14 July 2009

Farther north to Darwin

Leaving Flinders islands on monday July 6th the first few hours there is hardly any wind, but at around 4 pm we're under sail and going again with good speed. We are still in the shipping lanes, so all is well lit and we sail on into the night and also the moon is still there. Near Cape Grenville we make s short-cut though the Home islands and it is relaxed sailing with good speed. Flat calm waters all the time, hardly any other vessels. Wednesday morning we enter Albany passage, a channel with some Australian history and still a pleasant waterway to pass.

Then the end of the eastern Australian coast is coming into sight: we approach Cape York and see the lighthouse on the small Eborac island just in front of the Cape. It's a beautiful day and we have the current with us, but also a sad day because here we leave the Coral Sea and the Pacific Ocean behind us. For 10 years we've been sailing and living in this part of the world and we are gratefull for the opportunity we've had to experience so many cultures and meet such interesting people. We'll keep those memories in our heart and never forget!

Just past Cape York we are taken by the current and with 8 to over 9 knots(!) we're heading west along white beaches on the coast and beautiful green islands in Endeavour Strait. Next challenge is the Gulf of Carpentaria, a large stretch of water that lays south of us and causes a lumpy sea. The next night, day and following night are uncomfortable, but the wind is still there as is the moon. Two or three vessels pass us (or at least we've seen them) and almost daily we are overflown by an aircraft of the coastwatch. A few times we have contact with them via the VHF radio to report or confirm our position. The coastwatch patrols the northern borders of Australia in case unannounced vessels are coming into the territorial waters.

Friday at 7.00 pm we see the light of Cape Wessel south of us and the sea is getting settled again. There is a fine broad reach wind of 15-18 knots, so we make good progress under full sails. In the night we have the current with us and we are comfortable behind our jib and reacher, both boomed out. Saturday at the end of the day we pass Cape Don and enter the passage between Melville Island and the Coubourg Peninsula. Very important to have the tide with you there and luckily we can make it all through without having to stop. The wind has disappeared so we have to start the engine. In the morning we have only 20 nm to go, slowly we see the skyline of Darwin coming closer and at 10.30 am we arrive in Fannie Bay and see we're in the company of more than 100 other yachts that are already anchored there. Slideshow Top Australia