07/15/2012, Fanny Bay, Darwin, AU
We kept up our act as a motor yacht for our last push to Darwin. There was absolutely no wind so what is a sailor to do? The currents within the Gulf of Van Diemen were disappointing. We had heard so much about what great assistance we would be getting while making the run from one end of the gulf to the other. However, the only real currents we saw were as we were making our way out of the gulf and weaving our way in the dark, through narrow channels between the Vernon Island Group. Here we had maybe 3 to 4 knots of current. It was nice but certainly nothing like we were lead to believe.
We popped out of the gulf around 2200 last night and could have been at the Darwin anchorage around 0200. However, if we can avoid it, we will not enter an unknown anchorage in the dark. Thus, we just went slow and zigzagged through the dark early morning hours, waiting for dawn to break. I think this was the hardest part of our passage. We were so ready to get there but had to hang loose and while away the hours.
When dawn did break, we made a beeline for the anchorage and faced a fleet of over 50 boats. It actually looked more like an armada instead of a fleet! We always like to hang toward to back and it looks like we are the boat furthest from the beach. It is about a mile in front of us. We may move closer in a day or so just to make it easier to get to shore.
We anchored next to our friend, Jim, of S/V Candela. However, when the breezes came up before noon, he started dragging. Thus, he pulled his anchor and moved way up to the front, near the beach. He has told us that there is room there for us, if we would like to move. We will wait a day or two and then decide.
When we entered the anchorage we were amazed at the number of boats we know. Whenever a boat comes into an anchorage, the people of each boat at anchor come out to watch you. They are interested to discover who is coming in but more importantly, they want to make sure you do not anchor too close to them. We waved or shouted our greeting to Two Amigos, Tin Tin and Candela, who we anchored next to. We saw where Salamander was anchored but they were too far away to say hi. We will look forward to seeing all of our friends here during our two week stay in Darwin.
We have rented a car for the time that we are here. I suggested to Jim that we share the car so we will be splitting the cost. This will make provisioning and exploring the environs much more convenient.
We will be calling our Darwin blog friend, Brian Cann, in a day or two to make arraignments to get together. We look forward to buying him and his wife a beer. They have offered to take us around Darwin and show us the sights. We have met the nicest people through our blog and this is another wonderful example!
Our trip from Seisia to Darwin took about 5.5 days, not counting the time we waited off shore for daylight to come in. The distance was 792 nm. We averaged 6 knots but that really does not mean much since we ended up having to motor so much. However, it was a very easy and safe sail, something that we are always grateful for.
07/08/2012, Seisia, Cape York, AU
We could really feel a change in the weather today and yesterday. The average wind speed and the number of gusts and their peak velocity have been definitely diminishing. Today, we only averaged between 15 and 20 knots and the gusts had a hard time getting to 25 knots and there were not many of those. The weather reports are definitely showing that the pressure system is moving east allowing for a moderation of the winds up here at Cape York.
Our plans are now definite; we will be leaving tomorrow early afternoon. We still plan on heading south for 50 miles before we cut over and head WNW for the tip of the Wessel Islands on the far side of the gulf. The northern end of the gulf (where we are) will still be getting a blast or two of higher velocity winds through Monday but the waters of the gulf along its eastern shore are protected and we have been told that sailing south is a piece of cake. With us leaving Seisia in the afternoon, by the time we are 50 nm south, it should be late night Monday or early Tuesday when the wind are suppose to abate. Well, at least that is plan ...
This morning I went back into the village of Seisia to offload our garbage and to pick up another 20 gallons of diesel. This last load of fuel I just plan on keeping on our deck. I have 10 gallons there already so this will bring the amount of deck fuel we will be carrying to 30 gallons. I decided to get this extra fuel just in case we end up having a lot of light winds and have to motor sail more than I am expecting. With the departure of this big high, the winds for the rest of the week are support to be light so this way I have our bases covered.
As I was placing the last jerry jug into our dinghy before returning to Leu Cat, I was hailed by Chris of S/V Salamander. He was walking down the beach ahead of his wife, Sue, and their daughter, Hilary. Chris was anxious to tell me their croc story. As they were heading into the beach, he spied a log drifting in front of them and as he approached it, Hilary started screaming. Then, the log slowly sunk as the dinghy came within 15 feet of it. There was a second "log" near it and as the first log was sinking that Chris realized it was a croc! By the time he was through telling me his story, the ladies had arrived and they were pointing to where they saw the two crocs. It was just a short ways away from where I was about to launch our dinghy. Since Chris and Sue had just invited me to join them for coffee at the small café at the campground, I gladly accepted thinking that now was not the time to wade out into the water to launch our dinghy.
Once again we had delightful conversations but after 45 minutes I was anxious to return to Leu Cat so Mary Margaret would not be worried as to why I was so late. The beach and water were clear of "floating logs" so I quickly pushed the dinghy into the water, hopped in and started the engine. Off I went, faster than any croc could swim!
Later in the day Jim from the catamaran S/V Candela stopped by. I had met him briefly today while schlepping fuel. He was interested in getting information about marinas in Malaysia and near Singapore. I had told him that I had some great information from a couple who were currently in Malaysia (Rick and Robin) had shared with me. It was great getting to know him a bit better and Mary Margaret also enjoyed his company. He will be in the Sail Indonesia Rally also so we expect to see him as we both sail west during the rest of this year. He wife is back in the US attending an ill mother so he has a young French fellow with him as crew until his wife returns.
