How many people get to live their dreams? I am..........!

This is my story from the time when Capt'n John and I first decided to sail around the big block, to circumnavigate this great land of ours, AUSTRALIA.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Elcho Island

Wednesday 24th October 2012
Elcho Island
Passage to Elcho Island
11’56.801S – 135’39.484E
sunrise at Guruliya Bay 
natural rock caves in Guruliya Bay  
MrJ and I left Guruliya Bay in the early morning hours once more just a golden tropical sun came over the island to greet the day.
I spent most of the morning doing chart work and calculating tide times for the different anchorage that we may be stopping at before Darwin. Nothing much happens on a passage like this; it is full of those day to day things that just happen. I haven’t got too much to say. I must be getting tired!
Our track took us round the top of the Stevens Island and down the western side of the Wessel Island Group to an anchorage ¾ the way down Elcho Island.
rounding Stewart Island
Occasional pillars of smoke billow up through the blue sky, made milky by the humid air. Fire is a tool the Aboriginal people have used for thousands of years and the smoke from a burn-off covering hundreds of square kilometres is enough to seed passing clouds and produce rain.
a shady spot on a hot evening
Elcho Island (which I did not get to visit) is an island off the coast of the Northern Territory. It is located at the southern end of the Wessel Islands group located in the East Arnhem Region and is approximately 55 km long and 6 km across at its widest point. Galiwin'ku, located near the island's southern tip, is the main community on the island. It is the largest Aboriginal community in northeast Arnhem Land and is the second largest Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory. The population of Galiwin'ku varies during the seasons with many outstation residents migrating to the community during the wet season due to inaccessibility. Galiwin'ku is a traditional Aboriginal community with restricted access; permission to visit is required by law and can be made through the Northern Land Council directly (I won’t go there with this one again) or via the Galiwin'ku Council. Total alcohol restrictions apply.

Grey-feathered morning star pole by Galiwin'ku (Elcho Island) artist

Elcho Island Arts is located in the township of Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island. They work with and buy art from over 200 Yolngu artists in Galiwin’ku and the Marthakal homelands region. The artists create high quality visual art in a range of media and styles. The sales and promotion of fine art is significant avenue for Yolgnu to share their rich culture with audiences for art in Australia and overseas. Yolngu artists use natural resources for their age-old painting technique - hollow logs, bark panels, ground ochres. Yolngu art is a direct inheritance from ancient times. For succeeding generations, the art forms and ceremonies passed on to today’s Yolngu people express direct links their creation sites and ancestors. Buyu djama (weaving work) suits Yolgnu women’s contemporary way of life and attracts the interests of the balanda (non-Aboriginal) art market. Constant experimentation keeps the art exciting and dynamic, both for those creating it and for the ever increasing number of discerning admirers of their art. Elcho Island artists share their knowledge of the environment and the spiritual guardians of their land through their art. Each Dhuwa and Yirritja clan has its own patterns and totemic symbols, which show their relationships to all the people and creatures that live together in this country.
hooked a sunset

MrJ and I dropped anchor in this un-named bay on Elcho Bay between Ganuwa Point on the north side and Warrnga Point on the south side; settling down to a very quiet and uneventful night.


Squeezing Through the Hole in the Wall

Tuesday 23rd October 2012
my B&W morning - leaving Gove at daybreak
Squeezing Through the Hole in the Wall
11’32.775S – 136’21.798E

0630hs: AR was seen sailing out of Gove Harbour.
MrJ and I had been out less than two hours when we hooked a great Spanish mackerel on our trolling line; enough for four big feeds. Yummo!

Cape Wilberforce
As we sail along the landscape unfolds, monsoonal bush land hugs an endless coastline of orange to red to white sandy beaches, rocky points and outcrops and rich red bauxite cliffs. This was the same view Matthew Flinders saw in 1802 during his circumnavigation of Australia. Along with Bremer, Truant and Bromby Islands heaps of other smaller outcrops dot the coast and past the Strait called the Malay Road which was named by Flinders after encountering a Malay fishing fleet there. The English Company’s Islands wrap around the coast to Arnhem Bay and further north-west about 80 nautical miles from Nhulunbuy is the rocky finger of the Wessel Islands that point into the Arafura Sea.
1000hs: We were rounding Cape Wilberforce to go through the channel between the Cape and South Bromby Islet. At Cape Wilberforce the tide floods west (at the Hole it floods east).

