Jul 142024
 

Dawn, off False Point.

We departed Gove harbour at 3am on Saturday morning, very light breeze so we had to motor up to Cape Wilberforce and into Malay Roads, we were able to motor sail part of the way across Donington Strait and into Cadell Strait, between Elcho Island and the mainland. We came out of Cadell Strait just on sunset, its quite an impressive passage, very narrow navigable channel, completely unmarked and fierce tides!

In the section known as the narrows, we had over 4kts of tide with us – and that was neap tides! There were numerous whirlpools and eddies, well worth the effort though, both for the natural beauty and the time and distance it saves compared to the alternative passages.

As we headed out across towards the Crocodile Islands we were treated to an amazing 180º sunset, with the lights of Elcho at one end and the shoreline of Howard Island at the other.

Conditions are still unseasonably light and we have made pretty slow progress overnight, but at least the engines were off!

 

 Posted by at 7:09 am



Jul 122024
 

on the beach to fill up with water!

Today is our final day of preparation for sailing to Darwin, we depart at about 3am tomorrow morning to catch the tide through Cadell Strait between Elcho Island and the mainland. Got the drone out to try and remember how to fly it, so here is a quick bit of footage. There will be 4 of us for the trip, Sal, I, Dave and Kai.

 

 Posted by at 4:03 pm



Jun 082024
 

stormy, wet season sky in the harbour.

…no see! I have been reluctant to update the blog because its all built on WordPress, which in hindsight was a big mistake because so many of the plug ins I used to built it are now broken and unsupported. This means I am running on a really old version of WordPress and an old version of PHP and sooner or later the whole site will break and no longer work!

I have been working with a friend who is a developer to try and find a solution but its taking longer than expected so I thought i would try to create a new post and at least see if it still works!

What I have also done is make a video featuring some of our photos since my last post so at least there is something to have a look at!

I dont want to add more photo galleries at this stage because thats one of the main things that cant be updated due to the plug in that creates them being out of date and unsupported.

We are off to Darwin in the yacht in mid-July, we are planning to sail direct to Darwin and then spend about 6 weeks there before having a slow cruise home, exploring more of the NT coast. Hopefully I will be able to add some posts from the trip.

 

 Posted by at 4:16 pm



Sep 262023
 

heading out on a smokey morning for a fish.

Alone – well sort of! Sal has gone down to NSW for a week or so for her Grandmother’s 90th, Kai is in Darwin for 2 weeks at trade school and Dave is over in Thailand getting some work on his teeth. I basically moved onto the boat last Wednesday, figuring I may as well be alone on the water as anywhere else! My solitude was interrupted by a surprise visit from my friend Suresh who is a ENT surgeon in Darwin and he was over in Gove doing some operations at our hospital. He ended up having a day off at the end of his week so he came out to the yacht and we spent the afternoon out in the tinny fishing, and then enjoyed sunset drinks on the boat before heading into the boat club for dinner. It was great to catch up and hopefully he will be back over before too long.

Friday I spent the day out in the tinny chasing Mackerel, went all the way out to Last Chance Shoal (about 20nm) and got nothing, cut back across to Mack Shoal…another 15nm….and got nothing, had a last troll over Bonner Shoal, only 7nm from home – and got one small mackerel! Better than nothing I guess.

Saturday I decided it was about time to see if I can sail Lumiel on my own, it’s not really set up for single handed sailing but I figure it should be possible. I managed to get off the mooring and sailing easily enough, so I thought I may as well make a weekend of it and sail up to Truant island (about 36nm North of here). It was a great day for sailing, about 15k-18k of Easterly wind so it was a broad reach all the way.

At some point I looked back to check the mackerel lines I was trolling and saw what I assumed was a massive mackerel skipping over the tops of the waves as I skull dragged it along at about 8k! By the time I got it to the. back of the boat I realised it was actually a billfish, turned out to be a small black marlin!! It’s the first one I have ever caught up here and totally unexpected on a hard bodied mackerel lure.

Anyway, it’s safely filleted and in the freezer now! I had some fresh for dinner, made marlin bites on a bed of twice cooked potato with onion & garlic all cooked in wine and butter. I mixed the chopped up marlin liver in with the potato & onion. It was very tasty!

The anchorage was a little bit rolly with the Easterly swell wrapping around the top of Truant, but not uncomfortable in the Cat, after a pleasant night I pulled anchor Sunday morning and had a fast if uneventful sail home!

This happened the weekend before, I got a text from Kai after he arrived in Darwin, said he was cooking breakfast for Ted & Mouse in Darwin, and he wanted to know how long to poach eggs for. I asked him what he was cooking and he nonchalantly told me he was knocking up Eggs Benedict for them! I gave him some quick tips for making the Hollandaise sauce, but it was by no means a recipe and it’s the first time he has made it!  To say I was impressed would be an understatement, one very proud dad.

 Posted by at 3:54 pm



Sep 122023
 

Mali

Picking up from the end of June – which is when I last posted on the blog! – we had a visit from friends Anna & her daughter Mali and they joined us on Lumiel for an afternoon, although we didn’t get out for a sail. I got busy in July and removed all the old anti skid that was peeling off and replaced it with nice new white anti skid. It ended up being a bit more of a mission than expected – boat work! – the gelcoat was pretty degraded under the old gel coat and I had to sand it all back then prime it with a couple of coats of epoxy before carefully cutting out new pieces from the sheets I had ordered. It did end up coming up pretty good and certainly makes the old girl look a lot better!

 

Mid July our dear friends Brian & Penny arrived for a visit, we didn’t have much boat time, but a great old catch up and lots of meals at Dave’s Beach Bar & Rick’s Bar & Grill! Brian continued the tradition of bringing an excellent bottle of rum for Mojitos on his annual visit!

The end of July, start of August led us into Garma time, and while we avoid the festival these days, its always nice to catch up with the old crew from the real Garmas in the early days. We had a lovely day sailing with the amazing Amy & her offsider, Ness, then Kade and Johhno joined us for drinks and dinner after the sail and a few days later we had a fantastic meal at the boat club with Chris & Biddy who invited some other very interesting people along. Finally we wrapped it up with a day of champagne sailing with Andrew and Di. The boat work for the month was making up new mooring bridles, a new skill learnt in splicing 8 strand plaited rope.

Mid August saw Sal & I in Darwin for a week or so, she had her annual check up with the oncologist and a few other appointments, everything went well and she got the all clear on everything. We stayed with our special friends, Putty & Sarah in their little hut in Nightcliff, looking over the Arafura sea. It was a magic time, lots of long chats, great meals and lazing around! We also caught up with Andrew & Di again on their way to Greece, at Hanumans with Putty & Sarah, Don Whyte & Belinda a couple of others as well as Kai who was in Darwin for trade school. I also picked up the VW Amarok I had bought in Melbourne earlier in the year, I dropped Sal at the airport and drove the ‘Rok home with a load of gear for various people in the tray!

