Winds and Fast Sailing
08 June 2013 | 11 57'S:143 12'E, Margaret Bay, Far North Queensland
Sailing from Lizard Island north toward Cape York has been a thrill ride. We set sail on Thursday from Lizard Island early, for the Flinders Islands and Stokes Bay in particular were our destination, some +85 NM to our NW. The solid trades were gusting up to 38 during our stay at Lizard, making the anchorage at Watson Bay bouncy and worrisome as our anchor had drug two nights in a row. There were over 12 other yachts at Lizard Island, many of them in the Sail Indonesia Rally, and we were thankful to have the chance to meet some of our fellow yachties who are all working their way towards Darwin. On Thursday morning, 7 of us took the chance to set sail for Stokes Bay on Stanley Island, some leaving as early as 5 am. We pulled anchor at 6:45, and by 7 am we were well under way, with winds a steady 30 knots out of the SE. With a full main only, we saw boat speeds of well over 10 knots, and the sunshine and fresh breezes had us cover the 85 NM distance in just less than 8 h ours. Pretty impressive average of +10 knots, and this was just the first day of the journey north.
We again set sail on Friday for Morris Island, an island reef offshore, 60 NM to the north of Stanley Island. The winds were still fresh at SE 20-25 knots, and we sailed sometime DDW, othertimes close reaching to reach the anchorage at Morris before sunset. The winds at Morris were gusting strong all night, making it difficult to relax and sleep well. We felt the distance of being offshore at Morris, with whitecaps surrounding us and the gusts howling through the rigging, and woke early to set sail for Margaret Bay, almost 100 NM to the NE. The sail to Margaret Bay was pretty sweet, considering the winds and rain and squalls and cloudy skies. We were able to lay Cape Grenville in just one gybe, sailing fast through surrounding reefs and well out of the busy shipping lanes. We saw our top boat speed, again main alone, at +17 knots, and dropped anchor at 5pm. Again, we averaged well over 10 knots boat speed throughout the crossing. A nice plus on an otherwise weather fi lled day.
Margaret Bay is beautiful, a large white sand beach with palms and mangroves lines the bay. There is an interesting crocodile warning here, and a tale to go with it. In the past, a crocodile in residence had caused some havoc on this beautiful bay. According to our guides, " the crocodile took out one person, attacked another in a kayak, and sank a float plane". Wow, how could a croc sink a float plane? This croc has since been removed, but others may have taken up residence since. The winds here at Margaret Bay are sitting currently at 17 knots, so no SUP session this morning. Not sure if we would take a chance anyway, given the bad croc report. Taken out a float plane?
Setting sail this morning for Escape River and the pearl farms there, +70 NM to our N, and only 22 NM from Cape York. We expect to round Cape York tomorrow and enjoy the very tip of Australia. It has been a wild ride getting this far, and we want to enjoy the rounding tomorrow with plenty of time. From Cape York, we will visit Seisia, cross the Gulf of Carpenteria, and on to Darwin later next week.