Sahula Cruising

14 May 2012 | England
25 October 2011 | Ipswic
13 September 2011 | Ipswich
13 September 2011 | Ipswich
25 June 2011 | Frankfurt
09 June 2011 | Frankfurt
25 May 2011 | Regensburg, Germany
18 May 2011 | Linz
12 May 2011 | Nova Sad
12 May 2011 | Vienna
05 May 2011 | Budapest
22 April 2011 | Viden
08 April 2011 | Constanta, Romania

Cairns to Cape York Sailing Notes

21 June 2008 | Cape York

Light winds taunted Sahula after Cairns to Port Douglas. The locals told us not to worry, the Trades set hereafter. They were right. They blow from 15 to 30 knots the whole way up the coast. It can be day and night. The mainsail was never used, only the Yankee and staysail. On two days (in 2 weeks) the MPS (spinnaker) was needed to keep up the daily mileage. Sometimes in the morning the wind was light and more westerly due to cooler land. By lunchtime the Trade SE'ly had set in. It usually blew all
night. However, at times it would drop after midnight and early morning winds would be light.


Tides did not affect noticeably the seas. The strong winds won any battle. However the Albany Passage tidal flow was contrary to Lucas's advice on northerly setting flood tides. Locals say tides in the Straits are not predictable. We found no tidal overflow sea confusion of any note.


The seas vary depending on how reefs protect the shipping "channel" However, it can be quite rough and the boat motion reflects it. A corkscrew motion is quite common with the short following seas. Surfing the waves before the Trades, is part of the fun.


There are many anchorages. Lucas advises of many of them but there would be more in behind the numerous cays. Depth of water in these could be a problem. Lucas's anchorages were accurately reported.
We had no uncomfortable roll prone anchorages even when behind cays. Lucas's reports of rolly anchorages could be accurate in certain conditions. It seemed that the harder the Trades, the calmer the anchorage.


Sahula's average daily speed in 15-25 knots was 6.5 knots plus. This made 12 hour passages viable. This length of passage is the daily average. Daylight was at 0530 each morning to 1830. Its always a great days sailing. A sleigh ride in 20 knots and over.

Night Time Passages:

Sahula only did one; from Port Douglas to Lizard Island. It was a long pitch black night and not to be recommended. However, navigation by radar, lights and Capt. Navigator digital charts and GPS input made the risks acceptable. A moon light night would make it even more so. We didn't repeat the effort. Past Lizard Island a night passage would pose excessive risks.


Port Douglas is blocked at low tide. Entrance can only be made at half tide. There is plenty of water up to the entrance bouy. The shallow water is in the marked channel.

Sahula only entered Escape River. There is a shallow bar across the entrance. At mid tide this bar registered 2.9 m ie 1.4 m under the keel. It could be less in places. The bar is about a half a mile seaward of the entrance. We found it coming in from the South and when departing directly to sea. The bar may not be a consistent length across the whole entrance. Sahula draws 1.5 m.

Inside the River there was plenty of water. It is not a place to enter at night. The extensive pearl farm racks along the river need careful attention. Around the early parts of the River they are on both sides of the passage channel. Further upstream they're on the port side. Ropes from the racks have been reported to cause propeller problems. It is advised to keep well clear of the racks. The Racks did not extend far up the River.


Shipping and remarkably large ships, keep strictly to the chart marked channel. They expect small boats to keep clear. This is not difficult as there is plenty of room off to one side or completely out of the channel. .


The Channel beacons are large towers (some have helicopter pads attached) visible from a long distance. The Channel is wide being "two way" and very well marked making navigation easy. They had radar recognition markers, appearing at long streaks on the screen. Corners can be cut quite safely in places. A chart plotter or digital chart and GPS are not essential but they provide a stress free trip. Especially if the outside the main shipping channel. Visibility was hazy at times but sufficiently clear
to see the beacons and any other shipping.

Sahula navigated through the Owen Channel, Flinders Group, Albany Passage and between Eborac Is and Cape York. In all places the passage was no problem.

Good sailing
Sv Sahula
Vessel Name: Sahula
Vessel Make/Model: van de stadt 36 extended to 40 feet
Hailing Port: Townsville
Crew: David - single hander
David is retired (60 ish young) academic who taught potential environmental radicals environmental law, law of the sea and coastal law. He's now setting out on a global cruise aboard Sahula. He's travelling solo except when potential crew take the plunge and join up. He welcomes worthy souls. [...]

About Sahula

Who: David - single hander
Port: Townsville