Exmouth to Mandurah

The next section was always going to be the hardest – down to Perth – this time of the year southerly winds in the afternoon up to 25kn are common, while easterly to northerly are dominate during the night to midday. There are not enough ports for day hops to suit a 5kn vessel so at some stage I know I will hit a 25kn period along with the southerly swell. Oh well, just have wait & see.

Looking at BOM’s Meteye, late on 3rd of September looked like a good time to leave so I could get to Coral Bay (87nm) & wait for the next cycle of easterly breezes. So at 1800hr I set off in mirror conditions with whales around me and rounded N.W. Cape 2hr later where a slight NW breeze started – perfect when travelling south. Off Tantabiddi (20nm) about 2230hr the winds switched to SW 10kn & then freshened to 20kn and by midnight gusting 25-30kn – oh well so much for Meteye. Ophelia handled the conditions OK with furled genoa to the mast base & two reefs in the main & motor. The wind ceased during next day & approaching Coral Bay (87nm) at 1600hr, Meteye was showing favourable southerly winds so I kept going to Denham (290nm), being the next stop. However off Cape Cuvier (184nm) at 0500hr day two the winds shifted to SE & being a headland was rough. We handled the conditions and eventually ended up at Denham on anchor in weed at 0900hr 6th September – 63hr for 290nm which I was happy motor/sailing 4.6kn average into the wind. This is the first time I have had to sail into the wind for so long. The autopilot handled the 20kn & sail configuration.

From the time I left Darwin to Denham, I had sunny days all day, every day, however later that day rain came in & with it a sudden violent storm from the NW not predicted by BOM. When the wind got to 20kn, Ophelia was dragging anchor in the weed so I managed to pick up the anchor (manual winch) & slowly make my way out to the largest mooring buoy I could find. It was very rough with wind up to 30kn when I pocked my head to check conditions. Little did I know Urchin & five other yachts were anchored at Shelter Bay 20nm to the east – Urchin landed on the beach with no damage & headed back to Denham for checking next day. Another 50′ cat. hit rocks but was still afloat & set off for Perth next morning. Another 40′ mono Honey Bee tried to bring up the anchor but the motor kept tripping. They faired OK as is & sailed on down the coast next morning. Two other yachts faired OK & left early next morning. I have no photos of Denham due to the weather. The first storm went from 1630hr for 4hr then a 1hr calm period followed by another 4hr front from the south. I wanted to visit Monkey Mia, but there was no time due to more consistent stronger southerly winds.

I left Denham next day being 7th September 0700hr heading past Shelter Bay & Steep Point, being the most westerly part of mainland Australia. A not very nice rain front was approaching from the NW & my thoughts turned to last night, however it moved south & out to sea so I never received any rain or wind – perhaps the weather gods remembered my acts previously releasing the two large fish.

Steep Point

A few sea miles south of Steep Pt. is the Zuytdorp Cliffs – 150km long they range from 50m to 250m above sea level & are spectacular with waves crashing into them forming many caves & water spouts. The cliffs are named after a trading ship called Zuytdorp which was wrecked against the cliffs in 1712. I sailed/motored 2-5nm off the cliffs in 20m to 40m of water. I was amazed at the fountains of water & took many photos with the telephoto, many were too blurred to keep.

I had a good passage with no rough weather, but the autopilot ‘ecompass’ stopped working about 2230hr due to a shorting fault. I could still use the autopilot but could not track along the route I had made on the chart plotter. I arrived at Geraldton 0350hr 9th September in berth L41 as it was spare. Luckily the marina staff accepted me & I stayed put for 3 weeks. The whole marina area is very swelly & requires the vessel to be tied up tightly to stop movement. I met up with Urchin, Time & Honey Bee & met Catherine & Peter who were on their way back to Adelaide after completing an eight year world circumnavigation on their 45′ catamaran ‘The Southern Cross’. They arrived back in Adelaide November 2017. Honey Bee was returning after their 2014 Indonesian & Malyasian jaunt to somewhere – their Hobart house is still rented out. As at beginning of January they were in Portland, VIC. I met Time in Exmouth & he was returning to Albany from his very quick mostly solo circumnavigation of Australia.

Replica of Batavia Longboat

Geraldton Main Beach

I spent the next ten days in Geraldton working, fixing the NMEA network for the navigation instruments, raw water engine leak & making a box to protect the chart plotter. I also visited the Geraldton Museum which has some fantastic displays of various ship wrecks in the 1700’s & the Australian HMAS Sydney (II). I also visited the Sydney Memorial over looking the ocean. I learn’t that the dome has 645 seagulls which is the number of men lost at sea on Sydney. She sank on 19-11-1941, but was not found until 16-03-2008 112nm west of Steep Pt in 2480m of water. After paying $35/day, on Tuesday 19th September, I left Geraldton for the short 8-10hr sail to Port Denison (or Dongara) but 1hr out, the NMEA network went out again so I returned to Geraldton.

A mother looking out to sea to HMAS Sydney (II)

 

I paid a specialist $187 to fix the problem – don’t know what he did that was any different to what I did, but it worked. So after more working & waiting for a weather window I left for the second time 0530hr Saturday 30th September to Denison arriving at 1600hr & tied to a fixed jetty for $52/ night – first one for a couple of years. I went past many cray pot buoys in 40-70m water depth – a danger to those with exposed rudders & props. I left next morning hoping to arrive Fremantle 26hr later, but 70nm out & going past Jurien Bay, I noticed the motor was vibrating so made an emergency call in Jurien Bay marina. I paid an expert $390 to realign the motor. Four of six 10mm bolts had sheared at the universal joint probably due to motor shifting slightly in the rough conditions of the WA coast.  I was very lucky. The WA Department of Transport (DOT) have a condition where they allow 3 days grace of payment due to emergencies so I only had to pay for one day at $52/night.

Jurien Bay

On Wednesday 4th October looking at Meteye there was a 20-25kn front coming through early next day & all gone by 1100hr Thursday. So that was my leave time. Next day there was no front so I thought it did not develop, although Meteye was still showing it disappearing same time. So I left at 1100hr & got hit by it 4hr later. I had to do 110 deg. tacks at 4.5kn with furled genoa & motor for 1nm to make any headway for 8hr. Ophelia handled it very well with not much water in the cockpit. The autopilot worked as well, which was a godsend. 33hr for 120nm – slow at 3.6nm/hr – but I made it safely to Freemantle Sailing Club Friday 6th October 2030hr just before another southerly front came through. I tied up to the collector jetty & was moved elsewhere in the morning. Three days was free. I met up with Honey Bee, Time & The Southern Cross as well. On the hardstand I noticed a fast looking yacht used by Gaetano Mura in his record attempt to circumnavigate the world – his yacht impacted with an unidentified floating object on the night of December 9th, just after passing Cape of Good Hope. His attempt ended.

