Passage across the Arafura Sea to the Cobourg Peninsular – July 2015

Day 1

Bit of a wild ride!  It's now just after midnight and we're storming along at 9.5 – 10 knots with 20 – 25 knots of true wind. 

I've just come on watch and typing this I feel a bit like one of those people you see on TV who are making a video of themselves on some adventure – you know the ones who are sitting in the dark with their head torches on and speaking in a very quiet voice – bleary eyes rimmed red, hair tousled and yawning – fortunately I'm not on video!

When we set off 24 hours ago, we had rain squalls for the first couple of hours then it seemed to settle down for a few hours and despite the rolling it was reasonably comfortable.   As day broke the sky stayed a menacing dark grey and we had squall after squall.  The forecast was for 15 – 20 knots, partly cloudy and a 30% chance of rain.  We were getting 20 – 25 knots from behind and in the squalls (some which lasted for over an hour) it was 30 – 35 knots and 100% rain!  We had the genoa poled out but rolled it away during the squalls to bring the boat speed down a bit. 

At around 3pm we had a most spectacular squall with the sea boiling around us and 38 knots of wind.  There seemed to be no break in the black clouds and no hint of light behind us – just large rolling, foaming waves.  An hour later we had 5 knots of wind and were lolling about in a very sloppy sea!  The cloud had sucked away the wind and left us wallowing.  The wind slowly built  again to around 10 knots but our speed was still around 4.5 – 5 knots – what a difference.  The sky was brighter with the occasional flash of blue.

Since around 7pm we've had consistent wind again of 20 – 25 knots and still have a poled out genoa and reefed main.  Despite all the high speeds, we still haven't achieved that illusive 200 miles in 24 hours!  Forecast is the same for the rest of our trip  (about another 100 miles) but it's supposed to be sunny!

24 hours: 188 miles

Position at 00.00 local time 3 July:  S10.52.617 E133.36.667

Day 2

Thankfully there were no more squalls through the night but plenty of wind to give us a decent speed (8 – 10 knots) to stop us lolling about in the swell.  The seas for the whole trip were somewhere between 2 to 2.5 metres but reasonably comfortable most of the time.  There was a veil of cloud cover but some light from the full moon meant it was never completely black.  We kept the pole out until around 4am then a 2 sail reach for a couple of hours before poling out the genoa again a few hours later.

We arrived at our destination well ahead of schedule and in sunshine – another wild remote anchorage on the Cobourg Peninsular at Black Point, Post Essington, which is where the British first tried to make a settlement (Victoria) hoping to use it as a base for trade between Australia and Asia.  At one time around 300 people lived there but only for around 10 years.  We hope to get down to Victoria to visit the ruins.

Total Miles 289; Total time: 36.5 hours; Average speed: 7.91 knots

Position at 12.30 local time, 3rd July: S10.52.617 E133.36.667

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