So that brings us thru to September, Dave and I beached Lumiel to change out the port side sail drive prop shaft, we had developed a small water leak into the sail drive and we are hoping this will resolve it. We took the opportunity to scrape her bum and get rid of 9 months growth, very pleased with how she came up. This was promptly followed by a crabbing expedition with Scotty who is leaving town after 15 years, and Danny, a mate who manages the Boat club campground.

The last week the Blue Fin Tuna have been in the bay, Danny & Emma caught a few and gave me one which we enjoyed as sashimi, including on Saturday when we took friends of Sal’s from her work, Christian & Claudine out for a sail – it was Christian’s b’day so we had to lay it on a bit! Kai also caught a good one, so I dry cured that for gravlax.

That us pretty well up to date! I think the only other exciting news is that Sal has announced she is retiring in February next year, so the adventures should accelerate going forward!

remember to subscribe if you want email notifications of updates, and click on the ‘i‘ at the top of the galleries if you want to see the captions for the images.

 

 Posted by at 8:02 pm



Jun 202023
 

dolphins playing!

Mid June has not typically been a time of the year we do much boating, the SE trades are generally well set by then and the sea conditions will generally be less than pleasant. One of the advantages of now owning Lumiel, our 14.2m sailing catamaran, is its now viable to use a boat much more at this time of year and travel further afield. As Dave works shift work, 4 on, 4 off, his break between night shifts and dayshifts is effectively 5 days, so we planned a trip where his 5 days off lined up with the 5 days I dont do any NBN work, and last Thursday morning Dave came straight out to the yacht after he finished work and we set sail.

Conditions were better than we expected with a lighter 12-15k breeze, perfect for sailing North, so we set off and decided to just keep sailing and go all the way to Guruliya bay on the North side of Raragala Island in the Wessels group. It is about 72nm so we expected to get to the anchorage about 9pm. Although it was a moonless night we were not concerned as we have been into the bay previously so we have tracks to the anchorage and the actual anchorage saved as a waypoint.

sailing down Malay Roads

We sailed up and around Point William into Malay Roads, riding the flooding tide which helped carry us, then past Astell Island and across Donington Strait with the sails wing and wing, (headsail on one side and main on the other side with the wind directly behind us). We then went thru the pass between Bumaga and Jirrgari Islands, which we have named Stella Pass in honour of the beer we cracked at the time! Its quite a tricky passage, but with light winds, on neapy tides and near slack water its safe enough. We dropped the pick in Guruliya at 9:05pm so pretty well spot on when we had planned. It had been 13 hours of fantastic flat water sailing in perfect conditions, one of our nicer sails in Lumiel!

 

our anchorage at Guruliya

As you can see its a pretty pleasant scene to wake up to in the morning! We ended up spending 3 days anchored in Guruliya bay, we did plenty of exploring, a bit of unsuccessful fishing an plenty of relaxing and soaking up the beautiful splendour of this part of the world. I took less photos than I should have so this post is a bit light on in that regard! We of course enjoyed some lovely meals and tasty wines to help pass the time. Thanks to Starlink we were also able to watch the Super Rugby Semi Finals and the first Ashes test from Edgbaston!

We did find some stunning fresh water streams, they must be permanent spring fed creeks because the wet season runoff creeks have all dried up already. Very refreshing to bathe in on the nice warm sunny days!

Sunday morning we set off to sail back to Elizabeth bay with the plan being to spend the night there and then do the run home Monday morning to get back about lunchtime. Once again conditions were exceptional for mid-June, about 12k of SE breeze, mostly flat seas and blue skies! We had another spectacular sail down the back of the Wessels, a bit of a bumpy ride back thru Stella Pass and then a cracking sail across to the Western end of Inglis Island, and a bit of motor sailing along Inglis, into Malay Roads and across to Elizabeth Bay where we dropped the pick at about 5:15pm ready for a nice bottle of rose and some local pearl meat as an entree!

Monday morning was once again a beautiful calm start to the day, very light breeze, under 10k. We got under way after a couple of coffees and made our way round Point William and pointed Lumiel towards her home port and mooring, to our total surprise we were nearly able to lay Gove direct, had we wanted to we could have easily sailed the whole way home, with only a couple of small tacks, but Dave was keen to get back by lunchtime so he had a bit of time to organise stuff to start his day shifts the next day, so we decided to motor sail so we could get in a bit quicker.It was still extremely pleasant as the breeze stayed under 10k all morning and the sea was basically flat once we were clear of Cape Wilberforce. We picked up the mooring at 11:15am and so ended up what was certainly the best trip we have done on Lumiel since bringing her home in terms of amount of sailing and perfection of conditions! Absolutely terrific dry season cruising at its best, and a trip I am sure both Dave & I will not forget anytime soon.

Early morning light on cliffs of Point William

 

 Posted by at 7:54 pm



Apr 302023
 

Pearl Farm Jetty

After finally leaving Guruliya Bay we sailed down to Firefly Pass between Warnawi and Alger Island, went through the pass and then across Donington Sound to the West end of Inglis Island, along Inglis Island, thru Malay roads and back into Elizabeth Bay. I called up the Pearl Farm on the radio to let them know we were going to stay a few days and also asked if would be able to come over and have a look at the operations, as we have never gone ashore to have a look in all the years we have been coming past!

 

The darker colour is our track from Guruliya Bay to Elizabeth Bay and the red track is from Elizabeth Bay to home. We spent 3 days in Elizabeth Bay waiting for what we knew would be the best day for sailing back to Gove. On the second day we went over and had a grand tour of the Pearl Farm, its a fascinating business, firstly there is just the absolute remoteness of the location, only 25nm from Gove, but only accessible by boat or helicopter. At the height of their season there are about 40 workers on the farm and Diana, the manager, explained the whole process from spawning their own oysters, right through pearl seeding and harvesting. Since taking over the pearl farm from the previous owners, Clipper Pearls have spent a lot on new buildings and upgrading old ones.

They have quite a large Indonesian workforce as they also own pearl farms in Indo and so its a good source of experienced workers for them and a great opportunity for their workers to come to Australia, and earn extra money for their families. We were also able to buy a couple of kilos of pearl meat from them, which is very hard to get normally.

Cleaning the nets that protect the growing baby pearls on their frames.

