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

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 

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