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.

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...............


  1. Coast Watch loves zooming in on you if your unaware on what's happening, so you must have your clothes close by. They did this to us whenwe were out on the reef, except this time the guy didn't know what W.O.W stood for and called us up saying "Sailing vessel W.O.W" on the side this is coast watch on channel 16.

  2. Hah. If they can read punctuation, then it's probably too late to bother with the clothes! Great read John and Nancye. Don't forget to pick up the sailing guide notes from the Gove sailing club regarding timing of the hole in the wall. It's spot on! If you want to see our blog again. We have. Put it up at again. Happy sailing! Craig and Kerry. SCARLETT

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