11.15hs: Next was the channel between Cotton and Wigrim Islands (the English Company Islands). Here we saw two motor boats steaming their way through against the tide. The tide was flooding for us and we had a fast ride through.

Then came the notorious Gugari Rip or as we all know it as the Hole in the Wall; the narrow channel that separates Gulguwuru and Raragala Islands in the Wessel Island Group. This channel is no more than1.30n/m long, the width at the eastern entrance is 0.11n/m across, the width the western entrance is 0.32n/m narrowing down to 0.10n/m across at the widest section and 0.06n/m at the narrowest section. Passage through the Rip reduces our passage to Darwin by 35n/m.

As stated but the Gove Boating Club web site: The best time to enter is during the first hour of the ebb tide; the tide floods east through the Hole. The last hour could be ok but if you were to arrive late you would be confronted with the flood tide and a rough entrance if a fresh south easterly is blowing. The passage can be made at any stage of the ebb but if you choose to pass through at full ebb on a spring tide you would certainly not have time to relax and enjoy the scenery and you would probably require a change of underpants when you were spat out of the western exit. (When the tide is running, water surges through the rip at up to 13 knots) The entrance can be very difficult to see if you have been set slightly north the best approach is to lay a course a mile or so south of the entrance and steer this until it is sighted. Tide times are approximately 1 hour before Gove. (I have seen some people’s blogs that state that the tide is 1 hour after Gove eg: )
Ocean Pearl heading into the Rip
AR before the entrance
going in
According to our Gove tide table it would be today’s (Tuesday 23RD October 2012) high tide in Gove at 1405hs. MrJ and I arrived at the eastern side at 1400hs to see a boat Ocean Pearl waiting to go through. (These fellas we met in Gove)
here we go

After speaking to them on the radio they began their approach; it look as though the boat was stopping and starting and then the radio squawks, “Ocean Pearl calling Alana Rose”. I answer. The voice on the other end speaks again, “We are pushing against the tide, I would turn around and wait a while”. That all we need to hear; MrJ turns AR around and we hang off for only a short spell while we watch the other boat disappear into the Hole in the Wall. We also watch the water at the entrance which seems to be settling somewhat. MrJ and I decide to have a go!
the low cliff face
We make the entrance 1433hs with a slight push into a weak tide, a light NE breeze with a 1.5mt northerly sea; five minutes later we are  past the entrance still pushing against a weaken tidal flow doing roughly 4knts across ground with both motors running at 2400. It is not so hard going nor are we skating through.
the waterflow settles
Half way along the tidal flow seems to change as we begin to pick up a little speed, still only doing 5 – 5.5kts all the rest of the way through. We must have picked the top of the tide at the right time and had a leisurely passage enjoying the grand scenery.
old grafiti on the rocks - HMAS Woollongong 1988 & HMAS Ardent 1978
The channel, Gugari Rip, gives me the impression of the two islands, Gulguwuru and Raragala Islands, having once been one island and that some great force has split them apart like tearing apart a French bread stick, leaving lots of crumb around. Only these crumbs are not so small they are slabs of rock slices, not unlike shale, that have been left in the wake of the separation and are scatter or have fallen in great slides along the entire low cliff wall faces of the Rip.
this could be the place to take refuge
There is supposed to be a place somewhere in the middle where you can seek refuge if caught up in the wrong tidal flow but I think I would have to be desperate to do that. There was no hidy-hole in the low cliff wall that looked good enough for to me.
the skipper at the helm
Once through the western side of the Hole in the Wall, we see Ocean Pearl steaming her way in the distance for Port Darwin. MrJ and I head toward the third bay down, Guruliya Bay, on Raragala (11'35.575S - 136'17.616E) Island where we anchor for the night in slightly rollie conditions because of the NE winds and swell.
sunset in Guruliya Bay 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Nhulunbuy on the East Arnhem Region

another beautiful day begins
Monday 22nd October 2012
Nhulunbuy on the East Arnhem Region

Nhulunbuy is the name of the township created on the Gove Peninsula in the Northern Territory of Australia when a bauxite mine and deep water port were established nearby in the late 1960s. It is still the working town supporting the Rio Tinto Alcan Gove Alumina Refinery and mining operation.
The Gove Peninsula is home to the Yolngu people, who celebrate and share their cultural inheritance annually with the Garma Festival, which is supported by the Yothu Yindi Foundation. The world renowned rock band Yothu Yindi also calls the area home.