We finally left Lizzy bay, yesterday, Saturday, and had a superb sail all the way home, I had not expected to be able to sail it in one tack, but the wind was more Easterly than predicted and we were able to lay Gove Harbour after coming out thru Malay Road and round Breakfast Island. We picked up the mooring in the late afternoon after nearly 3 weeks cruising the Arnhem Land coast, after tidying up a bit we headed into the boat club for a nice long hot shower and a nice scotch fillet for dinner! Its been an incredible trip, we battled a but with the wet weather in the middle but it was super fun and Sal has grown so much in her confidence and ability with all the systems on Lumiel. We are already looking forward to the next extended trip in the future!

 

 Posted by at 12:36 pm



Apr 252023
 

We have now been at Guruliya Bay for 6 days, this was never our plan – to spend nearly a week in one spot at the Wessel Islands, but the enormous surge in the wet season this year has put paid to the best laid plans of Rick & Sal! We had already had the wettest wet season on record by the middle of April, and now the last week has just been unrelenting.

We had some sun the first day we got here, since then it has just been wave after wave of storm fronts, typically with strong gusts in front of them (41 knots or 80kmh the strongest), and then driving rain. Every time we think it has cleared we get smashed an hour or so later!

The waterfalls in the picture above only flow when its raining heavily, its purely runoff from the large rocky ‘plain’ on the shoreline closest to us – we are only anchored about 150m off there and the roar when its full flow is incredible! Within 20 minutes of so of it stopping raining there is barely any water flow left! Anyway, that’s what it looks like most times I look out!

We decided to stay put here because its a superb anchorage, 360° protection from the wind and swell and fantastic holding, it also has some good fishing in the mangrove creeks at the head of the bay. The holding was definitely tested the night we had over 40k of wind, but she didn’t drag an inch. Also were we to move we would just be in a different spot in shit weather, with very little ability to do anything outside of the boat anyway.

So there is not a lot of interest to talk to you about! The fishing has been next to non existent due to the weather, the couple of chances we have had we had no success anyway. So there is a lot of Netflix & chill, reading, cooking, eating, and needless to say drinking! Thank god for Starlink!

 

 

Our anchorage (red curser is boat)

Here a few pics from the moments the sun was out!

One interesting find while the weather was good enough to do some exploring was some graves that a friend had told me about, they are just above the high tide mark and have been damaged by king tides to the extent that some of the bones are exposed. They are clearly human remains. It is not at all the way Yolngu treat their dead so I am pretty sure they are not Yolngu graves. The possible alternatives are probably, Macassan sailors shipwrecked, Japanese airforce crash victims from WW2, more survivors of the Patricia Cam sinking in WW2, Indonesian fishermen shipwrecked, white Australian victims of some sea/air tragedy.

The presence of a few middens of Dhumpala (mud mussels) suggests there were survivors, presumably who then buried the dead, the middens are scattered amongst the 6 or so graves which are marked by small collections of rocks and stones that have clearly been carried to the site as they are not present in the immediate area. Permanent fresh water for the dry season was not obvious to me, plenty of sources at the moment but I doubt any of it is spring fed and persisting into the dry so that would have been a serious issue for them. The creek in the bay would have provided the Dhumpa

la and other seafood. Nearly every bay up here has a little creek in it that could provide food to anyone with a bit of knowledge.

Anyway, for the time being the mystery remains, there are no obvious candidates in terms of missing people, shipwrecks or plane crashes and no evidence other than the graves and middens that I can find.

I am not going to post any photos as it feels a little….disrespectful in the circumstances.

So here are some more photos, of the moments when we felt inspired enough to take any!

Our plans our now to spend another day sitting here in the rain, and then tomorrow we will make our way back down to Elizabeth Bay and hang there for a couple of days waiting for a window of weather to go from there to home. Its looking like that will eventuate Friday or Saturday. This will probably end up being a week less than we thought we might be away, but the persistent poor weather and the likelihood of favourable conditions later this week to sail home have somewhat forced our hands. Also not sure I have enough coffee on board to last another week without rationing!

I will close with a video of the waterfall, you can see this is at a lower tide than the photo at the start of this post, the tide here is about 3.5m range so it makes a big difference.

 

 

 Posted by at 10:22 am



Apr 192023
 

We left Astell Island and motored across the top of Inglis Island and then down Pera Channel into the top of Arnhem bay and an area called Yalakun Sound. It has a river called Slippery’s that is a renowned barra fishing creek and our intention was to spend a couple of days here working it out and hopefully catch a barra or 2!

No wind again so it was an afternoon of pleasant motoring in light conditions and the flooding tide carrying us down into the bay.

 

Astell to Slippery’s

It was a wild and stormy night the first night, we had massive lightening & thunder storms all around us, but luckily not over us and only light rain. We woke to the realisation that there was a massive weather event over Gove and it was being absolutely pounded – while we had clear weather here. It didn’t rain again here and Nhulunbuy ended up with over 300mm for the 36hrs or so it lasted! We were so lucky to avoid it all by being far enough west.

I went for a flick along the rockbars near the entrance to Yalakun Sound in the morning and was amazed to come around the point and find another tinny sitting there flicking lures! I was a friend from home, Morgs and he had come around from Nhulunbuy early in the morning. He was equally surprised to see me! Anyway it turned out to be a blessing, he is a really good fisherman and knows the area very well, so he basically coached Sal & I into exactly the right spots at the right time to catch some barra and without his help I am not sure I wold have worked the system out and caught fish.

Morgs ended up joining us for dinner and sleeping on the boat with us, I think not having to sleep in his tinny in the creek and the offer of a coffee in the morning sold him!

Sal with the first barra of the day. (& biggest)

Exploring Slippery’s

Morgs trying for a barra on saltwater fly gear, an art way beyond my skill level!

There were plenty of crocs in the system, including this cheeky little guy in one of the gutters we were fishing!

For dinner we had crispy skin barra with rice, i forgot to take any pics so you will just have to imagine how good it looked!

The entree was some trevally I had caught earlier in the day, dry cured served in coconut cream with curry leaf oil and finger lime. It was inspired by a similar dish we had at Ellas by Manoli in Darwin recently, a Sri Lankan restaurant.

entree

Morgan spent another night on Lumiel with us and then headed off back towards Nhulunbuy, we pulled anchor and headed North to the Wessel Islands where we will spend most of the rest of our time away.

 

 Posted by at 11:07 am



Apr 152023
 

Motoring past Cotton Island

After a couple of days in Elizabeth Bay we motored around to the western side of Astell Island, we have never explored this island and it has a couple of nice anchorages on the western side that offer a good haven in the dry season. The more southern bay in particular is good as it has a lovely gently shoaling beach that can be used to beach catamarans on to clean hulls etc. So we decided to go across and spend a couple of days checking the area out.

