Floating On, II

Vessel Name: SANTIAM
Vessel Make/Model: Pacific Seacraft Mariah
Hailing Port: Newport, OR
25 July 2009
25 July 2009
25 July 2009 | Bundenberg
Recent Blog Posts
25 July 2009

Leaving OZ

Wessel Island chain, Australia

25 July 2009

Wessel Islands

Wessel Island chain, Australia

25 July 2009 | Bundenberg

OZ, The Beginning

Leeper Reef Lager

Leaving OZ

25 July 2009
Wessel Island chain, Australia
06/10/2009, Marchinbar Island
> 1104S 13643E. The light winds leaving Seisia caused me to miss the flood tide over the shallows of the Endeavour straits. This added a bit of time to the trip. I left Seisia at 0800 Sun. and Arrived at Marchinbar Island at 0500 Wed. morning. I plan to rest here a day or so before the 233nm trip to Malay Bay on the Northern Territory mainland.
>
> Marchinbar Island is part of the uninhabited Wessel Island chain that lays NE roughly 50 miles off the mainland of the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory is very sparsely populated with only 200,000 people inhabiting the area which is roughly the size of Great Britain (520,000 square miles). Half of the 200,000 inhabitants live in the city of Darwin. The other half live in remote cattle stations, Aboriginal communities, or mining camps. This is the Australia my minds eye pictures. Towering termite mounds of brick red dirt, Monsoonal downpours, cracked dry earth, and narrow winding mangrove creeks with Mud Crab and Crocodiles.
specifications


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Australia
06/07/2009, Gulf of Carpentaria
> I Left Seisia, a small Aboriginal outpost town, at 8:00 this morning. I'm headed through the Endeavour straits and across the Gulf of Carpentaria (340 n.miles) to the Northern most island in the Wessels.
>
> Winds are light but are expected to pick up gradually over the next couple of days. I have the A sym. spinnaker set and am making 5 knots under a cloudless blue sky.
specifications


Comments [0]


Australia
06/05/2009, Cape York Peninsula
I wanted to be at Albany pass at 0700 hr to catch the flood that flows north through this channel at 5 knots. If you miss the flood tide, you're apposing a 5 knot southerly current through this very narrow pass near the tip of Cape York, which would mean you're going no where. To be at the beginning of the pass at 0700 hr (the flood started at 0500 hr) required leaving Escape River at 0445 hr. I didn't like the idea of winding through the many pearl floats strung up through out the river in the dark. But when I entered the river I had paid close attention to where they were and also saved my inward track on my plotter and planned to follow the same track out. I woke up, and started hauling the anchor, noticing the pitch black and wishing the moon hadn't already set. The wind was light and I ghosted along with only the headsail. I didn't want to run the engine for fear of fouling my prop in the pearl floats. The wind vane steered as I stood on the bow sprit looking for floats. I had made it around most of them and was near the exit to the river. I was as close to the wind as I could get and could no longer follow my inward tracks out. The water in front of me looked roughed up but I thought it was a wind shadow. I had just a minute before looked at my depth and had 45 ft. Then I heard waves hitting shore. I ran back to the depth finder, 5,4,3... and I was hard aground. I pulled in the headsail and was thankful the tide was flooding. I threw the skiff in the water to set up an anchor off the beam in case the wind started piping when the sun rose. I wasn't looking forward to rowing the anchor out with the little skiff. I remembered the owner of the pearl farms warning to me yesterday when he had stopped by briefly in a skiff. "Welcome to my place" he said. "Don't think of getting in the water, we're riff with big crocs here" I wasn't to impressed with myself at this point in the morning. In the time it took me to get everything set up and ready, the tide had come up enough for me to slip off the mud bar. All in all it delayed me about an hour. I still made it to Albany pass in plenty of time to catch the push through the beautiful pass.
>
>
> As I rounded the northern most tip of OZ. It put closure to my 1200 mile trip north up the Queensland coast. And now I could start concentrating on the trip west across the Golf of Carpentaria, the Northern Territory, and on to Darwin.
> -------------------------------------------------
specifications


Comments [0]


Cape York Peninsula - Australia
06/03/2009, Escape River

Made the 61 mile trip to Escape River with fresh winds keeping Santiam happily surfing down the swells. Not long after throwing my hand line into the water I had caught something. As I was hauling in the line I could see that it was a big Barracuda. No dinner. But it had made dinner for something else in the short time that it was on the line. I brought in a halved couda. It had been bitten in half by a shark while it drug behind the boat.

