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Charmar - 2008 Cairns - Darwin - Indonesia - Singapore -Malaysia:2009 South China Sea, East Malaysia, Borneo, Brunei, KK, Kudat, Miri, W'pre, Puteri..
For more photos of the current East Malaysian Rally go to the Photo Gallery and East Malaysian Rally Album
Paperwork
10/07/2008, Darwin

Final preps are still underway with a full day work in Darwin last Sunday and now lots of paperwork getting submitted for visas, permits, clearances etc etc etc. However we are getting set to go and this time next week we will be attending to final documents and "getting the covers off" as we fuel up and start to attend the briefings and so on. In the meantime Kirsty our daugther will be getting four teeth out and "Mum" will go and spend 4 days with her to help out over this period.

Bayview Marina - final preps
02/07/2008, Darwin

Not much to update, Charmar's wind generator tower should be ready this week for a bit more amps top up; a new battery coming, some minor changes to wiring and final preps taking place. Not much to say but there still a few little jobs to do as we finalise arrangements.

Layover
Chris
26/06/2008, Darwin

Charmar is currently having a layover in Darwin. On 19th July there are briefings and functions over the following week in relation to the Rally and then a departure on the 26th July for Kupang.

Time for some maintenance and servicing over the next couple of weeks as we prepare for a possible departure.

29/06/2008 | Paul and Tracy Bushell
Love the website. Yikes about the marina locks-thaks for the info and have a good trip to Indonesia-you'll have fun.
Midnight on Tuesday
Chris
17/06/2008, Bayview Marina

Today we have been going all day cleaning and sorting and washing and cleaning and servicing - its midnight and time to knock off
THERE ARE MORE PHOTOS UNDER PHOTO GALLERY to the right - for those interested click on it and then the Cairns to Darwin Folder and there some photos of events and places on the trip

Into Bayview Marina - THE most dangerous part of the trip so far!
16/06/2008, Bayview Marina - Darwin

Today we managed a booking into Bayview Marina for the layover. So off we went, farewelling Brad from Townsville on our way past as he is leaving for Indonesia tomorrow. Bayview is a marina in a lock around inside the inner harbour of Darwin. The people who we booked with didn't know how to get there from Fannie Bay so we set off and it is the furthest Marina up a long run of Mangrove Creek. Anyway an interesting passage as we slalomed through the yachts anchored and moored in the very narrow channel. Sometimes a port and starboard buoy close together with boats moored between them and then passing through rows of front and end moored boats until the end of the creek is near! Then we see the lock an interesting manouvre away.

Now they know our beam, 7.24 metres, and they said they take boats to 7.25 metres and welcome Rally Boats. Anyway to cut a long story short the marinas here are all basically run off the back of real estate agents who look after the adjoining properties and units. It would be fair to say I think that the Marina part of the business is just a nuisance to them, they don't understand it, nor understand boats - and probably don't care.

With the narrow entrance they had not allowed for the barnacles and oysters that were growing profusely on the entrance to the lock and narrowed the gap by more than the tolerance allowed as well as presenting an abrasive surface. It was just impossible to get in without a few scratches on the oysters.

The old timers told us, AFTER we were in that, that you only go in on the top of the tide so your boat is above the oysters. Well we could have done that as it was only a couple of hours till high tide - but the "Marina" office instead of telling us that urged us to go through asap. They could have even had a couple of plastic curtains to hang down over the oyster clad entrance, OR if they really cared they would keep the oysters OFF, but any way we are in and tied up. Not looking forward to the exit.

So today has been cleaning, flushing bilges, cleaning engines and carpets, hose down etc.

Of course before we could get into any Marina we had to get treated for Green Mussel by a shot of steriliser up all sea inlets and then left to stand for 14 hours.

So if going into a Marina in Darwin make sure you understand the implications and DON'T rely on the staff to help or provide any advice OR indeed to be able to even tell you where the Marina is. A brief description of the complexity of getting through the moored boats in the narrow channel would also have been good!