Just before we pulled anchor in Elizabeth Bay, the resident Lemon Shark, Bruce, turned up, so he got a feed of freshly caught whiting I had got in the cast net, for breakfast!

Sal got some video footage,

The run across to Astell Island we were once again without wind, but the current through Malay roads is pretty impressive, these were by no means spring tides but we were doing up to 10.1 knots over the ground at only 5.4 knots thru the water – so over 4.5 knots current with us!

A little video of us motoring down Malay Roads

We have had a very pleasant and relaxing couple of days here, I found a lovely little spring fed creek on the beach that has a shaded pool to bathe in and its a very pretty anchorage.

Yesterday we explored the other bays and found this little guy!

I went and spent a bit of time in a small mangrove creek this afternoon and while i didnt catch any fish, I did get a nice muddie, so that is dinner sorted!

Mr Pinchy!

Tomorrow we will head down to Arnhem Bay for the next episode in our trip!

 Posted by at 4:44 pm



Apr 122023
 

the view on the mooring!

So Sal has a months long service leave and I have taken about 6 weeks off too, today we have headed out on the yacht, not sure where we are going, not sure for how long, let the journey begin!

It was a bit of a dramatic day in the end, Sal & I loaded up the tinny with supplies for a month and headed out to the boat club, we could see a decent strom coming, but realised we had time to launch the tinny, get to Lumiel, unload all the provisions and organise stuff before the storm hit. 

storm incoming!

This proved to be correct and we sat out an hour or so of rain with some decent lightning & thunder passing just to the south of us. Once it cleared we dropped the mooring and headed north, there was basically no wind so it was to be an afternoon of motoring. Given that we only got underway about 11:30 I decided just to run up to Elizabeth Bay for our first night, a run of about 25nm into the anchorage.

Everything went perfectly well until we got past Cape Wilberforce, and were rounding Point William in the narrow channel between it and the un-named island. The ebb tide was running pretty hard by now as it was about half tide and we were pushing about 2-3k of tide, suddenly the port engine changed exhaust note, I looked over the side and there was no raw cooling water coming out of the exhaust.

I quickly shut down the engine before it overheated and we had to push on thru the rest of the channel on just one engine, but while it was slower, it was not an issue, we just made our way slowly into the anchorage and dropped the pick.

Elizabeth Bay

Once the engine cooled down I went to see if I could work out what had happened, I found the raw water discharge hose blown off the fitting on the head of the heat exchanger! Inside the manifold I could see pieces of rubber from the raw water impeller.

I realised I had to remove the head to clean all the rubber out properly, it must have back pressured the pump and that caused the hose to eventually blow off. I did all of that and refitted the hex head, its not hard, all easily accessible at the top of the engine. 

end of the hex with manifold removed, bit of scaling but thats where all the rubber was sitting.

The next step was to replace the raw water pump impeller, that is a shit of job, I had to take the alternator off first and its all tucked away low on the outside of the engine and difficult to see and access, but to my amazement when I finally got to the impeller, having removed the cover on the pump, it was in perfect condition!

raw water pump impeller

We got the old impeller replaced when we had the engine out of the boat last November, so I was a bit surprised it should have failed, what actually appears to have happened is that at some time in the past the impeller failed, and someone has just replaced it without removing the hex head and finding all the little bits of the old impeller! 

All the rubber and scale i removed.

Anyway, much better news than it might have been, and I just put the cover back on the pump and put everything back together, just have to put the alternator back on tomorrow morning.

Now I am just sitting in the dark, having a cup of tea, while a few dolphins swim around the boat – i cant see them but I can hear them exhaling when they surface! 

 Posted by at 9:04 pm



Mar 132023
 

After nearly 1 month of rain and cloudy weather, we finally had a fine, clear, blue sky day. It was basically calm all day so sailing was out of the list of things to do, so it was hook up Dave’s boat and head out for a bottom fish. We ran up to Miller Island on the end of the English Company Islands and fished some marks we have up there, we cleaned up and stopped fishing by about 11am!

A nice swim on the beach at Miller Island and some lunch before heading home. Sal killed it, she got two stonking Golden Snapper and a big Red Emperor. I got 4 pan sized Nannagai.

Definitely one of our better days fishing! We then had crispy skin Golden Snapper for dinner and our friend Cheryl who is up for a visit to Gove, joined us for the feast!

 Posted by at 10:03 am



Jan 292023
 

on our way!

Back again to Australian’s Bay in the Wessels, with the public holiday falling on a Thursday it meant Sal had a 4 day weekend so we packed up and headed off in Lumiel. The prevailing conditions suggested it would be better to head North, we started motoring as conditions were far too light to sail. In the end I only got the headsail unfurled for about 15 minutes all day – when we had a very brief puff of breeze and I was able to motorsail – for about 10 minutes!

We did catch a nice mackerel trolling on the way up, it went 1.05m!

1.05m mackerel

Based on the winds and tides we decided the best option would be just to motor to Australian’s bay and we arrived there just on sunset and dropped anchor in the northern end of the bay.

The next morning I went to the beach to chase some bait with my cast net, I didn’t have any luck, but did manage to find a luckless mud crab shuffling in the shallows, it met my spear and went in the esky! I also found a beautiful fresh water creek, I am not sure how we had missed it in our other trips to this spot, but I guess it just shows its worth going back to these anchorages in the Wessel Islands and continuing to explore!

In the middle of the day Sal and I went in the tinny to traverse Cumberland Strait thru to Hopeful Bay on the other side of Marchinbar Island. Its named for Matthew Flinder’s ship the Cumberland, the ship he spent his last night in Australia, in this bay before tackling the strait and heading to Timor. Quite appropriate exploration on our part at this time! We have been through a couple of times in our old boat, but it had the potential to push against a lot of tide which we cant do in Lumiel. So the purpose of traversing the strait in the tinny was to determine the exact time of slack water relative to Gove tide times and plot a course that would be safe.

I am also in the middle of reading Ernestine Hill’s novel, “My Love Must Wait” based on Matthew Flinders life, its quite surreal to be reading it in this very bay  where he was anchored 150 odd years ago.

An added benefit was that it was spring tides, some of the biggest of the year so the current would be as strong as we should ever encounter. Even in dead calm conditions its a scary piece of water, the current has been measured at 11 knots! there are tidal overfalls of up to 3m and whirlpools to negotiate. The start of the narrowest part of the strait is 115m deep, a bit further in its 12m!!

Cumberland strait

The two routes shown in the picture are the Southern one taken from the Australian Pilot, which I am very dubious about as we would have had to cross pretty severe tidal overfalls to follow it, and the Northern track which is the one we have used in the old boat, and is recommended by John Knight in this NT Coast cruising guide.