A pod of dolphins played in Santiam's bow wave for about an hour. I sat on the bowsprit with my feet dangling near the water, their dorsal fins inches from my dangling toes.

The entrance to Escape River was good. I entered at dead low tide and still had plenty of water over the bar. A family runs a pearl farm in the river. Weaving through the pearl rafts, up the river and behind a bar that's visible at low water, I threw the hook.
specifications


Comments [0]


Cape York Peninsula
05/30/2009, Margaret Bay, Australia
> I've been working my way up the Cape York Peninsula. I'm now in Margaret Bay about 80 miles from the northern most tip of Australia and from the Torres Strait. The Cape York Peninsula is mostly uninhabited. The only land access being a 500 mile trek by four-wheel-drive vehicle.

> I've been sailing only during the day as the area is reef strewn. A large volume of freighter traffic and prawn trawlers all occupy the same narrow band inside the reef. Mangrove creeks on the mainland have provided good spots to tuck in for the night. You have to deal with a few mosquitoes and sand flies in the creeks, but hearing the tropical birds, spotting loggerhead turtles and saltwater crocs, and watching the flying foxes fly out of the mangroves at dusk more then makes up for a few mosquito bites. There have been plenty of little islands or sand cays to tuck behind as well.

> Margaret Bay is a good spot and I might spend a day or two waiting for good weather to round the tip. There are a few other sail boats here that are doing the same thing, as well as a few fishing trawlers. Yesterday evening a few of the fishermen from the trawler anchored behind me, came over in their skiff and asked if I wanted to go up the creek with them to check the mud crab pots they had set earlier. So I jumped in and we sped up the creek. They had seen half a dozen crocs earlier when they set the traps at low tide but when we came back we didn't see any.
>
specifications


Comments [0]


Laws of physics
05/08/2009

Objects in motion tend to stay that way. So good-byes come soon after hellos. But it was nice having friends I had met in Arlie beach aboard Santiam to explore the Whitsundays Northern Islands.
specifications


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07/20/2009, Timor Sea
11 08.0S 126 13.0E
> Yesterday brought steady SE winds of about 12 knots. Santiam was able to eat up some miles with the cruising chute. This afternoon the winds died completely and so we are now motoring west. The afternoon was humid and hot, listening to the motor grew tiring fast. So in the afternoon we stopped the engine and swam around the boat to cool off. As of this morning we are officially in Indonesian waters.
specifications


Comments [1]


07/23/2009 | Linda (linda dott shaw att hbosa dott com dott au)
Hi Andy
Friend of mine, Kurt put me on to your blog. I'm from Perth Western Aust. Am appreciating your observations on people and life. Will enjoy following the last part of this journey. Watch out for gnarly weather!
Regards Linda
Timor Sea
07/17/2009, Darwin, Australia
The bus pulled up at 12:30 . Clearance papers, visas, millions of Rupiahs. Everything had fallen into place. By one in the afternoon we were off the bus and rowing towards Santiam. By one thirty the anchor was pulled and Santiam was pointed for the west tip of Timor.
>
> I met Audrey and Nicky, two French travelers headed for Bali, a week ago. Random happenstance outside a Coles supermarket. Today, light winds push the three of us west across the Timor Sea at about 3 knots with the cruising chute set.
>
specifications


