June 29 - Trip Summary - Bundaberg to Darwin

For predeparture planning, we estimated 2000 nm for total milage; our actual mileage traveled was 1988 nm by ship's log. This was an eventful series of short and longer hops and one that, in total, we'd do again, wishing we had more time to spend in many of the areas we hurried thru during our seven week trip. Overall, we really enjoyed the diversity of the coastal areas, the isolation, the few populated towns we stopped in to visit, the history, and the daily navigational challenges we encountered. Just this one NE section of the Australian coast is so beautiful; the length of the entire coastline is beyond immediate thought. By comparison, if one were to travel the eastern and western coastlines of the USA, it's approximately 2400 nm; so it's as if we (just about) traveled both coasts of the USA in seven weeks.... For those following in our path, a strong boat and its components are mandatory. Opportunities to purchase boat parts and supplies, as well as obtain repairs, become few in these more remote areas. Shipping parts is possible but very expensive and time consuming; carrying extra spares aboard is a worthwhile consideration. Be prepared for strong currents and leave enough time to wait for an appropriate weather window. Although this is the dry season and winds are predictably from the SE, we encountered winds from S thru E, with an occasional morning NW breeze as well. Using the reaching/spinnaker pole is necessary many days as the wind goes aft of 150 degrees. Days are short this time of year and there are many reefs to avoid, so reaching anchorages during daylight, and having alternative choices available, is necessary. This has been a wonderful leg in Infini's travels, and we look forward to more adventures!
Picture of Infini sailing off Morris Island courtesy of sv Sea Dragon

June 27 - Team Infini is safely anchored in Fannie Bay, Darwin

Position: S12deg25.58min/E130deg49.03min We decided to leave Alcaro Bay yesterday afternoon after a few hours rest. The area was hazy and the anchorage rolly. We had the times and tides right for the Dundas Strait; we just didn't expect a southerly wind! Of course, it wasn't forecast, so we had to tack way over in the Van Diemen Gulf, and by the time we tacked back the tide had changed! We motored at 1-2 knots against the strong adverse current, and thought we'd never get anywhere. We finally made it back to our rhumb line (of sorts), and the wind had come up with just a bit of easterly in it, allowing us to sail; what a novelty! We actually did really well, and sailed all day until the last hour of the Beagle Channel when the winds died and we ended up motoring the last 30 nm to Darwin. We anchored at sunset in Fannie Bay! What a trip; more later....suffice it to say we're very happy to have the anchor down, not be motoring or hand steering, and we're ready to get on with other things in preparation for Sail Indonesia.
Picture: The anchorage is crowded. The sailing club is quite active, with all kinds of sailing lessons.

June 26 - Alcaro Bay

Position: S11deg17.216/E131deg47.696 We had a beautiful sail from Black Point today, arriving Alcaro Bay in the early afternoon and anchoring in 21' of sand. The Cape Don lighthouse is visible from our cockpit and the surrounding aquamarine water color reminds us of the Gulf of Mexico. It's been really hazy due to (we think) slash burns that take place all thru these Aboriginal lands. We're planning departure tomorrow morning thru the Dundas Straits for Darwin, about a 95 nm run.
Picture: It's so smoky you can't even see Cape Don. We anchored for a brief rest and departed for Darwin.

June 25 - Quality time in the Arafura Sea

Position: S11deg08.88min/E132deg08.33min We're anchored in 32' off Black Point in Port Essington in the Cobourg Peninsula. The two day trip was boisterous, with the first day seeing winds of 25-30 knots and seas 10-12'. I put out our 50 square foot storm jib rather than the roller furling yankee, and we ran our double reefed main. The Arafura Sea is so shallow (200 feet and below) that the wave sets are close together, and of course, coming from several different directions. By the second day, the winds had settled down a bit, and we enjoyed completing this 285 nm passage in good speed, averaging 5.94 knots overall. Days here are quite short, with sunrise about 0730 hours, sunset at 1900 hours, and there's a new moon now, so making landfall during daylight is a priority for us; not so easy on these long runs with tricky currents. We'll rest up here a couple of days before continuing on to Cape Don, our last stop before reaching Darwin.
Picture: Our anchorage off Black Pt., Port Essington. The smoke (smog) from slash burns along the coast are no fun if the wind is directing it to you. You can see the haze along the horizon.

