Alan and Jean sharing our cruising news with friends, family.

20 July 2015 | Rabi Island Fiji
29 June 2015 | Suva Fiji
18 December 2013 | Auckland
05 December 2013 | Auckland
27 October 2013 | Vavau Tonga
12 September 2013 | Samoa
24 July 2013 | Moorea, Tahiti
19 July 2013 | Papeete
19 June 2013 | Nuka Hiva
02 June 2013 | Pacific Ocean
29 May 2013 | Pacific Ocean
24 May 2013 | Eastern Pacific Ocean
19 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
16 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
13 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
06 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
08 April 2013 | Shelter Bay marina, Colon.
28 March 2013 | Belize
27 March 2013 | Belize
03 March 2013 | Panamarina, Panama

To Darwin Part2

18 July 2007 | DARWIN
Darwin, 12.25S 130.49 E
Part two, Cairns to Darwin.
The wind slowly died as we sailed the last 5 or so miles to our chosen anchorage at Stanley Island in the Flinders group. The Flinders Islands are a small group of islands north of Cape Melville, at the end of our 85 mile day we were glad of the calm anchorage and a cold beer. The mangroves ashore looked like good croc country to me but no, just a lonely pelican preening in the afternoon sun. There was only one other boat in sight, a prawn trawler anchored well out waiting for night to start work. We often passed trawlers tucked behind a small sand cay or reef during the day, curtains drawn, the crew sleeping the day away waiting for dark to start work. The mystery of where they took their catch and got fresh supplies from in this isolated area was solved for us at Margaret Bay when a coastal trader rafted up with our neighbouring trawler loading and unloading for 30 mins. After this exchange of goods they both motored off leaving us to have our afternoon in peace. We had left Flinders Island with the intention of going as far as Portland Road but we decided to take advantage of the full moon and clear skies to carry on to Margaret Bay. There was also and added bonus on part of the trip, there would be no large ships as they had another lane further out, a reef between us for many miles. In the early hours of the morning we merged again, the shipping lane was quite narrow so we kept well over as 6 or so ships passed. Two called us, one southbound politely said he would move a little and could we also, the other north bound suggested we move over if we didn't want our holiday cut short!! We were already well away but we moved some more and he passed with a mile to spare. At mid day we sailed towards the white silicon sand dunes along Margaret Bay, anchored in turquoise water where lunch and a sleep were the order of the day.
Before daylight the next day we up anchored, joined the shipping lane once again for a day sail to Escape River, the last anchorage before Cape York. From here on the timing of tides was becoming more and more important. Getting into Escape River involved a heart stopping 15 mins crossing the bar, although an incoming tide, the fresh SE winds had got us there early, right at the bottom of the tide. With much relief we went from 1.5m to 9m as we got inside the headland. Escape River is a great anchorage once the pearl farm and mud banks are negotiated. We were a bit unsure how far up the river to go, after much indecision we were about to put the anchor down when along came a fishing boat and he pointed us in the right direction. Distracted by the instructions we touched the mud with a lot of backing we slid off, negotiated around more of the pearl farm deeper up the river and found a calm pool surrounded by croc friendly mud and mangroves. Whew!! Escape River is an isolated area, Cape York just 20 miles away, not many people around to help a boat in trouble. I swept the binoculars around the mangrove rimmed anchorage during the afternoon and early evening but no sign of those elusive crocs which are said to be in abundance in Escape River.
Studying the tide tables we worked out we needed to get up early to escape the river on an incoming tide, we got up too early, not enough light to get around the black pearl farm buoys. We were confused with the tide as well, the tide looked like it was full in, we realised it was still coming in after the depth increased slowly on the sounder. We gradually eased north over the now not so shallow bar, past Turtle island towards Cape York. Still confused about the tide Alan talked to a passing launch to confirm the tide, concerned we would get to Albany passage too late for the recommended flood tide approach. The skipper kindly radioed back when he got to the passage to say yes the tide was still flooding, so on with the motor, we sped up. As we approached the passage the sea jostled Talitha with swirling jobbly water. Entering Albany passage between two patches of white water the sea smoothed out and the current increased boat speed by up to 3.5 knots. We swished past a family gathering sea food off the rocks and another swimming off a golden beach. The most people we had seen ashore since Lizard Is. As we admired the scenery the VHF crackled into life, an Australian Customs boat sitting at the other end of the Albany passage was checking yachts as they went through. We now knew we weren't the only yacht in the area and that Customs will pop up any where. A polite conversation followed with a nice sounding young customs officer, confirming our identity, last port and future ports. A few days later this conversation was to be repeated as we sailed across Van Deiman Gulf towards Darwin.
The current stayed with us a few more miles until we anchored at Possession Is, so called because here Cook, after sailing up the east coast, decided he better claim this land for England, so here he planted the flag. We were going to go ashore but the tide went out leaving a wide reef to cross to get to the sandy beach so we spent the afternoon chatting to Ian and Sue from Icey Red also from NZ.
The following day we set out across the Gulf of Carpentaria towards the Wessel Islands. The Endeavour strait was a surprise so shallow so far out, we had been going half a day, out of sight of land still only 5 metres in places. Gradually the depth increased as did the wind and Talitha sailed beautifully, the wind vane behaving well with the wind slightly on the beam. Approaching the Wessel Is at night, 2 and half days later, we decided not to stop. A further 2 and half days later we stopped at Cape Hotham 40 miles from Darwin. An over night stop so that we could catch the incoming tide to get through the Howard Channel, the last tide consideration before Fannie Bay, Darwin. We anchored at Fannie Bay among 80 or so boats on Monday 9th July, 3300 nautical miles since leaving Westhaven , Auckland on the 24th May. Quite a trip.

Vessel Name: Tuatara
Vessel Make/Model: Alan Wright 51
Hailing Port: Opua NZ
Crew: Alan and Jean Ward

Sailing in the Pacific

Who: Alan and Jean Ward
Port: Opua NZ