waiting for our ride
MrJ had rung a fella in town to hire his 4X4 twin cab ute to take us into the town of Nhulunbuy on the Gove Peninsula in East Arnhem Land. A real local was this fella, had been in the town since the late 60’s, spoke with that out back dry sense of humour, dressed in the bushies dress, rough looking and hard wearing khaki shirt and shorts. This fella was as friendly as a bush fly on a hot day; giving us the heads up on all the local stuff and when to find the best things. The twin cab ute reflected the same manner as its owner.
looking west from the tower - the sediment ponds in front of the bay
lookout tower
Once in town the first thing MrJ and I needed to do was get ourselves a Permit to be on Aboriginal land and a Permit to by alcohol; I did explain this in my last posting. We drove around with our bright yellow empty jerry can in the back until we found the Dhimurru Office (near the IGA Shopping Centre and Mitre 10) where they issue local permits for areas surrounding the town. The officer in this place told us as long as we don’t go off the main road or outside the town limits except to travel by road back to the Boat Club than we would not need to pay the $20 for the local permit. I asked about the lookout at Mt Saunders and we were told that it would be okay. Good enough for me! But you know my land navigation skills are just not that good and we did end up past the lookout, at the end of a dirt road where the communication towers where, on sacred land, and MrJ had to do a 10 point turn to get us out of there. We dare not stop or get out of the ute for fear of getting caught. The lookout was about half a mile back where we parked the ute and climbed the metal structure that our mates Clem and Greg had a hand in help building a couple of years ago. As we came down the lookout road we were passed by an official looking vehicle on its way up. We were so lucky!
looking east from the tower
people on the lawn at the Endeavour Shopping Centre
The next place to look for was the Northern Lands Council Office; we were told that it was next to LG Hooker near the Endeavour Shopping Centre. Not hard to find as there are only two shopping centres in the small town. When I say shopping centres I mean more like a small group of shops in the one location. It didn’t take much to find this office either; though very slow to come to the counter (island time) the young lady was very helpful. I showed her my list of places that we would most likely being anchoring in each night of our passage across the Top End and into Darwin stating that the only island that we would be interested in going ashore was Elcho Island where there is a community. The young lady tells me that this one is okay and that we don’t need a permit for the community of Elcho but was not forthcoming with permits for anywhere. She was a bit evasive with the whole thing and just kept saying that we are not allowed there. Maybe it is in the “too hard basket” for her or she just did not want to do it. (???)
I know that the Northern Lands Council Office needs to get permission from each traditional area’s tribe before a permit can be issued which in these modern times came be communicating by phone or email as I do know that all communities have their own communications tower or satellite dish, I have seen them and if you look up the Telstra web site you can find where you can get service. Anyway, this young lady can only deal with Eastern Arnhem Land and will email our request with the list of Western Arnhem Land place to their office in Darwin and they will get back to us via email. Wait a minute, this sounds all too familiar; was it not the Darwin Northern Lands Council Office that I had originally sent all that information off to via an email way back in July of this year and never got a reply, not even a “thank you, we have received your email". (????) Where as the Aboriginal Council in Western Australia sent our permits for the Kimberley’s in August this year. (I’ve had my bitch for today, now I will be fine) One thing the young lady in the Nhulunbuy office did say “you can anchor in most places as long as you don’t not go above the high tide water line you would be fine”. That’s good enough for me, I say thank you very much, have a nice day then smile and turn on weary heals and walk out!

one of the information signs at the top of the lookout tower
In the same shopping centre is a good stocked Woolworth, where we bought our supplies and alcohol, a Chemist, two cafes, a Westpac Bank, a fishing tackle shop and a couple of other shops and that’s about it! We also found the Dept. of Justice in the Endeavour Shopping Centre. Dept. of Justice is where you apply for your liquor licences. The young lady at the counter was not surly like we were led to believe but neither was she very warming towards us (officious is the word MrJ used). I suppose working in the place that she does in an outback community does something to your character. MrJ and I did go into the chemist, enquiring about something for his sore head. The young lady behind the counter was another boatie Yasmine who with hubby Marcus had been up here working for some time. They also knew other friends of ours from Airlie Beach. This boating fraternity is a small world!
no alcohol allowed and no drink driving
MrJ and I had a salad roll and drink from one of the cafes to time our grocery shopping to be finished just before the liquor shop opened at 1400hs (that’s part of the rules up here and throughout most of the Territory). We bought our beer and wine, filled our fuel jerries and high tailed it out of town.
Don’t get me wrong with my ranting about things; I did like the look and feel of the township and the people I suppose it was all happening in one day and we could not afford to be on “island time” that day.
great set-up, arnchair and all
Heading out of town on the Melville Road the roadside scenery is typical Territory with low bush and red dirt with dotted traditional communities along the way. The biggest and most noticeable thing/object that stretched across our view was the very long overpass of the conveyor belt that runs from the mines to the port. The main vein of the Gove Peninsular!

