through here … what an unlikely name for a North Queensland town … well it’s not really a Town as there are only 4-5 houses here … it’s more a Fishing Village. I made use of the services of a large fishing boat supply ship here, although all I needed was water … and milk/bread, if they had any. I could have as much water as I wanted … but they could spare only one litre of milk and one loaf of bread. “Terrific, how much do I owe you?” “Forget it Pal … it’s on the House.”These were tough Lads living a tough life, but they had a heart of Gold. The ship carried 760,000 litres of diesoline, plus a similar quantity of water, (that’s about 76 tonne of each) plus, plus! It was an ugly `Goose’, but must be a very welcome sight to the local professional Fishermen. It also has a large freezer capability and takes all the catch from the fishermen, back to Cairns. It services fishermen as far north as York Island at the tip of Cape York … and they do the round trip to Cairns every ten (10) days … very busy boys!

* WHAT A GREAT `TREAT’ … THESE WERE MASSIVE PRAWNS! *

Next I approached a professional fishing boat asking for $50.00 worth of prawns. “Well, we don’t normally sell direct, but maybe just this once … have you got a five (5) gallon bucket?”

“Hell, I can’t fit five gallons into my freezer … how about three gallons?” So, I paid $30.00 and received a huge quantity of three types of prawns and a heap of squid. What a treat!
From Portland Road to Margaret Bay and onto Escape River (about 25 miles south of the tip of Cape York.)

* A `ROMANTIC’ MOMENT AT SUNSET! *

SIR-7
ooOoo
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THE BRISBANE TO DARWIN (AUSTRALIA) STORY, 2007 … 10 of 19 … `The String of Pearls … Escape River, Cape York, Queensland’.

Couldn’t help it … I arrived at the mouth of Escape River about 20:00 … in total darkness. However, another yacht had gone in before me, during daylight hours and knowing I was close’ish behind him, radioed me, giving me six (6) waypoints for entering the river safely

At the mouth of Escape River is a Pearling Farm … string after string of pearl racks hanging on hundreds of floats … mainly on the south side of the river. I plugged the waypoints into the Chart Plotter and using the Plotter to talk to the Auto Pilot … gently motoring into the river. All was going well, no problems … and neither there should have been with a pre-plotted course to follow! It was pitch black and I did wave my floodlight around a bit, but the waypoints had me cocooned in a sheath of security.

Then … the most horrible sound of grating … thumping and general alarming chaos … as Déjà vu’s starboard hull and motor drove clean over the top of a `String of Pearls’ and was stuck hard. I tried for 2 hours to get off this bloody obstacle but eventually conceded we were stuck there for the night. What a bugger, as the floats of the `String’ bumped the side of Déjà vu all night and it meant little/no sleep! The next morning revealed the wind (that SE bloody wind) was holding the Ship onto the `String’ and it was really quite easy to back off the string by twisting Déjà vu, using just one motor … two motors wouldn’t do it!   

 

* THIS `STRING OF PEARLS’ LEFT QUITE A FEW SCRATCHES ON DEJA VU … AND SHE DIDN’T WARRANT THAT! *

 I then motored down to the guy who had given me the waypoints … and punched his lights out (just kidding … just felt like it.)

Damage was minimal, with severe scratching to the anti-foul on one hull … and the reverse stop ripped off the starboard motor, which had climbed the `String’.   Work adding to the list for Darwin!

Escape River became infamous during my stay … as another yacht, `Cutlass’, ran aground on a shallow rock in the middle of the river and had to be hauled off … very lucky!

 SIR-8

ooOoo

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THE BRISBANE TO DARWIN (AUSTRALIA) STORY, 2007 … 11 of 19 … `Seisia and Thursday Island, Queensland’.

The point of Cape York is seen as the Northern-most tip of Australia (maybe the Mainland would be correct),however, Islands such as Thursday Island lay a little further north closer to Papua New Guinea. I rounded Cape York at 12:34 pm on this day … and it seemed a long, long way from Brisbane!   