June 21 - Two Island Bay; Machinbar Island; Wessel Island Group

Position: S11deg04.43min/E136deg43.62min. We anchored early morning after a three day passage across the Carpenteria Gulf. Currents in the Carpenteria are strong and fickle. Max refused to be a working member of the team, necessitating Sue and I doing 2 hours on/2 hours off steering duty for the first two days. I can hardly blame him; with swells coming at us from 3 different directions and currents changing in seconds, you could hardly take your eye off the compass or a star for a moment before the boat headed off 40-50 degrees. No wonder he was so unhappy. During the third day, everything settled down and Max worked flawlessly; maybe weaker current? Who knows. We did the rhumb line here, but I'd guess currents are strong no matter the departure point or strategy. We'll have a few lay days here and plan the next leg of our passage to Darwin. All's well aboard; it's good to be anchored in this protected spot at Two Island Bay at Machinbar Island in the Wessel Island Group; another milestone reached.
Different rock formation here in the NT (Northern Territory)

June 17 - We're over the top!!

Position: S10deg43.80min/E142deg23.23min We had an easy departure from the Escape River and were at Albany Pass at 0915. The weather was beautiful, and we went thru the pass on a dead run with 2-3 knots of current helping us; our speed hit 8.9 knots with just the mainsail in 15 knots of breeze. We rounded Cape York in flat calm water, and with the favorable current, saw 10.3 knots! We've anchored at Possession Island and can see the tide rips about 100 yards away from us. We've got protection from due North winds thru due South winds, so hope we have a quiet night here. We decided not to go to Seisha, as we're aware of at least 4 other boats that went there today to its very small anchorage; and, we're not planning on going to Thursday or Horn Islands. The sun is shining, WE'RE OVER THE TOP!!, and it's Father's Day! It doesn't get any better than this! Next stop, the Wessel Island Group.
Picture: Going through Albany Pass, notice how strong the current is closer to shore. We were flying!

June 15 - Portland Roads to Shelburne Bay

Portland Roads feels like the end of the line. We were told there are 10 full time inhabitants year round, and supplies can be obtained at the Lockhart River. There is slow internet, but we were unable to get it. We did, however, enjoy a delicious home cooked meal at the only restaurant in town, the Out of the Blue Cafe, which serves 6 days a week. Clientele is mostly yachties or adventuresome campers. The SE trades have returned at 20-25 knots; no more motoring, yea! We had a fast sail from PR to SB in strong winds, and anchored in 7' of sand around the corner from Round Point. From here (Cape Grenville), we have a long 65 nm passage to the Escape River, so we'll be departing quite early (0530 hours).
Picture: Enjoying lunch with fellow travelers.

June 11 - Morris Island

Position: 13deg29.44min/E143deg43.30min We departed Flinders Island but the wind never materialized, and we ended up doing our trawler imitation the entire way to Morris Island. We're enjoying the beautiful scenery enroute. There's a shrimping fleet around but it's mostly isolated country. After today's motoring marathon, we've decided that tomorrow will be a short run to Night Island. Btw, weather forecasts continue to predict SE 10-15, so you can see the value in that....
Picture: Another sensational sunrise

June 10 - Flinders Island

Position: S14deg10.29min/E144deg14.16min We've been getting early starts these last few days; departure at 0600 hours. The winds have been gentle morning NE'ers, and then change around noon time to E-ESE. Today they quit altogether in the early afternoon, and we had to motor the last hour to the anchorage. Four other boats are also anchored here in Owens Channel, and they all ended up motoring in as well. The scenery is spectacular; boulder out croppings, high hills, and long, isolated beaches. Yesterday our fresh water system stopped working. We couldn't pump water with either of our two foot pumps, and the 12 volt pressure water system stopped working as well. It appeared to be a suction leak of some sort, as we could get nothing but air out of the spigots. Since there are so many hose clamps in the various hoses, as well as one 12 volt pump, one accumulator tank, two foot pumps, two water mixers, one hot water tank, one intake manifold, one vent manifold, and one cockpit shower line, the opportunities for problems become immense. Over the course of these last two days I narrowed down the possibilities and installed two half-inch shut off valves to isolate the 12 volt pump and the head foot pump, thereby allowing separate testing of the manual and the pressure sides of the system. To shorten the story, after lots more diagnostics, it turns out the foot pump in the head is kaput and needs a rebuild. Over the years I've found these Whale Mk II pumps fairly reliable but haven't had a lot of luck rebuilding them; the seal kits just don't seem to work all that well. Although the bosun's locker does have a seal rebuild kit, my solution is to also carry spare pumps to interchange the bad one with a new one, which is on tomorrow's agenda.
Picture: Coming into the anchorage...again, no one here!