MrJ and I had made two trips to town the first was for a fuel run the second for the supplies and some more fuel. The first load of fuel MrJ took out to AR in the dinghy and put the fuel in her tanks then returning with the same jerries for our second trip into town while I waited on shore in the shade of the club’s car park trees.
I got talking to a few boaties while waiting for MrJ

I didn’t last in the shade for very long as there were things to be discovered; things like a very tiny abandoned red dirt spider’s web, some pretty frangipani flowers and a green ant’s nest as well as striking up a conversation with some other boaties at the boat ramp. I just can’t stay put!

At the end of our last trip there were a couple of fellas in orange and yellow shirts, which is pretty much the standard dress in any mining area, about to launch a strange looking craft. I got talking to these fellas too. The craft was a homemade remote controlled power catamaran which they were test for work. The craft was meant to use as a survey vessel across the sediment ponds at the mining plant.

Ponds and Sediment Basins are used to retain course sediments from runoff and are typically the start of a ‘treatment train’. They stop downstream environments from becoming smothered in sediment, by reducing flow velocity and encouraging sediments to settle out of the water column. They can be designed as permanent or ephemeral pools. For more information on how things work:

Tomorrow we sail for the Wessel Islands.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Gove Harbour

Gove Harbour
Saturday 20th October 2012
12’11.953S – 136’42.123E

Smokey, dusty and smelly is what I have experienced so far. No, I am being a bit unfair; I forgot to add pushy and rude. But then again I have also experienced friendliness, helpfulness and a lot of beauty.

MrJ and I dropped anchor in Inverell Bay Gove Harbour late Friday afternoon with enough time to spare to get ashore for a beer and dinner at the local Gove Boat Club.
Gove Harbour is not that tricky to get into as long as you keep to the middle to avoid the rocky outcrops form the headlands, manly Rocky Point and De Belle Point which are the north and south headlands for Inverell Bay. A worse hazard is the rocky reef that lies well out from the NE corner of the bay and has claimed many a victim in the past. This reef is located a little north off the Boat Club but is clearly marked.