* THE NORTHERN TIP OF`CAPE YORK’, QUEENSLAND … THE MOST NORTHEN TIP OF MAINLAND AUSTRALIA! And “Cutlass’, the unfortunate who went onto a rock in `Escape’ River. *

 
 The terrain of Cape York is very flat and boring … probably flattened by thousands of cyclones over thousands of years. It still has a firm grip of the mainland, but, I guess they lose a little more each time they experience the trauma of another cyclone. This is a place NOT to be from November through April each year.

The tidal movement around the `tip’ is massive and not being used to it I had Deja vu overshoot a bay we were meant to turn into … WOW! 

 

`SEISIA’ … QUEENSLAND – 6TH JUNE ‘07 

Seisia is a smallish, perfect anchorage for a fleet such as ours, although it could hold but a small percentage of them at any one time. There were roughly twelve yachts at anchor during my stay … although on leaving Seisia everyone seemed to do their own thing. There were no arrangements made for sailing as a group!  

* AN ABORIGINAL CHARACTER … WHO GAVE PERMISSION TO HAVE HIS PHOTO TAKEN WITHOUT RESERVATION! *

  
 
  
  `THURSDAY ISLAND’ … MORE LIKELYTHE MOST NORTHERN TERRITORYOF AUSTRALIA!   
 
 
 From here you are able to take a Public Ferry to Thursday Island (TI) … and in the company of Mike and Helen of `SV Piping Shrike’ … we took in TI for a day.     
 
 

* WELCOME TO `THURSDAY ISLAND’ … QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA *

 

It was much easier than sailing there and the anchorage, once there, is dodgy! An expensive day at $98.00 for the return Ferry trip … and $28 for a bus tour of TI … which consisted a tour of an old Cannon emplacement and the Cemetery (why do Tour people think a Cemetery is interesting? … probably because there’s little else to show!)   

* THURSDAY ISLAND’THROUGH A PEEPHOLE! *

 

 SIR-9

 oOoo

* AUSTRALIAS’ `TOP PUB’ … THURSDAY ISLAND, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA *

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THE BRISBANE TO DARWIN (AUSTRALIA) STORY, 2007 … 12 of 19 … `Gulf of Carpentaria’.

* A GOOD SCHEMATIC GIVING THE SIZE AND LOCATION OF `THE GULF OF CARPENTARIA’ *

The Gulf crossing is a MAJOR hurdle to getting to Darwin. It’s a huge slab of water … difficult to describe in words … it measures (roughly): 

  o From the tip of Cape York to Cape Wilberforce on the western side of the Gulf … 360 nmiles (665 kilometres)

  o From Cape Wilberforce, south to Groote Island … 180 nmiles (330 kilometres)

  o From Groote Island to Karumba in the SE corner … 340 nmiles (630 kilometres)o From Karumba, north to the tip of Cape York … 420 nmiles (780 kilometres)

It’s written somewhere that the northern waters of the Gulf … where the Arafura and Coral seas meet … you can expect severe sea conditions, as the two seas slap together making for high `spiky’ water. I also read: `it’s a much smoother crossing to go south from Cape York toward Weipa, to the same latitude as Gove (12˚ 12.00 S) … and make the westerly crossing from there!’

That was my choice, along with `Piping Shrike’ … and we had a perfect crossing … until the last night. Thirty, to thirty five (30/35) knot SE winds blew up and we experienced twelve (12) hours of `spiky’ water. It was amazing … as it seemed to be travelling north at a great speed (as you would expect with a 30/35 knot SE wind) and an occasional three (3) metre wave would slam into the side of the yacht, literally moving it sideways and showering the craft with water. Déjà vu was reefed down to the max … and I furled the jib 50% … and we were still doing 8 knots.

The journey took approximately 55 hours. Gove was a welcomed destination.

 

* A GOOD CHANCE THESE ARE `SHORT FINNED PILOT DOLPHINS’ *

 

Other yachts who chose to sail west from Seisia (passing well north of Gove) … claimed they had never experienced such rough water and many were seasoned world cruisers. One yacht was swamped … with water spilling into their living quarters and ruining a computer and much other gear … and damaging deck rails on the way through. This yacht was held up in Darwin having repairs done.

SIR-10

ooOoo

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