My final destination for the year – Mandurah – an 8hr motor/sail south in light 5-10kn S breeze (head on) – where I house sat for Mike & Tessa of Sunny Girl fame, sailing in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. I left Freemantle at 0200hr & arrived Mandurah 1000hr same day – Monday 9th October, 2017. I was given a berth after tying to the 200m long collector jetty & had a good size scotch once tied up. So after 2271nm, 9 weeks, using the motor 476hr from Darwin to Mandurah I flew to Melbourne on 11th December to spend two months with my family. Considering it took me 10 months for each of the previous two years to get to Whitsunday & Darwin, this was a very quick trip – due to late leaving Darwin.

Oh, and stress is supposed to bring on shingles – my stomach came out in blisters 2 days before leaving Mandurah to fly home. At time of writing, although the blisters have cleared I am in a lot of ‘dagger stabbing’ pain. Hope it clears up soon.

 

These are links to a couple of videos in the area. Mr & Mrs Wagtail are in the backyard of the place I am house sitting. The fantastic music is by a local artist Glen Ridgwell. As soon as I heard the Manna Crab song I knew what I wanted to produce. :-

  1. All in a Days Sail – https://youtu.be/MCRUx6uIXkI
  2. Mandurah Tinnie Trip – https://youtu.be/Nf6_waAWoPE
  3. Mr & Mr Wagtail – https://youtu.be/OMwgwD4Uly4
Advertisements

Broome to Exmouth

While on anchor in Roebuck Bay, Broome I met another couple on Urchin, a 40′ Fountain Pajot catamaran, from Mandurah nearing the end of their circumnavigation of Australia. I believe their trip took 4 years by the time they flew back to Perth twice a year. Over some cider/wines & cheese we were discussing the best time to depart Broome as the winds were starting to increase in intensity during the day. I decided to leave Broome on Friday 18th August at 2100hr. Brian & Maree left a couple of days later & got hammered by 40kn winds for a few hours. I had completed my work to allow me to travel three days to Port Hedland. It seems most cruiser’s by pass Port Hedland, but having detailed a number of jobs in the area I wanted to see the area. BOM’s Meteye was showing good SE to SW breezes for the next three days. I decided on 2100hr which allowed me to arrive approx. 68hr & 313nm later in Port Hedland in the morning day light – based on 5kn/hr. If it took me longer I still had the whole day.

SW breezes are a problem as I would be travelling SW, WSW & later SW into Port Hedland. I decided I would follow the coast about 10nm from shore instead of straight across – reason, if it did blow up the waves would not be as large 10nm out as 30nm. I had calm conditions the whole time with no more than 15kn wind – the motor was used a lot.

Once I turned SW I had the breezes head on so had to change my sail set up with the furled genoa fixed to base of mast as photo shows.

Port Hedland is probably the busiest port in Australia with very large ore ships arriving/leaving every 1/2hr or so. Since the port is not set up for cruiser’s it is my responsibility to keep clear & inform the harbour authority upon my arrival & intentions. They would see me on AIS since I transmit & receive AIS. As I got closer I could see all the ships at anchor and the continuous movement of the ships on the chart plotter. Another cruiser friend had to wait for 2hr until the channel cleared to cross. About 10nm out I contacted harbour control, but they never heard me until 5nm out. I stated my intentions to anchor in front of the yacht club so was allowed to motor port side of the port channel markers, about 10m from them as it was very shallow 20m away. I anchored at 1715hr in 2.5m water – about 1hr after low water with a 5.3m tide. I had to move two days later as I was close to hitting the bottom. Although many ships pass, they don’t present any bow wave. The tugs present much larger bow waves. The trip took longer at 71hr with motor on for 65hr.

A diesel hose decided to leak so had to organise a new hose with banjo fittings each end – Port Hedland was a good place to replace it – plenty of hydraulic hoses in the area, but would they carry a small hose ?. $35 taxi each way and $120 for the 1/2″ x 12″ length.

Ships – they were large – one I noticed upon arrival – Amber Horizon at 300m long – was sitting at 8m with top water line at 18m – that is up to 10m of product on board upon leaving. It had 3 tugs to control her – each one 35m long. Everything was stained in a reddish tinge from the disused yachts at the yacht club to concrete footpaths to buildings & off course the ground. However the salt pile was very white – there is a large salt works at Port Hedland. The yacht club has a ‘duck pond’ which I could have gone into on high tide but the high tide was too low for me when leaving. The entrance is high & dry 3hr after high tide.

I left Port Hedland 2230hr on Wednesday 23rd August for the 63nm journey to Depuch Is. and arrived at 1030hr, motoring the whole distance. I anchored in 8.5m water with 5m tide. This island is covered in red rock about 30 to 50cm long. One has to be very careful walking over it due to the loose rocks.

Depuch Island

View from Dampier Yacht Club

I stayed over night & after doing some work left at 1830hr Friday 24th August for Dampier – 73nm away – via Flying Foam Passage. Leaving at that time allowed me to get to top of FFP at day break, tide running with me & before a stronger SE breeze came in. I timed the passage perfectly with up to 30kn wind side on & down the passage into Dampier at 1200hr on Saturday 25th. Anchorage was in mud in 5.5m water at high tide with 3m tide. Urchin had arrived 2 days before me having sailed direct from Port Hedland to Dampier. Once again the motor was used the whole trip. While in Broome I organised replacement parts for the autopilot to be sent to Dampier so now have two spare gear boxes & two belts. I enjoyed my very short stay in Dampier, leaving 1930hr Monday 28th August for Exmouth via Onslo – 183nm & 37hr at 5kn/hr.

Once again BOM’e Meteye was showing more SE to SW breezes 10-15kn with 20kn on Exmouth Gulf. I had to anchor off Onslo for 6hr to miss the stronger gulf wind. So arriving at Onslo on Tuesday 29th about 2200hr with no moon, I was lowering the main when I looked in front & saw a huge black object in front of me. I raced to the wheel to disengage the autopilot & turn to starboard just in time to miss a large black tug on mooring. The only lights were four orange lights up high which I took as being on shore – why would a vessel have orange lights ? This is the closest I have come to destroying my yacht. I felt I could have reached out & touched the black object. So after motoring over the 15cm diam. mooring line I anchored with knees still shaking & slept. I left Onslow, Wednesday 30th 0100hr for the 12hr crossing of Exmouth Gulf arriving at the huge naval towers & then 5nm south into the Exmouth marina by 1430hr. I felt a huge relief arriving with no strong winds since leaving Broome – 627nm in 11 days with 3 stops. From the log I motored 98% of the distance from Broome. I caught my first ever cobia about 1m long, but let it go as it was too big for me to eat – wind gods looking.