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07/07/2009, Darwin, Australia
You can't push a stroller in loose sand. Strollers; Australians call them prams. Mom sips a warm Coke and sucks on a cigarette as she walks down to the beach ahead; her sandals flipping sand where sand shouldn't be flipped. Dad's dreadlocks, the dreadlocks he spent hours twisting so many years ago, the dreadlocks that he wears to separate himself from those people and associate himself with these people; the dreadlocks, a defiance, the dreadlocks that he admires in the reflection of every store window that he walks past. Those dreadlocks fall into his face as he bends over to pick up the stroller. Dreadlocks look silly when you're carrying a large navy blue stroller. He slowly follows his wandering wife. The kid waddles behind in saggy diapers, carrying a red pail. They spread a blanket on the sand and dig Tupperware out of the pockets of the stroller. Two plastic wine glasses from another pocket. A can of Coke from another. Husband rolls a cigarette as his wife pours the Coke into the two wine glasses. One of their cell phones ring. He lights his cigarette; breathes in the smoke, squints at the navy blue stroller, with the grey plastic wheels, pockets with baby wipes and potato chips, and blows the smoke out slowly. With a look of 'how the hell did I get here" that I can see across his face from 50 yards away.

People are leaving the market to walk down to the beach to watch the sun set. They walk past me and I notice how every person, every being, seems to be weathered by life slightly differently. Worn from life's road. Worn from the trip. Humanity like a coast line, rough and cut up.

Our here and now, our present, a reflection of the roads through life we've traveled, turns we've taken. Turns we've chosen. Fate's too easy. Too meek. To believe in fate is to shed responsibility. Fate's taking your hands off the steering wheel. But life can be long, can be rough. With time, like wind, trying to buff us smooth, to blow us away.

I think about all of this as I slowly row back to Santiam in the dark. Lights from the city reflected in the water. Lights from noisy pubs, discos, late night cafes, 24 hour fuel stations. Street lights. The lights illuminating fighting, loving, arguing, laughing. Old friends, new friends, families, strangers. I look at the two swirls of water that my oars make with every pull. With every pull the lights from shore grow dimmer. Sailing to somewhere or sailing away from everywhere? I think of the look of "how the hell did I get here" that I'd seen earlier today. I wonder how many times that look has been smeared on my face. The stark moment of realization that this is where you let life take you; where you led your life. Moments of disgust and frustration, pride and happiness. I look at the lights on the water. I listen to the sounds from shore. Music from a restaurant, the monotone of many simultaneous conversations spiked by laughter. I look at the two swirls of water that my oars make with every pull.


specifications


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07/06/2009, Darwin Australia
Santiam has been anchored in Fannie Bay for the last two weeks. Large tides; long row to shore. Once ashore, it's a 20 minute bus ride to Darwin and a short bike ride to it's outlying towns.

I'm waiting to receive my Indonesian cruising permit and Indonesian Visa which should arrive in about a week. In Indonesia, corruption runs unabandoned, bounding, skipping, arms flapping through the fertile fields of bureaucracy. And so, just as a moccasined musher walks through camp, one must make his way slowly, carefully, to avoid the dark spots.

To make navigating the officialdom easier, and as a way to promote tourism, an Indonesian cruising rally was formed. If you participate in the rally you are essentially assured by the country that you won't be hassled. In return you promise to follow the route laid out by the government rally organizers, as well as leave and enter specific ports at specific times. The rally, which leaves Darwin July 18, has been successful to the extent that as my boat sits in Fannie Bay, it is surrounded by 70 other sailboats from around the world. Another 60 plan to arrive before the 18th. 130 boats will sail in this year's rally.

It was a tough decision for me deciding whether to participate in the rally or not. In the end, I decided not to go with the rally. I didn't want my route through the country dictated by anyone. Also, I needed to move faster then the rally, as I need to be in Malaysia by mid September in order to fly back to work. And lastly, I simply didn't want to be crowded by 130 other boats.

So, right now I'm enjoying the evening markets in Darwin. Enjoying the music played in the parks. Taking a breath. Slowly I'm getting Santiam ready and stocked up for the next leg of our trip. Gathering charts, locating parts, etc. etc. Hopefully everything will come together and I will be ready to leave in a week or so.
specifications


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Australia NT
06/18/2009, Cape Hotham


Left Alcaro Bay an hour before sunrise with the flooding tide. Winds were fresh and Santiam, close hauled, pointed for Adelaide River where I was planning on posting up to wait for the morning flood to Darwin. The morning was life at a 40 degree angle, by noon the winds started to ease. The wind dropped out in the evening and instead of making my way into the river I threw the pick at Cape Hotham, before the river and just north of the Vernon Islands.

