June 17-25 – downwind sailing to Darwin

The passage from Airlie Beach to Darwin was 20 days with no options for provisioning.  We went ashore two times for brief walks and shared sunset with Impala once.  The rest of the time it was day hopping island to island until Cape York, then 5 days of sailing.  The sailing was spectacular.

Journal notes:  June 17 we pulled the anchor up at 7am and turned the motor off at 7:45 for a pleasant downwind sail doing 7-8kt over the ground.  There was periodic sun/rain in the early morning with 25-30+kt most of the way.  The Customs plane flew by and called us up on the VHF to verify who we were.  We dropped the anchor at 1:45pm in 19ft in Margaret Bay off the mainland.  11-57.320S, 143-12.561E.

Next morning we got a very early start at 5:05am to make sure we’d go through Escape River at high tide.   A squall came through at 9:30 with winds 37.9kt and our speed was 10.3 – a new record for us and the wind indicator said 11kt.  We made it into Escape River entrance at Sharp Point at 2:45pm and it was shallow.  We watched the depth gauge go from 21ft to 17ft.  We anchored at 4pm in 33ft.  10-59.221S, 142-39.643E.  A great sailing day even with the squalls.

June 19 anchor was pulled up at 7:10am and we motored out the river with a 3rd reef in the main since it was blowing 25.  Going over the sandbars the most shallow patch was 14.3ft and winds were 36.5kt.  Clouds drifted across a pale blue sky at Albany Pass and we had a 2.7kt current against us.  Water became brown green and landscape was beautiful bauxlite and red rocks in Endeavour Strait.  Winds continued 25-30kt and we were flying at 8s and 9s.  At Dayman Island it all stopped abruptly, no wind, and we slowed to 4-5kt .  Once we passed the island winds picked up again and we had great sailing.  Anchored at 3pm in 19ft, 10-51.255S, 142-20.955E south of Red Island by Red Island Point at Cape York Peninsula.  We spent an additional day here relaxing and Jim replaced the boom vang line while I cooked.

July 21 anchor up at 7:05am and motored out into a sunny morning.  Magritte clouds pasted against blue sky.  From the horizon a pale blue rising up to a dense true blue overhead.  9am wind indicator and speed gauge stopped working last night in 8kts of wind.  Had to resort to string on the shrouds.  Sails flogging.  Wind picked up and we’re doing 8s again.    We calculated a 5 day nonstop sail and indeed we arrived in Dundas Strait into Howard Channel and finally the pontoon at Cullen Bay Marina on June 25.  Since we arrived in the channel middle of night we tacked up and down the channel until daylight.  Security arrived at the pontoon and dove under boat to apply disinfectant into through-hulls.  No use of water or toilet for 12 hours!  Walked into marina for pizza.  Hot no wind but a cool evening.  Rest at last.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwing and wing, sailing doesn’t get much better than this


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