Exmouth  is home to the ‘Big Prawn’ & some very powerful cyclones as shown by the height of the piles in the marina. Ophelia’s mast is about 12.5m above water level. I had been informed by cruiser’s that unless one has time to anchor other side of the peninsula (with suitable weather), to hire a car & visit Ningaloo Reef & others.


This I did and thoroughly enjoyed the day. I visited the Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt north of Exmouth (which is an impressive site from the water), crossed over to the west side of the peninsula & drove down to the end of the sealed road to Yardie Creek, stopping off at numerous places including Turtle Rookery, Tantabiddi, Mangrove Bay, Turquoise Bay for a drift swim, Oyster Stacks, Sandy Bay for another swim & Osprey Bay. Apparently Turquoise Bay is where one swims with the whale sharks & manta rays.

Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt

 

There were lots of wild flowers on the road side and also lots of campers in designated areas along the coast.

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As yet I have not created a video of this section.

Darwin to Broome

I left Darwin on 1st August 2017, for the second time, & arrived Mandurah, south of Perth on 9th October 2017, nine weeks & 2271nm of travel. I have been so busy I have not had time to update this blog until now.

From the time I had to return to Darwin, after the first attempt with John to 1st August, I worked my butt off, sailed to Tiwi Islands (mid June) for a weekend & flew to Melbourne for the month of July to see my family. The trip to Tiwi Is. up the Aspley Strait between the two islands, Bathurst & Melville, was cut short due to a bush fire crossing the strait making it too dangerous with embers in the air. Also one cannot land on Tiwi Is. without an invitation from a Tiwi Islander & permit – I did not have a permit.

So after refuelling at Cullen Bay Marina & saying goodbye to fellow cruisers Albert, who was on his way east to Airlie Beach after a short trip to the Kimberley’s and Mike & Tessa on their way to Indonesia on their Seawind 1210 cat., I was on my way at 1030hr Tuesday 1st August heading to Wadeye 140nm south where I anchored for 24hr waiting for a strong southerly to abate. I had a total of 150l of diesel on board which should take me 700nm safely. On my way I caught a nice size spanish mackerel. At Wadeye, I had to move across the bay as the stronger wind came from a different direction & put me on a lee shore – 1m deep reef. Wadeye was the last anchorage that I could access internet so I emailed the last job to my client. The next anchorage with internet would be Broome, 660nm away. I had to start a new job on Monday, 13th August. This mean’t I could not spend time in the Kimberley’s.
Darwin-Berkley RiverThe second part of my journey was across Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, 105nm, to Berkeley River & a neap high tide river bar entrance. Leaving Wadeye at 0745hr on Friday 4th August, I made good time & crossed the inner bar at 0600hr Northern Territory time in pitch black darkness. The moon disappeared at 0500hr. There are two channels from the east on the Navionics chart & a cruising book recommends the south entrance west of Reveley Is., but both seemed to go over a shallow area. Ophelia’s keel is 1.5m deep & we had 0.8m under the keel at shallowest place. I normally zigzag along a channel so I keep in the deepest part. The crossing took 1hr due to the slow progress in the dark & I dropped the anchor inside the river before sun rise & had a two hour sleep. I do sleep while travelling – roughly 2hr on watch & 2hr sleep.
IMG_6162-cropAfter a good sleep & breakfast I motored 4nm into Casurina Ck. arriving about 1000hr. After launching the dinghy & looking out for croc’s I went ashore via a rocky oyster ridden ledge & clambered up the cliff. The rock face could be very dangerous due to the loose small rocks, but there appeared to be a path which leads to top of the nearly dry water falls. I had the obligatory cool fresh water swim before taking many photos & returning to Ophelia. No croc’s were seen.
IMG_6109
IMG_6124RIMG_6129R
IMG_6125R
IMG_6171R
Later same day I left Casurina Ck. & motored back down to the river mouth for the high tide crossing at 0600hr next day and the 44nm, 7.5hr motor/sail to Koolama Bay. Crossing the bar on Sunday 6th August was without incident with 0.8m under the keel, but I had moved too far off the northern channel so with zigzagging I found it with 2m under the keel. I noticed the Berkeley River Lodges on the cliff edges to the south overlooking the J.P. Gulf.

Berkeley-BiggeIMG_6182R

The weather was sunny with up to 10-15kn SE breezes near journey’s end. I arrived at 1330hr dropping the anchor in 5m of water. The log showing the motor was used for 5hr of the 7.5hr. I could see a catamaran inside King George River & a small cruise ship called TRUE NORTH – a 36 guest luxury vessel anchored other side of the bay.

After a good sleep, dinner & another sleep I left Koolama at midnight same day, Sunday 6th August to pass Cape Londondery (the most northerly mainland part of WA) at 0600hr with the ebb tide & hopefully easterly breeze. According to others, this cape is notorious for wind against tide conditions, however with neap tides, perhaps not so bad. I had been warned by others with much more knowledge than me. I made it right round the cape with the tide & no wind, moving up to 7.5kn SOG. There were large eddy’s which tried to turn Ophelia so I had to hand steer rather than use the autopilot. I had intended to spend a night in Honeymoon Bay, but the thought of 12hr motoring there & back (24hr total) put me off so continued onto Bigge Is., which was on my route for the next stop. I arrived 1145hr on 8th August at Boomerang Bay, Bigge Is. The log shows nearly 36hr & 167nm. The motor was used 23hr of the time. By now I had no idea of the weather so while passing Wary Bay, Bigge Is. I called up the captain of a cruise liner L’Attitude at anchor who said much the same weather for the next three days. Perfect, as it would take three days to Broome. I had been travelling 8 days of the 11 day trip so the 7 day BOM forecast from Darwin was now gone.

Wary Bay, Bigge Island

While at anchor I had a swim (watching for croc’s), filled the diesel tank & made dinner all in 1.25hr. I left at 1300hr heading for Cape Leveque, pronounced Lee Veek. The breeze disappeared so had to motor through the night – the log saying the sea was a mirror. At 0600hr I passed Champagny Is. with full main & furled genoa poled out in a light northerly breeze. At 0700hr I replaced the genoa with the symmetrical spinaker but within an hour the wind started turning to the west & did not function properly. Most days the wind is from north early morning changing to south by midday & east during the night back to north early morning.

