Downwind sailing

 Superted V - Blog & Photos

June 2015

1 - 4 June - Hauled out in Townsville to do repairs to the bottom rudder bearing. When we started downwind sailing in strong winds, Matt felt there was too much friction in the rudder bearing which was putting far too much stress on the steering so wasn't happy to go across the Indian ocean with it that way. So he researched and found a non-metallic material which is used by ships for rudder bearings - approved by Lloyds of London etc. We had some flown in from the States and found someone in Townsville who could machine it for us to make a new bearing. So much for our 'bargain' haul out in Tassie! So be it - better to be safe than sorry. Anyway we were hauled out for 4 days and got the new bearing in. Took advantage of being on the hard and had a large delivery from a local supermarket and stocked up the freezer with vacuum packed and frozen meat and fish. Our friends Don and Christine put us in touch with a good friend of theirs who just happened to be visiting her apartment in Townsville - Glenda - she very generously drove us around and fed us 2 evenings - lovely lady.

5 June - Back in the water but not much wind so motored across to Magnetic island where we met up with friends Jan and Rich on Slipaway and some Dutch friends on 'Fuits de Mer' we haven't seen since Fiji.

6 - 7 June - Spent a pleasant night on a buoy at Orpheus Island then on to Dunk island where we met up with Sue and Andy on Spruce. The weather was still not behaving very well - we had wind and rain and unusually, a slightly rolly night.

8 June - We were glad to up anchor and leave Dunk island - still squally with very rough seas. We had gone about 5 miles when we lost steering - completely! When Matt investigated, the steering arm had sheered off the collar on the rudder stock - he had been right about the stress - fatigue I'm told! We dropped anchor where we were and got the sails down as we were drifting in quite close to a reef. Sue and Andy had set off about an hour before us but they very kindly came back to stand by. Fortunately the rain cleared - we were about 18 miles from a very sheltered anchorage and Matt was able to set up emergency steering with us working a block and tackle each to steer. Our course was a bit haphazard at first but then once we got into the swing of things we did OK. We managed to get through a narrow entrance into Mourilyan harbour and once in there we had perfect calm where we dropped the hook. A local charter boat skipper - Stuart from 'Big Mama' - had heard us on the radio to Spruce and stood by to help on the way in - he also offered to run Matt into Innisfell the next day to a welder to try to get the arm fixed. Spruce came to Mourilyan with us and spent the night there - a big thank you to good mates Sue and Andy. The next day we were able to find a welder and get the arm fixed. We also got some great intel from Stuart on anchorages on the way up to Darwin. Apparently the Innisfell area is one of the rainiest places in Oz - Stuart told us once we were past Cairns, the rain would stop!

10 June - On our way again - arriving in Cairns in the pouring rain! Spent a couple of days there but not a lot to do when it's raining - Cairns is really all about getting out on to the reefs and snorkelling/diving but there wasn't even much of that going on because of the strong winds. Interesting visit to the local art gallery. Once past Cairns the rain didn't stop but the reef comes in closer to the mainland giving great protection from the swell. With south east trade winds of between 20 and 30 knots we had some great fast downwind sails all the way north.

13 June - Low Isles, very pretty but a wee bit rolly in the night. We had just got the dinghy down to go ashore when once again the heavens opened...

14 June - Hope island - did mange a walk around the island this time in between showers!

15 - 18 June - Lizard island - reputedly very popular with 'southerners' who come north for the winter. Lizard island is the 'turning point' for them as this is regarded as the limit of the spring northerlies needed to get home. The rain finally stopped but it was still blowing around 25 - 30 knots so we didn't want to go out to the outer reef to dive. We did a couple of dives with Sue and Andy around the island but very disappointing visibility. However there is a reef in the middle of the bay which is full of giant clams and very pretty coral so snorkelling was good. Although I went by myself one day and got a bit freaked out by 2 rather large jacks who were following me around. That'll be the end of swimming in the sea from now on - too many salt water crocs further north. There is a very exclusive resort on the island which had been devastated earlier in the year by a couple of cyclones. it had just re-opened the day after we arrived - great turnaround time. Had a good hike/scramble up to Cooks Lookout - This is where Cook identified a route out through the reefs to open water, but once he got through, the conditions were so appalling he wished he hadn't. Eventually he managed to get back inside the reef a bit further north - yes we're still following him around, but this time he left a book and pen for us to confirm our our presence..

19 June - Flinders and Stanley Islands - lovely flat anchorage in between 2 islands and a walk ashore took us round to some great Aboriginal cave paintings. Matt saw our first croc - just in the water with eyes peeping out.

21 June - Hedge Reef - feels very strange to be anchored in what seems to be the middle of the ocean in 25 knots of wind. The "reef" consists of a large sand cay which seems to go on forever, but only at low water, otherwise there is nothing!

22 - 24 June - Night island then on to Margaret Bay - on the way there we noted a craft on AIS 39 miles away at an altitude of 170m doing 14 kts - bizarre until we realised it was a Search and Rescue aircraft! We had been told about a hike through to Indian bay on the other side of the coast via the 'blue trail' so we checked it out - intrigued to know where all these blue items came from - everything from flip flops to hard hats and buckets - real pop art. Once we reached the other side we realised where it had all come from - lots of flotsam on the beach - tons of plastic of all sorts had been washed ashore from all over the place - some as far as Peru! Saw another croc (or maybe 2) swimming around the anchorage.

25 June - Finally arrived at the northern-most tip of mainland Australia - Cape York. 2692 nautical miles have passed under our keel since leaving Port Davey in Tassie. At 10 deg 41 mins south, Cape York is just north of the most southern tip of Papua New Guinea and is about as north as we will go until we round the Cape of Good Hope.

26 - 27 June - Turned left and started to head west! Our first call was at Possession island where Cook claimed the east coast of Australia down to 38 degrees south for King George III in 1770. Our last Cook's monument for a while. There must be a name for people who collect photos of Cooks monuments (besides weird, strange...) Had a hike up the hill to get great views over some of the Torres Straits islands and to see the giant termite mounds.

28 - 30 June - Passage across the Gulf of Carpentaria to Cape Wessel- see flotsam. Arrived at the Wessel Islands and anchored at Two island bay which is another very remote wild, beautiful place.


Position on 30 June S11.04.53 E136.43.78














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