07/07/2012, Seisia, Cape York, AU
This stubborn high pressure system that has kept us trapped between Cape York and the Gulf of Carpentaria is slowly lessening and edging its way toward NZ. The result is that the wind up here in Seisia is starting to diminish a bit. We are now getting between 15 and 25 knots and you can just feel that they are starting to tucker out. The forecasts are giving hints that come Monday the winds across the southern and middle parts of the Gulf will be in the 10 to 15 knot ranges. The winds across the northern parts of the gulf will be in the 20 to 25 knot ranges but even they look like they will be diminishing as the week progresses.
We, of course, are sitting next to the northern end of the gulf. However, our plan is to hug the eastern side of the gulf and sail south about 50 miles then turn into the gulf for our crossing. With that plan, we will be getting more reasonable winds and, as the theory goes, less tidal current which causes the lumpy seas to sit up.
Looking at the forecasts, we are hoping to pull up the anchor and head out from here on Monday, probably in the early afternoon. However, as with everything in cruising, plans are made to be changed...
I briefly went into the village again this morning and picked up another 20 gallons of diesel. When I returned, we cleaned up the boat a bit for the arrival of Chris and Sue of S/V Salamander. We had invited them over for the afternoon. Mary Margaret put out a spread of goodies with the center piece being a pinwheel of cream cheese, ham and sweet pickles rolled up in a soft tortilla. These, along with the rest of the goodies that she had and those that Sue had brought over, were snarfed up in no time.
We spent the afternoon just talking and talking and talking some more. We have found that we really enjoy the company of Chris and Sue and find that it is so easy to talk and enjoy them. They are such lovely people.
Tomorrow, I will transfer the diesel I bought today into the starboard tank.
I thought you might enjoy the view we had from our stern the other evening. It is of Barn Island, which is between us and Prince of Wales Island. You can just make out Prince of Wales Island in the far background.
07/06/2012, Seisia, Cape York, AU
The winds really picked up a bit all day long as the high pressure system really kicked into gear. The winds blew 20 to 32 knots with hardly any letup. I was going to empty the four jerry jugs I filled the other day into our tanks and then return to Seisia to get 4 more. However, the seas in the anchorage were filled with white caps and it would have been a very wet and uncomfortable ride. It was pretty amazing to see such large white caps since we are so close to shore. It was just an indication of how strong the winds were.
I did empty the 4 jugs into the port tank. The method I used will be this week's techno-tip. It is very important when you are not sure of the quality of the fuel you are using to filter it. I have come up with a need trick that filters the fuel and pumps the fuel into the tanks at a reasonable rate.
The rest of the day was just rest and relaxation. We read and played cards and read some more. Not a very exciting day but with such a windy day, it was more than enough!
Right now, the stalled high pressure system looks like it will take until Sunday before it starts to move east toward NZ. Quite frankly, NZ can have it (sorry about that, our NZ friends). We are tired of it and are anxious for it to move on. We hope to start our trip to Darwin Monday afternoon. We still plan on first sailing south about 50 nm to minimize the tidal current waves. It looks like there will be bouts of 20 knot winds when we turn west for a bit of time before they ease some. It is still too far off in time to predict the weather and winds accurately so our plans still may change as we get closer and closer to Monday. Stay tuned for future updates...
Techno-Tip Of The Week: Polishing Your Fuel
After getting a batch of bad fuel in Ecuador a few years ago, I now go to great lengths to protect our engines from getting bad fuel. First, I have the Filter Boss system installed between each engine and our fuel tanks. This system is a dual Racor filter system which filters the fuel to 2 microns. Thus, the fuel filter on the engine never sees anything greater than 2 microns. As a result, that filter lasts for a long time. If the Racor filter starts to clog, a red light goes on at the helm and I just throw a lever on the Filter Boss unit and the fuel is redirected to a backup 2 micron Racor filter. Thus, I do not have to stop the engine to have a clean filter polishing the fuel. If the seas are calm, I can change out the dirty filter while the engine is on and the backup filter is doing its work.
Also, whenever I am in doubt of the quality of fuel that I am taking on, I will first put it into my jerry jugs (capacity of my jugs is 40 gallons) and my 55 gallon deck fuel bladder. This lets me take on up to 95 gallons of fuel. I then transfer that fuel to my fuel tanks and in the process of that transfer I filter it through a large Baha fuel filter.
To make the transfer easy and fast, I use the Jabsco waste oil pump unit that I use to suck out dirty oil from my engines when it is time to change the engine oil. This pump system consists of a large bucket with a dual direction pump mounted on the bucket's lid.
First I clean out any waste oil that may be inside the pump by running a little diesel through it. To clean it out, I pour the diesel into the bucket and pump about a cup of it out into a waste oil jug that I carry on board. Then I move the pump's hose over to the Baha filter, which I have secured to the stern rail, next to the fuel intake port. I have another hose that goes from the Baha filter into the fuel intake port. I then turn on the pump and let it do the work of transferring the fuel into the fuel tank. The Baha filter removes impurities and any water that may be present. I do have to refill the pump's bucket with fuel from the jerry jugs but that is very easy.