We ended up getting to the passage a bit early and we went from going slowly forward in the tinny at 7k, down to 0k as we approached the narrow part of the channel! We played around for about 1/2h until we were able to motor thru without much current against us, ideally in the yacht we would like the tide to have just turned and being running with us a little bit. (too much and you lose steerage).

We then spent an about 1/2h exploring Hopeful Bay and having a swim before heading back thru the strait in the other direction. It actually ended up being a bit inconclusive and I couldn’t be certain of when exactly slack water was because it seemed like the tide was running in both directions and meeting in the middle! I am comfortable that it would be safe to traverse from time of high tide at Gove and up to about 30m after.

Otherwise its been a pretty quiet time, we have had quite a few rainy periods so we have been confined to quarters, but there are always little jobs to do, books to read and now with Starlink, we have internet where ever we are and can watch stuff – today while its been raining I have been watching the Rugby 7’s in Sydney!

This morning, between showers I took Sal into to show her the spring fed I had found yesterday and we had a lovely swim. I walked upstream a bit further to see if there were more swimming holes and nearly stepped on a water monitor lying on the bottom of the creek!

We set off for home at 07:30h on Sunday morning, a beautiful morning with a cool breeze and a promise of perhaps a motor sail at least, as we cleared the bay it set at about 8k from the NE so we unfurled the code 0 and motor sailed at about 6.5k on a flat sea.

motor sailing home

We managed to keep the sail up the whole way home – but to be honest, the engines were running too! All in all a very pleasant 4 days, and a serenade of dolphins to take us home!

 Posted by at 4:58 pm



Dec 312022
 

This year we decided to head South for our annual end of year trip away on our boat. Firstly, now that we have Lumiel it obviously opens up a much greater range of locations for us, also we had a longer break than usual because we were able to get away a few days earlier than usual and finally given the weather predictions it made more sense to head South rather than our usual end of year destination, the Wessel Islands to the north.

Our loose plan was to make our way down the coast and end up down at the northern end of Groote Island, specifically the North East Islands.

We spent the Friday night on the boat in the harbour and set off Saturday morning, we sailed down past Nhulunbuy and Yirrkala, rounded Cape Arnhem and sailed down the coast to the southern side of Port Bradshaw to a lovely little sheltered bay we have previously visited and picked as an excellent anchorage. We call it Snogga’s Bay in memory of Kai’s Rugby coach, as we spent an afternoon there on the end of season fishing trip for the team which took place just before Snogga died.

Sunday we decided to head down to 3 Hummocks and anchor for the night, this is another place we have visited on day trips, its beautiful snorkelling and has 2 of the islands joined by a sand spit. We caught a stonking mackerel on the sail over to the islands and then Kai spent a couple of hours snorkelling around the islands and picked up a nice coral trout.

It turned out to be a less than perfect anchorage, we were anchored in the channel in the middle of the islands and the current was quite strong, which made us hang stern to wind most of the night, regardless of whether the tide was ebbing or flooding! Anyway it was ok, but its certainly not the best anchorage for a good nights sleep!

Monday we pulled anchor and headed down to a spot we have never visited, but had heard good things about, 6 Islands Bay which is on the Northern side of Bukudal community where I have visited and stayed a number of times by road, but I had never been taken over to 6 Islands Bay. Its certainly a stunning landscape, there are more than 6 islands and its got a bit of everything, fresh water, sand dunes, long beaches, rocky outcrops and coral.

The absolute highlight was Tuesday morning when Kai & I jumped in the tinny to have an explore and we had barely left Lumiel when we came across a pod of pygmy killer whales, we raced back to pick up Sal & my phone to film them and then spent about 15 minutes with them as they swam thru the bay we were anchored in, around Lumiel and then out heading South along the coast. One of the females had a big mackerel in her mouth, we assume she was going to use it to play with the babies and teach them about hunting.

Unfortunately this was to be our last destination on this trip, with the benefit of our Starlink satellite internet we were able to see that there was a severe monsoon trough developing, it was being intensified by the remnants of the small cyclone from last week near Darwin – the tropicl low was moving slowly towards Katherine. Extreme rainfall and gale force winds were being predicted for later in the week, and while I was confident we would find a safe and good anchorage on Groote Island to sit it out if it were as bad as predicted, it didn’t sound like we would be able to do much if it were just raining the whole time. It would make diving untenable, which is one of the main attractions of the North East Islands. The other risk was the weather might prove to be pretty nasty towards the end of the week when we would need to head home for Sal & Kai to start work in the new year. Basically the time we would need to head home would have been when the worst weather was predicted.

So with much disappointment we decided to hoist sails and just run for home, we had about 85nm to get home which meant if we went direct we would get in on the early hours of Wednesday morning, we also gave ourselves the option of stopping overnight and breaking the trip up if we decided that was a better option.

As it turned out the decision was a good one, we had a nice fresh easterly for the first couple of hours, (totally unpredicted!), then a couple of big storms to the west of us generated a fresh westerly wind (also unpredicted!), the edge of the storm caught us and we had about 30k for 10 or 15 minutes but luckily we had already furled the screecher so we just bore off under full main and once it passed the wind dropped progressively until we were forced to motor sail.

We could see on the rain radar that the rain was thinning out ahead of us and we would likely not get anymore rain if we just kept going, and we had some breeze to motorsail so we decided to keep going for home. Again the Starlink service is invaluable in being able to see the rain radar and whats happening with the storms.

What would have been an uneventful trip home was then made a little stressful with some engine issues. It was after dark and we had already rounded Cape Arnhem and were headed along the coast towards the passage between Bremmer Island and the mainland – a narrow tidal passage that we needed both the tide with us and the engines to motor sail thru there as the wind always blows thru the passage which would create a head wind.

Firstly the Port engine started playing up, running roughly, dropping 500rpm every minute or so, then back up to running revs, then dropping again. After a while it just stalled and although I could restart it, the same problem continued. I could find nothing wrong, all the filters are brand new, no alarms, it seemed to be a fuel issue as nothing else really causes these sort of symptoms but I could find nothing. Anyway, all good, we just continued motor sailing with one engine, which we often do anyway so that was not an issue.

But just as we were getting close to the passage, the Starboard engine just stopped, no warning, no alarms, just went from 2000rpm running sweet as, to totally not running! I quickly tried restarting, but it just cranked without firing.

With no engines we could not risk trying to sail thru the passage between Bremmer & the Mainland so we changed course, pulled out the headsail and satrted sailing to go right around Bremmer, which would have added probably 4 hours to the trip.