Anyway, here we are all tied up and half cleaned up and plenty to do tomorrow!

Charmar is in Darwin
Chris White
15/06/2008, Fannie Bay

After rounding Cape Don we still had some ninety miles to go to get to Darwin. What a massive waterway this is behind Melville and Bathurst Islands and has some great channels leading down into Darwin waterways.

With careful planning one can "run" the tides down into Darwin and pick up possibly several knots of boat-speed. As we were out there and had not anchored up we decided to continue on regardless, although we did calculate and plot the tides, we did find that "without careful planing" there is still a chance of picking up the tides!!

We sailed on under good breezes and just about where I had predicted we would be crossing shoals the water might get a bit rougher - of course the sea calmed out, the wind dropped, try the main - not enough breeze, try the MPS, the wind dropped further!! We started in calms and it seemed we were destined to finish in calms so late afternoon the iron topsail was set, with just a knot to fill the MPS until that died out and we motored the last 40 miles to Darwin arriving and anchoring at Fannie Bay at midnight. Still if you have to motor, it is not bad at ten knots with a couple of knots of tide giving a 'free-ride' on a mirror surface.

This leg was a 600 nautical mile straight sail through from Seisa at the tip of Cape York, and completed the 1,000 mile trip from Cairns. From Seisa across was 4.5 days. It was a nice moonlight night, fortunately, and the approaches are easy, and made easier by locking in behind a small ship on the AIS to take a few shortcuts.

The Darwin Sailing Club could be heard kicking on last night. It is just about time this morning to go and investigate.

Andrew
Chris
14/06/2008, Cairns to Darwin

Andrew joined Charmar undertaking the Yachtmaster Inshore program and gaining sea miles and night experience. Experienced all conditions from flat calm to strong winds and clocked up some useful miles. A good part of the Charmar crew!

Arrival at Cape Don
Chris White
14/06/2008, Cape Don

After a great night sail with smooth and gentle seas and 20 +/- knots of breeze we had a good sail, good night and for those sleeping a good night sleep! We covered some good distances. Again we are only sailing under Genoa, last night we gybed twice the first sail change for several days!! There is certainly something to be said for sailing downwind. This morning is a beautiful sunrise as we head for and then round Cape Don, the crossing of the Gulf and Arnhem Land now complete. As we round Cape Don we start heading down towards Darwin - about 80 - 90 miles to go in protected waters and bays. We go down behind Melville Island and below Bathurst Island to pass through Clarence Straight and then down to Darwin. Conditions are excellent and we should be close to Darwin tonight all going well! Haven't seen another boat for days - indeed haven't seen anything much for days but we are in sight of Cape Don now. Coastwatch called up again last night but we couldn't see or hear the aircraft anywhere. Apart from that just passaging on! This is about our fifth day without a stopover so we have made fairly good time, but it would be good to visit the many bays and anchorages across the top of Arnhem Land so we have that for another day! Many of the boats are still waiting to cross the Gulf and a number are going to Gove and working their way around via Elcho Island and the various day stops.

14/06/2008 | caroline Cheng
Thanks for such interesting snippets of your journey, glad it has been a fantastic sail so far. Sue just doesn't know what she has missed on.
Crossing the top of Arnhem Land
Chris White
13/06/2008, Arafura Sea