All the time travelling during daylight hours I had a lure out the back & at 1530hr I brought an estimated 1.5m spanish mackerel to the side of the yacht, after at least 1/2hr back & forth on 80lb braid & 150lb s/s trace. It was just too big for me so I managed to extract the lure & let it go, hoping the wind gods would see my act & be kind to me. Soon after a light south west breeze came in so I motored for a while with main only.

Bigge-Broome

I then decided to call into Powerful Is., Yampi Sound where there were two tugs & a large heavy ship loader at anchor – I could see them on AIS. I arrived at 2230hr 9th August in moonlight and anchored on rubble in 10m water depth. I could make out a dark patch changing to a light patch on the rock wall perhaps 30m away. After a good sleep I awoke at day break & noticed the dark patch was the tide variation – 9m during the king tides. Leaving at 0600hr on 10th August to catch the tides, I also saw a sleeping whale, which I initially thought was a large crocodile.

This area was my first time travelling in strong currents, narrow channels & large tidal variation – I had to work the tides to make headway with the 10HP engine. I passed Cape Leveque with tides generally in my favour about 1430hr and anchoring in Pender Bay at 2215hr same day 10th August with a 15kn head on SW breeze. From Bigge Is. to Pender Bay I had travelled 225nm in 52hr actual travel time using the engine for 47hr. Pender Bay is very large but well protected from the south to east to north. The wind dropped off during the night. I did try to anchor in a bay not far from Cape Leveque but was too shallow & exposed. While dropping the main in preparation for a suitable anchorage I was hit by a moving large eddy which stripped the autopilot cogs again. This mean’t hand steering the 6hr to Pender Bay & 95nm to Broome next day.

IMG_6385R

Cape Leveque

So I left Pender Bay at 0800hr on Friday 11th August with a slight head wind travelling SW for most of the day. I had to re-arrange the sail set up, furling most of the genoa & bringing the clew to base of mast. The mainsail was slightly backed and engine running. I could travel at 4.5kn in a 15kn head wind. I had to stop along the way for a 3hr sleep. I also ran over some buoys nominating a fish aquaculture area while dozing in the cockpit during the night. Upon hearing some birds I sat up & saw the buoys strung together with rope. Luckily with a full length keel the rope never got caught by the propeller. The wind dropped out during the night as usual.  I arrived at the south end of Broome’s Cable Beach on a $30/night mooring at 1015hr Saturday 12th August. I felt so relieved having spent 12 days travelling without getting off the yacht for exercise, except Berkeley River. I spent two days on the mooring rocking in every direction due to a southerly swell, before moving into Roebuck Bay on anchor. This was heaven and close to town with a 10 minute dinghy trip and 5 min bus ride.

IMG_6418RCable Beach-01

Cable Beach is a meca for 4 wheel drives – locals and ‘grey nomads’ with a beer, wine & sometimes shade watching the sun go down. The yellow ‘rubber ducky’ is on wheels to ferry passengers from ship to shore.

DCIM100GOPRO

Looking north with the Cable Bay Resort in the far distance

I arranged for new autopilot cogs & a spare gear box to be flown from Sydney so spent six days working, walking and a bit of time in town. Broome is not a good place in strong winds & therefore not a cruiser’s paradise, but I did enjoy my time here.

In summary Darwin to Broome was 798nm, 11 days exactly, stopped 3 nights for 8hr, used 110l of diesel, motored 147hr = approx. 60% of travel time.

Apart from Koolama & Wary Bay and Powerful Is. I did not see any other vessel. I guess I was nearing the end of the Kimberly cruise season. I saw lots of whales – most kept away from me apparently due to motor noise.

A video of Darwin to Berkeley River can be seen at :-

  1. Darwin to Berkeley River – https://youtu.be/rYhLLUhP2y8

DARWIN – CYCLONE SEASON

I arrived in the Cullen Bay Lock on 27-10-2016 & left the lock (temporarily) on 03-05-2017 – 5 months in the lock at $595/month. This lock is very good with great shelter, restaurants & bus service, but very hot & humid. Not much wind in the marina due to the private houses surrounding the marina. The last week of May & 1st week of June has been cooler due to a high pressure system over Victoria bring SE winds all the way up the east coast to Darwin. The humidity has been around 30% instead of the +80%. Nights see temperatures around 22 deg. instead of 26+ deg.
CullenBayMarina
The major shopping centres – Casuarina & Palmerston are a 1/2hr bus trip away – $3 for 3hr – or $1 if you hold a seniors card – not too bad. As with Townsville CBD, Darwin CBD has no department stores & seems very few people around during the day. Night time is a different story with most restaurants full. There are a lot of Aborigines wondering about, seemingly homeless  – some young men ‘talk’ with very loud voices, but I don’t know what they are saying – they seem angry. There seems to be a lot of backpackers – especially with Queens English accent. I see many Aborigine women slapping & telling men off – quite funny really. I was approached by an Aborigine man to call the cops, because his woman was holding a weapon (stick) & he felt for his safety. I said no & reminded him he was probably doing something wrong. Most young Aborigines sit at the back of the bus & are very noisy, while the older generation sit near the front, perhaps discarding those noisy blighters.

One cannot go to Darwin without visiting the Mindil Beach markets on a Thursday night & Sunday arvo/night.

Darwin has a great wave pool & lap pool. The lap pool was hot February to April, although fed from the Darwin Harbour.

DarwinLapPool

Darwin Lap Pool

I found out, in the CBD one can only purchase 2l wine casks & only 1 per customer/day. However, if there was a different person serving later in the day one could purchase a second cask.
I did quite a lot of maintenance on the yacht – replaced the rigging chain plate bolts, replaced engine mounts & seating angles with s/s ones, antifouled, checked rudder in case it was loose (was good), repainted cockpit & engine oil change to name a few. I did not check the alternator but did replace some wiring in the area.

I flew to Melbourne early November 2016 & returned early February 2017 (via Sydney) & worked on board with an air conditioner – unfortunately I did not have much work so relied on my superannuation. In Sydney I attended the Compass Yacht regatta & was awarded the Jim Brown trophy (by last years winners) for the longest journey in a Compass during 2016 – 2160NM.

Phil & Di presenting Allan (Ophelia) with Trophy20170205_195348

Early April, I made a date to leave the marina & head west on 03-05-2017 with a friend John McDonald from Melbourne – he arrived on 01-05-2017, the same day I returned from 2 weeks holiday with my wife in Thailand & Singapore. So after purchasing supplies we went through the marina lock on 03-05-2017 at 10am & anchored near the marina for the night.
A client was hopeful to get a job, so I intended to call into Truscott airbase, hopefully catch a vehicle 30km into a town to call my client. Truscott was about 1/2 between Darwin & Broome & a place I could re-fuel. So it meant I could start on the job once I got to Broome 3 weeks later. That never eventuated.