An Australian Customs boat paid me a visit, then another. No fish bit the lure. Oatmeal cookies made the night before, became breakfast lunch and dinner. Sunset flooded the water. The anchor rests in 20 ft. The red sector of the Cape Hotham lighthouse shines a 150 yards distant. Moths having made the long trip from shore, fly confused circles around the cabin light and crawl about my computer screen. Tomorrow I will arrive in Darwin, my last stop in Australia before Indonesia and the Indian Ocean. Through the speakers the Grateful Dead sing "What a Long Strange Trip It's Been".
specifications


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NT Australia
06/15/2009, Port Essington
From Marchinbar , I was originally going to head to Malay Bay off the Mainland. But tides and wind direction made stopping at Croker Island better. It was only an extra 15 miles or so making the trip approximately 245 nm.
> Winds were moderate when I left Marchinbar but gradually weakened until by the second night I had the Genaker hoisted and was barely making 3 knots. I woke up at some point during the night to gibe the spinnaker. As I was walking towards the bow to bring the sheet around the forestay I heard the sound of dolphins breaking the surface and gasping breaths. I could see their shape from the bioluminescence. Streaks of light darted around the boat like ghosts beneath the surface.

> I got into Sommerville bay around 1430 and dropped the hook. When the sun went down, the cabin was swarmed by little gnats. Thousands of them. I turned off all the lights, lit two mosquito coils and crawled into my bunk and under my sheet. So this morning despite the very light winds, I moved 25 nm down the coast into
Port Essington hoping to avoid a second round of gnats. The winds are supposed to build and tomorrow I will probably head to Alaro Bay. Which is my last stop before Darwin.

specifications


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[ Older ]


Wessel Islands

25 July 2009
Wessel Island chain, Australia
06/10/2009, Marchinbar Island
> 1104S 13643E. The light winds leaving Seisia caused me to miss the flood tide over the shallows of the Endeavour straits. This added a bit of time to the trip. I left Seisia at 0800 Sun. and Arrived at Marchinbar Island at 0500 Wed. morning. I plan to rest here a day or so before the 233nm trip to Malay Bay on the Northern Territory mainland.
>
> Marchinbar Island is part of the uninhabited Wessel Island chain that lays NE roughly 50 miles off the mainland of the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory is very sparsely populated with only 200,000 people inhabiting the area which is roughly the size of Great Britain (520,000 square miles). Half of the 200,000 inhabitants live in the city of Darwin. The other half live in remote cattle stations, Aboriginal communities, or mining camps. This is the Australia my minds eye pictures. Towering termite mounds of brick red dirt, Monsoonal downpours, cracked dry earth, and narrow winding mangrove creeks with Mud Crab and Crocodiles.
specifications


Comments [0]


Australia
06/07/2009, Gulf of Carpentaria
> I Left Seisia, a small Aboriginal outpost town, at 8:00 this morning. I'm headed through the Endeavour straits and across the Gulf of Carpentaria (340 n.miles) to the Northern most island in the Wessels.
>
> Winds are light but are expected to pick up gradually over the next couple of days. I have the A sym. spinnaker set and am making 5 knots under a cloudless blue sky.
specifications


Comments [0]