A good and friendly sail all day yesterday with reasonable time, but we are sailing for comfort not speed. Last night was ok, about 2030 the autopilot packed it in and we thought that was the end of it. It was extremely difficult steering conditions running square in a rolling sea that became quite choppy, some think the worst night out so far. However in an effort to detect the problem it seems it was only a weak connection of the power cables and oh how fortunately it came back to life by about 2300 so the night became much better although a slapping sea did not provide for much relief. Today we are cruising on across the top of Arnhem Land but well out to sea. We haven't seen a boat for days and only the buzz and radio call from Coastal Surveillance last night to know that there are people out there. We are well out of the sight of land at least 60 miles offshore crossing a straight line from Cape Wessel to Cape Don around New Year Island. Today is pleasant although our boat speed not all that good as we sail under genoa alone in around 20 knots of wind. For the crew onboard this leg is the equivalent of sailing half way to New Zealand! This morning called customs in Darwin to report a vessel having some problems out near Ashmore Reef, about three hundred miles from us so we cannot offer assistance, but via a series of radio relays through Sheila Net on 8161 we satphoned their plight to Customs Darwin who relayed it to Canberra where it is being followed up.

All well and we should be nearing Darwin waters late tomorrow night after doing a full all nighter again tonight - Friday 13th.

Approaching Cape Wessel
Chris White
12/06/2008, Cape Wessel

After the first day sitting in the "washing machine" of confused seas just past Cape York it is great that as yesterday wore on the seas became calmer and with a regular pattern. Last night was a great night sail with fairly smooth seas and a regular breeze of 20 - 25 knots a bit less at times and a bit more at times. The wind and seas are from behind so we are still cruising on just under the headsail or Genoa. Still we are making good time with averages of 6 and 7 knots and very comfortable and stress free, although not breaking any speed records. The sun is out and sky is blue! We haven't seen a boat, plane or anything not even Coastwatch for well over the last one and a half days! This morning we are nearing Cape Wessel which is the first point of contact after crossing the Gulf of Carpentaria. We have taken a wide northern passage that will take us around the top of Cape Wessel and the Wessel Group of Islands so we will not be stopping to enjoy the group of Islands and Anchorages here but proceeding through more open water tracking directly to Port Essington, near Cape Don which is rounded before going into Darwin in a couple of more days. If everyone is up to it we may continue on this down this track and do another overnighter as we still have over 250 miles from the next waypoint at the Cape to Cape Don. A great night, everything going well and no dramas! This is pleasant sailing ------Andrew at the Helm at present.

Half Way Across the Gulf of Carpentaria
Chris White
11/06/2008, Gulf of Carpentaria

We left Seisa at 0700 to approach the Gulf of Carpentaria. Conditions were good with about 10 knots SE and flat water. A few monos had left earlier some as early as 0530 and the small flotilla in Seisa was disippating. But it did give us some boats to chase, which we did. We went out through Red Banks to clear the shoals before the Gulf. Good conditions for the morning and we were sailing with Main and Genoa before changing just to MPS in the afternoon. Caught a big mackeral mid morning to refill the freezer. At dusk it was still light winds 8 - 10 knots so we needed the MPS but as inevitably happens not all that long after dark the wind and a cross swell built up and we had to drop the MPS and go back to just a genoa for the evening. Wind speeds picked up overnight to 25 - 30 knots and a lumpy side swell and the confused seas the Gulf is famous for! Early this morning, after overnighting, sent the generator going to recharge batteries and chill the freezers and fridges and went down for a kip. Only to find two hours later a cooling water hose had blown off the generator where it enters the exhaust and had been happily pumping 18 litres per minute into the boat! A big bailing job was one way, but not the best, to start the morning! Today, the second day in the Gulf we are continuing to run under Genoa alone and the seas have settled a little. The wind has eased back to 10 - 15 knots which is hurting our speed under genoa alone. We are just about at the half way mark at noon between Seisa and the Wessel Islands our next destination. Good radio reception this morning on Sheila net, but have lost contact with the other boats we were "sailing with" yesterday. Mostly they are going to Gove so are going further south than us. Hoping the wind will stay in so we don't need to change sails, and getting ready for another long night! All well except for the few "boating" happenings that occur from time to time.