There were 3 cyclones – all passing Darwin with category 1 or 2 intensity – all about 80NM north of Darwin battering the Tiwi Is. (Melville & Bathurst Is.). For a second cyclone season I missed them.
The Cullen Bay Marina beach is a great place to sit while watching the sun set, but cannot swim in the wet season due to stingers – never mind the crocs as I saw only one at 0530hr one morning.

The 3m to 6.5m tidal variation is not a problem around Darwin. The Cullen Bay lock opens (when required) on the hour from 0600hr to 2200hr & has been designed to hold enough water. It sits about 5m on the Darwin tide charts. The water level varies up to 350mm maximum between tide changes.

Cullen-Bay-Marina-Beach

Cullen Bay Marina Beach at near low tide

TIME TO LEAVE DARWIN & HEAD WEST
On 04-05-2017 we left Darwin at 1000hr with spinnaker for the 36NM sail/motor to Bynoe
Darwin-Spinaker Harbour catching the ebb tide from Darwin & flood tide around the corner into Bynoe Harbour, arriving at 1830hr & a wonderful sunset. Not a good place to go walkabout as no beaches. At 0700hr on 05-05-2017 we left for the 50NM journey to Fog Bay anchoring at 1800hr 2NM offshore due to very shallow water. We caught a Spanish Mackerel along the way.
SunSet-Bynoe

Bynoe-Mackerel
There was no internet here & I had to complete some work so next day backtracked some 13NM to Dundee Beach (famous for it’s fishing) anchoring in thick grey mud 300m from shore. This place has a pub next to the boat ramp – perfect place for a week, except in westerlies. We left next day for the 65NM sail/motor to Cape Ford – a wonderful sheltered area from the SE breezes. I even had internet from the mast head aerial but no cell phone reception. No reception according to the Telstra coverage map.
JohnMcD
On the 4th day at 0700hr on 08-05-17 we left for the 48NM sail to Wadeye (or Port Keats) arriving at 1400hr, where according to the Telstra coverage there was 4GX internet & they were correct. I had to complete some more work here before losing internet into the Kimberley’s. Again, not a good place to spend time as no beach – all mangroves. Our intention was to cross the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf from Wadeye to the Berkeley River – a distance of 110NM. That never happened.

While at Dundee Beach I noticed the alternator didn’t seem to be charging the batteries & the solar panel regulators didn’t seem to be working properly. By the time we arrived at Wadeye I could not fix the problems so we decided to return to Darwin a.s.a.p. to get them fixed. That was 2 very long days to get back – 160NM from Darwin. However, I received 6wks work from my client (who I was going to call from Truscott) so decided to stay in Darwin. After a week in Darwin, having a 120A alternator installed (‘The Beast’ I call it) & new solar panel regs (all for $2,400 installed), we did go 35NM north to the Vernon Is. for the weekend. It was rather horrible as there are no beaches & anchored in 15m water 30m from a 1.2m deep reef at low tide.

Vernon Is

Vernon Islands

We did not catch any fish. More engine problems with the engine overheating. After limping back to Darwin & contacting Bukh in Sydney (Ophelia has a 10HP Bukh engine) it was decided air was entering the raw water filter bowl causing pulsating & low water levels – I fixed that & then the syphon started leaking salt water all over part of the engine. I have been waiting for eight working days for a new one to be delivered from Brisbane. I found one in Darwin so installed that today (03-06-2017) – motor now fixed with a spare syphon.

Perhaps I was not meant to travel through the Kimberley’s this time.

Unfortunately, John had to go back to Melbourne three weeks into the six week holiday. I now intend to leave Darwin mid August but will have to bypass The Kimberley’s to get to Perth by mid December. Darwin – no beaches so not a cruiser’s holiday area.

Darwin-Wadeye
The map above shows our track from Darwin at top of map to Bynoe, to Fog Bay, north to Dundee Beach, south to Cape Ford & then further south to Wadeye.

When I came into Darwin (October 2016) from Cape Don, 100NM north, I got the tides wrong & now realise why (see map below) :-
– An ebb tide in Beagle Gulf – north of Darwin Harbour – sucks the water from Van Diemen Gulf west through the Vernon Is. thus creating the appearance of a flood tide in Van Diemen Gulf.
– Conversely a flood tide in Beagle Gulf creates the appearance of an ebb tide in Van Diemen Gulf by pushing water east through the Vernon Is.

This is the reason why one can leave Cape Don 4hr before a Beagle Gulf ebb tide, reach the Vernon Is. in 8hr & pick up the change in tides to get a flood tide to Darwin – 12-14hr  travelling at approx. 8kn, instead of 20+hr travelling at 5kn against the tides as I did.CapeDon-Darwin.

Here are some videos of my journey :-

  1. Lazy Sailing Day Darwin Harbour – https://youtu.be/c4CP9ut5TMM

TOP END MOTOR SAILING

I tried to leave Groote Eylandt on 30-09-2016 but it was just too rough with wind from the northerly direction so I turned around & went into Bartalumba Bay for 2 days. I eventually left on 01-10-2016 at 1800hr, but was very slow going into a  NE breeze & tide against me for the first 6 hours. However, as luck would have it the wind shifted to north so I could motor sail through the night in a NE direction. There were trawlers all around me, counted nine at one stage. I slept in about two hour cycles for two hours. By the time the sun arose the wind had died to zero knots so I had to motor through the day to Gove.

01-gove-darwin

I arrived at Gove 2030hr (26.5hr & 130NM) & nearly ran over a rather large mooring while searching for moored & anchored vessels ahead of me with the torch so decided to attach Ophelia to it. Upon waking next day, I could see numerous vessels that appeared to have no light, in fact most are derelict & have not been used for some time. I had worked in Gove, June to August 1978 so was keen to see the changes – so much more has been added over the years but so much is now not being used – like the alumina refinery. The accommodation units I stayed in was still standing. It was open slather buying grog then but now one requires a liquor license to purchase liquor. Probably a good idea from my 1978 memories. Those days, when I was 26 y.o., I ran from the refinery to the township at end of day, while other less fit drafties used the bus – now one drives.

