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Mr Bean at Sea
Portland Road to Cape Wessel
12/06/2006, Portland Road Anchorage


Monday 12 June 2006

The weather forecast for today was 25 to 30 knots from the south-east, we planned to go from this anchorage, Portlands Roads, which was a bit rolly last night, to Margaret Bay, Cape Grenville.
We started to prepare to leave at 0615 hours, just light, the wind was blowing 25 knots, engine started, we raised the main, in hindsight perhaps it would have been better to leave it till we had raised the anchor.
On lifting the anchor, we got windage in the main, perhaps because the boom break was to tight, but the main sheet was free, and made it very difficult to raise the anchor, succeeded, but on raising the last few metres of chain, the windless would not stop, so had to run below to shut it down on the anchor main switch.
Once things start to go wrong on a boat, they seen to escalate, next, our course took us dead down wind, and with winds now gusting at 43 knots, I could not go below to check our course, as the steering was to heavy of the autopilot, and to decide which way we should boom out. Also the two reefs in the main were too much, and wanted to reef to three before. To add to the drama, we had two reefs not to far ahead to negotiate.
After a while, we got the other reef in the main, that's it, all three, we let the main out to port, fixed the jib preventor up. Got on course, the wind still howling, and sailed with just the main, dead down wind, very restricted, the great barrier reef is all around us.
I think Lindy would, at this moment, like to give up sailing, and buy a motor-home, still if it was that easy, everyone would be doing it!
The wind was always above 30 knot, the seas where big, and we were very happy to arrive at our destination, Margaret Bay, at 2.30 pm, 8 hrs, 48 miles of close to the worse sailing we can remember. With all those course charges, around the reefs, and to top it all, it rained, reducing the visibility.
We spent the rest of the afternoon watching Captain Hornblower on video, with a cup of tea, would have had cake, but it can't be found.
Day off tomorrow, otherwise marriage may not survive, as fore cast is 25-33 knots. And we both need a rest. The anchorage we are in is very safe in strong S.E. winds, and seems very comfortable at the moment, it may get rolly at high water.
Update, 2100 hours nearly high water. Getting rolly!

Tuesday 12th June 2006

The anchorage was a bit rolly at about 2330 hours, high tide, I got up to check if any thing could fall over and break, It looks like there will be the pattern, rolly at HW, but over-wise a good anchorage. Weather is getting worse, weather forecast for next two days is 25 to 33 knots, it keeps raining, so will be here at least till tomorrow.
Have decided to go to Escape River first, before going through the Albany Passage, it's a short cut, but you must go with the tide. We had intended to leave here and go straight through the pass, but with this weather, we have lost the tide window, and we are not keen to start sailing at three in the morning, right now.
Looking at are passage across the Bay of Carpentaria, and listening on the Sheila net, this the SSB radio net all the cruisers use to log in each day, and give their positions and weather conditions, and every-one is having an awful crossing, talking of the washing machine effect, then going on to the spin dry effect
Our plan, and this is listening to the locals, will be to sail down the east coast, after leaving Seisia in the Endeavour Strait, which should be flat calm water in the lee of Australia, the whole coast being an anchorage in SE winds, and wait for a three day weather window to cross to Gove, on the other side. Watch this space, to see if the plan works !!
Changed the engine oil and filter, 61 hours, normally a 100 hours, but it's been on the hard stand for six months, it may stop the slight knock it's started to get, if not, I think the timing belts may need changing when we get to Darwin.
Had to re-fix the 12 volt plug under the nav. table, and checked the steering cable at the steering quadrant, which sounds easy, but half the suff needs to could out of the Lazaret, but all was well with the cable.
The weather has been foul, raining and winy, certainly not nice enough to go ashore.

Wednesday 13thJune 2006

Very rolly at high water last night, nearly fell out of bed at midnight. Weather forecast is bad, but the weather here looks to be brightening up, so may leave tomorrow.
Listening to the Sheila net is morning, a yacht called "You Tiki 3 " had ran aground off Cape Don, yesterday at top spring tide, , and cannot get off, he said he was hoping to get off tomorrow, but looking at the tide tables, and knowing it was a spring tide yesterday, the tide drops from it's maximum of 22.2 feet downwards.