11/06/2008 | Kate
A great read so far, thanks for the updates! It enables me to keep Dad and Mum up to date too which they really appreciate.
06/11/2008 | Ryan
Very good read, I have always dreamed of sailing through the tropical Carpentaria.
Escape River through Albany Passage to Seisa
Chris White
09/06/2008, Seisa Bamaga

A leisurely day today with a 0930 start from Escape River to get to Albany Passage near the tip to catch the flood tide at 12.48! This way you pick up several knots of tide to race through the narrow passage and around the tip of Cape York. Cockatoo was in company with us as we entered the passage only to find a ship steaming through in the opposite direction! We were prepared to share and there was room for all of us as we passed through gradually picking up the tide and speed as we went. Then onto Cape York at an ever increasing speed of 9 knots just under the Genoa. We decided then to take the more risky (but adrenalin rush) passage between York Island and the tip of Cape York - the uppermost point of the Australian mainland. Well it was a narrow passage and an exciting one as thirty knots of wind and several or many knots of tide rushed us into a narrow channel which we opted to motor through in case we had to stop, which still would have been difficult as it whizzed us into the narrow channel, turned us around the tip and spat us out back into the other side of the Cape! Then fast flat water sailing with 25+ knot winds, flat water, sandbars, reefs and rocks as sped across the Cape area and down to possession Island which we navigated inside of and around the beach which was good fun. We picked our way out the channels having to avoid the many sandbars and breaking rocks in the area to run down alongside the reefs to Siesa a fantastic anchorage and a great warm shower where we caught up with Sue and some of the seafarers that we had been in company with but will be leaving in the morning as we head to the Wessels and they head to Gove. Already about six boats left today, one we had been carrying a delivery for left only one hour before we arrived and we saw them sail away as we spoke to them on radio! but nobody likes to turn back once departed so we will catch up with them later.

Back in phone range - made a number of calls and will leave to cross the Gulf in the AM.

11/06/2008 | Desley
Helloo and thanks for the read. It's so interesting.
Shellburne Bay to Escape River
Chris White
08/06/2008, Cairns

Well we decided to have a "lay day" yesterday, and how lucky we did! It was a strong wind warning so we vacillated and didn't go, but to our good fortune. Firstly we found (and fixed) a problem with the HF Radio - some faulty connections, then we found and fixed a leak that was rather troubling, but our crowning joy was from Paul and Tracy from Cockatoo who dropped over late afternoon to say hello. Paul mentioned he was an auto-electrician,,,,,,,,to which I said, "you should never say that - do you know anything about autopilots". Well after a couple of oysters and a glass of water Paul said where is it, we spent the next few hours of his time diagnosing and VERY cleverly substituting FET's and Diodes, until it all worked again. How lucky were we, it would have meant hand steering all the way to the top and across the Gulf probably all the way to Darwin until I could get a new unit for it.

Today then, Sunday 8th, up at 3.30am to leave at 4 right behind Cockatoo heading towards Escape River near the top of Cape York. Twenty five plus knot winds and flying only the Genoa gave us good speeds - and to our great joy - the autopilot drove the whole way!!!! perfectly !!! We had a quick trip arriving at Escape River entrance at about 1400 . Today there was a nice swell and a very quick trip running downwind all the way.

Escape River is pleasant we are well tucked away past the pearl farm, but there are lots of Pearl mats and buoys to avoid on the way in!

So far so good, and thanks to Good Samaritans who have eased our way forward.

Tomorrow all going well we head up and through Albany Passage as we pass our way around Cape York.

The weather is pretty ordinary at present, full cloud cover, twenty plus knots of breeze, but warm and tropical.

Catch you in a day or two.

What After Lizard
Chris White
06/06/2008, Shellburne Bay

After meeting friends and enjoying hospitality at Lizard we left early the next morning for a leisurely sail to Howick Island only 40 miles down wind and a great anchorage there after a meal of freshly caught red emperor had a good sleep. We left early the next morning bound north with a nice breeze setting in and an easy sail. Reached Cape Melville and the base of Princess Charlotte Bay where we considered going the inner route and stopping overnight, but then decided on an overnight sail up the outer route known as the Lads Passage or the Fairway. With freshening breezes we were making good time and dropped the main to sail under genoa only at night. We still were getting speeds of 7 - 10 knots so good progress and easy trouble free sailing. Lots of reefs and narrow passages and lights with a few ships to keep everyone alert!