De Belle Point
We come across a sunken wreck in the middle of the moored boats as we make our way to shore, this wreck has also been marked. It is a low, low tide and we drag our dinghy as far as we can through the sandy mud, dropping the anchor before sloshing the rest of the way to the beach. You can was your feet at a fresh water tap at the entrance to the pathway to the Boat Club. This pathway takes you through to the front of the club and then you can enter the building front there. Otherwise you walk along the beach past the front fenced grounds of the club to the boat ramp, follow the fence up the side to an entrance there.
The Gove Boat Club is where we met a local aboriginal lad Gavin who befriended us, told us stories and let me take his photo. At a price though – for the price of a can of beer! There are quite a few local aboriginal people in the club grounds, which are fenced in, so the people must be members of the club or that they are allowed to come and go as they please. I really do not know what the ruling is especially concerning Aboriginal Territory. Do I sound racist? I don’t mean to be; I feel for the Aboriginal people and don’t like to anybody stoned out of their minds or rolling drunk hustling. But then again it does happen all over the world. I know that there is a general Law against consuming of alcohol in public places except in the designated areas. The Gove Peninsula and the East Arnhem region is are ‘dry area’, including the town of Nhulunbuy and the surrounding communities of Gunyangara (Ski Beach) and Yirrkala. Drinking by anyone, in public places is prohibited, with the exception of some popular recreational areas that are sign posted. The region has a liquor permit system. You can drink in a licensed premise, for example a hotel, club or restaurant, but you need to obtain a liquor permit to buy takeaway alcohol and drink in a private home.
Saturday at high tide, round elevenish, we dinghy with our jerry cans into the club’s tap for water. This is getting close to being the hottest part of the day. Two trips we had to make to get the tanks full again, will leave a third trip till another day. MrJ had to lift the full jerries from the dinghy onto the side deck of AR, a very physical task for someone half his age.
So MrJ and I have introduced ourselves to the boat next door, Pacific Xpress and the mangers of the club who live on a large catamaran in the harbour. I think his name is Roy (???) but cannot remember his partner’s name. Isn’t it so terrible! Roy and his partner sailed up from Mooloolaba two years ago, sailing around the Torres Strait Islands then getting some work on TI (Thursday Island) before taking the manager’s job here at the Gove Boat Club, will have been here 12months come this December and loving it. We had a nice chat with a couple of young ladies who work in town; one is a part time teacher and has a couple of kids. Their hubbies work in the mines.
old Norman with one of his mates
Must not forget to mention old Norman who came to the club each afternoon to sit and read his book while having a couple of drinks. It was Norman who gave me the heads up about my mate Gavin. Gavin came pestering around the drinkers once again and eventually got around to our table. He was as high as a kite, I don’t think it was the grog, and did not remember me at first. Gavin was hustling again this time trying to sell a painting on a piece of canvas. The price – you guessed it – for the price of a beer. I was not having a bar of it this time and told him so. Later when I was chatting with Norman, Norman tells me that Gavin would have most probably stole the painting from his mother. I am so glad I didn’t buy the thing.
MrJ and I did get to chat with a couple of other boaties; most are waiting to head across the Gulf but one boat, a large black ketch, is heading for Darwin. Father and son crewing with the son’s young kids – mum is working back in Darwin. The son bought the 73’ ketch in Airlie Beach for $40,000 and has been lucky to get it this far. I wish them well!
Greg and Clem
We have also Greg and Clem a couple of real true blue characters. Clem has a boat in the harbour and a on the point which he is selling. Clem has been getting his boat ready to sail south and Greg is up here to help him and sail back with Clem. Greg is the hubby of Jan one of my FB friends who is away visiting grandkids. Both fellas have been very helpful with information and stories from across the Top End. Greg with Jan and Clem have sailed the Top End extensively of many years and across the top into the Kimberley’s. Thanks for the information fellas and thanks for your friendship.
our sewing tent
Sunday MrJ and I pulled the genoa down before the wind kicked in. Later that day after our second visit from Greg and Clem, we dragged the Sailrite machine up on deck and did a few repairs to the UV strip on the sail. MrJ bumped his head and bleed all over the place and is now sporting an ugly gash on his scone. He is okay now as we kept pressure on the cut and then washed it in Detol. He bleed easily due to the aspirin, blood thinner, that he has on since his artery Stent op some years ago.

Monday we have hired a car to go to town.
evening in the Gove Harbour

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Long Haul Across the Gulf - Seisia to Gove

