Australia 3. 2015
Australia 3, 2015
We docked in Marlin Marina in Cairns and stayed there for check-in and provisioning before sailing north inside the Great Barrier Reef. When passing Endeavor Reef and Cook Town, Captain Cook’s difficulties in this area came to mind. Unfortunately a few days before we passed Cook Town a man was lost to a salt water crocodile while swimming, and due to this the many warnings about swimming was seriously followed, even if it was tempting to take a swim occasionally.
All along the Australian East Cost we had a quite steady south easterly wind around 20 knots on average, and inside the Great Barrier Reef only small waves occurred, which gave good boat speed with only one sail up. The whole trip from Cairns was made as day trips with the exception of crossing the Gulf of Carpentaria. The waters around the Australian east and North Coast is quite shallow, so it is easy to find a good overnight anchorage. We payed Lizard Island a visit and looked at the 358 m hill from where Captain Cook could see his way out through a pass in the reef. There are still meter long lizards to be seen on the island.
We went through the straight between the Australian mainland and Albany Island with a tidal current of approx. 4 knots, rounded Cape York and anchored at Seisa on the west side of the Cape York Peninsula for provisioning.
Over the years I have been to many places where Captain Cook has anchored or passed through, and never stop to admire his and his crew’s skills considering the lack of charts and good navigational aids we are blessed with today. Passing through the Great Barrier Reef is one thing; however I think passing through the Torres Straight was even more difficult due to the strong tidal currents and shallow waters and reefs, and still it may be a challenge even today especially for bigger ships.
It was our intention to sail down to Weipa, however due to a fresh southerly wind we decided just to cross the Gulf of Carpentaria and reached Darwin June 29th in good time before the participation in The Sail Indonesia Rally. The total distance sailed between Cairns and Darwin was 1341 Nm with only 7 hours of motoring. The Rally started July 25th. This gave us good time to visit e.g. the Kacadu National Park with its abundant wild life of large crocodiles and birds, get Indonesian visa etc., and make a substantial provisioning before the 4 month rally event.