I then tried to see what had gone wrong with the Starboard engine, but again no alarms, nothing obviously wrong, not hot, nothing to suggest a problem. So I tried to restart it again and it fired straight away and ran perfectly!! So we furled the headsail again and changed course back for the passage. A bit later whike we were in the passage I realised the tide was no longer with us and so I thought I would try the Port engine again, it fired up straight away and also ran faultlessly!

So we were back to both engines working perfectly, they continued to for the rest of the trip home and we picked up the mooring about 02:30h

Our decision to return early has been vindicated with lots of rain and wind since we got home, really we have been very lucky over all the years we have been going away for the end of year trip, and this is the first time where we have had really bad weather in that time. (excluding the storm that we lost our tinny in a few years ago, but that was a one off storm.)

 Posted by at 12:27 pm



Dec 102022
 

sunset drinks on the foredeck

Having finished tidying up and finishing up a few jobs after our 2 weeks on the hard, Dave and I decided to head out for a few days to put Lumiel through her paces. We had light ENE winds on tuesday morning and so we decided to head north, up past the end of the Brombies, outside Miller Island and across to Australian’s Bay on Marchinbar Island in the Wessels group.

We had a slightly frustrating day of motoring, then motor sailing, motoring again and finally the last hour or so, a nice sail as the wind increased to a sailable strength. The joys of sailing in the build-up!

The sail drives performed perfectly, the new props are giving us fantastic drive, easily doing 7.5-8k at just under 2000 rpm, so its nice to have some confidence in the engines and propulsion again. We still have an annoying oil leak in the port engine, we should have done more to try to find and fix it when the engine was out but the time pressure to get the work done meant we didnt. That shortcut is something we will probably come to regret when we are bent like a contorted pretzel in the engine room trying to find and fix it!

We had a very relaxing few days in the bay, we only took the deflatable tender so we didnt do any fishing, but I had a spearfish without much luck, we got a big claw off a mudcrab that was walking in the shallows, and a squid off the back of the boat. The muddie lived to fight another day as all I had was an oar in the deflatable to hold him down with, he dropped a claw and then we lost him in the stirred up cloudy water. Still the claw was a nice entree.

We found a lovely Stimsons Python in one of the caves while looking for rock art. They are a variant of the Children’s Python.

We spent a day with a visitor in the bay, we were on the beach looking at the plaque commemorating Matthew Flinder’s visit here on his last night in Australia, and this 50m ship came around the point and into the bay, dropping anchor beside us – turned out it was the True North, the small high end cruise ship that mainly operates in the Kimberly. She was doing some Wessel trips this year on voyage between Darwin & Cairns. They were very friendly and actually asked if we minded sharing the anchorage with them. As we pointed out its not our anchorage, they also asked if we needed anything, I was too slow to suggest a scenic flight around the Wessel Islands in their chopper!

True North

We had to head home Friday morning as Dave had work starting on Saturday, we set off at 5:20 to get home early afternoon, unfortunately there was basically not a breath of wind all day so we had to motor all the way, but I guess it was a good test of the engines and drives! We averaged about 7.5 knots, got home and picked up the mooring at 12:30 so 7h 10m to cover the 54nm

All up 108nm round trip, combined engine hours of 37h, used about 75L of fuel so 2L per hour. Because some of it was motor sailing and some is just running an engine during the day to make hot water and top up batteries, its hard to work out the litres per nautical mile, but it would be around 1L/nm.

 Posted by at 12:38 pm



Dec 012022
 

on the trailer

We have finally been able to haul out to replace our port sail drive and change out the propeller shaft on the starboard saildrive. The plan was to pull the port engine and saildrive out, tidy up the engine, heli-coil the threads on the bell housing, service and then reinstall with the reconditioned 2nd hand sail drive we bought from Cap Coast Marine in Yeppoon (shout out to Kelly & Josh). We were also planning to pull the prop shaft out of the old port sail drive and replace the broken one on the starboard side.

Other planned work was 4 new skin fittings and moving the paddle wheel log from under the front bunk to under the front cabin floor for easier access, and a full clean and anti foul.

Of course like always with boats, its not quite gone to plan! When we went to remove the sail drive, 2 of the mounting bolts to mount where it goes thru the hull, broke. Without going into all the gruesome details, that was a long and arduous job on Dave’s behalf to finally be able to remove the two broken bolts without having to carry out open heart surgery on the fibreglass mount.

Then we broke the port propeller shaft trying to get the locknut off that holds the prop in place, so we could no longer use it in the starboard sail drive as originally planned. Luckily I thought of getting the broken shaft machined to insert a 16mm thread in the end of it so it would be functional again. We called on the services of a friend, Tommy Niven, who also happens to be a very talented machinist and he threw it in his lathe and had it fixed within a couple of hours!

Next we picked up the engine from the machine shop and when Dave went to put studs in the bell housing, he found that they had not drilled the holes out straight when they fitted the heli-coils, so we had to load it back in the ute and take it back to the machine shop.

Jobs that so far have gone to plan has been the water blasting to prep the hull for anti fouling and the fitting of the new thru hull skin fittings.

Well after a long hard weekend Lumiel has fresh anti-fouling, I put two coats on the waterline and leading edges, as well as a coat above the water line all by brush. Then I rolled on 2 coats over everything – so most of the hull has 2 coats and the high wear areas have 4. It was bloody hard work on my own, 35º and about 90% humidity, and because the anti fouling paint is so thick its physically hard work as well. Anyway, all done now and we only have the port engine to reinstall and we should be pretty well ready to go back in the water. We have been out for 2 weeks tomorrow, which is how long we expected everything to take allowing for a few hiccups.

So today was the day to put the port engine back in, we picked it up from Darkys Mechanical in the morning and then after fitting the new engine mounts we winched it up on the boom and manoeuvred it back into the engine room. Its a huge plus with the Bahia that we can use the boom to winch the engine and saildrive in an out with it, we have a huge 24v right angle drive, milwaukee drill modified to work as an electric winch handle that makes the job easier, but its still a pain in the arse to line up the engine and saildrive in the engine room, Dave the contortionist diesel fitter did all the hard work while I offered useless advice, something i have had years of practice at. Anyway, by the end of the day, the engine was back in, coupled up to the saildrive and one more day of fitting all the ancillary equipment should see us afloat again on wednesday morning.

As predicted we were back in the water Wednesday morning, it was a very exciting moment to be back afloat again and we had no real issues, just a couple of adjustments. It was a great feeling to have 2 engines and saildrives fully operational again!

We ended up being out for 2 weeks and 2 days, which was pretty close to our goal of 2 weeks, especially considering some of the issues we ran into!