Carried on this morning past Cape Weymouth then to Cape Grenville to pass Haggestone and Hicks Island and finally drop anchor (after catching a couple more fish for dinner)in Shellburne Bay. Pigs on the beach, silica sands and a good anchorage after coming out of 30 knot winds - which were not all bad as we have covered quite some miles. It has been a great sail and a good run but everyone is a bit tired and ready for an early night before heading off for the Cape early in the morning.

06/06/2008 | mum dad &Doreen
Nice to hear of your progress
have a great sail in fair winds
Love from us all
Home to Dubbo today
Charmar left Cairns 1st June!
Chris White
01/06/2008, Low Isles

Charmar left Cairns on Sunday 1st June, after running under MPS for a short time detoured into Yorkeys Knob to collect the Chart Pack that had been left behind. The wind then was an unusual NWester all of 3 - 5 knots, how can one say, "gusting" to 5 knots!?! - maybe gently puffing to 5 knots! but not a breeze for good passages and it then faded out to a glassy sea with never a ripple and not a whisper of breeze. Ultimately decided rather than just motor on we pulled into Low Isles at about 2100 for a nights sleep and to wait a breeze. Don't want to use all the diesel in the first week! Small leak in the Port Engine Cooling water pump when we shut down so might try to rectify that whilst the weather is quiet. Nice day though.

The First Day was a Small trip, then to 2nd June and a tale to tell
Chris White
01/06/2008, Low Isles

So we arrived at Low after a full days (very slow sail)smooth seas are great but no wind! Spent the night at Low then left under MPS heading north in similar conditions to the prior day. AS the day went on we picked up 6 knots of breeze and started moving forward. Close to evening the wind picked up and we had a great sail through the night from Cape Trib through to, well almost to Lizard the next morning at about 0800. Starting to motor in to Lizard we picked up a rope on the prop. Not good but heh these things happen. Over the side and cleared it off, all should be good. Started the motor everything seized solid with a slight screech. Of course thinking the worst and not able to turn prop or motor figured out the v-drive or gearbox must have pulled a cog or bearing and seized under the pressure. What to do? Well probably head back to Port Douglas slip and pull out the V-Drive and shaft and see what is wrong before resuming the drip. It is no fun punching into it!! Dropped off supplies to friends at Lizard and start heading back to Port. Jason running a fishing line at the time had to retrieve it to overcome an untoward 360 turn due to the issue of running with one motor. The lure snagged onto the bottom of the boat? Over the side I go again! Damn me not the lure is stuck into another rope neatly wound around the shaft - how - who knows but after it comes off everything runs again so we turn around and here we are Lizard! A VERY interesting day!

---------- radio email processed by SailMail for information see: http://www.sailmail.com

03/06/2008 | caroline
Ahoy there -very interesting tale indeed !
End of May and it is Time to Go!
Chris White
27/05/2008, Cairns

Charmar is ready to leave Cairns sometime at the end of May probably will leave Saturday or Sunday 31st or maybe the 1st bound for Lizard Island as the first stop and then around to Darwin.

29/05/2008 | guychester
Salamat tingal (bahasa =good bye)
01/06/2008 | Nita Freeman
Good luck on your trip. When in Indonesia, you better make contact with Peter if you can.....
pjfjtotg@yahoo.com.au CHEERS Nita.
position update
Chris White
04/05/2008, Cairns

Charmar currently at Low Isles having farewelled two vessels from Low Isles heading to Darwin. We are bound for Port Douglas for slipping this week

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Charmar - 2008 Cairns to Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, 2009 South China Sea, East Malaysian, B
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