Australia
06/05/2009, Cape York Peninsula
I wanted to be at Albany pass at 0700 hr to catch the flood that flows north through this channel at 5 knots. If you miss the flood tide, you're apposing a 5 knot southerly current through this very narrow pass near the tip of Cape York, which would mean you're going no where. To be at the beginning of the pass at 0700 hr (the flood started at 0500 hr) required leaving Escape River at 0445 hr. I didn't like the idea of winding through the many pearl floats strung up through out the river in the dark. But when I entered the river I had paid close attention to where they were and also saved my inward track on my plotter and planned to follow the same track out. I woke up, and started hauling the anchor, noticing the pitch black and wishing the moon hadn't already set. The wind was light and I ghosted along with only the headsail. I didn't want to run the engine for fear of fouling my prop in the pearl floats. The wind vane steered as I stood on the bow sprit looking for floats. I had made it around most of them and was near the exit to the river. I was as close to the wind as I could get and could no longer follow my inward tracks out. The water in front of me looked roughed up but I thought it was a wind shadow. I had just a minute before looked at my depth and had 45 ft. Then I heard waves hitting shore. I ran back to the depth finder, 5,4,3... and I was hard aground. I pulled in the headsail and was thankful the tide was flooding. I threw the skiff in the water to set up an anchor off the beam in case the wind started piping when the sun rose. I wasn't looking forward to rowing the anchor out with the little skiff. I remembered the owner of the pearl farms warning to me yesterday when he had stopped by briefly in a skiff. "Welcome to my place" he said. "Don't think of getting in the water, we're riff with big crocs here" I wasn't to impressed with myself at this point in the morning. In the time it took me to get everything set up and ready, the tide had come up enough for me to slip off the mud bar. All in all it delayed me about an hour. I still made it to Albany pass in plenty of time to catch the push through the beautiful pass.
>
>
> As I rounded the northern most tip of OZ. It put closure to my 1200 mile trip north up the Queensland coast. And now I could start concentrating on the trip west across the Golf of Carpentaria, the Northern Territory, and on to Darwin.
> -------------------------------------------------
specifications


Comments [0]


Cape York Peninsula - Australia
06/03/2009, Escape River

Made the 61 mile trip to Escape River with fresh winds keeping Santiam happily surfing down the swells. Not long after throwing my hand line into the water I had caught something. As I was hauling in the line I could see that it was a big Barracuda. No dinner. But it had made dinner for something else in the short time that it was on the line. I brought in a halved couda. It had been bitten in half by a shark while it drug behind the boat.

A pod of dolphins played in Santiam's bow wave for about an hour. I sat on the bowsprit with my feet dangling near the water, their dorsal fins inches from my dangling toes.

The entrance to Escape River was good. I entered at dead low tide and still had plenty of water over the bar. A family runs a pearl farm in the river. Weaving through the pearl rafts, up the river and behind a bar that's visible at low water, I threw the hook.
specifications


Comments [0]


Cape York Peninsula
05/30/2009, Margaret Bay, Australia
> I've been working my way up the Cape York Peninsula. I'm now in Margaret Bay about 80 miles from the northern most tip of Australia and from the Torres Strait. The Cape York Peninsula is mostly uninhabited. The only land access being a 500 mile trek by four-wheel-drive vehicle.

> I've been sailing only during the day as the area is reef strewn. A large volume of freighter traffic and prawn trawlers all occupy the same narrow band inside the reef. Mangrove creeks on the mainland have provided good spots to tuck in for the night. You have to deal with a few mosquitoes and sand flies in the creeks, but hearing the tropical birds, spotting loggerhead turtles and saltwater crocs, and watching the flying foxes fly out of the mangroves at dusk more then makes up for a few mosquito bites. There have been plenty of little islands or sand cays to tuck behind as well.

> Margaret Bay is a good spot and I might spend a day or two waiting for good weather to round the tip. There are a few other sail boats here that are doing the same thing, as well as a few fishing trawlers. Yesterday evening a few of the fishermen from the trawler anchored behind me, came over in their skiff and asked if I wanted to go up the creek with them to check the mud crab pots they had set earlier. So I jumped in and we sped up the creek. They had seen half a dozen crocs earlier when they set the traps at low tide but when we came back we didn't see any.
>
specifications


Comments [0]


Laws of physics
05/08/2009

Objects in motion tend to stay that way. So good-byes come soon after hellos. But it was nice having friends I had met in Arlie beach aboard Santiam to explore the Whitsundays Northern Islands.
specifications


Comments [0]


[ Newer ] | [ Older ]


OZ, The Beginning

25 July 2009 | Bundenberg
Leeper Reef Lager
04/22/2009
I hate marinas. They are all the same. Every damn one. This is every marina: There will be six beautiful half million dollar motor yachts, these invariably are tied up with four dollars worth of cheap, undersized line, tied off in some spastic manner that resembles a large polypropylene rodent humping a cleat. Three of these will have a yacht brokers "For Sale" sign hanging in a window. The other three will have weasely looking characters, wearing pink or light blue polo shirts, drinking cheap liquor out of expensive glasses. These I assume are the yacht brokers .