 

 Posted by at 11:53 am



Oct 162022
 
Lumiel on the mooring

Lumiel on the mooring

Sal & I had a lovely time sailing up to Truant Island for a few days, we were blessed with the weather, a fresh South Easterly to sail up there on the Friday morning and then a light North Easterly from coming home on the Sunday. It was a bit too light at first and we had to motor sail for the first hour or so until it freshened a little.

Truant is one of our favourite spots, because its well offshore, about 32nm North of Gove harbour, it tends to have very clear water and there is lots of beautiful coral reef around the island to snorkel and spearfish on as well as lovely white beaches.

We caught a nice mackerel trolling on the way up so we had fresh fish and we really just had a very relaxing few days lazing about, swimming, sun baking, exploring in the tinny, fishing and snorkelling.

I found the track of a small croc which had come up the beach overnight and gone into a freshwater lagoon behind the beach, a reminder that even this far offshore they are around. Lots of turtle tracks from the nesting season too.

My highlight was going in to the beach where we were anchored at low tide to look for oysters on the rocks, there werent really any decent sized oysters and I walked back out to the tinny and climbed in, just as I was about to pull the anchor in to head back to Lumiel (50m away), a pair of big Giant Trevally swam past, followed by a reef shark.

In a moment of madness that I almost instantly regretted, I grabbed the nearest rod, my little light weight flick stick with a calcutter 100 and a little slice for throwing at tuna. I sight cast the slice in front of the leading Giant Trevally – who immediately inhaled it!

Now I had a big GT hooked up, on light gear, in about 1m of water, anchored so i couldnt move to deeper water, surrounded by reef and with a shark to add spice to the chase. There were a few instantly obvious scenarios, in typical GT style, he could peel off enough line to cut me off on the reef, he could just set sail for the horizon and spool me, the shark could attack and chaos ensue, or the line would break as I increased the drag to sunset on the little reel.

Amazingly not of these scenarios played out, instead he pretty much stayed over the sand and while he fought hard for 10 minutes or so, I finally got him to the boat and lip gaffed him so I could release him. While I was battling the GT I had hooked up, its mate behaved in typical GT style – it swam over to the tinny and swum around under the boat the whole time. Part of the reason that I released the one I hooked.

I was yelling and carrying on like a pork chop during the battle and eventually Sal came up on deck to see what all the fuss was about so she caught the last couple of minutes on video.

All in all a fantastic weekend, great sailing, we didn’t break anything and it was lovely just the two of us having the island to ourselves for a few days. Of course we also enjoyed some delicious meals

The sail home was made all the more special by a small pod of dolphins joining us and playing in the bow waves.

 Posted by at 11:28 am  Tagged with:



May 122022
 
IMG_4624

about to leave restoration island

we sailed off the anchor at about 06:10h and headed north on our route to Cape York, i had created a route with all the required waypoints to follow all the way up the inner reef shipping channel, across the top of cape york, thru endeavour strait and into the start of the gulf of carpentaria. we had a lovely sail with steady breeze from the south east of 15-20k all day and thru the night. we had to time the run to take advantage of the strong tidal currents around torres strait and avoid having to sail against them. this was definitely the trickiest part of the remaining trip with no engine power if we got in trouble. luckily the strength and direction, of the wind meant we were able to maintain good boat speed and not worry about it.

as we headed north towards the end of the first day, right on dusk, i caught another nice spanish mackerel, my 3rd for the trip, and the only ones caught on the boat – i must win the inaugural lumiel fishing comp i think!

it was a busy night on watch as many of the legs on the edge of the shipping channel were short and the changes in direction required frequent gybes, so it was with great relief that we rounded cape york at dawn and slipped down and out thru endeavour strait and by late morning we were in the gulf of carpentaria with about 310nm to home! 

that afternoon the breeze dropped out to very light and we struggled to sail at anything over 4k, which was frustrating as it was much less than forecast. then suddenly near dusk it sprung up and just kept increasing – until about 9pm on sal’s watch we were flying along with 30k gale and very confused and wild seas. 

i reduced sail until we just had a tiny bit of headsail out and we just slowed her right down got her comfortable and spent a long, tough night bouncing our way into the gulf slowly.

today,tuesday, we waited till dawn then put some more sail out and cracked on, breeze still around 20k and a big swell, straight down wind so surfing and sailing!

wednesday was another mixed bag, becalmed at times, 25k at other, rain squalls, but we steadily ticked off the miles towards gove and thursday morning at sunrise we were abeam of nhulunbuy and then sailed in between wirawawoi and bremer island towards gove harbour. the last few miles was a hard slog as a 15k south easterly sprung up and we had to tack all the way into the boat club anchorage.

at 11am, and after 1810.74 nautical miles and 2 months we were finally home with lumiel!

the joy of arrival was tempered with the devastating news of the passing of my malu, just the day before i got home, here is my tweet as we sailed into gove harbour.

“My happiness with arriving home is offset by the tragic news that my malu, (father), D. Gurruwiwi has passed. Arnhem Land & the world will mourn the loss of the Galpu clan leader, Yidaki master, husband to Dhopiya, father of many and an inspiration to all. Nharma yalala, malu.”

 Posted by at 4:02 pm



May 122022
 
lizard island

lizard island

 

next off we headed out to lizard island, another famous place in cook’s trials and tribulations. its here he climbed to the 380m peak and was able to at last see a passage out of the great barrier reef, a passage he named providence passage. so again dave and i climbed in cook’s footsteps to the peak, thankfully he had painted white arrows and carved steps in the steeper parts of the track which made it a bit easier.

 

lizard is also home to a very exclusive resort, so cook would have had somewhere nice to have a beer after the climb. its a stunning island, one of the prettiest on the queensland coast, 2 very safe anchorages to suit all conditions, lovely white beaches, stunning coral and fish life and stunning scenery. we only really had time for 2 nights and a full day, we easily could have spent a week or so here. all the outer ribbon reefs are close by too and places like the cod hole so there is plenty to occupy the time. anyway, we have to press on in order to get home when planned so we are off again tomorrow headed to cape melville.