leaving Seisia in the morning light
The Long Haul Across the Gulf - Seisia to Gove
Down the Road a Bit
Tuesday 16th October 2012
11’42.058S – 142’00.323E
MrJ thinks he sees some thing on Parau Is, but it is only a bit of old netting
 If you had not already gathered MrJ and I love just love being up before daybreak or at least in time to see the pre-dawn and sun rise each day. I love to sit in the cockpit or out the back listening and watching a new day start, the birds stirring singing their songs to greet the morning and the brilliance in the different colour the sky and sun produce each day, like a new artistic pallet each time.
This morning we were already heading out of the secure anchorage in Seisia between the mainland and Red Island as the morning sun began its colours, helped by the numerous evening campfires that have left a trail of smoke haze across this wilderness world.
We head AR out of Seisia putting the sail up to include a reef; not knowing what the wind will do as the morning unfolds, and start our southern track down the western coast of Queensland’s Cape York. We were not going too far, a day’s sail, sixty nine nautical miles I recorded in out ship’s log book, to a piece of the sandy beach coastline between the Jackson and Skardon Rivers, Aboriginal Territory and no man’s land.
By 0900hs AR was off the Jardine River entering the shallow sand shoals the curve around Slade Point and Crab Island making our passage very sloppy and tricky having the keep to an unseen path through the deepest channels that weave their way through the shoaling sands crating a maze of patterns on the charts. This is when the use of eyesight and a good depth sounder is most important.
Several large sea turtles pop up their head to check us out and then dive to swim away lightening fast. I see a boat on the horizon, as it get closer I can see that it is heading for the outside shore of Crab island; I can make out that it is a motorboat and then recognise the outline as a Grainger design power cat. There is only one person in this area that would be out in one of these; Rob off Flash Dancer, a friend who I have never met but exchange conversation over photos on Flickr and Sylvie. I call them up on the radio to have a chat. Looks like they have spotted a few crocs sunning themselves on the sand, Rob and Sylvie have gone in closer for a better look. We chit-chat for a while before going our separate way, they are heading north and us on our south-bound track. Looks like we don’t get to meet once more; there will always be a next time.
MrJ and I keep heading down the coast into some fairly uncomfortable short sharp choppy seas; nothing big but going to windward be always uncomfortable. There is still a lot of smoke haze around, much more than what would be produces by a few campfires, maybe there has been some burning off throughout the Cape. I spot a large sea bird flying over; it looks like either a type of Booby bird or a type of Shearwater. Bit hard to tell from a distance.
1715hs we drop anchor of a sandy beach in front of the same flat wooded country that we have been seeing all the way down the coast. I t is very flat terrain; I think the biggest hill we saw was only 20mts high. As we were coming into the anchorage a flock of birds were swarming over a boiling sea of larger fish feeding on smaller fish, a sea turtle was floating right in front and passed between the hulls, a heap of sea birds were wading along the shore and then a pod of dolphins crossed out bows playing for just a moment before heading off to join in the feeding frenzy. All this in a matter of minutes and both MrJ and I were pre-occupied with the anchoring business to have a camera ready but we do get to crack a cold beer and watch the sun set over the Gulf of Carpentaria.
the sun sets over the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria

Day One in the Gulf – Getting into the Swing of Things
Wednesday 17th October 2012
0630hs and the hot sun was beating down - good time to catch a fish
It is a funny thing this world of ours................................................!
MrJ and I have been anchored way out in no man’s land but we are still getting internet service through our antenna and Wi-Fi system. There must be another settlement along the coast somewhere or the signal could be coming in from Weipa in the south. (?????)
We had only just left our anchorage near the Jackson River when MrJ put the trolling line out and got a hit almost straight away. I had turned around to walk inside to put the kettle on when I heard the reel run and saw MrJ at the rod. (must thank MrJ for editing this video for me)
The fish was a fighter and it took all of MrJ’s muscle power to get the reeling in going. And then something took a bite at our fish taking the tail, at least a quarter of the length, off the fish. MrJ landed what was left of a good size Spanish mackerel that I was able to cut a couple of feeds off. There be competition in them thar waters!
The wind drops off and we are motor-sailing; the sea is flat with little or no swell. MrJ goes for a rest; I take over the watch. Nothing to sea except the sea and a few sea birds, a large flock of terns fly over. I am doing some hand sewing while seated at the helm, making a couple of slip-on curtains for the side hatch in the cabin as MrJ can’t stand it when anchored in a harbour and the lights shine in his eyes and it is too warm to leave the hatches closed.

The dies right off leaving the sail flop about in the still air; the sail is dropped and AR motors on. MrJ is up and about. I see a pod of dolphins jumping through the sea to our STB beam, they were headed our way. I call inside to MrJ who has planted himself at his computer for the other half of his rest period – just like I am doing right now. We both get up to the bow of AR, with cameras in tow, in time to see a spectacular display of these beautiful creatures playing and jostling between the hulls. There looks to be about six in this dolphin pod all having a blast for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only 5 or10 min before galloping across the sea to their next big adventure. One of those magic moments!
After an early lunch I try to have a lie down in the aft cabin, dozing a bit here and there. It is hot, the temperature inside AR has risen to over 32*C. I have the top hatch open and two of the little side hatches open because there are no waves to splash in. I also have the little cabin fan going at full speed as I lie on top of the bunk in my underwear trying to keep cool.
After a couple of hour I am up and writing up some blog notes when the wind picks up enough for us to put the mainsail up again. The wind is a little on the nose so MrJ tracks and sheets the sail right out as far as it will go to PRT side to be able to catch the wind at a better angle and therefore we do not have to change our course too much.