I managed to get a lift with a local yachty into town one day to fill the two 20l diesel jerry cans & some petrol. There is a bus service three times a day also. I met a fellow solo sailor, Alderd, from Cairns, in a Compass I33 called Pelorus II, who is on his way to Darwin for this cyclone season, Kimberly’s & back to Cairns next year.  I counted nine vessels stranded on the beach around the harbour – all had been pilfered & left to rot. Apparently there are moves afoot to burn them as they are an eyesore. I managed to pilfer a Muir manual anchor winch, with 8mm gypsy, in good condition, installed it, then realised the dinghy covers it. I also replaced one dorado. I did not realise until I had left Gove that the main & genoa sheets had gone a reddish colour, from the bauxite dust in the air.

While at Horn Island, I applied on line for shore access at 4 places between Gove & Darwin. I was refused access because I could not stipulate the exact days I would be at these places – Elcho, Milingimbi, Maningrida & Sth. Goulburn Islands so I had to plan my next trip carefully. Gove to Darwin is approximately 560nm & I had enough diesel for 525nm so I had to do some sailing to make sure I did not run out. My intention was to arrive at Darwin on 27-10-2016 & fly to Melbourne on 07-11-2016. I need the week to set up Ophelia for the cyclone season & to work.

I left Gove after a week on 10-10-2016 at 0600hr for the nine hour, 48nm journey to the ‘Hole in the Wall’ or Rugari Rip – a deep channel about 100m wide between two islands of the Wessel group – Raragala to the south & Guluwuru to the north. I had to be at the eastern entrance by 1415hr for the change in tide from low to high – flood tide runs west through the channel. I made good time with an easterly breeze and tide, and arrived spot on time. There was no swell.

02-rugari-rip

ENTERING EAST SIDE OF RUGARI RIP

I fixed the Gopro to the solar panel frame & recorded my 18 minute journey from east to west. An aerial view from Google shows lines on each side of the channel as if the islands were once joined. Even the navy has left it’s presence on the rocks.

GOOGLE EARTH VIEW OF RUGARI RIP

GOOGLE EARTH VIEW

3/4 OF WAY THRU' THE RIP

3/4 OF WAY THRU’ THE RIP

ROCK ART

ROCK ART

I anchored in a nearby bay & went fishing – caught one reef shark (throw back) & one coral trout (keeper). Coral trout are beautiful in colour & eating. Saving diesel was going to plan so far.

The next day, 11-10-2016, saw me sailing very slowly to Refuge Bay, 43nm to the south, at top of Elcho Island, but I only had 1.5hr in this rather large bay before setting off for the 206nm journey to Sth. Goulburm Island via Maningrida. Refuge Bay is very shallow & I could only anchor about 1/2nm from the shore in 5m of water. Another yacht also anchored for the night who were on their way east. I left at 1830hr and due to very little wind had to motor all night passing Milingimbi at 0600hr, with limited cell phone reception so sent some text messages. Milingimbi Island apparently has good internet but has a 2km exclusion zone so anchoring in this place seemed to be out of the question & I was refused shore access anyway. By mid-afternoon on 12-10-2016 the wind increased to 20kn E and then NE and stayed until later that evening – managed to sail and therefore save diesel. I entered the beginning of Mangingrida about 1600hr and realised the area is very open to the NE so turned around and headed to Sth. Goulburn Is, 64nm west. I had some cell phone reception so sent messages to family and friends to say what I was doing. I arrived at Sth. Goulburn 0445hr on 13-10-2016. The SPOT Gen 3 has 3 pre-recorded messages, so at 0800 & 2000hr local time each day, I pressed one of the buttons to say ‘I was OK’. This message was sent to four pre-defined mobile numbers, via satellite.

STH. GOULBURN ISLAND

STH. GOULBURN ISLAND

The next day being 14-10-2016, I phoned the local Land Council for shore access, who put me onto the traditional owner – he gave me permission to land & took me to the village for a look around. There is no industry and therefore no work. There is a primary school, but secondary school children are sent to boarding school in Darwin. There is a problem with one boarding school running out of money, which the state and federal governments have provided emergency funding until a solution can be found. The island is very dry with a limited water source from a spring. There are also very skinny brumbies, kangaroo’s and wallaby’s and lots of mango tress – all green still. Off course favours are expected to be returned – his wish was satisfied and shall be kept secrete.

AFTER SUNSET - GOULBURN IS.

AFTER SUNSET – GOULBURN IS.

CUTTLE FISH

CUTTLE FISH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spent 10 days here as I had a lot of work to do & there is no internet between Goulburn & Darwin – some 300nm. It was a lonely place with no one to talk to. I did go for walks along the beach with its very soft sand and many crab holes. I also swam night & morning as I could not see any croc’s. The water temperature was cooler at the beach than from Ophelia. I had to cool my body somehow. I could receive ABC radio from Darwin, which was saying the wet season had started one month earlier this year, which means I had to be on the lookout for rain squalls. None arrived although I could see them to the west & south. I went fishing & caught a cuttle fish and small reef shark, amongst other fish.

SIMS ISLAND

SIMS ISLAND

So on Saturday 22-10-2016 0445hr, I left Goulburn for the 54nm sail and motor to Valencia Island, being close to Bowen Strait, which I had to move up the strait with the tide & hopefully SE wind. My intention was to leave Valencia Is. at 0400hr next day to catch the flood tide going NW. I anchored on the SW side, but about 1830hr a rain storm arrived with 20kn W winds putting me on a lee shore with dragging anchor. So up came the anchor and I set off for the 33nm motor up the Bowen Strait to Palm Bay, NE corner of Crocker Island. There are two channels in Bowen Strait – wide side against the mainland and narrow side against Crocker Island. I had been told by three yachty’s to use the narrow side. Apparently 150’ long x 50’ wide x 7’ deep barges use the narrow side. Well I got to 1m under the keel and shot out towards the wide side into 7m deep water. That was close. Next morning I was watching one of those barges on AIS going down the wide side – confuses me. I dropped the anchor in Palm Bay 23-10-2016 0115hr, however I was motoring towards a bright light that I thought might have been the barge ramp (like at Goulburn) – turned out to be Pelorus II 30m away from me when I shone the torch. I could not see any hull, which is why I have a bow, stern & mast head all round white lights on at night.

Same day I left for Port Essington 31nm to the west.

SAILING PALM TO BERKELEY

SAILING PALM TO BERKELEY

But first I had to pass the north entrance to Bowen Strait – must have been SE wind against the tide as it was very rough. I had the genoa poled out to windward and main to leeward in a building SE wind. I soon got rounded up by three larger waves – a good reason to remove the pole & lower the main. I suspect I have a loose rudder on the rudder stock so have to be careful. The rest was uneventful, sailing only, to Berkerley Bay in Port Essington arriving at 1400hr exposed to any west winds. There is a very large reef one mile off the shore at entrance to Port Essington so one has to stay well clear. I stayed here for two full days wondering if any rain squalls will arrive – none did of any significance.