Conditions were so favourable we decided to sail on thru the night and head all the way to restoration island, home of david glasheen for the last 30 years, named by bligh after he made landfall in his dingy having sailed from tonga after being thrown adrift following the mutiny on the bounty. it was as we made landfall ourselves that a tragedy befitting the great mariners of the past became apparent, we started the engines to motor in and drop anchor and discovered we had no drive from either engine! 

we managed to sail in close enough to drop anchor and assess the situation, a quick dive over the side into the crocodilian waters revealed the starboard propeller was gone, worse still the thread on the end of the shaft for the lock nut had been sheared off. we can only assume we hit a lump of semi submerged timber with the prop and it was torn off. so the spare props we have were of no use.

things then got worse when dave checked the port engine, me having confirmed we at least still had that prop intact. the sail drive had come apart from the flywheel housing on the back of the engine, disconnecting the drive from the engine. we knew these threads were in poor shape from the work we did on this sail drive in brisbane, but this was an unexpected disaster. presumably the sail drive on the port side had also taken a severe bump from something in the water, forcing the separation. 

our initial belief was that neither side would we be able to repair an engine and saildrive to working condition, leaving us just with sail for propulsion. this seemed a totally untenable situation so our thoughts turned to trying to arrange a tow back to cairns so that we could haul the boat out and fix these issues. aside from the potential expense, the thought of being towed hundreds of miles south, against the tradewinds and then trying to organise everything in cairns was depressing to say the least.

we went ashore and met dave glasheen, we had an introduction from our mutual friend bruce davey, owner of wildcard and i had emailed dave to let him know we were headed his way. after telling dave our woes he suggested we talk to the skipper of a prawn trawler, cape moreton, that was also anchored in the bay as he might offer to tow us or know someone who could. 

we borrowed dave’s tinny to try to tow lumiel to a better anchorage, more out of the swell and closer to the beach. we had some success, but dave’s tinny was just too small to manoeuvre us where we really wanted to be

later in the day when phil, the skipper woke up, we had a brief chat about our dilemma and he said he might be able to help, but he wouldn’t be heading to cairns for a couple of weeks. exhausted after our long overnight sail and all the dramas upon our arrival we had probably a couple too many wines and collapsed into bed!

 

the next morning brought good news on two fronts, further investigation by dave had revealed that the port engine was not as badly damaged as he had initially thought and that maybe it would be feasible to get it back together and available for emergency use only. the second part was that meanwhile i had studied the charts and realised we only had about 160 miles to go and we would be round cape york and in the gulf of carpentaria. this meant we could consider the possibility of setting sail, with the port motor in emergency use mode, and we only had a bit over 24 hours sailing, with the south east trades behind us, and we would be in the gulf and just 2 or 3 days sailing in open waters to be home.

so that became our focus, work out the tides, currents, times, speeds and routing to safely sail up the rest of the queensland coast, round cape york and into the gulf and home in one go. it would be around 4-5 days total non stop, but easy going once we were in the gulf and save an enormous amount of expense and logistical problems with a tow back south.

that morning we saw a jet ski and big tinny arrive from portland roads and land at dave’s house so we went ashore to see if they might help us move lumiel to where we wanted to be anchored so that the boat was sitting in calm waters while dave did all the work on the engine and sail drive. jason and katey were the owners of the jetski and boat and had bought 2 couples staying in their guest house in portland roads, over to the island for breakfast on the island with dave. they were cooking up a feed for everyone on the biggest paella pan i have ever seen, over an open fire! it was an impressive bit of bush cooking.

jason was more than happy to help us move, so we quickly had lumiel anchored in the best possible location, the middle of the channel between the beach on restoration island and the mainland.

we spent a lazy day with dave today, roasted a chook in the morning and took it in for lunch. sal and i took our heavy screecher in and got the twists out of it and re-rolled it, the sail had got tangled up on our trip up from lizard. sal also mowed some of the ‘lawn ‘ around dave’s house, otherwise we just hung around talking, eating and drinking a little wine. our departure for the run home is in the morning and we returned to the boat late afternoon to discover the 240v inverter has died now! keeps tripping on a high temp alarm as soon as it starts so that is the end of the coffee machine! 

 

 Posted by at 3:49 pm



May 122022
 
hope island

hope island

after port douglas we decided to head north to hope island, a local yachty in port douglas had told us it was one of his favourite anchorages on the east coast, its a small island with a large surrounding reef, the snorkelling is very good and the little island very pretty. we managed to pick up a mooring as we were once again the only boat there! i had some reasonable success with the spear gun so fresh fish tacos were on the menu! it was a peaceful couple of days, swimming on the beach on the island, snorkelling, fishing and generally relaxing. sadly the weather wasn’t the best with frequent showers, particularly at night.

hope island

hope island

the trip from port douglas to hope island took us past cape tribulation – my home nearly 50 years ago, it was a sentimental moment for me, so many happy memories from so long ago. i had been back by road, but seeing it from the sea was special. 

so the rain continued and the move further north from the hope islands to cooktown did nothing to help clear it up! we did have a rollicking sail up, 20-25k south easterly with a rolliing sea, so at least lance and cheryl got to enjoy a day of champagne sailing. we were fortunate in being able to tie up to the fuel jetty at cooktown and stay there for the 3 days. 

they say cooktown is the windiest place in australia, and it certainly reinforced its reputation while we were there, along with frequent and heavy rain storms. 

for me it was a very humbling experience, to follow in the sails of two of the world’s greatest navigators and seamen, cook on the endeavour and slocum on the spray, they both visited cooktown – cook to repair the endevour after she had run aground on the reef and slocum during his solo circumnavigation. 

cooktown from cook's lookout

cooktown from cook’s lookout

dave & i walked up to the top of cook’s lookout above the harbour, where he tried to make sense of the labyrinth of reefs and foul ground to plot a course out of the reef. we also visited the museum which has a canon and an anchor recovered from the reef where endevour ran aground, they were dumped to lighten the boat in an attempt to float her off.

for sal revisiting cooktown was very nostalgic, she had lived here nearly 40 years ago as a young woman, helping to build a house with her boyfriend, rakam, and his parents. she was able to catch up with all of them and revisit the house. 

its a funny sort of place, and the weather made it hard to really enjoy it. I am reminded again, that while we live in an extremely remote place, its much more cosmopolitan and sophisticated than most similar sized places in rural and regional australia. cooktown just felt really backward, little things like a number of businesses that didn’t have eftpos, a post office/comm bank that couldn’t change money, a lot of closed businesses and a general feeling that life was pretty tough for a lot of people. 

overall i enjoyed the few days there and i am glad we stopped there, we had a couple of nice meals and it has always been somewhere i wanted to visit for its vital part in australia’s white history. the bonus was i helped a trawler tie up on the public wharf and scored a box of huge U10 tiger prawns from the skipper, rob, so that was much appreciated.

we also met a couple sailing on another fountaine pajot, theirs was an athena which is the 38’ model, but built around the same time and very much a smaller model of ours, so it was fun to have a look over her.

fountaine pajot athena in cooktown

fountaine pajot athena in cooktown

lance and cheryl also left us in cooktown, so its back to just the 3 of us for the rest of the trip! it was fabulous having them with us and i think great for sal to have some female company! we will miss them.

IMG_4503

the main street of cooktown, 7:30pm saturday!

 Posted by at 3:24 pm