June 6 - Lizard Island

Position: S14deg39.6min/E145deg27.0min We anchored at Lizard Island after motoring the 135nm from Yorkeys Knob in extremely light wind. Holding is sand and well protected from the prevailing SE trade winds. This morning we hiked to Cook's Lookout. At about 360m high, the track is rock, occasionally quite steep, and well marked. We met several other folks with bloodied legs and had to keep a sharp eye for slippery rocks and such but the view from the top of the ridge was spectacular. At the summit was where Captain Cook looked out at the Great Barrier Reef seeking an escape route thru the reef for his ship Endeavour. A large cairn has been erected at the summit and there is a brass sundial also nearby. We signed our names in a visitors book which is in an airtight container in a wooden box at the base of the cairn and noted that visitors from all over the world had also signed it. Going back down, I spotted a 5-6 foot monitor lizard which quickly scampered off into the underbrush. In Captain Cook's time, the monitor lizards were so numerous that he named this island after them. We returned to the beach a bit tired, but without blood or broken limbs, and got back to Infini for a late lunch. In the late afternoon, we went to the beach and met many of the other crews of the 12 yachts anchored here. Most everyone is heading to Darwin for the Sail Indonesia Rally, so we expect to see these same folks again. The Lizard Island Resort is here on the island, and is renown as one of the Top 10 Resorts in the world. Prices are just a bit out of our league (ha!), but we understand there is a nearby worker's bar receptive to cruisers on Friday nights at regular prices, so we may visit and check it out. There's also a highly regarded Research Center based here that focuses on reef life. Lots to do and see around here.

June 5 - Lizard Island

Position: S14deg39.6min/E145deg27.0min We departed Yorkeys Knob and had to motor sail the entire way here in very light following winds. The good news is that our autopilot seems to be working OK, so that's a big plus. The scenery coming here was beautiful, and we could imagine Capt. Cook in his vessel Endeavor along about the same track. The names are so historical; amongst them: Cape Tribulation, Endeavor Reef, Cooktown and the Endeavor River, Cape Flattery, and where we're anchored, Lizard Island. We'll launch the dinghy to go exploring tomorrow, and try to find where Cook viewed the reef to see where he could get Endeavor out.
Picture: Coming into the anchorage

June 2 - A bit of sightseeing

We covered a lot of ground today. Leaving Yorkeys Knob, we went to Kuranda, followed by Mareeba, Tolga, Atherton, Yungaburra, Lakes Eacham and Barrine, Gordonvale and Edmonton before finally getting back to Yorkeys in the late afternoon. It was great seeing a bit of the Lakes district as well as the Tablelands. Now, if we could only pronounce the names!
Pic: We're in front of the roots of the Curtain Fig Tree...things grow BIG here!

June 1 - Yorkeys Knob

It's been unseasonally rainy in and around Cairns, but we've enjoyed our stay with Jon and Laura and have been so fortunate that they've been able to chauffeur us around to see many areas I'm sure we would not have seen had we done all this ourselves. Not only have we been able to go to many marine related shops for our "to do" list, but today we went to Rusty's Market, a well known Cairns weekend farmers market, and stocked up on fresh veggies and such before going to the Coles Supermarket for the rest of our provisioning supplies. Furthermore, we enjoyed the fine hospitality of a wonderful and gracious cook and raconteur, and we learned a lot about Cairns and the local political situation here. This has really been a restful stop for us, topped off by using the spa every night in our private en suite quarters, so the next 1250 nm to Darwin looks a bit less daunting for now! Again, for anyone following our path, check out www.cairnsrainforeststudios.com and consider a stopover; it's well worth your time!