ONLY JUST HANGING ON

ONLY JUST HANGING ON

There was no one else around, although I did see three other vessels heading north out of Port Essington. From Wikipedia Port Essington is an inlet and historic site located on the Cobourg Peninsula in the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory. It was the site of an early attempt at British settlement, but now exists only as a remote series of ruins.

CREEK IN BERKELEY BAY

CREEK IN BERKELEY BAY

 

 

 

 

At 0545hr on 25-10-2016 I left for the 38nm motor sail to Alcaro Bay, adjacent to Cape Don – turn left here & head to Darwin with the tide. I felt it was too stressful watching for the rain storms so I would arrive at Darwin one day early. I did receive a couple of rain squalls but the anchor was well set.

Travelling from Cape Don to Darwin is all about tides for yachts. I read an article on the internet to leave Cape Don 4hr before high tide Darwin & get to Vernon Islands in 8hr – 64nm traveling at 8kn with the flood tide – first 2hr against tide & 6hr with tide. I was given diagrams for the tide direction every hour from Cape Don to Vernon Islands and onto to Darwin – 100nm. Navionics shows the tidal flow at Cape Don – flood south – In summary :-

High tide Darwin 26-10-16 – 0234hr

Therefore leave Cape Don 25-10-16 – 2234hr – 4hr before high tide Darwin

High tide at Cape Don 26-10-16 is 0320hr as below – leaving Cape Don at 2234hr, I should have tide against me for 5hr but actual was with me for 2hr traveling at 7 to 8 kn.

CAPE DON TIDE

CAPE DON TIDE (AEST) ADD 1/2hr for NT time

Perhaps the article should have stated 4hr after Darwin HT. Then the tide turned to ebb & I was fighting the tide for next ten hours to Vernon Is. travelling at 4.5 to 5kn. Twelve hours in total instead of eight. I arrived at Vernon Is. about 1030hr 26-10-2016 1hr before high tide Vernon Is. and picked up speed to 6 to 7kn going through the islands.

VERNON ISLANDS

VERNON ISLANDS

Once past the Vernon Is. my speed dropped to 4.5 to 5kn for the 30nm to Darwin’s Fannie Bay, where I anchored at 1815hr in 5m of water perhaps 1k from shore – almost 20hr travel. There were about 20 vessels at anchor or on moorings. When within cell phone range I called Cullen Bay Marina about entry – was told to call fisheries to get clearance – no trouble, just had to answer a dozen questions, but could not enter the marina until next day 27-10-2016. The light wind was all over the place during the night but no storms. The anchorage would be horrible in northerly’s, & being on a lee shore.

DARWIN YACHT CLUB

DARWIN YACHT CLUB

So on 27-10-2016, after the paper work had been finalised for berth & lock entry I was allowed to enter the lock at 1000hr (opens on the hour every hour from 0600 to 2300hr with a booking only) and motor to berth F12 – that completes my cruising for 2016 – 2160nm from Mackay to Darwin.

CULLEN BAY LOCK

CULLEN BAY LOCK

The lock relies totally on spring tides to replenish the water in the marina – seems the marina sits about 4.5 to 5.0m relative to the Darwin tides. There is no pump, so over a day between high tides the marina actually loses water but one does not notice the difference in water level. The extremities of the marina is lined with large houses and floating jetties while the marina is situated in the middle of the ‘lake’ with restaurants at the north end. It is a ‘pretty’ marina compared to others I have been to. Cost $595/mth for a 10m pen. I have installed a 1.6kw box a/c through the wash boards to control the mildew while I am in Melbourne from 07-11-2016 to mid-February 2017.

CULLEN BAY MARINA

CULLEN BAY MARINA

Here are some videos of my journey :-

  1. Horn Is. to Weipa – https://youtu.be/ET0MBLYdYj4
  2. Weipa to Groote Eylandt – https://youtu.be/d1JYESyw0AQ
  3. Lockhart Groote Eylandt to Gove – https://youtu.be/aogFgfu9DzA
  4. Gove to Rugari Rip – https://youtu.be/eeiPZ1VVb2U
  5. Rugari Rip to Goulbourn – https://youtu.be/umUrQI_8tKI
  6. Goulburn to Alcaro – https://youtu.be/KY97GllIVB4
  7. Alcaro to Darwin – https://youtu.be/zXQhJhp7Ke0
  8. Cullen Bay Marina – https://youtu.be/qKsvnZfMBr0

Cairns to Horn Island

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While in Cairns I was checking Meteye for Cooktown to Cape York winds. Every day was 20-25kn SE with a strong wind warning most weeks – to 30kn. Some days the wind dropped down to 15-20kn. I was wondering how I could do it but accepted that everyone one else goes north in the same conditions, so why can’t I. I planned to go close to the west side of the Barrier Reef to hopefully get some relief from the wave action. This worked where there was reef above water & to a lesser degree for submerged reefs. For no reef it was still OK with a slight swell. Against the mainland the swell would have been awful.

I left Cairns on 01-08-16 via an overnight stop at Low Islet – possibly my worst anchorage to date – due to a swell side on, and arrived at Cooktown on 02-08 – a great sail all the way.

I spent 9 days at Cooktown and finally, on 11-08 the perfect window opened for 2 full days with 15-20kn SE for the planned 235NM 47hr non-stop sail to Lockhart River. I wanted to spend a week at Lizard Island, but with no internet for work I had to bypass it.  I spoke to others later who said it was 30-35kn that week so I was lucky.  The trip actually worked out to be 237NM on the chart plotter and 45hr.

I could sail at 5-6kn with just the #2 genoa up in 15kn breeze – tide, don’t really know & did not feel it. I passed Cape Bedford with its distinct flat top & escarpment, then Cape Flattery, 35NM north of Cooktown with its open roadstead sand loading jetty & the turn off to Lizard. A few miles further north my mobile phone started dinging away – I must have crossed the line between the mainland & Lizard Is. for the internet signal. I checked my emails & sent a couple that did not send when in Cooktown.

I was able to sleep in 1hr cycles and had numerous waypoints set at 5 to 10NM apart to coincide with a reef or beacon structure. 5NM = 1hr. By the time I got to Cape Melville at 2am Friday, 106NM north of Cooktown, I was 2hr ahead of my schedule. The wheel pilot could handle a full #2 genoa up to 15kn wind over the starboard stern quarter, mostly SE, but I had to furl to about ¾ when sleeping for my 1hr. I did not pole out the genoa at night. Sailing up that coast is quite difficult as often the heading was close to NW +-10 deg. (with wind SE) so one had to be careful not to gybe the genoa – I did numerous times while hand steering in the stronger winds & at night. The autopilot would do it as well when a wave passed under & Ophelia wanted to turn towards port & sometimes starboard into the wind.