Thursday 13th June 2006

Very rolly again at HW, midnight, so this morning moved in closer to shore, it seems to make a difference, may be physiological, but the high tide tonight is much higher so, we will see.
Aquarius, Gary and Libby, called to ask us if it was better, after the move, and what depth we had, we got chatting, and are meeting on the beach tonight for a sun-downer.
The weather today seems better, so we will probably leave here at 0500 hours tomorrow. Got the dingy down, and went shore, burnt some rubbish, and spoke with Adam, Bromwin, Jack and Amee.
Going ashore at 1600 hours, we met Aquarius, very nice, then Barca, Red Boomer, and all the fishermen, bringing lots of fish, with they cooked over an open fire, and we all had a lovely time, leaving in the dark, to head back to the boat, without a touch, one of the fishermen got a optipus sucking on his foot, as he walked back to his ding, at least it wasn't a crocodile.
The plan to leave tomorrow has gone out the window, due to Roger, one of the fisherman, saying the entrance to the Escape River can be tricky in big seas, they did it the other day, a hit the bar, so going over to see them today, and get some info and waypoints.

Friday 16th June 2006

Got the Waypoints from the fishermen, had a look around their boat, very clean, no smell of fish. When the nets are emptied on to a big table, all the prawns have to be sorted, sharks, dolphins, fish that give nasty strings, and do, have to be thrown back.
Had a restful day, offered the waypoints to a Norwegian boat, but they said they weren't going to the Escape River. A little later, the boat called on VHF to see if we had paper charts of the area, we did, so asked to come over to see them.
A knock on the hull, I went the receive them, and two beautiful young ladys were looking up at me, asking to come on board. The girls, off the two Norwegian yachts, came on, we showed them the charts, and persuaded them to change there route, and go through the Albany Passage, as they where going on the outside.

Saturday 17th June 2006

Woke up at 0130am, looked out, there was half a moon lighting up the sky, and decided to go sailing, by 0200 hours, we had the anchor up, and where off, we should make the Albany Passage.
Had a lovely night sail, during the day, with the different course, due to getting around the reefs, the squally weather, big seas, it became tiring, Lindy seems to have had enough of this coast, good job we are nearly at the top.
Going through the Albany Passage was lovely, the contrast from two metre waves to flat calm, was surreal. Sailing at 11 knots, sails wing and wing, on flat sea, brilliant. Had the option to anchor in Shallow Bay, which looked lovely, but we had decided to anchor off Cape York.
After rounding York Island, we dropped the main sail, had a little problem with depth, lack of it, but found a nice spot to anchor, very windy, but flat.

Sunday 18th June 2006

Had a very peaceful night, in hindsight, the anchorage was alright, we heard that Shallow Bay was a bit rolly. We were planning to leave in the afternoon, for Red Island, but Aquarius, can in and ran aground and put us off a bit. I got the dingy down and checked our track out, and it was fine,all more than 5 metres BUT by then we had an invite to drinks party, so we all had a lovely time on La Barca, with Aquarius, and later Maggie and Rob sailed in, so joined the party. Brom served a spag bag, and left at about 2030 hours.

Monday 19th June 2006

Up at six, had a cup of tea, got the dingy up, and off we went to Red Island, in the Endeavour Straits, so we could catch the ebb tide. We had a wonderful sail, flat water, with 3 knots of tide pushing us along, with just the two foresails, we were doing 9 knots over the ground.
Anchored behind Red Island, so with didn't have to go into the town anchor, which is quite restricted, and to get out, you have to back track.
Got dingy down, went into town, did a shop at the supermarket, then can back to boat, and did some reading, and planning the next stage of the trip. May leave tomorrow and go down the west coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Below, photo's of Red Island and Seisia, and the town anchorage.

