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ships log
Friday 20th June 2008
Gove/Nhulunbuy, Queensland

Hello everyone,

We’re now in the Northern Territory, having spent the last month going ‘over the top’ of Australia and through very remote and isolated areas – no towns, no phone coverage, no nothing – but very awe inspiring in it’s rugged beauty, and makes you think very hard about being self sufficient and how far away help is in the event of a problem.

As we’re travelling north, many of the boats we’re meeting are also heading to Darwin for the Indonesian Rally, so we’ve made some good friends and there is a wonderful camaraderie. Not all the boats stop at the same anchorages, which gives plenty of space for individual exploring, but then the boats tend to come together again at the recognized anchorages, so it’s nice to meet up after a few weeks, with plenty to chat about as we compare notes and stories.

Since our last posting, our route has included the following highlights:

Lizard Island is a popular hang out for yachties – sort of a last stop before heading North into wilderness, or turning back towards Cairns and the east coast of Australia (some would say “civilization”). We arrived to find around 20 yachts in the anchorage, so gatherings on the beach for sundowners was a daily event. Lizard has some delightful walks, including a good hike up to the peak, named ‘Cooks Lookout’ – this was were Jim climbed to get a good view of the reef when he was trying to find a route out to open ocean from inside the Great Barrier Reef.

Snorkelling here was a delight - crystal clear warm water, maybe not the best coral we’ve seen, but a great variety of fish. The general opinion is that Lizard is the last place for a swim on the journey north, after here, it just isn’t safe because of crocodiles !


Mt Cook "internet cafe", Lizard Island

Blue Lagoon, Lizard Island
Mt Cook "internet cafe", Lizard Island
Blue Lagoon, Lizard Island

being buzzed by the customs aeroplane

Cape Melville - huge granite boulders cover the peaks and coastline
being buzzed by the customs aeroplane
Cape Melville - huge granite boulders cover the peaks and coastline


Next major stop was the Flinders Island Group in Princess Charlotte Bay. Another very sheltered anchorage, with some great walks ashore and very interesting aboriginal cave paintings - a couple of days resting and relaxing here, then north again for the long haul up to Cape York. While sailing this leg, we had the Australian Customs plane do a low pass over us, then call on the radio to find out who we are, where we’re from, and where we’re going, - all done very politely, so no hassle, but interesting to see how efficiently they keep tabs on boat movements in this area.

Rounding Cape York was a bit of a milestone for us and of course we had to go ashore and walk to the tip for the obligatory photo. I’m not sure why, but there’s a certain feeling of achievement in getting this far.

Next stop for R & R was Seisia, which is a tiny settlement near Bamaga, (about 12km inland and not near anywhere) but it’s a great anchorage with a small supermarket (fresh produce and stocks arrives by barge from Darwin each Thursday!), laundromat, and very friendly locals. A delight was the extremely hospitable fishing club on the beachfront – we happened to be there on a Friday when they had a ‘hamburger and beer night’ with music by a local band who were surprisingly good – a fun night.

Then the big jump across the Gulf of Carpentaria – a long non-stop trip which was the subject of much discussion and trepidation by the yachtie ‘group’. We left ahead of many boats who were either hanging out for an ‘ideal’ weather window or heading towards Weipa before crossing the Gulf. Our decision to go on our own directly from Seisia was a good call - it just felt ‘right’ and turned out pretty well (besides picking the weather gap between strong wind warnings). We only had a few hours of rough seas (but nothing worse than experienced sailing the NSW and Queensland coasts), then some calm stuff, followed by a mixture of everything, so many sail changes to suit the changing conditions, but overall an uneventful trip.


aboriginal cave paintings, Flinders Island

standing on the most northern point of Australia, Cape York
aboriginal cave paintings, Flinders Island
standing on the most northern point of Australia, Cape York

starfish, Lizard Island

dinner leaving Seisia - delicious Yellowfin Tuna
starfish, Lizard Island
dinner leaving Seisia - delicious Yellowfin Tuna


We managed to keep the boat moving in the right direction throughout and arrived in Gove/Nhulunbuy in just under 3 days. We didn’t see any other boats the whole way across, but we were buzzed by the customs plane once again. Exhausted, but happy to have arrived at Gove ahead of ‘the group’, we slept for a day, tidied up the boat ( it gets trashed on a long passage), swaggering into the Gove Yacht Club like salty sea dogs and we’re now looking forward to the last leg around to Darwin.

It should be fairly straightforward, with lots of islands and bays to explore around Arnhem Land – still very remote, but distances aren’t so big, with plenty of anchorages - so daysails only and just the huge tides to worry about – the tidal currents between islands often run faster than we can travel – so timing is everything.

We’ll be out of touch again (no internet or telephone coverage) until our arrival in Darwin around the 7th July, so the next update will be from there.

No videos again this month but as always, please drop us an email if you like our diaries or have suggestions.

Cheers for now
B & G