The waypoint alarm went off just before Cape Melville while I was sleeping just as the wind increased to a constant 30kn. It seems Cape Melville is like Gabo Is (south end of Victoria/NSW border) wind wise. It was a quick trip around the cape & past Flinders Island with no moon & water breaking all round me. A tug (no AIS) was heading south towing a barge – thank goodness I was west of the shipping channel at that stage. Once past Flinders Is. the wind dropped to 15kn and I went down for a sleep. I awoke in Princess Charlotte Bay to the sun rising & many trawlers (no AIS) to the east on Saturday 13-08 (my 64th birthday) with no wind, so on went the motor for 4hr. Then at midday the wind belted in from the east at 20kn so I flew along west side of the reefs at 6-7kn for the next 6hr. I had to furl the genoa to ¼ so I could get an hours sleep. Then from about 7pm to 4am I had to hand steer to Lockhart River in 20-30kn SE, sometimes hitting 8.3kn. There was a ½ moon but it went to sleep 1hr before setting the anchor at Lockhart – a perfect anchor in the middle of a very large river system. Later that day I moved up the river further to escape the stronger winds where the anchor symbol is shown below. Over the course of the week three more vessels came in for a couple of nights to escape the strong wind warning.

Lockhart-River-Lucass

I caught two trevally and one barracuda while trolling around one of the islands – the barra was used in the crab pot, the fish carcass used in a soup & the flesh I cooked numerous ways – one was the Street Kitchen cuisine packaging. No crabs and I was told there are no crabs in the Lockhart River system – no idea why. There are 2 local yachts & they are looking at Cairns or Weipa for haul out. I met a couple on a 42’ seawind cat. named Sunny Girl from Perth. They are heading to Darwin. The internet, 3G 4 bars was reasonable but seemed to slow down during the day – perhaps over crowded.

I stayed at Lockhart for 7 days working & then set sail on 20-08 at 0500 for the 70NM journey to Margaret Bay, Cape Grenville. The autopilot belt broke not long after leaving Lockhart so it was a long 14hr day. I motored with the full genoa in 15-20kn SE to get to my destinations faster – at times doing 7.1kn. Sunny Girl was in Margaret Bay after visiting some reefs. At 0130hr on 21-08 I set off for the 70NM journey to Escape River with no autopilot. I struggled the first 4hr as the south 20kn wind was on my north rhumb line so I had to gybe a number of times in sloppy seas. Once I could clear the reefs I could then set a NW course. I stopped for 1/2hr in the lee of Hannibal Islet for breakfast, drink & very short rest. The rest of the journey (11hr) to Escape River was fantastic sailing, even with no autopilot. The entrance to Escape River is shallow at 3.5m when I entered, but 10-20m deep inside. I set the anchor at 1620hr – 15hr 20 min. sailing & 1 stop. There were 4 American yachts (on AIS) anchored – on a ARC world rally. Sunny Girl left Margaret Bay 2hr after me & reached Escape River about midday – about 9hr to my 15hr.

With no internet I left Escape River at 0600hr for the 12NM journey against the tide to be at the southern entrance of Albany Passage for the tide change at 0930hr – flood going north. Around the Whitsundays the flood tide goes south. Sunny Girl left 1hr later & overtook me with spinnaker flying and stopped at Somerset Bay in the passage. I joined her for 1/2hr before heading to Horn. They went to Adolphus Is for a swim then to Horn Is.

Sunny Girl had husband and wife and 2 young men on board. Mike is an engineer from Perth so has sailed from Perth. There was no time to discus their voyage from Perth. A fantastic group. On photo above Mike is playing with the spinnaker while Tessa is sitting on a chair.

Escape-Horn-01

Above image shows Escape River lower right, 17NM to Albany Passage middle, 8NM to Cape York slightly above and 24NM to Horn Is. anchorage top left.

Back in the late 1800’s half way up Albany Is. was going to be the now Thursday Is. (T.I.) but due to the currents in the passage the town was set up in the now T.I.

I rounded the light house on Eborac Is. just north of Cape York at 1206hr on 22-08-16, the same day 246 years ago Capt. Cook took possession of the ‘east coast of New Holland from latitude 38 deg for King George III’ – 38 deg. is just south of Lakes Entrance in Victoria. Another milestone completed for me.

It did not take long to cross the ‘ditch’ to Horn Is. with a west flowing flood tide, 20kn SE behind me and motor – at times doing 8.3kn. I had to point 10 deg. higher than my rhumb line due to the current. With genoa only I had to point 25 deg. higher and even then I was dipping below my rhumb line. I set the anchor on 22-08-2016 at 1530hr and had a good scotch to celebrate the milestone.

However next day I had to organise the following replacement parts :-

  1. autopilot belt & NMEA2000 network cable from Raymarine under warranty
  2. hand held remote VHF Simrad radio – battery went to sleep – under warranty
  3. gasket for a leaking water pump on the Bukh engine
  4. 2 spare autopilot belts

I have also found, while doing my 4-6 week maintenance cycle, the single bolt holding the stemhead – the green looking thing in the picky, which the fore stay/furler fixes to, has corroded. This could have meant losing the mast.

Today is Sunday 04-09, I have the cable and 3 belts. Navico did not send the radio as they promised last Wednesday so I have to wait until at least next Tuesday to receive it. Still waiting for the gasket.

My after-thoughts about the trip from Cairns to Horn: the trip was made difficult with no autopilot, but I had champagne sailing conditions all the way by choosing my sailing times.

Here are some videos of my journey :-

  1. Cairns to Cooktown – https://youtu.be/hSHnwq1kBqE
  2. Cairns to Lockhart River – https://youtu.be/ELQhf9mLHpk
  3. Lockhart River to Escape River – https://youtu.be/kTodeBd2biw
  4. Escape River to Horn Island – https://youtu.be/KItty037dI4
  5. Sunny Girl – Albany Passage, FNQ – https://youtu.be/b_QsDQBHSzQ

Townsville to Cairns

I have been soooo busy working & sailing I have not had time to create this section as yet.

I left Magnetic Is. on 18-06-2016 & arrived at Cairns on 16-07-2016 after a few hours at Arlington Reef.

To be continued ….

Here are some videos of my journey :-

  1. Fitzroy Is. to Cairns via Arlington Reef – https://youtu.be/a8aTscUd72k
  2. A short visit to Cairns – https://youtu.be/sbGa5_BAlW8