Next, as you walk down the dock you will come to a large ferro cement sailboat sitting low in the water with a noticeable list to port. There will be an old stationary exercise bike on the bow, an old air-conditioning unit jammed in the hatch with a blue tarp over it. The captain of this good ship will have a short greasy ponytail, one gold earring, and a purple polyester shirt left unbuttoned to flap in the wind like his halyards against the mast. Jimmy buffet wafts from the cabin along with the smell of his tv dinner. The home port written on the stern is usually about 30 miles down the coast from the marina. If your lucky enough to meet one of these masters of the sea, then you are in luck as they seem to know everything. And if you have no questions, fear not as they will usually be quite happy to recount their tales of 50 ft waves (90 ft if it's happy hour) and "the storm of all storms."

Ok, I better stop. Spit is welling up in the corners of my mouth and I'm hitting the keys on the key board like Little Richard. Needless to say I hate marinas, and that's where I've been the last five days waiting for a part that should have been here 3 days ago. I am trying to make the most of the delay and make sure I'm well stocked with food and supplies. So the last few mornings, I have been taking the bus into town to the market. Monday morning at the shopping center, I killed some time reading the news paper as I believed the bus didn't leave for the marina unit 1:00. Well I'm not a proud man and can admit that I missed two busses due to the fact that I was looking at the weekend schedule. And alas, Monday is no weekend.

A quarter past four, found me struggling with all I had to carry down the isle of the bus nocking off old mans hats and stepping on children's feet. I got off the bus, heard the door close behind me and took a deep breath. I opened the gate down to the dock and walked down the pier. I walked past little pleasure boats with names like "Naughty Gal" and "Frayed Knot" and passed sail boats with four inches of barnacles on their hull sitting for another year like birds in a cage. I nodded as I passed captain lunatic pedaling to no where on the bow, wearing yellow budgie smugglers and a thousand mile stare. He didn't nod back but kept his eyes glued to the horizon as though a distant island might appear at any moment. And I noticed as I passed him that I had no groceries, no supplies. I had spent six hours in town and ended up with...... a large box full of beer brewing supplies. 'Yes indeed', I thought to myself as I unpacked the large fermenter, 'this day has run a strange course'.

Well this might not be one of my more brilliant endeavors. I'm not sure how well the fermenter will handle the "motion of da ocean" Guess I'll find out. I'll keep you posted.

specifications


Comments [2]


04/23/2009 | Uncle Sonny (trudilyn att juno dott com)
Andy, so happy to be able to read of your adventures, Be safe, love you, Uncle Sonny and Aunt Gertrude
04/27/2009 | Todd Nothstine (toddnothstine att lycos dott com)
Great little piece of commentary, Andy!
OZ
04/18/2009, Australia
While in Fiji last year, I saw a boat. I talked with the owner who was considering selling her once he got to Australia. The seed was planted. I went back to work. Mud, brine, stink, boredom. Day after day. While Im working it's pretty tough to keep in contact with people outside of the lake. So my Parents and Grandparents worked as the go between helping me with the negotiations. The word "helped" actually doesn't do them justice. There are some things in life I find I can't even come close to getting my mind around. How I ended up with such an incredible family is one of those things. My Mom and my Grandpa put endless energy and heart into helping me negotiate a deal, along with figuring out the many technicalities of purchasing a boat in another country. Some how everything worked out. It's still hard to believe.

Isis, oh Isis. I sold my good friend. More then a friend. And it still weighs very heavy on my heart. But her new owner is a incredible sailor who will undoubtably put many more thousands of miles under her keel. I couldn't have hoped for a better person for her to go to.

I've been in Australia since February. The time passed quickly as I have been very busy working on Santiam, and working to understand her details.

I had originally planned to sail south to Tasmania and then to NZ. My plans have changed and I am now heading North and West for Darwin. If there are no set backs or unforeseen delays, then I will leave from Darwin for Indonesia, and then North to Singapore. Where I'll leave Santiam and head back to work. Thats the plan.

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