Tuesday 20th June 2006

After listening to the forecast and the net, the boats crossing the Gulf at the moment, are still talking about washing machine seas, we decided not to go yet, also after a lot of thought, we have decided to go straight to Cape Wessel, by-passing Gove. This will allow us more time to find a prefect weather window, time will tell.
Put the 15 hp outboard on, so we could get to shore quicker, we did some cloths washing, got some water, then back to boat.
Got some cruising notes about anchorages alone the coast from Wessels to Darwin, from Aquarius, also CD notes on cruising from Darwin to the Red Sea.

Wednesday 21st June 2006

Went ashore, bought 20 lts of diesel and 5 lts of Petrol, had a coffee at the caravan site, with a lot of the yachties, and we all decided to come over at 3.30 pm for a BBQ on the beach, I dug ours out, but there,s a problem with the gas supple, another job to go on the list. Great time on beach, we left at 6pm, and the light was going, and it was a long dingy ride back, and it was low tide with lots of sand bank around.
Below is a photo of the four wheel drive vehicles that come up from Cairns, over the dirt track roads and do the out down.
Some yachies wanted to buy alcohol, and had to go into the main town of Bamaga, but the problem was getting it back down to the boat, if you were going to get a taxi. Because of the heavy drinking of the Aborigines, passangers in taxi's are only allowed to take one bottle per taxi, not per person.

Next page shows the anchorage at Seisia, we where anchored much further out, behind Red Island...

Thursday 22nd June 2006

Listened to the weather forecast at 0730 hours, and the 1024 high, was said to intensify, and cause strong winds in the Gulf of Carpentaria, so decided to sail the 337 miles, straight away, other wise we might get stuck for another week.
Main sail up and upped anchor by 0900 hours, had a lovely sail across the Endeavour Straits with the flood tide giving us a three knot push.
Come 1800 hours, we rigged the boat with two reefs in the main, had the Genoa poled out to windward, and the staysail out. Come 1900 hours, it became very squally, and stayed that way right through the night, with up to 45 knots of wind. Having the two reefs in the main, the autopilot could not handle the wind bullets, so I had to stay on watch from 1800 hours to 0630 hours the next morning, 12 and1/2 hours, as Lindy was very nervous to do a watch and hand steer, and I did not want her to. First complete night watch for about two years, and we copped that lot, a real baptism of fire.

Friday 23rd June 2006

Reefed the main at first light, Lindy did her watch, and things got progressively better. In the first 24 hours we had sailed 156 miles, average of 6.5 knots.
We have a small flotilla crossing the Gulf, so nice to talk to them on VHF and SSB, all had tales to tell of the night of Hell.
Kept the same rig all day, 3 reefs in main and poled out, and staysail, and will kept it right through the night, it's been a lovely sail today, and at 2200 hours , we have 23 knots of wind, and Mr Bean is gliding through the water, she is a good girl.

Saturday 24th June 2006

Had a great night sail, caught up and passed the two that where in front of us for some time, got to Cape Wessel anchorage at 1430 hours, lovely to get in and find flat, calm water.
Had a shower, and a meal, Aquarius came in to anchorage at 1700 hours, and Gambori came in, in the dark at 2130 hours, and Aquarius and Mr Bean shone lights to help him into the anchorage, and indicate where to anchor. We all left the same time, Mr Bean is sailing very well.
Then we went to bed, no watches tonight.

Sunday 25th June 2006

A day at anchor, bit squally in the morning, after lunch, went ashore, picked up Robert and Maggie off Gambari, to burn some rubbish. Burn the rubbish, met Aquarius and Tiapan ashore who where getting ousters off the rocks, never seen such big ones. We got half a dozen, but I didn't think they where that good.
Went over to Gambori at 1600 hours for drinks, great time there, all the guys from all the boats came, must have been 16 people.

Monday 26th June 2006

We made some water, as we had so much power coming in, I went over to Gambori, while Lindy did some washing.
Went over to the beach at 1400 hours, where all the boats had a BBQ, photos of the little beach, and Adam and the Lobster he had just spear gunned.
Watched Cinderella Man, in the evening, and are planning to sail the 202 n miles to North Goulburn Island, which will take one night and two days, leaving at 0600 hours, and arriving Wed afternoon.

The Journey
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Who: Malcolm Robertson
Port: Eastbourne, UK
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