I have put a pot of Chilli-beans on the stove to cook for our dinner; I am on watch and MrJ is supposed to be down for a sleep. He comes up saying “how can I sleep with the smell of food wafting down into the cabin?”
here he comes

It was just after this when the Spotter Plane buzzed us.
and there he goes

I’m sitting at the helm in my underwear when MrJ spots the plane coming in fast behind AR; I dive for my sarong while MrJ dives for him camera, in his undies (which look like swimmers). It would be the first time ever that my camera was not the first thing I grabbed for but got some good shots anyway as I am sure the cameraman in the plane would have done the same with us. We get the call on the radio from the Spotter Plane; they called us by our boat name, ALANA ROSE, asking our Port of Origin, our Last Port of Call and our Destination Port. MrJ gives all the right information as the plane disappears into the horizon wishing us a good day and safe sailing.

Dinner is ready; we take our bowls up front on the salon hatch steps to sit and eat while watching the gold and pink colours across the sky as the sun went below the smoke-haze horizon.

MrJ got an hour’s shut eye while I stayed on watch. At 2000hs it was my turn to try and get some sleep before being woken to go back on watch at midnight.

(the supper shift)

Day Two in the Gulf – One Hour Blends into another Hour
I wake up to messy morning
Thursday 18th October 2012
0600hs: 11’55.65S – 139’45.45E
winching the mainsail
If it wasn’t for the clock on this computer I wouldn’t know what time it is. Not really but I am beginning to feel like a robot with my system running on automatic. The hours in the day are all blending in together with our daily watch routines. Sleep and/or rest for a couple of hours, prepare meal, eat and then on watch for four hours; repeating this routine day and night till we get across the Gulf. It really is not all that bad, it is a matter of our bodies getting used to the routine which would usually take three days on a passage but this passage will be over within the three days meaning that our bodies will not have adapted as yet. So, on we go like a couple of zombies to the call, looking like the lights are on but nobody is home. ;o)))))
The midnight to 0400hs watch is dark, very dark so dark that I can’t even make out the horizon in all the blackness. The silvery slither of the new moon set before I went to at 2000hs last night and there must be a good cloud cover to be hiding all those beautiful twinkling stars that I am not seeing. Behind I did see the saucepan and a few more constellations but nothing more. There must be rain about; I can feel the moisture in the air. There is no wind and AR has been motoring, using one engine, for most of the night

MrJ is awake early. There is a little wind blowing across our faces. We decide to haul the main before the rain comes but are halfway through our manoeuvre when it fairly pours down drenching the both of us. Ha ha, ha – that’s Murphy’s Law!
adding extra sheets to the genoa
I go back to bed to get up at 0715 to cook breakfast, mushroom omelette and toast, before I go on watch again.
looking, looking, looking.........................
We are still getting light winds 5-8kts from the ESE, a rollie 1.5 - 2mt swell from the ENE which must be coming from around the Cape and into the Gulf. I spend my watch watching, knitting and more watching before MrJ comes up to take over again. And so the hours go...........................!

Day Three in the Gulf – I Should See Land – I Hope.
morning brings a better day
Friday19th October 2012
0600hs: 12’04.243S – 137’34.537E
MrJ hoists our burgees
By my mid-night shift the swell has eased back to a gentle roll and the wind has dropped completely away. We are motoring with one engine doing 4.5-5kts against the tide. I hope the tides changes soon or the wind picks up as I want to be in Gove tomorrow before we lose the daylight. But nothing happens and it is still much the same the next morning when I wake at 0630hs only the tide must be coming as AR has picked up a knot doing 6.1kts. With no wind it is going to be a long hot day.

One good thing is that it is Isabelle’s seventh birthday and as soon as we are close enough to land to get a Wi-Fi signal I will give her a ring.

The day passes and the watches continue. I have been keeping my eye on the Garmin chart plotter that we have put in our arrival waypoint just outside of Nhulunbuy and the entrance to Gove Harbour. We are getting closer but it still seems a long way off. I need more sleep!

Midday I see a large ship, it passes behinds us about a mile heading for Groote Harbour for more minerals to load. I can see the first outline of the land ahead just forming across the horizon and what looks like a trawler way off in the distance. Not long now! After a short sleep I’m up and about again to see more land, closer this time and it is the my first time that I have laid eyes on Arnhem Land, NT.

MrJ starts the second engine and we head in, in through the channel between Bremer Island and the Gove Peninsular and all I can see is the red hill and structures of the mining industry.
Welcome to Gove!
we anchor off the Gove Yacht club and go ashore...............